When tragic events such as the tsunami occur, some people search for spiritual explanations or question their gods. Others point to the 200-year-old Essay on the Principle of Population..., in which Thomas Malthus explains that if the number of the world's inhabitants isn't sometimes reduced in large numbers, sustenance will eventually be depleted, wiping out all life on the planet. Some just ask, Why? Why? Why?
None of which does a damn bit of good for the hundreds of thousands of humans in southeastern Asia who have been killed or injured or sickened, who've lost loved ones, who've been left without water or food or shelter, who have suffered nature's wrath in Biblical proportions. Fortunately, some people react to calamity not by asking ponderous metaphysical questions or creating mythological explanations, but by taking action.
Such is the case with the folks at Johnson & Wales University (1701 NE 127th St., North Miami). This private school opened in 1914 and is especially known for its food and hospitality training. According to school officials, 98 percent of the students find employment in their chosen careers within two months of graduating.
So the J&W people know what they're doing, and they're doing something for the survivors of the tsunami devastation with an International Gourmet Tasting Benefit at the school. Beginning at 6:30 p.m. attendees will be served elegant recipes from ten kitchens followed by desserts concocted by six pastry chefs. The money raised from the $50 admission and a silent auction will, university officials hope, raise $50,000 for the International Red Cross. Call 305-913-2102. -- Greg Baker
Those who groove to energetic Latin rhythms -- and those who love a great workout -- should enjoy this workshop. Professional choreographer and artistic director Neri Torres is offering the Roots of Mambo class, leading participants through African movements that influenced the style to the authentic mambo that dancers decked out in ruffles did during the Forties and Fifties in Cuba. "It's a lot of torso and hip shakes,'' Torres explains. "It looks very sassy.'' The workshop is this afternoon at 1:00 at the Ife Ile Dance Studio, 10370 W. Flagler St., Miami. The fee is $15 in advance, and $20 at the door. Call 305-476-0388, or visit www.ife-ile.org-- Patti Roth
An organized Virgo and a brutally honest Sagittarian walk into a yoga studio. It's no joke; they're ready for an astrology workshop. Vedic astrology, called Jyotish ("science of light"), has thrived in India for thousands of years. Based on the placement of the planets in the constellations (sidereal zodiac), Vedic is renowned for accurately predicting events. Learn about how the planets make you tick today at 4:00 at Synergy North Beach Studio, 8701 Collins Ave., Surfside. The class costs $40 in advance or $50 at the door. You will need to provide the exact time, place, and date of your birth two days before the workshop. Call 305-866-1650, or visit www.synergyyoga.org. -- Lyssa Oberkreser
Miami is a city celebrated for its diversity. We've got Latin Americans and Caribbean islanders by the truckload. For a refreshing window into another, more foreign world, check out the 28th Annual Lebanese Festival. Music by Ousama Karaki and his ensemble will be accompanied by dabke dancers from the church's troupe. Feast on authentic Middle Eastern dishes like hummus, kibbeh, tabouleh, stuffed grape leaves, and pastries and explore the bazaar featuring Lebanese clothing, costumes, and trinkets. The festival takes place this evening from 5:00 until midnight and continues until Sunday, January 30, at 5:00 p.m. at Our Lady of Lebanon Catholic Church, 2055 Coral Way, Miami. Admission costs five dollars. Call 305-856-7449. -- Patrice Elizabeth Grell Yursik