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.

Nobody truly escapes reality via public transportation, not even on a long day's journey from Government Center to Aventura via Biscayne Boulevard (and on to Miami Beach if you want). Go surreal: Put the L'Avventura in your field trip to Aventura and turn this ride into a mind film. Friends afeared you've vanished to the point no one will ever find you, a cast of thousands, sights to behold or be filmed. Like Antonioni's dense tableaux, you may judge your encounter with mass transit as aggressively alienating and maddening in its slow pace, but by using your Truffaut-informed imagination (after steering clear of an aisle seat) and pretending you're chilling at Cinecitta instead, the vehicle transforms in that day-for-night way. As the Bluebird diesel rumbles north, downtown's hectic sets fall behind and the windows frame unbroken vistas of on-location neighborhoods -- housing, strip malls, construction sites, restaurants. Interestingly costumed extras appear, some more than once, making ominous eye contact or uninterpretable gestures. When you disembark at the mall, you will be astounded to discover that neither David Hemmings nor Monica Vitti is waiting to accompany you to the Gap. Ask the old woman in the heavy coat and sweater or the teenager appropriating black culture with his wardrobe but holding tight that platinum Visa just in case. Maybe Fellini should be your mental guide. At least until you enter the mall and walk head on into its 24-screen multiplex. A comedy turned tragic. So new wave.

The event's original presenters -- Miami architect Willy Bermello, attorney Peter Yanowitch, and racing celebrity Emerson Fittipaldi -- fled the scene like a torqued-up Porsche when they sold their interest in the three-day extravaganza to Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) for $1.2 million. Then, after wreaking havoc on the Biscayne Boulevard streetscape by removing architecturally significant pavers and relocating palm trees that had lined the boulevard since the Twenties, CART pulled the plug on the Miami race, citing losses of nearly ten million dollars. Left behind: a two-million-dollar oil slick of bills and debts owed to the City of Miami and other public agencies.

The event's original presenters -- Miami architect Willy Bermello, attorney Peter Yanowitch, and racing celebrity Emerson Fittipaldi -- fled the scene like a torqued-up Porsche when they sold their interest in the three-day extravaganza to Championship Auto Racing Teams (CART) for $1.2 million. Then, after wreaking havoc on the Biscayne Boulevard streetscape by removing architecturally significant pavers and relocating palm trees that had lined the boulevard since the Twenties, CART pulled the plug on the Miami race, citing losses of nearly ten million dollars. Left behind: a two-million-dollar oil slick of bills and debts owed to the City of Miami and other public agencies.

Before Jacki-O's first album was even released, her hit single "Pussy (Real Good)" ("Nookie" in the clean version) was catching airplay and attention. The release of the album, Poe Little Rich Girl, by South Beach's Poe Boy Entertainment has been delayed, but the reviews are still hot: VH1 called her "the high priestess of the ghetto"; Rolling Stone said "she shows cocksure flow over sterling beats ...", and Vibe announced that "now the rest of the world has taken notice of the tune that's been whetting the South and Midwest for months." Even the New York Times indicated that Jacki-O doesn't appear to be a one-hit wonder, noting that while she had a "breakthrough single with 'Nookie,' ... her latest, 'Slow Down,' [is] even better." She's picked up the baton from fellow Liberty City rappers Trina and Trick Daddy (who appears on the album) to make sure Miami's presence continues to be felt in the hip-hop community.

Before Jacki-O's first album was even released, her hit single "Pussy (Real Good)" ("Nookie" in the clean version) was catching airplay and attention. The release of the album, Poe Little Rich Girl, by South Beach's Poe Boy Entertainment has been delayed, but the reviews are still hot: VH1 called her "the high priestess of the ghetto"; Rolling Stone said "she shows cocksure flow over sterling beats ...", and Vibe announced that "now the rest of the world has taken notice of the tune that's been whetting the South and Midwest for months." Even the New York Times indicated that Jacki-O doesn't appear to be a one-hit wonder, noting that while she had a "breakthrough single with 'Nookie,' ... her latest, 'Slow Down,' [is] even better." She's picked up the baton from fellow Liberty City rappers Trina and Trick Daddy (who appears on the album) to make sure Miami's presence continues to be felt in the hip-hop community.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®