Let this forever be known as the scene that officially turned Miami into Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. The date: March 11, 2018. The location: the eternally busy intersection of NE 36th Street and Biscayne Boulevard. A silver Infiniti has T-boned another car. The driver tries to take off, lurching away from the scene even as his front bumper hangs off the car like a half-clipped toenail. The other motorists, however, won't allow it. They get out of their cars and approach, screaming, "¡No te muevas!" The Infiniti continues its slow crawl, dragging its grill on the ground all the while. Two cars block him as he drives west on 36th Street, and a crowd grows. They bang on his windows and demand he take responsibility. Then, unbelievably, a bystander whips out a damn ball-peen hammer. He bangs it against the car's windows, attempting to smash them. The driver somehow slips through the blockade and speeds away, but not for long. Police detain him and note he is "high on narcotics" in the arrest report. The hero with the hammer, however, remains at large.

Sometimes it's fun to wonder what Miami would be like if people didn't associate it with cocaine. We might be known for the arts, or our sports legacy, or as a mosaic of immigrant communities. There's comfort in knowing that when the viral video of now-former Dolphins offensive line coach Chris Foerster hoovering three big ol' lines of cocaine was released in October, it was for a good reason. After team ownership reneged on promises to allow Dolphins players to kneel in protest of police violence during the National Anthem, a Las Vegas-based model named Kijuana Nige uploaded it in retribution. "Last little bit before I go to my meeting," Foerster says to his former girlfriend, adding, "I wish I was licking this off your pussy." And we wish you would've laid off the skiing and focused more on your football players while you were with us, Chris.

Best Meme
Photo by Nabil Elderkin

SoundCloud rappers are the cartoon characters of contemporary hip-hop; they dress and dye their hair in wacky colors and do ludicrous things such as dropping thousands of dollars on designer clothes or shooting off guns in improper locations. Lil Pump is the stereotypical SoundCloud rapper, and every cartoon character needs a great catch phrase. For Bugs Bunny, it's "What's up, doc?" and Bart Simpson says, "¡Ay, carumba!" Last year, before the "Gucci Gang" fervor, Lil Pump found his signature phrase. In a vertically shot cell phone video, he shouted from his banana-yellow Porsche: "Essskettiiiiiiiiit!!!!!" (That's "let's get it," slurred into oblivion.) The phrase went viral. Teens began saying it and posting it everywhere. A star was born.

Best Citizen
Courtesy of Al Sunshine

No one would blame Al Sunshine if he spent his retirement knocking back margaritas and working on his backhand. Sunshine worked as an acclaimed investigative reporter at CBS 4 for 25 years, often digging into consumer scams and bogus products before hanging it up in 2013. The County Commission even voted to celebrate an official "Al Sunshine Day" to commemorate his career. Now, instead of heading for the golf course, Sunshine is using his investigative skills as a powerful tool to battle developers and politicians hell-bent on paving over the last green spaces of South Florida. Since leaving television, Sunshine has transformed into one of Miami-Dade's most effective environmentalists. He helped found the Miami Pine Rocklands Coalition, which has repeatedly sued to stop a Walmart from being built on one of the remaining patches of endangered rockland environment in South Dade. Sunshine may be off the air, but he's still fighting the good fight.

Best Politician
Courtesy photo

In the weeks following the Parkland massacre, political talk was cheaper than Donald Trump's suits. As Republicans offered "thoughts and prayers" (and not much else), plenty of Democrats rallied for new gun restrictions without ever taking a risk to actually change anything. Then there was Coral Gables Mayor Raul Valdes-Fauli. Not only did he quickly propose a complete assault weapons ban in his town — knowing full well that an onerous state law passed by the NRA-funded Tally GOP could mean getting tossed out of office and opening his city up to huge fines — but he didn't mince words about why he was willing to risk it. Valdes-Fauli called gun-coddling Republicans "prostitutes" who "sold themselves to the NRA." His proposal failed on a narrow vote, but he later signed his city onto a lawsuit to challenge Florida's law against local gun restrictions. In the meantime, he says he won't shy away from fighting the gun lobby. "This is a matter of principle," he said in an interview after the vote on the proposal. "Somebody has to take a stand."

The weekend after surviving one of the worst school shootings in American history, a few students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School met up for a slumber party and vowed to change the world. The goal was sensible — real gun reform. The battle, the kids instinctively knew, would be waged on social media. The #NeverAgain movement was born: a youth-driven, politics-conquering triumph that proved beyond doubt the establishment is no match for a committed group of teens fighting the good fight. The group's cofounders won Twitter this year by hitting hypocrisy head-on. They dispatched Alex Jones conspiracy wacks with alacrity. They doled out memes, spanked down GOP naysayers, and organized millions to march for gun restrictions. Corin has been among the most effective in the group, blending an earnest call to action with a sense of humor and willingness to tussle. "If you are a student in Florida, print this tag and wear it to school. Remind the world that you are worth $1.05 to @marcorubio," she tweeted with a link to a price tag, referencing Sen. Marco Rubio's millions in NRA donations divided by the number of students in the state. No wonder Corin has tallied more than 160,000 followers in just a few short months.

Best Live Music Venue
Photo by FujifilmGirl

You can catch a band in a dive bar or corporate-branded arena just about anywhere in the world, but any concert is more enjoyable at the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, where you can dance to sonic grooves in paradise. Over the last few years, the idyllic beachside oasis has hosted the indie dance rock of House of Creatives Music Festival, the reggae sway of Nine Mile Music Festival, and the Burning Man-inspired zaniness of Love Burn. Staring at the unsullied night sky while Alt-J plays fan-favorite tracks, or skanking along to the music of the Marley Brothers while an egret flies overhead is an experience you're unlikely to have at any conventional stadium or theater concert.

Miami's most fearless police reporter does not work for a newspaper, magazine, TV station, or radio program. He is instead a cantankerous former bank robber with a mouth unsuitable for FCC-regulated airtime. Al Crespo's Crespogram is bafflingly designed (it's full of mismatched typefaces, all-caps headlines, and big round buttons like a vintage GeoCities page), traffics in rumor, and makes liberal use of the words "cocksucker," "dildo," "bitch," and "pussy." That the Crespogram is only occasionally verifiable or readable is not the point — Crespo has such a knack for securing public records and clandestine documents that every blog is a must-click. He's broken criminal justice stories that deserve citywide attention — from the apparent theft of multiple guns from inside the City of Miami Police Department, to news that Miami PD brass knowingly left murder evidence in a metal storage locker under an I-95 overpass, to investigative files tying Miami Officer Edward Lugo to an FBI sting. Sure, Al is always screaming, but if you had as much dirt on Miami cops and politicians as Al does, you'd curse too.

Miami Beach City Commissioner Kristen Rosen Gonzalez's entire career has been defined by chutzpah — from her admitted habit of putting her foot in her own mouth, to her penchant for calling reporters around town and yelling at them when she doesn't like the tone of someone's coverage. But one incident in particular this year took the cake. As Hurricane Irma dumped gallons of rain onto Miami Beach, local arms dealer Erik Agazim allegedly strapped on a Kevlar helmet and vest, hung an AR-15-style rifle on his body, grabbed a machete, and started attacking fire alarms throughout his apartment complex. His neighbors said they were terrified. But Agazim had also recently donated $2,700 to Rosen Gonzalez's 2018 congressional campaign. Rosen Gonzalez had the nerve to email Police Chief Dan Oates and tell him to lay off Agazim, who was dressed like he was heading into Fallujah. "Erik is a meticulous and upstanding businessman," she messaged the chief. Miami Beach PD arrested him anyway.

Best Boy Gone Bad
Photo by George Martinez

To say that Roger Stone "went bad" isn't entirely accurate — much like a deep-sea anglerfish or Batman's Bane, Stone was born into darkness. He happily admits he had a hand in the Watergate break-in and gleefully participated in a recent Netflix documentary detailing just how underhanded, sly, and cruel he is. But 2017 was the year Fort Lauderdale's Stone seemingly went from "behind-the-scenes heel" to "full-time conspiracy theorist and major player in what kinda-sorta sounds like a treason probe." He got booted from Twitter and compensated by becoming a regular InfoWars contributor. Stone's threatened some sort of uprising if Trump is impeached, he's been sued for defamation by a Chinese billionaire, and he's been caught in increasingly slimy-looking conversations with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange over the alleged Democratic National Committee email hack in 2016. Stone didn't so much fall from grace in 2017 as he jumped back into the black tar pit from which he was spawned.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®