Don't be surprised if you see a man walking around town in a ten-gallon hat. It's probably Augusta (Georgia) State University professor of history Michael Searles, who enjoys dressing like a cowboy and talking about them too. Tonight at 8:00 "Cowboy Mike" delivers his lecture "African-American Cowboys and Their Role in the Old West" at the University of Miami's Lowe Art Museum (1301 Stanford Dr., Coral Gables). Get the scoop on black cowboys before and after the Civil War, infamous baddies Deadwood Dick and Bill Pickett, and more. Admission is five dollars. Call 305-284-3535. (NK)
University of Miami radio station WVUM-FM (90.5) is hosting a multifaceted marathon party tonight. Salvation (1771 West Ave., Miami Beach) opens its doors at 6:00 to VUM's fourth annual Battle of the Bands. Ten bands, including the Agency, Ed Matus' Struggle, and Gaussian Hilbert Spaces were chosen by the station's listeners to play their guts out for a $500 grand prize. But this party isn't about the remuneration of the winner; it's a benefit for VUM. And if those ten bands, with musical styles ranging from punk to experimental electronic, aren't enough of a draw, there will be a special performance by Orgasmic Bliss, rock en espanol group Volumen Cero's previous English-language incarnation. And the fun continues into the wee hours. Starting at 1:00 a.m., an after-party hosted by VUM's electronic music programs, the Electric Kingdom and the Underground, will feature various DJs from around South Florida. The battle of the bands is a nonalcoholic event (there will be alcohol at the after-party) and costs seven dollars until midnight, ten dollars after. Call 305-673-6508. (LB)
Who knew that Pulitzer Prize-winning author and cartoonist Art Spiegelman, acclaimed for Maus and Maus II (his books detailing his family's survival of the Holocaust), was the man behind the Topps Gum Company's revolting "Garbage Pail Kids" novelty cards? Spiegelman gets our vote as cool. Aside from that accomplishment, Spiegelman has done a few other important things during his career, such as illustrating covers for Playboy and The New Yorker, having his work exhibited at New York's Museum of Modern Art, and coediting Raw, an anthology of graphic experimentalism and underground comics. Hear him speak tonight at 8:00 at the Art Museum at FIU, University Park, SW 8th Street and 107th Avenue, AT-100. Admission is free. Call 305-348-2890. (NK)
After a six-week hiatus to host Teatro Avante's theatrical production La Peregrina, the cozy Absinthe House Cinematheque (235 Alcazar Ave., Coral Gables) reopened last week. Tonight at 6:00 the theater throws a fall wine and cheese reception and screens Lawn Dogs, directed by John Duigan (Flirting, Sirens). Dogs tells the story of the unlikely friendship between a rich 10-year-old girl and the 21-year-old white-trash boy who mows lawns in her well-to-do Kentucky neighborhood. Tickets cost six dollars. For a schedule see "Showtimes," page 63, or call 305-446-7144. (NK)
Folks who are wild about all things Peruvian, Bolivian, Ecuadorian, and Argentine will be thrilled to hear the Chilean band Inti Illimani. The group was formed in 1967, when its members were university students in Santiago. The musicians have lived in exile in Italy for the past fifteen years, but they still travel and immerse themselves in South American culture. Hear their unique pan-Andean sound at 8:00 p.m., when they'll play tunes from their 29th album Lejania and more at Gusman Center for the Performing Arts (174 E. Flagler St.). Tickets range from $21 to $36. Call 305-372-0925. (NK)
The Paquito D'Rivera Quintet performs to raise cash for this town's premier jazz radio station WDNA-FM (88.9) tonight at 9:00 p.m. at the Coral Gables Congregational Church (3010 De Soto Blvd., Coral Gables). Cuban saxophonist D'Rivera has enjoyed a distinguished career in jazz, having recorded 22 solo albums and founded (with pianist Chucho Valdes) the Orquesta Cubana de Msica Moderna and the jazz fusion group Irakere. Its members were the first Cuban musicians to record for an American record label after Castro's takeover. Joining D'Rivera onstage will be pianist Michael Orta, drummer Mark Walker, trumpeter Diego Urcola, and bassist Oscar Stagnaro. Tickets range from $20 to $25. Call 305-662-8889. (NK)
Just in time for Halloween: a discussion of fun topics such as the walking dead! Today at 3:00 p.m. Dr. Richard Douyon, a clinical psychiatrist at the University of Miami School of Medicine and an authority on Haitian Vodou, discusses "Haitian Vodou in an American Context." The scary stuff takes place at the Bass Museum of Art (2121 Park Ave., Miami Beach), which is presenting the lecture in conjunction with its current exhibition "Mestre Didi: Sacred Afro-Brazilian Sculpture." Admission is five dollars. Call 305-673-7530. (NK)
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In 1990 a group of rabbis traveled to Dharmsala, India, to meet with the Dalai Lama and other Tibetan Buddhists. They talked about religion, tradition, culture, and a link between the Jews and Tibetans: surviving for generations without a homeland. The meeting inspired Rodger Kamenetz to write The Jew in the Lotus, a book that eventually became a best seller. That book inspired filmmaker Laurel Chiten to make a documentary of the same name. For the past two nights Temple Beth El (1351 S. Fourteenth Ave., Hollywood) has hosted exclusive screenings of the film followed by receptions and discussions. After the film tonight at 7:00 a dialogue about Buddhism and Judaism will take place. The film will be shown through Saturday. Admission is $7.50 for adults; $5 for children. Call 954-920-8225. (NK)
Explore the relationship of architecture and national identity when foreign correspondent and author Michael Z. Wise returns to the Wolfsonian-FIU (1001 Washington Ave., Miami Beach) tonight at 7:00. (He was scheduled to appear a month ago but was bumped by the Hurricane Georges scare.) Wise will discuss his book Capital Dilemma: Germany's Search for a New Architecture of Democracy, which explores the controversial $12 billion redesign of Berlin as Germany's capital city. Admission is free. Call 305-531-1001. (NK)
Reminiscent of the mysterious figures in the Nazca lines that can be seen from the air over Peru, a mammoth rust-color bird spreads its wings on the floor of the Fredric Snitzer Gallery (3078 SW 38th Ct.). The bird is harnessed by chains, and "held" by a painted figure that seems ready to leap from the gallery wall and take flight. Jose Bedia's current show, "Objetos de Trueque" ("Objects of Trade"), also includes a series of bright Native American blankets to which the artist has applied felt cutouts in the form of household objects, Afro-Cuban totems, submarines, and human and animal figures. As we've come to expect from Miami's preeminent Cuban artist, the simple shapes convey multiple messages suggestive of the spiritual and material worlds. Bedia's works will be on display through October 31. Admission is free. Call 305-446-8976. (