The future of poetry is on the streets. Urban angst and inner-city pressure have inspired the hip-hop generation to take up "spoken word," where emotion and intimation flow from moving lips to open ears. In Miami a young, dreadlocked, dark-skinned man known as Kronos (real name: Yves Verela) performs his poetry at art functions as well as popular poetry nights, and often teams with bands and DJs to lend music to his lexicon. His deepest impressions are planted during conversations with strangers, when the engaging but gentle poet breaks into freestyle verses, always leaving the listener with reflective phrases: "One gets the whole truth half the time." Kronos's life experience as a traveler from his original Haiti to Miami's sunny shores, plus an extended stay in Israel, has certainly contributed to an ethereal multinationalism in his phrases: "I betted, you came, I summoned, you added a smile without the sentimental charge of a Motel 6." For members of a generation short on voices that speak directly to them, Kronos represents a youthful renaissance.

This ten-day tennis tourney at Crandon Tennis Center on Key Biscayne has become the fifth biggest in the world, behind only the four competitions that form the Grand Slam. Last year's singles winners were Andre Agassi and, in a thriller against hometown favorite Jennifer Capriati, Serena Williams, who notched her second consecutive Nasdaq win at the 2003 event (followed by her third at the '04 event). In addition to the finest pro tennis this side of Wimbledon, the event includes a blimp, exhibitions, food courts, and many other diversions. That it pumps millions of dollars into the local economy doesn't hurt.

Builders are banking on Miami's magic in a big way. Somehow in the next two to four years -- poof! -- the downtown area, from Brickell through the newly christened Biscayne Boulevard Corridor, will fill with some 40,000 new residents eager to shell out a quarter-million to a million bucks to live in so-called lofts in chic neighborhoods. For now, many of those neighborhoods are largely imaginary, hopeful names scribbled in developers' dreams: the Performing Arts District, the Cultural Arts District, the Florida East Corridor. The names of the new so-called loft projects are no less whimsical: Aria, Quantum, Platinum, Star, Mist, Blue, Sky, Ice. But who knows? Sometimes developers' dreams do come true. Maybe in five years or so Miami will be transformed into Manhattan south, with well-heeled culture vultures perched in high-priced nests overlooking Biscayne Bay. On the other hand, maybe there aren't quite so many gritty culture hounds with deep pockets ready to move into little skyboxes in America's Poorest City. Maybe then the prices will come down and families from the shrinking middle class will have a chance to move into condos with "endless views of Biscayne Bay." It's possible not even the middle class will buy into the developers' fantasy, and the buildings will stand empty, sky-scraping testaments to another crazy Magic City scheme. That could be cool, too. Imagine mile upon mile of empty towers. A wild squatters' underworld. A sultry Blade Runner. Instead of the art scene driving development, once again we'll have urban decay driving the art scene.

Builders are banking on Miami's magic in a big way. Somehow in the next two to four years -- poof! -- the downtown area, from Brickell through the newly christened Biscayne Boulevard Corridor, will fill with some 40,000 new residents eager to shell out a quarter-million to a million bucks to live in so-called lofts in chic neighborhoods. For now, many of those neighborhoods are largely imaginary, hopeful names scribbled in developers' dreams: the Performing Arts District, the Cultural Arts District, the Florida East Corridor. The names of the new so-called loft projects are no less whimsical: Aria, Quantum, Platinum, Star, Mist, Blue, Sky, Ice. But who knows? Sometimes developers' dreams do come true. Maybe in five years or so Miami will be transformed into Manhattan south, with well-heeled culture vultures perched in high-priced nests overlooking Biscayne Bay. On the other hand, maybe there aren't quite so many gritty culture hounds with deep pockets ready to move into little skyboxes in America's Poorest City. Maybe then the prices will come down and families from the shrinking middle class will have a chance to move into condos with "endless views of Biscayne Bay." It's possible not even the middle class will buy into the developers' fantasy, and the buildings will stand empty, sky-scraping testaments to another crazy Magic City scheme. That could be cool, too. Imagine mile upon mile of empty towers. A wild squatters' underworld. A sultry Blade Runner. Instead of the art scene driving development, once again we'll have urban decay driving the art scene.

In the absence of a full-fledged art cinema, the place to see a movie may as well be chosen for its parking as much as its programming. Narrow ramps, cavernous floors, electronic parking-payment contraptions? No thanks. When you have only five minutes to put butt to seat before the credits roll, pull into the wide-open lots at Sunrise Intracoastal (for free). Hustle to the ticket booth and enter -- lines are rare, except at bargain matinees showing movies with geriatric appeal. "No stairs to climb. Listening devices available," the North Miami Beach theater advertises, clearly spotlighting a more aged demographic than those ramp-cavern-contraption places. Though the programming won't be proclaimed "adventurous" by any sane person, you are likely to find two or three of the Intracoastal's eight large auditoriums screening those artsy foreign and indie films you read about so wistfully in the New York Times.

As any starving artist knows, it is possible to create culture without money. But it's a heck of a lot easier to be creative with money. For the 1000-plus cultural groups in Miami-Dade County and thousands more individual artists, Michael Spring has been a crusader, benefactor, and best friend. The director of the county's Department of Cultural Affairs oversees an annual budget of more than nine million dollars, and he makes sure as much of it as possible sustains the cultural diversity that makes Miami's art scene vibrant. A graduate of Edison High and the University of Miami, Spring has a long-standing commitment to Made-in-Miami culture. A member of the county's arts bureaucracy since 1983, he is a supporter of established institutions, but he's also the go-to guy for new arts initiatives. This enlightened bureaucrat pushes artists and arts presenters to think bigger, to reach new audiences, and welcome other cultures into their work. Spring has spearheaded a major county initiative to maintain and build new arts venues and has structured grants programs that nudge otherwise ethnically isolated groups to present their work in unfamiliar territory. Tango in Overtown? Vodoun dance in Little Havana? Why not!

As any starving artist knows, it is possible to create culture without money. But it's a heck of a lot easier to be creative with money. For the 1000-plus cultural groups in Miami-Dade County and thousands more individual artists, Michael Spring has been a crusader, benefactor, and best friend. The director of the county's Department of Cultural Affairs oversees an annual budget of more than nine million dollars, and he makes sure as much of it as possible sustains the cultural diversity that makes Miami's art scene vibrant. A graduate of Edison High and the University of Miami, Spring has a long-standing commitment to Made-in-Miami culture. A member of the county's arts bureaucracy since 1983, he is a supporter of established institutions, but he's also the go-to guy for new arts initiatives. This enlightened bureaucrat pushes artists and arts presenters to think bigger, to reach new audiences, and welcome other cultures into their work. Spring has spearheaded a major county initiative to maintain and build new arts venues and has structured grants programs that nudge otherwise ethnically isolated groups to present their work in unfamiliar territory. Tango in Overtown? Vodoun dance in Little Havana? Why not!

Miami Beach Cinematheque
Since the lights first flickered on less than a year ago, the Cinematheque has established itself as the screen to be seen. In the heart of South Beach, the movie house's art-gallery setting provides a perfect scene for cineastes eager to enjoy true classics (Hiroshima, Mon Amour), rare oddities (Todd Haynes's Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story), or specific programs tied to local festivals such as Art Basel and the Winter Music Conference. The Cinematheque also provides an outlet for locally produced independent films, making it something much more important than simply an alternative to multiplex hell.

Power up for your stroll with a pinolio purchased at the Nicaraguan cantina on the corner of Twelfth and Flagler. A cold cocoa drink made with sweet milk, it's just the jolt you'll want to get you on your way. Heading east on Flagler, you'll pass street peddlers and homeless immigrants working hard to collect those nickels and dimes for their main meal of the day -- a sixteen-ounce can of Schlitz Malt Liquor. At Tenth Avenue, Central American families are drawn to La Ideal, the Burdines of East Little Havana. The next few blocks feature empty lots and forsaken office buildings ripe for redevelopment. Then you traverse the Miami River via the Flagler drawbridge and head into the murky dead zone created by Interstate 95. As you emerge from the behemoth overpasses, signs of urban life beckon: the Miami-Dade Cultural Center, designed by famed architect Philip Johnson and quickly denounced for its intimidating, fortresslike isolation. But it's still home to the main library, the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, and the Miami Art Museum -- at least for the moment; the museums are plotting to abandon the place. Moving past the stately courthouse, you plunge into the teeming commercial center of the city. With its cacophony of blaring music, display-window strobe lights, luggage and electronic and shoe and jewelry and perfume stores, plus the street vendors and the alluring aromas from open kitchens, this stretch of Miami's signature thoroughfare could easily be mistaken for the main drag of most any Latin American capital city. Your journey ends at the entrance to Bayfront Park and the magnificent, panoramic views of Biscayne Bay. It's been less than two miles and a couple of hours or so, but you'll feel as though you've just toured the entire Western Hemisphere.

Power up for your stroll with a pinolio purchased at the Nicaraguan cantina on the corner of Twelfth and Flagler. A cold cocoa drink made with sweet milk, it's just the jolt you'll want to get you on your way. Heading east on Flagler, you'll pass street peddlers and homeless immigrants working hard to collect those nickels and dimes for their main meal of the day -- a sixteen-ounce can of Schlitz Malt Liquor. At Tenth Avenue, Central American families are drawn to La Ideal, the Burdines of East Little Havana. The next few blocks feature empty lots and forsaken office buildings ripe for redevelopment. Then you traverse the Miami River via the Flagler drawbridge and head into the murky dead zone created by Interstate 95. As you emerge from the behemoth overpasses, signs of urban life beckon: the Miami-Dade Cultural Center, designed by famed architect Philip Johnson and quickly denounced for its intimidating, fortresslike isolation. But it's still home to the main library, the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, and the Miami Art Museum -- at least for the moment; the museums are plotting to abandon the place. Moving past the stately courthouse, you plunge into the teeming commercial center of the city. With its cacophony of blaring music, display-window strobe lights, luggage and electronic and shoe and jewelry and perfume stores, plus the street vendors and the alluring aromas from open kitchens, this stretch of Miami's signature thoroughfare could easily be mistaken for the main drag of most any Latin American capital city. Your journey ends at the entrance to Bayfront Park and the magnificent, panoramic views of Biscayne Bay. It's been less than two miles and a couple of hours or so, but you'll feel as though you've just toured the entire Western Hemisphere.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®