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Best Of 2002

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Best Of :: Arts & Entertainment

Best Cheap Thrill

You can see them each sunny Wednesday evening and Saturday morning on Fort Lauderdale Beach. Six intrepid paddlers push a Hawaiian-style outrigger canoe into the surf and paddle off. Sometimes they hug the shoreline; sometimes they head toward the horizon. Maybe the opening notes of "Hawaii 5-0" will run through your head before you think, "Hey, this is the Atlantic!" Well, yes it is, and you haven't seen Fort Lauderdale Beach until you've seen it from one of these babies. Best of all, it's absolutely free to try out your paddling skills, and all levels of physical fitness can be accommodated. Show up on Wednesday around 6 p.m. or Saturday around 10 a.m. and you'll be given a five-minute lesson, then handed a paddle and life jacket. The core group is diverse in every way: age, level of fitness, and nationality. There's an easy camaraderie that becomes all the more obvious when you're in a canoe that hulies, which means it flips over. If that happens, you're no longer a newbie, and you become an official member of the Las Olas Outrigger Canoe Club. Some of the perks of membership -- if you stick with it, you'll eventually be asked to cough up $60 in annual dues -- include full-moon paddles, snorkel and dive paddles, the opportunity to participate in the Fort Lauderdale Boat Parade, and the chance to compete against other Hawaiian-outrigger canoe clubs springing up in Hollywood, Key West, and Palm Beach. But the first few times you're out, you'll just feel the thrill of synchronizing six strangers in an 18-inch-wide canoe against an unpredictable sea. If you don't try this at least once, you might as well be living in Peoria.

Best Rock Band

Good things do come from Boca Raton: fine matzo ball soup, for instance. The blue hair rinse is divine. And Baby Robots, Boca's resident art-damaged combo, provides the town with a slightly deviant edge that it has long lacked. Why? Because the 'bots -- product of a team of visual and sonic artists creating in a virtual vacuum -- rip up the South Florida rock rule book. Irrepressible guitarist/singer Bobby Baker is exploding with ideas, some just as likely to dissolve into a mud puddle of distortion as to reach sonic transcendence. But more often than not, the Baby Robots strike a remarkable balance between psychosis and eloquence. And that's something Boca Raton could use more often.

Best Rock Band

Good things do come from Boca Raton: fine matzo ball soup, for instance. The blue hair rinse is divine. And Baby Robots, Boca's resident art-damaged combo, provides the town with a slightly deviant edge that it has long lacked. Why? Because the 'bots -- product of a team of visual and sonic artists creating in a virtual vacuum -- rip up the South Florida rock rule book. Irrepressible guitarist/singer Bobby Baker is exploding with ideas, some just as likely to dissolve into a mud puddle of distortion as to reach sonic transcendence. But more often than not, the Baby Robots strike a remarkable balance between psychosis and eloquence. And that's something Boca Raton could use more often.

Best Male Rock Vocalist

Nice guys rarely finish first, especially nice guys with way-over-the-top baritones. But local legend John Cain Reilly is so serious about his art that he puts other frontmen to shame. From his mid-'90s days in Basketcase to his newest role leading ex-Marilyn Manson guitarist Scott Putesky's band (Three Ton Gate, née Stuck on Evil), Reilly uses his church-organ pipes to project a palpable aura of glorious Grand Guignol gloom. Suntanic, Stuck on Evil's 2001 release, vacillates between semi-shocking imagery and a cheeky, erotic/occult plateau; and Reilly is indisputably its focal point. From the core-breaching opener "Died of Me" to the chaotic/melodic Beatles cover ("I'm Only Sleeping") through the poetic (and formerly a capella) closer "Non-Photo Blues," Reilly is Fort Lauderdale's worship-worthy rock god.

Best Male Rock Vocalist

Nice guys rarely finish first, especially nice guys with way-over-the-top baritones. But local legend John Cain Reilly is so serious about his art that he puts other frontmen to shame. From his mid-'90s days in Basketcase to his newest role leading ex-Marilyn Manson guitarist Scott Putesky's band (Three Ton Gate, née Stuck on Evil), Reilly uses his church-organ pipes to project a palpable aura of glorious Grand Guignol gloom. Suntanic, Stuck on Evil's 2001 release, vacillates between semi-shocking imagery and a cheeky, erotic/occult plateau; and Reilly is indisputably its focal point. From the core-breaching opener "Died of Me" to the chaotic/melodic Beatles cover ("I'm Only Sleeping") through the poetic (and formerly a capella) closer "Non-Photo Blues," Reilly is Fort Lauderdale's worship-worthy rock god.

Best Concert of the Past 12 Months

There's nothing quite as thrilling as catching an up-and-coming young act on the threshold of a national French kiss, which is what audiences have witnessed over the past year with Boca Raton's Dashboard Confessional. And when these saviors of the emo set, led by diminutive, tattooed love god Chris Carrabba, brought the show home to Pompano Beach's now-defunct Millennium Club from a national tour this past December to the thunderous acclaim of a hometown crowd (who were just as proud as pleasured), it gave rise to feelings of validation and redemption, as well as more than one misty eye. Although he's been fortunate enough to chill with Conan O'Brien on the late-night talk-show circuit, sad-sack lyricist Carrabba hasn't yet exploited his hunky heartthrob status. When that happens, it's likely all over. We feel your pain, Chris. Glad your hard work is finally paying off.

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Best Cheap Thrill: Canoeing on the ocean

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