Imagine: She has her hair pulled back in a taut bun and is wearing short heels and an even shorter skirt. The stem of a (we hope) thornless red rose is clenched between her teeth. He has his hair slicked back and is dressed in tight jeans and a shirt that won't show too much armpit sweat. The heavily rhythmic music begins and off they go, dancing so closely that only a body condom could stop the pheromone exchange. Now is that a hot first date or what? Taking a tango class is the best way to cop a cheap feel and show your partner that you aren't afraid of a cultural education. Lessons are held every Monday through Thursday from 8 to 10 p.m. and Friday from 8 to 8:30 p.m., and even beginners can walk in anytime, so there's no need for much advance planning. The cost for each class is only $15, and there's no obligation to join. What else do you want? A freakin' bed, some baby oil, and a candle?
If Mark were a frigatebird, we'd know he likes us when he inflates his red throat sac into a giant heart balloon. If he were a snail, he'd shoot love darts at us. If he were a porcupine, he'd waddle up and pee on us. But Mark is an evolved 21st-century human, complete with opposable thumbs, a poker face, and a questionable Gap wardrobe. And his interest level and personality are about as expressive as his beige chinos. No big deal. We already knew we weren't into him the moment he opened his mouth and said howdy. But here we are on our second date at Drinking & Drawing, a sort of happy hour meets doodling meets musical chairs. Every few minutes, we move down a seat and continue the drawing of the person ahead of us on little note cards. Our neighbor leaves us a sketch of a lizard waving; we draw a rabbit hive-fiving him. Next card, the same lizard is holding a sign that reads, "Ditch." We doodle a rabbit holding a shovel. The one after that, the sign reads, "Ditch That." Now our rabbit is scratching her head. One more chair scootch and the lizard's sign is complete: "Ditch That Tool." The rabbit points questioningly at the shovel. The lizard drops the sign and points to the right, where Mark is sitting. By the time all the note cards are photographed, turned into a two-minute animation, and projected on the white wall of the bar, we're already out the door.
It's so easy in these techno-saturated times to break off a relationship via text or Facebook message, but a true lady or gentleman never takes the simplest way out. Even if you've been dating someone for only a few weeks and decide you're not feeling it, you have to do it in person. Luckily, we have the perfect place. Ask your soon-to-be-former flame to meet you some Sunday afternoon at Lummus Park — yes, the most crowded strip of sand on South Beach. Be a dear and make sure you look your most grotesque. No need to rub your hotness in the poor schlub's face. Then calmly do your best "it's not you, it's me" and make the break. You're in public, so things likely won't get too heated. Plus the park is always crowded, so you can easily escape into the horde. If your now-ex needs to cry, at least those sunglasses will hide the tears. And the hypnotic sound of waves crashing is calming. Plus with all the hotties regularly populating the sands, it's not hard for your dumped one to find a quick rebound. So, sure, maybe the relationship didn't result in much, but at least you've both ended it with nice tans.
It makes sense that a woman born in the only major American city situated between two national parks would become one of the most important voices in environmental policy. Carol Browner, the daughter of two Miami Dade College professors, climbed the political ladder by working as a legislative aide under the likes of Lawton Chiles and Al Gore. After a brief but important stint as head of the Florida Department of Environmental Regulation, Browner was named administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Bill Clinton and recently served as director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy under Barack Obama. During her tenure, she pushed for cleaner vehicle emissions and became the Obama administration's point person during the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Unfortunately, her tireless push for legislation to address climate change never came to fruition, and Browner stepped down this past March after attacking the president's habit of appointing czars. Still, environmental activists will surely miss her, and even one of her toughest opponents, Sen. Jim Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma who still refuses to acknowledge global warming, wished her well. "I would say that I'm happy to see her leave only because she was so effective in advancing her side," Inhofe told Politico.com. "Given her considerable knowledge and experience in navigating the bureaucracy, she will be irreplaceable."
Thalatta Estate
There are plenty of estates and mansions in Miami perfect for I do's. Unless you live in one, though, you'll probably never get hitched in their majestic gardens. But there are some exceptions: Vizcaya, Deering Estate at Cutler, and now Thalatta Estate in Palmetto Bay. What was a private residence for most of the past century was snapped up by the Village of Palmetto Bay when the property went up for sale in 2005. It cost a third of the city's budget. After spending a year renovating the Mediterranean-revival home and grounds, Palmetto Bay opened the estate this past February, and now the park is ready to take its place among South Florida's best venues to tie the knot. Thalatta Estate's four acres stretch from Old Cutler Road to Biscayne Bay and afford breathtaking views of the water. There is a plethora of photo-op locations for wedding parties: a reflecting pool, a gazebo, the home itself. Village officials — expecting that bridezillas will flock to the spot — created a second-floor bridal suite (so she can keep an eye on the groom) and added a prep kitchen for catering companies. The estate is picturesque, boasts all the amenities needed for a wedding, and is much more affordable than Vizcaya and the Deering Estate. Rates range from $155 for a weekday waterside site to $3,500 for use of the entire property on Saturdays. But our favorite feature has to be the old boat ramp. It is an ideal spot for newlyweds to hop onto a wooden Chris Craft and sail away to marital bliss — or a good place to stash a Jet Ski for a quick escape if there's a last-minute change of heart.
17th Street Garage
Sure, it's ugly, and being situated a mere six blocks from the gorgeously designed 1111 Lincoln Road garage doesn't help. But you just can't beat this behemoth, city-run parking garage. Rare is the day you cannot find a spot to park in one of the 1,460 spaces. The first six hours cost only $1, with the rate jumping to $2 after eight. After that, it's only $15, with a max of $20 for a 24-hour period — which is a bargain in parking-space-starved South Beach. Then there is the location. Lincoln Road, the Fillmore Miami Beach, the Miami Beach Convention Center, and the New World Center surround the five-story structure, and areas such as Collins Avenue and the beach are only five blocks away. Quick tip: If you are leaving a major event or concert, pay before you return to your car for a faster exit. Otherwise, take a 30-minute stroll on Lincoln Road while the mad rush dies down.
Every landlocked mile in Miami-Dade County has a fatal flaw. Ocean Drive: Yeah, yeah, Lamborghinis, neon, fake boobs — what are you, from Ohio? Miracle Mile: It's fun if you're a South American multimillionaire with a pastel sweater on your shoulders and an Iglesias CD in the stereo of your Bentley. Being an alt-weekly, we could have chosen some gritty stretch of urban hyper-realism — we're talking to you, Biscayne Boulevard between 50th and 70th streets — but then you'd probably get stabbed with an infected syringe, and besides, we did that last year. Clearly we're fed up with people of all ilk, so we're devolving, sprouting fins — or at least donning some rubber ones — and heading back to the primordial soup. Located just off Miami Beach — but far enough away that the Jersey Shore camera crew is but a distant nightmare — is the Wreck Trek, an artificial reef of sunken barges and tugs. Fish dig that kind of shit, and who doesn't dig fish? All colorful, happy, and free, none of them wearing tank tops or getting tribal tattoos or running Ponzi schemes or yelling about Obama's birth certificate. Go there with a scuba instructor. If our ratios are correct, an hour underwater will allow you to tolerate two months on land.
South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center
Good luck looking for last year's winner in this category. There wasn't one. Past Kendall Drive heading south, you might as well have left your cultural sensibilities behind. But, finally, it's boon time in the boonies. The South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center opened earlier this year and raised one giant middle finger to its highfalutin northern neighbors. The $39 million, Arquitectonica-designed, 966-seat performing arts center is primed to become the epicenter of all things cultural south of the county's Mason-Dixon Line. It's barely been open a couple of months, and already the venue has hosted high-profile guests from both coasts. Credit should go to the county's Cultural Affairs Department and center general manager Eric Fliss for making sure to include the surrounding southern neighborhoods and communities in workshops with the traveling dance and theater companies visiting the center. There's also a concerted effort to use the venue for community gatherings such as farmers' markets and other events outside the strict definition of performing arts. We wouldn't be surprised if the venue could soon challenge the Adrienne Arsht Center for best cultural venue in the whole county, pound for pound. After all, Kimbo Slice, Dada 5000, and back-yard brawling were born in the southern stretches of Miami-Dade, so we like their chances in any fight.
Olympia Theater
Jessica Gibbs
Remember your high school days? Funny hair, funnier fashion sense (JNCOs were the bomb!), great friends, prom. The only thing that really sucked was having to go to class. But it was a great opportunity to nap in a pool of your own drool until your Ben Stein-look-alike teacher dryly called your name during attendance. And regardless of whether you were a brain, an athlete, a basket case, a princess, or a criminal, you were a John Hughes fan. The historic Olympia Theater at the Gusman Center in downtown Miami brings back its Flickn' Summer movie series for a third year, and this time it will pay tribute to Hughes, the ultimate teen-movie magic-maker. With monthly screenings of much-loved Brat Pack classics Pretty in Pink (June 23), Sixteen Candles (July 28), The Breakfast Club (August 25), and Ferris Bueller's Day Off (September 22), it's enough nostalgia to make you want to bust out your Psychedelic Furs albums, claim you're the Sausage King of Chicago, eat sushi in detention, and give the class nerd your panties. Tickets cost $10, and each screening ends with a totally gnarly onstage afterparty set to an '80s soundtrack so you can step-touch-kick your way over to your own personal Jake Ryan, and maybe, just maybe, he'll have cake — and a kiss.
Do you believe in ghosts? Does the thought of the paranormal make you shudder more than the cover charge at a WMC party? If so, a Key West ghost hunt is for you. Check in at the La Concha Hotel on Duval Street, home to a half-dozen apparitions, including a waiter who fell down the elevator shaft and a girl who jumped off the roof on New Year's Eve. Some guests feel a strange tapping on their shoulders, only to find no one there. The Original Ghost Tour starts in the La Concha lobby and ventures out to haunted churches, movie theaters filled with ghost children, and the original home of Robert the Devil Doll. After dinner at the Hard Rock Café — visited by the spirit of the original owner, a malicious man named Robert Curry — grab a drink at Captain Tony's Saloon, where the original Key West hanging tree still grows and Hemingway is said to roam in search of one more drink before last call. When you wake up (if you wake up), head to the East Martello Museum on your way out of town to meet Robert the Doll face-to-face. Take a picture if you dare, but remember to ask his permission. The museum walls are filled with letters begging Robert to lift his curse on them. Then get the hell out of Key West before anything follows you home.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®