People come and go, but Michael Patrick disappeared — and then reappeared, a day later, in handcuffs. The escape artist, who performed escapes at the Key West Sunset Celebration for fourteen years, announced last Halloween night that, in honor of the 80th anniversary of Harry Houdini's death, he'd be departing from the regular program of straitjackets and ropes. He then dove into the ocean and, as far as anyone present could tell, never came back up. Together, cops and the Coast Guard assembled a team of divers, boats, and helicopters to find Patrick's corpse. When they finally found him, alive and well, outside his apartment the next afternoon, they threw him in the county jail and fined him $60,000. Patrick, embittered by the experience, says his next escape will be to get the hell out of Florida.
Fate has chewed you up, spit you out, and left you battered and bruised in the parking lot of the Florida City Wal-Mart Supercenter. You've lost your job, your girl, your car, and your reason to live. You have $3.85 to your name. And then, like an angel out of a Jimmy Buffett song, you see the faint bright silhouette of the Julia Garcia Transit (JGT) bus roll into view. This is your chance to hightail it to the Keys and make a brand-new start, full of cheap beer and shellfish. Sure it'll take four-and-a-half hours to get to Key West, because the bus makes every conceivable stop along the way, but it's all you've got left in the world. And, man, are they dependable. JGTs leave seven times daily, seven days a week, beginning at 5:15 a.m. and ending at 11:15 p.m. Ask the person next to you to wake you up to catch the Keys shuttle, which you can catch at the end of the JGT line in Marathon, in the parking lot of the Brass Monkey Liquor Store. Everything's gonna be all right.
It seemed likely that the appearance of Prince at Dolphin Stadium during the big game would be worth watching. It was. Not for the tiny titan of tuneage's medley of unlikely covers and "Purple Rain," which must have seemed clever at the time because, in Miami's special "please-don't-ever-bring-the-big-game-here-again" way, Super Sunday was supersoaked by a drizzle that began before dawn. Despite the nonstop cloud juice, Dolphin Stadium looked like Friday night in Baghdad, thanks to a spectacular fireworks display. Bombs burst in midair, rockets glared red, and it seemed as if all of Miami Gardens was one big Molotov cocktail. Musta scared the bejeezus out of the Artist Formerly Known as Famous.
Bimini, a tiny island where Ernest Hemingway once drank, has great snorkeling in gin-clear water, excellent fishing, and friendly Bahamian locals. Hotels are cheap, too. But how to get thereç Although it's only 50 miles from downtown Miami, Bimini is not easily accessible. Flights leave from Fort Lauderdale, but not daily, and prices are $200 and up. That's pretty expensive for such a short trip. Solution: Take the ferry. The M/V Bimini Breeze sails daily from the Miami River. The 86-foot long, Swedish-built ship carries 49 passengers and 20,000 pounds of cargo, and arrives in Bimini in just over three-and-a-half hours. The journey is idyllic: You begin by motoring slowly down the Miami River, past the fishing boats and construction crews. Gawk at the cruise ships and the traffic on the MacArthur Causeway and, within minutes, you are in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Sit back, enjoy a beer and a hot dog for $5 or less, or eat your own food. Go up on deck and smell the salty air. Say hi to the ship's captain and owner, a friendly Norwegian guy named Kjell. Fantasize about being a pirate. As you get closer to Bimini, the water becomes impossibly blue and clear. It's an unusual and cheap weekend adventure — round-trip fares on the ship start at $150.
Skydive Miami
Bored with lifeç Need to inject your miserable existence with a dose of daringç Nothing screams, "Holy shit I'm alive!" like stepping out of a perfectly good airplane 13,000 feet above the ground. It's not for the faint- hearted (or the light-walleted), but if you yearn to embrace the adrenaline junkie within, Skydive Miami is a must. For about $320 the team of certified professionals that runs the school will educate you on how not to get killed, dress you in the proper equipment, take you high into the sky, and even tape your fall from grace (it's $249 without the DVD). That way, when your kids tell you you're a boring loser, you can whip out your your custom-made movie and prove to them that you, too, were wild in your day!
You're a developer and city official in town stuck on Concourse A waiting for your delayed flight to Houston. Do you: (A) sigh, crack open your briefcase, and catch up on some reading, or (B) find a Texan named Karl, sidle up to the airport bar, and drop $130 on seven wines, four beers with whiskey, and amaretto backs. If B, then do you: (A) shake hands with Karl and call it a night, or (B) head for the gate and make a scene, demanding the airline provide a hotel room for Karl. If B, then do you: (A) sit down after you realize the police have been summoned, or (B) get more belligerent and throw up your hands at the cops when they react poorly to the question "Do you know who I amç" If B, then do you: (A) submit to excitable officers and await the opportunity to speak with your badass lawyer, or (B) head-butt one cop, kick another in the groin, and crack your head open trying to flee in a pair of handcuffs. If you answered B to all questions, then you might be a jerk, but you've got more chutzpah than you know what to do with. We salute you, Johnny Winton!
Bayfront Park
Photo by Richard Cavalleri/Shutterstock
It's not every day South Floridians are given the opportunity to cavort in the manner of a lithe Russian gymnast. Miami, though lovely, is a city about as alien to aerial acrobatics as it is to snow (and by that we mean the real white powder). That is, until the Irish-born Marcus Gaffney and his Flying Trapeze School came to town a few months ago. Perhaps because we city folk have been sheltered from the glee that stems from soaring upside-down some 25 feet in the air, performing twirly, awe-inspiring backflips is probably not on your to-do list. But it can be. And it should be. Not only is it fun, but for those who pride themselves on their testicular capacity (meaning do you have any balls, or not?), it's a must. For $10 for a "try and fly" lesson ($40 for a regular two-hour lesson), you too can inch precariously up a wobbly 23-rung ladder and perch on a ledge the size of a bookshelf high above the green grass of Bayfront Park. Sure it gets the old ticker pumping, but that's nothing compared to the feeling of sheer helplessness that grips your entire being the moment you step into thin air. That's when you realize the only way down is to let go of the bar your sweaty palms are wrapped around, grab your knees, and dismount. Backward.
Jeb Bush signed this baby into law on June 9, 2006, and it will take effect this July. It could generate $30 million in new economic activity in the state and potentially create 400 new jobs for Florida's considerable hospitality industry, according to a study done by the Distilled Spirits Council. Whatever. This piece of legislation means a few more pennies in the pocket of every drinker. Taxes in Florida — one of only two states that applied a per-volume tax to on-premises alcoholic beverage product sales — already make up 52 percent of the average cost of a 750-milliliter bottle of spirits.
Rusty Pelican
Photo courtesy of Rusty Pelican
On August 3, amid the hubbub of the Republican gubernatorial primary, the state's gun lovers converged on the Rusty Pelican. They were all present for the delightful gala event, which was held in a cheesy ballroom in the waterfront restaurant — with all proceeds going toward Boys & Girls Clubs shooting programs and "educational things" like Eddie Eagle, the lobby's giant costumed mascot, who minces around in front of elementary school children and tells them not to pick up unattended firearms. The audience at the $50-per-plate soiree comprised beefy men in full camo and Latin ladies in cocktail dresses. No one really drank much because some were packing ... and that's against the law. Failed gubernatorial candidate Tom Gallagher popped in to perform a solemn pledge of allegiance and lamented, "There just aren't too many young people today who know what it means to be an American." "I know exactly what it means to be an American," a twelve-year-old muttered while demonstrating his cool hand with a trigger-guard-mounted laser sight. He had pulled the sight (mounted on a plasticine Beretta) off of one of several raffle item tables. Also on sale were shotguns, ornate eagle-related desk pieces, and a variety of hunting knives. One stand featured a trio of pretty young blonds auctioning a revolver using a deck of cards — $10 per card. Ah, Miami....
Normally there's nothing Miamians hate more than taking the Metrobus anywhere — even the more loathsome act of sitting in rush hour traffic day after day seems preferable. (We're not even going to discuss that thing called "walking.") But twice a year some of these same Miamians fight over the privilege of spending their Saturday mornings crammed together riding a city bus. Since 1994 Miami-Dade Transit has offered a free black history tour that winds through the city's oldest African-American neighborhoods. You'll visit Overtown, Coconut Grove, Liberty City, Allapattah, and Brownsville while knowledgeable staff rap about people like D. A. Dorsey and E.W.F. Stirrup, and places such as the Lyric Theater and Georgette's Tea Room. Even though the tour is barely advertised, it is so popular that you have to register in December to make sure you have a seat in February. The transit department added a Hispanic Heritage version in 2000 that travels through Little Havana, downtown, and the Orange Bowl area. It features Domino Park, a cigar factory, and other Hispanic points of interest, while introducing you to Cuban celebrities and revolutionary heroes. That tour is offered in English and Spanish. Both tours are free and last three to four hours. The black history tours are in February; the Hispanic tours are in October. Early reservations are mandatory. See you on da bus.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®