Don't count on hearing gripping stories about the Titanic or the Andrea Doria or even the S.S. Minnow from Gilligan's Island when you pay a visit to the Historical Museum of Southern Florida's (101 W. Flagler St.) latest exhibition, "Shipwrecks and Rescues: 1550-2000." The disasters and heroic events covered are limited to those that occurred around the Florida coast. But that doesn't mean the info won't be exciting. Expect to learn about the dastardly doings of the Spanish Armada during the Sixteenth and Seventeenth centuries, the rise of the sleazy wrecking industry in the Florida Keys, and the capture of slave ships, plus get a look at photos, maps, and artifacts from wrecked ships. Kiddies can even board a life-size boat featuring simulated movement. Pack the Dramamine! The show runs through Sunday, June 6. Admission is five dollars. Call 305-375-1492. (NK)
German beer and food, especially tasty bratwurst, rich sauerbraten, and cheesy spaetzle, always give you the blues -- at least when it comes to getting on the scale after a hearty meal. For the past seven years German cuisine has been generating the blues in a different way. Since 1997 Harald Neuweg, owner of long-lamented Mozart Stube and now the fabulous new Fritz and Franz Bierhaus, has thrown Miami's longest continuously running blues festival, featuring performances by top-drawer musical acts and mouthwatering food. The Jumpstreet 88s, the Hep Cat Boo Daddies, Albert Castiglia, Tony O, and Kenny Neal are among the artists slated to play this year's edition of the Coral Gables Bluesfest. The fun and food goes on from noon to midnight today and tomorrow, and noon to 10:00 p.m. Sunday in front of Fritz and Franz Bierhaus, 60 Merrick Way, Coral Gables. Admission is free. Call 305-774-1883. (NK)
What's a girl gotta do to get noticed? Bette Midler had the answer when she took her piano pal Barry Manilow and some chicks she called the Harlettes and jammed at late-night shows in Manhattan bathhouses. It's true. That's how the Divine Miss "M" earned an audience. In doing so she also tipped off record execs and image makers to the power of the gay market. Others have followed: Cher, Madonna, Donna Summer, and now Justin Timberlake. But the red hot momma of song has continued to break ground through the years. She brings her Kiss My Brass tour to the Office Depot Center (2555 NW 137th Way, Sunrise). Her new album features Manilow on the piano, but don't count on a guest appearance at the show. You are, however, encouraged to wear your best bathhouse attire. Midler performs at 8:00 tonight and tomorrow. Tickets range from $52 to $152. Call 954-835-7825. (JCR)
Cultural diversity is the bottom line of the second annual Miami Mardi Gras, which takes over Biscayne Boulevard in downtown today with a booty-shaking mix of samba, salsa, merengue, soca, and so much more. Scheduled for a twelve-hour stint, the event will feature a parade, food, and music. Performers include Oscar De Leon, Fat Joe, Ivy Queen, Sonora Carruseles, T-Vice, and Bunji. Be sure to bring an appetite, because along with the street festivities will be a party for the tastebuds with eats from Colombia, Haiti, Puerto Rico, and all across the Americas. The merriment baffles many out-of-towners. Why do we Miamians party so often? The answer is quite simple: Because we can! The festivities open at noon and run through midnight at Biscayne Boulevard near NE Third Street. Admission is free. Call 305-458-5426. (JCR)
Sally Bowles, the bon vivant showgirl in the movie and musical Cabaret, is the embodiment of "divine decadence." As a character she not only lives life to the fullest, but she juxtaposes with the atrocities that are about to happen as the world explodes in World War II. Sally is the centerpoint of Christopher Isherwood's book The Berlin Stories, which inspired the classic musical. Today the FIU theater department leads a forum on Isherwood and his prophetic book. Scholar Barbara Weitz will talk about what life was like in prewar Berlin and professor Wayne E. Robinson will direct a staged reading of Isherwood's "I Am a Camera." The event begins at 8:00 p.m. at FIU Biscayne Bay Campus Library, room 175, 3000 NE 151st St., North Miami. Admission is free. Call 305-348-2237. (JCR)
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Almost three years ago some city life activists/fans of beautiful buildings called the Urban Arts Committee opened the exhibition "Miami Modern Architecture: 1945-1972" on Miami Beach. A little more than 80 striking photographs by Thomas Delbeck, Robin Hill, and Arthur Marcus offered views of local buildings mostly from the Fifties and Sixties (a style now called MiMo for Miami Modern) and all their inimitable details: wild windblock, crisp corrugated walls, bedazzling boomerangs. If you missed the eye-popping images back then, you can get a gander at them at MIA Gallery in Miami International Airport, between Concourses B and C. Admission is free. Call 305-869-1219. (NK)
Great SCOTS! It's Southern Culture on the Skids! The eclectic Chapel Hill, North Carolina trio (Mary Huff, Rick Miller, and Dave Hartman) has been around since 1985, releasing punky psychobilly surf rock odes to some of our favorite things such as fried chicken ("Eight Piece Box") and Mexican wrestlers ("Viva del Santo!"). Many of those songs can be found on albums with great titles like Too Much Pork for Just One Fork (1991) and the one every South Floridian can relate to, Plastic Seat Sweat (1997). For the first time in four years, SCOTS returns to record-store shelves with its latest collection of way-out tunes, Mojo Box. In support of the album, they'll be pulling their bus into Miami for what promises to be a wild show presented by the people from Poplife at I/O, 30 NE 14th St. Showtime is 9:00 p.m. Tickets cost $12. Call 305-358-8007. (NK)