How many times have you sat at a stoplight in some foreign corner of Miami, far from your turf, and wondered, "Where the hell am I?" Maybe it's the Haitian gentleman on South Beach, scratching his head at the sight of yarmulke-topped Jewish men in black suits on their way to temple. Or a Cuban teen from the suburbs trying to understand the strange fever of a rap-drenched inner-city football game. Or a Jewish mother blinking at the strange icons displayed in the window of a Little Havana botanica.
Most of us are from places in the world that are bound to seem curious to at least some of our neighbors. And that's a big part of what makes the magic city so very magical. Still, it takes a tour guide to access the hidden life of our many neighborhoods. Enter Discover Miami, a festival devoted to pulling back the cultural curtain in five city districts via music, dance, theater, art, and food.
Today only, explore Latin culture in Little Havana (1501 SW Eighth St.) with Danzón By Six dance company, and music by Mariachi de Mujeres (above) and Habana Soul Orchestra, while taking in the shops along Calle Ocho. Then bop over to Temple Israel (137 NE Nineteenth St.) for a klezmer concert by the Klezmiamians, film shorts, and spiritual stories from rabbi/author Mitchell Chefitz. Follow that with Haitian music from Gifrantz and drumming and dance from Sosyete Koukouy at the Caribbean Marketplace (NE 59th Street and NE Second Avenue). Take in the music of Gospel Explosion, Lyfe, and Nicole Henry, along with words from the Miami Masters Poetry Slam Team in Liberty City (6116 NW Seventh Ave.). And finally, enjoy the folk music of Grant Livingston and Rod MacDonald at the Shores Performing Arts Theater (9806 NE Second Ave., Miami Shores).
That's a small sample of the artists slated to perform, meaning you might want to be in five places at once. The events run simultaneously from 1:00 to 7:00 p.m. Guided bus tours depart each venue at 1:30 p.m. Admission is free. Call 305-373-0011.-John Anderson
Your obsession with TV renovation shows and your traumatizing real-life experience with the subject has taught you many things, most notably that carpenters are never nearly as hot as their TV counterparts. You're just happy when the fatso with the weighty tool belt exposing his butt crack even shows up as scheduled. If he came close to resembling Trading Spaces' Ty Pennington or Clean Sweep's Eric Stromer, that would be something out of a dream. Well, get ready to sleepwalk at The Miami Home Design & Remodeling Show, kicking off at 6:00 tonight. In addition to the hundreds of displays plugging nearly every home-related product on earth, many rooms designed by local celebrities, and several seminars about feng shui, caring for plants, and knowing your rights as a real estate buyer, Eric Stromer (yes, that's the hunky carpenter above) will appear at 2:00 and 4:00 p.m. on Monday, September 6, to talk about inventively organizing your home. The show runs through Tuesday, September 7, at the Miami Beach Convention Center, 1900 Convention Center Dr. Tickets cost $8. Call 305-667-9299. -- Nina Korman
Say goodbye to summer on the ice
Instead of the typical Labor Day sand and sun, why not take in some super-cool ice skating? Ice-skating? In Miami? Most certainly. At the Kendall Ice Arena's (10355 Hammocks Blvd.) fourth annual International Skating Institute Labor Day Challenge, you can watch skaters aged 3 and older make like Kristi Yamaguchi in dazzling artistic and interpretive solos, jump-and-spin teams, and much more. Competitors come from all over Florida, and in previous years guest skaters have called cities as far away as Quito, Ecuador home. If the frosty contest inspires your inner Oksana Baiul, don't strap on your skates just yet. You won't be able to take to the ice today, but the rink does offer classes and programs for both recreational and high-level competitive skaters. Today the competition starts at 1:00 p.m.; tomorrow it will kick off at 10:00 a.m. Admission is free. Call 305-386-8288 or visit www.kendallicearena.com. -Patrice Elizabeth Grell Yursik
Runs in the Family
Proclaimed by circuit owner Bobby Diehl as the most diverse racing series in the country, the Florida Association of Short Track Trucks (Fastruck/Fastkids) events going on at the Hialeah Speedway (3300 Okeechobee Rd.) include men, women, and even children. They all race Craftsman-style V-8 pickup trucks capable of reaching speeds of 140 mph. This year's contest pits reigning 2003 champ Tommy King against rookie George Morales from Miami. Also competing: repeat Florida champion Dicky Anderson, female driver Heather Lunsford, 60-something-year-old Rich Pellegrino, and the circuit's newest African-American racer, Jet Daniels. The Fastkids series (for ages 12 to 16) gained some prestige this year when 1995 Craftsman Truck Series Champion Mike Skinner used it to train his son, Dustin, in stock car racing. Look for Joey Morales, son of the aforementioned George, also to race on his home track. Test & Tune begins at 6:30 p.m.; racing at 8:00 p.m. Tickets cost $5 and $10. Call 305-821-6644. -- Alex Torres