It's that time again. Time to drape yourself head to toe in black and do your best art collector impression (a beret might be a nice touch). The mammoth event known as Art Basel is back to try to talk you into forking over your hard-earned cash for a painting, piece of sculpture, a photograph, or maybe all of the above. This year marks the launch of the yellow dot campaign, meaning if you see a yellow sticker next to a piece of work it costs less than $5000. (Wow! Thanks for the tip, guys.) But if you only have eyes for art and no liquid dinero to purchase a contemporary piece from the 175 galleries, you still can take part in other aspects of Art Basel. "Art Nova," featuring emerging artists; "Art Positions," highlighting works in shipping containers on the sand; and "Art Conversations," presenting talks with such art world bigwigs as Barbara Bloemink of New York's Cooper Hewitt Design Museum and Glenn Lowry of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, are among the slew of ancillary events taking place. Those who don't want to be anywhere near the Beach during such a hectic time can hang out in the Design District this evening for the "Art Loves Design" party showcasing exhibitions all over the area. Art Basel itself runs from noon to 8:00 p.m. today through Sunday and noon to 6:00 p.m. Monday at the Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Dr. Admission is $17; after 5:00 p.m. the price goes down to $10. Call 305-674-1292. (NK)
One of our favorite Chris Rock jokes involves a hooker informing Rock that she'd do anything for $200. His wry response: "Paint my house, bitch!" That kind of zany humor is the stuff careers are made on and Rock, who is still a young 37 years old, already boasts a varied résumé: a member of the Saturday Night Live cast, his own show on HBO, countless comedy specials, and acting gigs galore (the latest in the movie Head of State, which he wrote, starred in, and directed). Rock comes to town on his Black Ambition tour tonight at 7:00 at the Jackie Gleason Theater of the Performing Arts, 1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets range from $35 to $60. Call 305-673-7300. (NK).
Oy vey and hava nagila! The movies at the seventh annual Miami Jewish Film Festival won't all be mired in stereotypes of matzo ball soup-swilling bubbies and overbearing mothers. In fact the program seeks to break new ground in showing a diverse and rounded culture. Not every Jew is intent on squeezing the last Palestinian out of Israel. Some advocate tolerance and seek alternative methods for establishing peace once and for all in the Middle East. With more than 50 films to be screened from all over the world, the festival promises to pack in audiences. Tonight's opening flick is Monsieur Batignole, a lighthearted if unsettling look at Jewish life during the Third Reich. The film screens at 8:00 p.m. at Sunrise Cinemas Intracoastal Theater, 3701 NE 163rd St., North Miami Beach. Tickets cost ten dollars. Call 888-585-3456. (JCR)
The art of flamenco may have roots in the Gypsies of Andalusia, Spain. But it's also been influenced by other cultures, namely the Moors and the Sephardic Jews of the Mediterranean. This afternoon the Center for Emerging Art will explore those links and then some when it presents the stirring work Sefarad at the Biltmore Hotel (1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables). Choreographed by Ilisa Rosal for Ballet Flamenco LaRosa, the piece combines Sephardic music and flamenco dance. Tickets cost $20. Call 305-538-2803 to reserve a seat. (NK)
Rabbi Joseph Telushkin holds the key to good living. He can straighten out President Bush and a few Cabinet members or congressmen. What he has that can make such a difference is the Ten Commandments of Character. In tonight's lecture the renowned rabbi gives invaluable advice for living an honorable, ethical, and honest life. We cannot say enough about this event. With any luck Miami's droves of crooks and con men, police chiefs, and politicians will show up for some straight talk. After all, there are no excuses. The lecture begins at 8:00 at the University of Miami's Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies, 5202 University Dr., Coral Gables. Admission is free. Call 305-284-6882. (JCR)
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Japanther (Ian Vanek and Matt Reilly), the New York-based duo with the super cool name, brings its fast and loud tunes to our local temple of live tunes Churchill's (5501 NE Second Ave.) for a two-gig stint. Tonight around 11:00 they'll share the bill with the Laundry Room Squelchers, Doersam, Mali, Black & Blue, and U Can Unlearn Guitar. Tomorrow evening beginning at 11:00 they'll rock out with the Bikes, Panda Bite, and AC Cobra. No cover tonight, but you'll need to shell out three bucks for tomorrow's show. Call 305-757-1807. (NK)
Fairchild Tropical Garden will be transformed into Stratford-upon-Biscayne Bay today as young actors roam the gardens chasing love, wounding foes, casting spells, and howling at ghosts, gods, and storm gusts while decked out in Elizabethan garb. You guessed it: It's Shakespeare in the Tropics, an annual romp into classical theater. Beware, you may encounter a lovelorn Lothario while trekking along the winding paths. Perhaps you'll see a confounded Hamlet muttering like a young mad felon. But if you see a girl floating in one of the ponds, chances are you better call for help. It would take a brave Ophelia to act out her death in the park's alligator-inhabited lagoons. The event starts at noon at Fairchild Tropical Garden, 10901 Old Cutler Rd., Coral Gables. Admission is free with ten-dollar admission. Call 305-667-1651. (JCR)