1. The Wall
Best concert, touring act: I have been paid for my opinion regarding live music for about a decade now, and before that, I spent more than a decade as an amateur music junkie before turning pro. So having seen hundreds upon hundreds of live shows, it takes quite a bit for a concert to break into my all-time top 10 at this point. Former Pink Floyd bassist Roger Waters’ concert tour, in which he played the seminal Pink Floyd album The Wall in its entirety, now sits squarely in my top five. The show completely redefined what a rock concert could be. In the opening “In the Flesh?” the album’s sound of a plane crashing was re-enacted with a life-size model of a World War II fighter plane flying across BankAtlantic Center and crashing into the gigantic wall on stage. That wall was slowly assembled, brick by brick, throughout the first set, until the band was completely covered. Waters came out in front of the wall during the second set and led the most-entertaining fascistic nightmare of all time. Unapologetically antiwar, anti-corporate and anti-globalization, The Wall tour revealed Waters as perhaps the original occupier, sitting on his wall, waiting for the cavalry to come.
2. Heavy Pets as Spaghetti Warhol
Best concert, local act: Were there better local concerts in the past year? Sure. Hell, even just narrowing it down to Heavy Pets concerts, I probably saw one or two in the past year that were better on a purely technical level. But I didn’t have more fun at any local show than I did when the Heavy Pets billed themselves as Spaghetti Warhol and played the Funky Buddha (see Best $30 Budweiser below). Although the jam band has about half a dozen side projects, Spaghetti Warhol is the only one that features the entire group. It’s essentially the Heavy Pets as oddball cover band. I started laughing when they opened with the Fraggle Rock theme song and kept it up through most of the show. And I’m pretty sure it wasn’t just the beer.
3. Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse
Best StairMaster: If you’re actually using a StairMaster instead of the lighthouse, you really ought to get out more. A couple of years ago, the whole family was out on my in-laws’ boat (I know, I know — tough life), and as we pulled past Hillsboro Inlet, my wife’s 3-year-old nephew discovered a newfound obsession for lighthouses, the way all 3-year-olds skip from a deeply held love of dinosaurs to a true belief in space aliens to, in this case, an obsession with lighthouses. The next time he and his mother came down from Kentucky, the boy’s grandmother, my mother-in-law, had purchased a family membership with the Hillsboro Lighthouse Preservation Society, allowing us entry. The boy climbed all 175 steps with his mother and me, and we were rewarded with a brain-dashing view of the coastline. A family membership is only $35, and includes a trip by boat to the lighthouse from the Sands Resort, though if you don’t want the membership, you can just chip in the $15 transportation fee. If you don’t want to climb the tower, sitting beneath its shadow makes for a fine picnic.
4. The Funky Buddha Lounge and Brewery
2621 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton, 561-368-4643, Thefunkybuddha.com
Best $30 Budweiser: I’ve talked up the Buddha time and again — its tireless promotion of local music, its rapid expansion and success, its brewing concern that includes a maple-bacon-coffee porter ranked A+ by Beeradvocate.com. So there’s not a lot else to say except to make mention of the place’s sense of humor. This is most readily seen in the names of many of the place’s beers, which mock 1980s movies (e.g., “Hop Gun”). But observant drinkers have also noted the place’s $30 Budweiser. Along with all the rare craft brews on the menu, the Buddha does offer Bud, the description of the beer noting the hints of St. Louis tap water. Justifying the price, the description also says if you really want a freakin’ Bud that bad, you’ll be willing to pay the money. According to two Buddha bartenders, no one ever has.
5. Bella Monte
2688 E. Atlantic Blvd., Pompano Beach, 954-946-0333
Best Italian deli: This deli on Atlantic Boulevard in Pompano Beach offers the usual meats and premade salads, all of them delicious — at least as many as I’ve tried. But it’s the sandwiches where Bella Monte really shines. Many of them are, natch, named after fictional Mafiosi, such as the Soprano(Boar’s Head ham, cheddar, garlic, mayo, lettuce, tomato, onion, balsamic vinaigrette, oil, Romano cheese and black pepper). But me, I prefer the Bella Busta: salami, prosciutto, capicola, provolone, lettuce, tomato, onion, grilled eggplant and balsamic vinaigrette. I tell ’em to hold the eggplant, olives and hot peppers. They do it but give me a smart-alecky response in a New York accent, and I’m on my way.
6. Lake Worth
Best local music scene: In the tail end of the Year of Our Lord 2011, Lake Worth’s is the only local music scene that matters. Are there great bands in other cities? Absolutely. Are there people in other cities dedicated to fostering an organic, connected music scene in those cities? Most def. But the Lake Weird Sound, as I’ve come to call it, is the only legitimate scene. The scene exists at a bizarre nexus where freak folk, acoustic punk, retro-swing and outlaw country meet, and bands such as Everymen, the Darling Sweets, Black Weather Shaman and a dozen others are making music worth listening to in a community of artists that feed on each other’s energy. There’s been almost nothing like it the whole time I’ve been covering music in South Florida.
7. Gov. Rick Scott
Best villain: It’s been a hell of a year for Gov. Moon Lizard. He started out 2011 entering office after an improbable victory over a deeply centrist Democratic candidate, whose moderate leanings were made to look like Marxist gibbering in the weird election-year politics of 2010. And in a startlingly rapid amount of time, Gov. Moon Lizard became one of the most-hated governors in America. He polls about the same as Wisconsin’s Gov. Scott Walker, a man who faces a recall election and had tens of thousands of people demonstrating against his policies earlier this year. The sad part? That comparison comes when you look at the Lizard’s September approval rating of 37 percent — which was his highest in months. In July, it swung into the mid-20s, making him one of the most-loathed politicians in America. And, really, it’s not hard to see why. Whether subverting the will of the people on redistricting amendments, rejecting federal high-speed-rail money that went to other states, demanding drug testing of welfare recipients or dragging state universities through the mud, you could always count on Gov. Moon Lizard to take the low road.
8. Los Bastardos Magnificos
Best country act: I could put a couple of other acts in this category — the Mann Sisters are pretty damn amazing — but Los Bastardos Magnificos take the category simply because their brand of country music is the stuff I love. Shit-kickin’ outlaw country tunes such as “The Whiskey Done Its Job” have kept the band’s debut album, My Am Uh, in my CD player for repeated listenings, especially in the car. This is highly recommended driving music.
9. The Glades
Best show about South Florida actually shot in South Florida: Really, your options are limited here. I’m going with The Glades, just because it’s the new kid on the block and Burn Notice has been around awhile. CSI: Miami, as we all know, isn’t even filmed down here, and really, would you want it to be? Can you imagine actually seeing, live and in purpose, David Caruso ripping off those damned shades and blathering some idiotic line that, impossible as it is to imagine, someone actually got paid to write — and paid quite nicely, at that? No, I’d just as soon CSI: Miami stay the hell out of Miami (though, really, I’d much prefer it go away entirely). But The Glades has been fun for Broward County folks. Walking to lunch one day, I noticed that the River House, near the New River in downtown Fort Lauderdale, had been changed to the “Gibtown Medical Center,” with signs all around it calling on tourists to take the scenic Gibtown tour. Another time, they were filming at the corner store a couple of blocks from my house in Pompano Beach. It’s been like living in a Where’s Waldo? book, if by Waldo you mean a damned good TV show.
10: Rock Out With Your Cookout @ Hurricane Bar
Best local music night: For just over a year now, Brotherly Love Productions has presented a cookout/local music fiesta at Delray Beach’s Hurricane Bar. Occasionally, they’ve gotten some regional acts on the stage, but mostly, they just keep cranking out some of the best jam, funk and reggae acts in South Florida. The event is particularly noteworthy for welcoming shows from budding side projects, such as the Heavy Pets’ Lather Up! and Fat Mannequin and local reggae act the Resolvers’ Royal Majestic Trio. Just show up at 6 p.m. on any given Sunday, and music and food are yours for the taking.
Contact Dan Sweeney at email@example.com.