Thirty-seven-year-old Angel Soto made headlines this past December when he took police on a wild, multicar, high-speed chase that seemed to end after he crashed his Volvo into a U.S. Customs building near Miami International Airport. When he tried to escape, cops tackled and beat him. Unfortunately for the officers, helicopter-mounted news cameras caught them wailing on the goon. Two of them were suspended. "They're just as bad as me," Soto told TV reporters as he left jail. We hear you, buddy.

The Miami Herald has certainly employed some great opinion-makers over the years. Carl Hiaasen is tops. Pulitzer-winning Leonard Pitts did well for a while. Joel Achenbach and Gene Weingarten, who moved onto the Washington Post, were clever and mischievous. (Weingarten's Pulitzer this year was a tribute to the idea that spit-ballers can make good.) And Liz Balmaseda, who also won a Pulitzer in the role, changed the newspaper's (and the city's) dynamics at a time when it was an old boys' club. But for our money, the best of 'em is Fred Grimm. This is a guy who long ago covered the South and whose deep Southern roots flavor much of his writing. He's a gent with a smile and an encouraging word for colleagues — and old-style, kick-ass Herald sarcasm for just about everyone in elected office. Take a recent column that pointed out the hypocrisy of Florida supporting Scripps Oceanographic Institute in Palm Beach County and advocating teaching of intelligent design in schools. The message of "cracker" and "bible-thumping" Florida legislators to Scripps, Grimm wrote, is this: "Either do your so-called biomedical research by giving equal time to the seven-day creation theory, the 7,000-year-old earth theory, and intelligent design, or take your (monkey) tails straight back to Cow-lie-forn-ya."

Maybe it's because Miami is such an international place; maybe it's because we've just got so much damn crime — but whatever the reason, the Magic City's juiciest stories always seem to wind up playing out in federal court, and that's where the Herald's Jay Weaver comes in. Weaver has covered the tribunales full time for about four years. Over the past year, he has guided South Floridians through the complexities of former Panamanian general Manuel Noriega's battles with extradition, the wave of rampant Medicare fraud, and, of course, the trial of alleged terrorist José Padilla. Soft-spoken, friendly, unfailingly gracious in person — no small feat at the Herald, where a fair number of writers have the personality of poison ivy — he's also a hell of a good reporter. When seven Miamians were arrested and charged, among other things, with conspiring to blow up the Sears Tower nearly two years ago, Weaver put his nose to the ground. Months before the trial began, he unraveled for readers what is probably the most haphazard and absurd case brought by the Bush administration since ... well, since the last absurd case in the war on terror. When defendant Lyglenson Lemorin was acquitted, and then hauled off to a deportation center anyway, Weaver visited the man's wife and wrote about the Haitian-American family's struggle to remain intact — in terse, pointed language, as always. "Lyglenson Lemorin, acquitted of terrorism charges last week in federal court in Miami," he wrote, "is still a guilty man in the eyes of the U.S. government."

You know Rachel Goodrich. You were drunk, it was Churchill's or PS14 or wherever, and there was this girl playing music, and you didn't really give a crap, but then you noticed everybody else was paying attention, so you started to listen and — zammee! — you were, like, Holy shit. This girl's pretty good. A blurry minute later, you thought, No, she's very good. Maybe it was the ukulele she brought out; maybe it was the participatory glee she incited when she handed instruments to the crowd; whatever it was, you were digging it. And then the tequila took hold and off to the curb you stumbled — but Rachel played on without you. A Miami Beach native, the 23-year-old musical phenomenon has been writing her own stuff since she was 12 and began performing at age 16. The stuff she's working on these days — music she describes as "shakeabilly" — is a little bit rock, a little bit country, a little bit crazy-woman, and generally a whole lot of fun. Her only regular gig at the moment is 190 Restaurant, every Friday night, but it's not hard to find her playing somewhere on any given weekend. Check her MySpace page for upcoming shows. And if you're too lame to go out and hear her live, she's got an album coming out in a few months.

Maybe the hardest thing an actor will ever have to do onstage is convey a sense of intimacy — not with the audience, but with fellow actors. You, the audience, just walked into the place, you don't know these people, you've never even seen them before, and somehow they must convey chemistry, history, and a gazillion unseen moments in the characters' unwritten pasts. In Fill Our Mouths, this happened many times. Katherine Michelle Tanner's character time-lapsed through a profound lesbian affair with Lela Elam's; Tanner's relationship with her husband, played by Brandon Morris, was solid and yet vaguely on the rocks; and when the play opened, Elam was on the verge of a tense transitional moment with her deaf girlfriend, played by Kim Ehly. Figuring out which one of these dynamics was most convincingly portrayed is impossible. Playwright Lauren Feldman didn't weigh the play down with exposition, and yet by the middle, you felt you could write these characters' entire shared histories. Whether it was Ehly playfully wiping flour across Elam's face, or Morris's loving, if occasionally bullheaded, attempts to deal with Tanner's infidelity, or the exquisitely subtle signs we were given that Tanner and Elam's relationship was blossoming into something more than platonic — any given 10 minutes of Fill Our Mouths was filled with enough smartly acted humanity to convince you that you'd been with these people from the beginning.

Best Activity to Do While Intoxicated

Hashing

It might seem a little counterintuitive at first: drink, then run — and then drink some more, run a bit, and finish it all off with a few "down-downs," which consist, oh yes, of drinking (teetotalers need not worry — water is okay too). It's called hashing, and, crazy as it sounds, it's a worldwide sport, with chapters everywhere from Boca to Baghdad. The premise is fairly simple: Every week, hashers gather in a different location and send out a "hare" to lay a trail — using chalk, flour, toilet paper, whatever — for the rest of the hashers to try to follow, shouting the customary "On, on!" to show they're on track. The wily hare, not wishing to be caught, lays various ingenious traps for the hashers in pursuit. It's not easy, but when things get sticky, the hare stops everyone in their tracks with — what else — a hidden stockpile of beer. Afterward, everybody gathers in a raucous circle to sing songs, make merry, and impose down-downs on each other. Although Miami has yet to claim a hash all its own, the Fort Lauderdale/Miami Hashers are always nearby, and they're a hell of a nice group of people to spend a Monday night getting sloshed with. For information about the next hash, call the hotline. On, on!

Miami Theater Center

Loud but not too loud, funny but no scenery-chewer, smart but not showy, and crazily, bodily committed to his roles, Fabregat is an actor's actor. He makes bad plays good, good plays great, and great plays transcendent. Animals & Plants was an example of the last, and Fabregat deserves much of the credit. There was nothing very notable or obvious about his character: As an awkward, small-time dope dealer named Dantley, he was a little dumb, a little shy, and extremely unsure of himself and his place in the world. He walked through the world of Mad Cat's stage as if every unopened door concealed either a kiss or a pie in the face. We found ourselves rooting for him like he was a stand-in for all the lost, scared bits of ourselves we've tried to throw out over the years. His great achievement was allowing audiences full of circumscribed individuals to see themselves in a character to whom they bore no resemblance, and whom they would, in the real world, ignore without a second thought.

Lela Elam is probably the most intense working actor in Florida. Her characters are lived-in, internally consistent, and fiercely themselves; no two are alike, and not one is much like anybody you've ever met. Which is why Elam was also a close contender for Best Actress for her portrayal of a hard-of-hearing, free-spirited lesbian in New Theatre's Fill Our Mouths, as well for her few moments onstage at The 24 Hour Theatre Project as a beauty-obsessed mall-rat surgery-freak with no morals. But she had more lines in In the Continuum than in either of those pieces (it was a two-woman show), more time to cover her character with layers and fill her with life. In the Continuum found Elam portraying a Los Angeles teenager impregnated and infected with HIV by her love-'em-and-leave-'em high school star athlete boyfriend. What audiences found in her was a girl with eyes wide open, forced to witness her own life and dreams and future being sold on the cheap. She overcooked nothing yet held nothing back, and the performance was devastating. People filing out of the big theater at The Biltmore didn't know what to say to each other.

Every Monday night, tens of thousands of people in flyover states tune into one of the most popular crime dramas on television today: CSI: Miami. Although the show is about a group of intrepid and intelligent crime fighters here in the Magic City, the real star is Miami. Shots of sun-dappled beaches, lush and glowing tropical foliage, and skyscrapers that glitter in the white-hot sun entice the pasty hordes to our city. Trouble is, many of the scenes aren't filmed here. They're shot in California. No matter. It's hard not to watch the show and think, I want to live in that subtropical paradise. Wherever that is.

Kendall Adult Video
Kendall Adult Video opened in 1991. During the past 17 years, this shop has withstood hurricanes, protesters, and digital porn. "People don't spend money here like they used to," says the store's co-owner, Robert. "By the time you put gas in your car and pay taxes, there isn't much money left." The Farm Stores market and Tony Roma's restaurant next door have both gone out of business. So come on, Miami, we need to show our support! Why? First, Kendall Adult Video has the largest selection of VHS tapes we have ever seen. From classics including Caligula and Deep Throat to celeb vids such as A Night in Paris and the Tommy Lee/Pamela Anderson romp. There's a section for each genre of porn: MILFs, she-males, 18-year-olds, homoerotic, black booty, anal-rama, monsters of cock, etc. And the place carries the entire Bangbus, Reality King, and 8th Street Latinas collections on DVD, which were all made in the Magic City. There are no "whack shacks," so sleazy dudes rarely lurk around here. There is also an overabundance of sex toys: fake human heads to stick your dick into ($70), a faux rubbery ass with artificial hair around the plastic hole ($99.99), dildos, butt plugs, blow-up dolls, and an assortment of lubes. For less than $60, you can buy a whole stack of porno mags from the sale rack. Don't forget to purchase a couple of those special ribbed glow-in-the-dark condoms. You might need them later.

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