Pete Hamill: Pete Hamilll is a puzzle. He retains the aura of the hard-drinking, tenacious journalist. Formerly both a columnist for and editor of the New York Post and the New York Daily News, he resigned from the latter last year after eight months on the job. He and owner Mortimer Zuckerman supposedly disagreed about Hamill's dedication to covering serious issues (read: not enough sensational celebrity gossip). Yet no matter how much he resists it, Hamill is a personality himself, his own life fodder for gossip columns. In the mid-Seventies he squired Jackie Onassis around town while he was still living with actress Shirley MacLaine. Most recently he has appeared in movies, playing a bit part alongside sexiest man alive George Clooney in One Fine Day. One thing Hamill has been consistent about is writing books. He has produced nine so far, including fiction and memoirs -- a couple of which have made the best-seller list. Books & Books welcomes him to Coral Gables Congregational Church (3010 DeSoto Blvd., Coral Gables) tonight at 8:00 to read from his latest novel, Snow in August, the story of an Irish Catholic boy growing up in late-Forties Brooklyn. Admission is free but tickets are required. Call 442-4408. (NK)
Rising Stars Festival: Let some ultratalented high school and college students amaze you at this ten-day festival highlighting dance, music, theater, and the visual arts. Youngsters from the New World School of the Arts are the ascending stars here. An exhibition at Art-Center South Florida (1035 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach) that runs through March 1 shows off the drawings, paintings, prints, photographs, and more done by the visual arts students. Tonight at 8:00 at the Colony Theater (1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach) the theater rookies present the first of four performances of Neil Simon's musical Sweet Charity, the story of an impoverished but upbeat young woman searching for love. Other performances take place tomorrow at 2:00 and 7:30 p.m. and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. Tickets range from $10 to $40. (See next week's "Calendar Listings" for more events.) Call 237-7441. (NK)
The Mickee Faust Club: A takeoff on the squeaky-clean kids in the cast of Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Club, the Mickee Faust Club would be enough to have given Walt Disney a hissy fit. (Well, some of the former Mouseketeers aren't that innocent any more: While on probation for shoplifting, Darlene Gillespie was recently arrested on five more charges, including perjury and securities and mail fraud.) Founded by Tallahassee comedian Terry Galloway, this club has a cast of 30 performers -- lawyers, accountants, ex-hookers, nurses, hairdressers, and others -- who are lead through a series of subversive comedic sketches and cabaret numbers (which they write themselves) by a giant, foul-mouthed, cigar-chomping rodent. In the Faustian version of The Honeymooners, Ralph and Alice Kramden are replaced by Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. Intrigued? Come along and sing the song and join their dysfunctional family. Miami-Dade Community College's Cultura del Lobo Series presents the club tonight at 8:00 at the Miami Beach Woman's Club (2401 Pine Tree Dr., Miami Beach). Tickets cost $15. Call 237-3010. (NK)
The Elixir of Love: Candy and flowers not enough to snag you a valentine this year? Perhaps you should have resorted to a love potion. It worked for the character Nemorino in Donizetti's comic opera. He purchases a potion from a charlatan in the hopes of winning the love of Adina, who is ready to marry another man. Guess what happens when she imbibes? We won't ruin it for you except to say that a certain quack becomes very rich. The Florida Grand Opera presents The Elixir of Love tonight at 8:00 and Sunday at 2:00 p.m. at the Dade County Auditorium (2901 W. Flagler St.). All performances are in Italian with projected English subtitles. Tickets range from $18 to $125. Call 854-7890. (NK)
South Miami Arts and Crafts Festival: Hurry, this may be your last chance to experience the small-town charm of South Miami before the behemoth known as the Shops at Sunset Place flings open its doors. Today and tomorrow from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. along Sunset Drive (between Red Road and South Dixie Highway) more than 200 artists display their wares and compete in this juried show, food vendors offer ethnic eats, and five musical acts entertain. Kiddies can keep busy with storytellers, games, mimes, hands-on art activities, and presentations from the Museum of Science, Sea World, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center, and many others. Admission is free. Call 665-7065. (NK)
Jose Greco II Flamenco Dance Company: Before there was flamenco sex symbol Joaquin Cortes, there was legendary stomper Jose Greco. Leader of his own Spanish dance ensemble, Greco and his company toured the world more than 30 times from the Forties until the Nineties. These days his son Jose Greco II has taken over the dancing duties and has formed a company of his own -- with Dad's blessing, of course. Tonight at 8:00 the troupe performs for you at the Jackie Gleason Theater of the Performing Arts (1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach). Tickets range from $22 to $47. Call 673-7300. (NK)
Washington's Birthday Regatta: Coconut Grove pioneer Ralph Middleton Munroe, who built an environmentally correct residence, the Barnacle, and was commodore of the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club, organized an informal regatta in 1887 to commemorate George Washington's birthday. Over the years the event became more raucous and rowdy than civil and sporting. In 1997, 110 years after the first race, the Barnacle Society decided to throw a regatta more in line with Munroe's intentions. The tradition continues today from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and is open to all sailing vessels of conventional design. Hungry sailors can enjoy a postrace barbecue at 4:00 p.m. Events take place at the Barnacle (3485 Main Hwy., Coconut Grove) and in Biscayne Bay. Entry fee is $15. Call 448-9445. (NK)
Rising Stars Festival: See Friday.
AIDS Walk Miami 1998: For the past ten years the Health Crisis Network has been sponsoring this AIDS fundraising walkathon, an event that has grown from several hundred to more than 20,000 participants. This year HCN is not so healthy itself: This means the people to whom they offer their services -- counseling, case management, education -- are suffering even more than usual. In short, they need your help. Collect some pledges, take a few steps, and contribute to a good cause. The 10K walk starts and ends at Bayfront Park (301 Biscayne Blvd.). Registration begins at 9:00 a.m. Call 751-9255. (NK)
Rising Stars Festival: See Friday.
The Elixir of Love: See Friday.
South Miami Arts and Crafts Festival: See Saturday.
Florida Philharmonic: You're probably familiar with Richard Strauss's Also Sprach Zarathustra; it was on the soundtrack to Stanley Kubrick's disturbing sci-fi flick 2001: A Space Odyssey (and a host of television ads). Since we are edging toward the millennium, a performance of the bombastic orchestral work seems timely. And what better place in which to hear it than the grand Gusman Center for the Performing Arts (174 E. Flagler St.), home of the twinkly ceiling. Tonight at 8:00 conductor Derrick Inouye leads pianist Leon Fleisher and the Florida Philharmonic in Strauss's work and Brahms's elaborate Piano Concerto no. 1. Tickets range from $17 to $75. Call 930-1812. (NK)
Picasso at the Lapin Agile: The clash between art and science continues to fascinate many people, especially comedian Steve Martin. He wrote this play, which premiered off-Broadway to rave reviews in 1995. (For a taste of Steve Martin's writing ability, see his occasional columns in The New Yorker.) Set in 1904 at bohemian hangout the Lapin Agile (the Nimble Rabbit), the story imagines a meeting between Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein. Both twentysomething men are on the verge of something big: for Einstein it's the theory of relativity, which he will publish a year later; for Picasso it's his cubist masterpiece Les Desmoiselles d'Avignon, which he will paint in 1907. In the meantime they take a few moments to embark on a comic and sometimes serious discussion of life, lust, painting, probability, and the future. The cast of the New York production re-creates their roles here: Comedian Paul Provenza portrays Picasso and Mark Nelson stars as Einstein. The show runs through March 15 at the Parker Playhouse (707 NE Eighth St., Fort Lauderdale). Performances are at 8:00 tonight through Saturday, with a 2:00 p.m. matinee on Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday. Tickets range from $39 to $43. Call 954-763-2444. (NK)
Sugar Ray: Expect this evening's musical agenda to slowly intensify, starting with the pop-ska of Save Ferris, graduating to the hard edge of Goldfinger, and finally reaching a crescendo with the wallop of Sugar Ray. But the best thing about this musical journey at the Cameo Theatre (1445 Washington Ave., Miami Beach) is that you will know when you can go to the bathroom without missing anything. Radio has sucked out what little life was left in the worst songs on Sugar Ray's and Save Ferris's latest releases. Of course, we're talking about the one song that doesn't sound remotely like a Sugar Ray tune, "Fly," and Save Ferris's awful remake of the already annoying Eighties tune by Dexys Midnight Runners, "Come On Eileen." Goldfinger's is the only set you'll want to hear in its entirety. Showtime is 8:00 p.m. Tickets cost $18.50. Call 532-0922. (LB)
Betty Friedan: If you're a working woman, you owe a debt to Betty Friedan. A pioneer of the feminist movement, she gave women a kick in the skirt with her book The Feminine Mystique, which urged them to get out of the house and into the workplace. She also helped found the National Organization for Women. Friedan is now on the teaching and lecture circuit. A distinguished visiting fellow at Florida International University's Jack D. Gordon Institute of Public Policy, she is co-teaching a class called "Women and Men in Management." In conjunction with the class, she is delivering a series of lectures titled "Reframing Family Values: A New Paradigm." Today at 12:30 p.m. at the Faculty Club at FIU's University Park Campus (SW Eighth Street and 107th Avenue), Friedan talks about "The Business of Family Nurture." Admission is free. Call 348-2227. (NK)
Picasso at the Lapin Agile: See Tuesday.