BEST PANTHERS PLAYER Kristian Huselius and Andreas Lilja Even though the NHL season was canceled this year, two homeboys still managed to make international headlines when they were accused of raping a 22-year-old woman in Sweden. Even though the charges were eventually dropped, for Zamboni-deprived fans it was as exciting as a hat trick to see our team living up to the high moral standards we've come to expect from our athletes. After all, aren't headlines about questionable multinational sex-related crimes what Miami and hockey are all about?

Readers´ Choice: Roberto Luongo

Books & Books
Courtesy of Books & Books
BEST PLACE TO MEET INTELLIGENT MEN Books & Books 265 Aragon Avenue

Coral Gables

305-442-4408

www.booksandbooks.com Reading is sexy. And men who read books are really sexy. And no, Maxim and Stuff magazines don't count as books. Spend a Thursday evening or a Saturday afternoon strolling through the stacks to see who's interested in the same subjects you are. Maybe that hot guy in the travel section is in need of a backpacking companion, or the handsome gentleman rifling through the cookbooks could be looking to add a little more spice to his bachelor life. The redhead in politics and current affairs is a nice catch if you like the challenge of a good argument, but perhaps the blond holding a copy of The Poetry of Pablo Neruda is just the romantic type you've been looking for. Just steer clear of the self-help section -- you came here to find intelligent men, not needy men.

BEST SANCTUARY FROM THE FAST TRACK Jimbo's Virginia Key

305-361-7026 If you know Jimbo's, you know why. If you don't know Jimbo's, you have a treat in store. Pay the modest entry fee to gain access to Virginia Key, drive beyond the main beach parking lot, around the bend by the sewage treatment plant, then park. Get out and trudge through the pine trees and junk toward the commotion. Sometimes it's a live band. Sometimes it's the peculiar sound made by bocce-ball players working on their tenth Budweiser. Sometimes it's the honky-tonk of a barely able to stand upright piano. Smoked fish and cold beer. Weekend warriors, lowlifes, highlifes, attorneys with Harleys, models and photographers, skittering kids, mongrel dogs, more beer and bocce ball, and of course His Cigar-Chomping Eminence Jim Luznar, for half a century or so the lovable old coot supposedly in charge of the place.

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.

Bill Cosford Cinema
Photo by Conan O'Brien
BEST MOVIE THEATER Bill Cosford Cinema University of Miami

Dooley Memorial Building

1111 Memorial Drive

Coral Gables

305-284-4861

www.miami.edu/cosford Built in 1947 as the Louis D. Beaumont Lecture Hall, after a Palm Beach retiree gave $50,000 toward its construction, this theater was renamed to honor the late Miami Herald film critic Bill Cosford, a member of the school's faculty until his passing in 1994. Classically styled and housed on the second floor of the Dooley Memorial classroom building, the Cosford has served as the city's most dependable repertory house, a comfortable place to see art films, political tracts, documentaries, and other esoteric fare from around the world. Recent screenings, programmed by the university's School of Communication, have included Postmen in the Mountains, a Chinese effort that explores the bonds between father and son; the Venice Film Festival-winning Vodka Lemon, a September-December romance from Armenia; and another Venice Film Festival award winner, Light of My Eyes, an exercise in Neo-Realism. These films, screened from DVD and stock prints, are affordably priced -- a mere six dollars for admission -- and a welcome respite from predictable Hollywood spectacles.

Readers´ Choice: Regal South Beach Stadium 18

BEST POLITICAL COMEBACK Justice Leslie Rothenberg Third District Court of Appeal Talk about comebacks! Rothenberg keeps popping up in the most influential places, defying all expectations and, some would say, reason. First she quit her job as a circuit court judge to run for state attorney. (Her tenure on the circuit court had its fair share of controversies; she had to recuse herself several times for displaying bias against defendants.) While campaigning for state attorney, she snuggled up to the Christian Family Coalition by publicly vowing to oppose while in office most anything that aided or abetted homosexuality. But alas, she was trounced in the Republican primary and limped off to the private sector. But wait! Gov. Jeb Bush himself plucked her from her ignoble fate as a private lawyer and whisked her up to even greater heights by appointing her to fill a vacancy on the Third District Court of Appeal. Her openly anti-gay position could prove troublesome as issues related to sexual orientation make their way through the court system, a prospect that apparently didn't faze the guv.

BEST MILE OF MIAMI The Venetian Causeway Yes, we know it's 2.75 miles long. It also crosses eleven islands by means of twelve bridges, two of which open for boats. It's also South Florida's oldest causeway (in continuous operation since 1926) and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. As for its length, just pick the mile that best suits your needs. For those who seek to be mesmerized by glittering panoramas, there's no better place than the western side. Whether by bike, car, or on foot, this is the best place to take in the visual wonderland that is the Miami skyline. For those who seek to indulge fantasies, the eastern section allows for up-close views of luxurious yachts moored at million-dollar homes -- the perfect place to dream of what could be. In fact it was an indulgence of fantasy that created the Venetian. The islands didn't even exist when the causeway was conceived, a detail that didn't stop Miami dream merchants from selling submerged home sites; and the destination -- Miami Beach -- wasn't much more than a sandbar ringed by mangroves. To traverse the Venetian Causeway, then and now, is to blur the line between reality and imagination.

BEST NATURE CENTER Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center 6767 Crandon Boulevard

Key Biscayne

305-361-6767

www.biscaynenaturecenter.org South Florida's splendid weather encourages people to play hooky, and it's a clever Miamian who figures out a way to do it without guilt. The Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center is a grand schoolhouse integrated with the great outdoors. The wonderful complex is set against mangroves, nature trails, and even a fossilized reef that make this not-for-profit facility a unique learning center instead of merely a playground. (If you are learning, can skipping a regular class or a day at work be all that wrong?) Guides lead tours through the various environments native to the area while instructing visitors about topics mostly having to do with conservation of natural resources. Some educational displays, exhibits, and art are housed inside, so even bad weather isn't a problem.

BEST DISPLAY OF WEALTH Leonard M. Miller family The current building and real-estate boom has been very good to Miami-based Lennar Corporation, the nation's premier home-construction company, which is now pulling in more than six billion dollars in annual revenues. This past December the family of company founder Leonard Miller, who died in 2002, donated a whopping $100 million to the University of Miami's medical school, now renamed the Leonard M. Miller School of Medicine. It's the biggest gift in UM's history, and it says "We're filthy rich" in a very classy way.

Miami Theater Center
BEST FRINGE THEATER Mad Cat Theatre The Light Box Studio

3300 Biscayne Boulevard, #100

Miami

305-576-6377 Between hurricane threats and last-minute schedule changes, this wasn't the Cat's luckiest season. But it remains the most interesting and original theater company in South Florida. The acting ensemble, which works out of the Miami Light Project's Light Box studio, is particularly notable because the members concentrate on shows for young adults, a vital audience that virtually every other theater company in these parts ignores. They also write much of what they produce and perform. The Cats take chances with every show, and the result is fresh and full of risks that pay off.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®