Crandon Park Tennis Center
Photo by Richard Cavalleri / Shutterstock.com
Ensconced in the foliage of Crandon Park, the tennis center is not only the most aesthetically pleasing place to play, but also offers diverse surfaces. The seventeen hard courts, seven of which are equipped with lights for nighttime playing, are the very courts used in tournament play when the Sony Ericsson Open (formerly the NASDAQ-100, and before that the Lipton) comes around every spring. The park is closed from the first week in March to the third week in April to prepare for competition between the sport's top 96 players, but for the rest of the year the not-so-skilled can play on them for $3 per person, per hour ($5 at night). For those who prefer clay, Crandon has two courts surfaced with red and four with green. And if your favorite movie is The Queen and you watch Wimbledon on television each year — while eating strawberries and cream and wearing absurd flowery hats — the center has two grass courts specifically designated for you and your Anglophile friends. (Grass courts are $10 per person, per hour; a stadium court costs $12 per person, per hour.)
Crandon Golf at Key Biscayne
Courtesy of Miami-Dade County Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Department
A basket of balls at this public course's driving range doesn't cost any more than one at the other county-run courses, but Crandon Golf at Key Biscayne might as well be another planet. Besides a gorgeous tropical setting teeming with bird life, there is a cafe that serves filet mignon (for special events) and coconut shrimp and a locker room with tile mosaic floors. The driving rangeç It's perfect, ringed with pine trees and palms. Flags on raised faux greens are icing on the cake. Buckets go for $6.26 (60 balls) or $3.26 (30).
We are a polarized bunch here in Miami. The Cubans hate Castro, the Venezuelans hate Chavez, Haitians hate a lot of their leaders, the city people hate the beach people, and the beach people don't even bother with the hot mess that is downtown Miami. But for one brief, shining moment back in November 2006, we all united in our hatred of one man: U.S. Rep. Tom Tancredo of Colorado. He became the object of our ire after he had the audacity to compare our city to a Third-World country during an interview with the rabidly conservative online magazine www.worldnetdaily.com. His quote about Miami reverberated from the colada windows in Little Havana to the fried goat joints in Little Haiti to the martini bars of South Beach. "Look at what has happened in Miami," Tancredo whined. "It has become a Third-World country. You just pick it up and take it and move it someplace. You would never know you're in the United States of America. You would certainly say you're in a Third-World country." Well, Tom, Miami is our Third-World country. And we're proud of it. So let's send a message to Tom, in our respective, awesome three languages:(Spanish) "Vete pa'l carajo, Tom!"(Kreyol) "Get maman ou, Tom!"(English) "Fuck you, Tom!"
Bobby banks in an eighteen-foot jumper over J-Rod's outstretched hand. "You can't stop me!" Bobby taunts. The nineteen-year-olds have been going at it, one-on-one, for the past 35 minutes on the asphalt court closest to the train tracks. They have come out here every other day, around the same time, 4:30 p.m., playing with the same beat-up basketball with pieces of leather torn off its hide, for the past two years. "Out here, your ass is mine, chico!" Bobby razzes. They aren't the only playground ballers who make playing at Eaton Park, right across from the Lemon City library on 61st Street and NE Fourth Avenue, a ritual. Young men from all over Little Haiti and the surrounding area come here to polish their ball-handling and shooting skills. Gray clouds fill the sky, casting a cool shadow over Eaton Park — a welcome relief for the eight teenage boys playing a half-court game on the second court. A train horn wails in the distance. The ground underneath the basket begins to rumble. Soon a freight locomotive bound for the Hialeah rail yard roars by. The boys sitting on top of a fallen wood light pole stare as the immense diesel-power steel serpent goes past. Even the teens showing off their hops stop their match. Then a homeless man wearing a brown cowboy hat and a red Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls jersey tucked into his khakis rides a bicycle around the court's perimeter. As he does this, he smiles, rings the bike's bell, and waves at everyone.
Pete Rojas had given himself this award a long time before we did. But he's a good cop, and perhaps the only officer ever to receive a gangsta rap shout-out, much less a cameo in the corresponding video. (In a 2006 song, "Get Yo Money Brisco," Opa-locka rapper Brisco lamented, "Rojas got me calculatin' every move....") In thirteen tumultuous years in Opa-locka, Rojas never lost a single hollow-point .45 round. He recalls pulling his AR-15 out of the trunk only once. People got the message quickly. He received six commendations in 2006, for rescuing a hysterical woman from of a second-story ledge and catching a pair of murderers and a knife-wielding burglar, to name just two feats. Rojas showed no fear in the hood yet treated everyone with due respect. He has since transferred to South Miami, a veritable walk in the park. No doubt he will be missed.

Best Criminal Conviction in the Past Year

John Couey

Sometimes someone commits a crime so horrible that we can't even finish reading about it in the newspaper. That's how the 2005 slaying of precious nine-year-old Jessica Lunsford affected us, even though the crime took place some six hours north of Miami in Citrus County. So when her killer, convicted sex offender John Couey, went on trial here in Miami in February (the trial was moved out of Citrus owing to all the publicity up north), we hoped our fellow Miamians would do the right thing. The panel of citizens did, by recommending the death penalty.
Oleta River State Park
While the boardwalk in South Beach boasts stunning ocean views, Key Biscayne a mammoth heart-stopping bridge, and the Venetian Causeway calm idyllic roads, Oleta Park offers joggers a little something extra: shade. Runners know that for eight months out of the year in our scorching city, doing any kind of physical activity after 9:00 a.m. without passing out from heat stroke is nearly impossible. And who wants to climb out of bed before the sun risesç For a solution, head to Oleta. For $3 for one person in a car ($5 for a car holding two to eight passengers; $1 to bike or walk in), daily from 8:00 a.m. till sundown, Florida's largest urban park (1033 acres of land and approximately 200 acres of water) offers runners a host of options that include the densely forested bike trails. If you stay in the fire lanes you can enjoy miles of road that incorporate some manmade hills and exquisite scenery. Run around the picnic area, log cabins, and along the river. But be warned: If you plan on going after a rainstorm, don't wear white. Things get pretty messy.
He responds only to "Flash," and like the nickname implies, he is all about speed and light. Speed: to continually schedule a new and interesting slate of events, meetings, and benefit concerts. And light: to shed upon often overlooked issues that affect our city. The man who hides behind the mysterious nickname isn't the most gregarious dude, but his passion becomes immediately evident when he's asked about upcoming events at the Wallflower Gallery (10 NE Third St., Miami). Flash has worked hard to convert the downtown sanctuary from a funky spoken-word spot and art gallery into the epicenter of Miami's progressive, socially active hipsters. "If you check our MySpace calendar [at www.myspace.com/wallflowergallery], you'll see that we've scheduled a bunch of different series throughout the whole year now," he explains. "That includes a progressive vegetarian social the last Sunday of the month, and activist leadership training the first Sunday of the month. We're doing the Voice of the Voiceless meetings here on the third Sunday of the month, and I'm sure I'll come up with something to do on the second Sunday of the month sometime soon." Besides playing host to that dazzling array of events, Flash's gallery hosts Emerge Miami and regular Green Party meetings. The concept of upcoming Critical Mass events comes from here; recently the ragtag group of cyclists has successfully executed jaunts down South Dixie Highway, and has scheduled a trip through Calle Ocho. Flash is also the man behind the annual Everglades Awareness and Medical Marijuana Benefit concerts at Tobacco Road. Despite his seemingly superhuman efforts to bring creative minds together, raise awareness, and generate fundraising efforts for our local environmental causes, Flash remains modest about his efforts and reluctant to bask in the spotlight. "I'm just trying to keep the circus rolling," he demurs. More and more people are joining him every day.
Nike is not an industry leader for nothing. They know what an athlete needs to get the job done. And let it be said that they were the first to recognize that if Rocky Balboa needed a little "Eye of the Tiger" to get him into the ring, then perhaps you and I might also improve our athleticism with a snappy little ditty to plod along to. With that in mind they created the annual Nike Run Hit Remix, which made its South Florida debut this past December. For a $30 fee competitors enter a five-mile run with legendary artists such as De la Soul performing live on temporary stages along the route. Last December's inaugural South Florida event drew almost 4000 participants to the starting line at the Miami Beach Convention Center. And thanks to the musical stylings of Nineties greats like Digital Underground, Young MC, Coolio, and Vanilla Ice, the majority also crossed the finish line on the sand at 22nd Street. "Yo, Adrian, we did it!"
Before the April fire that burned Umoja Village to the ground, Max could be found grinning and holding his baby boy while sitting on a stained couch in the middle of the homeless shantytown in Liberty City. Part street theater, part protest, the place, which was Max's idea, opened this past October 23 on an abandoned lot on NW 62nd Street. Wooden pallet shacks on the site housed 40 homeless people; they all ate and relaxed in a common area. Inspired by the closing of the Scott Carver homes and the Miami Herald's excellent opus on the housing department scandal, Rameau created Umoja to shame local officials into creating affordable housing. And shame he has. The place was featured in every media outlet possible, from the New York Times to YouTube to Earth First! magazine. Al Sharpton visited (and donated $1000 to the effort), as did Pedro Hernandez, Miami's city manager (who contributed nothing but an annoyed smirk). Max's crowning achievement came during a glitzy week of shameless South Florida self-promotion during Super Bowl activities — when he bused in journalists for a reality tour of Umoja and the surrounding poverty-stricken neighborhoods. Fact is, Max has managed to get under the skin of local officials in a way that few activists ever have. Now that the village is destroyed, city leaders are finally listening to Max's ideas for putting affordable housing on the site — after, of course, arresting him for trying to rebuild the shantytown.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®