The best man on a mediocre team, center Jokinen leads the Panthers in points, goals, and assists. He was expected to be a star after Los Angeles selected him third in the 1997 draft, but he ended up being wildly inconsistent his first four seasons. Since then he has greatly improved, which is good news for the Panthers, who've been losing steam (on the ice and at the box office) since handing the 1996 Stanley Cup to Colorado. Today Jokinen and goalie Roberto Luongo are playing almost as if hockey actually matters in South Florida. Does it?

Readers Choice: Roberto Luongo

South Florida is blessed with an abundance of theater for kids, but none tops the Actors' Playhouse, which takes children's theater very, very seriously. For starters the Playhouse, one of the area's major professional companies, has created an entirely separate children's division, led by peripatetic artistic director Earl Maulding. He produces a full season of plays for children, as well as providing classes and workshops. Maulding and executive director Barbara Stein aim for excellence, hiring experienced professional actors and designers to staff their children's shows. Then there's the company's National Children's Theatre Festival, which holds a national competition for new children's plays and stages a spectacular weekend event for the winner's world premiere. Finally there's the context of all of this: Children who come watch the plays often discover they want to attend the main-stage adult fare the Playhouse offers. Some kids from the training program end up onstage themselves in the big Playhouse musicals like this past season's The Sound of Music. Actors' Playhouse not only offers the best in children's entertainment, it's providing South Florida with an important cultural service by nurturing the audiences of tomorrow.

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.

Her passport put her age at 82, but relatives think she was at least 90 when this nation's grande dame of the sleazy art film departed Miami this past August 10 on a nudist cruise to hell. At least that was the destination Doris Wishman always thought she'd booked, owing to the naughty nature of her movies. Indeed her reputed cult classic is Bad Girls Go to Hell. But so extensive was this Coral Gables denizen's following that the boat surely dropped her off at that cinema paradiso in the sky, probably still wearing an imitation leopard-skin suit and retro sunglasses. In the Sixties Wishman's low-budget shoots explored a strange universe of nudism. They include Hideout in the Sun, in which two bank robbers hide from the police in a nudist camp, and Blaze Starr Goes Nudist. Another classic overlooked by the Academy was Nude on the Moon, in which astronauts touch down and find a welcoming committee of naked women with antennas and bouffant hairdos. She even delved into heavy international political themes with Behind the Nudist Curtain. As the decade progressed, the self-taught director gradually refined her grainy black-and-white melodramas in which crude men tended to abuse scantily clad women. Critics raved about her jarring jump-cut closeups to ashtrays, squirrels, heaving breasts. Her filmography is a veritable review of Sixties history: Another Day, Another Man; The Sex Perils of Paulette; Bad Girls Go to Hell; Indecent Desires; A Taste of Her Flesh. Perhaps it was a lust for money that led to her mid-Seventies hardcore phase (Come With Me, My Love). But mostly she eschewed explicit sex in her art, preferring to revel instead in tasteless weirdness. A few years later the prolific filmmaker culminated her dream of making a horror flick with A Day to Dismember, about a female porn actress turned psycho-killer. After a long hiatus and a stint working at the Pink Pussycat sex boutique in Coconut Grove, Wishman returned in the new millennium with the lyrical Dildo Heaven and the violent yet sexy Satan Was a Lady. She was editing Each Time I Kill at the time of her death. In the end, she was a crazy sweetheart. "I made all my films out of love," Wishman purred.

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

Cuban immigrant Gerardo Gonzalez was one of the most popular boxers of the Fifties. As "Kid Gavilan" he won a world title against Johnny Bratton in 1951 at Madison Square Garden. He was inducted into the Boxing Hall of Fame in 1990. Gavilan was notorious for overwhelming his opponents with flurries of punches coming from all angles, and coined a notorious strike called the "bolo punch," a potentially lethal uppercut. He retired at age 32 with a record of 107 wins and 30 losses (28 KOs). In 1958 Gavilan returned to revolutionary Cuba only to have his property confiscated. Like so many others he escaped to that intermediary land of Miami, where he remained a vital source of information and energy in the boxing world. Gonzalez died of a heart attack February 13, 2002, in Miami. He was 77 years old. Papers in England, Scotland, and Australia wrote obituaries commemorating his career.

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.

Even with an injured hand, Lamar Murphy, native son of Overtown, continues to win professional lightweight bouts. At a recent Miami Fight Night, the 30-year-old brawler dominated Colombian rival Isidro Tejedor, landing vicious left jabs and uppercuts. Despite an injured right, his fleet feet and stubborn resolve scored the points he needed. With a 29-6 record, the 135-pound Murphy is ranked top contender in his weight division by the U.S. Boxing Association and number twelve by the International Boxing Federation. Twice he's fought for championship belts, narrowly losing one decision in 1996. Now he's clawing his way to the top again, angling for a chance at another title match. When that right hand fully heals, watch out.

As anyone who has schlepped from parking lot to parking lot on a "historical tour" of the city knows, history in Miami is written by the pavers. The Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center for the Performing Arts is a stunning exception. A show-stopper since opening as a silent movie palace in 1926, the theater was rescued from an asphalt fate by Maurice Gusman, who donated the palace to the City of Miami in 1975. Nearly 30 years later the simulated night sky atop the Moorish arches and turrets had lost much of its brilliance; the once twinkling stars had dimmed. Then a concerted effort by the county Department of Cultural Affairs and the Miami Parking Authority (which runs the theater) brightened up the place last year with a $2.1 million restoration. Additional work will be required to update the Gusman as a fully functioning, modern performing arts facility. But for now the theater's cloud-casting lantern is spinning again and a proud stuffed peacock is perched upon a Moorish balcony, a rare symbol of the Magic City's architectural memory.

Sometimes a performer finds the perfect role, or the perfect role finds her. Maybe it's karma or the planets' alignment. Maybe it's sheer luck or hard work -- or all of the above. Whatever the reason, Claire Tyler was the right actress in the right role as JC333 (Jaycee Triplethree), the android actress heroine of Alan Ayckbourn's dark fantasy Comic Potential at Actors' Playhouse. Tyler's performance clearly delineated JC's slow awakening to some hidden core of humanity. Her 'droid's awkward movements began to turn into some kind of nascent grace, and her squawk-box voice mellowed into something musical. The role also had a theatrical dash, as when Jaycee went haywire, spouting bits of long-past performances that had somehow been stored in her hard drive. Tyler has been very fortunate in her short theatrical career, working with top area directors and with excellent scripts. Besides her fine work with David Arisco in Comic Potential and the recent Sherlock's Last Case, she also scored in a trio of Joe Adler productions at GableStage: The Shape of Things, Popcorn, and The Play About the Baby. But it is the android with a heart of gold who remains the most memorable role of her young career.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®