Renting Vizcaya for a weekend evening may cost $10,000 ($7500 for a weeknight), but a properly bacchanalian affair should at least have traces of ancient Rome, if only in the form of a few well-placed Neo-Italian cherubs. Though one can only imagine the grandeur with which James Deering entertained in the early Twenties, parties at Vizcaya -- corporate sponsors and unfortunate cover bands notwithstanding -- transport the reveler to an ethereal Xanadu. When populated by a fashionable and enthusiastic Miami crowd and watered down with icy cocktails, the mansion -- with its view of the bay and ornate courtyards surrounded by labyrinthine gardens -- inspires a sense of mystery, beauty, and fun.
When Arthur Teele, the powerful but beleaguered commissioner of Miami's mostly black District 5, committed suicide in the lobby of the Miami Herald July 27, 2005, Mayor Manny Diaz lost his most daunting opponent. Among other beefs with his honor was Teele's opposition to the mixed-use Crosswinds development in Overtown, a multimillion-dollar project that Diaz's administration endorsed but Teele characterized as horrific gentrification. When District 5 went up for grabs this past November, many expected Teele friend and anti-Diaz gadfly Rev. Richard Dunn to pick up where the U.S. Army Ranger left off. But after City Manager Joe Arriola and others campaigned against Teele, former Diaz aide Michelle Spence-Jones won the seat, ensuring the district's reversal from anti-Diaz HQ to another vote for the mayor.
Any activity is better when you're intoxicated -- bowling, dancing, shooting pool, flicking your lighter at a Bon Jovi concert -- but the ultimate nightcap is pancakes. Serious drinkers know that after a good night of partying, you need to begin warding off the next day's hangover with a stack of alcohol-absorbing pancakes. The original buttermilk, the "healthy" grain-and-nut ones, chocolate chip ... it's all good. The fact that your one funky-smelling friend always complains about the outrageous prices at this establishment makes the excursion even better: "Damn! I didn't know I was going to have to dip into my retirement account for a Belgian waffle!" he whines as the rest of you fight over the butter pecan syrup. Besides the pancakes, there is always an interesting crowd -- both employees and patrons -- during the third shift at IHOP, which enhances the atmosphere. And no one will care if you're acting a little nutty as long as you're not being an ass.
Miami Mayor Manny Diaz and City Manager Joe Arriola cut a sweetheart deal with their buddy and prominent local attorney Hank Adorno and his seven clients. They thought Miami taxpayers wouldn't notice. They were so wrong. Manny and Joe found themselves in the middle of the biggest scandal to hit Miami City Hall since Cesar Odio ran Dinner Key. And they certainly underestimated the public outrage that the fire fee debacle would generate in the Magic City. Chants of "Joe must go!" resonated throughout the subtropics. But Manny held on to his extroverted chief administrator, even though portions of Circuit Judge Peter Lopez's ruling nullifying the seven-million-dollar settlement stated that "all parties directly involved in settlement negotiations" knew they were trying to bamboozle the taxpayers. So now Manny has lost his golden-boy glimmer, while Arriola, who has announced his retirement, seems to have lost his mind.
So he has the chops, the looks and most of all the voice and the presence. And, while no single performance ever could exhaust the possibilities of any Shakespearean role, Euriamis Losada's Romeo was a triumph: impulsive, young and sexy, but also in precociously masterful command of the heavenly music that is Shakespeare's language. This Romeo's banter with Nicholas Richberg's fine Mercutio alone would have been reason to cheer: clever dialogue that was at once of its time and timeless, made to titillate and entertain with its sensual possibilities even as one could not help admiring the craft of play and players alike. There was also more than a touch in Losada's performance that is too rare among young American actors, a disarming desire to conspire with the audience in making the play work, to play to them with no apologies, to shatter all barriers between the performance and its witnesses. Losada's final scene in Rafael de Acha's Romeo and Juliet had New Theatre audiences in tears. His complex Bassanio in The Merchant of Venice, incidentally, proved that his Romeo was no one-time fluke. Here is a young actor to watch.
For nearly a quarter-century Raul Martinez personified the City of Hialeah. La Ciudad que Progresa elected this giant-of-a-man mayor in 1981 after a one-term stint on the city council. A charming and combative hombre with bulldog jowls, Martinez proved that even a criminal conviction (eventually overturned by an appeals court) couldn't stop him from being re-elected. Last year, though, Hialeah's grand wizard decided it was time to retreat behind the curtain and relinquish the throne to protégé and City Council President Julio Robaina, who beat former state Sen. Roberto Casas in the 2005 election. But we're sure the don of Hialeah is only a phone call away when Robaina needs a little ayudita.
Yeah, he's annoying. Yeah, his Miami Herald columns are often infuriatingly inconsistent, self-contradictory, and smug. But LeBatard, who hosts the 4:00 to 7:00 p.m. slot on WAXY 790 AM, helms the most entertaining talk-radio show in town. Part of the reason is that it's only half a sports talk show. LeBatard and straightman Jon "Stugotz" Weiner (the station's general manager) nab the best sports guests of any local show (at one point Terrell Owens had a weekly spot, and LeBatard often interviews national stars), but they also spend a good deal of time on delightful nonsense. LeBatard regularly asks guests to call in and name athletes whose names sound most like butlers (Broncos back-up QB Bradlee Van Pelt? PGA star Davis Love III?). He also tends to gab with sports-related guests about pop culture more than sports. For instance, Marlins president David Samson rated movies during a weekly segment on LeBatard's show, until the team imploded and Samson stopped calling in. Regulars include Trick Daddy, Canes and Cowboys standout Michael Irvin, MADtv comedian and spot-on John Madden impersonator Frank Caliendo, and LeBatard's Herald buddy Greg Cote, who appears on the show mainly to sing poorly but earnestly about sports. Guests over the past year have included writer Malcolm Gladwell, former pro wrestler George "The Animal" Steele, and bad mofo Chuck Norris. Most frequently addressed topics include Chewbacca, Santería, and, again, Chuck Norris.
Questions like "Where do I register to vote?" and "What day should I put my trash out?" used to be weighty philosophical dilemmas, mulled over at great length by bureaucrats behind Plexiglas windows. Determining the address of the closest hurricane shelter entailed a Faustian journey into the bowels of voicemail networks. Learning which phone number to call in a police nonemergency involved a magnifying glass, a high-wattage light bulb, and an hours-long commitment to the phone book's blue pages. But then, in September 2005, Miami-Dade County officially launched its 311 call center. Now dial just three numbers, and the answering party -- one of 86 who man the phones at an 11,000-square-foot facility -- will surprise you with a cheery "How can I provide you with excellent service?" The center expects to receive an estimated 2.5 million calls in its first year of operation, and a quick review of the yammering to date seems to indicate that Miami-Dade residents' priorities are clean, safe neighborhoods. The Top 5 service requests/complaints? So: Stop sign down? Rabid dog in the driveway? The answer is three numbers away. No hold music, no voicemail, and helpful people. Your first question may very well be "Am I in Miami?"
In 1979 Harry and Darlene Kelton were living temporarily inside a houseboat docked at the county-owned Pelican Harbor Marina on the John F. Kennedy Causeway. One day the Keltons took in an injured pelican that was paddling by their floating home. One thing led to another, and the couple spent the final 23 years of their 48-year marriage tending to more than 6000 feathered patients. Unfortunately Darlene Kelton passed away in 2003, but her husband continues their legacy. The Keltons' original seabird station was a makeshift shed, and their first aviary was nothing more than old wood posts with chainlink fencing. In 1992 the seabird station moved into its current facility, which consists of a single-story building with two offices, a treatment center, and holding pens. The outdoor area is now a series of holding pens that allow wounded waterfowl to recuperate before they are released into the wild. Of course, some guests, such as the ones with only one wing, are permanent. The station's population is dominated by the native brown pelican, but other fine creatures such as herons and gannets also find their way to Pelican Harbor. On a recent visit, a northern gannet -- a majestic pearl-white bird with black wingtips and a large gray pointed beak -- argues with a feisty pelican for a space on a wood post. This year Harry Kelton and seabird station executive director Wendy Fox hope to begin fundraising for an upgrade to the existing building, possibly adding a second story. "That's going to take a few hundred thousand dollars," Fox says. "So we have some serious work to do." The station operates solely on public donations, struggling along each year on a budget of $87,000. Pelican Harbor also welcomes volunteers unafraid of encountering a little bird poo and handling bloody gutted bait fish. It is open seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. to noon and from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m.
It's not perfect, but it turns down the volume without squelching the vital tourist machine. Here's how it works: Once a code officer confirms a noise complaint, the culprit receives a written warning -- and has fifteen minutes to turn down the sound. Businesses receive three written warnings per year. (Vociferous voters got that knocked down from six at a contentious March meeting.) After that, fines ramp up. They begin paltry -- $250 for the first violation, and businesses can receive only one per day as long as they quiet down after a warning. But the new ordinance, approved March 11, takes away exceptions for special events -- like holiday weekends or Art Basel. So on the whole, the Beach should be a bit quieter for those who choose to live near the craziness.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®