A founding member of Miami pop music's adventuresome quartet The Avenging Lawnmowers of Justice (www.avenginglawnmowersofjustice.com), singer and bass player Chris DeAngelis takes a fun stand against product rock with songs such as "Female Telly Savalas" and "(In Hell With a) Cell Phone." This band is so great that its in-studio performance on the WLRN-FM (91.3) program Topical Currents once elicited a torrent of angry letters and phone calls from people demanding to know if "some crazy kids" had taken over the station.

It is, however, as an always genteel and exceedingly competent sound guy that DeAngelis melds technology with altruism. A cohort of other local luminaries, including DJ Le Spam of the Spam Allstars, trusts and reveres DeAngelis's way with knob-twiddling and crowd-gauging.

DeAngelis is also a very funny fellow and the driver of a "soccer-mom-style urban assault vehicle."

Best Local Landmark
The Miami Circle

Sure, I know it's not in the news much anymore, but the Miami Circle has been a local landmark for almost two thousand years. It's only been forgotten for the past couple centuries.

Best Month
August

I actually like August, because no one is left in town but the locals.

Best Not-So-Cheap Thrill
A Night On South Beach

A Tourist's Perspective:
1. Go to a trendy restaurant -- have your car valet parked. 2. You are attended to by an imperious homosexual Italian waiter who mocks your menu selection.
3. Your food arrives; it appears to be Fancy Feast Cat Food artfully arranged on a leaf of lettuce.
4. Pay the bill (fifteen percent gratuity automatically included in spite of the poor service).
5. Get your car back from the valet -- tip him out.
6. The public garage is full, so you take your chances parking in the "residential permit only" back streets six blocks from Washington Avenue.
7. Stand in line in front of a dance club until the big shave-headed guy in the black T-shirt lets you in when you slip him a twenty.
8. Max out your credit card on drinks and dance the night away with a statuesque blond woman until you determine that she's a drag queen.
9. Psychologically shaken, you return to where you parked the car -- it's been towed.
10. You can't get your car out of the tow yard because you spent your last bit of cash on the bag of bogus coke you bought from the drag queen at the dance club.
11. Catch the sunrise while walking across the Rickenbacker Causeway back to your hotel.
COST -- When you tell your friends back in Bean Blossom, Indiana, that you spent last night partying on South Beach: PRICELESS.

Best Reason to Live in Miami
Bragging rights

We’re number one! The blatant corruption of elected officials (and the election process in general), the sexy Latinas, the overblown reputation the city has for crime (which isn’t so bad unless you compare it to a place like, say, Peoria), the availability of a good cup of Cuban coffee or a good plate of Haitian lambi, the “it’s okay to take a left on a red light” traffic rule which only exists here, the famous folks who move here when their careers have gone in the Dumpster. All this has cemented our reputation to the rest of the nation as a place where no one wants to be, but everyone secretly wants to go.

Mario Diament's tale of five characters in search of one another proved to be a fascinating exploration of chance, fate, irrational obsession, and love at first sight. Delighting audiences at the New Theatre in Coral Gables, the tale involved a seemingly simple string of impromptu encounters and quiet conversations but was really a complex interweaving of characters and ideas that made for intriguing, intellectually challenging theater.

The ebullient, outspoken Adler might seem a complete mismatch with tart, taciturn Edward Albee (author of The Goat or Who Is Sylvia?). Nonetheless Adler's masterful staging of Albee's provocative tragicomedy at GableStage was a perfect meeting of master minds. Adler is well known for his gutsy, go-for-broke style, but his work with The Goat was particularly risky and insightful, put together with such skill that many of his roll-the-dice choices looked as if he were using loaded bones to make point every toss.

He's big, strong, a double-double rock of muscle and hustle in the center of the Miami Heat's tenacious defense. He has a soft touch on his jumper and adds a dimension of assets that can't be measured by stats. The iron man (with the forgivable iron hands) can even fish fairly well, his favorite off-season hobby. But it's those natty dreads (with a Bob Marley tattoo for emphasis) which remind all that the NBA presses on with a Quaker's sense of individuality. His hairstyle grabs attention the way he grabs rebounds, to the point that the Heat sells Brian Grant dreadlock headbands so that everyone who's six-nine, built like a mountain, and one of the most reliable players in the NBA can be just like him. Sort of.

Clearwood's performance in Stop Kiss as a restless New Yorker who finds herself falling in love with another woman was a significant creative achievement and a highlight not just of the Sol Theatre Project's offerings but of the entire theater season. Clearwood delivered a grounded, honest performance, and had to do so within a mind-boggling, nonlinear narrative, alternating scenes before and after a horrible crime. In so doing, she managed to reveal a fully human heroine -- dazed, confused, hilarious, and heartbreaking.

The multitalented Moreland has long been a South Florida favorite, but her performance as the boozy, deliciously nasty Miss Hannigan in the Actors' Playhouse version of Annie was a revelation. Moreland's comedic skills are tops, but she also discovered the character's dark, desperate side with disturbing clarity. Moreland didn't just re-create the role, she redefined it.

The renowned Bikel has been a major figure in American theater for so long, it's easy to take him for granted. But stage acting doesn't get any better than his turn in The Chosen at the Coconut Grove Playhouse. As an anguished rabbi, Bikel was both a deeply emotional character and a short course in understatement: What he didn't say and do was as powerful as what he did.

Fortune's Fool opened a year ago at the Caldwell Theatre up in Boca Raton, a bit too late to honor this actor in last year's issue, but the memory of Wade's performance lingers on and now's the time to pay him his props and give him his award. As a supercilious Russian aristocrat, he was a model of acting style and craft, balancing superb comedic timing with sudden, unnerving moments of casual cruelty.

This North Miami company devoted to African-American playwrights and culture has managed to survive a looong time, through thick and thin (mostly thin). Past work has been all over the map in terms of quality, but this season it all came together for the Ensemble. Jerry Maple, Jr., and John Pryor's resourceful directing and an increasingly assured team of talents are backed by solid production and technical support in the company's newly renovated studio space. Each show of the season -- The Piano Lesson, Strands, and now Flyin' West -- has been a significant step up in quality and power. What the "M" stands for must remain a mystery, but we do know what it should stand for: More!

While the powers that be in this town have pinned all their most delirious PR pipe dreams (and taxpayer dollars) on ill-conceived money pits such as the Performing Arts Center and more arenas than we have teams, it's the small art spaces and their starving inhabitants that are building the real-deal cultural infrastructure of temporal Miami. This Little Havana space, run by Artemis's lovely Susan Caraballo, is one of the city's sensory treasures. Surreal Saturdays, in particular, tend to mix different genres of art, from passive forms like sculpture and photography to performance art such as plays, interactive dance troupes, music, and intriguing social experiments presented as art. PS 742 has also played host to much of the Subtropics Experimental Music Festival, which, rest assured, will never be booked into the PAC.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®