Perhaps Jim Hampton was a victim of that old Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times." Maybe he was just lucky, but Hampton's years as a journalist led him to some of the most talked-about news stories of the past 40 years. He was in Chicago for the 1968 Democratic National Convention and at Kent State only a couple of years later. It would be at the Miami Herald, though, where he and his editorial board deservedly won a Pulitzer Prize in connection with their work on freeing 2,000 Haitians trapped at the Krome Detention Center. Hampton was a beloved editor whose troops spoke about him with adoration — and who spoke about the newspaper's reporters in a kind way that was never the norm at the Magic City's largest daily. Once long ago, when a Herald scribe who happens to be editor of New Times now, was at dinner with the kindly gent in Tallahassee after an arduous legislative session, Hampton turned and said, "You know, you guys kicked ass this session. It's too bad we can't get more of [those damn legislators] indicted." Hampton was a brilliant, hard-working, hard-drinking Heraldite who toiled for the paper from 1978 to 1998 through some of the most interesting years Miami has ever seen. It was also he who supervised cartoonist Jim Morin when he won a Pulitzer. And it was he who died — far too soon — in early February at age 73. We'll miss you, Jim.

Five years ago, on a cool September evening, Miami Police stopped Sisser while he was driving in Coconut Grove with a known drug dealer in the passenger's seat. The cops found four bags of crack cocaine and a homemade glass pipe used to smoke the drug. Sisser was charged with third-degree felony coke possession and possession of drug paraphernalia, a misdemeanor. At the time, he was the most powerful lobbyist at the Miami-Dade School Board. Following his arrest, he entered a 30-day detoxification program in Tucson. It wasn't easy after his return. During a court appearance in January 2004, Sisser admitted he would not pass a drug test because he had used cocaine. But he overcame his addiction and dedicated part of his life to helping other people like him. In 2006, he hosted a luncheon to benefit Miami-Dade's "Friends of Drug Court." The invitation described him as a "Proud Graduate of Drug Court." With then-Gov. Jeb Bush, Sisser raised tens of thousands of dollars for the program. He's also bounced back in the political landscape, recently holding fundraisers to re-elect Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez-Rundle and Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Klein.

As the world seems to be fast tumbling toward apocalypse (global warming, World War III, economic meltdown), we see signs of hope in the most unlikely places. Take for instance local charity Miracles in Action. It was started by a middle-age American Airlines flight attendant, Penny Rambacher, who was on a layover in Quito, Ecuador, in 1999 when she came face to face with a "dumpster child" in the city's outskirts. Witnessing such extreme poverty immediately made her take action. Thus Miracles in Action was born. With only $20,000, Miracles has helped build in rural, impoverished areas of Guatemala approximately 20 schools serving about 300 to 350 students, most of indigenous Mayan descent. The organization's motto is "Help Poor People Help Themselves." The results: increased literacy rates, higher life expectancy, better hygiene, and, most important, happier and safer communities. So while $20,000 will get you a modest Honda Civic, it could also save lives.

Nektar De Stagni

With a name equal parts Greek god and New Jersey Mafioso, Nektar De Stagni stands out. You can spot her pretty much anywhere worth being spotted, wearing a pimp fedora that screams, "I grew up in Miami in the Eighties!" and the clothes she designs have a similar homegrown pedigree. The opening shot on her website — of a blond model in a tight black skirt and Corey Hart Ray-Bans — looks like either the B-side cover for Grand Theft Auto: Vice City or a Michelle Pfeiffer still from Scarface. Either way, this is the kind of clothing that chicks from Boca Raton just don't understand. Oh, and did we mention she rocks a weekly DJ gig at The Standard? As Mugatu would say, "Nektar. So hot right now."

Miami Beach, the city with a history only as long as a coke line at its latest trendy nightclub. Or is it? Some of those club kids vaguely remember Miami Vice was a TV show before it was a movie, but few remember the vibrant Yiddish community that was the centerpiece of the town's cultural identity for six decades. Vaudeville theaters, literary groups, radio shows, artists, and entertainers supported a thriving community of tens of thousands of year-round residents (and even more snowbirds and tourists) that was also suffering from segregation. Filmmaker David Weintraub painstakingly pieced together the fading memories of the era using vintage footage, contemporary interviews, photographs, and other bits of memorabilia to portray what Miami Beach was like before Crockett and Tubbs resuscitated the neon.

After the notorious suicide of former District 5 City Commissioner Art Teele in 2005, Michelle Spence-Jones's election might have seemed like a breath of fresh air. But it wasn't long before all of that oxygen turned stale. In the past year, Spence-Jones has shown Miami she can play rough too. A former aide to Mayor Manny Diaz, she leaned on powerful friends in the runup to the election — Billy and Barbara Hardemon, a well-connected couple, in particular. Their hard-line campaign tactics on her behalf ultimately earned her a slap from the Florida Elections Commission, which fined her $8,000 for violations of campaign law, among them passing out tens of thousands of dollars to campaign workers on Election Day. This past December, news broke that the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office had launched a criminal probe into Spence-Jones's finances, an investigation that two months later nabbed the commissioner's pastor, Rev. Gaston Smith, on charges of misspending a county grant. So far, that investigation has yielded no charges against Spence-Jones herself. Finally, in January, there was the "secret memo," filed as a memory aid, apparently, by District 2 Commissioner Marc Sarnoff. The memo recalled a conversation in which he says he was told by former City Manager Joe Arriola that Spence-Jones was withholding a vote on a proposed Coconut Grove condo unless two of her friends received a combined $150,000. No doubt about it, this has been a rough year for Spence-Jones. But while the commissioner might be embattled, she ain't licked: Spence-Jones has remained defiant, denying each and every allegation, repeatedly hurling the stuff back at her attackers. Will she be vindicated? Only time — or possibly a lengthy court case — will tell.

These two Krop Senior High girls decided one night in 2007 to videotape themselves singing a parody of Fergie's "Fergalicious." They threw the video up on YouTube for fun (against their mothers' wishes) and almost overnight became superfamous. Maybe it was because the parody skewered a certain kind of Miami girl — a chonga — or maybe it was because the pair was simply campy, funny, and zany in a sweetly innocent way. Somehow, in that Weird Al-type of spoof, Mimi and Laura captured the spirit of an entire generation of South Florida kids. The song spread from the Internet to Power 96 FM to ringtones on tweens' cell phones. And the girls still get recognized when they hang out at the mall. Adults love them too: They were the grand marshals of this year's King Mango Strut. Now the young ladies have their own Wikipedia entry, videos of several performances around Miami-Dade to send to college recruiters, and 2.2 million hits on YouTube. When these two appear on television or in movies in a few years, no one in Miami will be surprised.

Holocaust Memorial

Traveling east on Dade Boulevard in Miami Beach, you are transfixed by a massive bronze hand that stretches to the sky. As you approach, you see the hand is only part of a compelling and complex sculpture. Surrounding it are humans cast in bronze, their faces twisted in agony and pain, clawing and crawling over each other to reach the outstretched palm. Known as the Sculpture of Love and Anguish, the hand is the centerpiece of Miami Beach's Holocaust Memorial, the most poignant monument in the county. Architect and sculptor Kenneth Triester, who completed and opened the memorial in 1990, created a place that not only honors the six million Jews killed in World War II but also provides a place where survivors can find solace and the public can see and feel the impact of the 20th Century's greatest crime. The memorial is open seven days a week 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Ten years ago, Booker T. Washington wasn't even a high school, and five years ago, when Tim Harris took over the football program, the Tornadoes were flounders in an ultracompetitive sea of Miami prep football full of great whites. Harris's work to build the program from the ground up culminated this year in the school's first Class 4A state title, its first perfect season, and a number four ranking in the ESPN National High Elite Top 25 poll. Oh, and the Tornadoes track team, which he also coaches, won a state title too.

With a 57-7 record in his five years at the school, the 42-year-old Harris was named USA Today High School Coach of the Year. Booker T. shut out eight opponents this season, including two in the playoffs, on its way to a 14-0 record. The team gave up a paltry 66 points all year —an average of 4.7 per game.

Harris's nickname, Ice, comes from his childhood emulation of NBA great George "Iceman" Gervin in basketball games, but could just as easily describe his cool and collected demeanor on the sidelines.

Finding a public restroom that isn't nauseous is a challenge. If only there were some sort of restroom guide — a Zagat of shitters, if you will. Enter Crappers Quarterly — an online magazine that reviews public restrooms all over the globe and traces its humble beginnings to some shit-talking University of Miami students. Ten years ago, William Kercher III and his buddies were joking about how cool it would be to start a magazine that reviewed the world's porcelain thrones.

Kercher, a web designer at the time, ran with the idea. He and his crapper-critical friends began reviewing and photographing facilities everywhere they went. Today the site includes bathroom breakdowns and snapshots from a dozen U.S. cities, 30 countries, and even a few cruise lines. Judged on user-friendliness, cleanliness, privacy, and facilities, each crapper gets a rating from one to five toilet paper rolls.

And if you run out of descriptive pseudonyms for dropping the kids off at the pool, CQ has a long list of those too. Here's one to relish at tax time: "IRS audit: You had a hard labor and gave birth to a nine-pound turd. So you named it and claimed it as a dependent."

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®