Best Of :: People & Places
A year ago, Broward County Supervisor of Elections Miriam Oliphant was one of the brightest stars in the South Florida political firmament. We said so ourselves, naming her Best Politician in our 2002 Best of Broward-Palm Beach issue and concluding, ¨Seems the woman in charge of the political process in Broward knows a thing or two about politics herself.¨ She was young, gifted, and black, not to mention photogenic and a liberal Democrat with a lofty vision for an office that had been held for a gazillion years by the uncharismatic, if reliable, Republican Jane Carroll. Oliphant seemed destined for success -- until she actually had to do her job. Now beleaguered and botched elections are the words that seem destined to cling to her. She may have pulled off the February and March 2003 elections without major problems, but it could be argued that she did so by scaring voters away from the polls. Regardless of how Oliphant fares in the future, her legacy, alas, will almost certainly be allegations of cronyism, nepotism, financial irregularities, and incompetence.
Q: Do you watch reality-TV shows?
A: I live with someone who really likes them. We share the remote, so I've seen Survivor for a few seasons. I've seen some of Big Brother and Joe Millionaire. Then there's the reality-game show hybrids, like Blind Date. That's pretty funny. The one I can't stand is Fear Factor. It's not even a game of skill but of who can be the biggest moron -- like, I'll give you 100 bucks if you stick your hand in a hive of bees. Just a lowlife endurance contest. The smartest contestants are the ones who walk off and say, "You people are a bunch of idiots."
Q: Is there one that you especially like?
A: Amazing Race, where the contestants actually go around the world looking for clues. These people actually have to use some ingenuity. Part of it is staying under control and doing the best you can. I like seeing where they go. They're always on a train or something, and then, in American tourist fashion, they run up and grab their clue and they're off again. It's the only reality show I'd even entertain the idea of going on.
Q: Do you think reality TV is a good thing?
A: I guess it's a lot cheaper to produce. You don't have to pay actors or writers. Just film the stuff and pay editors. I'm not sure how real it is, though, when they shoot 90 hours of footage and cut it down to 22 or 23 minutes.
Q: Are there things in the shows that relate to your own world?
A: Well, most politicians aren't the types that would like that sort of attention. Then there's the handful that don't know the difference between good press and bad press. They'd eat slugs as long as Channel 4 was there to film it.
C'mon, we all want that 15 minutes of fame. Well, maybe we want it for a little longer than that, more like eight to ten hours of prime time on a reality-television show. And if you're wise enough to move here from the peasant-filled snowy lands of the north, you´re already ahead of the pack in preparing mentally and physically for the little screen. Welcome to our reality. First, there´s the weather. The summers are Amazon-hot, and the midday steam can stifle you like an anaconda wrapped around your chest. Think some puny tropical island that Survivor throws your way is any worse? Second, there are plenty of bugs and crawly things. Fear Factor routinely subjects its contestants to spiders, beetles, and other slithery creatures. A true South Floridian laughs at this sitcom. We encounter more hexapods, arachnids, and arthropods making breakfast and showering in the morning than Fear Factor competitors see in three seasons. Third: The Great Race? Interstate 95. ´Nuff said. And finally, the most burgeoning category in reality TV, coupling up, which can be seen on the likes of The Bachelor and Married by America. Living in an area that virtually invented spring break, we have the beachfront know-how and bars to hook up quickly, disingenuously, and deviously.
Hi, there. Come here often? Yeah, me too. My guess is that star-struck lovers like, um, us have been wandering into this planetarium since it was built in 1965. I must say, your eyes look lovely in the moonlight. Or should I say, the simulated moonlight? See that bright light right up there? Lean against me and look where I´m pointing. That´s not a star; it´s Venus. The ancients believed that Venus controlled the emotion of love. Maybe that´s because it seems to flicker bright, then dims a bit, then is bright again. Kind of like the roller coaster of love, hmmm? Ooh, look! A falling star! Make a wish! No, I can´t tell or it won´t come true. I´ll just say it involves a heavenly body. C´mon, let me show you the Zeiss M1015 star projector. It´s completely computer-automated. Hold my hand, ´cause it´s kinda dark in here, and I wouldn´t want us to get separated.
Monday night at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center of South Florida is better than even Saturday night at the hottest bar. Host Laurie Weiner facilitates meetings of the Women´s Rap Group, where you not only get to meet and chat with a couple dozen women of all flavors but you´ll hear the gory details of the many relationships that got started in the windowless room. Many of the women delight in sighing and moaning about their new loves and share every detail from courting to very dramatic breakup. You can meet the woman of your dreams; get dating advice from the group; describe trials, tribulations, and great sex; ponder how to dump her when she gets crazy; and then regale the group with stories of her psychoses until you finally move on. In lesbian time, that process usually takes a couple of weeks. Until the Miami Sol folded after the 2002 season, Broward and Palm Beach dykes had to trek down to the AmericanAirlines Arena to watch women watching the basketball game, hoping to meet the loves of their lives strolling around during halftime. Now, it´s four bucks at the GLCC. Instead of a halftime show, the center´s infamous security guard shows up without fail ten minutes before the end of the meeting to participate in the sex talk that closes out every session. At the end of the night, women who make a connection can follow the rest of the crew to Stork´s Bakery and Coffee House for more personal conversation.
Our 2001 winner of the Best Independent Cinema has the most gay-themed films outside of a queer film festival, making it a great place for boys with brains or a penchant for art films to hook up. The kiosk to the left of the concession stand beats out even Holiday Park for cruising. The four-sided kiosk offers pencils and index cards for your opinions, and the theater gallantly allows even the bad reviews to remain. Each film gets its own side of the square. If you´re a snob, make fun of the spelling and grammar mistakes on the handwritten reviews and see who agrees with you. To find a shared sense of humor, see who laughs at the same comments you do. If he´s cute and you don´t care about anything else, just check out which film he´s interested in and follow him into the theater. Whether you´re shy or bold, the reviews give you a dozen easy ice breakers ranging from, ¨Have you seen that film yet?¨ to ¨I have all his other movies on DVD. Do you want to watch them at my place before or after we see this one?¨