BEST REASON TO STAY IN MIAMI FOR THE SUMMER

No tourists

Yes, the clouds that billow over the Everglades and march east to erupt violently are breathtaking. So is the warmth of the ocean at midnight. But the best reason to stick around here during the swelter season is more basic: Nearly everyone is gone. Well, at least the people you want to be gone -- the tourists, conventioneers, and migratory snowbirds who flee at the first sign of serious humidity. As a result, parking spaces appear. Lines at the movies shrink. Restaurant reservations no longer need to be made a month in advance. And the nights are calm and quiet and fragrant with jasmine.

About 25 or 30 miles out on the Tamiami Trail there's a swerving turnoff that leads to a T-shaped strip of asphalt to nowhere. It runs parallel to the trail and about three or four city blocks in length, bordered by trees, marsh, and muck. At night especially, it's rare to encounter anyone other than the occasional snake collector or frog gigger, although possums, rabbits, and plenty of other creatures, including an occasional (extremely occasional) bobcat, come out to feed, fight, or facilitate offspring. Here, there is peace. And a stunning over-the-trees view of sunsets followed by utter darkness that allows for spectacular looks at a night sky unencumbered by the ambient light of the city. To be caught here in the middle of a thunderstorm is bliss, and when the stars put on a show (meteor showers and such), there is no better place to watch as you ponder your utter insignificance in the universe.

Miami's Civilian Investigative Panel was created to look into complaints of police misconduct. The panel is a refuge for those who are frightened by the power structure of local government and law enforcement. (There are parts of Miami, it should be noted, where complaining about the police is tantamount to asking for an ass-kicking.) So it was ironic, to say the least, that Miami City Manager Joe Arriola would choose a January 15 CIP meeting to throw a raging hissy fit -- as TV news cameras rolled. The city hall meeting had been convened to hear allegations of police brutality against FTAA protesters. When security guards tried to bar entrance to a fellow who had threatened city employees in the past, a few zealous community activists got it in their heads he was being harassed because of his political views. Arriola came out to the lobby to see what was going on. And then he detonated. News crews were treated to a red-faced tirade against activists Max Rameau and Leo Casino. Later Arriola could be heard stalking the hallway just outside the hearing, muttering, "Some people are just angry that the good guys won."

Miami's Civilian Investigative Panel was created to look into complaints of police misconduct. The panel is a refuge for those who are frightened by the power structure of local government and law enforcement. (There are parts of Miami, it should be noted, where complaining about the police is tantamount to asking for an ass-kicking.) So it was ironic, to say the least, that Miami City Manager Joe Arriola would choose a January 15 CIP meeting to throw a raging hissy fit -- as TV news cameras rolled. The city hall meeting had been convened to hear allegations of police brutality against FTAA protesters. When security guards tried to bar entrance to a fellow who had threatened city employees in the past, a few zealous community activists got it in their heads he was being harassed because of his political views. Arriola came out to the lobby to see what was going on. And then he detonated. News crews were treated to a red-faced tirade against activists Max Rameau and Leo Casino. Later Arriola could be heard stalking the hallway just outside the hearing, muttering, "Some people are just angry that the good guys won."

If you're one of the few hundred thousand souls who lives through the daily purgatory of sitting in morning-rush traffic, finding an entertaining distraction is a priority on your FM dial. So forget the monotone chitchat provided by National Public Radio on WLRN-FM. Since their arrival at the Beat last year, Mexican-American brothers Eric and Nick Vidal have been tearing up weekday mornings with their double-dope old-school hip-hop and funk mixes and their popular crank-call segment "Dropping Bombs," in which lucky callers get to play a practical joke on friends, family members, co-workers, even their bosses -- on the air. From their opening cue, a happy jig mixed over The Sanford & Son television show theme song, the Bakas provide their listeners a rudely comedic awakening. Their most engrossing routine: The duo offered lucky ladies free breast implants. Hordes of young women showed up at the designated spot only to receive complimentary chicken breasts injected with saline. Most morning shows are a poor man's version of Howard Stern, which the Baka Boyz easily outshine (as could a drunk parrot and two mimes). Already far beyond that in quality, the duo are setting a new standard, marking their own territory, probably to be copied soon by other morning shows.

There was intense competition for this award, with many perennials in the running. But this year the title goes to a newcomer. Thanks to ever-increasing development along Coral Reef Drive west of Metrozoo, this contender came on strong. Add to the rapidly growing number of vehicles a couple of seemingly unnecessary stoplights and totally inadequate turn lanes that back up traffic and you've got a quarter-mile stretch of road that takes a good half-hour to navigate on weekday mornings and afternoons. Congratulations, Clusterfuck Junction. Now let's see if you can keep it up for another year.

There was intense competition for this award, with many perennials in the running. But this year the title goes to a newcomer. Thanks to ever-increasing development along Coral Reef Drive west of Metrozoo, this contender came on strong. Add to the rapidly growing number of vehicles a couple of seemingly unnecessary stoplights and totally inadequate turn lanes that back up traffic and you've got a quarter-mile stretch of road that takes a good half-hour to navigate on weekday mornings and afternoons. Congratulations, Clusterfuck Junction. Now let's see if you can keep it up for another year.

Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday afternoon, after you've finished a full day of terrorizing everyone in your office or shop, you don't have to hate yourself. Sure, you've made your secretary's job a living hell, you've tormented your codependent girlfriend, you've sadistically tortured your wife. Radio host Jacqueline Hazel has a place for you in her heart. In her afternoon broadcast, The Forgiveness Forecast, Hazel touts the power of saying "sorry." Listen to Hazel on your drive home and you'll feel redeemed and ready to face that deep, dark truthful mirror above your bathroom sink. You'll regain the strength to continue the next day doing the awful things you do. And then apologize for. Nice way to beat the system, Hazel. Seriously, it's like Catholicism. Do whatever the hell you want, just make sure you get yourself absolved. And what better way to make amends than to apologize. After you finish listening to this uplifting show.

For a city that's relatively young, geographically challenged, and sitting at sea level, Miami should be grateful to have even one dignified place to bury its dead. It does. This is the only cemetery with the age and landscaping and, most important, notable permanent residents to make it worth visiting just to visit. And on those terms, this landmark delivers in a big way. Fat old oaks and floppy palms mix with bright bougainvillea and about a dozen other types of trees to provide shade and beauty to the burial ground, which dates from 1897, one year after Miami declared itself a city. Civic pioneer Julia Tuttle may be the most famous of the interred, but there are many other personages who played important roles in Miami's history. The fascination and revelation, though, comes in seeing how the cemetery was divided into sections for "colored," Jewish, and "other" (white) people, then trying to imagine how these folks lived together back in their time. The city's first and greatest cemetery is a moving place to visit, but note the access times. The imposing arched gate is open from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on weekdays and 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekends. Check it out while you still can.

Miami City Cemetery
For a city that's relatively young, geographically challenged, and sitting at sea level, Miami should be grateful to have even one dignified place to bury its dead. It does. This is the only cemetery with the age and landscaping and, most important, notable permanent residents to make it worth visiting just to visit. And on those terms, this landmark delivers in a big way. Fat old oaks and floppy palms mix with bright bougainvillea and about a dozen other types of trees to provide shade and beauty to the burial ground, which dates from 1897, one year after Miami declared itself a city. Civic pioneer Julia Tuttle may be the most famous of the interred, but there are many other personages who played important roles in Miami's history. The fascination and revelation, though, comes in seeing how the cemetery was divided into sections for "colored," Jewish, and "other" (white) people, then trying to imagine how these folks lived together back in their time. The city's first and greatest cemetery is a moving place to visit, but note the access times. The imposing arched gate is open from 7:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on weekdays and 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on weekends. Check it out while you still can.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®