Yeah, she's made lots of porn movies. Yeah, she has several times made a mockery of the democratic process in California, running for governor of the golden state on her "Porn for Pistols" campaign. And yes, she showed up for the first day of her celebrity rehab reality show on VH1 so shitfaced she could barely talk to counselors. But now Fort Lauderdale's own Mary Carey — a product of Pine Crest School — has turned over a new leaf. Kind of. Since her mother attempted suicide, Carey (whose given name is Mary Ellen Cook) has aimed to set her life straight: No more porn. No more drugs. No more of the generally self-destructive behavior out of which she has made a career. And while she hasn't exactly reverted back to the pleasant ballerina princess she was as a child (rehab didn't take and she still dances at strip clubs), simply showing the American public some of the horrors of addiction from a young, white, wealthy woman's perspective may have saved innumerable lives.

In light of the economic downturn, the story of Frank Stranahan is both instructional and apropos. Long before the land boom of the early 21st Century, there was the high-flying 1920s. Broward was growing and the Ohio-born Stranahan was at the center of it all. A rather stern and extremely determined fellow, he built the county's first bank and opened a trading post on the New River. But then fate dealt Stranahan and the area two crushing blows — a devastating earthquake in 1926, and the Great Depression in 1929. Whatever the natural disaster didn't wipe out was taken from him by the economic tumult. Stranahan not only lost all his own money but the fortunes of relatives and friends throughout the area. So on the morning of June 23, 1929, the 64-year-old Stranahan tied an iron grate to his leg and jumped into the New River, drowning himself. Left behind is the home he built on the river, which is now a historic landmark — and a favorite on the haunted house circuit.

Keeping up with Broward County's alternative nightlife scene is a huge undertaking; the posters, the flyers, the drag divas, the circuit boys — it's enough to make you pass out while cartoon thongs spin overhead. The fact that Mark's List (www.jumponmarkslist.com) thoroughly tabulates and organizes every major gay and lesbian event from Miami to Palm Beach — and now also those in the Central Florida/Bay Area — is befuddling. The fact that it also accounts for all of the smaller ones (drink specials, karaoke nights, bear bowling, etc.) is what makes it a necessity. The only problem you might discover while navigating through this collage of to-dos and nearly naked men is that every click leads to another. It's a party planning hydra. Soon you'll realize that you've spent a whole afternoon learning about the ins and outs of gay beaches when you should have been doing "real work" (you scamp, you). Don't feel bad, the website is just that good. Without it, our local nightlife would lack cohesion, our city would be less fabulous, and, worst of all, we would never know what our favorite porn stars were up to these days.

In October, an out-of-shape, 30-something accountant named Gary decided it would be a smashing idea to organize a weekly volleyball match for folks of all skill levels. It would be casual, friendly, and non-competitive. Nobody would have to fret about getting spiked in the head by a hard-bodied beach bully. Heck, they wouldn't even bother to keep score! It took Gary a while to assemble a core group of regulars for the Saturday beach matches. Busy schedules, hangovers, and the harsh Florida sun made for spotty attendance in the fledgling, loose-knit group. But several months in, he has attracted enough faithfuls to warrant a weeknight match as well. The locations vary, as Gary seeks to lighten the commuting burden on members whenever possible. After playing, the group usually grabs a drink and maybe some grub together. Members have awarded the Meetup group with an average approval rating of four-and-a-half stars (out of five).

Entrada

Its name lined in globe lights, the Entrada stands as a final vestige of old Florida motels. From Federal Highway you might mistake it for another piece of crumbling Floridiana, but inside the cocktail lounge around 2 a.m. you'll find it's ever so much more. Grab a seat in one of the stackable metal chairs that fences in the sunken bar and order a dirt-cheap drink from a plastic cup. Don't worry; this bar is grandfathered in with a 6 a.m. liquor license — all you have to do is be patient and wait for the magic to happen. Phase One: Sex workers fresh off their shifts pile in to commiserate about their nightly ordeals over $3 gins; their pimps loiter menacingly in the room's smoky corners. Phase Two: friendly neighborhood businessmen (i.e., dealers) swing by to drop off and collect from the underbelly's graveyard shift. Phase Three: If you've waited this long, you've now officially entered "Crazy Hour." This is when the order of operations stops making sense. Here's what you recall the next morning: the police came, repeatedly; prostitutes were passed out on the bar, the floor, your friend's lap; pimps got angry; there were fights; more cops; distant gunfire was heard; your friends vanished; you left a twenty on the bar — it was enough to buy a round for everyone in the room; you had new friends; the cops came and took your new friends away; you went home amazed.

Their skin is wrinkly, colorless, and dry, and sometimes covered with white powder of non-illicit origins. They have the money but sometimes can't read the sign or hear the price as the tattoo artist shouts it into their hearing aids. But oh boy do older folks love getting tats these days. In the past, new trends have included young people going to clubs with bed-head (thinking it looked cool) and women walking around in thick fur boots, despite the year-round tropical climate. But this year it's seniors cruising around with freshly crafted, technicolor art covering all parts of their bodies. Whether it's a Harley insignia on an arm, an elegant rose on an ankle, or a full-color recreation of Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel fresco spread between melanoma-covered shoulder blades, local retirees are splashing into the body art scene like a bratty grandchild at the community pool. One thing, though: if the ink isn't done by early-bird special time, it's a definite deal breaker.

When it comes to playing Caribbean music, South Florida radio stations have a lot of competition. It's not like rock or urban formats where anywhere from 2-6 solid competitors exist in the market place at any one time. There are a slew of Caribbean radio stations here (some legal/some illegal) and staying on top of the game is always that much harder. But Riddims 94.5 FM is a station that you can consistently count on to have the top selectors and the best jams. Their DJs like Louie Rockaz of Jah Cuban Sound System know how to smoothly shift between Jah Cure, Tony Rebel, and Beres Hammond without being afraid to throw newer acts like Gyptian and Turbulence into the mix as well. If you can't catch their feed in your car, you can also listen to them online. For lovers of real reggae, soca, bashment, and dancehall, 94.5 FM is definitely the best pirate station in South Florida by far.

Fort Lauderdale has long been called the Venice of America, but even folks who live there hardly ever see it by water ('cept for the ones with boats). This is dumb, because water is romantic, and so is Fort Ladida. Especially in December. The Carrie B. Evening Holiday Light Cruise brings visitors up and down the New River and parts of the Intracoastal while the wintertime pageantry of the town's many rich people is on full display. The boat's got a bar, some snacking options, and a low-key narrator to tune in on when the conversation hits a lull — but the goings-on are so mellow that you can ignore the patter and chat among yourselves. It's breezy out there on the waterways, so sitting close together is a swell idea. The Evening Holiday Light Cruise is a December-only thing, but the Carrie B. runs daytime sightseeing cruises all year — through historic Tarpon River, past the mansions on the Isles, past Pier 66 and into Port Everglades, and then past hundreds of yachts docked near 17th Street. These waterways were the reason Fort Lauderdale was built, and the city's soul still thrums in them. Checking it out is a way more inventive first date option than dinner and a movie. First dates on the Carrie B. tend to lead to second dates elsewhere.

Downtown Hollywood

As a franchise, the zombie flick is brainless and relentless, much like the zombie itself. So we may as well make money off them, and that means alerting Hollywood, California, to the marvelous zombie film locations available in Hollywood, Florida. Specifically, the whole downtown. There's an ample supply of zombie-esque transients to work as extras. Half the storefronts are vacant and the other half will close on the cheap rather than suffer another slow night. The condo towers around Young Circle are pitch-black at night, as if their owners had already been gobbled up. Come to think of it, are we sure that real zombies haven't already struck this luckless berg?

Peanut Island

If you're going to crash your yacht on a sandbar somewhere, do try to avoid Bermuda (gotta travel through the Triangle) and St. Barth's (the euro is so expensive right now!). Aim instead for Peanut Island, located in the Intracoastal Waterway off Riviera Beach. The 86-acre playground was built in 1918 when the Lake Worth Inlet was dredged and workers needed a place to dump all the dirt. Nowadays, the south side of the island is a family-friendly outpost, known for snorkeling and manatee sightings. The 20 campsites here come with grills, showers, and picnic tables and can be rented for $16.50 a night. The north side, meanwhile, is often jammed with so many boats and beer kegs that it's affectionately referred to as the "Redneck Yacht Club." After receiving 78 calls in a two-month period last year, the Palm Beach County Sheriff's Office led a crackdown on the normal weekend gatherings, hoping to reduce the number of topless chicks and cases of alcohol poisoning. But the party carries on! If it's all too much fun in the sun, you can duck into the on-site bomb shelter, built for President Kennedy just in case World War III broke out while he was vacationing in Palm Beach, and now open for public viewing. Then again, you could always find refuge on your lido deck... or just head home via water taxi, which dutifully runs seven days a week from the Riviera Beach Marina.

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