Best Local Boy Made Good 2023 | Marcello Hernandez | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
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Whether in the halls of Belen Jesuit Preparatory School or the studios of Saturday Night Live, standup comedian Marcello Hernandez has been making Miami laugh for years. He cut his teeth opening for giants like Gilbert Gottfried and Dave Chappelle, but locally he's known as a creative force behind the ludicrous social-media company Only In Dade, where he interviewed celebs like Floyd Mayweather and Nicky Jam. More recently, he expanded his audience outside the 305 to late-night TV as a featured player for SNL's 48th season.

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Fabián Basabe peaked sometime in the early aughts, back when he was grinding with then-president's daughter Laura Bush, appearing on reality TV (remember Filthy Rich: Cattle Drive? Of course you don't), and fashioning himself as "the male Paris Hilton." Rather than fade into adulthood, he attempted to run for a seat on the Miami Beach City Commission but was disqualified for flunking the residency requirement. Undeterred, he ran for a Florida House seat as a moderate Republican, pledging to support gay rights and a woman's right to choose — two stances that ran counter to Gov. Ron DeSantis' legislative slate. When bills on those matters came up for a vote, Basabe...didn't show up. Perhaps not surprisingly, his flip-flopping has led to calls for his resignation and public heckling. Oh, and Basabe is under investigation for allegedly slapping an aide across the face at a reception in Tallahassee and he's being sued by a cousin over a deal to import and resell vintage Land Rovers.

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Coco Gauff was born in Atlanta, but from age 7 onward, she trained a short I-95 hop north of our chaotic metropolis in charming Delray Beach. Now that she's ranked as the world's sixth-best tennis player in women's singles, we're officially claiming her as one of our own. It was right here in South Florida, after all, that Gauff became the youngest Orange Bowl International girls' 18-and-under singles champion —at the tender age of 14, no less. She seems proud to rep South Florida, too: At the '23 Miami Open at Hard Rock Stadium in April, Gauff and her partner Jessica Pegula held up their doubles trophy in front of a hometown crowd and dedicated their win to the Florida Atlantic University and University of Miami basketball teams that had been eliminated from the Final Four the previous night: "This was for you, Miami and FAU." And in May, after a first-round women's singles victory at the French Open, she declared, "Heat in 7 — and maybe Coco in 7!" A local gal after our own heart.

Miami City Attorney Victoria Méndez, known in some circles as "Tricky Vicky," hasn't been a good egg in a while. But this year we've been informed about what might be her biggest scandal to date. This past spring, WLRN investigative reporters Daniel Rivero and Joshua Ceballos (a New Times alum) published a series of stories revealing that Méndez's family members have purchased homes at a marginal cost from the county's guardianship program — which uses the proceeds to pay for the care of the incapacitated property owners — and then flipped them for a profit just months, or sometimes days, later. Méndez herself now lives in a home on a property that was purchased from the guardianship program, according to WLRN's reporting. Méndez denies any impropriety. But the guardianship program has frozen property sales at the direction of Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava while county investigators look into the program's real estate dealings.

Best Public Art (Unintentional Division)

FTX Arena

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When naming rights for the Miami Heat's arena were sold to the cryptocurrency exchange FTX in 2021 for $135 million, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez tweeted that he was "overjoyed" at a 19-year deal that "advances our efforts to be the most crypto friendly city on the planet." The mayor's brand of blind optimism didn't last long: A year later, FTX shed billions of dollars in value in a matter of days and was forced to file for bankruptcy in November 2022 amid allegations that customer assets had been mishandled. Founder and CEO Sam Bankman-Fried resigned in disgrace and was later arrested on federal charges in what prosecutors called "one of the biggest frauds in American history." Those in charge of the arena, of course, looked to sever ties — a change of course that required a rebrand of everything from the building's roof to employees' embroidered shirts. In all likelihood, those corporate polos are in-demand memorabilia now. We'll all look back fondly on FTX Arena for what it truly was: a monument to Miami's favorite pastime: grift.

Miami Film Festival photo

The Miami Film Festival may have lost its years-long home at Tower Theater (see "Best Art-House Cinema"), but that hasn't interfered with festival's mission of providing a world-class platform for local, international, and Ibero-American independent cinema. After the City of Miami abruptly terminated its contract with Miami Dade College last fall, the festival had to quickly pivot and secure screenings for its 40th edition in March at Silverspot Cinema's downtown Miami location and at Coral Gables Art Cinema. Gems, the fall mini-film festival, is scheduled to return in November with a selection of films from around the globe, many of which will be contenders come awards season. The lights may be out at Tower Theater, but the Miami Film Festival must go on.

Andrew Otazo certainly seems like a Miami creation myth: He works full-time in communications, picks up litter from South Florida's mangroves, and somehow has the time to make hilarious Miami-centered memes. A scroll through Miami Creation Myth's Instagram and Twitter reveals absurd memes about local politics, overdevelopment, and the overall ridiculousness of life in the Magic City. Otazo's funniest takes tend to involve the feud between Miami-Dade and Broward counties or the horrors of driving in South Florida. This year, he ventured into the book format, publishing The Miami Creation Myth: A Culturo-Cosmic Adventure, a ludicrous fiction about how Miami came to be and two sisters, Marta and Cuquita, who traversed the city to make cafecito and save humanity.

Got a case of the Mondays? Well, there's an Instagram account that's making the best of it by telling you everything that is happening this week. Lunes Oña-Pérez curates the account and highlights everything happening in Miami's underground music and arts scene. Yes, the target demo for the events highlighted is squarely Gen Z, but Oña-Pérez has a great knack for finding events that might've slipped out of mainstream round-ups. Every week, @alwaylunes packages its guide into a nifty slideshow, as well as an expanded calendar on its website,

Photo by Emma McIntyre/Getty Images for SiriusXM

To a certain generation of Miamians, Alix Earle is their local Princess Diana, a prominent blonde whose daily movements and fashionable getups are closely followed. A New Jersey native, the recent University of Miami graduate skyrocketed to popularity last year on TikTok, where she has amassed more than five million followers thanks to videos of her getting ready for college outings (#GRWM) and spilling the messy details of her personal life (breakup with pro baseball boyfriend Tyler Wade, drunken mishaps, getting stranded in Italy). She might be rubbing shoulders with Miley Cyrus and Victoria's Secret models now, but followers appreciate her no-filter realness about her struggle with cystic acne and the decision to have cosmetic work done. She just, like, gets us.

He's in his 20s now, but that hasn't stopped young-at-heart Miami The Kid from amassing more than a million followers on his YouTube channel, where he posts absurd prank videos, man-on-the-street interviews with bikini-clad young women, and other dramatic misfortunes. Like the time he was stopped by police officers outside Aventura Mall while wearing a ski mask, and the time his girlfriend caught him cheating and cut his hair while he slept. These days each video he posts generates 100,000 to 300,000 or more views and thousands of comments from fans and haters alike.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®