There's an epidemic of bad public relations in Miami. The field is overrun with hoochie mamas in designer gear who think Facebook is an awesome PR tool, who can't write worth a damn, don't have any idea what publication they're pitching to, and instead dedicate themselves to primping and pouting and being seen ... all without doing the research and beating the pavement. So it's a real pleasure to encounter a professional such as Larry Carrino. Most often he can be found quietly working his ass off rather than hobnobbing with C-listers at trendy nightspots. Susan Brustman and Associates was already a PR force to be reckoned with when the firm hired 19-year-old Carrino as an up-and-coming PR assistant. Dedication, writing skills, and knowing his niche has paid off. Now Carrino is in his early thirties, he has moved up the ranks to vice president, and Brustman Carrino is the preeminent culinary, arts, and entertainment PR outfit in Miami. They represent major restaurants and famous chefs — Fleming's, Bourbon Steak, Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, and the esteemed Bali Ha'i event at The Kampong are but a few of their recent clients. The plume in their cap is the Food Network's South Beach Wine & Food Festival, which keeps growing each year.

With his million-dollar voice and MIA-influenced beats, the Palestinian-American DJ Khaled delivers daily musical therapy to I-95 rush hour victims. Also featuring the charismatic K. Foxx, Khaled's The Takeover radio show proves his worth by giving loyal listeners a balanced blend of local 411 and tastes of the hottest hip-hop albums. Most important, he is establishing himself as a radio renaissance man devoted to the Miami music scene. Even casual fans can't help but tune in to his show, hoping to get an exclusive listen to the popular radio jockey's latest chart-topping jam. As a member of Fat Joe's Terror Squad and as a producer using the alias Beat Novocaine, Khaled is constantly expanding his industry operations. He has become one of SoFla's finest on-air talents, and shows no signs of slowing down. So "listennnnnnn" up: His name is DJ Khaled, and the takeover has begun.

Have you ever tried to put yourself to sleep by tuning in to a radio broadcast of a local school board meeting and been jolted from slumber by a whining, irascible voice decrying recent efforts to outlaw exotic animals in the burbs? That's Alan Rigerman. He's a gadfly, perhaps the greatest ever. Definitions of the word are sketchy. In one iteration, it refers to a cattle-biting insect. When applied to people, it's defined as "a persistent annoying person" or "one that acts as a provocative stimulus." Rigerman walks the line between those two. He has participated in a class-action lawsuit against the big, bad rock miners who blast around his back yard. But he has also choked newspapers and voicemail boxes with an unholy payload of rambling pontification. He lives with two cougars, a porcupine, and scores of snakes. The guy is one of South Florida's true gems. Just don't get stuck in an elevator with him.

In the land of the talentless, the one-shouldered man is king. No doubt a healthy Dwyane Wade is still one of the NBA's premier players, but this year, surrounded by animated carcasses like Ricky Davis, Mark Blount, and Luke Jackson, the hobbled Wade just seems like the only Heat player unbitten by the Eddie Curry zombie. Fantasy-crush Shawn Marion has been a welcome addition, but everyone knows he's no Shaq. In other words, his arrival neither transforms the franchise nor drags us out of the Michael Beasley sweepstakes. Kudos to Coach Pat Riley for opening up some cap space and somewhat correcting the Davis Debacle, but with each move, he only seems to confirm Wade's place as the franchise's sole source of identity. Call it the Kobe Plan, and to avoid more bottom-dwelling, he needs to draft some Andrew Bynums fast.

Max Rameau is rather soft-spoken for a radical freedom fighter. An organizer, author, and political theorist, he has become the voice of this city's disenfranchised and underserved citizens. As leader and spokesperson for two major projects — CopWatch and Take Back the Land — he makes eloquent arguments for why housing is a human right and justice is necessary for all. Throughout his campaigns to "take back" vacant public housing and to fight against the expansion of police power, Rameau has offered his message calmly and without violence. Ask him about his top accomplishments this year, and he'll talk about his advocacy for the Liberty City 7 (6? Whatever.) and dealing with the aftermath of the Umoja Village fire. Then he'll tell you about his most important project this year: raising his two-year-old son. This is a man who has his priorities straight.

Less than an hour from Miami, this nearly seven-mile portion of the Florida Trail is not for the wimpy or those unwilling to get wet. Don't be stupid and wear flip-flops, either. Lace up the hiking boots: You'll be stomping among snakes and sticks in shin- to waist-high water.

Coming from Miami, take a left off U.S. 41 at Loop Road near the wildlife check station. The marked trail begins about a dozen miles into the swamp. Along the way, play wildlife shutterbug and gawk at the bounty of birds and alligators that makes it feel like you're driving through an awfully nice zoo. Then park the car on the side of the road and look for the trail head. Enter the alien landscape of saw grass prairies and cypress swamps that was South Florida before the damn Yankees up and ruined it.

The only down side is the distance. You might want to drop a car at the preserve's Oasis Visitor Center on U.S. 41 if you don't plan to hike the trail there and back. At 13 miles, it could be a grueling day. Hiking six miles in the swamps can take at least four hours, so the one-way trip is much more doable. And pleasant.

Last Chance Bar & Package

This old biker bar sits on the border separating Miami-Dade and Monroe counties. Hitchhikers are usually sitting across the bar's parking lot, an ideal spot for a few reasons: First, South Dixie Highway ends here and becomes the two-lane Overseas Highway, which goes south to Key West. Two, if you are heading north, this is where South Dixie Highway meets Florida's Turnpike. And three, there is plenty of space for drivers to pull over and pick you up. Hitching with bar patrons is not recommended.

In 2005, during those dark days following Hurricane Wilma, a bunch (gaggle? den?) of burrowing owls decided to take refuge in a grassy area at 3000 NW 199th St. in Miami Gardens. Problem was, the city planned to build a $15.2-million community center there. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission protected the owls, so that meant the community center developer had to work around them (a familiar problem if you've read Carl Hiaasen's Hoot). City workers ended up transporting the owls' nests to another corner of the grassy lot. By the time that happened, the cost of construction had dropped because the housing bubble had burst. "The owls probably saved us more than $1 million," says Miami Gardens City Manager Danny Crew. If only the owls could have saved the rest of Miami from real estate woes.

Jamaica Motel

If you are visiting the area, and you want a real taste of M.I.-yayo, this is the perfect place to stay. Since Miami never sleeps, neither should you. Located on the infamous Calle Ocho, this motel is decorated with red neon lights and mirrored ceilings. The toilets are equipped with bidets. In fact some folks consider the motel to be a historical landmark, since the film Jamaica Motel was released in 2006. It was shot on location and caused some controversy (check out the director's MySpace page, www.myspace.com/jaydeph). The rates are convenient and inexpensive: $70 per night, or $50 for two hours. Yeah, mon.

Don't let the red rope dissuade you. You're smart and good-looking enough, and — gosh darn it — the rich people inside the Sagamore will find some reason to like you. Plan ahead. Leave the flip-flops and ratty cargo shorts at home. Spiff up a bit. Smile when you arrive at the entrance. It's worth the act to take a peek at what's inside one of the best art spaces in Miami Beach. (The Sagamore says the collection is public, but we've spied unattractive people turned away at the door.) Hotel owners showcase their contemporary collection of oils, photography, and sculptures throughout. In October 2007, the hotel opened an exhibition from Spencer Tunick's photography sessions with 500 naked Miami residents at the hotel. But perhaps the best reason to pretend you're a guest is the video art reserved exclusively for paying visitors.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®