Never, or Then?

The chief cuts loose, Michy’s opens, Carmel Ophir and La Gata rock on

As it turns out, it wasn't a new home for strays, but an oddly located recording booth on wheels. StoryCorps, a nonprofit national oral history project, was in town. Sponsored by National Public Radio and affiliated with the Library of Congress, the trailer studio has stopped in dozens of cities since its 2003 inception. The self-service studio is staffed by a security guard who allows people to enter; once inside, friends, family members, lovers, and strangers interview each other about their lives. It's in Miami until February 26.

Usually the Airstream parks in "destination spots" with lots of foot traffic — outside libraries, near parks, in pedestrian malls — said StoryCorps spokeswoman Jo Flattery of New York PR firm Dan Klores Communications. When The Bitch told Flattery that pedestrians are a rare breed in the neighborhood around StoryCorps' current digs, Flattery pleaded ignorance.

Unsatisfied, the persistent hound rang up another StoryCorps rep in Washington. "Um [long pause], you're not the first person to make that point; we've been hearing that a lot from people down there," the rep said, after requesting her name be withheld.

WLRN-FM (91.3), the Herald's on-air news partner and Miami's only NPR station, chose the spot. Rick Lewis, executive director of Friends of WLRN, said he hadn't heard any complaints, but acknowledged the location might not be ideal. "There are other places that are probably more generally public in a way," he said. "Most people at least know where [the Herald building] is."

Potential spots in Coral Gables, Miami Beach, and Hollywood "seemed to be less representative of the city as a whole," Lewis said. Anyway, Lewis pointed out, most of the 40-minute recording slots were booked in advance once StoryCorps spread the word to community groups, schools, and churches: "They're not really dependent on walk-in traffic." (A stop such as this one can accommodate about 150 recording sessions.)

The segments will begin running at 5:45 p.m. Tuesdays through March 7.


Craveable Cuisine

Michy's, genius chef Michelle Bernstein's new restaurant on Biscayne Boulevard at NE 69th Street, was scheduled to open this past October, but those plans were squashed — literally — when Wilma huffed and blew the roof down. Damage was extensive and, as Bernstein laments, "We had to start fresh." Easier said than done during the hectic posthurricane period: "Just getting a glass guy took a month."

Michelle describes Michy's as "a neighborhood place, casual and fun. Very bistro. It's got a late-Sixties design." Before taking some time off to plan and work on Michy's, Bernstein was famous for her MB restaurant in Cancun and for bringing Azul at the Mandarin Oriental to international prominence. Bernstein is aiming for something much more personal now. "It's like I'm inviting you into my living room. We bought chairs at a thrift store and painted them ourselves" — "we" being she and other family members, like husband, sister, and mother, all of whom will be taking part in what may be shaping up as the highest-profile mom-and-pop operation ever launched.

The Bitch wonders aloud: Will the restaurant be dishing up some sort of Hasidic-Hispanic fare? Bernstein laughs. "There'll be some Latin things like rabo encendido (spicy oxtail stew), but you can't call it Jewish-Latin." She refers to it instead as "comfort food," which on any given night may encompass dishes such as chickpea stew and fried olives, or an impeccably au poivre'd steak frites, she says. The acclaimed chef herself will be typing up a new menu each week. A raw bar will be a permanent feature, as will freshly cured meats and fish, and pricing promises to be as friendly as the food: "I'm playing with smaller portions — not expensive. Three dishes will be maybe 30 bucks."

Bernstein now pegs Michy's soft opening date as sometime this week.


Rojas Robot

Canine congratulations to Miami-based 3 Second Rule Productions and director/writer Fro Rojas. The 26-year-old Westchester native and his colleagues beat out 160 other crews in the National Film Challenge, in which competitors are given 48 hours to write, film, and edit a short movie.

The competition was held this past October, and winners were announced in January. 3 Second Rule won Best Film, Best Story/Script, Best of the East, and Best Documentary for the Rojas-penned mockumentary The First Robot.

"I always wanted to do a story about the guy who invented the robot dance and how he's angry because he doesn't get any credit," Rojas says. "That's basically what we did. It was a series of fake interviews with the guy and his one dedicated fan. In the end he tries to come up with another dance, but all his ideas are terrible, like 'the toaster,' where he just jumps up and down, and 'the claw,' where he just moves his hand around, making machine noises."

Rojas moved to Los Angeles in 2001 but returned to Miami to raise his fifteen-year-old sister after their mother succumbed to cancer last year.

"When I left, there weren't many opportunities in Miami, but now it's a whole different deal," Rojas says.

Up next for 3 Second Rule Productions: two Miami-based TV pilots.

The First Robot can be seen online at www.filmchallenge.org.

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