Pssst, did you hear? The Miami Art Museum (101 W. Flagler St.) has cut back its evening hours to one Thursday per month. Not good -- especially for us art lovers who spend countless hours chained to our desks and who enjoy the little breather that a short hop to the museum on a random Thursday night can bring. Maybe the MAMsters are attempting to make up for the reduced hours. Or maybe they're just trying to lure more people downtown in the evening, because from 5:00 to 8:30 tonight the museum is launching its Jam at MAM program. On the third Thursday of each month, MAM will stage a cool event with a different theme such as a salsa dance party or a beatnik-inspired coffeehouse. They'll serve free snacks and offer unusual martinis (a different flavor each month; pineapple-melon martinis are up first) for a small donation. Local favorite singer-songwriter Nil Lara kicks off the jam this evening. Okay, MAM, maybe we forgive you. Admission is free. Call 305-375-3000. (NK)
Tom Piazza, former jazz pianist, graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and noted jazz critic whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the Village Voice, and Playboy, gives the first reading of the season at the Writers on the Bay series at FIU's North Miami Campus (NE 151st Street and Biscayne Boulevard). The author of Blues Up and Down, a collection of essays about neotraditionalism in jazz; Setting the Tempo, an examination of 50 years of jazz liner notes; and The Guide to Classic Recorded Jazz will read from his Michener Prize-winning fiction book, Blues and Trouble: Twelve Stories at 8:00 p.m. in room 135 of the hospitality management building. Admission is free. Call 305-919-5857. (NK)
With their album Suenos Liquidos certified gold in the United States (a first for Latin rock), a series of chart-topping singles, numerous music industry awards, and thousands of screaming girls running in their wake, Mana is undeniably the supergroup of rock en espanol. Fresh from a date at New York's Madison Square Garden, the four-man Mexican megaband plays hard-driving rock with a romantic side and a social conscience tonight at 8:00 at the Miami Arena (721 NW First Ave.) Tickets range from $31 to $51. Call 305-530-4400. (JC)
Imagine being married to monumental artist Pablo Picasso, divorcing him, and then hooking up with ultrabrain Jonas Salk, discoverer of the polio vaccine. How do you maintain your identity and not become completely subsumed by your brilliant, charismatic husbands? Rather easily if you are Francoise Gilot. After spending ten years with Picasso and having two children (Claude and Paloma) with him, and then enjoying a 25-year marriage to Salk (he died in 1995), Gilot is still holding her own with a career that has spanned more than 50 years. An artist, printmaker, and author, she has produced 1500 paintings and 5000 works on paper, and has written eight books. She has degrees in philosophy and English literature from the Sorbonne and Cambridge and has taught painting. Gilot delivers the first talk in FIU's Critics' Lecture Series tonight at 8:00 at the University Park Campus (SW Eighth Street and 107th Avenue, AT-100). While Gilot speaks, a reception for the exhibition "Collaborations: William Allan, Robert Hudson, William Wiley" will take place next door at FIU's art museum. Admission is free. Call 305-348-2890. (NK)
Festival season is starting up again, and this is the first of what is bound to be many in Homestead. Art, antiques, and automobiles are what you'll find today from 9:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Colors of the Earth Art Festival in historic downtown Homestead. In addition to a collectibles and crafts market, a classic car show, musical entertainment, activities for the kiddies, and food, the event will feature a dedication of a new bandshell at 11:30 a.m. in the town square on Krome Avenue, where the festival will be centered. Admission is free. Call 305-374-7836. (NK)
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Inspired by life in contemporary Cuba, singer-songwriter Carlos Varela's folk-rock ballads reverberate in Miami and beyond. A mesmerizing player with stage presence to spare, Varela makes biting, poignant, poetic observations on the human condition. The troubadour has given several intimate acoustic performances here this year, and tonight he returns from a national tour to play at Starfish (1427 West Ave., Miami Beach). His concert there last month drew a mixed crowd of long-time fans and newcomers, and he encouraged audience members to translate his Spanish lyrics for the monolingual so they too could get the message. Showtime is 7:00 p.m. Admission is ten dollars. For more information call 305-267-3440. (JC)
Your old pal Seymour the goldfish may have choked on the algae growing in his tiny bowl many years ago, but that hasn't curbed your desire to own fish again. Well, check out the Florida Marine Aquarium Show at the Miami Museum of Science and Space Transit Planetarium (3280 S. Miami Ave.) through Sunday. The largest saltwater show in America will present more than 100 aquariums stocked with exotic fish, marine plants, live coral, anemones, and shells. Demonstrations, slide shows, lectures, and hands-on classroom workshops teach you the proper way to set up a saltwater aquarium. The show is open from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. today through Wednesday; 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Thursday through Saturday; and 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Sunday. Admission ranges from $5.50 to $9 and includes museum exhibitions and a planetarium show. Call 305-854-4247. (NK)
Twenty-five years ago the world was a very different place for a gay man. Back then, when author Andrew Tobias published his memoir, The Best Little Boy in the World, he had to use the pseudonym John Reid for fear his family and friends would find out who he really was. Now, for the most part, the world seems to have grown up, and Tobias has too. He has become a respected financial writer and recently published a sequel to his earlier work -- using his real name. Hear him read from The Best Little Boy in the World Grows Up tonight at 8:00 at Books & Books, 933 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Admission is free. Call 305-442-4408. (NK)
The self-proclaimed World's Heaviest Swing Band Hipster Daddy-O and the Handgrenades tests its firepower at the Hungry Sailor (3064 Grand Ave., Coconut Grove) tonight at 9:30. The Hipsters have been around for less than two years, but the Arizonans have spent the time well, ripping up the West Coast circuit, getting signed to Slimstyle Records, releasing their debut CD, Armed and Swingin', and now arriving in South Florida as part of their national tour. These boys do rock, even if their hype is a bit much. Hold on to your fedora and get ready to hop. The Double Agents and Cherry Forever open the show. Cover charge is seven dollars if you're over 21 and ten dollars if you're not. Call 305-444-9359. (