On a metaphorical sea four rafters (a soldier, an explorer, a priest, and an archetypal female) became more than refugees -- they grew into symbols of rebirth and redemption in Teatro Avante's rendition of Colombian playwright José Assad's Cenizas Sobre el Mar (Ashes on the Sea). An enigmatic elixir of magical realism and theater of the absurd, the play, written by Assad in 1989 to commemorate the 500-year anniversary of the so-called discovery of America, concerned four rafters who have been adrift at sea for 100 years. They are symbols of Latin America as a continent of people uprooted, at war, searching, creating and re-creating identities. The key to the play's success? The trinity of theater's most fundamental elements: script, set, and performance. Assad's wonderfully poetic text worked like waves, using the ebb and flow of fixed refrains to give it cohesiveness. Ingeniously, set designer Leandro Soto, an accomplished Cuban visual artist himself, wove together shells, rags, and rope in a circle on the floor, making the raft a blank canvas rather than the site for a real voyage. The actors managed to shape-shift yet remain recognizable. They were at once thumb-sucking and ornery children, raving madmen, soldiers, travelers, and lovers. Cenizas Sobre el Mar revived and reinvigorated the age-old symbol of the sea as the universal metaphor for life, travel, birth, passage, and death. We were lucky to have it wash up on our shores.

Who's afraid of putting on Edward Albee? Not GableStage. And this production of the playwright's mind-bending verbal labyrinth was a dizzying, enigmatic tour de force. Strong all around, from Joseph Adler's crisp staging through the tight and engrossing performances (including some nifty work from John Felix and Cynthia Caquelin). Add to the mix the excellent work of Jeff Quinn, Daniela Schwimmer, and Nat Rauch -- for sets/lighting, costumes, and sound respectively -- and what you get is hard to beat, even if it were competing in a theatrical capital.
The best new building won't be there much longer. It will be taken down not because it is an historic landmark no one cared about but because it wasn't meant to last. But while it stands, it's incredible to behold. Artist George Sanchez decided to create a model of the famous 1929 Le Corbusier house in France, an exquisite example of modernist architecture, and put it up underneath the I-395 underpass off NW Thirteenth Street. That's right -- Overtown at its most blighted decrepitude. It sits clean and sleek -- at night it glows -- amid the concrete and filth of Miami's neglected urban core. Sanchez called it "The Blessing." Maybe that's what the city will need to follow the artist's path and create permanent beauty and hope in an area too long without it.

Tropical Chinese Restaurant
Photo by Andrew Meade
This place is known for its amazing Saturday and Sunday dim sum brunches, in which customers choose from authentic comestibles presented on rolling carts. And it is precisely this movable feast that makes Tropical a great venue for a debut date. For one thing, you can order as much or as little as you want, which means the date can last as long or short as you wish. Like her? Slowly sample all 56 dumplings, buns, rolls, and tarts. Less than thrilled with him? Over shrimp rice pasta, develop a sudden seafood allergy. Want to test his spirit of adventure? Grab an order of chicken feet or fried squid heads. Need to know if she's got a gag reflex? Serve her a sample of congee garnished with a thousand-year-old egg. Best of all, whatever the outcome of this encounter, dim sum ends at 3:30 p.m., which means you've got the rest of the day to, uh, fool around.
Olympic gold medalist and five-time world champion Leonard has done what retired fighters just don't do. He's crossed over from the exploited to the exploiter. He has become a boxing promoter. But Leonard isn't much like the parasitic thugs who control professional pugilism. He says he wants to make boxing shows more competitive instead of producing snoozers staged to build up the records of contenders. In two programs so far this year at the American Airlines Arena, both televised on ESPN2, Sugar Ray Leonard Boxing delivered two IBA world-title fights, including Roy Jones, Jr.'s first-ever bout in Miami, and some quality undercard bouts. You can't give Leonard all the credit for raising the boxing profile in Miami. The first fight program at the AAA -- Don King's Felix Trinidad-Mamadou Thiam matchup in July 2000 -- sold out, and the regular televised shows at Miccosukee Indian Gaming aren't all bad. Some sportswriters are saying Miami is making a comeback as a major fight venue. And the presence of Leonard, who recently signed Miami-based Cuban star Diobelys Hurtado, is definitely a catalyst.
A recent Mendez client is serving a nineteen-year sentence in federal prison after a Miami jury convicted him of espionage, along with four other Cuban agents. But one must judge a lawyer by the principles for which he stands, even when they are misunderstood and unpopular. For Mendez one of them is the Fifth Amendment: "No person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law." Numerous Cuban-American lawyers in Miami declined to defend those charged with spying for Cuba. And sure enough, once the trial began, fanatical anti-Castro radio commentators called Mendez a "scoundrel" for taking the job. In so doing they impugned not only Mendez but one of the most crucial of American judicial institutions, the Office of the Federal Public Defender, Mendez's employer. The public defender provides counsel even to the most unseemly of characters, who are, under our system, still innocent until proven guilty. Beating an espionage rap, however, is almost impossible, and jurors were not about to forgive anyone who appeared to be snooping around U.S. military bases. Judge Joan Lenard slammed four of the defendants with the maximum penalties allowed, but Mendez managed to shave 11 years off the nearly 30-year sentence federal prosecutors had sought for his client.

At any given moment, in some time zone, a fashion show is under way. Don't believe us? Just click your cable remote to Fashion TV and observe 24 solid hours a day of runway shows, complete with strutting models, over-the-top haute couture, and bowing designers. The eye candy is equal-opportunity -- there's just as much beef- as cheesecake on display -- and the segments even get historical (ah, so that's what Versace's fall 1999 line looked like). Captured by video crews at events from downtown New York to downtown Moscow, shipped back to FTV's Miami Beach studio, and then beamed around the globe by more than 30 satellites, it's enough to make a fashionista's heart flutter. True, not everyone needs a steady diet of runway walkers. In that case just crank up your television's volume and discover one of our city's best unsung radio stations, spinning 24 uninterrupted hours of cutting-edge beats, down-tempo hip-hop, and a dash of underground rock and roll. (Check your local cable listings for Fashion TV's channel.)

The Fontainebleau was ten years old in 1964, when the James Bond film Goldfinger opened with a glorious view of the high-rise curving toward the sea and its guests drinking martinis by the huge swimming pool and its waterfall. That was when the Fontainebleau was a celebrity hotel that attracted the stars of the day: Steve Allen hosted the Tonight Show there, and its La Ronde Room booked the likes of Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis, Jr., and even Elvis Presley. Other movie scenes have since been set at Morris Lapidus's sublime temple of whimsy, loved and loathed by critics for its colorful and hyper-glamorous design and furnishings. Like an aging screen siren, the Fontainebleau has inevitably had its nips, tucks, and makeovers. In keeping with Miami's Latinization, the La Ronde Room is now the Tropigala nightclub, redone in a tropical motif, and Latin-American tourists make up much of the hotel's clientele. And of course time and the economic downturn have dulled the glitz overall. But the Fontainebleau will always be an icon.

The veteran sports guy has a couple of things going for him: He was a jock -- a star receiver for the Miami Dolphins -- and he's got great hair. But he also seems to know that a good sportscaster ought to do more than just recite the scores. Recent example: The Miami Heat pulled out a February overtime win against the Bucks in Milwaukee after Jimmy Jackson tied the score in regulation on a last-second three-pointer. But Jackson got the ball on a pass from Eddie Jones after Jones committed a blatant double dribble that the refs somehow missed. Television viewers saw it, the announcers announced it, and after the game Jones admitted it. That night some Miami television sportscasters never even mentioned the critical moment on which the game turned. But Cefalo led with the blown call. Moreover on most broadcasts Cefalo looks like he's actually interested in the subject, even when he's just reading hockey scores. And during the winter Olympics he reported the results of the ice-skating competition as if that were a real sport! Whoa.
Miami has had its fair share of zines and Websites vying to be the source when it comes to covering nightlife. Clubhoppers comes closest to earning the title. Listing various venues and acts is no difficult task; anyone with e-mail or a fax machine can obtain the info and regurgitate it for the public. Presenting the information with flair, humor, and hilarious photos sets Clubhoppers apart. Its evening guides, accurate and current, are indispensable, but it's the weekly photographs that put this site over the top. Moments of intoxicated bliss, gregarious foreplay, law-enforcement confrontations, and more. Clubhoppers reminds us what going out is all about.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®