Miami Reggae Festival: Celebrate 35 years of Jamaican independence and stirring reggae music at the thirteenth annual Miami Reggae Festival, taking place today at the Bayfront Park Amphitheatre (301 Biscayne Blvd.). This year's festival highlights reggae's emergence in the mid-Sixties and early Seventies with ska and rock-steady acts such as Alton Ellis, the Mighty Diamonds, Hopeton Lewis, Lloyd Parks and the We the People Band, and the Techniques. Contemporary reggae acts such as vocalist Pam Hall, Morgan Heritage and members of the Main Street Crew, Mystic Journey, and Nubian Ras will represent the younger generation of reggae and dancehall. Between sets the Miami-based Body Nation Dance Troupe performs, and kids can keep busy with rides, face painting, and games. Tickets cost $15 (kids under age twelve get in free with a paying adult). Gates open at noon. Call 891-2944. (GC)
Slammie Showcase: Squeeze (2 S. New River Dr., Fort Lauderdale) continues its series of Slammie showcases tonight at 7:00 p.m. with a tribute to Slammies past with five bands from the award's five-year history. Local hardcore heroes L.U.N.G.S., last year's Slammie band of the year, headline the show in the first performance in ten months, which promises to include songs from singer Crime Casara's solo project, Rawtopsy. Also on the bill are death metal darlings Brutal Mastication (nominated this year for best local release), straight-edge hardcore punk band Tension (1994's best new band), Puerto Rican new-school metal band Nonpoint (nominated in the best vocalist and drummer categories), and straight-edge hardcore band Brethren (nominated for best new band last year, and its guitar player for best guitarist this year). The 1997 Slammie Awards, which honor South Florida's best punk, alternative, hardcore, and metal bands, take place on August 29 at Chili Pepper (200 W. Broward Blvd., Fort Lauderdale). Admission to the all-ages Slammie preview shows is five dollars for those age 21 and older, seven for those under 21. Call 954-525-5996. (GC)
Florida Grand Opera Film Festival: The Florida Grand Opera won't open its season for another couple of months, but you can get that opera fix with a series of film presentations at the Miami Space Transit Planetarium (3280 S. Miami Ave.). The series opens tonight with Verdi's La Traviata and continues with Donizetti's L'Elisir d'Amore on August 10 and Puccini's Turandot on August 17. All screenings, which begin at 7:00 p.m., are preceded by a lecture and include an intermission dessert reception. Tickets cost $15 per film ($35 for the series). Call 933-0656. (GC)
Sylvia: See Thursday.
Florida Playwrights' Theatre Shakespeare Festival: See Saturday.
Fairchild Tropical Garden Tram and Walking Tours: Brave the heat and enjoy the natural beauty of summer in South Florida with a visit to Fairchild Tropical Garden (10901 Old Cutler Rd.). Walk through this 83-acre botanical paradise and view more than 5000 specimens of rare and beautiful flora, such as the petticoat palm, the gingerbread palm, and the cannonball tree. If you want to know more about what you're looking at, let a guide lead you on a walking tour, departing at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. daily. Or ride a tram, departing every hour on the hour daily from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. The garden is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is eight dollars (kids under age thirteen get in free with paying adult). Call 667-1651. (GC)
Impotent Sea Snakes: See Saturday.
Brain Teasers/Brain Games: Between all-day cartoon-o-ramas and skateboards, it's hard to get kids to exercise their brains while on summer vacation (and you wouldn't want to send them back to school with flabby brains!). So take them to the Miami Youth Museum (Miracle Center, 3301 Coral Way, level U; 446-4386), where they can try their hands at "Brain Teasers," an interactive problem-solving exhibition. Kids can try to do and undo unusual knots, put together giant jigsaw puzzles, and play number games. Admission is four dollars. The exhibition runs through December 7; the museum is open Monday through Thursday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Friday until 9:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Once they've mastered the Brain Teasers, subject them to some "Brain Games" at the Museum of Discovery and Science (401 SW Second St., Fort Lauderdale; 954-467-6637). This exhibition, which runs through September 14, features problem-solving games with a more international focus. Besides familiar favorites like chess, checkers, Scrabble, and dominoes, you can play African mancala and learn Japanese origami. Admission is six dollars for adults, five for kids ages three to twelve. Museum hours are 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, noon to 6:00 p.m. Sunday. Compare the two exhibitions, critique them, make a little game out of it. (GC)
Fairchild Tropical Garden Tram and Walking Tours: See Monday.
Death Blossoms: Pennsylvania death row prisoner and author Mumia Abu-Jamal (1995's Live from Death Row) has outlived his scheduled execution by two years, thanks in large part to a worldwide public outcry. The ex-president of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists and a former Black Panther, Abu-Jamal was convicted -- some say unjustly -- of killing a police officer in 1982, and he has since spoken out against the racism and political biases of the American judicial system. Tonight at 8:00 p.m., Books & Books (296 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables) celebrates the release of Abu-Jamal's latest book, Death Blossoms: Reflections from a Prisoner of Conscience, with readings by jazz musician and filmmaker Leo Casino (East of Overtown), Jewish community activist Jack Lieberman, attorney and activist Michael Ray, Marcus Garvey Committee chairman Don Rico Ricketts, University of Miami Law School professor D. Marvin Jones, and anti-death penalty attorney and Congregational minister Rev. Melodee A. Smith. The evening is hosted by the national civil rights group Refuse and Resist. Admission is free. Call 442-4408. (GC)
Brain Teasers/Brain Games: See Tuesday.
Fairchild Tropical Garden Tram and Walking Tours: See Monday.