This year, more than a million readers learned the full story behind the accusations against the late rapper XXXTentacion. Weeks before he was murdered, reporter Tarpley Hitt was granted an exclusive interview with the controversial artist, in which he said, “Would I change anything about my journey? Fuck, no.”
There was plenty more to read this year, including New Times‘ look at Miami-Dade’s most corrupt cities, a profile of Parkland’s right-wing hero Andrew Pollack, and the rise of vigilantism in Miami Beach.
Here are the most-read longform stories of 2018:
After a review of hundreds of pages of court documents, a two-hour talk with the singer, and interviews with his alleged victim, old friends, collaborators, fans, and foes, what emerges is not a portrait of a supervillain. Instead, it’s a grim picture of a banal, unglamorous, half-likable kind of figure whom women around the world encounter every day — someone who isn’t profoundly addled as much as pathetically insecure, obsessed with power, and incapable of following one essential directive of human conduct: “It’s so simple,” his accuser says. “Just don’t hit anybody.”
Illustration by Alvero Diaz-Rubio
Sonny and Rico. Gloria and Emilio. LeBron and Dwyane. South Florida has had some iconic pairs over the years, but none tops our OG local couple: Dade County and corruption. Everyone knows our swampy metropolis is the kind of place where business is done via cash-stuffed envelopes swapped in bathroom stalls, and cops and drug lords are often one and the same.
But Dade County is also a collection of 34 incorporated cities, each with its own particular brand of scummy officials and scammy businesses. Which can claim the cocaine-dusted crown as the capital of graft in South Florida?
Illustration by Ward Sutton
Hundreds of songs have been written by and about the city. Dozens of others have played a significant role in shaping it. Pop musicians, from Frank Sinatra to Luis Fonsi, built upon the city’s reputation as a capital of decadence, while homegrown artists made strides in other genres. Jaco Pastorius pushed jazz into a new era, Gloria Estefan took Latin pop into the international mainstream, and let’s not forget the city’s contributions to hip-hop, from 2 Live Crew in the Miami bass era to Denzel Curry and the current SoundCloud rap epoch.
Pollack has become the face of the conservative post-Parkland movement. He’s an enthusiastic Trump voter (“If [Hillary Clinton] won, to me it meant society was finished,” he says. “I just didn’t like the political-correctness bullshit.”) He nurses a deep resentment toward immigrants, particularly Muslims. (“They don’t have the same ideology as we do. They can’t be westernized.”) And he is unsympathetic to concerns that increased security presence and stricter discipline programs could negatively affect students of color. (“The whole black caucus voted against the safety bill. I think like 90 percent or something… It’s not about color.”)
Photo by Karli Evans
These days, America feels more divided than ever. President Trump’s penchant for trolling and spewing hateful rhetoric only exacerbates the situation, emboldening neo-Nazis in Charlottesville and focusing the MAGA bomber’s wandering rage on the commander-in-chief’s enemies. Trump’s tenuous relationship with the truth has bewildered the left, but his tell-it-like-it-is attitude has inspired Proud Boys such as Gonzalez, Engels, and Whyte.
Photo by Laura Morcate
DeFilippi’s quick transformation from tree hugger to street-justice fighter began over the summer. Frustrated by what he saw as out-of-control criminal activity on the Beach, he joined forces with retired TV reporter John Deutzman to start the Facebook group Miami Beach Crime Prevention & Awareness. Since July, they’ve been collecting data on repeat accused criminals they call “frequent fliers.” They walk the streets filming those they consider suspicious, many of them homeless or minorities. Occasionally, they show up in court to push for more jail time. They also encourage their nearly 1,500 followers to report activity they consider suspicious.
Photo by Jorge Martínez Gualdrón
As society evolves toward understanding that gender identity can be more complex than simply male or female, an official term for kids like Cooper has gained traction: “gender nonconforming.” Jennifer finds the easiest way of explaining her child — which she does both frequently and patiently — is to call him the opposite of a tomboy. Though no one bats an eye at a girl who likes sports and insists on wearing pants, a boy in a dress still draws double-takes.
Photo by Stian Roenning
Thanks to a trove of personal wealth, well-lubricated connections in the business world, an early all-out media blitz, and years of appearing in scores of documentaries and think pieces about climate change, Levine is hovering at the top of the Democratic pack. In March, he took the lead among Democrats for the first time, according to a Gravis Marketing Florida poll. He’s also leading the Democratic fundraising race thanks to millions of dollars he’s personally contributed to his campaign war chest.
Photo illustration by Michael Campina
At least nine former and current residents and employees have now come forward with accusations of racial discrimination inside the Mirador 1000, an upscale condo building with its own hair salon and convenience mart where two-bedroom units are listed for up to $800,000. The majority of the allegations are against the two women who joined Shugarman on the board in 2016: Arianna Aguero and Silvia Merino. According to one employee, Merino used the N-word to disparage two black women who worked at the front desk, while Aguero reportedly remarked to a property consultant: “The staff is too dark. I want to make some changes.” In the end, at least seven black employees say they were fired, forced out, or quit due to harassment.
In the past three years, Miami-area police have sent 5,255 people to jail for possession of less than 20 grams of pot, according to a New Times review of Miami-Dade booking data. What’s worse: Most of those arrests, which cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars for arresting, transporting, and housing prisoners, could have been taken care of with a simple ticket.