In 1934 Joseph Stalin attempted to give Jews in the Soviet Union a permanent enclave by creating a Jewish Autonomous Region, the capital of which was dubbed Birobidzhan. In conjunction with the exhibition "Stalin's Forgotten Zion: Birobidzhan and the Making of a Soviet Jewish Homeland," Nikolai Borodulin, a Yiddish scholar and former resident of the region (where only 2500 Jews remain), comes to the Sanford L. Ziff Jewish Museum (301 Washington Ave., Miami Beach.) at 7:30 tonight to discuss Soviet Yiddish Culture in Birobidzhan. Admission is five dollars. Call 305-672-5044. (NK)
Yanni won't be making an appearance at the Miami Greek Festival this year, but there will be lots of other Greek things to enjoy: homemade food and pastries, imported wines, rides for the kiddies, live entertainment (including dancing), and the all-important Greek boutique, where you can take a piece of Athens home with you. (Hey, put those down! You're supposed to eat off those plates, not break them!) The fest runs from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. today through Sunday at St. Andrew Greek Orthodox Church, 7901 N. Kendall Dr. Admission is two dollars. Call 305-595-1343. (NK)
When RCA signed a young Jose Feliciano in the mid-Sixties, the record execs wanted him to change his name to Joe Phillips. Feliciano refused and scored a crossover hit anyway, a Latin-tinged version of the Doors' "Light My Fire" that won a Grammy in 1968. The blind Puerto Rican troubadour has since remained one of the best-known Latin performers in the world. His latest album, Senor Bolero, features his throaty renditions of schmaltzy Cuban classics such as "Como Fue" and "Si Me Comprendieras," as well as original ballads. Feliciano performs at the Fontainebleau Hilton Resort and Spa's Club Tropigala (4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach) tonight at 11:45 and tomorrow night at 10:30. Tickets cost $40 tonight, $45 tomorrow. Call 305-672-7469. (JC)
To raise funds to pay the costs incurred in constructing a new computer training center and renovating their main building, the Miami Lighthouse for the Blind throws a benefit concert featuring legendary singer-pianist Ray Charles, who lost his sight at age six to glaucoma and persevered to become an international superstar. Among his many honors, Charles has earned fifteen Grammy Awards and inclusion in the Jazz Hall of Fame. Hear him tonight at 8:00 at the James L. Knight Center, 400 SE Second Ave. Tickets range from $26 to $76. Call 305-372-4634. (NK)
Just imagine: 300 volunteers, 100 buckets, 200 sponges, 500 towels, 50 gallons of soap, and 30,000 gallons of water. Bath time for an army of elephants? Try an army of cars. The Car Wash of the Millennium, taking place today from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. all over FIU's University Park Campus (SW Eighth Street and 107th Avenue), aims to wash 4000 cars in eight hours, attempting to break the fifteen-year-old Guinness world record of 3883, held by Carroll High School in Yakima, Washington. Proceeds will benefit FIU's student government association scholarships and alumni affairs fund, the United Way, and Motoring into the Millennium, the 50-state car trip historian Cesar Becerra and his wife Maud are taking next year to see what Americans are thinking at the end of the millennium. The first 2000 cars who roll into FIU will be eligible to participate in the Hunt of the Millennium, Becerra's tribute to the perhaps now extinct Tropic Hunt. Grand prize: a 30-day trip across the United States by plane, train, riverboat, automobile, and cruise ship. A wash costs six dollars. Call 305-444-1932. (NK)
Are you sick of hearing that electronica is the next big thing? Its fifteen minutes may be up, but the genre appears to be here to stay. Before the "e" word existed, there was Meat Beat Manifesto, with Jack Dangers laying down the industrial-boogie dance beats for Wax Trax records in the late Eighties. Cut to the late Nineties; Dangers's Meat Beat is still hitting the beat box better than most. They have a new CD to prove it: Actual Sounds and Voices, which includes former Headhunter players Pat Gleeson and Bennie Maupin. Whether in the studio or on the stage, Meat Beat has always masterfully incorporated live instruments with their electronic barrage of sounds, and now you can check them out (sorry jazzsters, Gleeson and Maupin aren't touring) tonight at 8:00 at Salvation (1771 West Ave., Miami Beach). Also on the bill: Josh Wink, Q-Burns Abstract Message, and others. Tickets cost fifteen dollars. Call 305-673-6508. (LB)
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Canceled owing to the Hurricane Georges scare, the concert starring jazz guitarist George Benson and comedian Sinbad is back tonight at 8:00 at the Jackie Gleason Theater of the Performing Arts, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets range from $35 to $150. Call 305-673-7300. (NK)
Given that he has written thirteen books, volunteered regularly with Habitat for Humanity, and founded the Carter Center for Human Rights all during his retirement, former president Jimmy Carter may be just the person to discuss The Virtues of Aging. Coincidentally, that's the title of his latest book, which he'll plug today at 12:30 p.m. during a reading sponsored by Books & Books at Coral Gables Congregational Church, 3010 De Soto Blvd., Coral Gables. Admission is free, but tickets are required and can be obtained with a book purchase. Call 305-442-4408. (NK)
Back in the Seventies, as one-half of Captain and Tennille, she used to sing about the mating rituals of rodents ("Muskrat Love"). At last Toni Tennille has moved on to hipper things -- we think. These days the vocalist is playing the lead in Victor/Victoria, the musical comedy based on the motion picture of the same name, about a woman who has fallen on hard times. In order to survive she takes a job at a Paris cabaret. Her task: pose as a man impersonating a woman. Got that? We said it was hipper, not simpler. Brava, Toni, very Nineties. Now where the hell does the Captain fit into all of this? The show, written by Blake Edwards with music by Henry Mancini and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse, runs through November 22 at the Jackie Gleason Theater of the Performing Arts (1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach). Performances take place at 8:00 tonight through Saturday and 7:00 p.m. Sunday, with 2:00 p.m. matinees Saturday and Sunday. Tickets range from $25 to $44. Call 305-673-7300. (NK)
They're Making Porn again on South Beach. Those who couldn't get enough of the uproarious comedy featuring a bunch of naked men (including gay porn actor Blue Blake) will be happy to know the production is back in town, for four days only. Former star Ryan Idol is absent. (He was booted from the show after walking out five minutes before curtain one night.) David Gordon plays the lead this time. Performances take place at 8:00 tonight and tomorrow, 7:00 and 10:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday at the Colony Theater, 1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $30. Call 305-674-1026. (