Best Of :: People & Places
Barron Sherer and Kevin Wynn can typically be found in a dark room, leaning toward a flickering screen and intently watching moving images of the past. They are cocurators of Cinema Vortex, a nonprofit organization dedicated to collecting and screening Florida's old movies. At The Wolfsonian-FIU they run the Public Domain Playhouse series, which uses old advertisements, news reels, home videos, and propaganda flicks to illustrate provocative points. The two men spend a great deal of time in the Louis Wolfson II Florida Moving Image Archive in the dungeonlike basement of the main branch of the Miami-Dade Public Library. The temperature-controlled space is filled with dusty reels, black wax platters, and elaborate screening machines. There's also footage from closed-down companies, home movies, and fragile, magnetic-tape memories. Their dedication to preserving the past is admirable, to say the least. "What we find goes back to this old-timey thing when film had to be physically driven through a projector. There's a certain evocation of a simpler -- quote, unquote -- happier time. Which of course, wasn't that happy," Wynn laughs. The stash in the library's basement reveals a time before reality television and music videos, an era when people didn't know how to act in front of a camera. Sherer and Wynn get to see the past that has been whitewashed from the selective American memory, when people of color were seen onscreen only in a domestic capacity. Back in those days, films circulated without restraint. They were screened in classrooms, conference rooms, or clubs, and then they were discarded and forgotten. Old reels capturing important moments in history would turn up in someone's basement or attic. The treasure hunt for films has just about ended, Wynn laments. We are living in litigious times, and companies nowadays would rather lock up their employee training videos and commercials in a vault than let them fly free, to be readapted, cut, and edited into art. "Twenty years from now, the pool of film video that is in the public domain is quite likely to be the same pool we have now, because material produced more recently just isn't going to show up," Wynn warns. Together these two provide an opportunity to look into the past, using celluloid recollections to reveal contemporary truths.
James "Jimbo" Luznar opened his joint on Virginia Key, Jimbo's, a half-century ago. And there's no better place on the water to take a toot.
What is your greatest triumph?
We used to be where the Herald building is, but then they said our boats would have to go. So we looked at Snapper Creek, Mart Park, then we ended up on Virginia Key. It stunk sometimes, and there were mosquitoes, snakes, coons, opossums, and iguanas. It cost us a lot of money to be there, but we stayed. They've been trying to get me out of there for a long time, but now everyone all over the world knows Jimbo.
Born in Homestead, Kevin Wynn is the producer and cohost of Downtown Dade, a TV talk show that covers the arts and culture and airs on the county's government access channel. He is also the coprogrammer, with Barron Sherer, of Cinema Vortex, a nonprofit organization devoted to screening unusual, significant, and neglected film and video works. And he's the creator of Public Domain Playhouse, a continuing series of screenings he curates with Sherer.
What is your greatest triumph?
My greatest triumph? I dont do triumph. Ive never had one. I cant tell you how it feels to triumph, or what it looks, tastes or smells like. I wouldnt know triumph if some guy ran over me with a TR4.
There are several safe, clean places where we can let Fido run off-leash in Miami-Dade. Coconut Grove has several dog-friendly parks; the Beach has some nice locations; there's a spot on Virginia Key where dogs can swim and sunbathe; but of all the canine treats in my Miami, the mac daddy of all dog parks is in Aventura. Two years ago the city, which is burgeoning with young dog-owning families, built the expansive new Veterans Park. The $600,000 two-acre expanse has a wonderful, well-kept, welcoming space. There are pooper-scooper dispensers throughout the space. There are doggy water fountains and doggy showers. And the most endearing detail: red fire hydrants. All of this greatness, of course, comes at a price: You have to live in Aventura, and show proof of residence, to gain access. It's almost reason enough to move there.
It is a dark time for Miami-Dade County's executive mayor. The evil lords on the county commission annihilated Carlos Alvarez's bold offensive to strip them of some bribe-making abilities. Then the Galactic Empire displayed the true power of the Dark Side when it crushed Alvarez in the Boundary Wars. Beaten but resolute, the good mayor fled to the outer rim of the county's suburban wasteland to regroup and complete his training. Upon his return, Alvarez successfully destroyed the Imperials' diabolical device: The Public Silencer. In time, this Obi-wan of the Swamp may finally bring balance to the county.
Come one, come all, to the "Read to Farley" sessions at the children's section of the North Miami Beach Library, the second and fourth Tuesdays of every month at 4:00 p.m. This is no ordinary dog. This shaggy mop o' unconditional love once suffered from crippling agoraphobia, owing to early abuse. But his patient handler, Margo Berman, a professor at Florida International University, worked tirelessly, training him to overcome his fears and earn his Therapy Dog badge. Now Farley helps shy children who have trouble reading aloud. Once the youngsters sit down with Farley on the colorful rugs, they don't want to stop reading him stories because he is a great listener, mispronunciations be damned!