The filler-music providers described in Billy Joel's old song deserve a hefty tip for nothing else but forcing out "Stormy Monday" or "As Time Goes By" for the millionth time. Life's better, though, when this tall, dark, and T-shirted Dharma Bomb frontman and soloist sits at a Steinway or Baldwin and makes the hammers dance across the strings via his nuanced, evocative fingering of the 88s. Emotion mounts in a quiet place of grace, with nothing but the flowing and surging of piano precision beneath his eloquent vocals. Whether he's intonating thoughtful songs from his own catalogue of tunes or rephrasing the words of more famous cover songs to fit the situation, Thompson always finds the right touch.

The filler-music providers described in Billy Joel's old song deserve a hefty tip for nothing else but forcing out "Stormy Monday" or "As Time Goes By" for the millionth time. Life's better, though, when this tall, dark, and T-shirted Dharma Bomb frontman and soloist sits at a Steinway or Baldwin and makes the hammers dance across the strings via his nuanced, evocative fingering of the 88s. Emotion mounts in a quiet place of grace, with nothing but the flowing and surging of piano precision beneath his eloquent vocals. Whether he's intonating thoughtful songs from his own catalogue of tunes or rephrasing the words of more famous cover songs to fit the situation, Thompson always finds the right touch.

In our fantasy, the best place for a first date would be an exotic faraway locale like Casablanca or Spain's Costa del Sol. We'd meet in secret under the stars, perhaps pursued by nefarious forces, in the ruin of an old Moorish castle by the sea. You would look stunning in the half-light, gingerly stepping around a peacock as you approach through the rubble. We would kiss furtively, then part, fearing for our safety yet certain to meet again. In the meantime, let's meet at the restored Olympia Theater at the Gusman in downtown Miami. The faux Moorish architecture and simulated night sky will do for a setting. A peacock stares out from a box beside the stage. You will look stunning as you step gingerly up the steep balcony stairs, perhaps pursued by an usher, your hands filled with popcorn. If we pick the right night, Casablanca may be on the screen. We can kiss furtively when the lights dim. Whatever happens next, we'll always have the Gusman.

A few seasons ago Tim James carried the University of Miami Hurricanes basketball team to its greatest heights, making it to the NCAA tournament known as "March Madness." He then qualified for the Miami Heat's twelve-player roster. Nothing came of it, though, and he was soon gone. This year Miami native and former Miami High School star Udonis Haslem not only made the Heat roster, he's made a mark with skills far exceeding those of most rookies. Strong, fearless, and gifted, you can bet that this Miami product will be burning net and grabbing rock in the NBA for many years. Let's hope the Heat is smart enough to keep the young, versatile forward here in the sunshine, and, with starting forward Caron Butler's injury-related problems, in the spotlight as well.

An exhilarating exploration of contemporary jazz and improvised music hosted by Steve Malagodi, this stellar program for many years was broadcast by WLRN-FM (91.3), Miami's National Public Radio affiliate. It was one of our community's true cultural treasures. Then the station's management abruptly decided to kill it. Why? Not enough listeners -- as if the goal of public radio was the same as commercial radio: Attract the largest audience possible by any means necessary. Malagodi, who has worked at WLRN since 1977, signed off for the last time at 2:00 a.m. October 13. He's still at the station as an engineer, but his Modern School has found a new home at community-supported WDNA-FM. The station's managers gave Malagodi his favorite time slot (Saturday, 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.) and thumbed their collective noses at WLRN. Good for them. Even better for Miami.

An exhilarating exploration of contemporary jazz and improvised music hosted by Steve Malagodi, this stellar program for many years was broadcast by WLRN-FM (91.3), Miami's National Public Radio affiliate. It was one of our community's true cultural treasures. Then the station's management abruptly decided to kill it. Why? Not enough listeners -- as if the goal of public radio was the same as commercial radio: Attract the largest audience possible by any means necessary. Malagodi, who has worked at WLRN since 1977, signed off for the last time at 2:00 a.m. October 13. He's still at the station as an engineer, but his Modern School has found a new home at community-supported WDNA-FM. The station's managers gave Malagodi his favorite time slot (Saturday, 11:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.) and thumbed their collective noses at WLRN. Good for them. Even better for Miami.

These are tough times for the people of Haiti. And it's not just the Caribbean nation that's in turmoil. The axis of Kreyol culture seems to have spun off balance here in Miami, at least when it comes to the local compas scene. First, the beloved and highly popular Gracia Delva, lead singer for the top-rated band Zenglen, gets caught up in the indiscriminate net of Homeland Security and is sent back to Haiti. Then one of Miami's other top compas acts, D'Zine, disbands after failing to form a supergroup with members of Zenglen. Now, thanks to the efforts of DJ Paz and DJ Lucky, matters become even less linear. Taking members from D'Zine, the two DJs have mixed in just the right amount of sweet hip-hop harmony to form Nu-Look, a band that has stormed Miami and is also hitting stages in New York, Boston, and the Bahamas. But watch out. Delva may return at any time, and rumors of a new band called Hang Out contribute to continued chaos.

These are tough times for the people of Haiti. And it's not just the Caribbean nation that's in turmoil. The axis of Kreyol culture seems to have spun off balance here in Miami, at least when it comes to the local compas scene. First, the beloved and highly popular Gracia Delva, lead singer for the top-rated band Zenglen, gets caught up in the indiscriminate net of Homeland Security and is sent back to Haiti. Then one of Miami's other top compas acts, D'Zine, disbands after failing to form a supergroup with members of Zenglen. Now, thanks to the efforts of DJ Paz and DJ Lucky, matters become even less linear. Taking members from D'Zine, the two DJs have mixed in just the right amount of sweet hip-hop harmony to form Nu-Look, a band that has stormed Miami and is also hitting stages in New York, Boston, and the Bahamas. But watch out. Delva may return at any time, and rumors of a new band called Hang Out contribute to continued chaos.

You know you like each other. Now all you need is the spark that will set your love aflame. The grand circular lobby at the Eden Roc provides the perfect backdrop for larger-than-life romance. Get in the mood with a dry martini at the lobby bar while Patrick tickles the ivories and sings "The Way You Look Tonight." Hollywood-style romance. Then make like Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in From Here to Eternity on the spa's white sand beach. If all goes well, you may find yourself playing Raquel Welch to Frank Sinatra's Tony Rome: "Room service? Please send up a bottle of champagne. And two glasses."

While most stateside bands balk at making the drive all the way down to our southern tip of the Florida peninsula, the Rhythm Foundation for more than ten years has been bringing in top international acts from every part of the globe. Last year the foundation's TransAtlantic Festival introduced locals to some of the best and hottest World Music acts on the planet. From the Gotan Project (Argentina via Paris) to UK/Colombia's Sidestepper, Brazil's DJ Dolores, and Brooklyn's Yerba Buena, the bands just kept rolling through all summer long. For those of us fortunate to stick around for the heat and humidity, TransAtlantic was a cool relief.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®