People & Places

  • Personal Best: For the Love of Lizard

    Joe LaRue, Competitive Eater

    Joe LaRue has achieved renown by ingesting large quantities of food -- pancakes, corn on the cob, hamburgers, hot dogs -- better and faster than almost anyone else. He is South Florida's foremost competitive eater. To watch the six-foot-eight LaRue down Nathan's Famous at the annual hot-dog-eating contest in Coney Island (where he placed 14th last year) is a wondrous… More >>
  • Best TV Station

    WPBT

    This is no contest. In terms of local programming, WPBT kills the competition. For local politics, you've got Issues with Helen Ferré. Sure, Ferré's show is low-key, but you usually learn something when you watch the area's politicians, educators, and journalists yap about important, um, oh yeah, issues. Listening to Broward County Mayor Ben Graber talk about how he thinks… More >>
  • Best TV News Reporter

    Derek Hayward WSVN-TV (Channel 7)

    Derek Hayward has a way with words. A general-assignment reporter with WSVN-TV (Channel 7) since 1991, the English-born Hayward has an uncanny ability to drop phrases that only he could get away with. Our favorite: When police were looking for a murder suspect recently, Hayward told his audience that the boys in blue were looking to have a "wee chat"… More >>
  • Best Local Girl Gone Bad

    Cynthia Berman-Miller

    This Best Of marks a New Times fall from grace for Cynthia Berman-Miller. Three years ago, in our 2003 Best Of issue, Berman-Miller, then director of the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, received a "Personal Best" nod. She talked to New Times about her love of reality TV. But after that issue, Berman-Miller became ambitious, and things went terribly… More >>
  • Best Hurricane

    Katrina

    She began humbly as Tropical Depression 12, dawdled for a bit over the Bahamas, and eased over to South Florida in the last week of August. Around the time she breached our shore, she graduated from a tropical storm to a full-blown hurricane, although with sustained winds no faster than your grandma drives on I-95. But it was just enough… More >>
  • Best Local Legend

    Serial Killer Gerard Schaefer

    Known as the "killer cop" and a "sex beast," Gerard Schaefer, a good Broward boy, passed through almost every local institution during the 1960s and 1970s while secretly indulging his extracurricular passion: abducting and killing young women. During his time as a student at BCC and FAU, a teacher at Plantation and Stranahan high schools, an FPL security guard, and… More >>
  • Best Place to Watch the Sun Set

    Tropical Sailing Catamaran Cruises

    From, let's say, the turnpike, South Florida doesn't look all that picturesque -- it's just shopping plazas, billboards, and traffic. And more traffic. But from the deck of a sailboat, you'll understand why people call this place paradise. Now, the tough thing about going sailing is that there's not really anything to do on a boat. Then again, the wonderful… More >>
  • Best Reason to Live in South Florida

    The Critters

    If you live by the water or you live near a swamp (and who down here doesn't?), you know exactly what we're talking about. There aren't many places in the contiguous 48 states where parrots and iguanas breed with impunity -- come to think of it, most of the country isn't known for an abundance of bright-green wildlife at all.… More >>
  • Best Festival

    Jamaican Jerk Festival

    Just as the giant Chili Cookoff inspires food with the impact of a reactor-core meltdown, the Jerk Festival usually ignites taste buds in a big way. Scotch bonnet peppers, the fiery ingredient in jerk sauce, appears to greater and lesser degrees in the authentic Jamaican cuisine offered by vendors and competitors. Having outgrown a smaller spot in Pembroke Pines, the… More >>
  • Best Political Protest

    CAFTA Protest

    The sign of a successful protest isn't the number of people marching; it's how seriously the rest of the world takes those who do. By that measure, the demonstrations during the June 2005 meeting of the Organization of American States General Assembly in Fort Lauderdale were a triumph. Hundreds marched along Federal Highway, then down SW 17th Avenue to the… More >>
  • Best Power Couple

    Charlotte and John Rodstrom

    We already knew about John Rodstrom's muscle-flexing ways. A former investment banker, the county commissioner raised ethical concerns a couple of years ago when Citibank paid him more than 400 large to help broker a bond issue for Miami International Airport while he opposed expansion of its competitor, FLL. But if there were any questions about Charlotte Rodstrom's own power… More >>
  • Best Locally Generated Internet Site

    www.balancesheetonline.com

    Operated by the not-for-profit Hollywood Trust, this site seeks to better balance the public's role in decisions made by city officials. The philosophy underlying the site is that Hollywood's city government doesn't give average citizens much say-so about how their taxes are spent. Public comment isn't allowed during meetings of the city's redevelopment agency and restricted during commission meetings --… More >>
  • Best Local Blog

    Stuck on the Palmetto

    South Florida is a little behind the curve in blogging -- Miami scribblers are gaining some steam, but Broward and Palm Beach cyber diarists have a long way to go to catch up to thriving blog communities in other parts of the country. As more locals join in on the conversation, however, they could do worse than to emulate Stuck… More >>
  • Best Building

    The Kennan Building

    Save for Miami Beach's famed crayon-box outcropping of Deco hotels, out-of-town visitors rarely find much to write home about regarding South Florida architecture. In fact, it's probably easier to locate architectural atrocities and "what were they thinking?" landmarks. But the mid-'50s Kennan Building, at the northwest corner of Federal Highway and Oakland Park Boulevard, always draws compliments from locals and… More >>
  • Best Charity

    Abandoned Pet Rescue

    Once upon a time, there was a lovely kingdom that flowed with coconut milk and sugar-cane juice. It was a warm, sunny place, and its citizens reveled in happiness and shared their joy and homes with every manner of beast: dogs, cats, ferrets, hamsters, birds, bunnies. But the subjects of the kingdom acted unwisely with their pets, which milled about… More >>
  • Best Display of Wealth

    Blue Martini Valet Parking

    Pity the poor rich men who cruise the singles clubs. They sink a hundred G into Porsches, Maseratis, Lamborghinis and Mercedes and then have to leave them in valet backlot purgatory. They enter the club as plucked peacocks, dehorned rams. After all, a snappy Italian suit and a ruby pinky ring can impress only so far. Mercifully, the valet parking… More >>
  • Best Car Wash

    Prestige Car Wash and Salon

    Here's what you do. You need your oil changed, you go to Jiffy Lube at 44th Street and University Drive. When you're done there, they give you a $7 discount at Prestige, which is right up the road. So if you want to get a standard wash, you get it for $3.99 -- and you get top-of-the-line service while you're… More >>
  • Best Near-Death Experience

    Hurricane Wilma Generator Survivors

    After Wilma clobbered us and the electricity went dead, some folks' reasoning, logic, and judgment went right out all those open windows. How else do you explain the guy found in his Hollywood apartment on November 5, unconscious and barely alive, next to a portable gas-filled generator? Or, on that same day, the Lake Worth family who allowed their generator… More >>
  • Best Political Coup

    The Chris Kovanes Scandal

    A totally average bureaucrat with a penchant for flashy clothing is brought under a town administrator's wing. He becomes "The Protégé." The town administrator resigns to take a sweet job in the Florida Keys. The town council needs to hire a replacement. The logical choice: The Protégé. But The Protégé is having female problems and needs some supplementary income. He… More >>
  • Best Politician in Broward

    Steve Gonot, Deerfield Beach Commissioner

    Most Broward politicians are pawns for a network of well-heeled lobbyists, business tycoons, and land barons. They waste millions of our dollars and think they're hot shit while they're at it. Not Gonot. When big-deal developer Pete Boinis tried to build a huge restaurant on the public pier, Gonot realized it was a sweetheart deal and went head-to-head with the… More >>
  • Best Politician in Palm Beach

    Palm Beach County Commissioner Addie L. Greene

    Palm Beach County Commissioner Addie L. Greene is quite possibly the first politician in South Florida history to spin an ethics complaint against her into good news. Earlier this year, Greene, a former school teacher, became the swing vote on the most contentious issue in Palm Beach County: where to build the Scripps Research Institute's Florida campus. Three county commissioners… More >>
  • Best City in Which to Live

    Weston

    If you think Weston is an unusual winner for this category, you obviously have a short memory. Flash back to October 24, 2005. In just six hours, Hurricane Wilma ripped across Florida, leaving a trail of damaged roofs, flooded cars, and broken windows and cutting power to roughly 6 million Florida households. Most of South Florida went dark. But there… More >>
  • Best Urban Neighborhood

    As so much of Broward and Palm Beach counties becomes strip-malled, sanitized, faceless, and boring, this part of town is weird. The strips of stores here are old and crumbling, signs are in English, Spanish, and sometimes Creole, and the area pulses with a chaotic feel that's more downtown Miami than the Venice of America. Davie Boulevard, which cuts through… More >>
  • Best Suburban Neighborhood

    Jacaranda in Plantation

    Sure, Plantation's Jacaranda neighborhood doesn't have the Old Florida charm of neighborhoods close to downtown Fort Lauderdale, such as Victoria Park. And it lacks the tree canopy you'll find -- or, ahem, used to find -- in Sailboat Bend, also in America's Venice. But Jacaranda has a way of blending big-city amenities with the slower pace and convenience of suburbia.… More >>
  • Best Public Transportation

    Water Taxi

    Yes, it's recently been unmasked as a bloated private company that drains big bucks from the public coffers. Yes, it's really just a fleet of glorified tugboats catering to the fat wallets of beached tourists. Yes, one ride up the Intracoastal will set you back ten whole kahunas. But let's admit it: Despite its flaws, Fort Lauderdale's Water Taxi is… More >>
  • Best Miami Herald Writer

    Fred Grimm

    The star of your Herald's local section is undoubtedly 2004 Pulitzer Prize winner Leonard Pitts, who writes forcefully about politics, culture, and race and happens to do so from Maryland. The less, uh, heralded columnist, Fred Grimm, you're more likely to notice loitering at Le Tub on the Intracoastal. His copy is likewise local and, lately, has been the most… More >>
  • Best Sun-Sentinel Writer

    John Holland

    The job of a news reporter is a Sisyphean cycle of ignorance turning to expertise, and it requires versatility of any prolific scribe. Here, then, in short, are some of the topics that Holland has covered in the past few months: a woman who pimped a 16-year-old girl; a kitchen-knife fatal stabbing; the Davie town government scandal; a police standoff… More >>
  • Best Palm Beach Post Writer

    Larry Keller

    You rarely have good writing in newspapers without good reporting -- and Larry Keller provides the right blend of both skills in his stories for the Palm Beach Post. Take his extensive coverage of the sensational James Sullivan murder-for-hire trial in West Palm Beach, which begins: "Lita Sullivan probably saw the man who delivered a dozen long-stemmed roses draw the… More >>
  • Best AM Radio Personality

    Pat Montague, WAVS-AM (1170)

    For sheer silly fun on the airwaves, Miss Pat cannot be beat. In these dim radio days, when a live human being and a malleable playlist is rarer than a white rhino, someone like Miss Pat is a savior. Tune in to 1170 AM during a weekday drive home after work and let her laughter leak some levity into that… More >>
  • Best FM Radio Personality

    Joseph Cooper, WLRN-91.3

    You're right, Joseph Cooper, he of the somnolent monotone voice, is a strange choice for best FM radio personality. He's no Howard Stern, assuredly. Cooper is a unique force in local talk radio, though. His weekday show, which comes on at 1 p.m., is, um, local. And these days, if it's not about sports or Steve Kane's rantings, it's hard… More >>
  • Best FM Radio Station

    WLRN-91.3

    Let's face it: South Florida has one of the worst radio markets in America. If you want something other than cookie-cutter pop, rock, hip-hop, and country, you need to go satellite. But the publicly financed WLRN remains an oasis from the commercial combine, where you get a whole lot more than the solid NPR stuff. There's Topical Currents with Joseph… More >>
  • Best TV News Anchor

    Belkys Nerey, WSVN (Channel 7) Anchor

    Cuban-born newscaster Belkys Nerey performs on Channel 7 at 5, 6 and 10 p.m., and we use perform here for good reason. If local TV news has slid into a hybrid form of journalism and entertainment, at least we can watch someone like Nerey have more fun on-air than others. She laughs her ass off and spurs her on-air comrades… More >>
  • Best Sportscaster

    Tommy Hutton, FSN Florida Marlins Analyst

    Like Johnny Cash, Tommy Hutton has been everywhere. After several years in the minor leagues, where he played in places like Albuquerque and Spokane, his 17-year-career in Major League Baseball took him to Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Toronto, and Montreal. But for the past ten years, the former reserve first baseman and emergency outfielder has been firmly embedded in South Florida,… More >>
  • Best Weathercaster

    Don Noe, WPLG (Channel 10)

    Don Noe is the doyen of South Florida meteorology. And nowhere is weather forecasting more important than in the Sunshine State, where mysterious underground magnets seem to pull hurricanes toward our peninsula every year for a grueling, six-month showdown with Mother Nature. The chief meteorologist at Local 10, Noe -- an unassuming man with a bald pate and a broad… More >>
  • Best New Novelist

    Heidi Boehringer

    While chasing after that elusive first novel, Deerfield Beach author Heidi Boehringer supported herself with every kind of job, from bartending to loan processing. Following graduation from the creative-writing program at the University of Florida -- Gainesville, she went on to write Chasing Jordan, the story of a woman's life crumbled by guilt after accidentally running over her small son.… More >>
  • Best Gadfly

    Asa Boynton

    Asa Boynton deserves a spot in the South Florida Community Activist Hall of Fame. In his day job, the tall 59-year-old dresses in a purple gorilla suit and delivers singing telegrams throughout South Florida. Otherwise, he's a one-man gadfly, civic activist, and crime fighter in Hollywood's troubled south side. Ask Hollywood's city commissioners. They'll tell you how Boynton delivers the… More >>
  • Best Lawyer

    Khurrum Wahid

    Khurrum Wahid has the most unpopular important job in the country. An attorney with offices in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and New York, Wahid represents Muslims in federal court against terrorism charges. Wahid was a federal public defender in Miami when terrorists flew commercial airplanes into the World Trade Center. At that time, people asked him what he thought the U.S.… More >>
  • Best Flack

    Stephen Gaskill

    If there were more people like Stephen Gaskill, maybe the Democratic Party wouldn't be in such an ugly mess. That's because Gaskill is a smooth media man and political operative who knows the game and how to play it well. A spokesman for Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich during the Clinton administration, Gaskill moved from the Beltway to sunny Fort… More >>
  • Best Place to Walk Along the River

    Smoker Park, south side of the New River atop the U.S. 1 Tunnel

    Perhaps nowhere in the entire state exists a better spot to bear witness to the forces of change than this small strip of land in downtown Fort Lauderdale. A hundred years ago, someone standing at this spot would have seen a single structure -- the clapboard, cracker-box Stranahan House, where the city started -- and maybe a Seminole paddling a… More >>
  • Best Value on Las Olas

    Christian Science Reading Room

    Better have a thick wad of bills or a sturdy stack of plastic if you want to spend much time on Fort Lauderdale's version of Rodeo Drive. Shopping and eating along this upscale quarter-mile, it's easy to burn through cash by the hundreds. Amid this, the Christian Science Reading Room is an oasis of solitude and thrift. By offering no… More >>
  • Best Public Restroom

    The Atlantic Hotel

    Remember those driving vacations you took with your family as a kid? Motoring just outside Nothingville, USA, you'd spot a giant roadside sign touting "Miracle Hills" or the "Wonder Spot." You'd bully and sob your old man into making the detour, and he'd shell out the five bucks apiece for a tour led by an enthusiastic old man. Inside specially… More >>
  • Best Landmark

    The Crystal Palace

    There was much grumbling and gnashing of teeth when the Broward County School Board laid out $29 million in the 1990s to build its new headquarters, soon derisively dubbed "The Crystal Palace." For many, the shiny, dark-blue 14-story juggernaut jutting up beside the county courthouse was an example of a bloated bureaucracy out of touch with its constituency. Then when… More >>
  • Best Hotel

    Hibiscus House

    The best area hotel is not a hotel at all -- it's a B&B, one of the few stalwarts of its kind to survive surrounded by sprouting condos and opulent resorts. Hibiscus House offers luxury on a small scale, trading the quiet ambiance of a palm-lined street in West Palm's Old Northwood neighborhood for the valet-lined drives that accompany the… More >>
  • Best Candidate for Urban Renewal

    Sears Town at Federal Highway and Sunrise Boulevard

    Argue all you want about whether Sears is "Where America Shops," but the vast parking lot at this long-in-the-tooth strip mall sits mostly empty. Not that Sears and a half-dozen other little businesses at this locale don't get business; it's just that there are so many cars bordering the shopping center, all bogged down in one of the worst designed… More >>
  • Best Weekend Getaway

    Bimini Island

    Less than a half-hour flight east lies Bimini, the closest foreign island to mainland America. This seven-mile-long sliver of the Bahamas offers a peaceful respite from the hectic pace of South Florida 50 miles away. You can split your weekend between hanging at the beach and biking and kayaking. The north end of the island is an intricate mangrove forest.… More >>
  • Best Place for a First Date

    Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino

    Hi, um, would you like to go out with me tonight? I don't know, what do you wanna do? I was thinking that, if you like steak and really good wine, we could go to the Council Oak restaurant at the Hard Rock. Oh, something more casual? Sure, well, there's the Jazziz bistro that's also part of the massive Hard… More >>
  • Best Meet-Up Group

    Broward County Atheists Weekly Meetup Group

    Better-organized than the pagans, more regularly scheduled than the belly dancers, and more committed than wine enthusiasts, poets, or people with ADHD, Broward County atheists have a meetup group to be reckoned with. With 104 members and a weekly meeting that hopscotches around various pubs and restaurants in Davie, the group is part secularist society, part singles get-together, and part… More >>
  • Best New Trend

    Plastic Credit for Plastic Surgery

    South Florida has worked hard earning its reputation for making noses shapelier, chests bigger, and chins tauter. Culture, schmulture -- give us the lipo, Botox, and scalpel any day of the week. But it's hard to keep up with the Joneses when you're a working-class stiff just trying to save enough cash for a trip to Disney World. Thankfully, credit… More >>
  • Best Place to Escape Bill Gates

    Florida Linux User Exchange

    Tired of shelling out hundreds of dollars every year to Microsoft for a buggy Windows operating system ($299) and Office suite ($399) that crash at inopportune times? Let the men and women at Florida Linux User Exchange (FLUX) show you an alternative: Linux, a free (free!), open-source PC operating system developed by a community of programmers from throughout the world.… More >>
  • Best Quote

    Mara Giulianti

    The past year was filled with so many memorable utterances perfectly reflecting the place and time in which we live that choosing a winner is pretty tough. First, there was Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper, who earlier this year threw a hissy fit during a City Commission meeting about those opposing plans for building the 66-acre Village at Gulfstream Park.… More >>
  • Best Place to Get Stuck

    The Swing Bridge Over the North Fork of the New River

    Every Florida driver has been held up by boat traffic. It's frustrating, sticking to your sweaty seat as some millionaire in a yacht stops traffic for miles. That's why the swing bridge in Sailboat Bend -- one of only 14 in the United States -- turns the gridlock into a refreshing pause. To open, the manually operated bridge is spun… More >>
  • Best Road to Avoid

    Hallandale Beach Boulevard

    It's Broward traffic's version of the perfect effing storm: An I-95 exit that runs straight to the county's biggest condo canyon on A1A, along the way passing a Wal-Mart, Gulfstream Race Track, a Publix plaza, two Winn-Dixies, and more Walgreenses than you can shake an empty prescription bottle at. One exit to the south is Ives Dairy Road, an artery… More >>
  • Best Local Boy Made Good

    Mike Mularkey

    Fort Lauderdale native Mike Mularkey could be exactly what the long-struggling Miami Dolphins need: a guy who knows how to score touchdowns and has absolutely zero reverence for convention. The 'Fins' new offensive coordinator, Mularkey is a University of Florida graduate who played a short stint in the NFL as a tight end before becoming the Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive coordinator… More >>
  • Best Local Girl Made Good

    Amy "Lita" Dumas

    For those who watch professional wrestling -- even those who won't admit it -- Fort Lauderdale native Amy Dumas is a badass. Better-known by her ring name "Lita," the 31-year-old Dumas is a high-flying, take-it-to-the-mat warrior for World Wrestling Entertainment's RAW. Intrigued by the story lines in professional wrestling, Dumas worked her way up the wrestling ladder from minor-league rings… More >>
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