It's tough keeping a band together, especially when your ensemble consists of grizzled veteran musicians who know the road all too well and get antsy playing in one place too long. The sextet performing during the Van Dyke Cafe's (846 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach) regular Thursday night Hard Bop Special is made up of just those kinds of guys. It's a major feat that they've held together nearly a year. Unfortunately it didn't last. Acclaimed trumpet player Pete Minger is the band's first casualty. He dropped out last month. But the transition has been as smooth as the tunes. Earlier this month local trumpet virtuoso Melton Mustafa replaced Minger, offering Miamians a rare treat: They get to see Mustafa playing apart from his big band and sharing the stage with his brother, alto saxophonist Jesse Jones. Shows take place at 9:00, 10:30 p.m., and midnight. Music charge is four dollars. Call 305-534-3600. (NK)
Televisions, antique stamps, and vistas of Little Havana evoke Cuba and provoke personal memories for five Cuban-American photographers. Esteemed Miami documentarian Mario Algaze roamed Calle Ocho and its environs for his 1980s series "Little Havana," photos from which are in the exhibition "Theater of Memory: Five Cuban-American Photographers," opening tonight at the Centro Cultural Espanol (800 Douglas Rd., ste. 130, Coral Gables). Local artist Maria Martinez-Canas shows works from her well-known "Quince Sellos Cubanos" series: manipulated images of Cuban stamps, which the artist says express her own sense of exile. Also featured are Silvia Lizama's handcolored shots of I-95 and its surroundings, Eduardo Munoz's black-and-white images using television screens as mirrors of national and cultural identity, and photographs by Tony Mendoza previously exhibited at New York's Museum of Modern Art. A reception starts at 8:00 p.m. The exhibition runs through July 31. Admission is free. Call 305-448-9677. (JC)
You might consider wearing diapers to the opening night of Miami Light Project's annual gay and lesbian comedy series Come Out Laughing. The jokes might just get to you and you wouldn't want to ruin your stylish outfit. The series features performances by funny people once a month through August. On tonight's bill: Greg Walloch and Susan Jeremy. Walloch, who suffers from cerebral palsy, performs his one-man show White Disabled Talent, which pokes fun at his disability and gay sexuality. Jeremy, an adroit impersonator, shares some of her original characters, who delve into issues such as lesbian dating and the endless search for fame. Showtimes are 8:00 and 10:00 p.m. at the Colony Theater, 1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Tickets cost $25. Call 305-576-4350. (NK)
British journalist Christopher Hitchens is the political pundit equivalent of Mikey, the persnickety kid from the old Life cereal commercials. He "hates everything," and he doesn't mind letting the whole world know. A columnist for Vanity Fair and the Nation, Hitchens has suggested Mother Theresa was a showboater, called New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd a "little cow," and nailed (under oath) his former friend, Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal, as the rumormonger who claimed Monica Lewinsky was a stalker. Most recently he was seen on the TV gabfest Politically Incorrect sparring with, of all people, Suzanne Somers over Slick Willy's wily ways. Ever the instigator, Hitchens dubbed the president "a rapist." Yow! We hope Hitch lays off the oh-so-tedious schtick sometime soon but not before 4:00 this afternoon when he comes to Books & Books (296 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables) to discuss his latest tome, No One Left to Lie To: The Triangulations of William Jefferson Clinton. Admission is free. Tomatoes for pelting the author after the reading are optional. Call 305-442-4408. (NK)
Make way for the leotard brigade as the Florida Dance Festival moves into Miami. Over the next two weeks, nearly 300 dance classes and workshops in styles as varied as ballet, jazz, tap, modern, swing, Afro-Cuban, Egyptian, and Japanese will be offered to intermediate-level students through professional dancers. Also national and international dancers, companies, and lecturers will present fifteen performances and programs. The extravaganza begins tonight at 8:00 at the Colony Theater (1040 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach) when Nucleo Omstrab, a five-man troupe from Brazil, rhythmically interprets the life of the nordestino, a man from the north of Brazil. Tickets cost $20 dollars. Call 305-674-3350 or see "Calendar Events," page 41, for details. (NK)
You're dying to go to Thailand, but you're broke. All
you can do is stare at the stunning landscapes in your collection of travel brochures. Well live a little vicariously through Michael Ferrero of the Nong Nooch Tropical Garden in Thailand. As guest speaker for tonight's meeting of the Tropical Flowering Tree Society, Ferrero dishes the latest dirt about the flowering trees, shrubs, and vines of exotic Siam. The tree society meets jointly with the horticultural society and the master gardeners at 7:30 p.m. at Fairchild Tropical Garden, 10901 Old Cutler Rd. Admission is free for members and visitors. Membership costs $15. Call 305-669-9864. (NK)
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It's good to be a Latin American writer living in Los Angeles. Just ask author Maria Amparo Escandon. She recently released her first book, Esperanza's Box of Saints, an affecting tale of a strong woman who has a crisis of faith yet triumphs nonetheless. Escandon also wrote a screenplay based on her work and it has been bought by a consortium of Hollywood types, including big shot producer-director John Sayles. Not bad for a first effort. Tonight at 7:30 Escandon delivers a bilingual presentation about her book at Barnes & Noble, 7710 N. Kendall Dr. She also speaks tommorow at 8:00 p.m. at Barnes & Noble, 18711 Biscayne Blvd., Aventura. Admission is free. Call 305-598-7292 or 305-935-9770. (NK)
A veteran of Cuban jazz groups Afrocuba, Cuarto Espacio, and Sintesis, Cuban pianist Ernan Lopez-Nussa has an eclectic repertory ranging from classical to Afro-Cuban vernacular rhythms, from traditional Cuban music to contemporary jazz, and fusions of all of the above. Tonight and tomorrow night at 9:00, he makes his Miami debut at Starfish (1427 West Ave., Miami Beach), performing with fellow young Cuban talents Ramses Manuel Rodriguez on drums and percussion, Inor Sotolongo on percussion, and Jorge Perez on bass. Admission is $15. Call 305-267-3440. (JC)
Celebrate James Joyce's epic Ulysses by ambling around Coral Gables at the second annual Bloomsday. At noon at Books & Books (296 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables) listen to thespians from Actors' Playhouse read from the famed work. Then stroll over to JohnMartin's (253 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables) and lunch from a special Bloomsday menu (yum!). Back to the bookstore at 3:00 p.m. for one more hour of readings. Then it's tea time at JohnMartin's. Stick around for a 5:00 p.m. happy hour, boogie to the Sounds of Avalon, and then devour an Irish dinner. If you're somewhat sober and you haven't jigged yourself into nausea, stagger back to Books & Books at 8:00 p.m. for the final reading. Or just sit tight at the pub, everyone's final destination after they finish paying tribute to that blasted book! Admission is free; the food and drink isn't. Call 305-442-4408. (