Hurricanes. Favorite football team. Least favorite weather occurrence. And more. There was that hurricane benefit writing contest thing in New Times, wherein people lucubrated their personal experiences, and $15K went to organizations helping victims of Andrew. Like the rest of the editorial staff here, I helped judge the entries, but my personal favorite didn't win. It was penned by Nicole Yanks, a twelve-year-old South Dade resident who will someday, if she wants, be a famous writer of novels. With a Job-referenced stroke she asks metaphorically in her piece how something like Andrew could exist, suggesting that "maybe God and Mother Nature were not involved." Then she shifts her prose into first-person experiential documentation with existential ramifications, like Tom Wolfe but more literate -- "the racket nearly tore apart my nerves..." and "every beat crushed my heart more" -- even as she melds the rain and her tears into a singular concept. By juxtaposition she develops the character of her brother in just four words, when she writes that he "tried to act fearless." She concludes that she laughs at the trauma, because "it hurts too much to cry." The segment of her essay that absolutely chilled me to the soul was this: "I also remember asking my mother, who was trying to hold back the tears, if I was going to die. A few times I could not believe her when she told me `no, honey' and held me tight. I guess no one could promise me more than a memory." I guess no one could promise me more than a memory. Not another single word needs to be written about Andrew, or about life.
If ever there were a good afternoon to spend at Bayside (and we're not sure there is), it's this Sunday from noon to 5:00, when PACE conducts the finals of its 1993 jazz showcase compo. Providing the free music while battling for their very careers are singer Tanya Marie, the group E.J. & Company, guitarist Martin Hand, saxophonist Gerald Dimitri, and harpist Scott Marischen. Good luck to the winner, better luck to the nonwinners.
The concert could've been better. Jorge Barcala and Bob Dylan could've come out for a head-cutting guitar challenge. Before you laugh about how Dylan wouldn't have a prayer even if he reconverted to Christianity, note that the old man's been taking lessons. Hurricane Productions, an all-student-staffed and registration-fee-funded division of U.M.'s Student Activities, staged Dylan on November 8 on the campus patio. H.P. chairman Matthew Kronsberg and his troops delivered a hell of a concert against all kinds of oddities. (In previous years the kids at U.M. got for their homecoming concert the likes of Joe Piscopo and Joan Jett, so whatever challenges H.P. faced this year were worth it.) Even before the concert, controversy almost erupted when rumors swirled that someone was protesting the selection of Mary Karlzen (backed by Barcala and the amazing rhythm section from Forget the Name) as opening act, threatening to take the story to the Miami Hurricane. The Hurricane's coverage (before and after) ignored the rumors.
Karlzen and her band came out in late afternoon and played one of the tightest, smartest sets of rock I've been treated to in a while. Barcala made his guitar talk about ten languages (and of course, Derek Murphy and Jose Tillan were right with him) and Karlzen was on it big time. Put it this way: The band was asked to open Dylan's Sunrise concert five days later. They were asked after the U.M. set.
Then it was time for dark clouds and Dylan. "We almost had to cancel," says Kronsberg. "I was back there with Dylan's people and they were really good about it. They wanted him to play, and play a full show. They were more generous than I would've been." After a short delay the plastic came off the instruments and Dylan came on. There was no food or water available at the show, no readmittance, and I'm no fan of Dylan. Hated it? Actually, no. Dylan -- rain gusts and globs of water from the overhead light rack slapping him in the face -- displayed a toughness I never knew he had in him, especially not at this point in his career, exactly 30 years after recording his first album. Ignoring his new album, Dylan was at first unbearably nasal as he reworked "Lay Lady Lay" and "All Along the Watchtower" and others in nearly unrecognizable versions. He also ignored his own setlist, deleting "Positively 4th Street" and others in favor of extended jams and, during an acoustic segment, solos. By the time he got to "Silvio" about a third of the way into his show, the voice had loosened up. And while one could quibble about any Dylan setlist -- "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" was perfect, but why no "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35" or "Watching the River Flow"? Or a twisted take on "Hurricane"? -- it's more important to note that Big D actually smiled several times, and believe it or not, cracked a joke near the end of the set by saying he was already twenty mintues into his encore. On the way out I heard some U.M. kids quibbling about that setlist. "And what's that one. `Blowin' in the Wind'?" Yeah.
Stuff me your shows: Bobby Ramirez blows flute and sax with Full Power on Friday and Saturday in the back room of the News Cafe. Brace yourself for this year's South Florida Rock Awards (Todd and I promise not to physically assault the Mavericks at this one) on November 27 at Plus Five. And if you're willing to take the risk of having to sit near some celebrity slob, hit Oceanside Promenade on Friday or Saturday for the West Coast's Inka Inka and their magical roots reggae.
Hope you have tickets for Bruce next Tuesday at the Arena. He told me last week he intends to play every song from his new album, Parking Free.
Five in a row, and I swear to God I'm not on R.E.M.'s indie promotion payroll -- hell, nobody's Fed-Exed me a sack of payola cocaine in weeks. This revisit comes courtesy of FIU student Mark J. Cooper, who took our little contest a step further by pointing out that the cover photo of the new album was also shot in Miami. That big, metal, spiked ball protrudes from atop the Sinbad Motel at 6150 Biscayne Boulevard. Mark says the record is "transitional" and "reminiscent" and he likes the cut "Nightswimming" a lot. As you may know, someone stole and then guiltily returned the AUTOMATIC FOR THE PEOPLE sign at Weaver D's in Clarke County, Georgia. Like to see some clown try to mess with the big, rusty ball above the Sinbad. (I say this fearlessly because I know no one who reads this column is that stupid.)
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Butthorn of the week: Ron Wood, his band, and the management at Stephen Talkhouse. I'm sure no harm was meant, but there sure was some when Evangeline's hot set was so rudely interrupted. (I wasn't there; this nonaward, like most butthorns, comes from a reader.) Wood's band, particularly singer Bernard Fowler, walked right in like the gods they think they are, pushed the five female members of Evangeline off the stage, took their instruments, took over, ruined a perfectly good night. However, Evangeline tells the story differently. "We thought it was really great," says guitarist Rhonda Lohmeyer. "It'll probably live in our memories for a long time; we were digging it. We invited musicians from the audience, including Ron's band, to play with us. We had to coax him on-stage, and he was very complimentary. We were thrilled, and we enjoyed it." Further eyewitness opinions are, of course, welcome.
The media circus: What nonfiction authors are people reading these days? Well, according to what Todd Anthony calls the "only printed newspaper in Miami" (or something like that) the top three sellers in SoFlo are by Kathie Lee Gifford (I Can't Believe I Said That), Rush Limbaugh (The Way Things Ought to Be), and, of course, McDonna (Sex). Nicole Yanks is a thousand times the author McDonna will ever be. We live in a very sick world.
The media circus shameless plug: New Times cover-story subject Walter Shaw ("It Took a Thief," September 16, by Jim DeFede) appears on Sally Jessy Raphael this Friday at 4:00 p.m. on Channel 4. Look close and you'll spot DeFede in the front row. He's the big guy with glasses and curly hair.
Pet corner update: You may recall our coverage some time ago of Caesar the Dancing Bear. The poor guy was booked out of Ohio to "perform" at a local club, according to a source, and we suggested in this space that that was evil and wrong. The September/October issue of The Animals' Agenda contains an item about Caesar the Wrestling Bear, owned by Sam Mazzola of Columbia Station, Ohio. (We're only guessing it's the same poor animal.) In Greenville, South Carolina (a very nice city I've visited), Peaceable Kingdom found out that Caesar was booked at a nightclub called Characters, where men and women would be able to "wrestle" the unfortunate Ursidae. P.K. delivered to the club copies of state laws banning animal fighting and baiting along with an attorney's opinion stating said law applied to "bear wrestling." The Caesar gig was canceled. Greenville is a nice city.