Best Of 2011: P. Scott Cunningham
Photo by Beth Black

P. Scott Cunningham is the director of O, Miami, a county-wide poetry festival produced in conjunction with the Knight Foundation, and the author of Chapbook of Poems for Morton Feldman (Floating Wolf Quarterly, 2011). He is also the executive editor of Jai-Alai Magazine and the founder of the University of Wynwood, a faux institution dedicated to advancing literature in Miami. For more, visit P-s-c.tumblr.com.

1. Little River Yacht Club 

70 N.W. 73rd St., Miami, Littleriveryachtclub.org

Created by artists Justin Long and Robert “Meatball” Lorie (a.k.a. More Funner Projects), the LRYC is a clubhouse/exhibition space in the heart of Little Haiti. They did a show last year that was composed entirely of homemade weapons, including a giant crossbow that shot two-by-fours into a plywood cutout of a Blue Man. If you think all art openings are boring, you’ve never been to the LRYC.

2. Lester’s Bar

2519 N.W. Second Ave., Miami, 305-456-1784, Lestersmiami.com

For all the hype surrounding Wynwood, it only became a real neighborhood for me when Lester’s opened earlier this year. Besides good beer and wine, Lester’s also has free Wi-Fi and a great selection of reading material, including books from Key West-based Sand Paper Press and rare periodicals like Zing Magazine and the French softcore porn mag Jacques. On the weekends, there’s typically at least one event sporting a DJ who’s spinning Kenny Rogers.

3. Miami-Dade Cultural Center

101 W. Flagler St., Miami, 305-375-1156

As excited as I am for the new Herzog and de Meuron Miami Art Museum, I’ll be a little sad when MAM leaves the Miami-Dade Cultural Center. Designed by Philip Johnson, the MDCC looks like the brainchild of 16th century Spanish pirates who went to the Yale School of Architecture. The main library is there, plus HistoryMiami and the aforementioned MAM, all three of which are great local institutions. On one side of the MDCC, I can file my homestead exemption, and on the other, in an unassuming storefront, I can check out what the young artists are up to in Annie Blazejack’s Flagler Arts Space. It’s also a two-block walk from Little Lotus, my new favorite Japanese pig-out spot.

4. Temple Judea

5500 Granada Blvd., Coral Gables, 305-667-5657, Judeagables.org

I’ve only been in there once, for an author event organized by Books and Books, but every time I drive by it, I almost crash from staring at the façade. No offense to the New World Center or 1111 Lincoln Road, but I think Temple Judea is the most-beautiful building in Miami. Their Web site doesn’t say who designed it, but it was built in 1965 and looks like a lion’s den. A lion who wears Dior and smokes Dunhills.

5. Boater’s Grill

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, 1200 Crandon Blvd., Key Biscayne, 305-361-0080, Lighthouserestaurants.com/boatersgrill

I like sunsets and fried fish. This place — owned and operated by David and Reina Gonzalez (who also gave birth to one member of the Jacuzzi Boys and the brains behind Cabinet Beer Baseball Club) — has the best of both and is tucked away inside Bill Baggs State Park in Key Biscayne, which at night feels like driving into Miami circa 1898, when people actually read contemporary poetry.

6. Monkey Jungle Path, Boca Raton

There was a rope swing in the lagoon there when I was a kid, and the path — with that red, vaguely Japanese bridge — was a great place to disappear, alone or with friends. Boca’s changed a lot since then (R.I.P., Bo’s U-Pick), so I hope some pockets of weird Boca — like Monkey Jungle Path — remain.

7. Mysterious Miccosukee Corporate Building You Can See From 836

1750 N.W. South River Drive, Miami

If you type “Miami, FL” into Google Maps, this is almost where the “A” arrow falls. (Type in “1769 N.W. South River Drive, Miami, FL“ for a street view of the front entrance.) The building looks like it’s been airlifted from Colorado: a wood-and-stone lodge with giant reflective windows. In spite of how out of place it looks near the Miami River, it’s built on top of some of Miami’s only natural caves, which, before the fences and gating were erected with the building, were a hideaway spot for local teenagers. Now, there’s always two or three Mercedes AMGs parked in the driveway, and the security is tighter than a pair of Levi’s 501s. How do I know it’s owned by the Miccosukees? There’s a plaque by the gate that says so. What goes on there? Who knows.

8. Formalist Sidewalk Poetry Club 

235 12th St., Miami, 305-538-5980, Formalistsidewalkpoetryclub.com

Alas, there’s no poetry (yet) at the Formalist Sidewalk Poetry Club, but director-curator Clay Deustch puts up some of the smartest art exhibitions in the city. The location — in the heart of Washington Avenue on South Beach — is a necessary counterbalance to the Wynwood/Design District gallery cluster.

9. The Roundtable

11205 N.W. Seventh Ave., Miami, 305-756-2008, Roundtablesportsbarandlounge.com

It looks vaguely like a castle, with a purple neon sign. There are no windows. You have to be buzzed in through the side door, and once inside, you’re surrounded by wood paneling, pool tables, free popcorn and shuffleboard. The drinks are cheap, and when you come out, it might be morning. You also might be getting mugged.

10. 1 Herald Plaza, a.k.a. The Miami Herald Building

Miamiherald.com

Is there something symbolic about having a newspaper located on the most-prominent piece of real estate in the city? That’s basically where The Miami Herald has been since the mid-’60s. In two years, 1 Herald Plaza will be bulldozed to make way for a Malaysian-owned mall and casino. (A deal, by the way, that’s crucial to the survival of the paper.) But wherever the Herald moves, the symbolism will be lost. 1 Herald Plaza is a sober building; muted in color and fortresslike, it communicates the values we associate with good journalism. A lot of important things — both positive and negative — have happened there, and most of the best local writers learned their trade inside of its walls. I’m generally not nostalgic about buildings, but I’m going to miss this one when it’s gone.