Movies, good vibes, and ital delights
The afternoon vibe at the Tree of Zion is inviting, chilled out, and refreshingly organic. Good friend Lucas Arias lounges on the couches, sipping a banana mango smoothie. A curious customer asks about the strawberry pie. "It's all raw," the young lady behind the counter replies, as she pours the sweet water from a freshly chopped coconut into a cup. On the patio, Angela Laino, age 22, reminisces about the early days. A year ago, she was working three jobs, killing her soul to pay her bills. Now, she finds herself a proud proprietress. But the road to Zion wasn't paved with gold. Angela and her boyfriend Sebastian Urrutia moved into their filthy commercial property with homeless people wandering through their back courtyard. "I remember being so afraid, sleeping in the front room." The pair, with friends, cleaned up their modest digs. So started a slow transformation into their ever-evolving establishment. "I have nine million things I want to do," Laino explains. Yeah, and lots of those can be found in Tree of Zion. Sebastian follows Rastafari, hence the Lion of Judah motif and the inclusion of ital food like Jamaican soy and callaloo patties. Next to the vegan treats, there's a small library of crunchy granola reading: Dreads, Back to Eden, and Autobiography of a Yogi. Shelves display everything from buckwheat pancake mix to apricot deodorant. A back room is a teeny boutique featuring racks of hippie chic clothes. On Friday nights, the platform in the corner becomes a stage for open mic poetry and freestyle jamming by local musicians. Monday nights, Angela busts out the projector and they transform a large white wall into a screen, featuring independent films, documentaries, and kung fu flicks. In past weeks they've screened Fahrenheit 9/11, Baraka, and Life and Debt, and many more such films await. Watch a Monday night movie or just stop in for an almond shake at Tree of Zion, 2426 NE Second Ave. Call 305-573-5874. -- Patrice Elizabeth Grell Yursik
Nogueras shows true colors
The work of self-taught painter Javier Nogueras, on display through December 31 at Coral Gables International Art Center (70 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables), astonishingly manages to synthesize the styles of Romero Britto and Salvador Dali in eye-haunting works that defy belief. His exhibit, "Inside Myself," showcases the artist's preoccupation with color, symbols, architecture, and the game of chess, and in his words "reveals my creativity through means of superstitions narrated to sustain criteria, questions, and dreams." His colorful "neo-surrealistic" confections feature numerous Old Havana landmarks that appear to melt before the spectator's eyes, surrounded by whirls of butterflies alluding to Nogueras's "refined ironic criticism" of Cuba's lost freedom. Call 305-471-7383 or visit www.gablesart.com. -- Carlos Suarez de Jesus
Rockin' Christmas Eve
Curl the last ribbons on those gifts, hang up your Christmas stocking, and pull on your fishnet stockings before dashing out to the White Christmas Party tonight at State. DJ Vertigo and Mike E Simm will be spinning old school, hip-hop, and sexy R&B to keep your groove thing bumping until the sound of sleigh bells and reindeer hooves on the roof tells you it's time to go home. You can sip cocktails from the open bar from 10:00 to 11:00, for peppermintini-induced visions of dancing sugar plums in your head. There is no cover before 1:00 a.m. at State, 320 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach. Call 786-621-5215 or visit www.statesouthbeach.com. -- Lyssa Oberkreser
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For one night only, two Impromedy alumni favorites, Alex Garcia-Tuñon and the comedy troupe's cofounder Yamil Piedra, will be back onstage to join their former cast members for a reunion show, Back to the Funny. The retrospective show will revisit seven years of their best improvisations, sketches, and videos. Impromedy was recently awarded the Best Sketch Comedy Troupe at the 2004 Improv Miami Prizes, and they will definitely get your belly shaking like a bowl full of jelly. The laughs start tonight at 8:00 at the Roxy Performing Arts Center, 1645 SW 107th Ave. Tickets range from eight to ten dollars. Call 786-210-4641 or 305-226-0030, or visit impromedymiami.com. -- Lyssa Oberkreser