Best Set Design 2008 | Michael Amico for Summer Shorts | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Justin Namon

There wasn't a lot of wiggle room for Michael Amico's Summer Shorts sets. On some nights, 15 shows were produced in a single program. Long waits between them was not an option, even though all the set components had to be dragged between the bleacher-style seats in total darkness to the in-the-round performance space. Despite those logistical limitations, and the budget constraints of generating 15 separate sets for the price of one, Amico did dazzling work. Some of it was also purely functional — a nondescript airport lounge, some baseball bleachers, a kitchen — but the moments when he really took off were hard to beat. Especially his re-creation of Oz, whipped up for Michael McKeever's bizarre Splat! (about the angry munchkins forced to clean up the Wicked Witch of the East's rotting corpse after Dorothy traipsed off down the yellow brick road). Dorothy's Kansas house was there, the witch was there, the yellow brick road was there, and so was the requisite Technicolor Ozian flora. It was a stunning set for a show that clocked in at 10, maybe 15 minutes. Let's hope they've kept it in a storage room someplace, just in case any longer visits to Oz are in the offing.

You won't find any posers inside this 12,520-square-foot warehouse turned skateboarders' paradise. From the youngest riders to the old-school tricksters, M.I.A. Skate Park is the place to witness some of the most electrifying, gravity-defying skaters in the state, if not the entire nation. They perfect their skills and showcase their talent on an obstacle course that includes towering half-pipes, a miniramp, and a double set of stairs to leap from. "We make it a point to have anything you would want to ride your skateboard on," says co-owner and lifetime skater Matt Cantor. "We've replicated authentic street spots like marble ledges and regulation-size hand rails — you know, things that are fun to skate." Cantor and his partners Ed Selego and Chris Williams opened the skate park two years ago. The veteran thrashers envisioned a place where younger generations could not only learn and master the fluid art of skateboarding, but also build a community tied together through the love of wood slapping concrete and metal grinding metal. It is a place where you see local phenoms like Ian Rosenberg, Tony Peoples, and Brian de la Torre tear it up alongside famous boarders like Jim Greco and Mark Gutterman. Throughout the year, M.I.A. Skate Park holds a variety of demos and contests sponsored by some of the leading brands in skateboarding, from Emerica to Zoo York. It's not just an all-boys club, either. Girls always skate for free here. Fellas, on the other hand, pay $10 a session. On Saturdays, an extra 15 bucks lets you skate all day. The park is open Monday through Thursday 3 to 10 p.m. Hours are noon to 10 p.m. Fridays; 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays; and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays.

By now, most Miamians are familiar with radio host Javier Ceriani. His glamorous poster — showing him sporting gold designer sunglasses and a diamond-encrusted neckband — seems to be plastered on the side of every public bus in Miami-Dade County. The Buenos Aires-born Ceriani has been hosting Zona Cero since 2005. Known as "El Aguila" (The Eagle), Ceriani lends his morning show a cool, campy sense of humor (he likes playing Spanish versions of Abba songs) while sinking his sparkling teeth into the latest Latin celebrity dirt.

But there's a more serious side to the gossip king. Last December, Ceriani traveled to Mexico and reported on the troubles of 10 jailed Cuban exiles. His segments brought light to the Kafkaesque circumstances experienced by many Cubans seeking asylum in Mexico. For his efforts, three exiles where set free by the Mexican courts, and the City of Hialeah declared February 12 as Javier "Glamour" Ceriani Day. Honors aside, our Eagle has proven to be the rarest of birds: a funny shock jock with a solid social conscience.

Ay, Jaime. A voice so calming, a manner so disarming. Each weekday evening, the thoughtful Peruvian journalist pops onto Mega TV at 10 on that beloved screen in your living room. Este muchachito feels like a confidante, one of your smart friends, as he playfully yet wryly dishes about Latin American and U.S. politics. He should be good; his TV career spans 25 years. In front of a black, sparse backdrop, the bespectacled and always-suited broadcaster conducts interviews with the directness of Larry King and the suavidad of Diane Sawyer. Bayly's simple yet thoughtful quality adds a whole dimension to Spanish-language television. He's bliss in a world often dominated by fart jokes, scantily clad dancers, and lowbrow love stories.

Things were looking bleak for the Miami Heat on February 5. Dwyane Wade was playing through injuries, Shaq wasn't playing at all, and when he did, the Diesel looked more like a jalopy. The Heat had the NBA's worst record, 9-37, and a roster full of guys who were either past their prime (Jason Williams), crazy (Ricky Davis), or just too inexperienced (Dorell Wright). Shaq's contract called for $40 million over the next two years, making it seemingly impossible to move him and limiting the Heat's ability to work around the salary cap. Then, on February 6, came a ray of hope called the Phoenix Suns, who were scrambling to keep pace and make a championship run out of the tough Western Conference.

Trading the disgruntled and unmotivated Shaq for the versatile Shawn Marion and forward Marcus Banks was a big victory for the Heat. Marion can defend all five positions, fills the stat sheet, and could be a great athletic counterpart to Wade. Marion can opt out of his contract at season's end if he decides to forfeit next year's $17.2-million salary, potentially giving the Heat substantial salary-cap space this summer. Shaq's colorful personality will be missed in the Magic City, but getting rid of the behemoth and his equally huge contract will allow the Heat to build for the future around Wade.

Watching Steve Shapiro match wits with superagent Drew Rosenhaus every Sunday night during WSVN's Sports Extra is one of the most comical, entertaining experiences in local television. Throughout the segment, the two exchange barbs while mixing in their thoughts on pending free agent moves, players about to be released from contracts, and other aspects of the business side of sports. With his jaundiced eye, smirking grin, and booming high-pitched voice, Shapiro injects an incredible amount of pizzazz into his coverage of Miami's local teams, whether he's at the Soul Bowl or the Super Bowl. Although some people might find his style abrasive, the Boston native is never afraid to take jabs at his subjects — like the time he nicknamed Miami Hurricanes head coach Randy Shannon "Randy Saban," a not-so-subtly unflattering comparison to ex-Dolphins coach Nick Saban. It was Shapiro's way of chastising Shannon for implementing a strict protocol against the media, much like the Fins' former head man had done. And don't let the sharp duds and dashing good looks fool you. Shapiro is a bright fellow: He earned a bachelor's degree in economics from Tufts University and a master's in broadcast journalism from Boston U. He began his career in 1980, covering sports in Roanoke, Virginia, and has anchored sports in Albany, Boston, Cincinnati, Hartford, and Richmond before arriving at WSVN in 1997. In 2003, the station promoted him to sports director.

Think Babel with chocolate croissants and cappuccino. Along with French classes, the Alliance Française on Calle Ocho offers German, Spanish, and English. The center is tucked in the heart of east Little Havana near an auto dealer and storage facility, and its parking lot abuts a Spanish-language Evangelical church. Officially opened in April, the Alliance Française's village houses a travel agency, French-style hair studio called Trini in Private, and La Provence Bakery. It's not uncommon to hear a gracias followed by Cuban-accented merci beaucoup from a customer buying a crusty baguette. The Alliance also hosts events such as lectures on the Middle East and fashion shows by a Haitian designer. If you attend, bring your dictionary. You never know when you'll have to traducir por un étranger.

Sheaun McKinney is a cute, cute kid. If there were a "menace scale" for actors, he'd rate somewhere between Andrea McArdle and Haley Joel Osment. At least, that's how it went until you caught him in Jesus Hopped the "A" Train. For ever after, when you saw him on the sidewalk, you made sure to cross the street. In Jesus, McKinney played a prison guard who was either psychotic or principled, depending on what moral perspective you brought to the show. He thought his inmates were scum, and he treated them as such. Even when Bechir Sylvain, who played a serial killer turned deeply peaceable spiritual guru, was trying to inspire his fellow inmates with righteous, well-meaning pep talks, McKinney was there to rub his face in shit. He seemed to enjoy it. For a great many nervous moments, one suspected McKinney really wanted nothing more than to drag his costars out behind the theater and shoot them. The hell of it is, his convictions were so firmly held and so ardently conveyed that you almost wanted it too.

The memory of Kei Berlin's performance, like a great number of things about Animals & Plants, left everyone who saw it with the queasy suspicion that nothing that followed was its equal. They're right. Playing Kassandra, a sexy hippie chick who works at a head shop in the Carolinas, she blew into the protagonists' motel room in the middle of a blizzard for no reason at all, and the heat from her great big heart seemed apt to melt the snow outside. She had wise and laughing eyes peeking out of a gorgeous face atop a hot young bod, and not only did you want to get to know her but also you felt that, somewhere, you already had. She didn't arrive until late in the play, and when she did, all that had come before seemed incomplete. People could fall in love with this Kassandra, and those who did might now be wondering where in hell Kei has gone since then. She hasn't appeared at Mad Cat, nor at GableStage or New Theatre or anywhere else, as far as we know. Wake up, darling. The world needs you.


Located in the heart of South Beach, this court boasts colorful Art Deco apartments as the backdrop for swinging tennis rackets and soaring fuzzy balls.

Love – 15.

The 17 brightly lit clay courts are far enough from camera-toting tourists yet close enough to the inviting surf and sand.

Love – 30.

The practice wall is the spot for singles looking for doubles, and the full-service pro shop is where strings are tightened and expert advice dispensed.

Love – 40.

After three sets of grunting, running, and swinging alongside your neighbors, a dip in Flamingo Park's pool is second to none.

Game. Set. Match.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®