BEST OF BROWARD/PALM BEACH® 2003

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So you don’t get enough reality in your everyday drudgery, eh? You need more? So maybe you tune in to Monica blathering about some weirdo in a mask. Or you hit the remote for the gross-out of Fear Factor. Or maybe you just can’t stay away from that self-important bitch Trista, choosing which guy she wants to, well, you know.

But that fare isn’t real enough for you, dear reader. We don’t believe reality can be found in a television. Rather, we contend it’s right here in South Florida, where the summer heat’s just starting to crank up and you are desperate for some way to distract yourself from the subtropical inferno.

So in this, our fifth Best of Broward-Palm Beach issue, we deliver more than 290 reality bytes. There’s a strip joint in West Palm Beach where $30 filets are served on linen tablecloths. An earthy lesbian bar where the women dress like men and do karaoke — sometimes using microphones that look a lot like dildos. A joint in Davie where you can find used video games for a mere five bucks. And a Hollywood restaurant once visited by Al Capone where the cook makes rabbit-shaped pancakes for kiddies.

We’ve also interviewed some of the people who make this place real. The top restaurateur, a political wheeler-dealer, and an ironwoman who rode 112 miles on a bike, ran a marathon, and swam more than two miles — all in record time. Hell, if they can find time to watch reality TV, whatinhell are you doing with your day?

We are also proud to announce - no self promotion intended -- that we are, well, the best friggin' alternative newspaper in the American Southeast, according to our colleagues.

New Times writers have been cited in national, regional, and state competitions for more than 30 stories, columns, and parodies this year. Our staff did better than any other publication in the weekly category of the Society of Professional Journalists Green Eyeshade awards, which cover the 11 southeastern states. Writers Eric Barton and Susan Eastman took first places in business and breaking news categories, columnist Bob Norman grabbed two seconds in serious commentary and investigations, and associate editor Ted B. Kissell came home with a second in sports commentary.

Editor Chuck Strouse will be honored later this month as the nation's best alternative newspaper columnist at the convention of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. And, in an unprecedented finish, three New Times staffers - Norman, Olson, and Kissell - were all honored as finalists for the Medill School of Journalism's prestigious John Bartlow Martin Award for Public Interest Magazine Journalism. (The winner in that competition, by the way, was Miami New Times.)

Barton, Eastman, Norman, Olson, Strouse, and art director Michael Shavalier are also finalists in ten different categories in a contest run by the Florida Press Association's Better Weekly Newspaper Contest. The winners will be announced later this month.

So rip open the following pages. Read to your heart’s content. And what the hell? Turn on the tube.

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