Last time we checked, NBC news guy/Meet the Press host Tim Russert was not Beaver Cleaver. But by the sound of his new book, Big Russ and Me, which he's been plugging on every show except Ricki Lake, Maury Povich, and TRL, it sure as heck seems as if he once was. Russert was raised in Buffalo, New York, during the 1950s, an idyllic time when doors could be left unlocked, children didn't have to worry about getting killed at school, and families stayed together dammit! Big Russ refers to the head of the Russert clan, his dad, who worked two jobs for 30 years and didn't bitch about it. Big Russ obviously did something right because last we heard, Little Russ was signed to an unprecedented twelve-year contract with NBC! Hmmm, wonder if soon-to-be nightly news anchor Brian Williams will write a book with Eddie Haskellish overtones? Take an aw shucks, golly gee trip down memory lane with Russert tonight at 8:00 at Coral Gables Congregational Church, 3010 De Soto Blvd. Admission is free, but tickets are required and can be obtained with purchase of Russert's book at either Books & Books location. Call 305-442-4408. (NK)
The repeated listening to Benny Moré albums and massive overdoses of arroz con pollo just ain't cutting it for your Cuban abuelita anymore. She misses her homeland and keeps saying that she's going to hop a plane back there and stay for good. One way to stall Granny would be to cart her over to CubaNostalgia. In its sixth year, the expo showcases art, music, food, and goods such as photographs, magazines, jewelry, clothing, and videos, all with that inimitable Cuban twist. Bring some bucks so you can ply Grandma with paintings of El Malecn, light up some cigars, and spin some Celia Cruz records. Maybe she'll change her mind and stay in Miami just a wee bit longer. The show runs from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. today and tomorrow, and 10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Sunday at the Coconut Grove Convention Center, 2700 S. Bayshore Dr. Admission is ten dollars. Call 305-856-7595. (NK)
Providing free rehearsal space, sponsoring grants, and allowing companies to put on shows at their venue are just some of the services the Performing Arts Network provides for numerous artists around town, be they dance companies, theater troupes, or solo performers. The Dance Now! Ensemble is one such group that has benefited by its association with PAN, and now its founders are giving a little back in the way of participating in PAN's In-Studio Performance Series. Tonight at 7:00, Hannah Baumgarten, Diego Salterini, and Colleen Farnum will present An Evening of Modern Dance, featuring works relating to subjects as diverse as Adam and Eve and vocalist Kate Bush. The movement happens at Performing Arts Network, 13126 W. Dixie Hwy., North Miami. Tickets cost $12. Call 305-899-7730. (NK)
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Sure you've been to Vizcaya before. Hasn't everyone who lives in Miami, or anyone who has visited our fair city, paid James Deering's 1917 Italianate villa a visit? No, actually. Plenty of folks drive by the national historic landmark every day and haven't a clue what the place is like. Well, put on your walking shoes -- this is your opportunity to poke around inside the house and stroll through the gardens when the county invites the public in from 9:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. for an Open House at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens (3251 S. Miami Ave., Coconut Grove). Guided tours will be given of Vizcaya itself and -- for the first time ever -- of the Vizcaya Village, which is under restoration on the west side of South Miami Avenue. The usual music and family-friendly activities will abound. Folks can even stick around after dark, though flashlights are recommended if you want to hang out in the gardens by night. Consider this the first in a series of gratis admission days. From June through September, entry to the attraction will be waived the last Sunday of the month. Call 305-250-9133. (NK)
No, you cannot chew on a charrette to mitigate a nic-fit. Charrettes are public forums where people come together to discuss prominent issues that affect a given community. As our vast metropolis morphs and developers reshape neighborhoods, the charrette has been used as a tool for community building. The third part of the UM series Democracy in Miami: A Work in Progress examines the phenomenon of community exchange and its role in a democratic system. The panel includes UM School of Architecture Dean Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk, Coral Gables Commissioner Maria Anderson, US DEP Secretary Colleen Castille, and Miami Herald architecture writer Beth Dunlop. The discussion starts at 7:00 p.m. at University of Miami's Wesley Center, 1210 Stanford Dr., Coral Gables. Admission is free. Call 305-284-6404. (JCR)
Five-six-seven-eight! If this count automatically prepares you for intricate dance combinations, you might want to jete over to the Miami City Ballet School (2200 Liberty Ave., Miami Beach), where professional dancer and choreographer Richard Amaro will be leading an Open Jazz Master Class. Amaro is well known in the dance world for his flashy style displayed in music videos by Prince, Tina Turner, and Michael Bolton. Michael Bolton?! Damn right, the former man-o-mullet got a jolt of flashdance thanks to Amaro. The beginner/intermediate class for nine-to-thirteen-year-olds begins at 4:30 p.m.; the intermediate/advanced class for ages fourteen and over starts at 6:00 p.m. Class fee is $12 (cash only). Call 305-929-7007. (JCR)
Gregor Samsa was more than just a man-turned-insect. He was a metaphor, a symbol, an allegorical figure or something or other that literary types like to decipher and argue about. Either way, the protagonist of Franz Kafka's existentialist classic Metamorphosis came from a dark and weirdly funny mind engaged in artistic circles. Kafka was a part of the bohemian intellectual scene in Prague at the beginning of the 20th Century. Back then they talked of books and art and politics. In our time they might be talking about reality TV, Jennifer Aniston, and Prada. Tonight Barbara Weitz, English lit professor at FIU, leads the discussion Kafka and Prague at the Beginning of a New Century. What does it all mean? Are we no different than palmetto bugs? Did Kafka want to have sex with his mother? The folks at MiamIntelligence like to cover all the angles. The discussion starts at 7:30 p.m. at the MiamIntelligence Center, 2000 S. Dixie Hwy. Admission is ten dollars. Call 305-773-8408. (JCR)