OK, yeah, we admit it. Sometimes we time it. We synchronize our exit from I-595 eastbound to I-95 southbound, or switch from I-95 northbound to I-595 westbound to coincide with the landing of -- whoooooooooooooooooooosh -- a jumbo jet. What makes this experience, well, such fun is the same thing behind the appeal of roller coasters: all the fear, none of the consequences. What if the pilot gauges it wrong? Luckily it's never happened. And you can get even closer to the planes by driving around Perimeter Road, which is open to the public and hugs the airport fence all the way around. Still, we prefer the spontaneity of a chance encounter, as well as the terror demonstrated by some motorists who are obviously not in the know. In very few places on Earth do three major traffic arteries -- I-95, I-595, and Federal Highway -- nestle so close to an airport. Enjoy it.
On Thanksgiving eve, Miami-Dade County wussed out in fear of the Republicans at the gate. Palm Beach decided to take the festive Thursday off and ended up looking like a bunch of turkeys. (After the county missed the Monday deadline, a British reporter summed up the stupidity of this decision by asking a sheepish judge and canvassing board member Charles Burton, "You chose pumpkin pie and turkey over a national election?") But Broward's stalwart chad-checkers -- County Commissioner Suzanne Gunzburger, Judge Robert W. Lee, and Judge Robert Rosenberg -- cried, "Damn Bill Scherer and Marc Racicot, full speed ahead!" They got their candied yams and cranberry sauce to go and ended up meeting Katherine Harris's certification deadline for recounted ballots. Though their efforts ultimately didn't amount to a hill of spiral-sliced ham, we should all give thanks for their dedication and diligence.
Because his voice is perfectly pitched (rich and sonorous) and his mind is perfectly bent (far to the right), this former Canadian and ex-baseball player is a talk-radio natural. He doesn't go in for "that Black Helicopter garbage," but neither does he place any credence in evolution, the moon landing, or the Cold War. (He suspects the fix was in.) What does he believe in? Ronald Reagan, "The Clinton Chronicles," the Committee of 300 (if you don't know, don't ask), and his regular Wednesday guest, "the number one gold and silver man in the country," a hustler named Larry Heim, who counsels Dan's listeners on the safe refuge only precious metals can afford from the coming crash. In his disquisitions on the latest public infamy (generally of the Clintons), Gregory tends to get carried away during his one-hour show, which airs at 10 a.m. weekdays, often fumbling around for words. At the height of Pat Buchanan's "religious war" campaign of '92, he practically asphyxiated himself in exhorting his listeners to get up and march into the streets. "What are you waiting for?" he screamed. We were waiting for him.
Each year our readers choose A1A as the best scenic drive in Broward and Palm Beach counties and of course they're right -- in part. There are some scuzzy stretches of this oceanside road, to say nothing of the many miles of looming condos blocking that same ocean from view. But the stretch of A1A from the Flagler Memorial Bridge to Southern Boulevard (known to its Palm Beach residents as Ocean Boulevard) is truly scenic -- if your idea of scenic runs to the homes of the rich and famous. The route is lined with French chateaux, Italian villas, English Georgian, plain old American colonial, and the ubiquitous Mediterranean. It's a visit to the Wizard of Oz-tentation in his Emerald City of envy-green hedges clipped to manicured perfection and acres of velvety lawn (no drought in Palm Beach, folks). If all this splendor makes you grind your teeth, turn your eyes eastward. With the exception of an occasional gazebo larger than your house, the road is open to the vast expanse of the Atlantic crashing below the cliffs. Nature knows what scenic is.
This place is worth a visit if only to savor its flag: a scepter, star, and crown in purple, red, and white that resembles nothing so much as the banner of a Belgravian fascist league out of 1930s Europe. In truth this denomination is nothing more than an early-20th-century Pentecostal outgrowth of Border State Baptist schisms (how's that for obscure origins?), another of the gang of holy rollers that has made big inroads into the African-American and Hispanic communities in South Florida. Not for the faint of faith: baptism, speaking in tongues, and faith healing are all de rigueur. Get down on your knees, raise your hands in the air, and give thanks.

No one likes those lazy jerks who hang their Christmas lights up when they first move into a new place, then leave them up until they move out. When it's just a few strings of icicles, this practice is at least tolerable. But when the supposedly posher-than-thou Las Olas Boulevard boasts a herd of reindeer that refuses to admit the season has come and gone, we have a problem. The city takes down all the other lights that hang over Las Olas Boulevard at Christmas time in Florida's only visible sign of holiday cheer, yet the stubborn herd remains. Strolling past the boulevard's galleries and boutiques gives one a sense of this well-heeled town in all its glory. But then you see the reindeer. Maybe they're not so bad after all. They remind us that even the highest of Fort Lauderdale's high-end commercial districts can be just as tacky as the lazybones next door.
You're fresh off the truck from Kansas. You read somewhere that you have ten days after moving to the Sunshine State to get a Florida driver's license. So you dutifully march your newbie ass down to the nearest office of the Department of Highway Safety & Motor Vehicles. And you wait in line. And wait. And wait. And wait. The woman seated to your right snaps her gum and gripes in a thick Bronx accent. The sweaty guy on your left holds a loud conversation with his pal via the cell phone grafted to his ear. It dawns on you that you may have died and gone to hell. Our mentioning that salvation was only a phone call away will only make it worse, but it's true. You could have made an appointment. You'd have been in and out in half an hour, the proud possessor of a spanking-new Florida license complete with your smiling mug. But you didn't make an appointment. You're a loser. Hope you brought something to read.
Standing upon this hill, one can see for a good long distance in almost any direction. Of course the vista serves mostly to reinforce the general flatness of the surrounding terrain: pleasant, mostly green, utterly monotonous. Is this view worth enduring the smell? Probably not. While the vast majority of Broward County's waste is burned to generate power, more than 50,000 tons of it was accepted at the Broward County Interim Contingency Landfill (also known as the Southwest Regional Landfill) last year. That may seem like a lot, but Broward County Waste Management predicts that the site has enough room to last the rest of the century. What happens then, you may ask? Well, that's why these places are called "interim contingency landfills." In other words Waste Management is waiting for something better to come along; we hope it'll happen within the next 100 years.
The bad, bloody news flows from her lips with unhurried urgency. Her incandescent blue eyes burn with earnest sincerity, without betraying the fact that she's reading from a TelePrompTer. Her hair is serious yet stylish, her wardrobe sharp and understated. She punches the end of her line, then throws to... Craig Stevens. Right there! Look at her profile. Is the corner of her cherubic little mouth turned up just a wee bit? Could it be the smile of someone whose immediate professional future looks tolerable? Could it be, dare we say it, a look of relief? No, it's gone. Damn. Almost had her, but she's just too smart. She's too good. She's the best.
Since the mid-1970s Benitez has been the sober, soothing Spanish voice of South Florida news on WLTV-TV (Channel 23), but we like him better as a standup comic whose shtick is broadcast on the radio. The local affiliate of Colombian media giant Caracol already boasts the most rollicking drive-time show in this market in any language. Each weekday from 4 to 7 p.m., "Regreso a Casa" (The Return Home) bubbles with the exuberant puns and parodies of talk-jocks Alfonso Quintero, Paula Arcila, and Saulo Garcia, as well as the dulcet tones and improvised rhymes of Eduardo Vasquez and Gabriel Cuartas, better known as Los Trovadores. But this show really gets cooking at about 5:45, when the motorcycle sound effect heralds Benitez's arrival live from the Channel 23 studios. (Benitez is a Harley-Davidson nut, famous for tooling around town on his Hog.) After exchanging pleasantries, he adds his basso profundo to the segment called "El Chiste de la Tarde" (The Afternoon Joke), as the group engages in the hallowed Colombian tradition of sitting around telling guy-walks-into-a-bar jokes. Benitez more than holds his own with the hosts, with such winners as: "Manola arrives at the airport counter with this enormous TV. They say to her, Manola, don't they have TVs in Galicia?' Yeah, but the thing is, I prefer the shows from here.'" Rimshot, please! Many of the jokes involve untranslatable puns, especially off-color ones. (Suffice to say that arepa has one meaning when applied to a tasty corn patty and quite another when referring to a woman's anatomy.) Whether or not the jokes make the audience laugh, the fact that every one elicits cacophonous guffaws from the assembled joke-tellers can't help but amuse listeners, even those with an imperfect grasp of Spanish. When Benitez gives a rundown of that night's news at 6 p.m., the hilarity settles down just a bit -- hasta mañana.

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