A lovely hot winter's afternoon on this winding way through the Everglades adjacent to Tamiami Trail. Indians in new-model sedans waving as they blow by. Two French women pigmenting canvases with the bold black-and-white images of wood storks set against the verdancy of piny perches. A dozen alligators basking by the shallows. A rubber-booted phycologist holding a magnifying glass above a scummy rock. An assortment of unusual structures that nonconformists call home. An eyes-to-the-ground snake collector toting a pillowcase and walking stick. An anhinga spreading its wings after a postlunch swim. The blue and white of the endless sky giving way to the ochre-orange fade of the sun. Peace in the swamp. And then -- yikes! Pickup trucks with Confederate flags across the rear windows screech to a halt. Out spring cropped-top, fatigue-wearing, gun-toting, painted-face warriors of unknown affiliation. Seriously serious-looking soldiers without a war whom one dare not risk approaching. In fact hitting the gas and getting the hell out of there is the right idea. Talk about your freaks of nature.

About 25 or 30 miles out on the Tamiami Trail there's a swerving turnoff that leads to a T-shaped strip of asphalt to nowhere. It runs parallel to the trail and about three or four city blocks in length, bordered by trees, marsh, and muck. At night especially, it's rare to encounter anyone other than the occasional snake collector or frog gigger, although possums, rabbits, and plenty of other creatures, including an occasional (extremely occasional) bobcat, come out to feed, fight, or facilitate offspring. Here, there is peace. And a stunning over-the-trees view of sunsets followed by utter darkness that allows for spectacular looks at a night sky unencumbered by the ambient light of the city. To be caught here in the middle of a thunderstorm is bliss, and when the stars put on a show (meteor showers and such), there is no better place to watch as you ponder your utter insignificance in the universe.

It's been a perennial complaint from local rockers and rockeros alike: "There's no place to play in Miami!" Well, stop your whining, because Miami is now blessed with the kind of club this city's musicians have long clamored for: a space not merely booked by passionate fans of underground sounds, but run by them as well. That kind of devotion has made I/O a prime destination for some of the nation's leading alternative-rock outfits, many now making South Florida a regular -- and long overdue -- touring spot: The Walkmen, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Cat Power, Los Amigos Invisibles, and Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, for starters. Add in a solid P.A. run by a soundman who's more interested in fidelity than in causing deafness, free parking, and a patio to catch your breath or grab a smoke, and you have one of the brightest spots in Miami's musical renaissance.

It's been a perennial complaint from local rockers and rockeros alike: "There's no place to play in Miami!" Well, stop your whining, because Miami is now blessed with the kind of club this city's musicians have long clamored for: a space not merely booked by passionate fans of underground sounds, but run by them as well. That kind of devotion has made I/O a prime destination for some of the nation's leading alternative-rock outfits, many now making South Florida a regular -- and long overdue -- touring spot: The Walkmen, Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, Cat Power, Los Amigos Invisibles, and Antibalas Afrobeat Orchestra, for starters. Add in a solid P.A. run by a soundman who's more interested in fidelity than in causing deafness, free parking, and a patio to catch your breath or grab a smoke, and you have one of the brightest spots in Miami's musical renaissance.

If you're one of the few hundred thousand souls who lives through the daily purgatory of sitting in morning-rush traffic, finding an entertaining distraction is a priority on your FM dial. So forget the monotone chitchat provided by National Public Radio on WLRN-FM. Since their arrival at the Beat last year, Mexican-American brothers Eric and Nick Vidal have been tearing up weekday mornings with their double-dope old-school hip-hop and funk mixes and their popular crank-call segment "Dropping Bombs," in which lucky callers get to play a practical joke on friends, family members, co-workers, even their bosses -- on the air. From their opening cue, a happy jig mixed over The Sanford & Son television show theme song, the Bakas provide their listeners a rudely comedic awakening. Their most engrossing routine: The duo offered lucky ladies free breast implants. Hordes of young women showed up at the designated spot only to receive complimentary chicken breasts injected with saline. Most morning shows are a poor man's version of Howard Stern, which the Baka Boyz easily outshine (as could a drunk parrot and two mimes). Already far beyond that in quality, the duo are setting a new standard, marking their own territory, probably to be copied soon by other morning shows.

Your band is stone broke and perhaps of dubious talent, so what do you do about recording your masterpiece CD? Visit The Barn, of course. Fifteen years ago owner and sound engineer Dewayne Hart was tired of paying the outrageous fees well-established studios can command, so he put together his own and opened it up to other on-a-budget musicians. (He asked that the address not be published because of theft problems in the area.) While it's hardly the fanciest place -- it really is in a barn -- word began to filter through the local music community about Hart's mellow personality and willingness to help others create the sound they were seeking without any snide, condescending commentary. In an area with dozens of fine studios, including several of the best in America, low prices and selfless dedication had to win out in this category.

Your band is stone broke and perhaps of dubious talent, so what do you do about recording your masterpiece CD? Visit The Barn, of course. Fifteen years ago owner and sound engineer Dewayne Hart was tired of paying the outrageous fees well-established studios can command, so he put together his own and opened it up to other on-a-budget musicians. (He asked that the address not be published because of theft problems in the area.) While it's hardly the fanciest place -- it really is in a barn -- word began to filter through the local music community about Hart's mellow personality and willingness to help others create the sound they were seeking without any snide, condescending commentary. In an area with dozens of fine studios, including several of the best in America, low prices and selfless dedication had to win out in this category.

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon, after you've finished a full day of terrorizing everyone in your office or shop, you don't have to hate yourself. Sure, you've made your secretary's job a living hell, you've tormented your codependent girlfriend, you've sadistically tortured your wife. Radio host Jacqueline Hazel has a place for you in her heart. In her afternoon broadcast, The Forgiveness Forecast, Hazel touts the power of saying "sorry." Listen to Hazel on your drive home and you'll feel redeemed and ready to face that deep, dark truthful mirror above your bathroom sink. You'll regain the strength to continue the next day doing the awful things you do. And then apologize for. Nice way to beat the system, Hazel. Seriously, it's like Catholicism. Do whatever the hell you want, just make sure you get yourself absolved. And what better way to make amends than to apologize. After you finish listening to this uplifting show.

Formerly dubbed Soul Oddity, they were hometown champions of electronic music, pioneering Miami's rave scene. A dispute with their first label, Astralwerks, inspired a change in name and attitude. As Phoenecia, the quirky duo (Joshua Kay and Romulo del Castillo) have spearheaded the Intelligent Dance Music (IDM) movement with their inventive, chirpy, blip-and-bass antics. They have set aside recording to run their label, Schematic Music, and to manage other artists. But lately they've been performing out, including a Soul Oddity tribute concert in the Design District that drew hundreds of old-school fans clamoring for the once-hot tune "DJ Tokyo." Phoenecia puts art -- abstract collages of synthesized sound -- before pandering to fans. The future-is-now approach leads many to consider them legends ahead of their time.

Formerly dubbed Soul Oddity, they were hometown champions of electronic music, pioneering Miami's rave scene. A dispute with their first label, Astralwerks, inspired a change in name and attitude. As Phoenecia, the quirky duo (Joshua Kay and Romulo del Castillo) have spearheaded the Intelligent Dance Music (IDM) movement with their inventive, chirpy, blip-and-bass antics. They have set aside recording to run their label, Schematic Music, and to manage other artists. But lately they've been performing out, including a Soul Oddity tribute concert in the Design District that drew hundreds of old-school fans clamoring for the once-hot tune "DJ Tokyo." Phoenecia puts art -- abstract collages of synthesized sound -- before pandering to fans. The future-is-now approach leads many to consider them legends ahead of their time.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®