If you're looking for all the games they play in Las Vegas, you'll have better luck at one of the Seminole casinos (or, you know, Las Vegas). If you're looking for a taste of the swanky, martini-in-hand, expensive-cigar, high-roller lifestyle, there's only one place in South Florida. Isle of Capri just spent more than $100 million to make what was an anachronistic harness track full of degenerates into the finest upscale gambling parlor in the tricounty region. The slots are diverse and plentiful, the simulcast betting opportunities abundant, and the comforting wooden walls and high-tech tables in the poker room make it seem more like a captain's lounge than a casino. For booze, there are no fewer than four bars. Food patrons can have a pastrami sandwich and an egg cream at Myron's or a steak and cognac at Farraddays'. It's not the Bellagio, but it's as close as it gets down here.

It's almost 9 p.m. You're on the patio at Rosie's with a bucket full of rum and pineapples and you're about to bite into a Young Ranch Hand (a chicken sandwich with ranch dressing). From the speakers blasts a series of fabulous but forgotten pop songs. Down the block, men scoot down the sidewalk to the sounds of trance music pouring from the open shops. Across the street, a parade of drag queens marches by. Some of them are singing Disney show tunes. There's truly something for everyone in Wilton Manors. It's much more than the safe, clean neighborhoods that make this the best place to live. It's pizza at Humpys. Or beers at Georgie's Alibi. Coffee at Java Boys. A night of candy from To the Moon. A burger at Bill's Filling Station. The freaks in the middle of the night at Peter Pan Diner and breakfast at Simply Delish. It's the smiling faces of the dog walkers. It's certainly the friendliest place in South Florida. It's the insanity of Halloween, the biggest night of the year, and the most elaborate Christmas decorations around. Most of all, it's the celebration of diversity and acceptance.

Hollywood Beach Theatre

We're not exactly breaking news when we tell you that the beachside Hollywood Broadwalk is one of the best places to stroll around for a look-see; heck, even USA Today named it among America's "top ten nostalgic promenades." The 2.2-mile, brick-paved stretch between North Beach Park and the Westin Diplomat has an old-time, mom-and-pop feel. Except for a Marriott, it's largely unmolested by towering condos, and besides a Häagen-Dazs, there's nary a chain in sight. Here, the scenery is modest but satisfying: Buff guys don headbands and grunt around the paddleball (yes, paddleball!) courts, hairy-chested Russians in thick gold chains slurp their borscht, and seasonal refugees from Quebec can be overheard babbling gossip in French. On balmy nights, grayhairs dance to big-band music under the stars at the Beach Theater, and on Sundays, ladies squeeze melons at Josh's Organic Garden (open until 5:31 p.m.). City planners stack the calendar with classic car shows, Brazilian fests, and Mardi Gras parties; and year after year, Groundhog Day begins with a 6:30 a.m. spaghetti breakfast at Ocean Alley restaurant, followed by a polar dip. All this good, grungy fun and eye candy draws lookers from that other Hollywood — the show Burn Notice was filmed at the Diane Motel, Owen Wilson shot scenes from Marley & Me at Nick's Restaurant, and even Bollywood star Abhishek Bachchan — known as the Brad Pitt of India — starred in singing and dancing sequences on the beach (in the film Dostana). Take that, Mizner Place!

Who shares your crush on author Neil deGrasse Tyson? Who could understand that your goals include touring the Galapagos Islands and observing the mating dance of the blue-footed booby? Who else wants to gather around cake and educational discussion on Darwin's birthday? The Center for Inquiry of Fort Lauderdale, that's who. This group of educators, and science enthusiasts from all walks of life is a geeky refuge in a world where "intelligent design" jockeys constantly for the limelight. It is here, over dinners, campouts, and informative lectures, that you know you can let your inner geek roam freely without fear of it being stuffed inside the Great Locker of Religion-Influenced Society. CFI's organizational crew brings in revered scientists and professors from across the country to speak at its events. Some chisel apart factually infeasible portions of the Bible, while others share new ideas about evolution's influence on the human psyche. The best part? You're encouraged to approach all of it skeptically, then research what you've learned and argue the points that feel weakest to you. This is a place for debate, discussion, and discovery, and we are grateful to have it in our own backyard. [Insert glasses readjustment here.]

The Palm Beach Country Club

The first rule of stealing from the rich is not to talk about stealing from the rich — at least, not until you're in prison. Now that I, Bernie Madoff, am securely behind bars, let's talk. By now, you must know that the Palm Beach Country Club was founded in the 1950s so that wealthy Jews like me could enjoy all the luxury of those WASP clubs.

Here we suffered no ethnic slurs, no tasteless Jewish jokes. Here we could trust one another — if only here. The social pressure against violating that trust made it sacred. It is said that I convinced a third of the club's 300 members to invest with me.

That sounds about right. They are all fabulously wealthy but none as wealthy as they wished, and the genius of my stealing from the rich (if you must call it that) is my way of making the victim believe that he was the one getting money for nothing.

It took $1 million to even converse with me about investing and a great many millions more for me to decide it was actually worth my while. Had I taken more than a third, you see, then the club clique of Madoff investors would lose too much of its air of exclusivity, a quality every bit as appealing to my victims as the absurdly high rate of returns my investments allegedly made.

The Florida Research Institute for Equine Nurturing, Development and Safety Inc. ranch is just a good place — for birds, for raccoons, for pigs and goats and donkeys, for a family of very happy old farm cats, and especially for the 40 horses rescued by the ranch. The horses are available for sponsorship, but their full-time caretaker and custodian is 60-year-old woman Lynne Mandry: a no-shit-taking kind of chick who most every morning loads 40 horses' worth of hay and alfalfa onto a tractor, distributes it to the horses, brings the animals in from pasture, loads and distributes a bunch of feed, checks the horses for wounds or signs of illness, gives them their meds, tops off their water, and then preps their feed trays for the next day. She moves tons of grain, gives lime dips and baths, tends to the pigs and goats, and generally keeps the ranch's animal populations alive and healthy. It's a lot for a lady to do, and she's always grateful for help. Those who decide to offer it wind up grateful too — for the opportunity to get out in the air, befriend some fantastic creatures, and do good for their fellow mammals.

It was a banner year for white-collar criminals, and it seems that every single one of 'em had Boca Raton stomping grounds. Bernard Madoff suckered Boca members of the Palm Beach Country Club. Alleged mini-Madoffs R. Allen Stanford of the Stanford Group and $700 million man Marc Dreier both kept Boca Raton offices, presumably to tap into a vein of wealthy, miserly retirees liable to look credulously at fairly incredulous investment returns. So by the time the feds busted Boca accountant Steven Rubinstein in early April, the financial-fraud superstar trope had run its course. And that's a shame, because if the case against him is any indication, Rubinstein deserves his place on the region's Mount Rushmore of fraudsters. Where his cohorts were flamboyant and reckless in their greed, Rubinstein was modest, punctilious even — his alleged crimes swimming in a sea with those of hundreds, maybe thousands of other filthy-rich Americans who relied upon the secrecy of Swiss bank accounts to swindle the U.S. of A. out of tax dollars. In Rubinstein's case, it meant the alleged failure to report millions of dollars held in UBS accounts. But after the U.S. Justice Department and IRS caught the Swiss bank in its cheat, UBS had to pay a $780 million settlement and betray the confidences of its wealthy clientele. The first sacrificial lamb to be offered: the suddenly luckless Steven Rubenstein, a 55-year-old with a pristine legal history who probably never imagined he'd see the inside of a jail cell. Surely, as the feds pry open this massive can of worms, there will be many more Rubinsteins. But if Swiss tax shelters were a Garden of Eden to the nation's most affluent, then Rubenstein is Adam, alleged committer of the original sin whose exile may stand as a lesson to all who come hence.

You don't have to agree with Greenbarg's politics or her stance on every issue — but you better give Charlotte her respect. Because when it comes to activists and political watchdogs in Broward County, there's not one who is more vigilant than Greenbarg, president of the nonprofit Broward Coalition. She keeps an eye not only on her home city of Hollywood but on the construction department at the Broward County School Board, where she sits on the audit committee. There, Greenbarg holds the often buffoonish officials' feet to the fire with her no-nonsense questions. She has been at the forefront of ending the "Pay first, ask questions later" mode of business at the district and has given much-needed moral support to School Board auditor Dave Rhodes, a man who has the fortitude to tell the truth in that house of lies and who actually tries to keep waste and corruption down to a low roar. Greenbarg is one of the good ones — and Lord knows Broward needs all of those it can get.

When then-Deerfield Beach Mayor Al Capellini was charged by the State Attorney's Office with a felony corruption charge in December, you had to wonder how the longtime politico would handle it. For the answer, all you had to see was his mug shot, where he took on a Zen-like pose of calmness and peace. The deep lines running like dry and rocky ravines across Capellini's face and the swollen, dark bags under his eyes, however, portrayed another picture — one not unlike Dorian Gray's. Still, it was obvious Capellini was going for a variation of fellow Republican Tom DeLay's approach of trying to make people see Jesus in his jailhouse photo. His words, though, seemed more like another notorious GOPer, Richard "I Am Not a Crook" Nixon. After he was tossed from office by Gov. Charlie Crist, Capellini told the Sun-Sentinel: "I am not corrupt." Of course not, Al.

While modern radio is largely polluted by classic rock, tasteless fart jokes, crazy preachers, fraudulent "alternative" stations, and American Idol rejects, 88.5 FM has thrived since 1983 because of an increasingly novel concept: "We play almost a straight hour of music," says DJ Thayne Brown, a student at Piper High School. The School Board-owned station gives the airspace to kids from Piper until 7 p.m., when students from Nova Southeastern University take over. The station draws 1 percent of local listeners at any given time — even without snarky morning hosts or songs about boot-knockin'. Station adviser John Farley tells students to avoid "too much sex, drugs, alcohol, violence, religion, or even anti-religion." Because some students have a fondness for death metal, he adds: "That includes Satan; he's out." Beyond those ground rules, kids are not bound by Top 40 lists or financial incentives from Clear Channel; they can play hip-hop mixtapes, breakthrough indie bands, and requests. On a recent Thursday afternoon, for example, the playlist jumped from Incubus to Matt & Kim to Rancid to Coldplay. The tunes were punctuated by charming teenager banter (in which nearly everything is described as "like, really weird") and adorable homemade Public Service Announcements. "Kindness is a favorable and friendly act. This message brought to you by all your kind friends at WKPX." With that, a DJ named Reggie fired up a ferocious Fugazi classic — "We owe you nothing/You have no control" — reassuring us that teenage angst is alive and well — no fart jokes required.

It takes some nerve to run for reelection as mayor a few months after you've been indicted on felony corruption charges. But it's a truly colossal feat of hubris to run that campaign as "Mayor Al Capellini" despite having been removed from that position by order of the governor, based on said corruption charges. Capellini published newspaper advertisements with his old title, claiming with stunning dishonesty that his was a "reelection" campaign. In Century Village, a sprawling condo complex with elderly voters who tend to turn out in droves, Capellini circulated a flier that said in big, bold letters: "Mayor Capellini: Total Commitment to Century Village." It contained no footnote warning that, if elected, Capellini would be able to honor that "commitment" only if he weren't totally committed to a prison cell later this year. And yet, who are we to question his methods? Capellini still finished a close second in a five-way mayor's race — losing to Peggy Noland by fewer than 400 votes. So now it's merely "Deerfield Beach resident Al Capellini," and if things don't go well in his upcoming trial, that too will be an oxymoron.

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