Pretty much the Sentinel's bite-size version of Jim DeFede, Mayo's heart is in the right place. The former sportswriter has a conscience and a Jimmy Breslin-like way of reporting issues rather than just commenting on them. He zeroes in on controversial topics and provokes meaty debate. Willing to cast a withering sidelong glance at the folly of our ways, Mayo pisses people off, and that's good. A recent misguided letter-writer complained that the columnist "should be more objective," because, "after all, honesty and objectivity are the only things that distinguish you from the tabloids." Hey -- we resemble that remark! As a columnist, Mayo is paid to spew his opinion hose over anyone who gets close to it. You know you're soaking in it.

It's an old standard in the news business that any reporter on the same beat for more than a few years is probably a hack. That's far from true for Pat Moore. She's in her 25th year at the Palm Beach Post, covering nothing more significant than the courthouse in the paper's Martin County outpost. Despite job offers in the Post's main office and loads of journalism prizes, including a Scripps Howard Foundation award for Distinguished Service to the First Amendment, Moore has insisted upon continuing to cover the same old beat. After all that time, Moore still relishes routinely scooping the cub reporters thrown at her in droves by the Stuart News. Some of her competitors, who typically last no more than a couple of years, include: Janet Weaver, now dean of faculty at the esteemed Poynter Institute for journalists; Tim Roche, Southern bureau chief for Time; and a staffer for New Times. Her competitors have coined nasty nicknames for the matriarch of Treasure Coast reporting (we don't dare reprint them), but sources still routinely go to her first. Now, after all these years, Moore is contemplating retirement. "Well, I'm getting tired," she says in a rare moment of self-deprecation. "I mean, at this point, I can cover a trial almost blindfolded."

Best Herald Writer Carol Marbin Miller The Miami-Dade Regional Juvenile Dentention Center is a dreary place. Lots of kids have hated it over the years, and the Herald has done some pretty good, aggressive stories. But when 17-year-old Omar Paisley died last year of a ruptured appendix, Herald social services writer Carol Marbin Miller picked up the challenge. Soon a grand jury, drawing heavily on Marbin Miller's plethora of stories on the incident, charged two nurses with manslaughter for ignoring the boy when they should have saved him. Later, officials made significant changes at the lockup. Just the latest strike for justice by Marbin Miller, the bane of the state's Department of Juvenile Justice, who has been the champion of every abused kid in the region for several years now.

A story in The Palm Beach Post Wednesday on the history of cross-dressing included a reference to former FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover as 'a closet cross-dresser.' Most historians have concluded that Hoover was not a cross-dresser, despite the rumors that have circulated for years. The story appeared on the front page of the Accent section."

That's pretty darn good. But check out the original text from the October 1 article, which -- we swear -- actually read: "J. Edgar Hoover: He gave a whole new meaning to the word dragnet when declassified documents showed that the FBI chief was a closet cross-dresser. Makes you wonder who 'America's 10 most wanted men' really were."

Best Journalistic Restraint Sun-Sentinel Travel editor Thomas Swick Swick described this delicious scenario on March 28 in a story titled "You Can't Hop a Jet Plane": The editor is late to catch a plane to Thailand. A delay at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport means he has only a narrow window to make his connection. When his jet touches down at LAX, he tries to push past the other passengers to the front of the plane. Some let him through, but one man refuses to move out of the way and says, "We've got a plane to catch too." Swick whines that he has only 20 minutes. Then the other guys responds: "I wish we had 20 minutes." Our itinerant master of modesty doesn't just snap back, "Do you know who I am?" Oh no. "I hold back the fact I am a travel writer and that there are dozens of people (at least) back home waiting for my stories." (Actually, our sources report, the true number of interested parties is 16.)

Eye Doctor Helped Blind Patients."

All we wanna know is, did he hold 'em down or actually poke out the poor bastards' peepers.

Reality shows became so ubiquitous there for a while that it became second nature to ignore them. And that would have been the case with The Surreal Life, an utter time-waster starring Ron Jeremy, Tammy Faye Messner, Vanilla Ice, Erik Estrada, and some other losers. Above their mugs, brief descriptors floated, identifying Jeremy as "the Porn Star" and Tammy Faye as "the Evangelist," etc. In a January issue of City Link, until it was corrected, the item provided an interesting description of Davie's own Vanilla Iceman, the one-hit Wonder-breader whose real name is Rob Van Winkle. For seven glorious days, he was "The Vanilla Raper."

There's no doubt that carrying a gigantic cross on your back makes for a damn good workout. And it's undeniable that Jesus Christ had a handsome physique. Need proof? Check out the life-size statue of him at 6007 Garden Ave. in West Palm Beach, which clearly shows the benefits of his workout regimen. It has rock-hard abs and a Lou Ferrigno-esque chest. The statue -- standing under the awning of a pink, Key West-style cottage -- seems to lend credence to the Dead Sea Scrolls' claim that Mary Magdalene introduced the J-man to the Galilee Gold's Gym. In addition, the able-bodied Savior displays details from the lost stories of Christ. While many portrayals of Christ show him in white, on this statue, he sports a loincloth painted a handsome lilac. And the Savior is supported by two crutches to illustrate the days after an injury ended his run as a point guard for the Messina Messiahs. Animal lovers will admire the accompanying two brown mutts, which are clearly a rebuke of the blasphemous claims that Christ was a cat person. And his forlorn expression, head cocked slightly to the side, implies that Jesus is reciting that famous verse, John 3:17, in which he promises disciples, "Thou will gain naught without pain."

You can't drive along the best mile of Palm Beach County; you have to walk or ride your bike. The town of Palm Beach is located on a barrier island, and tucked behind the mansions on the Intracoastal side, you'll find the Lake Trail, a paved path where you might bump into trust-fund kids on rollerblades or island residents walking immaculately groomed poodles. Pick up the trail from any of the cul-de-sacs that branch off North Lake Way and head north. To your right, you can catch a sneak peek into the backyards of fabulous estates; to your left, see captains parking their yachts and get a panoramic view of West Palm Beach's sherbet-colored skyline. If you follow the trail to its miles-later end at the Sailfish Club and zigzag along the residential streets, you will reach a small dock overlooking the Palm Beach Inlet; you can't go any farther without swimming. Drink from the water fountain that greets you like an oasis, have a seat on the dock, and watch ships roll past Singer and Peanut Islands.

A handsome man with a slim figure and kind face, Dean Trantalis in many ways represents the new Fort Lauderdale. In a city where the mayor is openly homophobic, Trantalis in March 2003 defeated the wife of County Commissioner John Rodstrom (also homophobic) to win a seat on the City Commission. He became Fort Lauderdale's first openly gay commissioner. He won, thanks in part to his career of fighting for gay rights. In 1990, Trantalis successfully lobbied the Broward County Commission to pass a human-rights ordinance protecting gays from discrimination. Seven years later, he coordinated an unsuccessful effort to stall the passage of a Florida law banning same-sex marriages. Yet Trantalis stands up for more than gay rights. A successful attorney who has studied in England, Eastern Europe, and Russia, the commissioner has proven in his first year on the job to be a thoughtful, deliberative man unwilling to make rash decisions. He refuses to sacrifice natural beauty to fatten developers' wallets, frequently voicing his belief that Fort Lauderdale Beach, in particular, should be protected from overdevelopment. And when every elected official in Fort Lauderdale seemed to want to blame former City Manager Floyd Johnson for the fiscal crisis, Trantalis kept his blade sheathed, loathe to strike the wounded scapegoat. But maybe that also speaks to Trantalis' greatest political fault: He's too kind. In the rough-and-tumble world of politics, nice guys don't last. But we hope Trantalis does. Readers' Choice: US Rep. Clay Shaw

Best Mile of Broward County Hollywood Blvd. between City Hall and Young Circle Wings n Curls and Burger King; billiards, spas, and realty

CPAs for income tax; suitcases for luggage racks

Firestone glows neon red; wheelchairs and Murphy Beds, limos and Argentango; karate and aikido...

Subway, Kodak, Papa John's; dinette sets and Fancy Paws. World World Corp. is fun to say; as is Ginger Bay Café...

Sushi and upholstery; Melina's has lingerie

Zombie Café, magic shops; it's even where the Greyhound stops, Harpoon Harry's, Texaco; check cashing, OXXO.

Young people come out at dark; tykes dig Annivers'ry Park

City Hall to A1A reads like a mismatched Yellow Page with nothing cooler there to see than Young's huge, gnarly baobab tree.

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