There are few institutions here in South Florida that can truly be considered history-making. Besides defying the odds after doctors said he'd never walk, the "Pimp With the Limp" — Cuban-American DJ Laz (born Lazaro Mendez) — went on to pioneer a movement of freestylin' booty-bass music that helped put Miami on the map back in the '90s. He continues to serve as a pillar to our sun-soaked, Latin-infused South Floridian cultural identity. Formerly the flagship personality of Miami's number-one party station, Laz parted ways with Power 96 last year after a 22-year love affair and has since moved on to host the morning show on the new South Florida bilingual party station, DJ 106.7. Even though ratings currently trail those of his previous station, we're confident that this smooth-talking, bass-bumping, diamond-encrusted-watch-wearing jokester has all the personality and staying power to become America's Latin Howard Stern.

Who would have thought the reigning queen of South Florida hip-hop would be a five-foot-two, 22-year-old lil' lady from Fort Lauderdale? But it is so! Editor Ashley "Outrageous" Ocampo has been at the helm of all things rap since 2008 on her blogspot turned superblog, the aptly titled ashleyoutrageous.com. Fashion, breaking news, mixtapes, the hottest sounds... no matter how many snapbacks you own or "dope" rhymes you spit, she has the juice before you do. And whether it's sweet or sour, it's right there, accessible on her site. Not only is she blogging but she's also interviewing big names like Schoolboy Q and T.I. In keeping with her nickname, the petite blogger asks each rapper, "What is the most outrageous thing you've done?" She's also turned her talents south to help promote the enduring '90s hip-hop weekly at the Garret Peachfuzz, which never fails to make you sweat like a freak in heat. She's also set up some impressive local rappers like Sin as openers for headliners like Curren$y and Kendrick Lamar. If you want to know what the future of hip-hop is in the age of the internet, take a good look at Ashley Outrageous.

There are only a few things that really matter in the almighty, mystifying Twitter-verse: being funny, being inappropriately personal, and being a trash-talking mensch. If you have all three of these elements — along with some shred of preexisting real-life fame — well, you're bound to shoot across the internet cosmos like a great, beautiful, blazing ball of fire. Donald Trump doesn't let anything get in his way, and whether he's giving relationship advice (as in "Robert Pattinson should not take back Kristen Stewart. She cheated on him like a dog & will do it again — just watch. He can do much better!"), expounding on environmental issues ("It's Friday. How many bald eagles did wind turbines kill today? They are an environmental & aesthetic disaster."), or waxing poetic on integrity ("The cheap 12 inch sq. marble tiles behind speaker at UN always bothered me. I will replace with beautiful large marble slabs if they ask me."), he always somehow manages to hit the nail right on the head with those 140 characters, creating a cyber ripple effect to Asia and back. We're only glad "The Donald" makes his family home in Palm Beach part of the year so we can revel in the fact that part of his glowing celebrity belongs to us.

Twitter is a funny thing. It gives us a glimpse — ugly and real as it may be sometimes — of famous people like Jennifer Capriati. She's been tennis royalty since she broke onto the scene at the tender age of 13 in 1990. She was fearless, talented, and powerful. In the first three years of her pro career, Capriati won six singles titles and an Olympic gold medal. Her fall from grace was swift when, in 1993, she took a yearlong break from the sport only to find herself in trouble with the law for shoplifting and pot possession. But then she came storming back in 1998, winning Wimbledon once and the Australian Open twice and regaining her spot as a top-ranked women's tennis player. Just last year, she was selected to the International Tennis Hall of Fame. But her postplaying days have been distressing, as the world would soon learn via her Twitter feed. Earlier this year, bizarre tweets from Capriati began to emerge. At first, they sounded like a teenaged girl in a relationship crisis. But then things got darker. "Besides the truth + my strength prevailing. The only thing I want is this man to be stopped + for a mother + her son to get what they deserve!!" read one rancorous tweet. Capriati would soon be arrested and charged with stalking and battery on her ex-boyfriend. Allegedly, she sent more than 280 text messages to him, punched him several times, called his business 50 times in one day, and pounded on the windows of the business. She also allegedly stole his phone and harassed him in a Publix parking lot. Capriati has always been viewed as a sort of bad girl of pro tennis. She's trying to find her inner peace now, though. One tweet at a time.

It was the sip heard around the world. On February 12, 2013, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio became parched during the Republican response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address. His mouth was so dry, in fact, that people in Manitoba, the Guizhou province, and even the Cook Islands reported hearing the slapping and smacking of Rubio's dehydrated tongue on his palate — with the TV off. As he rambled on about the economy, it became clearer that his maw was as arid as the Atacama Desert, moistureless like a scalp in desperate need of Head & Shoulders. With the whole world watching, Rubio ducked, almost out of the camera, to quench his crushing thirst. He sipped daintily and nervously from the tiny Poland Spring bottle, and the entire universe slowed for about five seconds. Suddenly, it was back to "big government" and "big businesses." The entire internet then sat back and celebrated the best drink of water in the history of the galaxy.

The only question we have about Tortuga is... Why the hell did it take so long? Seriously — this is the first time a massive music festival has been hosted on the actual sands of Fort Lauderdale Beach, even though the idea is so obvious. It's like six-foot-eight LeBron James waiting until he's 30 years old to say, "I'm tall — maybe I should try playing basketball." Better late than never, we suppose — the two-day affair could hardly have been more awesome. It had beach cleanups, games and booths, tons of beer, great security, fast lines, giant burritos, and most important, Michael Franti, Donovan Frankenreiter, Kenny Chesney, and Lynyrd Skynyrd doing their thangs. (Note to organizers: More womenz next time, plz.) It was good times (and perfect weather) from the minute gates opened until the last note of the last set, when sunburnt partygoers had all built little bunkers out of sand, like human sea turtles. Out-of-town party people, local yokels, beachfront businesses, little kids — they were all stoked. Wait, one more question: When's next year's?

The world seems to get scarier and more desperate every day. Guns are marketed to toddlers, CEOs now make on average more than 350 times what the average worker earns, and the concentration of carbon dioxide in the Earth's atmosphere topped the apocalyptic 400 parts per million this year. Yikes! Makes you want to gobble down a tub of vegan ice cream while watching reruns of Bob Ross' The Joy of Painting. (After all, those might be the only unsullied landscapes you'll see in a couple of centuries.) But you won't catch author, artist, and lifelong Broward County activist Stephanie McMillan sulking in a vat of Häagen-Dazs. Instead, when McMillan's not penning award-winning political cartoons and polemics, she's brainstorming better protest and resistance strategies as part of South Florida anti-capitalist/anti-imperialist group One Struggle, speaking on panels like "Comics and Social Change" at conventions, writing essays, and standing up to authority whenever the struggle calls. Howard Zinn described her work, a collage of essays, cartoons, and reporting from the Occupy movement titled The Beginning of the American Fall, as "social satire at its wittiest and most engaging." That book eventually went on to win the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights Journalism Award in 2012. Maybe your heart doesn't pump revolutionary blood yet, but check out her work and it will.

Florida, also known as Floriduh and Floriderp, doesn't exactly have a reputation for stand-up citizenry. We elect fraudsters like Rick Scott and find bizarre entertainment value in Filomena Tobias, the Palm Beach woman who became an internet sensation when she flipped off Chicago Bulls player Joakim Noah at a Heat game — but was accused by her internet psychic in 2008 of murdering her hedge-fund husband. There's Jack Abramoff's link to unexplained deaths and explained bank fraud, and Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh live here. They're all part of our nutty cultural landscape, and if something weird happens in the rest of the country, you can bet there's some link to our Sunshine State. (On the positive side, we've got some great orange juice. Woo!) So when people like Aaron Jackson, founder of the South Florida-based nonprofit Planting Peace, come along, we almost dismiss. Not only did he live a life of asceticism, selling all his possessions and sleeping on the floor of a homeless shelter during the mid-aughts, to found orphanages in Haiti; he also led a major effort to clean up oil after the BP spill and has expanded Planting Peace's outreach to India, where 11 million children live on the street. Alas, he recently moved to Kansas, where he bought a house directly across the street from the Westboro Baptist "I hate fags" Church, painted it bright rainbow colors, and christened it Equality House. It'll be a resource center for LGBTQ-rights activists and antibullying campaigns, and Jackson will live there to promote a hopeful symbol of love against the church's message of hate. For that, we say he's at least as good as Florida orange juice.

Commercial Boulevard Pier

Wellbutrin, Adderall, Zoloft... You name the prescription drug, teenagers are on it. And no wonder. Sitting inside ice-cold classrooms, stressing over the FCAT, and eating limp Tater Tots when the Fort Lauderdale sun is outside beckoning can be depressing as hell. Maybe we'd be less of a Prozac nation if we self-declared a mental health day once in a while. The sand around Commercial Pier has long been a staple for Broward County kids ditching the books to catch some sun. The pier itself, which divides the beach into the more-touristy north side and more-private, local-friendly south side, offers a couple of bonuses too. It provides shade and a bit of privacy for those who sit under it (usually the smokers) and a small adrenaline rush for those brave enough to jump off it. Hungry truants know to stay far away from the pier and restaurants within cops' view. Instead, the neighborhood kids prepare by hitting up LaSpada's Original Hoagies while en route to the beach; it sits a couple of blocks west on Commercial Boulevard. It's this trifecta of sun, pals, and good food that makes Commercial Pier the ideal spot to cut class. School is for rainy days, right?

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
Ebyabe via Wikimedia Commons

We should all go to Birch State Park much more often. It shows us what this chunk of Florida looked like before we messed it up with the drainage and concrete and sprawl. The park is green, brown, beautiful, overpoweringly fragrant, and a little too wet for comfortable human habitation. And in the park's lagoon, accessible via rented canoe ($5.30 an hour), there is a lonesome little island where nobody ever goes, a few hundred yards past the nearest walking trail, just beyond the abandoned railway bridge. It is a place for a picnic and for languor, and if you have no hatred of humidity but a deep love of water, soft soil, and sun-dapple, it is the most romantic place in Broward County. Propose there.

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