For closing down the MacArthur Causeway, BBII lived up to its name. But we're willing to bet that once the film opens, all will be forgiven. The original Bad Boys was arguably the first film to portray Miami as a truly urban center, with all its glitz and its grit, and we have similar expectations for the sequel. Besides the reteaming of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, aren't you just a teeny bit curious about that causeway sequence? Special mention goes to the practically straight-to-video Big Trouble. Based on the book by Dave Barry, the subject of a nuclear device on a passenger plane was too hot to handle post 9/11. Despite its many flaws, the film boasts some memorable moments of Barry's spot-on skewering of the local scene and its population.

You know immediately that something is different about this warehouse. It's the same height as the others but the roof forms some nice angles. The tri-color scheme -- terracotta, olive, and clay -- on its tripartite front wall tells you maybe it's not a warehouse at all. "It's about uplifting you," architect Marilyn Avery says of her creation, located in a downtrodden section of the Wynwood warehouse district. And who needs more of a lift than someone who has spent a little too much time on the streets (like a homeless mom). Rather than plopping down a bizarre-looking "object-building," Avery drew from the zone's indigenous warehouse vernacular. "I took that form and just made it exuberant," she explains, looking up from the sidewalk at the richly colored front wall. The parking lot is hidden in back so as not to clutter the exuberance of the entrance. When they step inside, parents and kids look up to a 40-foot-tall ceiling gently illuminated by outdoor light streaming in through the clerestory windows. There is also something soothing, even primal, about the natural materials. Shiny black granite and glossy medium-brown birch form a large reception desk. Waist-high birch panels run horizontally along the slate walls, and there's more wood inside the four classrooms in the form of cabinets and window panes. Then there's the Zenlike beauty of the smooth concrete floors. Much thought went into the indirectly illuminated basketball gym, with the help of lighting guru William Lam. Thanks to more clerestory windows and the reflective properties of various white surfaces (the walls and the fabric suspended from the ceiling), there are no glaring bulbs to mess up someone's game. All the lighting is indirect. "You never lose the ball up there," Avery affirms.

Miami is poor, poor, poor. Miami is so poor it's not even funny. Almost one-third of city residents live in poverty, according to the 2000 Census. More than eleven percent are unemployed, and per capita income overall is less than the cost of an economy car. Almost half our residents never graduated from high school. Don't even get us started on the lack of home-ownership. The reasons for all this are many and varied and stretch back in time for decades. But in 2002 a glimmer of hope shined through when Miami Mayor Manny Diaz (pressured by the good folks at the Human Services Coalition of Miami-Dade County, among others) announced his intention to make fighting poverty a priority of his administration. To this end the mayor said he would funnel city funds into existing anti-poverty initiatives, encourage residents to take advantage of tax credits and save money, promote small businesses, and attempt to adopt a living-wage ordinance. Not overly ambitious, but certainly a refreshing change from the city's usual strategy of frittering away federal funds for years while the inner cities rot. The mettle of Mayor Diaz has yet to be tested, and the results of this initiative (coordinated by HSC, the United Way, and others) measured, but at least now our people's pain is out in the open. That's something of a victory.

The revolution may or may not be televised but it certainly will be litigated. The revolt here is aimed at decreasing the power of money over candidates and the civic process generally. Last year Miami Beach commissioners passed an ordinance to require lobbyists working the city to disclose their fees. They and their clients make money from the public so shouldn't the public know how much is going to lobbyists? Maybe if we knew how much a company with a city contract pays its lobbyists, we wouldn't pay the company so darn much. Lobbyist Rodney Barreto sees it differently and has challenged it in court. That was a good law but an even better one bans the mayor and city commissioners from accepting campaign contributions from a distinctive group of people: Miami Beach lobbyists who represent real estate developers or companies that sell things to the city, or are trying to. Under the law, the developers and vendors themselves also are forbidden from contributing to campaign accounts. Cool, huh? Let's hope it stands up under further review by the city commission.

As the city spills ever outward, formerly rural residential land becomes densely populated suburban sprawl. This particular traffic nightmare -- about a mile east of Metrozoo -- is a maze of too-short turn lanes spilling stopped traffic onto busy SW 152nd Street, traffic lights at seemingly random intervals, horn-honking motorists, and general craziness that makes people wonder whatever happened to their once-idyllic neighborhood.

Sometimes the safety and efficiency of your Toyota sedan is positively suffocating. With so many SUVs hogging the road and polluting the air, yours screams mindless conformity. There are times when you need to break free and feel a liquid-cooled, 115-horsepower, 1130cc fuel-injected Harley engine vibrating between your legs as the wind blows through your hair. American Road Collection has daily and weekly rates for its Fat Boys, Road Kings, V-Rods, and Electra Glide Classics. At roughly $150 per day, that's likely to get your motor running. Think of it as an investment in your inner wild child.

Dan normally strolls Lincoln Road, but he can also be seen on Collins up around 21st Street. He claims this award because of his attitude and his sad story. He has no problem discussing his life. Mainly the subject is what happened to his left hand. All that's left is a nub resembling a potato. He says he lost it in a meat-grinder accident working at his father's old factory. But the hand tragedy isn't all there is to Dan. He's undoubtedly the most polite bum on South Beach. Though he is smallish, and weathered in that distinctly homeless way, his stature is a sight to see when he's panhandling. He stands ramrod straight, looking positively confident. When he asks for spare change, his tone is quiet, almost meek. And if the answer is No, it's "Thank you, have a nice day," and that's the end of it. He never asks twice.

Psssst, this is a good one. Absolutely free parking, with only the thinnest of strings attached. A two-block stretch of Twelfth Street next to Flamingo Park's athletic field is reserved for school buses during high school games, mainly football. It's busy a handful of nights a year. The rest of the time? Absolutely free unlimited parking. No residential permit required, no meters, no threat of getting towed. Park there and it's a quick walk to Lincoln Road, Washington Avenue, and the beach. It's such a good spot it'd be a shame to, you know, publicize it in some free weekly.

Indomitable party czar Barton G knows more than anyone the elements needed for a successful social gathering: a fabulous setting, plenty of tasty food, and endlessly flowing drink. Add to that a couple of aloof giraffes, a friendly chimp, half-naked dancing girls, a selection of disco stars, and teeming hordes struggling to get in and you have the ultimate affair, which he threw this past October to inaugurate his namesake Barton G the Restaurant. With military precision more than 800 guests arrived at a parking lot near the Miami Beach Convention Center, checked in, and then boarded shuttle buses that took them on a short jaunt to Fourteenth Street and West Avenue, formerly home to Gatti's and Starfish. Beyond the velvet ropes loomed one of this town's truly over-the-top bacchanals. Giraffes posed lackadaisically on the sidewalk like detached supermodels. Sabrina the chimp, dressed in a chef's uniform and toque, signed autographs and waved the crowd into a large air-conditioned tent filled with food stations. There, cooks made pasta dishes to order, served up miniature hot dogs, cheeseburgers, and lamb chops. Several bars offered a plethora of beverages. A cornucopia of cookies, cakes, brownies, and tiny candy apples beckoned by the door. The neighboring twinkly lit garden featured a similar setup. But back at the tent was where the entertainment dazzled. Dancers sporting feathery headdresses and not much else energetically kicked up their heels. The Trammps, Thelma Houston, Evelyn "Champagne" King, and Gloria Gaynor crooned their greatest hits under a glittering disco ball. Celebs such as Sopranos star Joe Pantoliano hobnobbed with the little people. Alas, close to midnight the spell was broken and the merrymaking had to end. But knowing the eatery's first anniversary is a scant five months away, we eagerly await what the brilliant Mr. G has up his sleeve for the next bash.

Picture an enchanted jungle village with coral walkways leading to cozy stone cottages with arched doorways and Spanish-tile roofs. Picture flowers and birds and some fairy tale only you could write. Gladys Margarita Diaz and Ray Jourdain live here in this secluded estate, built from native rock in the Twenties, and they rent the smaller cottages. But they and all their tenants will move out for anyone who wants to rent the whole place and its Eden atmospherics. Built by Ohio banker and real estate developer Warren W. Zinsmaster, this lushly landscaped relic of a grander age also includes an open dance floor, a 30-foot coral rock tunnel, and a pond.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®