Diversity rules the day
You make arrangements with a travel agent. Have a passport issued. Stuff a couple of suitcases. Grab a cab to the airport and cram into an airplane. And then comes one of life's great pleasures: an international vacation. If you live in Miami, you can skip the itinerary adviser, the travel papers, and the rest. From here you can, in the words of the Discover Miami motto, "experience the world in a day." Miami's great asset, multiculturalism, sometimes turns into its biggest bane (remember Elian?). To emphasize the positive and help deflect future schisms is the goal of Discover Miami, a music and arts festival that offers guided bus tours and shuttles to the hearts of five neighborhoods where minifestivals will offer a healthy dose of diverse cultures. In Little Havana (SW Eighth Street, from Fourteenth to Seventeenth Avenues) dance companies, a troupe of mariachis, a Colombian pop group, and a Guatemalan rock act will entertain amid offerings of Latin food and arts and crafts. At Temple Israel (137 NE Nineteenth Street) you can enjoy the Klezmiamians, a klezmer group; a play by City Theater, folk dancing, short films, history exhibits, and Kabbalistic storytelling by a rabbi. In a particularly Miami-as-world diversion, cantor Karina Zilberman of Argentina and Alejandra Czarny will sing Jewish music in Hebrew, Yiddish, Spanish, and English. Meanwhile, in Little Haiti (at NE 59th Street and Second Avenue), there'll be stories, book signings, art displays, music, and dance. In Liberty City (6116 NW Seventh Ave.) comedian Larry Dogg will perform along with an array of singers and poets. This one will also offer a fashion show and plenty of soul food. The North American Zeitgeist (a half-dozen well-known folk musicians, some bluegrass and country sounds, and even a symphony) gets represented at the Shores Performing Arts Center, 9806 NE Second Ave. Today from noon to 6:00 p.m. the festival is free, and you don't need a passport. Call 305-373-0011 or visit www.discovermiami.org. -- Greg Baker
The Gleason Glitters
It sounds like an episode of Extreme Makeover. A middle-aged ex-beauty. Eight months of "work." A four-million-dollar budget. And when the grand old dame unveils her newly renovated charms tonight, you can bet she's gonna look like a perfect ten. The lady in question is the Jackie Gleason Theater of the Performing Arts (1700 Washington Ave., Miami Beach), recently tucked, lifted, and refurbished. Tonight's Grand Opening/Ribbon Cutting Party celebrates not only the premiere of Miami City Ballet's Nutcracker, but the Gleason's designer wardrobe: seven bars, a 42-inch plasma screen TV, infrared motion-sensor equipped bathrooms, spiffed-up carpeting, textured wall coverings, and shiny granite -- things that make you go "oooooh." Call 305-673-7300 or visit www.gleasontheater.com. -- Gail Shepherd
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For those of you that have a relationship with your car akin to that of Michael Knight and K.I.T.T., this is for you. Hot Import Nights, a nationally touring car show featuring fast cars and fast women, will grace the halls of the Miami Beach Convention Center (1901 Convention Center Dr.) on Saturday, from 5:00 p.m.-midnight. So, if you have the bling bling for the freshest ICE (that's In Car Entertainment), get in your ride and hit the turbo boost all the way to the showroom. Aside from all the tricked out cars, there will be DJ's, MC battles, and did we mention the models? Call 949-789-7439 or visit www.hotimportnights.com. -- Kris Conesa
If an event promo contains the phrase "no holds barred," you know it's a good thing. Both veteran and emerging fashion designers will be showing off their designs on luscious young bodies sashaying down a runway built right on the sands of sexy South Beach. Three shows will run in succession, so try not to feel self-conscious as you admire the fashions modeled by rail-thin beauties, and snack on hors d'oeuvres served by the ravishing wait staff. Be sure to stay for cocktails at the Pearl champagne lounge. The beautiful people party is from 8:00 to 11:00 tonight and Sunday at Nikki Beach, One Ocean Dr., Miami Beach. Call 305-538-1111 or visit www.nikkibeach.com. --Lyssa Oberkreser