Picking up its cues from the civil rights movement, the Immigrant Workers Freedom Ride, organized by a broad coalition of union-friendly groups and one cerebral celeb, recently launched a reform campaign targeting laws hurtful to new arrivals. Three weeks ago dozens of activist-laden buses departed from various American cities, stopping now and then for town meetings and generally raising awareness for their cause. Now these road-tested rights advocates, supported in part by some South Florida pols, are pausing before logging the next mile. From the Freedom Ride to the Voting Booth is the kick-off event for the next leg of their journey through the heart of South Florida.Actor and liberal lethal weapon Danny Glover is one of several guest speakers slated to talk as returning freedom riders are celebrated and a new immigrant-friendly initiative takes its maiden voyage. My Family Votes 100% is the latest foray on behalf of new arrivals and will promote immigrant civic participation. The project, originating at Florida International University, seeks to target low-income, working-class immigrant communities throughout the state in an effort to register between 50,000 and 60,000 new voters, says Alicia Ybarra, Florida coordinator for the project. "We're looking to reach out to Central Americans, Mexicans, South Americans, and people in the Caribbean community," she explains.
The get-out-the-vote drive will also be accompanied by an effort to educate immigrants who attend My Family gatherings on the citizenship and legalization processes. The effort is part of a broader push by unions and other groups who support workers' rights to facilitate the legalization process for immigrants, promote derechos on the job, assist in family reunification, and preserve civil rights for these folks who make up our nation's most vulnerable occupants. -- By Victor Cruz
From the Freedom Ride to the Voting Booth runs from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Kovens Conference Center, Florida International University, Biscayne Bay Campus, 15100 Biscayne Blvd. Admission is free. Call 305-623-3000, ext. 130. Automania
SAT 10/25 It's not every day someone will let you drive their brand-new vehicle across obstructions likely to shred tires and, if you're really lucky, crack the axle, but if a fantasy like that starts your hands shaking and brow sweating, this is your dream weekend. The Chrysler Group's Route 2003: An American Road Trip rolls into Pro Player Stadium (2269 NW 199th St.) with over 100 Chrysler, Jeep, and Dodge vehicles in tow. The public is welcome to abuse these beauties on 3 separate on- and off-road tracks. Driving clinics are included for those who haven't yet learned how to maneuver grandly over logs and boulders or burn rubber on a drag strip. For the family-minded test pilot, child-friendly activities are available. (No driving over the putt-putt course, please.) The only catch is that Chrysler wants you to test the performance of their popular models in a "nonsales environment" for free. Drivers 18 and older with a valid license can take turns at the steering wheel from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. today and tomorrow. Don't forget the racing gloves. Call 866-ROUTE-03 to register. -- By Margaret GriffisBack on Key
Pianos proliferate again
SAT 10/25 Who can forget those goofy TV commercials of yore featuring manic elves plugging a local piano and organ store? Uh, you can because that's not what this piece is about. We're just reminding you that Miami used to be loaded with piano/organ showrooms -- freestanding establishments and those giant joints in malls where sitting at an instrument and flipping on a couple of switches meant an orchestral accompaniment with a mambo beat as you picked out the melody of "Mary Had a Little Lamb." Hale-Yamaha Piano on South Dixie Highway was one such place. The short-lived showroom and theater went bust last year. The folks who took over that franchise now have opened the Piano Music Center (6917 Red Rd., Coral Gables) around the corner from the former locale. While there's no theater or prancing elves, there are plenty of pianos and teaching facilities. Grand opening is 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. today and noon to 5:00 p.m. tomorrow. Call 305-663-4450. -- By Nina Korman
WED 10/29 Gen Art, that highbrow hipster art organization with the slick corporate-sponsored events, is going downtown with its presentation of Shorts in the Park. No, it's not an invitation to stroll the green in your artiest Bermudas, but a showcase of 3 short-film finalists in Margaret Pace Park, just north of the tall buildings (and west of the soon-to-be tall condos) of downtown Miami. The works, all by Florida-based indie filmmakers, were chosen from a pool of candidates by a panel of industry professionals. The winner will take home a fat $5000 grant presented immediately after the screenings. And what's a hipster gathering without the music of DJ Le Spam and the Spam Allstars? The evening is capped off with a screening of the indie cult flick American Psycho, a special treat for Halloween. Music and reception begin at 6:30, with the screenings at 7:45. The park is located at 1745 N. Bayshore Dr. RSVP to www.genart.org. -- By John Anderson