Best Visual Artist 2018 | Dara Friedman | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
© Dara Friedman, courtesy of the artist and Gavin Brown's enterprise, New York

Dara Friedman's most famous short film, Dancer, shows dozens of Miamians dancing across the city. They step, grind, pirouette, slide, and tumble on bridges, under overpasses, against building walls, and even atop skyscrapers. It was one of many films featured in "Perfect Stranger," a retrospective of Friedman's work featured at Pérez Art Museum Miami that confirmed her lasting importance to the city's art legacy. Ironically, what makes her art so essential is us — the people of Miami. In films such as Dancer and Government Cut Freestyle, we are the art — she's only holding up a mirror.

Courtesy of Republic Record

In the druggy, seedy world of SoundCloud rap, nothing is certain. Your favorite rapper could be riding high (figuratively and literally) one day and be felled by a disappointing song or sexual assault scandal the next (the latter is unfortunately common). For now, out of all the Floridian artists riding the SoundCloud wave, Ski Mask the Slump God is on top for two reasons. First, he is an undeniably talented rapper. His cartoon-referencing wordplay is clever, and his speed and technical proficiency are close to that of fast-rap legends such as Twista and Busta Rhymes. For another, he actually seems focused on growing his career, putting out consistent projects, working with video director Cole Bennett and the Asian artists of 88rising, and distancing himself from the popular-yet-toxic, domestic-abuse-accused XXXTentacion. Time will tell, but this guy could make it.

The Jewish philosopher Maimonedes wrote that one of the highest levels of charity is giving anonymously. Less righteous is when the donor makes themselves known, rendering the act egotistical rather than for its own sake. Drake, who is Jewish, obviously opted for the latter choice in his "God's Plan" video, in which he blesses the University of Miami, Miami Senior High School, and several random people all over the city, with serious stacks of cash. "The budget for this video was $996,631.90. We gave it all away," the opening caption boasts. Here's the thing: Jewish people are supposed to be charitable. It's a religious obligation to give to others — you could say it's part of "God's Plan." But did Drake really have to make a massive spectacle out of it? Maybe. It brings to mind the words of another great philosopher named Sheryl Crow: "If it makes you happy, it can't be that bad." Drake made a lot of people happy that day, and for better or worse, we have the video evidence.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®