Give Hialeah's political leaders credit where it's due: They've put together an impressive electronic library system. Anchored by the John F. Kennedy Library at 190 W. 49th St., the e-libraries also have three satellite locations in the northern (7400 W. Tenth Ave.), eastern (501 E. Fourth Ave.), and western (7400 W. 24th Ave.) quadrants of the city. Each e-library is equipped with a dozen multimedia desktop computers; the JFK library offers computer tutoring classes in English and Spanish that teach the basics of using a mouse, creating an e-mail account, using word processing programs, and surfing the Internet. Now if we could only convince Mayor Julio Robaina to do away with the city's individual system of street numbers....
Malika Oufkir's life has been a twisted mix of fairy tale and nightmare, brought to life in her haunting memoir, Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail. First published in 1999 in French as La Prisoni?re, the book (which later became an Oprah's Book Club selection and New York Times nonfiction best seller) traces the brutal twenty-year imprisonment she and her family endured. The eldest daughter of Morocco's feared General Muhammad Oufkir, the North African-born beauty was unofficially adopted at age five by King Muhammad V, and then by his successor, King Hassan II, after the former died. For eleven years she was a princess's confidant who lived in the unfathomable luxury of the royal palace. In 1972 the towering General Oufkir led a failed coup against the regime and tried to assassinate Hassan. Oufkir was executed and the king ordered the general's wife, Fatima, and six children imprisoned in several secret locations. Malika and her family spent the next fifteen years incarcerated, surviving largely on vermin-infested soup. One torturous night in 1986, after an eight-year stint in solitary confinement, and having barely eaten for 47 days, family members tried to kill themselves by cutting open each other's veins with fragments of knitting needles. But their collective suicide attempt failed. Desperate, they began to dig with their bare hands. In 1987 the family completed a tunnel and staged an escape, only to be recaptured five days later and placed under house arrest. Malika eventually was released and fled her native Morocco almost ten years later. This past fall she published her second book, Freedom: The Story of My Second Life, written largely from her home in Surfside, where she resides with husband Eric Bordreuil.
The locals will kill us if we tell you about the last free spot on South Beach, so we'll clue you into the easiest metered parking instead. The stretch of Alton Road at Fourteenth Street is often the fastest place to grab a legal parking spot; in fact it's so fast that residents of the adjacent zoned sections occasionally rely on it when all the reserved parking is full. The area is a hop, skip and a stumble away from Lincoln Road and within a sobering jaunt from Washington Avenue nightclubs. Parking is a dollar an hour from 9:00 a.m. to midnight, then free.... And now that the locals have stopped reading: There are a few free spots just south of Fourteenth on Alton. They are hard to catch in the evenings, and you have to really pay attention to parking signs, but hey, if you're cheap, well, challenge yourself.
"Ava Wrestles the Alligator." "Z.Z.'s Sleep-Away Camp for Disordered Dreamers." "The Star-Gazer's Log of Summer-Time Crime." "Lady Yeti and the Palace of Artificial Snows." If the names of her short stories (including the titular tale) aren't enough to entice you, the prose of Coral Gables native Karen Russell should do the trick. This collection of ten stories, Russell's debut, paints a wondrously unique, highly readableportrait of swampy, sandy Florida.
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.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®