From the Miami Herald, Wednesday, October 24, 2001: "A story in Friday's editions referred to the Batman costume Elian Gonzalez wore at Halloween. Elian arrived in the United States in November and left in June, so he did not wear the costume at Halloween."

Hard Rock Cafe
Before finding happiness in a warm gun, the Beatles found a buddy in a Miami Beach cop. Sgt. Buddy Dresner was assigned to provide security to the Beatles during the group's South Florida invasion in February 1964. The Hard Rock Café has no photos of the screaming female mob that besieged the boys when they descended from their rooms for a dip at the Deauville Hotel pool. But there are shots of them at Dresner's house, where Mrs. Dresner served a nice dinner and Paul read to the couple's children. Back in London several months after the two-week February tour, Paul scrawled a letter to Dresner apologizing for not writing sooner. "I lost your address. I've only just got it again -- from George," he wrote. "We'll be out [again] in America soon. That's if they don't start a war or something. For instance, all this business in Vietnam." (The Beatles indeed invaded the States again in late August, as the U.S. military presence grew and grew in Southeast Asia.) Other historic scrawlings appear on a work of abstract art the Fab Four signed and shipped to Dresner after the February visit. The drawing (by one D. Spence) consists of four splotches of black ink dripping to the bottom of a piece of brown paper. On it one can observe hints of the psychedelic wordplay John later embraced: "To good old Buddy, what is our Buddy, good Bubby (get a job Buddy), all the best and thanks from me." In a separate letter Brian Sommerville, the group's agent, penned a sentiment about our subtropical burgh that many still find apt. "I'll never forget that wonderful place and its people," he wrote.
On South Beach attending and critiquing over-the-top parties isn't just a leisure activity, it's a way of life. And for local fashionistas, one of the most anticipated fetes is Ocean Drive's annual birthday bash, where the magazine's glossy pages, chock full of beautiful people, come to life. Even the Herald bought into the hype this past year, giving the Loews Hotel-hosted party front-page coverage, and in light of the hordes of would-be crashers lauding it as the season's most coveted invite. Once inside, however, a different truth emerged. Yes, there were the requisite flocks of aspiring models trucked in by their agencies, and a smattering of celebs were coaxed to the shindig by Ocean Drive's wunderkind publisher. But the overall vibe was less fabulous than bar mitzvah: serving stations of food, well-mannered members of the tribe schmoozing away, and a DJ spinning an early-Eighties playlist that stopped just short of Kool and the Gang's "Celebration" -- the usual cue for a hora circle. Only the writhing, half-naked "living sculptures" added a welcome touch of Beach tackiness, reminding everyone this wasn't a post-synagogue affair.

A unique confluence of ugly events led the citizens of Miami to overwhelmingly approve the creation of a Civilian Investigative Panel in November 2001. Leaders and activists in black communities, enraged over the alarming tendency of police to shoot suspects dead even when they were in wheelchairs, had long insisted that someone other than cops should investigate cops. But it took Cuban-American outrage over beatings and questionable arrests during the April 2000 Elian Gonzalez riots to provide the critical mass needed to put the idea to a citywide vote. After that it was groups such as Brothers of the Same Mind and People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality (PULSE), along with the legal expertise of the American Civil Liberties Union, that kept the flame blazing. CIP members, when the slow-turning wheels of Miami city government finally get around to appointing them, will be able to subpoena witnesses and recommend penalties to the police department.
For its first 43 blocks, narrow little Collins Avenue is at best an inconvenient way to get around Miami Beach. At 44th Street, however, it widens to six lanes, becoming one of South Florida's premier boulevards, a show street lined with fancy and famous hotels, luxury condos, palm trees, and private yachts. This also marks the exact location where South Florida's true character is revealed, for this is where automobile-industry magnate Harvey Firestone built his magnificent Georgian Colonial mansion. Lured by the warm winter weather and the phantasmagoric hype of Miami Beach hucksters Carl Fisher and John Collins, Firestone and other American tycoons scooped up oceanfront property (Firestone's estate encompassed fourteen acres) and erected ostentatious monuments to capitalist wealth. By the Roaring Twenties this stretch of Collins Avenue boasted some of the most audacious private homes south of New York. But Miami Beach was really nothing more than a shifting sandbar, and the alluring vision of South Florida as a land of boundless opportunity under the bright subtropical sun was as illusory as the mythical landscapes that decorated crates of oranges heading to the frozen north. So it was fitting that Harvey Firestone's dream home should be demolished to make way, in 1954, for another dreamscape, the Fontainebleau hotel. Thus began another chapter in the life of this section of Collins Avenue. As the mansions went down, the fantastical hotels went up, followed by the towering condominiums that isolated bay from ocean and man from nature. From inhospitable, mosquito-infested mangroves to concrete canyons in the bat of an eye. It's magic. It's what Miami is all about. And it's all there in this nine-block-long postcard.

Rain stops, drought threatens, Okeechobee drops, tolls rise, cops shoot, kids die, manatees die, Pan Courtelis dies, Shepard Broad dies, Elizabeth Virrick Park lives, Cubans get smuggled, John Boles gets fired, Tony Perez gets hired, Cuevas gets fired, Stierheim gets hired, the Beach goes hip-hop, Latin Grammys arrive, rain arrives, Latin Grammys split, Reno runs, AIDS infects, more cops shoot, more Cubans smuggled, Lenore Nesbitt dies, Howard Sharlin dies, Luis Sabines dies, Bryan O. Walsh dies, sex plane goes down, Bobby Maduro Stadium goes down, Sunny Isles motels go down, Miami cops throw down, Elian museum opens up, rain falls, thunderstorms roar, Chediak quits, Ninoska quits, Shalala takes charge, UM turns 75, Versailles turns 30, Norcross returns, Yahweh Ben Yahweh returns, Demetrio Perez busted, lawmen busted, civil servants busted, federal agents busted, Surana goes to jail, David Paul stays in jail, Cuban spies convicted, Reno faints, Castro faints, Judd quits, Cristina quits, Fraind quits, more rain falls, Okeechobee fills up, Lincoln Road fills up, tornadoes touch down, crime goes down, sharks bite, snakes bite, Hialeah Park folds, clinics fold, Dolphins fumble, Heat tumbles, Panthers dump Bure, Henry dumps Marlins, Loria arrives, Haitians detained, Miami cops indicted, smugglers indicted, Ramon Saul Sanchez indicted, Warshaw goes to jail, Humbertico stuck in jail, Noriega still in jail, terrorists strike, security tightens, tourists stay away, Art Basel stays away, layoffs arrive, Colombians arrive, Venezuelans arrive, Argentines arrive, Leonard Abess dies, Carlos Salman dies, Carlos D'Mant dies, anthrax strikes, recession strikes, budgets shrink, more layoffs, more AIDS, more cops indicted, still more rain, OB parade gets drenched, Bass Museum leaks, Sweetwater floods, West Nile virus arrives, Ricky Williams arrives, WTMI goes silent, Al Milian gets silenced, school board gets gouged, priests get exposed, Victor Posner dies, Rolando Barral dies, David Poland quits, DeFede quits, Reno stalls, Miami Circle stalls, Indian graves discovered, desecrated graves discovered, OJ gets searched, OB parade gets dumped, Carnival dumps, Miriam Alonso gets busted, Willie Logan gets off, Jennifer Rodriguez gets bronze, billboards take root, AIDS takes off, Tom Fiedler takes charge, Carollo is out, Diaz is in, Kasdin is out, Dermer is in, Pepper is out, Cobo is in, Marlins stadium is booed out, but Miami's animal lovers can cheer at last: After more than 30 years living in the same cramped Seaquarium tank, Lolita the hapless killer whale finally gets a new home.
Bumper to bumper to bumper on I-95. Multicar pileup? Construction? Who cares? You're stuck. But the left lane promises release. You careen up and onto the turnpike. The on-ramp curves up and around and so do you, swerving madly to avoid the little blue Toyota doing 20 and the silver Lexus doing 90, both of which want your spot. Having successfully defended your turf, you cruise on up to the toll plaza at the Golden Glades Interchange. You shoot through the SunPass lane, and in no time you're making speed, a blissful smile on your face. But you've done more than escape gridlock. You've penetrated the barrier between two worlds -- from lunacy to normalcy, from citified to sedate. You've crossed the county line. Miami awaits your return.
They line up hours in advance, sitting on lawn chairs and atop plastic coolers. Kids with balloons tied to their wrists drink orange sodas and nibble on sugar bread purchased from Calle Ocho bakeries doing brisk business. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen walks by prior to the start, absorbing the throaty cheers of her core constituency. Miami's Three Kings Parade debuted in 1971 after Fidel Castro canceled Christmas and its ancillary celebrations in Cuba. (Three Kings Day honors Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar, the three kings who followed a bright star to Bethlehem, where they presented the newborn Christ child with gold, frankincense, and myrrh.) Now a Calle Ocho tradition, Miami's parade features a slow-rolling procession of high school marching bands, Spanish-language radio hosts, entertainers such as Willy Chirino and Elvis Crespo, and sports stars such as gruesomely muscled baseball slugger José Canseco. The greatest cheers, though, rise for the rogues gallery of local politicians. City Commissioner Tomas Regalado and his daughter. City Commissioner Joe Sanchez twice, once on a car with his name stuck to the side and once again, later, on horseback. A grinning Joe Carollo, unaccompanied by a bikini-clad model now that he's unaffiliated with any public office. Angel Hernandez, a convicted felon and newly elected city commissioner, is greeted warmly, as is new mayor Manny Diaz, dapper in a blue guayabera. A red Corvette convertible slowly motors past. In the back seat, receiving blown kisses and the loudest cheers of the day, is the Fisherman, Donato Dalrymple, still a man of honor in Little Havana.
Renewing a passport can be a pain. You have to call for an appointment, then you have to wait two weeks or so, then you have to go downtown, then you have to wait, and then -- well, like we said, it's definitely a hassle. Not so at Miami City Hall. The extremely professional city clerk's office offers a painless way to apply for or renew a passport. The whole thing takes eight minutes, tops, and you don't even need an appointment. Just drop by the clerk's office window on Dinner Key, fill out a short form, hand over a small check, then walk over to the camera. Smile. After the photo develops, blush at how good-looking you are, then leave. Your passport will arrive in the mail in a matter of days. If you pay an expediting fee, you can have it even sooner. It's that easy.
Before you enter this 76-year-old landmark, you already know you're close to paradise. The magnificent Giralda Tower, languorously and glamorously lit against the blue-black Florida night sky, is one clue. But as you walk from parking lot to pool area, the smell of jasmine is so heavy you lose your bearings. Where are you? In a world of which you can only dream? Or Miami-Dade's most elegant province? That's right, this is not simply a hotel. This is another universe. You walk through archways and courtyards, click across elaborate tile floors, sit against carved wood and detailed tapestries, and know you are not in Miami anymore. You swim in one of the world's greatest pools. You eat among brilliant pinks and purples of bougainvillea and verdant banana leaves, treated like a member of the old raj. Speaking of colonial treatment, you take high tea indoors in the fabulous lobby, with choices of tea and finger sandwiches that embarrass Harrods. You sit on your private balcony and take in the tropical landscape cleverly disguised as a golf course. Good theater next door at GableStage, spa in the basement. Nooooo, you're not going anywhere.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®