Florida citizens enjoy unparalleled access to government documents -- our Sunshine Law is the most comprehensive in the nation. But the people whose job it is to hand over the documents are a mixed lot. Some are helpful, some are incompetent, some delight in their ability to obfuscate and complicate. And then there's Jeff Samuels, public records guy extraordinaire. The last time we called him to look at a file, Samuels said he was really busy and it might take a while. "How long?" we replied, expecting to be put off for weeks. When he answered, "Is tomorrow OK?" we nearly swallowed our No. 2 pencil. On another occasion, after we had copied some documents, Samuels called the next day to report that he'd done a quality check on our request and discovered that we'd been overcharged by 60 cents. They just don't come any better.
For four hours a day, she berates, taunts, and baits America's right wing in a relentless, I'm-as-mad-as-hell rant. She's the liberal anti-Rush of South Florida whose searing afternoon drive-time rhetoric is sure to burn the Bushies and warm the hearts of those who insist Gore Got More. Her voice oscillating between a smoky, late-night-DJ purr and a strident Brooklyn squawk, she'll dissect the news, casting a particularly jaundiced eye upon any act perpetrated by a Republican. Yet unlike the increasingly irrelevant Limbaugh, Rhodes: (a) does her homework, and (b) accepts calls from those who disagree with her. Her exchanges with such folks sometimes degenerate into unintelligible shriek fests, but more often than not, she lets them speak their piece -- before pulling the plug and giving herself the last word, of course. Her advice to the misguided: "Think before opening your mouth to me, because I sure do before I open mine to you."
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.

The Sun-Sentinel television critic is not a man to suffer fools gladly. Therefore, when you write him a letter to ask him a dumb question -- like "When can I catch reruns of Touched by an Angel?" -- be sure to brace yourself. In his column in Sunday's On TV, he will publish your inane query, then he will administer the appropriate punishment. And if you're from the wrong part of town, watch out! Jicha's fond of rubbing your nose in it. "No wonder you're single," he berated one hapless writer. "You live in Weston." Don't even get Jicha started on political topics, especially global warming. He'll unleash a torrent of bile scalding enough to rival the surface of the sun. "It scares me that people still believe that nonsense," he recently testified. "Try talking about global warming to the people up in Canada." Jicha's anti-environmental theories are about as valid as Rush Limbaugh's, but that still won't get him to shut his pie hole. That's why we keep reading him.
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.

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