There's not a huge demand in the theater for naked middle-age men, but don't blame actor William Metzo. As the Marquis de Sade in the magnificent Florida Stage production of Doug Wright's play Quills, Metzo gave a performance that required him to 1) stop speaking after the first act (since the Marquis is relieved of his tongue by church authorities hoping to stop him from writing erotica) and 2) strip down to his bare essentials. What Metzo displayed was a professional confidence and talent that proves he needs no costume. It's a tribute to the strength of his acting that Metzo's Sade seemed more vulnerable without his wig than without his pants. In this play about the importance of defending art against censorship, Metzo makes an indelible case for great acting.
Let's see now, in just the past twelve months, there has been a series of hunger strikes to free immigrants held at the Krome Detention Center. "Nobody listened to me," Marta Berros, leader of the group Mothers for Freedom, told the Herald. "My son was being tortured, and nobody wanted to listen until I did the hunger strike." Members of exile organization Vigilia Mambisa protested the Los Van Van concert at the Miami Arena with a "daylight hunger strike," not eating for two days from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. A group known as Municipalities in Exile made their strike (in solidarity with fasting dissidents in Cuba) even more palatable by fasting from only 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Hunger-striking Haitian detainee Arnel Belizaire dropped nearly 100 pounds after he stopped eating solid food to protest his INS incarceration. This past January his lawyers admitted that Belizaire might not realize his hunger strike could be "a futile action." Only a few months earlier, Democracy Movement leader Ramon Saul Sanchez launched a twenty-day, liquids-only hunger strike to win release of his boat Human Rights, which the feds had impounded. His strike was not a futile action. After the boat was returned, Sanchez transported it to Jose Martí Park, where he and 100 others celebrated its return. Food and drink, appropriately, were not served.
Last fall the average playgoer had to wonder: Did we really need a revival of Finian's Rainbow? Despite a glut of Broadway revivals in New York, the Coconut Grove Playhouse certainly made a good case for the 1947 classic by Fred Saidy and E.Y. Harburg, whose familiar songs ("How Are Things in Glocca Morra?" and "Old Devil Moon") are just two good reasons to revisit this story of a man, a woman, a leprechaun, and a battle against racism. Starring Austin Pendleton, the great Brian Murray, and a ferociously talented chorus, and featuring a book updated by Peter Stone, the Grove's Rainbow rose over one of the most exquisite examples of stage design you'd ever want to see. (Kudos to Loren Sherman's rainbow of pastel bed sheets, Phil Monat's effervescent lighting, and Marguerite Derricks's choreography.) It also served to remind us that there's always a place for an old-fashioned musical with a great score and a timeless anti-bigotry statement. Things are great in Glocca Morra, indeed.
John de Leon straddles the fence -- bravely and proudly. In the past year, the president of the American Civil Liberties Union of Greater Miami dared to write an editorial calling for Elian Gonzalez's dad to raise his own kid. At the same time he listened to complaints of excessive force filed by exile protesters who wanted Elian to stay in Miami. He filed a lawsuit against the City of Miami when its leaders tried to block the Cuban band Los Van Van from playing within city limits, and then he supported the exile hard-liners who protested outside the Miami Arena, where the concert eventually was held. He angrily denounced the ban of Cigar Aficionado's Cuba issue at Miami International Airport, yet quickly leaped to the defense of the six Cuban rafters hosed and pepper-sprayed by the Coast Guard when they tried to land in Surfside. De Leon is sensitive to the concerns of the exile community (his parents arrived from Cuba in 1959), yet he is painfully aware of its unfortunate propensity for trampling on the First Amendment. He may hold the most important job in Miami. "What we saw," he said after the Los Van Van show, "was a highly charged event on both sides. But the community was relatively unscathed by the whole thing, and I think it demonstrated to everybody that people can have strongly opposing viewpoints and be able to express them and live together in the same place." True. And in no small part because of de Leon's difficult work.
It is every day, or so it seems, that a pedestrian film festival takes over a screen or two in Miami. It isn't every day that an innovative, complete, professional, lively, and good one grabs our attention. The first gay and lesbian festival last year was a surprising success. The second one, held in April, proves it has depth and stamina. The best thing about this festival is that while it has offered topnotch international fare, it also feels local. The Miami mixture of vibrant gay and Latin cultures is unique, and the festival reflects that. Experimental films, mainstream films, films that dealt with being gay in Latin America, with being gay in Miami, shorts, features, documentaries -- all got an airing in an atmosphere that felt fresh and progressive. Just as the Miami International Film Festival brought out a cultural community many thought didn't exist, so too is the Gay and Lesbian Film Festival fostering a community intent on offering a higher aesthetic to our area. Sure there was some celluloid fluff; in that sense gay crowd pleasers are no different from their straight counterparts. But there also were profound, moving, even shocking entries, the kind of stuff you might not see elsewhere again -- hey, just what a film festival is supposed to deliver. Maybe the most exciting hours this year were produced by the inspired decision to show the excellent British television show Queer As Folk in three movie-length segments. When you hear a packed house laugh, boo, cheer, cry, and applaud over witty, sexy, intelligent film, you know you've landed a seat in the right festival.
The Tides South Beach
It's getting harder and harder to recommend anything on Ocean Drive, especially a hotel. For a night of partying, the crowds and the noise can still be seductive as part of the SoBe experience. But for postparty hours, when quality lounging quarters are required, that cacophonous street life should be a distant and silent memory. Which is why the Tides is an amazing oasis. For some nearly inexplicable reason, those few steps that lead up and off Ocean Drive toward this calm and cool hotel continue to transport you to another world. As the name suggests, the Tides lulls you into the lap of luxury. Unlike other fabulous hotels, such as the Delano and the Biltmore, crowds don't throng the lobby and pool area. In fact the pool is on the mezzanine, not something you often see around here. It's secluded and elegant, like everything else at the Tides. But let's get straight to the point: Whether you're a local or a visitor, if you're going to throw down some bucks (and here you most definitely will, as rates range from $300 to $2000), a room with a view is imperative. At the Tides every room has an ocean view, a simply fabulous view. The Art Deco hotel, built in 1936, is one of the tallest buildings in the area, so there's nothing to obstruct your sightlines. The whole place, from the lobby to the restaurants to the huge rooms (45 of them), is draped from head to toe in a egg-shell color. The sandy shade conveys the feeling, especially while you're in a fluffy beige robe sitting in your room staring out at the blue expanse of the Atlantic, of being safely ensconced under a huge soundproof cabana on the beach, 1000 miles from the cares and the crowds of the world.
Ungurait is the spokesman for one of the most overworked and politically perilous government offices anywhere. Yet he remains helpful and straightforward in the face of even the most taxing demands. No question is too small, no fact too obscure. Ungurait will research and promptly report back. The infrequent times he can't dig up all the details or answer you immediately, he'll apologize and get on with the job. That inspires confidence, which is almost an oxymoron when applied to the world of flacking.
After naming third baseman Mike Lowell player of the year in their minor league system for 1997, New York Yankees muckety-mucks traded him to the Marlins before the 1999 season. The Cuban-American righty repaid the team by smacking a grand-slam home run last August 9, one of a record five grand slams he and his teammates hit in that game. Lowell, who graduated from Coral Gables High School and Florida International University, has power, speed, and style. And he has guts. He sat out two months last year with testicular cancer and won the Tony Conigliaro Award for overcoming adversity. This spring he came roaring back, batting .300 and leading the team to a better start than anyone expected.
"Have Character, Will Travel." So reads the business card of Daniel Ricker, self-appointed "citizen advocate," who spent the past year attending county commission meetings, city commission meetings, school board meetings, and Public Health Trust meetings, all in an effort to better understand how government operates. He even sat through the public-corruption trial of former county Commissioner James Burke so he could hear firsthand how deals are made at the county level. Why did he do it? Ricker, who made his fortune managing international companies that sell coronary pacemakers, says he became so disgusted with the sleaze and corruption of politics in South Florida that, rather than withdraw into apathy, he became hyperactive in the community. He took a year off work and dedicated himself to his task. A man of limitless patience (a necessary attribute in order to sit through some of those meetings), he says he never became bored and always found the working of government fascinating and important. Simply knowing that an informed member of the public was attending those meetings, watching every move they made, undoubtedly had a sobering effect on Miami's less-than-trustworthy politicians and bureaucrats.
What quarterback Ken Dorsey says about senior wide receiver Santana Moss: "Santana is one of the greatest athletes around, and as a quarterback, it's nice to know he's out there. He can jump, run, catch, and he ignites the team. If you throw anywhere near him, he'll go up and do anything he can to come down with the ball. It takes a great play by the guy guarding him to stop him." What a guy guarding him says about Santana Moss: "Moss is real good," admits Syracuse cornerback Will Allen. "He has agility and speed. The stuff he does isn't necessarily hard, but he's so fast that you have to honor his deep cuts. I played all right against him, but you have to be at the top of your game to stop him completely." Moss is the defending Big East champion in the 60-meter dash. He can leap 42 inches into the sky. He's a certain first-round draft pick. By deciding to come back for his senior season, he earns a legitimate shot at the Heisman Trophy. "Without Santana Moss on this team, it would be a big loss," Dorsey says. "He is a really gifted and special athlete."

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®