Best Gadfly 2016 | Elijah Manley | Arts & Entertainment | South Florida

Seventeen-year-old Elijah Manley loves to tell people, "If you're not sitting at the table, then you're on the menu." And this youth rights' advocate is tired of being directed to the kiddie table. Last year, he decided to run for president — not student body president at Fort Lauderdale High School, where he's a junior, but president of the United States of America. Last June, he filed forms with the Federal Elections Commission. This past year has been a whirlwind for the young candidate, as he traveled to New Hampshire to campaign, Wisconsin for the Socialist Party's national convention, and Washington, D.C., for meetings with VIPs. He knows the Constitution dictates that he has to be 35 to be inaugurated, but he doesn't see why that should prevent him from running. In his spare time, Manley serves as president of Youth Assembly, a youth rights' organization, and has been a thorn in the side of county and city commissioners, constantly proposing lowering the voting age to 16. He hasn't been successful yet, but has vowed to continue pushing for youth rights even after he turns 18.

Here's a not-so-outlandish little theory: Donald Trump is full of shit. He's making it up. All of it: his candidacy, his platform, his xenophobic declarations, his taunting of opponents on Twitter, his run to the White House. Trump, who has built an empire on being a bombastic headline hog, has always been about one thing: Trump. He's a narcissistic boor of the highest order, and his desire to push his brand by any means necessary has always been, and ever remains, his modus operandi. The man not only has to have his name on hotels and high-rises but insists on also stamping it on steaks, wine, ties, hats, fake universities, reality-TV shows... and even the Oval Office. So far, "The Donald" has played us. He has shouted out dumb racist things, made abysmal degrading comments about women, stirred up racial angst among a vocal and angry minority, and bullied and insulted his opponents, all in the guise of "telling it like it is." He inexplicably beat the establishment Republican candidates and rose to the top. And now he has no earthly idea what to do other than to see how far this thing can go. Ask him a foreign-policy question or get him to talk international nuclear strategies and Trump will look at you like you asked him to solve Beal's conjecture. But get him to talk all things "Trump" and he'll bloviate until his comb-over barks. Donald Trump's presidential candidacy is one big marketing scheme that just has to implode before November... right?

It's rare that a real-life villain has his own cartoon castle to call home, but with Mar-a-Lago, Donald Trump has just that: a brick-and-mortar embodiment of all that the hobgoblin developer-king has come to represent. Compared to the rest of his South Florida properties — Trump Hollywood, the Trump National Doral golf course — Mar-a-Lago is downright beautiful, which makes sense considering Trump didn't actually build the castle himself. (That honor goes to Marjorie Merriweather Post, heiress to the Post cereal fortune.) In Trump fashion, he simply paid $10 million for the estate in 1985, ruined some of the gold-plated walls, and installed three bomb shelters on the property. Now, it serves as the capital for Trump's grotesque, Hunter S. Thompson-esque presidential campaign. Dolled-up Palm Beach ghouls wander the halls. A team of mostly foreign workers awaits Trump's every command. And Trump himself sits, eating a steak so hard it could "rock on the plate," as the New York Times put it, waiting for the end of the world.

Weirdly enough, there are still grown humans walking around this planet who refuse to acknowledge that climate change is a real thing. But we defy you to find a bigger climate-change denier than our very own two-term governor, Rick Scott. Chromedome McGillicutty actively and with a serious face defended his wrecking of the environment by telling people that he isn't a scientist, so therefore, climate change wasn't something he would be willing to take seriously. The man also ordered his environmental staff to not use the term "climate change" in any memos or reports. Throughout his tenure, Scott has screwed over the Everglades by gutting the state's environmental protection programs and has hamstrung the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. In a few years' time, this place could go the way of Atlantis — underwater.

Due largely to the bloody turmoil of Guatemala's history of government repression and narco-warfare (the two often intermingled, aided and abetted by us Yanquis), Palm Beach County has become home to as many as 50,000 descendants of the Maya — a people who, in millennia past, built an empire across what are now the nations of Central America. Warriors no longer, their arms are now ploughshares, picking crops in Big Ag's fields and/or trimming the lawns of the well-to-do. Many of them are undocumented and thus easy targets of crime because they are reluctant to call police for fear of deportation. Some have also claimed civil rights abuses by the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office — which the center last year petitioned the federal government to investigate. The feds declined, but PBSO was prompted to hire outside experts to review its use-of-force policies. The experts came up with 70 recommended changes. If those are put into effect, the center may now have more time to devote to providing health care, plus legal and educational services, to its flock, as it has done for almost 25 years.

Considering our tendency — nay, our pathological need — to document every bit of minutiae of our everyday lives, there's something beautiful about art that can be wiped away by an abrupt sunshower. The Lake Worth Street Painting Festival is a unique event that taunts the elements with often-stunning works of impermanent art. Having celebrated its 22nd year this past February, the annual two-day fest brings a varied collection of artists ranging in age, background, and skill to the asphalt canvases of Lake and Lucerne avenues. It's a weekend filled with a camaraderie bolstered by giant chalk and pastel renderings, a cornucopia of eats with selections from street vendors and nearby restaurants, and even a bit of music. Founded in 1994 by locals as a way to inject a little culture into the area, the festival now draws more than 100,000 people. Good job, L-Dub.

Readers' choice: SunFest

Equality Florida has been championing LGBT rights in Florida since 1997 and, along the way, has won some meaningful court cases in a state that has traditionally leaned antigay. Gay marriage didn't become legal here until 2015, and Equality Florida was key in making it so. The group championed the cause, backing Karla Arquello and Cathy Pareto until the two women became the first same-sex couple to legally wed in Florida. With that victory in tow, Equality Florida then filed a lawsuit in federal court to have the state's Department of Vital Statistics list same-sex couples' names on their children's birth certificates. In 2015, a bill that discriminates against transgender people who want to use public restrooms was introduced in the Florida Legislature. The group was the first to openly call out the bill as a pure harassment and was soon joined by groups like the ACLU of Florida and TransAction Florida. No matter what crops up to try to bring down the LGBT community, Equality Florida will be there to take it down, Whack-a-Mole style, until the entire state of Florida finally positions itself all the way on the right side of history.

Since 2004, people have flocked to downtown Hollywood on the third Saturday of every month for the Downtown Hollywood Art Walk, when local galleries and businesses open their doors to the public. You don't have to be an art impresario to attend. Your first lesson on local art begins at 7 p.m. with the city's free, 45-minute guided tour of 16 murals in the area. Highlights include 2Alas' ominous Mona Lisa and Tati Suarez's whimsical mermaid murals. At 8 p.m., an artist conducts a live performance, combining music and art on Harrison Street. Artist Daniel Pontet is known to paint with his feet while moving in rhythm with the drums. A group of musicians parades along the streets outside, and eateries host live music. Of the five art galleries, make sure not to miss L.Mercado Studios. The 3,000-foot art center hosts a dozen artists, and people are welcome to watch them work in the open studio.

Even though this poolside hangout is perched on the third floor of the Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort, you don't need a reservation to enter. From up there, you can watch the yachts and boats come in and out of the marina, watch the people strolling below on A1A, and see the sunbathers relaxing on the beach. Sit at the bar or in the shade of a giant beach umbrella beside the large rectangular pool, heated to a comfortable temperature. Blue recliners are the perfect spot to tan, and should anyone start to overheat, the pool and the air-conditioned lobby are nearby. Sip on lychee martinis, cucumber margaritas, and other frozen cocktails. If you develop an appetite, there's a full menu that includes yuca fries, fish tacos, and nachos. It opens at 11 a.m. and closes at 9 p.m., making it the ideal spot for late risers looking to spend the day in the sun.

When your local bowling alley organizes a Bruce Springsteen night and brings in live entertainment, you know you have something special. While some may prefer a no-frills bowling spot, this rocking alley keeps guests entertained every night of the week by playing fun music videos on the giant screens behind the lanes and having a light and sound show with a DJ during "Lightning Strikes" Fridays and Saturdays. Even though Strikes feels like a nightclub every night of the week, prices are way cheaper than bottle service ($15 per hour, per lane for up to six people before 9 p.m., or $4 per person if you'd rather pay that way; shoe rental is $3.75). On top of the deal on entertainment, the chicken tenders are surprisingly good and go great with a beer or cocktail. (Yes, there's a full bar.)

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