The area around the new Carnival Center for the Performing Arts isn't exactly swanky. For the four-wheeled flocks that descend come showtime, the thought of parking on the street is a piss-in-your-pants proposition. Most would rather pay $10 or $20 to leave their automobile in a lot, or more for a valet. You, however, are a sensible city dweller with your wits and little cash about you. So head west on NE Thirteenth Street from Biscayne Boulevard and turn right on NE First Court. Most nights, especially if you arrive fifteen minutes or more early, you'll find a spot on this somewhat hidden two-block stretch. Nothingç Try Thirteenth Terrace perpendicular to NE First Court. Feed the meter and walk the block or two to your show. No pee needed.
Gray summer storm clouds hang ominously overhead. Small cyclones flare up on the roadside and lightning crashes down. You are trapped in sweltering gridlock. Your eyes cross from a mixture of frustration and anxiety, and your vision goes blurry. As you inch forward a few feet, the image of two robed silhouettes crouched over a crib comes into view. "JESUS IS THE REASON FOR THE SEASON," a sticker informs you. "What seasonç" you wonder."The sticky, sweltering hurricane seasonç" Has Jesus brought this terrible heat and misery down on you and everyone around youç Whyç And did he allow your shirt to fuse to your back and your air conditioner to breakç What have we done to deserve this terrible season, Angry JesusçBut then, maybe the sticker is talking about Christmas (now seven months away), which was actually started by a bunch of tree-worshipping Norse pagans.As terrible road-slicking rain begins to fall, the Jesus sticker disappears into the awful mess, and you continue with your life a little more confused.
Howard Camner, 50 years old, is nothing if not prolific. He has published sixteen books of poetry and written 1500 individual poems, and his name is listed on a staggering number of Websites (640 at last count). But here's why we like this shaggy-haired, bearded bard: He's from Miami, and often writes about Florida in terse, stark, real verse that would make Hemingway raise his scotch glass in honor. Take his poem, "36 Minutes to Yeehaw Junction": "You can almost taste the stupidity/you can feel it slapping your face like a drunken drag queen/you can swerve to the right or veer to the left/you can plug up the tailpipes and cover your crotch/but it's useless/only 36 minutes to Yeehaw Junction...."
Unlike some local Spanish-language weeklies, edited by ink-slinging politicos trying to hamstring competitors for a city or county commission seat, this rag actually reports local, national, and world news with a critical eye. Recent issues included thoughtful coverage on the Iraq War, citing the mounting body count of allied soldiers and Iraqi citizens "tinting the Tigris red." Not to mention the "hundreds of billions of dollars, along with Bush's credibility" pissed down the drain. Other articles questioned the Prez's blind support of U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales following the controversial dismissal of eight U.S. attorneys that ignited congressional calls for his head. A story citing the squawk between the U.S. and Argentina during Bush's recent South America swing, in which Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez tried to make a monkey out of Dubya at a rally in a Buenos Aires, was a scream. As was a squib about boxing promoter Don King's pilgrimage to Rome, where he sought an audience with Pope Benedict XVI. The pugmeister's efforts met a sore end, the paper reported, when the Vicar of Christ dissed King, and the latter had to settle for presenting a "Heavyweight Championship Belt" intended for His Holiness to a papal secretary instead. Couple this stuff with an expansive sports section chock a block with international and local soccer coverage, and a steady diet of immigration advice complementing the news, and Argentina Hoy makes for a great read.
Hometown hero Alonzo Mourning and his wife, Tracy, are both professional success stories. Alonzo is a 2006 NBA champion and Tracy runs her own clothing line, Honey Child. Together they're one of South Florida's most well-known and charitable dynamic duos. "I think they're a terrific power couple," says CBS 4 sports director Jim Berry — who then quotes an adaptation of his favorite psalm: "They walk with kings, but don't lose their human touch." The Miami CBS affiliate teams with the Heat player every year as a sponsor of Zo's Summer Groove, and one of its main anchors, Maggie Rodriguez, just joined the Honey Shine Mentoring Program, founded by Tracy five years ago as part of Alonzo Mourning Charities (AMC). Honey Shine mentors girls between ages eight and eighteen who live in at-risk situations. "I think it's clear that for Alonzo and Tracy, it's more than just Ôwhere we live.' They care about the community," adds Berry. For the past ten years, AMC has raised more than $6 million for local organizations such as 100 Black Men of South Florida, Children's Home Society of Florida, and the Overtown Youth Center. "I've seen that they are genuinely passionate about changing the lives of children who would otherwise lack opportunities in life," says Nelly Rubio, community relations director for CBS 4, who's been involved with Zo's Summer Groove for more than six years. According to Berry, Zo has even hand-delivered turkeys in Overtown on Thanksgiving. "And he's not a bad basketball player," the sportscaster jokes. In 2005 the National Council of Negro Women honored Tracy and Alonzo with the Family of the Year Award. When it comes to South Florida's power couple, these two are a slam dunk.
Don't mistake the "critical" part of the name for more run-of-the-mill blog snark. Rather, Critical Miami features some of the most concisely written, clear-headed commentary around on the city's life and culture. You're as likely to find updates on major construction as anecdotes about visits to offbeat ethnic eateries. The content is refreshingly free of nightlife or celebrity gossip (there's plenty of that elsewhere), and the site's commenters actually, gasp, comment on the issues at hand rather than snipe anonymously. Alesh Houdek, the site's sole writer, is a gifted photographer as well; his documentary-style photo sets illustrate his points and serve as a fascinating, sometimes touching source for the desk-chair urban explorer.
When pro wrestler Hulk Hogan (born Terry Bollea) left his $25 million dream house in his native Tampa, he informed the Miami Herald his clan was descending upon the Magic City like "the Beverly Hillbillies." But even by nouveau riche redneck standards, the Hogans's $12 million waterfront estate on North Bay Road is a symbol of understated elegance. In fact Hulk, wife Linda, daughter Brooke, and son Nick are Miami's new power family. And with camera crews documenting their daily routine for the VH1 reality series Hogan Knows Best, we can witness the Hulkster struggling to communicate with Spanish-speaking-only employees in a Little Havana GNC in one episode. In another, we see the balding grappler and sixteen-year-old Nick traveling obsessively to South Beach convenience stores in order to buy up all the copies of an issue of FHM magazine featuring eighteen-year-old Brooke. The reality stars have also taken full advantage of South Beach, dining regularly at fine establishments such as Smith & Wollensky, taking their canines for yoga classes at Lincoln Road's Dog Bar, and partying late-night at the Forge, Mansion, the Delano, and other hot celebrity hangouts. Nick even gave Bay Harbor Islands residents something to remember this past September 9 when he was behind the wheel of a yellow Lamborghini that caught fire. Helaine Kurlansky and her husband, Paul, live across the street from the Hogans' 17,000-square-foot, two-story villa. During the family's housewarming party, the Kurlanskys got an up-close look at the mansion's courtyard, with the reflecting pool and the floating keystone pathway that has become a fixture on their television show. "They are really delightful," Helaine says. "It has been a pleasure having them in the neighborhood."
Launched on March 1, 2006, Mega TV broadcasts a mix of Spanish-language talk shows, political analysis, comedies, and documentary specials. Spray-tanned dancing girls are at a minimum here: With a stated mission of providing quality programming at a local level, Mega's targeted demographic may be Cuban, but the network holds appeal for every Miamian. Raíces y Recuerdos ("Roots and Remembrances") explores Cuban history and culture. Pronósticos ("Prognostics"), hosted by Carlos Alberto Montaner, ponders the future of a post-Castro Cuba. There's Polos Opuestos, a Crossfire-inspired show hosted by Maria Elvira Salazar, in which special guests like U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez and Cuban intellectual Carlos Franqui explore topics like the strong-mayor referendum and the resurgence of the left in Latin America. Mega also shows the occasional documentary, like one about popular Cuban band Habana Abierta. And then there's the fun stuff: a home-improvement reality show, a comedy about two detectives who are brothers, and, of course, El Corte del Pueblo.
Who needs a zoo when you live in the subtropics? Parrots, pythons, peacock bass, Cuban tree frogs and Cuban lizards, those weird Chinese snakehead fish that walk on terra firma — the area is alive with a biology text's worth of exotic, invasive species. Our favorite invader is the monitor lizard, one of the largest-legged reptiles and a ferocious predator. These beastly bad boys are so abundant that Cape Coral has a bounty on them. An Everglades biologist says, "They can be bait-trapped — something we haven't figured out how to do with the pythons." Maybe they shouldn't be trapped. Tourists might love them. And vice versa.
When they aren't ironing their ascots, taking nature walks, or perfecting their gourmet cooking, intelligent men like to read. A lot of them write too. Some even do poetry for intelligent women. In mid-November these ¨bermenschen gather, in between triathlons and winetastings, to hear their favorite writers and poets read at Miami Dade College. They ride the Metromover from their penthouse suites on Brickell while reading Dante in Italian. They stare moodily and idly flex their well-defined biceps, seeking a muse to ravish. Ladies, if you miss them, don't worry. There's always the man on the other side of the table at a book-signing. He may be old and frumpy, but he's probably alone. And hey, he's smart — very, very smart.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®