Cuba is about to be saved. Well, at least Havana's awe-inspiring architecture -- or what's left of it -- is. Juan Antonio Bueno, dean of FIU's School of Architecture, and Nicolas Quintana, professor of architecture at the same school, have hatched a plan to carefully frame the city's future growth while preserving the architectural integrity of its unique buildings. You can hear and see it all tonight at 7:30 at the appropriately architecturally impressive Biltmore Hotel (1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables) during a lecture titled Havana: Glorious Past, Ruinous Present, Boundless Future, sponsored by the FIU Cuban Research Institute. Admission is free, but seating is limited, so an R.S.V.P. is suggested. Call 305-348-1991.
Jim Morin and Chan Lowe are two of the top political cartoonists working in American journalism today. Both have won an impressive array of awards (including two Pulitzer Prizes for Morin) for their works drawn for the Miami Herald and South Florida Sun-Sentinel respectively. Today the artists will discuss their unique perspectives and body of work as part of the exhibition "It's Debatable!" currently on display at UM's Lowe Art Museum (1301 Stanford Dr., Coral Gables). The presentation begins at 7:00 p.m. Admission is free with five-dollar museum entry. Call 305-284-3535.
Sushi, Hello Kitty, Shonen Knife, and anime are all you know about Japanese culture? Shame on you! Japan has produced some of cinema's greatest directors, among them Akira Kurosawa (Ran, Seven Samurai), Nagisa Oshima (Violence at Noon), Takeshi Kitano (Sonatine), and Kenji Mizoguchi (Ugetsu). Every time you watch an American-made movie, you might be seeing their influence right there on the big screen (The Magnificent Seven is a nod to Kurosawa's Seven Samurai). Get the skinny on Japanese masters at 8:00 tonight when UM professor Allan Casebier presents a lecture dubbed The Puzzle of Cinema sponsored by MIAMIntelligence at the Miami Beach Cinematheque, 512 Española Way. Admission is ten dollars. Call 305-860-2499.
Shiny boots of leather. Studded jackets. Attitude and glam. Just a few of the components of the whirlwind MTV Video Music Awards. As if the glittering hordes alone are not enough, why not toss superfreak Dennis Rodman into the mix? Along with Matchbox 20 guitarist Adam Gaynor, the ever-shocking ex-NBA star will be leading a motorcycle ride from Fort Lauderdale's Harley Davidson dealership (2871 N. Federal Hwy.) at 4:00 p.m. to Nikki Beach Club (1 Ocean Dr.). The party then begins with a Casino on the Sandfundraiser benefiting Athletes for Causes and Cystic Fibrosis. The beach bash starts at 8:00 p.m. You're supposed to have an invitation to attend, but who knows? Maybe you can wangle your way in. Call 305-932-4999.
Though it's tough to find in a nightclub setting, live rock and roll really does happen in Miami. Some of Miami's next generation of post-grunge, non-electro musicians are regularly showcased at RAW (Rock Acoustic Warehouse), a monthly rock gig at Jazid (1342 Washington Ave., Miami Beach). These are the musicians who jam versions of the Kinks and Rolling Stones, as well as their own catchy compositions. The gig usually features three local acts who play full sets. Seen and heard there in the recent past: Samantha Gibb and her band MEG, named in honor of her late father, Maurice Ernest Gibb of the Bee Gees. The music starts at 9:00 p.m. Admission is free. Call 305-673-9372.
Fresh is the word at the Tuesday Songwriter's Showcaseat Sax on the Beach (1756 N. Bayshore Dr.). This new night of new tunes is designed with the composer and singer in mind. Every week musicians take turns at the open mic and perform up to three original compositions. If you have original material that needs some feedback, sign up to perform. If you're hunting for a budding Jim Morrison or Kurt Cobain, this could be the place to find him. The mic opens at 9:00 p.m. Admission is free. Call 786-234-5535.
If your friend the art collector starts bragging about the painting he just acquired by one of the Florida Highwaymen, feel free to disabuse him of the notion that he has anything rare on his hands. From the 1940s up until the 1960s, that particular group of African-American artists (made up of 25 men and 1 woman) is said to have produced anywhere from 50,000 to 200,000 paintings, which they mostly sold cheaply out of the trunks of cars parked on the side of the road; hence the nickname given to them in 1944. Often utilizing supplies such as roofing material as canvas, the artists primarily created lyrical landscapes which featured swaying palms, calm moonlit or sunlit bodies of water, and vivid blooming trees such as poincianas. Folks seemingly lost interest in Highwaymen art in the 1970s and 1980s, but about ten years ago, the works began to garner notice again as "outsider" art gained popularity. Famous names from the group include Alfred Hair, James Gibson, Isaac Knight, Robert Butler, Willie Reagan, and Mary Ann Carroll, a few of whom are still alive. You might see some of their works on display today through the end of December at the Studio 100 Art Gallery in the Prime Outlet Mall (250 E. Palm Dr. Florida City). The Homestead Art Club, a 64-year-old local organization, has gotten hold of 30 paintings from a private collector for your viewing pleasure. On the third Saturday of each month through December, the group will host a reception from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. In the meantime, gallery hours are noon to 6:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and noon to 9:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Admission is free. Call 305-786-243-0447.