Best Local Clothing Designer 2008 | Nektar De Stagni | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times

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.

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."

Miami's moment as a crime town, a noir town, a Scarface town, has passed. The Magic City has been replaced, in the literary canon, by locales that understand real violence: Fallujah, Afghanistan, the Sudan. Now we have multiple farmers' markets, decorative lamp posts, and pineapple festivals, and it's time for the city's consciousness to return to its rivers, to imagine Biscayne Bay without dead bodies surfacing at its edges, to try to reconcile the impact glass of high-rise windows with the impact of an afternoon asleep by the pool, the skin of a palm frond with the aluminum casing of a can of Schaefer beer. In other words, poetry has arrived, along with Campbell McGrath's seventh book, appropriately titled Seven Notebooks. Winner of the Kingsley Tufts prize, a MacArthur Genius Grant, and a Guggenheim Fellowship, McGrath is in the on-deck circle of poetry's highest echelon and seems intent on bringing the Magic City with him. With his keen eye for the shards of modern culture and a deep concern for the landscapes of the mind, McGrath has sung to, for, and from Miami many times. Whether explaining the Holocaust Memorial to his son or deconstructing sunlight as it enters his beer at Scotty's Landing, he's a poet of his time and place. Perhaps now, with his most formally impressive collection to date on the nation's bookshelves, that place is ready for him.

Trading Miguel Cabrera and Dontrelle Willis for pitcher Andrew Miller and centerfielder Cameron Maybin was vintage Marlins stuff. Unload the guys we love for twerps. Dump the present for the future. Hit us fans in the stomach. Hard.

But hold on a minute! The generation of Marlins who will stay here — at least for a bit — might have finally arrived. The Marlins will be revving up to move into the new Marlins Stadium (planned for 2011) just as these two guys are hitting their strides.

Maybin is a phenom. As a friggin' high school freshman, he led his North Carolina team to a state title and was named most valuable player. He was honored in 2004 as the Baseball America youth player of the year and has labored in the minors for a couple of seasons. In his second major-league game last year, he hit a homer off Roger "Liar, Liar" Clemens.

This spring, the 21-year-old was competent, but not striking, batting just under .300. He pulled a hamstring, which hampered his speed. And he faced reasonably strong competition for a starting spot.

Upshot: He'll likely get time to develop — both in the minors or on the bench. And that's just fine. Because it means the guy will come online as the Marlins prepare for a third World Series victory.

While many of his competitors seemed to be elbowing each other for the "Size Queen" crown during December's Art Basel cash grab, spunky dealer Anthony Spinello made a convincing argument that small matters. The young veteran of the art fair circuit hired the same company that outfits the growing number of local fairs fertilized by Basel to shoehorn four booths into his eponymous gallery for "Littlest Sister 07," which featured small-format works by 25 artists. Perhaps best reflecting the Basel Zeitgeist, Tawnie Silva's One of These Things Just Doesn't Belong Here depicted two works, including a dancing ice-cream cone on one panel and a proctologist's rubber-gloved hand ready to go rectal on the other. Spinello poked fun at the sensibility driving the torrid art market while adroitly making his cash register sing.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®