BEST-KEPT SECRET mia Gallery Miami International Airport

Concourse E, second level

305-876-0749; 305-869-1219; 305-876-7017

"It can hardly be a coincidence that no language on earth has ever produced the expression öAs pretty as an airport.'" British sci-fi/comedy writer Douglas Adams wrote that sentiment in the opener to one of his popular books, Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul. It is an observation never more true than at the absurdly slapdash way station of humanity known as Miami International Airport. Which is why it's surprising and yet completely fitting that MIA would not only have an art gallery (open since 1999) but would also make little effort to inform people of its existence, much less help them find it. However, those lucky passengers who do (you can't visit it unless you have a plane ticket or make special arrangements) will find a beauteous 2400-square-foot space created, airport literature explains, "for the purpose of humanizing the airport environment." The shows, smartly curated by Yolanda Sanchez, often feature some of Miami's most accomplished contemporary artists. Amid the nearly overwhelming spectacle of MIA's environs, mia Gallery is a welcome aesthetic breather.

Personal Best Nick D'Annunzio and Tara Solomon of TARA, Ink. Boutique public relations firm TARA, Ink. is the offspring of Miami Herald columnist Tara Solomon, who manages to be both journalist and, um, promoter. Solomon has long presided over Miami Beach nightlife and now, with fiancé Nick D'Annunzio, may be a little less visible in these parts as she jets among offices around the country negotiating the right kind of exposure for just the right clients.

The successful personal and professional merger of Nick and Tara makes complete, logical sense, between their complementary differences and all-important commonalities: The porcelain-skinned beauty born under the sign of Cancer is practical and reserved; the extroverted and tanned Leo is expansive and prone to dramatic gestures. Both are incredibly sweet, love animals, and are insanely devoted to their families. (Nick recently moved his mom from Las Vegas to Miami; Tara drives to Fort Myers to visit her relatives as often as she can.)

"We have been so blessed with our growth in Miami," says D'Annunzio. "We opened an office in Los Angeles and are doing major programs in New York City, Las Vegas, and other hot spots."

TARA, Ink. has five divisions: fashion, hospitality, beauty, real estate and design, and corporate.

Best place to take out-of-towners: The Forge -- it's a Miami landmark. It has the best wine and steak and, if it's a Wednesday night, the best party in town.

Best place for a first date: OLA. It's lively yet romantic, and the ceviche is an excellent aphrodisiac.

Best new fashion trend: Less about the glitz, more about the individual pieces and attitude. One great accessory can make an outfit.

Best place for cocktails: SkyBar.

Best reason to stay in Miami for the summer: Nick: The heat. It's so sexy.

Tara: More time to check out Miami museums and thrift shops.

What are the new party trends of the future? Things are getting more exclusive, but also events are moving into huge mansions. South Beach nightlife is invading all areas. Look at condominium marketing and their events. The big clubs are not as huge as they used to be. It's more about the restaurants and lounges. Lots of indoor/outdoor spaces like Pangaea, SkyBar, Sanctuary, and Sushi Samba.

Will karaoke still be around? Forever, promise or threat!

Where do you see the public relations business in the year 2025? In 2025 TARA, Ink. will have world domination. With as many offices as the Gap has stores ... just kidding. I think we will still be securing Paris Hilton to attend events, and maybe her unborn children Newark Hilton, Airport Hilton, and Baghdad Hilton. I think the world of celebrity will continue to affect PR. We see that across the board. All clients want some type of partnership with celebrities, whether it's to wear their products or attend their events.

SECOND-BEST ERRATUM April 4, 2005

Miami Herald "The e-mail address on Friday's column for öYou Got A Problem' was incorrect...."

BEST NEW TREND Pugs in public Most people realize they are mere servants to their dogs and follow their every canine command. What many civilians fail to acknowledge is that dogs collectively have a larger mission -- to eventually rule the entire world. Purebreds like schnauzers and Cirnecos dell'Etna harken back to the dictatorial pasts of their home countries of Germany and Italy to create a mongrelized, utopic vision for governments of the future. The plan begins with an infiltration of public places where humans are known to congregate, such as pubs and markets. (This has already been accomplished without resistance in the Netherlands and countries of the northern Renaissance.) The surest sign Miami is experiencing a Europeanizing, as well as Latinizing, influence is the emerging ubiquitousness of canine "companions" everywhere you go. Rugged Norwegian elkhounds stroll the hushed aisles of Anthropologie while beribboned, snowy Maltese peek out of Birkin bags at art galleries. Some dogs even command their own tables at Lincoln Road cafés and coffee shops. At Nordstrom in the Village of Merrick Park, Karin Albert, a saleswoman in the teen clothing department, reports seeing many Chihuahuas emulating Tinkerbell, the teacup pup who uses Paris Hilton as a public escort. "The dogs are usually really good, and the people with them seem patient and happier," observes Albert. "The dogs seem to enjoy going shopping as much as the girls." Apparently capitalism will remain a fixture in the new four-footed regime.

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 SPECTACLE Demolition of the Everglades Hotel What goes up must come down. It may take a hundred years, maybe a thousand, but even the new condo towers rising in the first decade of this new millennium will one day crumble, perhaps into a rising sea. As for the sixteen-story Everglades Hotel, it endured almost 80 years before dissolving into a heap in eight short seconds, helped along this past January 23 by high-tech explosives. But even the preservationist community didn't have much to cry about; long ago the building's original Mediterranean Revival exterior had been remodeled out of existence. For example, in 1959 the cupola atop the building (which, like the nearby Freedom Tower, emulated the Giralda Tower in Seville, Spain) met the same fate as Teamsters Union president Jimmy Hoffa -- it disappeared without a trace. The union actually owned the hotel in 1959, the year architects decided the cupola had to be whacked because it couldn't accommodate the rooftop pool and nightclub Hoffa insisted on installing. In Miami money always seems to trump history. CABI Developers, which bought the hotel a couple years ago, also found the edifice a hindrance to its dollar dreams, which involve erecting two 49-story condominium towers, naming them Everglades on the Bay, and then charging ludicrously high prices for them. This time the whole building had to be whacked -- and it was a spectacular hit.

BEST TV NEWS REPORTER Carmel Cafiero WSVN-TV (Channel 7) In the quick-cut and flash-fast world of television news, the thing that sells, aside from hurricanes, is sensationalism. (Sensationalism about hurricanes really sells.) And while it is the same notion that creates a disproportionate distrust of the species known as the media, in TV land the gotcha style of journalism can create images akin to the money shot. There is something grabbing and even compelling about watching some jerk get a comeuppance on the air. No one has mastered this particular niche better than Cafiero. When Carmel is on the case, she jumps in front of her subject and latches on with the tenacity of a ferocious pit bull. The bad guys can't help but to instantly realize the jig is up, though it is sometimes fun to watch them attempt to squirm their way out of the spotlight. Her in-your-face style -- coupled with hard-hitting, often poignant questions -- makes her a TV muckraker of the highest order.

BEST TV STATION WSVN-TV (Channel 7) Anyone with half a brain hates Channel 7. The sensationalized approach, whether in over-the-top news coverage or outlandish reality programming like Trading Spouses or The Simple Life, carries all the intellectual weight of a bran muffin. Is this the sort of stuff you want to enter into conversation at the water cooler? But when alone, carving an ass-groove into a comfy sofa, you know you find a guilty pleasure from the hyperbolic station's hours of mindless entertainment. Exactly what TV is supposed to do. This year the leading purveyor of infotainment reached a class of its own. The Bill Kamal scandal (in which the station's prime weathercaster was busted on child molestation charges) coupled with daily doses of toothy pretty-boy Louis Aguirre heralded a new era of outrageousness. The use of bright, flashy colors in graphics mesmerizes. And thanks to network owner Fox, the station has a strong Sunday-night lineup: animated classics King of the Hill and The Simpsons, Malcolm in the Middle, the too-smart-for-TV Arrested Development, and the Seth MacFarlane comedic masterpieces Family Guy and American Dad. That beats anything on the other networks or cable.

Readers´ Choice: WPLG-TV (Channel 10)

BEST WEEKEND GETAWAY Hollywood No, we don't mean Hollywood, California. And no, this is not a joke. Hollywood, Florida, may be only minutes away by car, but the town's two-and-a-half-mile beachfront Broadwalk is about as close to the South Beach experience as a rodeo is to a velvet-rope nightclub. Here's what to do: On a Saturday or Sunday, you and the companion of your choice head up to the Broadwalk (from Georgia Street at the southern end to Sherman Street at the north). Unload your bicycles and cruise until you come across a motel that looks just funky enough be affordable yet clean enough to be reassuring. Put money down on a room for your future Saturday night retreat. Then quickly return to Miami. Do not explore further. On the appointed Saturday, head back to your cozy motel, unload bikes and gear, and this time walk the entire length of the Broadwalk. Within minutes you'll realize you have slipped through a wormhole and are now in a parallel universe. This is a place still a bit rough around the edges, where the bars and cafés fronting the Broadwalk maintain an authentically tacky charm that lacks pretension and invites you to linger. Leggy models and buff boys? No. Gourmet dining? No. Twelve-dollar cocktails? No. Which is precisely the point.

Readers´ Choice: Key West

BEST LOCAL WEBSITE www.artblog.net It would seem that Miami plays host to two gentlemen by the name of Franklin Einspruch. There's the Einspruch best known to readers of the New Times as a thoughtful, considered, and genteel art critic. Then there's the Einspruch who produces artblog, a freewheeling site where he shoots from the hip about the Miami art scene, waxing poetic on the good, the bad, and the aesthetically ugly. Best of all, once Einspruch has offered his delightfully bitchy piece, much of the local art community -- artists, gallery owners, fellow critics, and the entire intellectual peanut gallery -- weighs in to post comments, responses, and angry back-and-forths concerning everything from new shows to hyperbolic reviews. Call it an ongoing testament to that part of Miami's creative energy which rarely makes it into newsprint.

Readers´ Choice: www.eveinterrupted.com

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®