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.
A typical local television rundown of a South Florida newscast may go something like this: car accident, pot bust, fire, and some type of weird news or terrorist connection. But at WTVJ NBC 6 they have a jewel, and his name is Jeff Burnside. He's a veteran newsman who goes the extra mile, covering investigative and long-format news stories — the kind that used to be common on the airwaves, before ratings started dictating the "if it bleeds, it leads" philosophy. As part of WTVJ's special projects unit, Jeff often covers environmental stories, and has even become an advocate for the animal kingdom. He has gone undercover to expose how puppies go from puppy mills to pet shops, and may have helped save the whales by uncovering how powerful sonar can hurt them. He's interviewed presidents, exposed white-power extremists and dangerous religious cults, and so much more. He's got more than twenty journalism awards under his belt, including several regional Emmys. Watching the occasional fire story get blown out of proportion is bearable, knowing that Jeff will be reporting some fresh, creative story that day, too.
Progressive thinkers sometimes feel like aliens in this city of aliens. Critical Mass, a bicycling staple elsewhere, is growing here as the city fills with educated idealists. Activist groups Emerge Miami and the Miami Green Party have teamed up with the Wallflower Gallery and Sweat Records to make trips to Matheson Hammock, the Everglades, Miami Beach, and Calle Ocho. So get on your bike and start a conversation about civic responsibility with the girl in the ripped shorts and wire-rim glasses. Just don't forget to ask for her number when the ride ends.
When Phil Ferro moved from Telemundo 51 to WSVN in April 2005, bilingual news addicts wondered whether the suave, Cuba-born meteorologist would successfully make the transition from chubascos to "squalls," or be forced to discuss weather conditions at American Idol tryouts. Thankfully within a couple of awkward weeks, the Emmy-nominated forecaster acclimated to his new conditions, lost his accent, and has been presenting serious and informative weather journalism ever since. Now if we can only get Channel 7 to hand over some of that American Idol airtime to his predictions. Here's to sunny weather.
He came into town from a gig in Texas, bringing his books, his notes, and his notebooks. He was a tall man with sandy hair who left behind in the dusty sprawl all the attitude and arrogance associated with the Lone Star State. His charm, his way of encouraging erudition and enlightenment, was borne of years out west working as a park ranger. Easygoing and endlessly affable, he stood proudly before a roomful of young adults as a real-life lone star, a writer, a fine writer, hell-bent on teaching others his craft. And so Les Standiford did teach, imbuing budding scribes at Florida International University with a mix of passion and precision, relaying tricks and skills wrapped in a love of words. During the late Eighties and into the many dusks and dawns of his academic career, Standiford wrote — publishing novels and nonfiction, penning screenplays, editing the anthology Miami Noir.... And he taught. Finally he accomplished something even bigger, building a creative writing program at FIU the way an old Cuban roller patiently wraps heirloom tobaccos into cigars better than the ones Fidel himself once smoked: one after another, each as good and special as the previous, each worth having and holding, pondering in that ephemeral, internal, eternal way of smoke, each as flavorful and rewarding as the city from which it emanates, a city promising a future of literacy, fun, and enlightenment. A city that's not out west, nor in Texas. But a city that Les Standiford is in.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®