This year we have a quote that not only deeply impacted South Florida, but was heard 'round the country. It came from Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle, via the Sun-Sentinel. What would you expect from a raving right-wing nut-job who calls himself a Democrat? The man once told New Times that he welcomed high housing prices because poor people could make a living taking care of wealthy homeowners' pets. Here, let's play a game. Guess which of these actual Naugle quotes we chose as the very best:

1. "Who's against tapping someone's phone if they are talking with al Qaeda? Only a crazy, wacko liberal."

2."I'm supposed to subsidize some schlock sitting on the sofa and drinking a beer, who won't work more than 40 hours a week?"

3."I don't use the word 'gay,' I use the term 'homosexual.' Most of them aren't gay. They're unhappy."

And the answer is... Number 3. And the reason it's at the top of the list is that, along with his crusade against the phantom menace of man-on-man bathroom sex, it created such an outrage that Mayor Jim got national attention and has become officially marginalized. Any hope of a decent legacy is dead. Naugle will forever be remembered as "that homophobic mayor." Hope he's happy (or "gay," if that's his preference).

This year we have a quote that not only deeply impacted South Florida, but was heard 'round the country. It came from Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jim Naugle, via the Sun-Sentinel. What would you expect from a raving right-wing nut-job who calls himself a Democrat? The man once told New Times that he welcomed high housing prices because poor people could make a living taking care of wealthy homeowners' pets. Here, let's play a game. Guess which of these actual Naugle quotes we chose as the very best:

1. "Who's against tapping someone's phone if they are talking with al Qaeda? Only a crazy, wacko liberal."

2."I'm supposed to subsidize some schlock sitting on the sofa and drinking a beer, who won't work more than 40 hours a week?"

3."I don't use the word 'gay,' I use the term 'homosexual.' Most of them aren't gay. They're unhappy."

And the answer is... Number 3. And the reason it's at the top of the list is that, along with his crusade against the phantom menace of man-on-man bathroom sex, it created such an outrage that Mayor Jim got national attention and has become officially marginalized. Any hope of a decent legacy is dead. Naugle will forever be remembered as "that homophobic mayor." Hope he's happy (or "gay," if that's his preference).

South Florida is the perversion capital of the nation, and life here is never boring. Our bungled elections have thrown the entire universe into a death spiral. We kill fat and aging widows with no talent and send them to the Bahamas to be buried. We are blessed with a giddy Democratic party that responds to the plight of yesteryear's disenfranchised voters by guaranteeing that the voters of tomorrow will all be disenfranchised equally. We sell more sketchy human growth hormone than any other state in the union, and our mayors are shameless shills for corporate developers. One of the few that isn't corrupt is a blatant homophobe who presides over one of the gayest cities in the nation. Soccer moms' Yorkies are eaten by alligators as the world's ugliest homes and strip malls encroach on the most biodiverse ecosystem in North America. And while all of these weird historical currents mosey along, the biggest newspaper in two counties devotes its front page to the cuteness of puppies and minor consumer skirmishes. If it were a movie, South Florida would be a dystopian laugh riot with the subtlety of Idiocracy, the self-awareness of Pleasantville, and the denouement of Soylent Green. We live in interesting times.

Oh sure. You got a killer deal on that home in Sunrise — so good that it was a little easier to endure the long commute back and forth from the job that lies east. Then gas prices hit $3 and headed for $4. So now you can't afford to circumnavigate this quagmire. Besides, I-595 is a parking lot. The westbound roads on either side are clogged with commuters from Margate and Coral Springs. No, the least of all these traffic evils is to get off at Oakland Park Boulevard and venture straight into the belly of the beast, inching through intersections that during prime time take 15 minutes apiece. Which is why if you're not one of those poor schmucks and you have the choice, you must avoid this street after five; and if you don't have the choice, well...you have plenty of time to sit in traffic and calculate whether you spend more at the fuel pump than you do on the mortgage.

The best sports writing in any anthology is inevitably about the losers. Nothing beats the passion and drama of an athlete or team working ceaselessly toward a dream and falling just short. So South Florida, with our cornucopia of incompetent contenders in virtually every major sport, should be a sportswriter's paradise. The tragedy, the poetry, the cruel irony. And nobody frames the pathetic ineptitude of this once-great region with more heart and optimism (even the strongest optimism runs into realism eventually these days) than Sun-Sentinel columnist Dave Hyde. Hyde's writing also has a passionate curiosity. It might have been this curiosity which brought about one of his best pieces, "Jake Scott: Where's Jake Scott? We Found Him." For the story, Hyde went to Hawaii and tracked down the former Super Bowl MVP Dolphin who is a notorious recluse, living, as Hyde puts it, "In the last state. On the last island. Down the last road. At the last speck of a no-stoplight town before the United States drops into the Pacific Ocean." Actually, Hyde should get an award just for figuring out an excuse to fly to Hawaii on the Sun-Sentinel's dime.

Miami's DJ Irie is the industry standard for what arena DJs are supposed to sound like, and he's the NBA's official DJ, which puts a lot of pressure on our other arena DJs to step their game up. One local jock stands out above the rest of Irie's competition. When the Florida Panthers brought in music director Brian Lenihan two years ago, they thought hiring a house music DJ would be the key to getting fans on their feet. Last year, Lenihan DJ'd and mixed tracks during Panther home games, but fans wanted a more traditional sound. Instead of staying the course, Lenihan has found middle ground and brought back the old-school organ rock. What he still brings from his days as a house DJ is being able to read the energy of the crowd and cue up different rock tunes depending on the situation. Of course you'll hear "Rock, n' Roll Part 2" by Gary Glitter after goals are scored, and Zombie Nation's "Kernkraft 400," the annoying club anthem that's only appreciated in a hockey setting. But he's not afraid to throw in some Tool or Soulja Boy, or some Top 40, which is unheard of in most hockey arenas. He's relatively new to the field but as he stays on top of cutting edge music, Lenihan is already developing a sound that's making him one of the top DJs in hockey.

Miami's DJ Irie is the industry standard for what arena DJs are supposed to sound like, and he's the NBA's official DJ, which puts a lot of pressure on our other arena DJs to step their game up. One local jock stands out above the rest of Irie's competition. When the Florida Panthers brought in music director Brian Lenihan two years ago, they thought hiring a house music DJ would be the key to getting fans on their feet. Last year, Lenihan DJ'd and mixed tracks during Panther home games, but fans wanted a more traditional sound. Instead of staying the course, Lenihan has found middle ground and brought back the old-school organ rock. What he still brings from his days as a house DJ is being able to read the energy of the crowd and cue up different rock tunes depending on the situation. Of course you'll hear "Rock, n' Roll Part 2" by Gary Glitter after goals are scored, and Zombie Nation's "Kernkraft 400," the annoying club anthem that's only appreciated in a hockey setting. But he's not afraid to throw in some Tool or Soulja Boy, or some Top 40, which is unheard of in most hockey arenas. He's relatively new to the field but as he stays on top of cutting edge music, Lenihan is already developing a sound that's making him one of the top DJs in hockey.

With those huge tigress eyes, that expressive yet low-key voice, and her girl-next-door smile, Laurie Jennings is the mother of all news anchors in South Florida. She's also the mother of twin boys, as all the veteran news watchers in Broward and Miami-Dade know. That's what really makes Jennings stand out — she's got a story behind her and she's been around long enough for people to know it. The young star left WSVN-TV after five years for New York City and MSNBC, stayed for a year, and returned to WPLG because she loves South Florida and wanted to start her family here (that's the story, anyway). And who wouldn't want to hang with Dwight Lauderdale, the coolest dude in South Florida history (may he retire in peace)?

We're convinced: before you can become a female news anchor, you are required to attend robot school. Here you and other news anchors are trained to look and act exactly like one another — the same highlights, the same shoulder-length haircut, the same vapid, monotonous voice, which you will then use consistently to describe forces as varied as hurricanes, Iraq, and Diddy's wardrobe. The question is: how did Channel 7 anchor Belkys Nerey escape this evil institution? (We know, she probably charmed her way past the guards; plus, she was probably wearing a really cute outfit to distract them!) Whatever; we're glad she got away, because with her unique tough-Cuban-pixie aesthetic, she helps make WSVN the most watchable newscast in town. Reporters like Carmel Cafiero ("Carmel on the Case") and Howard Finkelstein ("Help Me Howard") bring it home with just the right formula of hard news and kitschy "We're-here-to-help-you-Neighbor" kind of stuff that TV audiences slurp up. The station hit a grand slam with Deco Drive, its locally-produced entertainment show — kind of like Inside Edition with South Beach as the backdrop. Furthermore, as a FOX affiliate, Channel 7 brings us the best national show on network TV — The Simpsons. And we hate to admit it, but it gives us what we want (and want and want): American Idol two nights a week.

Best Value/Best Place to See and Be Seen in Palm Beach

Ta-boo

Ta-boo

Since 1941, Ta-boo has been a bar and bistro for the well-to-do. Sinatra, JFK, and countless socialites have dined there. It's even said that the Bloody Mary was born at Ta-boo, stirred up to soothe a hangover for troubled Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton. Considering its high-society credentials (and address), the fare at Ta-boo is refreshingly unpretentious — there are sandwiches, salads, and even pizzas. The prices, too, are surprisingly accessible: $17.50 for a salmon dinner entree; $12.95 for a bacon-topped cheeseburger at lunch. The decor is tasteful-Old-Florida-vacation-spot-meets-safari, with chairs upholstered in zebra print fabric and plants dripping leaves everywhere. Intricate woodwork adds a dash of Morocco or India into the mix. It's the perfect place to soak in the wealth of Worth Avenue without having to drop a month's salary on, say, a designer shirt.

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