Miami celebrated its 112th birthday Saturday at Edificio Jose Marti.

Last Night: One-One-Two at Edificio Jose Marti

One-One-Two: Miami's Official Unofficial Surprise Birthday Party

July 26, 2008

Edificio Jose Marti

Better Than: Any birthday party you've ever been to -- ever.

Okay, with the whole town buzzing about it for months, the party really wasn’t that much of a surprise. And with cats such as Commissioner Joe Sanchez weighing in on its behalf (in writing!), it really wasn't all that "unofficial" either. But One-One-Two sure was one helluva party, all right, the kinda all-out blast only Miami can throw -- loud, proud and polyglot, and decidedly over the top!

Put together by a troika of indisputably active art ops -- Ralph de la Portilla, Octavio Campos and Theresa Amandi -- and packed with a cross-section of our town's most enlightened residents, One-One-Two not only marked the Magic City's 112th year in existence, it celebrated the wild array that has made those 112 years so indisputably spectacular.

And I do mean an array, from wearable art (like Camposition's Homo neurotica) and picture-perfect photography (including Alissa Christine's splendid ilovemiami365 series), through informed resurrection (Celeste Fraser Delgado exhuming Julia Tuttle) and a stairway set sewing circle of one (Stephan Nesvacil). There were creepy figures crawling, conga drummers drumming, and a rather fetching Little Bo Peep type with a hula hoop.

There was also spinning (DJ Inga Ambrosia, who began the night in a particularly soothing sentimental mood), and circling (the Marti's got a peculiarly fluid layout), and all kinds of dancing about (including the break-boogie robotics of the Constructivist-clad Flipside Kings), and, this being Miami, there was even a saint, though I think since his name is Arthur and he’s the patron saint of the late, great Mr. Murray it's highly unlikely he’s been blessed by the Vatican. No matter, he was blessed by everybody in attendance, and he in turn blessed us all as well.

But the night's rad magic belonged mostly to the music, which ranged from the bi-lingual twang of Michelle Riu (who’s gotta be Miami's best bet for crossover stardom) to those deliciously kooky Chongalicious Girls (whose YouTube success seems to have spawned a whole subset of high-haired harlots from Hialeah).

John Hood
Clarence Reid performed as his alter ego Blowfly during Miami's 112th birthday bash at Edificio Jose Marti.

Yet even they had to bow down to the world weary wisdom of Clarence Reid, who opened for his own alter-ego Blowfly. Reid, the soul-stirring songwriter behind both Betty Wright's "Clean-Up Woman" and Gwen McRae's "Rockin' Chair," is a consummate showman in the grand tradition of James Brown (to whom he undoubtedly owes some props), which is to say, he works it. Backed by a crack crew of players who'd give even the JBs a run for the funk, he hoots and he hollers and he yelps, punctuating each and every beat with a been-there, done-that, I'm-not-through that starts on the down stroke and doesn’t stop till everybody’s floored. For thirty hard, hot minutes the man kept at it, and in the process sweated the heat right outta the sky.

And then the soul man slipped off-stage for a quick-change and returned as the pornographic super-hero known as Blowfly.

Anybody who's taken a breath, illicit or otherwise, knows about the foul-mouthed funketeer who many credit with inventing rap, but to really know Blowfly you've gotta catch him up close and in person, where the masked marvel is at his most potent. Coming off like a cross between a Mexican wrestler whose best move is the reach around and a comic book crime fighter who's got a penchant for sex-drenched diatribe, Blowfly barks up a full storm of gutter fun. Girls wanna make more loot? "Fuck the Boss!" Guys wanna see a true crusader? Check "Hole Man." Couples want a warm-hearted theme song? Dig "Butt Pirate Luv." I'm telling you, this is blue music for booties big and small, and perhaps the next best thing to utter insanity I’ve ever witnessed.

Alas, it also was a fitting end to the kinda blowout birthday bacchanal Miami deserves. Why? Because we're a blowout kinda town, that's why. Then you knew that already, didn't you?

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: My plug-ugly mug happens to be featured in Alissa Christine's series, but you shouldn’t hold it against her.

Random Detail: I think I saw Henry Flagler's ghost hovering around Julia Tuttle’s toy train tracks.

By the Way: Blowfly's now signed to Jello Biafra's Alternative Tentacles and has just finished a full-length LP with Miami DSP Gangster Otto Von Schirach.

– John Hood

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