Manor Lanes Bowling Center
An emblematically obese owner of an awesomely rustic bowling alley in Cleveland, Ohio, once told us: "A true bowler will not go to a martini bar." He was referring to the yuppie ten-pin establishments that have been popping up in cities all over the country, where the lanes are impossibly glossy, the lights are strobing, and some rapper with Lil before his name is droning over heavy bass. Listen, that's not America. That's not even bowling. It's some bastardized farce of the sport that Rush Limbaugh will be forced to play in Hell. We miss that solemn, old, oak-laned Cleveland temple to the converted 7-10 split. And here in Miami-Dade, the martini bars posing as bowling alleys outnumber the real thing by a count of, oh, six to one. No slight to Coral Gables' Bird Bowl, a fabulous place, but it's often overrun by teenagers, with their cell phones and their hair and their dastardly chewing gum. It's enough to make a true bowler sojourn a county north to Manor Lanes Bowling Center, where the lanes aren't too waxed, domestic brew comes $8.50 a pitcher, and — we aren't nearly cruel enough to make this up — on Tuesday and Thursday nights, unlimited bowling costs $10. Until 2 a.m. There's no catch. Welcome to America.
If Jaime Bayly is to be believed and the Peruvian ex-presidential candidate is actually dying of a mysterious liver ailment, his nightly talk show is a helluva Irish wake. First, there are the free tickets and booze for the 30 or so audience members. More important, however, is the production itself. The hourlong mix of witty monologue, biting political commentary, and saucy interviews (all in Spanish, we should add) is spectacular in the strictest sense of the word: Past guests have ranged from a man with two penises to Bayly's pregnant 22-year-old girlfriend. If Jaime doesn't leave you laughing, fuming, or choking on your arroz con pollo, he's had an off night. Rare are the episodes where the bisexual novelist doesn't divulge a scandalous secret about the rich and famous, or delve into his own soap-opera lifestyle. No one analyzes Miami's gaudy absurdity better. Si tú hablas español, tienes que ir. If not, what the hell. Show up anyway.
Amelia Earhart Park
There's nothing like a trip to the park in the summer when you're hurting in the wallet and your kids are driving you bananas. Unfortunately, most parks around town are flat, raccoon-infested wastelands where there's nothing much for tots to do but broil their flesh all day on unkempt playgrounds. Sure, parks are pretty. But you didn't bring them here to compose a sonnet. You came here to pry them away from their PlayStation games and SpongeBob episodes and give them a thrill that takes place outdoors. That's where Amelia Earhart Park comes in. What Earhart lacks in beauty, it makes up in activities. There's a barn where youngsters can meet a real-life pony and then ride it. They can pet goats and donkeys and see sheep get sheared, horses get their shoes changed, and cows milked. For older kids (or moms and dads), there's a huge lake where the family can water-ski, wakeboard, or rent paddleboats. There are plenty of open picnic areas, including tables and barbecue pavilions. There's also a convenience store selling refreshments. The entire park is an oasis from the humdrum, hot summer days, and best of all, it won't burn a hole in your wallet. Weekend pony rides cost $2 per child. Park entrance costs $6 per car on weekends.
Forget Jon Stewart, the Onion, and Wonkette.com. Victoria Jackson is simply the finest political satirist working in America today. When the Miami native and former Saturday Night Live star lampoons the Tea Party and other right-wing fringes, it's simply mesmerizing to watch such a fine comedienne commit herself so fully to painting a picture of an unhinged political partisan. The way she hilariously cites false information (like the time she claimed Muslims wanted to tear down the Statue of Liberty), carelessly throws around terms without context, plays ukulele songs declaring the president a communist, clings to outlandish conspiracy theories, and occasionally incites a cultural war (like she did when, in character, she called a gay kiss on Glee "sickening") is pure parody gold. Clearly no actual conservative activist behaves this way, and Jackson takes things way over-the-top for comedic effect, yet like all great humor, it rings true. Wait. What's that? This isn't a dedicated Andy Kaufman-esque act? She earnestly believes all the things she says? Never mind, then. This woman is clearly bonkers.
We don't know about you, but when we drive around Miami-Dade, we prefer to cruise in nothing but Superman Underoos — windows down, Bon Jovi blaring, higher than Charlie Sheen on the set of Hot Shots thanks to Pop Rocks and Mr. Pibb. Police might consider it "suspicious behavior," but we prefer to call it freedom of speech. So imagine our relief when we learned that the Turnpike was going electronic. Sure, we feel for the 200 or so workers who lost their jobs — particularly the 10 percent who were actually nice. Yet proponents argue the change will save money, gas, time, and lives, because drivers no longer will have to switch lanes or slam on the brakes at the last moment. But our reasons are more selfish: no more quizzical looks from tollbooth attendants, and no more interrupting our sugar-fueled renditions of "Living on a Prayer." Amen.
South Pointe Park
Photo by Bruno Fontino / Courtesy of the GMCVB – MiamiandBeaches.com
Even if you can't afford real estate in SoBe's chic SoFi neighborhood, at least you can take a dump there — in style. Other than being brand-new and showcasing an attractive, modern design, the public restrooms at South Pointe Park are pretty much the same as any other public potties. What's remarkable about these johns are their environs. When you're finished doing business, you can head to the roof of the bathroom, relax, and gaze at the beautiful view of the water from an elevated standpoint. Yes, that's right, these bathrooms come complete with their own shaded, rooftop VIP lounge. And once you've drained your bladder, you can begin the refilling process by hitting the new organic juice and fro-yo bar next to the facility. It's surely the most beautiful and pleasant spot to relieve yourself in all of Miami.
Pelican Harbor Seabird Station
Sometimes animal and man clash, especially in a city as close to nature as Miami, where careless boaters and fishermen leave lines to get tangled in and hooks to swallow. Seabirds are often the victims. Pelican Harbor Seabird Station on the 79th Street Causeway takes in not only injured seabirds but also all wild animals (except cats and dogs) 24 hours a day, seven days a week. An on-staff vet sees to it that the animals are cared for and rehabilitated. Most of them are released. Some, like resident pelican Fred, decide to stay for life, enjoying the free fish and plush (for a pelican) accommodations. The station is open for private tours by appointment, when visitors can meet the various temporary and permanent residents of the facility — and perhaps leave a donation.
One day, you open your closet and realize you can't stand to look at the same clothes anymore. Also, you have no idea why you bought five of the same shirt in different colors. Sickened by your own overconsumption, you think of your elderly grandmother sitting in a nursing home, wearing the same kind of hospital gown every day. Go visit her. And while you're at it, instead of throwing out a bunch of clothes and restocking your drawers with new T-shirts, donate your old goods to Douglas Gardens Thrift Store, a huge shop that benefits the Miami Jewish Home and Hospital for the Aged. You might even find some great button-downs in five different colors for yourself.
Scoring a quick shot of Internet fame is pretty easy if you have a high-speed web connection, giant fake boobs, a perfectly trashy pseudonym, a massive backlog of sex stories about famous people, and absolutely no sense of shame. That's exactly how Miami's favorite smack-talking ex-stripper Kat Stacks (née Andrea Herrera) skeezily seized her 15 minutes atop the weird, wild, and STD-soaked world of hip-hop groupiedom. Straight outta Aventura, the pornographically proportioned Venezuelan princess hit the scene in April 2010 when she unleashed a series of supersleazy gossip bombs via YouTube, Twitter, and her now-defunct blog. She claimed to have done the dirty with every rapper in the universe, from Lil Wayne to Soulja Boy to Bow Wow. And almost immediately, her vids went viral. Her Twitter account blasted past the 200,000-follower mark. And the promotional club gigs came pouring into Stacks Central. But then the hip-hop ho's time ran out in Nashville on November 5, 2010, when the Davidson County Sheriff's Office busted her for being in the country illegally. She was charged with a felony, dragged to court, and locked up. Seven months later, Stacks is still in jail, her Twitter account is locked to anyone other than pre-approved followers, and the supergroupie seems to have mellowed. Instead of constantly slanging scandalous shit, she now issues short, inspirational nuggets such as "better locked up than dead," "tomorrow is not promised," and "ill go under the table and give you head while yo mama cooking." Just keep tweeting, Kat. And we'll see you on the outside.
Apparently some people never learn. Last year, Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Alvarez increased property taxes so he could hand out raises to his top executives and ride around in a sweet BMW Gran Turismo. Appalled by his gall, multibillionaire car dealer Norman Braman launched a recall against the mayor, whose tone-deafness to voters' wrath was his greatest weakness. When it was too little too late, Alvarez allowed County Manager George Burgess to use taxpayer resources to tout all of their accomplishments in making Miami-Dade a "better place" and set the record straight on his budget. If that wasn't enough, taxpayers had to foot the bill for a group of bus drivers to take paid leave so they could campaign against the recall. Alvarez claimed he had no idea the transit workers were stumping on county time, but his denials rang hollow with voters, who kicked him out of office in spectacular fashion this past March 15.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®