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 TERROR ALERT October 26, 2004

Miami International Airport Mizael Cabral and Daniel Correa, two athletic, young kite surfers from Brazil, are heading back to their homeland after spending a couple of years hanging out in Pompano Beach. They check their boards, sails, assorted other gear, and luggage through the x-ray machine at MIA's international terminal. Among the gear is a small belt sander kite surfers use to shape their boards; it is cylindrical and resembles a tank. The Portuguese word for tank is bomba. So when a security agent asks Cabral, who barely speaks English, what's in one of his overstuffed bags, the 29-year-old says bomba. His 27-year-old pal Daniel, who speaks better English (his mom is a U.S. citizen and resides in Davie), comes over and jokes that it might explode -- a reference to the bag being so tightly packed. Of course they're arrested and charged with felonies: willfully or maliciously making false statements "with the intent to cause fear" and "reckless disregard for the safety of human life." Their tourist visas long expired, the surfers are imprisoned for a month at the Federal Detention Center in downtown Miami and then another month at the Krome Detention Center for immigration-law violations. Meanwhile the story hits the front pages in Brazil's national press. The governor from the surfers' province demands that Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva lean on President George W. Bush to intervene. Cabral and Correa's federal public defenders, armed with testimony from TSA officials that the guys should have been spanked and immediately sent home to Brazil, head for trial. Suddenly the U.S. Attorney's Office offers an eleventh-hour plea deal to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor for impeding a federal official in the performance of his duties. U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno sentences Cabral and Correa to time served, but knowing they had been carrying about $8000 in hard-earned cash when the incident occurred, fines them each $2000. "Ridiculous," sighs Marc Seitles, Cabral's public defender.

BEST WEATHERCASTER National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center Some people get the weather by sticking their heads out the window. Everybody else gets their weather -- at least partially -- from the National Weather Service and the National Hurricane Center. Even the major news outlets rely on information from the NWS and NHC before putting an entertaining spin on "partly cloudy with a chance of rain." Why not just go to the source? At the NWS Website (www.srh.noaa.gov/mfl) you'll find straightforward weather forecasting plus various satellite and radar images, historical facts, and safety information. The marine forecast, current weather, and developing situations are also available in a computer-generated monotone on short wave at 162.550 mhz and at 1670-AM. Go towww.srh.noaa.gov/mfl/wireless/index.wml, or contact your provider for wireless technology access. The National Hurricane Center's Website provides comprehensive hurricane information and wireless access, links, an extensive e-mail service, and other ways to obtain forecasts.

BEST AUDIO TOUR Adam Curry's podcast from South Beach http://radio.weblogs.com/0001014/ categories/dailySourceCode/2005/ 01/07.html#a6993 So you've finally set up your blog. That's sooooo 2004. Goodness, you should already be podcasting for your cyber creds. Podcasting is the new blog, but think of it more as radio broadcasting available from the Internet that you save to your personal MP3 and play when you want to hear it. Podcasts are nowhere as slick or commercial as typical radio talk shows, but there's complete freedom of content and language, and anybody -- absolutely everybody -- can create a podcast with simple equipment and software. They are strangely alluring. There's a bit of voyeurism, a bit of old-time radio-show quaintness, and lots of hilarious and shocking moments that never, ever happen on broadcast radio. Anything still goes in cyberspace. One of the major players is Adam Curry. Yeah, that blond dude from MTV. As well as being instrumental in podcasting's development and promotion, he also yammers on his popular Daily Source Code show. The episode linked above is particularly good. Curry takes listeners on a "sound-seeing" tour of South Beach. Typical sounds of the neighborhood waft by like effects from an old-time radio drama. He speaks to colorful locals and wanders around, describing everything he sees. Curry also explains some of the concepts and technology involved in creating his show. It's as much a learning experience as it is entertainment. Podcasting may still be in its infancy, but the buzz in the industry is that it will shatter radio as we know it.

BEST LOCAL BOXER James Abdullah Shortly after dusk inside Allapattah's Teo Cruz Boxing Gym, manager Pedro Valerio is busy assisting black and Hispanic boys and men in their bids to master the sweet science. Skinny lightweight and middleweight contenders from Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and other Latin American nations methodically pound at punching bags that are patched with duct tape. Two Puerto Rican kids, one no older than ten, the other a whisker shy of twelve, clutch and swing at each other inside the main ring. Just outside the ring a chiseled black warrior works on his hand speed, jabbing lightning-fast punches into an invisible opponent. He is James Abdullah, a rugged 22-year-old pugilist from Overtown who wants to be the next Roy Jones, Jr. "If he keeps doing what he's doing, he'll be a world champ," Valerio says. "He's got the speed, the size, the skills." The 175-pound light-heavyweight has been tearing up Florida's amateur boxing circuit. Abdullah's record stands at 12-4. Last year the slugger was crowned Golden Gloves champ of his weight class. "I was into a lot of stuff out in the streets until Valerio let me join his gym for free five years ago," Abdullah recalls. "I haven't stopped boxing since. Now I want the fame, the glory, and everything professional boxing can offer."

BEST DISAPPEARING ACT Alex Penelas Who would've thought I could've vanished so completely. And so quickly! Believe me, it hasn't been easy, which you'd understand if you had spent your entire adult life seeking the public spotlight. It happened so fast I didn't even have time to take an unhurried victory lap to bask in the glow of my many legacies. You know, like my environmental legacy. Remember the sprawling commercial airport I pushed for down in Homestead? Talk about vision. You can't say I wasn't down with spending millions in county resources trying to help some of my biggest supporters get that job done. And didn't I lend a big hand to Mickey Arison so we could preserve the last tract of undeveloped public waterfront land in downtown Miami? You bet I did. My transportation legacy definitely deserved more recognition. Who else could have smoothly funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars into the hands of loyal friends as part of our 1999 "Transit Not Tolls" campaign. Am I bitter that voters rejected the plan? No. It was worth the effort. But I am still steamed that the media claimed the public didn't believe we could be trusted with the money. I'm telling you, all of my damn people got paid. And what about my human-rights legacy? Who else but the mayor was there for little Elian 24/7? People seem to forget that the issue wasn't whether I threatened the president of the United States; the issue was life and liberty in America or living hell in Castro's Cuba. No regrets. And of course there's my political legacy itself -- a staunch Democrat who survived in a sea of Republican Miami Cubans. Don't listen to Al Gore. He's a loser.

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 DEFENSE AGAINST TERRORISM P. Diddy When Sean Combs lived in Manhattan during the Nineties, he was beset with 99 problems. P. Diddy had a tempestuous romance with J.Lo and a highly publicized feud with Death Row Records, was accused of severely beating Interscope Records executive Steve Stoute, was present during a shooting in a nightclub, and eventually faced charges for illegal possession of a firearm. In 1997, after a period spent mourning the death of colleague Notorious B.I.G., Combs emerged from seclusion with his most successful album, No Way Out. He won a Grammy. And he moved to Miami Beach. Here he led a quiet and unassuming life until the fall of 2001, when, mistaking him for Public Enemy's uniformed, militant, and subsequently banished Professor Griff, South Florida called upon P. Diddy's familiarity with Islamic fundamentalism and knowledge of firearms and kung fu to protect citizens in treacherous times. P. Diddy manifests his protective schemes in many low-key ways. He came out with a line of so-called urban clothing called Sean John, the bagginess of which conceals its true purpose, that of bestowing upon the wearer the ability to don bulletproof under-gear. He shared the secrets of the video-surveillance company he employs to observe his abode with a local doughnut shop franchise. He even organized a team of specially trained penguins. Note to Homeland Security: Sign this guy up.

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 NEW LAW Sidewalk bicycle ban City of Miami Beginning May 12, the elderly Hispanics who clog the sidewalks of Calle Ocho can feel a little safer walking up and down Little Havana's most famous thoroughfare. That day Miami police officers will begin enforcing a new law that bans bicycles, scooters, and skateboards from the sidewalks of SW Eighth Street between Fourth Avenue and the city's western boundary at the Palmetto Expressway. The Miami City Commission adopted the legislation last year in response to growing complaints from area business owners and residents. Unruly cyclists would tear down Calle Ocho with little regard for pedestrians, sometimes causing bone-crunching collisions, sometimes snatching a purse or two. Offending cyclists will be issued a $25 fine

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®