SECOND-BEST REASON TO STAY IN MIAMI FOR THE SUMMER

Back-yard mangoes

They're sweet and juicy, big as softballs, and more numerous than flies on a cow. They're versatile, too. You can make them into breads, cakes, salsas, jams, or chutneys. And if you know someone with a tree (and who doesn't at least have a friend of a friend?), mangoes are free all season, from spring to autumn, when mango-tree owners actually are relieved to see the last one plop to the ground. What else could you ask for from a fruit? Only that it not crack your skull on the way down.

The master. Those familiar black forms and silhouettes that help us travel through Bedia's artistic journeys -- into exile, across seas, to the African motherland, into the spirit world -- returned better and yes, bigger this year, reminding us that the master of Cuban contemporary art lives right here. We saw his recognizable yet singular pieces at Art Basel, the Miami Art Museum, and especially the Fredric Snitzer Gallery. There in an exhibit of new works his black forms took literal shape, the spectral sculptures towering over his other creations, which included painting and installations that thematically meshed at the intersection of the spiritual and material worlds. His pieces are now held by museums across the globe, and he was recently spotlighted in two big shows in New York City and at Stanford University. But Bedia is still our best.

Think global, act local. Camillus House has been serving Miami's poor and homeless for more than 40 years, and given the way the economy is going, their unfortunate ranks are likely to grow. So start exploring your closets and dressers with this rule in mind: If it hasn't been worn in a year, it's time to go. Don't fret that those trendy togs may one day come back in style. Giving is always in fashion.

The mass of openings around Art Basel were incredible, but don't forget that there were 51 other weeks this year. On a Saturday night in March one show stood out above the rest. Holograms hung from the ceiling, sat on the floor, were mounted on walls. The images changed as you moved through the darkened warehouse space that is the Dorsch Gallery. Oops! As you twisted around to inspect one hologram (artist Koven taught himself how to make them) you ran smack into another viewer. Or wait, did she run into you? Indeed human "bumpers" were part of the show. As were two huge SUVs parked inside, with taped audio conversations emanating from their stereo speakers. You climbed inside and felt the expensive leather seats caressing your legs. Or wait -- maybe that was a "bumper" again. The single hologram hanging in the area with the massive "cars" looked like a hat. But as you moved closer to check it out, words appeared on the bottom: "This is not a hat."

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.

They flopped, naked, across the art gallery's floor. They looked like fish, struggling to return to water. As they flopped by your feet, you watched as the muscles propelled them around the room. You watched them flip from backside to frontside, and moved to get out of their way. The dancers from Rio de Janeiro put on quite a show, courtesy of Tigertail Productions. Mostly it was about movement, as a single man opened the performance by slowly, slowly moving his hand; and three women entangled themselves in each other so you couldn't tell whose hand belonged to which body, whose hair hung from what head. Eventually, on the eve of war, they put up a political protest (okay, sometimes bits of clothing kept coming off). At the end you couldn't help but look at the human body in a very different way, and maybe come away with some respect for other bodies about to be shocked and awed.

Residents experienced shock and awe when Miami administrators used public money to actually build something decent in Model City, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the nation's poorest city. This $3.5 million, one-story facility is so nice that even Commissioner Art Teele is proud to hold public meetings there at the Black Box Theater or the big new carpeted conference room. So are the prestigious board members of the Model City Community Revitalization Trust, who are planning an artful low-income housing renaissance nearby. A local homeowners association provided some of the pressure to make the community center a reality and now has an office in the building. Some people miss the old boxing gym that once stood on this land, but you can always find a garage in which to punch. You can't take swimming lessons in a garage, however, but you can do that at the Miller J. Dawkins Swimming Complex at Hadley. There is also a fitness center for kids of all ages and a walking track and aerobics classes for seniors. The center is open from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. weekdays; 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday.

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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.

These are arguably the least congested toll booths on the turnpike's Homestead extension. Easily readable signs direct motorists to four SunPass lanes, four exact-change lanes, and eight change-provided lanes. The 75-cent toll also buys you a nice glimpse into the overdeveloped western fringes of Miami-Dade County, with cloned single-family houses to the east and explosive rock-mining operations to the west.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®