His work has spanned the centuries this season, from assisting Rafael de Acha in the ambitious Shakespeare Project to taking the reins of new plays like Day of Reckoning and Madagascar. He is as fearless as he is generous, making the most of whatever is on the page and letting his actors find their often-surprising best. Martinez watches their back: No one looks bad onstage when this man is in charge, and his choices in everything from the subtlest gestures to the broadest strokes resonate with the feeling of truth.
Although we could never afford to live there, Blue is by far the most beautiful condo to sprout on the Biscayne Corridor. It is a striking addition to Miami's changing skyline, standing tall along Biscayne Bay, right at the foot of the Julia Tuttle Causeway. The seductive curve of the north-facing façade is an arching sail of blue-tinted hurricane-proof glass that marries water to sky. And the clean white lines of its bowed back cradle an elevated garden and yoga terrace, pool deck, and fitness center -- all of which sit upon the cleverly concealed parking garage. Inside, floor-to-ceiling windows provide residents with unobstructed panoramic views of the sparkling waters of the bay and ocean. The architecture and design team responsible for creating this masterpiece include Bernardo Fort Brescia, Laurinda Spear, Sergio Bakas, John Jenkins, Victor H. Rodriguez, William Lai, and Ulises Peinado of Arquitectonica, the same firm that designed the American Airlines Arena, the Miami City Ballet headquarters, and the new U.S. Federal Courthouse.
At five feet eleven inches and 228 pounds, Zach Thomas was an unheralded player from Texas Tech University when the Fins drafted him in 1996. Football pundits thought he was too small to play middle linebacker, a position that requires banging heads with 300-pound offensive linemen on a weekly basis. But that didn't stop former head coach Jimmy Johnson from taking a chance on the human wrecking ball from Pampas, Texas. Entering his ninth season, Thomas has proven himself as one of the toughest hombres to don the uniform of Miami's storied football franchise. For the second year in a row, and for the eighth time in his career, he led the team in tackles (166) this past season despite missing games because of injuries. During a loss to the Cleveland Browns this past November, Thomas recorded five tackles while playing with a separated shoulder. His performance earned him his sixth election to the Pro Bowl.
Tucked away in a patch of urban green is a tangible reminder of Miami's humble roots. Built in 1857, it's the oldest house in Miami-Dade -- a rambling cross between Little House on the Prairie and an Alabama shotgun shack. William Wagner was a white pioneer who settled here as the Seminole wars raged. He built the area's first postcolonial church, ran a mill nearby, married a Creole woman, and watched Miami grow from a malarial outpost to a real town. The house is so charmingly out-of-place you can't help but like it.
When the book about South Beach in the gay Nineties is finally written (and what a story it will be), there most certainly should be a chapter dedicated to the one and only Shelley Novak. The hirsute, zaftig drag queen has been hosting her Shelley Novak Awards for the past eleven years. Eleven years! "And I've been doing drag for fifteen years. I don't think anybody I know has made that kind of commitment to anything! I know marriages that haven't lasted that long," quips the blunt-spoken Bostonian. Her awards ceremony is always ribald and ridiculous, fluffy and fun, with a couple of outrageous musical performances tossed in for flavor. "If anything, it becomes like a Friars Club Roast, but it does get taken very seriously. I try to nominate people who I know will get up onstage and break down in tears," chuckles Novak. Besides hosting South Beach's longest-lasting awards ceremony for drag queens, Shelley takes part in the education of the gay community by hosting her own monthly film-screening series, Shelley Novak's Hollywood. Before she stepped into the dazzling spotlight at crobar to hand out awards this year, Novak stood in the darkness of the Miami Beach Cinematheque, to host a suitably reverent tribute to her recently deceased namesake, Shelley Winters. Winters and Novak shared more than a first name. Both were talented yet overlooked for their more svelte and glamorous counterparts. And it's because of actresses like Shelley Winters -- and her other namesake, Kim Novak -- that Shelley Novak continues to proudly carry a torch for almost-forgotten film stars. "The reason I do Shelley Novak's Hollywood is because there was a generation lost," the adorable, self-depreciating cross-dresser reveals. "When I was a young gay kid in 1985, I had all these older gay guys introducing me to John Waters and David Lynch, and because of AIDS, that generation died. For the kids now, there's nobody to look up to for advice, or to teach them old Hollywood, or camp value, or what books to read," she explains. Novak does her part to keep the drag flame burning, welcoming young queens into the circle while simultaneously recognizing the courage and longevity of old warhorses like Henrietta, who's been dressing up since the Fifties. Always an awarder and almost never an awardee, this playfully modest South Beach institution maybe should just write a book of her own.
During the Twenties, farmers and other locals who made fortunes in the land boom built this verdant, vibrant neighborhood, sparing no expense on architecture. The houses remain -- framed by NE Second Avenue, NW Sixth Avenue/I-95, the Design District, and Little Haiti -- with all of their chimneys, porticos, balustrades, alcoves, wrought-iron fences, cement fences, wrought-iron-and-cement fences, and plenty of other tasteful and fascinating ornamentation. A couple of decades ago, the area became a magnet for immigrants -- some of the larger homes were converted into rooming houses. The future looked dim for historic preservation, but as sometimes happens in such circumstances, the new arrivals rebuilt Buena Vista, creating a neighborhood with the emphasis on neighbor. Trees abound, lawns are mown and hedges trimmed, people ride bikes and kids play outside. East Buena Vista (the portion between North Miami Avenue and NE Second Avenue) tends to be a bit more upscale, but the entire residential respite from the nearby commercial and cultural chaos is remarkably pleasant and peaceful. The folks in Buena Vista clearly have faith in the future, which is the most important thing for any neighborhood.
The venues and themes may change, but the dress code stays the same. "We command the following attire at our fetish events," the masters say on the Website. Rubber. Vinyl. Military uniforms. And, yes, leather: fabulous, skintight, slick, and sexy leather. (There are more attire allowances, but you have to check them out for yourself.) The parties have been a monthly hit for nearly a decade, largely because the rules themselves create the fantasy -- the freedom within boundaries (or bondage). If leather is your thing, enjoy.
Before the Cuban revolution, La Época was a major department store on the island. Although it still occupies a physical location in central Havana (as a dollar store of all things), the brand -- along with much of the essence of Cuba -- made the trip across the straits and settled in downtown Miami on NE Second Avenue. For 40 years, el exilio flocked to the packed store, even after the shopping district lost much of its vibrancy. This past December, though, La Época moved over to the old Walgreen's location on Flagler. Many will remember the 1936 Streamline Moderne structure as the site of a popular cafeteria; however, now the contents of La Época are spread across three of the exquisite building's five floors. The increase in elbow room is certainly welcome, but more important, this underscores that the downtown resurgence isn't a pipe dream.
Just meandering toward Doral's driving range on a sunny South Florida day will put you in the golfing mood. From the flowers to the fountains, the palms swaying and that endless landscape of beautiful Bermuda, it's the perfect setting to start swinging. And speaking of grass, Doral is actually one of the few Miami courses that allow you to practice on the grass. So you can avoid the feeling of carpet under your club and concentrate on firing at the flags.
For a town that prides itself on its architecture, Miami Beach often seems to have lost its way in historic preservation. Demolition-by-neglect appears to be a favorite tactic of property owners, so when the City of Miami Beach promised to renovate the Colony Theater, interested residents and artists emitted a collective sigh of relief. The small 1934 Art Deco structure is demure by Beach standards. It was built for the Paramount chain at the quiet end of Lincoln Road, which probably saved it from the wrecking ball. After renovations in the Seventies, the 465-seat theater became a focal point for performing arts groups as well as films. But it fell into disrepair again until a new fixup was approved in 2002. Unfortunately, as often happens with government contracts, the renovation went way over budget and schedule. Instead of $1.5 million and one year, the project stumbled over obstacles that set the final price tag around $6.5 million and pushed back the opening date three years. The renovations were extensive: The floor was restored and a new three-story wing was added to the backstage area. In order to highlight the exquisite façade, the entrance was shifted to face Lincoln Road, and the lobby was redone, including restoration of murals. The place reopened this past February. Despite the troubles and costs, residents and art lovers are happy to have it back. It's way better than another cookie-cutter condo.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®