Riddled with cost overruns and delays, the new Miami Performing Arts Center is far from finished and already it has been reported that the acoustics will suck. Set to open in 2006, 16 months behind schedule, the onetime $254 million structure has, thanks to shoddy workmanship and the higher price of materials, ballooned to cost a bloated $344 million, proving the old adage that you just can't get good help anymore. Still the steel and glass behemoth -- future headquarters of the New World Symphony, Florida Grand Opera, Concert Association of Florida, and the Miami City Ballet -- rises from its spot on Biscayne Boulevard at 13th (hello, unlucky number!) Street. Each day more than 200 workers can be seen busily screwing things up. Maybe they'd do a better job if they were treated to a little entertainment? Enter the Hard Hat Performance Series, inaugurated in March of 2002 by concerned and compassionate Performing Arts Center honchos. On the second Friday of the month top-notch artists do their thing for underachieving construction workers. Opera singers, klezmer musicians, and flamenco dancers have been among those who have appeared. Today at noon "Be-Bob" Grabowski's Gecko Island Jazz Band plays tunes. PAC personnel have said the series is supposed to inspire the workers and make them feel connected to their task. Recent results have gotten us thinking: Maybe a monthly strip show complete with lunchtime lap dances would yield a better building? Admission is free. Call 305-579-7626. -- By Nina Korman
A Prince Calls
His lineage begins with King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba. His granddaddy is none other than His Imperial Majesty Emperor Haile Selassie, known to Rastafarians worldwide as the Lion of Judah, a divine entity. Prince Ermias Sahle-Selassie Haile Selassie (his given name) is the real deal. The exiled Ethiopian prince appears at FIU, where he will deliver a speech about the political situation in the Horn of Africa. He is a guest of the Association for Africans Reclaiming Identity. His Majesty speaks at 8:00 p.m. at FIU University Park Campus, Graham Center, 11200 SW 8th St. Admission is free. Call 305-227-3149. -- By Juan Carlos Rodriguez
On Playboy After Dark -- the '60s late-night TV show featuring celebrities, whiskey, and Hugh Hefner in silk jammies -- curvy Playboy bunnies bounced around a round red bed to the gasps of a blushing America. To celebrate the iconic skin magazine's half-century mark, the bunnies, more blond and top-heavy than ever, are coming to Opium Garden (136 Collins Ave., Miami Beach) tonight for Playboy's 50th Anniversary Club Tour. Along with bunnies both past and present, vintage outfits, Hef's robe, and that famous round bed will be on display. Admission is $146 for 7:00 p.m. VIP entry and $65 for general admission schlubs at 8:00 p.m. Call 800-919-6272. -- By Humberto Guida
Nobody likes the black jellybean. Invariably it sits at the bottom of the bag, rejected, lonely, questioning its existence. Life as the center of festive pink and white Good & Plenty isn't even enough to raise its spirits. Yes, licorice, derived from a plant officially considered a weed, is the oddball of the candy world, and the people who like it? Even odder. Surely one of them, and not just some evil confectioner out to make a buck, had to be the one who invented National Licorice Day? Whoever is responsible, maybe you should wolf down a Twizzler or two and make a candy's day. -- By Nina Korman
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