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.

The damn car's A/C broke. Hurricane season has begun, with temperatures never dipping below the average on planet Mercury. And you're stuck in that perpetual traffic jam next to the airport. Life couldn't get worse. But hark! There is a very thin silver lining. Bring on the heat! Bring on the sweat! Bring on the tractor trailer that cuts in front of you and comes to a complete standstill! You are experiencing the cheapest and easiest diet program known to Miami Man. The longer it takes to get to Kendall, the more the pounds will melt away (do carry a water bottle, though, as we want you to remain alive). And remember, if you do happen to gain back a few pounds, September is just as hot!

Outhouse of mirrors. First drink: It's a fun house. Second drink: It's the ever-receding reflection of your sense of self. Third drink: It's the Versailles (the one in France, not Little Havana)!

During his first season in aqua and orange, the dreadlocked one busted out for 1853 yards on the ground. That broke the Dolphins' single-season rushing record and garnered for Williams the NFL's rushing title. (He also broke Miami Herald sports columnist Dan Le Batard's record for most coverage in a single season.) The Dolphonics gave up two first-round and two fourth-round draft picks to grab Williams from New Orleans and have him run roughshod over arch-rival New York Jets, the New England Patriots, and the Buffalo Bills. Naturally Miami's NFL franchise, in typical fashion, wasted (check that: obliterated) Williams's banner year by missing the playoffs in yet another end-of-the-season collapse.

Miami-Dade Transit's Route B is a study in contrasts. Originating downtown, your bus soon offers a postcard view of the concrete jungle you left behind and of the Brickell skyline as it crosses the Rickenbacker Causeway on the way to the manicured municipality of Key Biscayne. This trip affords access to several of Miami's prime recreation locales. You can hop off to visit Virginia Key's sandy coves or Seaquarium; the golf course, tennis courts, and beach of Crandon Park; or stay to the end of the line to reach Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park (for the park, the bus sign must indicate "Key Biscayne by Way of Crandon Boulevard"). By taking public transport you also save on the Bill Baggs admission fee.

He has long been regarded as the team's best defensive player and the most underrated cornerback in the league, often overshadowed by the team's other Pro Bowl corner, Sam Madison. But this season Surtain wasn't content to let his six interceptions speak for themselves. Having learned that media savvy can do as much for a career as game-day heroics, he announced that, after five years in the NFL, everyone had been pronouncing his name incorrectly. Surtain isn't supposed to rhyme with train, like sportscasters and fans had thought all along. The correct articulation is sir-tan, which made for excellent play-by-play fodder. Then, midway through this past season, his wife Michelle publicly campaigned for him to be given his overdue recognition as the best corner on the team. Apparently it paid off. He was picked for his first Pro Bowl, but also drew the ire and jealousy of his colleague Madison. Publicity stunts aside, Surtain is a game-breaker. Although running back Ricky Williams and defensive end Jason Taylor put up the most numbers, Surtain always sealed the deal when the team needed the big play. The last-second, one-handed interception that beat the eventual AFC champion Oakland Raiders was prime time.

Readers Choice: Ricky Williams

Why? Because he's so damn entertaining. Because he's not afraid to lie down in a $1000 suit in front of a jury to approximate a corpse. Because he comes up with cute nicknames for opposing counsel (he mockingly told a jury that if federal prosecutor Allan Kaiser got his way, police would blow kisses to criminals rather than arrest them; he called it the "Kaiser Kiss"). Because he moves his arms constantly when summarizing. Because there's not a gag order around that can shut him up. Because if you're a cop accused of something very, very bad, so bad you don't think you have a prayer, this is the guy who will put on a show that just might distract the jury enough to get you off.

Santa's Enchanted Forest
When you're baked, nothing beats a carnival of lights. Santa's Enchanted Forest, which runs from early November through the first week of January, is a great place to bug out and munch out. First you go through the acid-inspired Christmas displays, enhanced by more than three million flickering Christmas lights draped overhead in the forest of Australian pines. Along the way you encounter the off-the-chain performances of Kachunga the alligator, Dondi the Elephant, and Randall's High Diving Pigs. For the truly adventurous, test your limits by climbing aboard any of the looping, twirling, twisting carnival rides operated by substance-impaired carnies. Talk about a thrill. But best of all, Santa's is a great place to alleviate the munchies. Succulent turkey legs, tangy barbecued chicken, jumbo-size corn dogs, piping-hot ears of corn, and our personal favorite: sweet elephant ears.

Well, okay, the Lord never said, "Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbor with electoral fraud." But Tony! Neither did He say, "Go forth and bear false witness to petition signatures because homosexuals belongeth to an axis of evil." In the absence of an explicit prohibition, our local Christian Coalition leader apparently figured there'd be no problem. The issue was repeal of the Miami-Dade law forbidding discrimination against our neighbors because they are gay, lesbian, bi, straight, or asexual. Last August state law-enforcement officers arrested Verdugo and charged him with one felony count of false swearing during the Take Back Miami-Dade petition drive that forced this repeal question onto the September 10, 2002 ballot. (Agents also arrested three others in the Take Back family.) A few hours later Verdugo was out on bond, unrepentant, and preaching on AM radio about how he had been framed by Miami-Dade Mayor Alex Penelas, the supervisor of elections, various prosecutors, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and other members of the homosexualist Mafia. Verdugo hit bottom, however, when he took little Elian's name in vain. He told listeners that his own arrest reminded him of that early morning in April 2000 when federal agents swooped in and snatched the miracle child. Verdugo now knows the power of mercy, if he didn't before. Because he was a first-time offender, prosecutors gave him the option of performing community service instead of standing trial. And so the charge was dropped.

No doubt about it, the hands-down winner this year was the touring production of the long-running, groundbreaking Broadway musical hit, featuring director Julie Taymor's stunning visual imagination. Using a blend of lithe, live actors; huge carnival-like puppets; and an array of exotic theatrical traditions, Taymor took the popular Disney animated movie and did it one better, reinventing it as spectacular, unforgettable theater. The Lion King blended traditional American musical elements with classic literature (the story of a dispossessed lion cub is a reworking of Hamlet) together with a joyful celebration of African culture. The show was also a happy merger of art and commerce as the Broward Center for the Performing Arts was packed throughout the show's sold-out run.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®