During the Fifties and early Sixties, the nightlife of Overtown made today's South Beach seem tame. Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Sam Cooke, Aretha Franklin, and many more superstars played the Knight Beat, the Harlem Square, and other clubs for appreciative locals and visiting celebrities. The main man on the scene -- running clubs and promoting shows -- was a dapper chap with curly hair and charm to spare. He was Clyde "Glass" Killens, famous for carrying around a mystery mug -- contents unknown. At his death this past February 2, the 95-year-old cancer victim still lived at NW Second Avenue and Eleventh Street, in the heart of O-Town. Resting in a magnificent black-and-silver Milso coffin with white lining and an arrangement of white flowers at the foot, Killens looked half his age. Numerous family members, friends, and well-known figures gathered on February 10 at Greater Bethel AME Church to hear a two-hour eulogy by Rev. Marvelle Cheevers. Afterward the hearse and family limos made a last drive past Killens's long-time residence. The previous night's wake had drawn such crowds that police had to close nearby intersections as hundreds of mourners paid their respects and then celebrated this hero of entertainment with a street carnival and concert. A big party. Glass Killens wouldn't have had it any other way.

It was supposed to change the way people felt about urban transportation. A personal hovercraft destined to spearhead the brave new world of tomorrow? Maybe not. When the Segway Human Transporter was revealed to the public, the collective disappointment put a damper on the lofty dreams of creator Dean Kamen. To which he answered at Segway's first public demo, "So sue me." No. The world's first "self-balancing personal transportation device" did find a niche on the less grand avenue of carting tourists around urban centers. Add to that folks who don't mind looking like dorky computer geeks in public. The machine is a tempting joy ride into the world of advanced robotics. Indeed, the smooth ride and maneuverability in tight spots is big fun despite the dirty looks from pedestrians and bicyclists. In fact those dirty looks are the best advertisement for SHTs and their promise of a new and better tomorrow.

Faux sculpture (manatee, porpoise, et cetera) mailboxes have become a trend, but this is not that. The owners of this nice house have created an oceanic panorama of a mailbox, a swirl of fish and covellite, teal, aquamarine background that rises above trendiness and achieves the status of art. The mailbox-mural alone has probably increased property values 25 percent in this quiet backstreet neighborhood, where it tastefully provides an inanimate vista as wondrous and beautiful as those seen when actually diving or snorkeling. The artistic endeavor deserves applause, but please don't screw up what should be an example for all homeowners by bothering the residents. When in the South Miami area, drive by slowly, take in the view, ponder the wonders of the sea, and quietly move on. Just like a snook feeding along the shoals.

In the October 16, 2003, edition of this weekly chronicle of Miami business and governmental action (essential reading for anyone interested in public affairs), an article appeared with this headline: "County close to acquiring Homestead land, official says." The land in question was the former Homestead Air Force Base. The official was assistant county manager Bill Johnson. The issue was a lawsuit brought by Homestead Air Base Developers, Inc., a private corporation owned by a group of politically connected businessmen. For years the company has been known by its acronym, HABDI (pronounced hab-dee). In the article, reporter Shannon Pettypiece goofed by calling it Homestead Air Force Base Development Initiative. A mistake, yes, but not worthy of recognition. This award is bestowed for what Pettypiece thought she heard Johnson say about HABDI: "The county won't be taking title until the happy litigation is resolved."

In the October 16, 2003, edition of this weekly chronicle of Miami business and governmental action (essential reading for anyone interested in public affairs), an article appeared with this headline: "County close to acquiring Homestead land, official says." The land in question was the former Homestead Air Force Base. The official was assistant county manager Bill Johnson. The issue was a lawsuit brought by Homestead Air Base Developers, Inc., a private corporation owned by a group of politically connected businessmen. For years the company has been known by its acronym, HABDI (pronounced hab-dee). In the article, reporter Shannon Pettypiece goofed by calling it Homestead Air Force Base Development Initiative. A mistake, yes, but not worthy of recognition. This award is bestowed for what Pettypiece thought she heard Johnson say about HABDI: "The county won't be taking title until the happy litigation is resolved."

The People's Transportation Plan (PTP) was grandly designed to solve Miami's upcoming date with permanent gridlock. The shiny lure that voters went for was the promise that a half-penny sales tax would buy them an expanded and improved mass-transit system. Now they're told the tax was in reality designed to win matching state and federal funds, not to actually build a new system -- never mind the ballot language. According to a county study, absent these outside funds (and none of them are guaranteed), the PTP could literally bankrupt the transportation system. In addition, county commissioners are maneuvering to strip powers from the PTP's mandated watchdog group, the Citizens' Independent Transportation Trust. If county officials bit off more than they could chew with the PTP, perhaps they should consider the South Beach diet before asking taxpayers for more dough to cover their gluttony.

The People's Transportation Plan (PTP) was grandly designed to solve Miami's upcoming date with permanent gridlock. The shiny lure that voters went for was the promise that a half-penny sales tax would buy them an expanded and improved mass-transit system. Now they're told the tax was in reality designed to win matching state and federal funds, not to actually build a new system -- never mind the ballot language. According to a county study, absent these outside funds (and none of them are guaranteed), the PTP could literally bankrupt the transportation system. In addition, county commissioners are maneuvering to strip powers from the PTP's mandated watchdog group, the Citizens' Independent Transportation Trust. If county officials bit off more than they could chew with the PTP, perhaps they should consider the South Beach diet before asking taxpayers for more dough to cover their gluttony.

In late winter/early spring, South Florida is blessed with a flowering tree so magnificent that residents and tourists alike stand in awe of its beauty. Then why is it that almost no one knows what it's called? Is it because for most of the year, this quiet tree's most distinguishing features are a deeply furrowed trunk and asymmetrical crown? Or could it be that the "oohs" and "aahs" from residents and tourists alike drown out the name whenever it's uttered? Yeah, that must be it. If you can hear this, look for the tree that appears to be covered in a cloud of bright yellow butterflies. By then the Tabebuia caraiba's long, oval, grayish-green leaves will have fallen off to reveal yellow clusters of trumpet-shaped flowers. Be careful of these beautiful blossoms: Once they are on the ground, they are as slippery as the banana peels they resemble.

Houston's understands that business types out for a three-martini lunch are not going to leave the comforts of the executive washroom at the office for just any old port-a-potty. That's why Houston's has taken steps to ensure that a trip to its throne will leave customers feeling like royalty. A long hallway separates the WC from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the restaurant. The full-length windows facing Miracle Mile add a nice touch of scenery along the way. Customers open the door and are greeted by chic stainless-steel sinks and wastebaskets. Guys will rejoice over the fans just above each urinal that blow a sweet breeze downward. But for men and women alike, it's the attention to detail that makes these restrooms restful. The Houston's management style might best be described as fussy. (Some would say totalitarian.) So it won't come as a surprise that the black-clad servers are required to inspect the bathrooms every 30 minutes. They have a checklist of items that must be in place. The double rolls of toilet paper, for example, must display a "cascading" effect. In other words, the flap must be pulled from the top, not the bottom. Also servers are required to count the hand towels by the sink. If they have fallen below the 35 mark, they must be replenished to exactly that amount -- flap facing down, of course.

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Houston's understands that business types out for a three-martini lunch are not going to leave the comforts of the executive washroom at the office for just any old port-a-potty. That's why Houston's has taken steps to ensure that a trip to its throne will leave customers feeling like royalty. A long hallway separates the WC from the hustle and bustle of the rest of the restaurant. The full-length windows facing Miracle Mile add a nice touch of scenery along the way. Customers open the door and are greeted by chic stainless-steel sinks and wastebaskets. Guys will rejoice over the fans just above each urinal that blow a sweet breeze downward. But for men and women alike, it's the attention to detail that makes these restrooms restful. The Houston's management style might best be described as fussy. (Some would say totalitarian.) So it won't come as a surprise that the black-clad servers are required to inspect the bathrooms every 30 minutes. They have a checklist of items that must be in place. The double rolls of toilet paper, for example, must display a "cascading" effect. In other words, the flap must be pulled from the top, not the bottom. Also servers are required to count the hand towels by the sink. If they have fallen below the 35 mark, they must be replenished to exactly that amount -- flap facing down, of course.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®