There was a time (the Sixties) when, in certain circles, the word cracker came to be an ethnic slur. Put away your P.C. sticks and kick that etymological tangent to the curb. Swamp Cabbage: Cracker Culture in a Fast Food Nation -- a combination of photography, video, sound, cooking, eating, and discussions -- addresses a different meaning of cracker while exploring the broader theme of how culture is affected by environment, how a collective intimacy with the land is crucial to communities -- in this case the communities formed in the rural parts of central Florida -- and how the disappearance of that land affects people. Food, being the essential product of land, plays a critical role.
"With the population that goes back to the Florida pioneers," says organizer Julie Lara Kahn, "the term cracker carries a sense of pride and comes from the crack of the cattle whip. There are many meanings.... It would be a shame if the themes of this event were lost to that argument, especially since we hope people of all diverse ethnicities come and feel comfortable and enjoy the event."
The Harvard-educated interdisciplinary artist has a point. The idea here is to learn about and possibly come to understand the cracker culture. To that end, there will be a cooking demonstration (10:00 a.m. to noon at the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, 101 W. Flagler St., Miami); a six-week photo/video/sound exhibition at Locust Projects (105 NW 23rd St., Miami); a panel discussion (6:00 to 7:00 p.m. at Locust Projects); and a wild-game tasting (7:00 to 11:00 p.m. at TransEAT/Food Culture Museum, 2417 N. Miami Ave., Miami). The last will include culturally significant dishes such as swamp cabbage, smoked mullet dip, venison-and-wild-hog sausage chili, heirloom pork, frogs' legs, gator tail, quail, and soft-shell turtle (yes, the turtles are now out of season; they were trapped weeks ago). These cracker foods will be prepared by cracker chefs. All events are free, but you must obtain a button at Locust Projects to enter the other venues. Call 305-576-8570, or visit www.locustprojects.org. --Greg Baker
On the Dog
Ewww! Somebody farted! If you're at Books & Books (265 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables) today, you can point to the dog. Glenn Murray is in town to read from the latest in his series of popular children's books, Walter the Farting Dog. The original idea came from a story Murray's friend William Kotzwinkle told about a bloated bullmastiff named Walter who consumed beer and doughnuts and could clear a room with his gassy blasts. "I thought that would be great title for a book," says Murray, who penned the hilarious tale with Kotzwinkle. "Then it took eleven years to find a publisher." Some people apparently have a problem with the word fart. "It's that whole taboo thing," Murray adds. "But wherever I go, I make people laugh.... My audiences range [in age] from 4 to 104." A live-action version of Walter is now in the works with New Line Cinema. No word on whether they'll use smell-o-vision for enhancement, but the film will certainly end on the right paw: "Walter likes a happy ending," says Murray. Eat your beans and toot your own horn at 4:00. Call 305-442-4408, or visit www.booksandbooks.com. -- Lyssa Oberkreser
Clear Your Head
Before he reads your mind
Most days you're probably thankful people can't read your mind: I can't believe she's wearing that! What a ho! But tonight you will gladly fork over some dough to hear the wildly entertaining mentalist Marc Salem reveal your secrets during his show "Mind Games." Holding a Ph.D. in psychology from New York University and a resumé that boasts a research director's gig on Sesame Street, Salem has expertise in nonverbal communication that will fascinate the whole family. From describing objects hiding in your pockets (and how they got there) to naming your last vacation destination, he will astound even the most skeptical. But there's no magic or trickery here; visit his Website (www.marcsalem.com) and you'll see that Salem gladly offers advice on how to read people, spot liars, and "sharpen your powers of observation." Lose your mind tonight at 7:30 at the Lincoln Theater, 541 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $30 to $75, with proceeds benefiting the Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education. Call 305-576-4030. -- Lyssa Oberkreser
Grrrls Wanna Have Fun
SunFest may have filled West Palm Beach with huge crowds and more than four dozen bands, but Aqua Girl promises 4000 dykes spread out over four days in Miami Beach. The money goes to local nonprofits, but the women come for the fun. You can create a five-day weekend (four for fun, one to recuperate) beginning today with the Welcome to Paradise cocktail reception and dance party at the Marriott Courtyard (3925 Collins Ave., Miami Beach). Friday features the comedy of Marga Gomez and another hot dance party; Saturday brings a beach bash and of course a dance party; and Sunday boasts a jazz brunch and afternoon tea dance party. Our favorite pick is Saturday's oceanside pool party, where you can swim in perfectly heated water without having to deal with pesky sharks or spilled sewage. Event prices range from $60 for a weekend pass to $250 for a Diamond Host pass; individual event tickets start at $12. Call 305-532-1997, or visit www.aquagirl.org for a complete schedule of events and locations. -- Karen Dale Wolman