AOL Travel

Miami Pop Culture

Watching reruns of "Miami Vice" will give you a starter course as to how the whole South Beach phenomenon started more than 20 years ago, although the in-your-face drug culture at the center of just about every episode is not an issue today. The fancy cars, neon lights and beautiful people, however, are still here in abundance. (Before "Vice," "The Golden Girls" was shot here, the last pop culture reference to South Florida as a haven for retirees.) Author Gerald Posner’s 2009 tome "Miami Babylon" is an engaging chronicle of the players, politicians and pioneers who set up and controlled the various areas of the city and the Beach and spans 30 years until the present day, with first-person accounts from those who lived it. For pure entertainment, choose just about any Carl Hiaasen novel, as he draws inspiration for his casts of quirky characters from those he met during his career as a journalist in South Florida. Some legendary comedy films have been shot here, among them "There’s Something About Mary," "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" and "The Birdcage," and dramatic television series continue to use the various parts of the city as a setting, including "Burn Notice" and "CSI: Miami." Ever since Will Smith recorded “Miami” in 1998, extolling the virtues of Miami as playground (“Party in the city where the heat is on/All night on the beach until the break of dawn”), musicians—recently, many Latin and rap artists—have alluded to the city’s tropical allure in song, most recently electro-hop group LMFAO in their inane but infectious “I’m in Miami Trick.”