Before men started marching into delivery rooms videotaping the births of their babies, before TV commercials and music videos appropriated the shaky-camera technique and quick-cut style of editing, there was the work of acclaimed avant-garde filmmaker Stan Brakhage. He did it first. In the mid-Fifties Brakhage began making his very personal, mostly silent, shorts, producing controversial works that documented the birth of one of his children and the mundane life of his family. Brakhage's best work, though, has come in more recent years. After he married a camera-shy woman who forbade him to use the lives of his loved ones as fodder for his films, he altered his style from realistic to abstract. A slew of mainstream directors cite him as an influence. Today at 6:00 at the Wolfsonian-FIU (1001 Washington Ave., Miami Beach) the Louis Wolfson II Media History Center sponsors the Florida premiere of Brakhage, a documentary featuring excerpts of the filmmaker's work, archival footage, and interviews with him, his family, and friends. Executive producer Ron Mann will introduce and discuss the film. Admission is five dollars. Seating is limited, so call 305-375-1505 for reservations. (NK)
Except, perhaps, for the far rightest of right-wingers, the urge to visit Cuba doesn't seem to diminish for many people. Although rundown, the country is nevertheless attracting its fair share of tourists and curiosity seekers. In early 1998 on the eve of Pope John Paul II's trip, Romanian exile Andrei Codrescu, correspondent for National Public Radio, and photographer David Graham joined the droves interested in exploring the mystique of the island once considered the Paris of the Caribbean. The result: the book Ay, Cuba!: A Socio-Erotic Journey, which gives a written and photographic portrait of the complex nation in conflict with itself and the outside world. Codrescu speaks at 8:00 p.m. at Books & Books, 296 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables. Admission is free. Call 305-442-4408. (NK)
Tennis, anyone? Actually the Lipton Championships attract so many superstar athletes and spectators that the saying really should be "tennis, everyone?" For the next ten days at the Lipton Tennis Center (7300 Crandon Blvd., Key Biscayne), top-ranked players Andre Agassi, Venus Williams, Pete Sampras, Martina Hingis, and others hit the courts and vie for the big title and the big bucks. Tickets for individual games range from $5 to $45. Multimatch packages are available as well. To make life easier for you, shuttle buses will be running to the tournament from various downtown and Coconut Grove spots. Call 305-446-2200. (NK)
Contemporary and traditional styles of Cuban music will be showcased at Starfish (1427 West Ave., Miami Beach) this weekend in two intimate concerts by artists from the island. A founder of the Cuban Nueva Trova movement, the outspoken singer-songwriter Pedro Luis Ferrer, a controversial figure in his homeland, calls himself "a man of my time and country." He pens sardonic commentaries on contemporary Cuban life and sings rhapsodic, intelligent love songs that are masterful, timeless examples of the folk genre. Ferrer performs tonight at 7:30. Tomorrow at 8:00, Barbarito Torres, Cuba's foremost player of the lad, a small twelve-string lute, plays old-style Cuban son and other traditional Cuban music. And Sunday at 7:00 Ferrer and Torres perform together. Admission is $20. Call 305-673-1717. (JC)
Tonight at 8:00 at Miami-Dade County Auditorium (2901 W. Flagler St.) dynamic young Finnish conductor Essa-Pekka Salonen leads the celebrated Los Angeles Philharmonic in a concert of works that includes excerpts from Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet and Stravinsky's complete The Firebird Suite for Orchestra. Tickets range from $20 to $70. Call 305-532-3491. (NK)
The weather is still wonderful. That means festival season is not over yet. This one, at least, is set in a different neighborhood. The Upper Eastside Spring Festival at Legion Memorial Park (NE 65th Street and Biscayne Boulevard) goes from noon to 8:00 p.m. today. Expect the usual arts and crafts booths, international food concessions, and kiddie rides. Ruffhouse, Boukman Eksperyans, David Kirton, and Maryel Epps provide the music. Admission is free. Call 305-758-9027. (NK)
Finally a lecture you can sink your teeth into. Well, maybe. Janine Antoni, the sculptor and conceptual artist speaking at The Rubell Family Collection's (95 NW 29th St.) Program C lecture series today at 3:00, is almost as famous as Count Dracula for plunging her choppers into things. A recent recipient of a $225,000 MacArthur genius grant, Antoni is best known for projects that had her gnawing ceaselessly at giant blocks of chocolate and lard. She uses the remains to create art that addresses stereotypical female activities (read, she makes lipstick and little heart-shape boxes), while it explores her identity as a woman and challenges society's view of femininity. Geez, for a quarter of a million smackers, we'd chomp on lard eight hours a day too! Admission is free. Call 305-573-6090. (NK)
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Pack the earplugs: It's race day at the Grand Prix of Miami, the first event in the CART Championship Series, which is the premier open-wheel racing event in North America. Bring the binoculars, too. A few of the guys you may see wipe out or take the checkered flag: Jimmy Vasser, Al Unser, Jr., and Michael Andretti. It all starts at 1:30 p.m. at Homestead Motorsports Complex, One Speedway Blvd., Homestead. Tickets range from $65 to $85. Call 305-230-7223 (NK)
Troubador Annie Wenz drops into town for a special concert sponsored by the Folk Club of South Florida at 8:00 tonight at Luna Star Cafe (775 NE 125th St., North Miami). Dividing her time between Maine, Massachusetts, and Costa Rica, the singer-songwriter plays guitar, piano, percussion, and Native American flute, mixing contemporary acoustic sounds with multicultural rhythms. Her songs touch on varied experiences taken from her own life, such as running a 100-mile relay race with Penobscott Indian women, climbing an erupting volcano, and working as an obstetrical nurse in Kentucky. Admission is seven dollars. Call 305-892-8522. (NK)
Bring a lunch and picnic by the bay after you check out the huge variety of exotic plants at the Kampong. That is David Fairchild's (the founder of Fairchild Tropical Garden) Indonesian-inspired house, which is rarely open to the public. Fruit and Spice Park (24801 SW 187th Ave., Homestead) takes you on the Kampong Tour from 9:00 a.m. to noon today. Admission is $15. Space is limited. Call 305-247-5727 for reservations. (NK)
Reading aloud. You hated doing it in grade school, but you're happy to do it now that you're all grown up. Sounds like you're the perfect candidate for the Favorite Poem Project taking place at 8:00 p.m. at Coral Gables Congregational Church (3010 De Soto Blvd., Coral Gables). U.S. poet laureate Robert Pinsky is the brains behind this event as well as the host. He wants participants to read a favorite poem and informally state why the specific work is so special to them. By the year 2000, Pinsky aims to put together an audio and video archive of Americans reading their preferred poems. Winners will be picked from e-mails and letters sent to Pinsky at the Library of Congress. Attendees at tonight's presentation are welcome to apply for inclusion. Admission is free. Call 305-919-5954. (