This Week's Day by Day Picks

Thursday 1/15

Civil rights leader Martin Luther King's birthday is officially observed on Monday but today is the actual anniversary of his birth. No doubt events will be held all over town on Monday, but beginning today the West Perrine Community Development Corporation kicks off a five-day observance. Attend a Unity Breakfast at 7:30 a.m. at Signature Gardens (12275 SW 122nd Ave.) featuring school board member Robert Ingram. Tomorrow at 7:00 p.m. FIU University Park Campus Stadium (11200 SW Eighth St.) hosts a Band Extravaganza featuring ensembles from historically black colleges. Saturday at 9:00 a.m. a parade runs through West Perrine, taking off from the corner of Homestead Avenue and SW 184th Street. Sunday at 6:00 p.m. a choral performance goes on at the Bethel Baptist Church (14440 Lincoln Blvd.) in Richmond Heights. On Monday contemplate King's contributions while you enjoy your day off. Admission to most events is free. Call 305-252-0129 for details. (NK)

Friday 1/16 It's rough being a high priestess in Roman-occupied Gaul when your husband has left you for another priestess and you'd like nothing else than to kill your kids to get back at him. But you refrain from such craziness. Instead you start a war. That's not all, but isn't that enough? It's just a little bit of what goes on in Vincenzo Bellini's opera Norma. The Concert Association of Florida presents a semistaged concert version of the masterpiece starring acclaimed Russian soprano Maria Guleghina and hot Italian tenor Salvatore Licitra at 7:30 p.m. at the Jackie Gleason Theater of the Performing Arts (1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach). Tickets range from $35 to $125; $500 gets you into a postperformance black-tie gala with the artists. Call 877-433-3200, ext. 301. (NK)

Art Deco Weekend, the three-day street fair on Miami Beach's Ocean Drive (between Fifth and Fifteenth streets), kicks off today at noon. Expect vendors hawking vintage items; a classic car parade; architectural tours; music daily from cats like Jesse Jones, Jr., and Billy Marcus; and lectures by design scholars including Margaret Doyle (Russel Wright) and Thomas Hine (Populuxe). Tomorrow and Sunday hours are 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Admission is free. Call 305-672-2014. (NK)

Saturday 1/17 For mountain bikers, Miami is a far cry from nirvana. Sure, there is ample mud and heat in which to get dirty, but there are no actual mountains, and nary a real hill. Still bike aficionados must make do with what they have. Regardless of the landscape, there is always a place to get exhilaratingly mud-caked, bruised, and bloody. Today the Oleta River State Park (3400 NE 163rd St., North Miami Beach) becomes ground zero for two-wheeled demons as the fourth annual South Florida Fat Tire Festival gets rolling. There, mountain-bike hotdogs get to race each other on gnarly muddied paths approved by the National Off-Road Bicycle Association. There will also be bicycle clinics for adults and children, a flea market, and a safety rodeo for the little ones. The dirt starts flying at 10:00 a.m. Registration for races costs five dollars per event. Admission to the festival is free with a four-dollar vehicle charge. Call 305-919-1844. (JCR)

Sunday 1/18

Have you hugged your environment lately? If the answer is no, Homestead's Fruit and Spice Park (24801 SW 187th Ave.) offers you the perfect escape from highways, malls, and television. At the Redland Natural Art Festival, you'll get to roam in the lush landscapes of the tropics while exploring a "living garden," tasting exotic foods, and checking out wildlife exhibits. Traditional early American music will be performed by Edward and Geraldine Berbaum, and the kids may enjoy a puppet and clown show by David Ballard. If creepy crawlies are your thing, you can check out Joseph Wasilewski's collection of reptiles and exotic creatures. Remember, it's all meant to relax your busy mind. The festival starts at 10:00 a.m. Admission is five dollars. Call 305-247-5727. (JCR)

Monday 1/19 Author James Russell spent more than 40 years working in journalism. It would be safe to say he has ink in his blood. He was an old-school Miami Herald writer, editor, and columnist as well as a broadcaster for WIOD-AM (610). Before he was a journalist, though, Russell served three years in the U.S. Air Force flying 65 combat missions and contributing to a B-26 bomber crew. Living his retirement years has not stopped him from telling stories. His memoir Out of Ouachita: One Man's Odyssey details his colorful life and sheds light on what is considered to be America's greatest generation. Russell reads and signs copies of his book at 8:00 p.m. at Books and Books, 265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables. Admission is free. Call 305-442-4408. (JCR)

Tuesday 1/20 The messiah is back -- and he's singing -- for a limited time only. In an eight-performance engagement, the musical Jesus Christ Superstar returns to South Florida. The rock opera by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber, which made its New York stage debut in 1971, just won't go away. Revived on Broadway a few years ago with rock and roll gods like Skid Row's Sebastian Bach playing the title role, the show, which details the last week in Jesus's life through the perspective of his onetime disciple Judas Iscariot, hit the road in 2002 and hasn't ceased since. With Eric Kunze as Jesus, Lawrence Clayton as Judas, and Natalie Toro as Mary, it opens tonight at 8:00 at the Jackie Gleason Theater of the Performing Arts, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets range from $20 to $60. Call 305-673-7300. (NK)

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