As we head into the campaign season, a time when politicians polish the art of the big and small lie, it's reassuring to know that truth has sailed onto our shores. For the second time since 2002, thanks to our daily newsstand rag, the city, and the county, the Amistad Freedom Schooner is docked in Miami. It's not only our elected leaders who fudge reality. Stephen Spielberg did it while attempting to document the international incident the original slaveship Amistad triggered in 1836. He failed to depict the full scope of the event, where a group of Africans sold to Spanish interests by a tribe rebelled against their captors and nearly orchestrated a return to their homeland. The mutiny occurred after the Amistad sailed out of Havana, bound for Cuban plantations. Under control of the upstart Africans, the ship was later captured along the New England coast. The Africans subsequently faced a legal battle for freedom. The incident spurred abolitionist sentiment and has left an indelible mark on the history of black universities in the United States. In the service of a simple fiction, the director left out the parts of the story that deal with the historic relationships between the Africans on the captured ship and the Yankees who helped secure their freedom and return to Africa.
Through Sunday, March 21, a replica of the Amistad will be docked on Biscayne Bay. The crew is offering a range of tours and activities to spread the gospel of interracial cooperation in the service of freedom. Inexpensive day tours and high-end sailing excursions complete with historical tutorials can be booked on the vessel. Teachers can enlighten their students with a daily 2-hour cruise, and bigwigs can impress their associates by hosting a lavish moonlight sail. The ship is docked at Miamarina, Bayside Marketplace, 401 Biscayne Blvd. Tickets range from $3 for student tours to $3500 for a private sailing trip. See www.amistadamerica.org or call 866-264-7823 for tour times and availability.
A local legend departs
In watching videos of Sexcilia performing at South Beach clubs during the '90s, one wonders what drove this fierce queen to burn it up in stiletto boots and unitards. Sexi, as he was called by friends, was one of a handful of drag artists who took the tired sequined lip syncing to a new level of absurd cabaret comedy. There are stories of Sexi performing at Madonna's private party. Of digging out handfuls of fake cocaine and dusting herself in a fevered frenzy during her rendition of "Me Gusta -- Me Gusta." Reynaldo Pagan Rivera died January 14 at age 33. Retired drag stars Taffy and Marvella, who ruled the scene with Sexcilia in the early '90s, reunited for a memorial fundraiser January 25 at Jade Lounge; friends gathered to scatter Pagan's ashes over the bay at midnight. Of Sexcilia, living legend Adora put it simply: "He was big -- very big." -- By Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Fair It Up
Aventura: a city known for its sprawling mall, overabundance of condos, and freaky city hall building that resembles a giant cement salad bowl. At only 9 years old and 3.2 square miles, it's minuscule yet congested, boasting a population of less than 30,000, extensive infrastructure, a new community/recreation center, and a charter school; perhaps that's what lures those who find it so desirable. Go figure. Not to be forgotten is the common link it shares with every suburban nirvana, something wholesome that brings the people out in droves to make merry. We refer to an art festival. Yes, every city seemingly has one and for the past 13 years Aventura has been no exception. From 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. today and tomorrow, more than 200 exhibitors will hawk their tchotchkes during the Aventura Arts & Crafts Festival, taking place on West Country Club Drive, between Aventura Boulevard and the Lehman Causeway. Yes, that's correct, right on the street. Admission is free. Call 305-932-5334. -- By Nina Korman
Miami in the winter means you're pretty much guaranteed a beautiful day in the neighborhood. But is your neighborhood really beautiful? Filled with historic photogenic structures worthy of inclusion in a book? Jeff Donnelly, Randall Robinson, and Allan Schulman, part of the Miami Architecture Project and the authors of Miami Architecture: A Guide to the Metropolitan Area, want to know. For the next 12 Saturdays, they will hold a series of Architecture Talks all over Miami-Dade County. The point is to encourage area folks -- architects, designers, historians, or just local buffs -- to propose possible contributions for the trio's tome. They're open to buildings, parks, public spaces, public art, or marvels of engineering. To have your entries considered, come prepared with photographs and addresses, and get ready to offer a rationale for why they should be included. The first powwow covering downtown Miami, Key Biscayne, and more will take place from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. at the Miami-Dade Public Library, 101 W. Flagler St. Admission is free. The first 10 attendees will receive a discussion draft of the guide. Call 305-538-0090. -- By Nina Korman