BEST POETRY SCENE Mello Mondays at the District 35 NE 40th Street

Miami

305-576-7242 This weekly event is a baby among the other spoken-word evenings, but Mello Mondays gets two snaps up for distinguishing itself from the pack by mixing celebrity poets in with locals. Hosted by local poet Ingrid B., the gathering's tribe includes Will Da Real One, Asia of the Slanted Eye poets, Rebecca "Butterfly" Vaughns, and Shiraz. But many fans come for more famous faces like Stic and M1 of the hip-hop group dead prez. Alonzo Mourning held his welcome-back party here and enjoyed a performance by political comedian/slam poet Shang. National personalities Georgia Me, Big Brooklyn Red, J. Ivy, and Urban Mystic have blessed the mike. Next up are performances by the reggae group Inner Circle, MTV2 hip-hop hostess Amanda Diva, former Def Poets Sekou Tha Misfit and Steve Connell, and Steele, a rapper from the group Smif-N-Wessun who will lay down the weapons and pick up the poems.

BEST RADIO STATION 99 Jamz (WEDR-FM 99.1) www.wedr.com Many debate which is the best urban station: 99 Jamz or The Beat (WMIB-FM 103.5). It's a tough call, but 99 Jamz has a killer mix-show roster (including DJs Khaled, Irie, and KD), as well as several distinctive on-air voices, particularly the morning team of Big Lip Bandit, Supa Cindy, and Benji Brown. Then there's the music itself, which, while sometimes formulaic (this is commercial radio), often includes hot new local artists such as Dirtbag, Jacki-O, and most recently Prettie Rickie and the Maverix.

Readers´ Choice: WLRN-FM (91.3)

BEST READING SERIES Books & Books Various locations in Miami-Dade County

www.booksandbooks.com Mitchell Kaplan is our collective dignity's last line of defense. Do we really want the rest of the world to think of us as only a romper room for Paris Hilton? Our highest cultural aspirations to be the fashion photo shoot? Our most fervid debates to be about Botox? Kaplan's long-running reading series at his Books & Books stores in Coral Gables and Miami Beach brings us in contact with the world of letters and ideas, a world that too often skirts our shores. And in a nod to the nature of the community, he assembles an international array of literary stars to read from their works: Haiti's Edwidge Danticat, Chile's Isabel Allende, St. Louis's Jonathan Franzen. This past year saw both press handler Ari Fleischer and former President Bill Clinton walk through the doors. We've got enough eye candy. Books & Books gives us much needed brain candy.

BEST SET DESIGN Adrian W. Jones Anna in the Tropics Jones's inspired design -- a lone windswept palm tree against a huge sky with a massive interior of walls and wooden beams depicting a Tampa cigar factory in the Twenties -- gave Nilo Cruz's production of his own play great emotional texture and beautifully emphasized the story's tensions between emotional freedom and societal restrictions. Here's hoping audiences have the chance to see Jones's work again in this region -- and soon.

BEST SPANISH-LANGUAGE RADIO PERSONALITY Elba la Fumadora (The Pot Smoker) El Zol (WXDJ-FM 95.7) When she's not busy toking up a storm outside the studio, Elba is doing all she can to steal the thunder from Joe Ferrero and Enrique Santos, the male cohosts of Miami's funniest and most tasteless morning radio show. After Mayor Carlos Alvarez won the election, she penned and sang a ballad proclaiming herself the mother of the mayor's bastard child. When Pilar Montenegro made an appearance on the program, Elba antagonized the Mexican pop star by asking her if she was still writing bad checks. Raspy-voiced (cough, cough) and sharp-tongued, Elba la Fumadora could make the stoniest of Secret Service agents laugh with unadulterated glee. Her mayoral beau "Carlitos" should seriously consider making Elba an official ambassador: She embodies the obnoxious Cubanasa in all real Miamians.

BEST SPORTSCASTER Lindsay Czarniak WTVJ-TV (Channel 6) Czarniak is the dedicated anchor/reporter for Fins TV, a half-hour program that comes on at 7:00 p.m. Saturdays 52 weeks per year. She also does live reports and features for NBC 6 Sports Final. Czarniak gave up a career as a CNN associate news producer to become a DolFan, and she has inhabited the role of anchor on Fins TV to the extent that it's not just a pretty girl talking about the big handsome men of the NFL. Some of the more interesting segments this past year were not exactly about the sport at all. Czarniak traveled to the factory where headbutt-resistant helmets are made and showed how deflated footballs are cut up to create soft rubber "mulch" for playgrounds. She is cute and personable and knowledgeable about football without being a jockette herself.

Readers´ Choice: Jimmy Cefalo, WPLG-TV (Channel 10)

BEST STARGAZING Southern Cross Astronomical Society 1400 SW 107th Avenue

Miami

305-661-1375

www.scas.org

and

Bill Sadowski Park

17555 SW 79th Avenue

Palmetto Bay

305-255-4767

www.miamidade.gov/parks/parks/ bill_sadowski.asp When the Southern Cross Astronomical Society was founded in 1922, members would gaze at the skies with a five-inch Clark refractor from the Royal Palm Hotel and Park. Now they meet at Bill Sadowski Park and bring their eighteen-inch Dobsonian reflector. Whether you're a professional astronomer with a laptop attached to your scope's tracking system or a nine-year-old with a fascination for the stars, the friendly members of SCAS are happy to share their platform with you. They'll tell you where to find the Seven Sisters or let you look at the craters of the moon through their telescopes. And if it's the planets you're interested in, the Society's reflector will allow you to see the storm on Jupiter and the space between Saturn's rings. Members of SCAS like Bill Sadowski Park because of its proximity to the coast, east of South Dixie Highway. The stars begin their rise over the bay, which allows for a clear view before they descend toward the light-polluted city. Be sure to turn your headlights off before passing the gate, otherwise you'll ruin everyone's night vision.

BEST STORYTELLER Jan Mapou It's no surprise Jan Mapou is one of Miami's most well-versed storytellers, for the man possesses a lifetime of rich material. Born in Haiti, Mapou spent time in jail for speaking in Kreyol on a Port-au-Prince radio show, moved to New York in the early Seventies and then to Miami in the mid-Eighties, where he opened the Libreri Mapou in Little Haiti and started the cultural organization Sosyete Koukouy. But for Mapou, who writes plays and poetry as often as most people write grocery lists, it isn't his biography he likes to share with his audiences, but rather the magical stories of Haitian folklore. He told many of these tales on his radio show in Haiti, for which he took the on-air moniker Jan Mapou (his real name is Jean-Marie Willer Denis). The pseudonym translates to "the tree that never falls." Audiences at the many cultural events where he speaks often fall -- in love with his words.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR Ian D. Clark Clark's delightful turn as a cuckolded husband was a classic cameo role and another bright moment in the Coconut Grove Playhouse's quite bright staging of The Constant Wife. Appearing in only one short scene, Clark demonstrated superb comedic timing, a spot-on British Midlands accent, and an inventive physicality that turned what could have been a throwaway part into a little gem of a performance.

BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS Lorena Diaz Diaz, a resourceful actress with extensive range, delivered an outrageous, over-the-top performance in Betty's Summer Vacation (a Christopher Durang satire) as Mrs. Siezmagraff, the lunatic landlady from hell. Diaz was as fearless as she was shameless, creating a nightmarish cartoon of a character that ran away with this Mad Cat Theatre show, no minor accomplishment among a cast of real clowns. If there's any negative about Diaz's work, it's that it isn't seen often enough.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®