Active girls and guys gone wild. Before the late 1980s, Ocean Drive's Art Deco hotels boasted a slew of Jewish immigrant radicals, many of them retirees from New York City, where they had been active in the civil rights and labor movements and sometimes even in anarchist groups. Years ago you could see them toddling down the sidewalks, sitting on their front porches, and hanging out in Lummus and Flamingo parks. Oral historian, ethnographer, and filmmaker Joel Saxe is quite familiar with the community of old folks that formerly filled the beach. He grew up in Miami and fondly remembers visiting his grandfather, who lived in an Ocean Drive hotel. This evening at 7:30 the Dora Teitelboim Center for Yiddish Culture and the FIU Institute for Judaic & Near Eastern Studies sponsor a lecture and multimedia presentation by Saxe titled Celebrating Miami's Jewish Progressive History at FIU Biscayne Bay Campus (3000 NE 151st St., North Miami). Along with talking about the research he has amassed on the topic, Saxe will screen excerpts of a documentary he's working on about one particularly interesting subject named Willie Surenko. Admission is free. Call 305-774-9244.
Sitting in a café listening to a Billie Holiday album and then getting a Nina Simone CD as a gift from a friend are two of the moments African-German vocalist Lyambiko (lee-am-beek-o) recalls being truly affected by jazz music. Now the former East German turned Berliner spends her time affecting others with her own jazz stylings. Although she's only been performing for two years, the 27-year-old songbird boasts a wide-ranging repertoire of jazz tunes, standards, and bossa nova favorites. Currently touring the eastern seaboard with pianist Marque Löwenthal, bassist Robin Draganic, and drummer Torsten Zwingenberger, Lyambiko stops at the Van Dyke Café (846 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach) tonight and tomorrow for shows at 10:00 p.m., 11:30 p.m., and 1:00 a.m. Music charge is ten dollars. Call 305-534-3600.
It's not as if the Lucy Guerin Company had to travel halfway across the globe to explain extremes of temperature to us hardy folks in soon-to-be-horribly-humid Miami. Nope, we're quite familiar with heat. But we'll gladly take a gander at the United States debut of the Melbourne, Australia-based modern dance troupe's Melt, a duet exploring freezing to boiling states. And we also don't mind checking out The Ends of Things, about a character facing his own mortality, even though the subject matter seems kind of grim. Miami Light Project's Contemporary Performance Series presents the dancers at 8:00 p.m. at the Gusman Center of the Performing Arts, 174 E. Flagler St. Tickets cost $22 and $32. Call 305-576-4350.
After 50 years of existence, the Metropolitan Miami Flower Show is about more than just flowers, flowers, flowers. It's about public service too. Building a garden makes your life better, say the horticultural honchos. (If you include plenty of fruits, veggies, and herbs, you'll certainly be healthier and less hungry.) And among the exotic plants, fabulous flower arrangements, and terrific tree exhibits, organizers promise a full-size model garden put together for Habitat for Humanity, the nonprofit organization that helps build houses for low-income folks. In addition, members of 23 garden clubs from Miami-Dade and Monroe counties will vie for prizes in competitions. Kiddies will show off their greenery, and booths will hawk gardening tools, ornaments, books, magazines, and plants and flowers, of course. Showtime is 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Coconut Grove Convention Center, 2700 Bayshore Dr. Admission is three dollars. Call 305-325-0045.
Bill Clinton, Fidel Castro, and Pope John Paul II: They've all gabbed with National Public Radio host Tavis Smiley. Now you can too. Well, sort of. Tonight at 7:00, courtesy of the FIU Student Government Lectures Committee, Smiley will deliver a talk titled "Multiculturalism: A National Perspective" at FIU Biscayne Bay Campus's Wolfe University Center Ballroom, 3000 NE 151st St., North Miami. Admission is free. Call 305-919-5804.
Stellar pianist and vocalist Dena DeRose returns to South Florida for a few gigs, namely the Gold Coast Jazz Society's Jazz Traditions series. For those who missed her last night at the Van Dyke Café, DeRose, who crosses a cool Rosemary Clooneyish voice with a swingy Erroll Garner-esque flair at the keyboard, will give a 7:45 p.m. concert at FIU Biscayne Bay Campus's Mary Ann Wolfe Theater (3000 NE 151st St., North Miami). Twelve years ago, unable to play piano due to carpal tunnel syndrome and arthritis in her right hand, DeRose turned to singing. Now recovered, she has carved out quite a respectable career, heartfully crooning standards and popular tunes while dazzling with her impressive ability on the ivories. Tickets cost $25. Call 954-524-0805.
Territory, wealth, and gold -- elements that obsessed explorer Hernando Cortes and his boss King Philip II of Spain during the early 1500s when Cortes, his men, and their Mexican allies were tearing through the Aztec empire, a kingdom they eventually crushed. Can't imagine people from one country traipsing across the world and boldly squashing another one? Just flip on the TV and watch the war, or head over to the Lowe Art Mhuseum (1301 Stanford Dr., Coral Gables) and gaze at "Visions of Empire: Picturing the Conquest in Colonial Mexico," a series of eight elaborate oil paintings each depicting a different scene in the domination of Mexico -- from Cortes's first meeting with Emperor Moctezuma and his subsequent death to the assault on Aztec capital Tenochtitlan. Based on accounts written in 1684 by Antonio de Solis, the works, created by an anonymous artist, are one of a series of only three known to exist and are being shown in the United States for the first time. Owned for 300 years by Britain's Cholmley family, they were purchased at auction in 1999 by the Jay I. Kislak Foundation, an internationally esteemed Miami-based organization whose mission is to facilitate understanding about the cultures and history of the Americas. Also on display: manuscripts, artifacts, documents, and art objects from Aztec and colonial Mexico. The exhibition runs through Sunday, April 27. Admission is five dollars. Call 305-284-3535.