The 37-year-old Garcia was known in Havana as the host of the television program De la Gran Escena (From the Big Scene). "I talked about literature, film, and theater," he says. Anything but politics. His eschewing of that, he says, cost him his job in 1999, after fourteen years on the Cuban national boob tube. "I want to live in a society where debating and thinking is possible, not in a trench in which ideas are used to exclude someone from professional life or from the civil society of a country." Here, on his WQBA-AM (1140) nighttime talk show La Noche Se Mueve (The Night Moves), he is constantly declaiming the importance of pluralism, freedom of expression, the U.S. Constitution, and respect for ideas. "Those things don't fly in a totalitarian society," he notes wryly. Sometimes they don't fly in Miami. For example, when other locutors of the AM waves recently took up the subject of Havana-based pro-democracy dissident Oswaldo Payá, they and callers ragged on Payá for being a dupe of the Castro regime. Garcia, in contrast, had a show featuring Payá himself via telephone so callers could rag on him directly. (Others praised Payá, while some actually attempted to inform themselves by asking him questions.) Because Miami is Miami, Garcia's pluralistic tendencies draw accusations that he is a Red. One night the seemingly harmless topic was "integration" -- as in Cubans in the "diaspora" reuniting with their estranged compatriots on the island. An angry caller boasted that he had left Cuba in 1968 and would never go back until the Communists are gone. He was also sure that most people who travel to and from Cuba and talk about democracy are secretly Communists. The caller even suspected there was a "Fidelito" (little Fidel) hiding inside Edmundo. The host wholeheartedly disagreed, but instead of yelling, he threw the First Amendment at the caller. "You think there's a Fidelito in me," Garcia summarized, "and that's your opinion."

This wasn't a good year for most South Florida head coaches. Pat Riley's championship vision fell out from under him. Dave Wannstedt's game planning was plagued by second-guessing. And four out of five South Floridians can't even name the Marlins' or Panthers' coaches. The only consistent winner has been the University of Miami Hurricanes football team. Insiders know that the most important factor in the Canes' 35-2 record over the past three seasons has been their offensive line, the most dominant in college football. The big guys don't get a lot of glory, but they get plenty of respect. So does Art Kehoe, offensive-line coach and an ex-UM lineman himself. The year the Canes won it all, their golden-boy quarterback, Ken Dorsey, was sacked just three times the entire season, a national record. Over the past three seasons, the offensive line also cleared the way for three straight 1000-yard rushers. When Kehoe speaks, the squad listens or else; the discipline he demands is legendary, which helps explain why he's produced nearly a dozen NFL linemen. But he is also one of the most lovable guys in the locker room, a true player's coach.

Readers Choice: Pat Riley

There's no denying the creaky old stadium in Little Havana is dirty and decayed. If the right nut or bolt were to come loose, the whole thing might come tumbling down. But sporting events like soccer matches and football games -- the two most often played there -- are not meant to be tidy. For a truly raucous sporting experience, no other venue rocks (and literally shakes) like the Orange Bowl. But every negotiation the City of Miami (the stadium's owner) undertakes with current and potential tenants ends in an argument over renovations. The city should bite the bullet and invest in needed repairs. Aside from the storied history (some of the most memorable college football games in history have been played there), the actual experience of being present on a sold-out Saturday afternoon, awaiting battle with Florida State, palm trees swaying at the end of the eastern end zone, Miami's skyline filling the background, is overwhelming, especially if you're sitting in the closed end, where the student section and general-admission seats are located. Quite simply, there is nothing like it.

No local sportscaster has a meaner task than Ducis Rodgers. His hosting duties on WSVN's weekly Sports Xtra should earn him combat pay. In addition to sifting through local team tidbits, commenting on star athletes' antics, and providing steep segues for boring golf highlights, he is required to referee the two most indigestible personalities on South Florida television: fellow reporter Steve "Snide" Shapiro and super agent Drew "Jerry McGuire" Rosenhaus. Ducis always seems to be in their favor as they clamor for his support, but he always puts them in their place with a smiling, backhanded compliment, and they love him for it. He also gets away with saying things other sportscasters won't, speaking between the lines of his engaging observations. When Mike Tyson shammed boxing fans by beating Clifford Etienne in a ridiculous 49-second bout, Ducis introduced the highlights with a subtle cough and question-marked grin as he dragged the word fight from his throat. The man also happens to be quite the cool Miami cat who's a regular on South Beach's glitz-and-glam club circuit. Go, Ducis.

Readers Choice: Jimmy Cefalo, WPLG-TV (Channel 10)

Nicholas Cole is an odd, gentle fellow with the manner of a man not quite of this time and place. Silver of beard, typically clothed in flowing, monkish robes, Cole is a practitioner of the ancient art of storytelling. For years he's been a regular at Renaissance festivals, coffeehouses, restaurants, bookstores, and bars around South Florida. His specialty, you might have guessed, is the medieval tale, which he delivers in full costume, often with the aid of a drum. In another life Cole was a rehabilitation counselor and special-education teacher at local schools. He sometimes claims to be a 480-year-old relic of the Renaissance who is trying to find the Fountain of Youth. But his most fantastic tale isn't about knights and ladies, dragons and goblins. It's about his 2002 run for the District 2 school-board seat against wily incumbent Solomon Stinson. Now, who would believe that?

It's about time Kwiat received recognition as a one-man repertory company. A chameleon of an actor who appears regularly in many local theaters, Kwiat is a director's dream. He can take the tiniest role and turn it into a perfectly realized character. Some of his recent work was memorable -- the brooding Irish drinker in The Weir and the embittered Yiddish actor in Smithereens, both at New Theatre; as well as his hilarious cameos in Comic Potential at Actors' Playhouse. But it was GableStage's Dirty Blonde that really turned into a Kwiat riot as he rolled out one carefully etched characterization after another.

Morgan has long been well-known and well liked on the local theater scene, but her work this season really showed off her range of skills. The British-born actress recently knocked off the crotchety Scottish housekeeper Mrs. Hudson in Sherlock's Last Case for Actors' Playhouse, plus some bizarre comedic cameos as an android actress and a wacky wigged hooker in Comic Potential, also at AP. And her work in Tom Walker for the New Theatre was a range in itself -- playing Tom's nightmare of a harridan wife and doubling as his new love, the harried Widow Baine. While Morgan has been lauded for each of these performances, it's the breadth of her abilities that's really remarkable. Some actors do well by playing the same role over and over. Lisa Morgan is never the same twice.

This year the nod goes to the New Theatre, Coral Gables's Little Theater That Could. It may be tiny in size but its creative vision is large indeed. Recently recognized as one of the top 50 theaters in the nation by the venerable Drama Guild of New York, the New Theatre promotes inclusion as well as excellence. It is one of the few theaters in South Florida that actively casts minorities in main-stage productions, and its policy of subsidizing student ticket prices can't be beat. Where else can a student with an ID grab a ticket to truly professional theater for just five dollars? Founding artistic director Rafael de Acha can always be counted on to deliver nuanced, elegant productions. Another asset is de Acha's eclectic programming strategy, which serves up a provocative menu of contemporary off-Broadway hits, classics (two Shakespeares are on the plate this summer), and especially new plays from a trio of talented playwrights: Nilo Cruz, Mario Diament, and Michael McKeever, works the company often commissions. It's this patient development of and ongoing relationship with writing talent that really sets New Theatre apart from the pack.

This stunning, dreamlike musical was not only the clear champion of the season, it was the best of the past several years. Featuring the gorgeous, complex chromatic harmonies of composer Adam Guettel and Tina Landau's textured, character-driven book, Floyd Collins tracked a simple, true-life tale of a Kentucky man who got stuck in a cave, a misfortune that became a national media obsession. Everything about this production clicked. The cast featured an array of local and New York talent at its best. To this add David Arisco's fluid and inventive staging, a simple but hugely effective set design from Gene Seyffer, great sound design from Nate Rausch, evocative lighting from Stuart Reiter, and Mary Lynne Izzo's carefully detailed costumes. The result was a daring, provocative production that set a new standard for South Florida theatrical excellence.

About seven years ago Robert Moehling, owner of the renowned fruit and vegetable market bearing his name, boarded a collection of turtles and tortoises for his friend Richard Paul, who was leaving town. Moehling was thinking trash removal. The creatures helpfully eat his organic refuse. Now the acre he set aside for the hardbacks has become an intriguing roadside stop. About 40 turtles, including bright-green spur-thighs, so-named because of the large scales jutting from their legs, mix in lethargic grace with others termed simply redfoots and yellowfoots. But clearly the star of the show is Centurion, a Galapagos tortoise who is between 160 and 170 years old, weighs approximately 725 pounds, and ambles about like a slow-moving coffee table. Apparently Centurion had some trouble sharing his space with a large Aldabra turtle named M-2. From the sign on the enclosure: "Centurion #11 isn't usually here because he can't stand M-2.... Centurion has his reasons. M-2 walks, stands, and sits on Centurion's food, cuts him off, makes disgusting noises, and doesn't make the proper Galapagos tortoise head-raising signs in greeting." You'll be happy to know they tolerate each other now, so you can catch both. Best of all, Moehling doesn't charge to view the beasts.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®