With the number of legal works of graffiti in the area increasing, the results have been larger projects done in plain view. The Boardroom is one of these pieces. Easily visible to traffic traveling north on NW 27th Avenue, the mural is a purist's dream. Measuring about 12 feet by 55 feet, The Boardroom demonstrates skills in three-dimensional drawing and old-school balloon lettering of artists' tags yet maintains a unified vision as a collaborative work. The Dam Graffiti Crew, which created the mural, includes Ultra, Reuz, Gwiz, Kedz, Elex, Freek, Threat, Task, and Furious. (They prefer to be known only by their tag.) The mural is a self-portrait of the group, featuring cartoonlike renderings of the members seated at a boardroom table. Dressed in military uniforms and blue suits in the painting, they strike various poses of concern and urgency. One slams a fist on the table, another jams down an index finger. Closer inspection of the table reveals that it is made up of the twisted and elongated three letters of the crew's name, "Dam." Above the nine seated individuals hover the artists' names in that baroque calligraphy, the literal and figurative signature of this urban art form.
From the day she began writing for the Miami Herald in 1982, first as a freelancer then as a staffer, Meg Laughlin has wrapped her prose around the lives of some of South Florida's strangest characters and most disturbing stories. We love her for that. At Tropic magazine she chronicled the bizarre machinations of Hank Blair, a U.S. Customs agent who couldn't stop himself from sadistically harassing Susan Billig, the mother of a young girl who mysteriously disappeared decades ago. She looked into the cops' killing of bus hijacker "Nick" Sang and found that the Joe's Stone Crab waiter wasn't what he seemed to be. Laughlin showed us the depth of suffering Magda Montiel Davis experienced after kissing Fidel Castro. And then there's Elian. Laughlin enlivened the Herald's occasionally lackluster coverage of the case with sparkling writing and ample enterprise. She was the one who toted up the eleven times Marisleysis Gonzalez was hospitalized. And it was she who figured out how Demetrio Perez and company were programming the six-year-old at Perez's Lincoln-Martí school. She had no problem cadging Sister Jeanne O'Laughlin into admitting the weird reason she took a side in the custody battle for Elian. All part of a day's work. Says Laughlin: "I'm gonna miss the kid."
Invitations are for the spineless masses and the spiritually lazy. Who are these elite snobs to banish you from their South Beach soirees? What do Cameron Diaz and Leonardo DiCaprio have that you don't? Money? Looks? Fame? Bah! Level the playing field with the one thing you do have over them: smarts. This takes just a little preparation. First scour the papers for news of a fab event. Then call those responsible and make your pitch. If it's a PR firm, remember the name of it as well as the name of the person with whom you spoke. Say you are "media." Make up the name of some fashion magazine -- Cut or Plastic or some such. If they say they've never heard of you, say it's a Condé Nast prototype due out in the fall. Make sure you dress appropriately. You also can show up at the door with attitude. Approach the person holding the list and give your name. When they can't find it, roll your eyes, look pissed and say, "Maurice with that PR firm, whateveritscalled, phoned me personally, and I told him I'd only do this if he made sure I didn't have to wait at the door." Once inside drink copiously, drop names, and try hard to have fun.
Say it's a fight. A really big fight. The kind of fight everybody wants to see. You can watch it at home, courtesy of pay-per-view, for no less than $50. Or you can go to a bar, where the cover charge can set you back $15, $20, or more. Or you can go to Miami Jai Alai. The struggling fronton will let you in for one measly dollar. Not only does that include a whole evening of jai alai betting action, it also covers the fight, shown on dozens of screens, with cheap beer flowing everywhere. Part with $5 and they'll let you ride the elevator upstairs to the Courtview Club. Eat a surprisingly decent prime-rib dinner if you want (the meal, with salad and dessert, costs only $11) while you watch your own private television. If Felix Trinidad is fighting, though, you'll probably want to catch the bout downstairs in the large banquet room, surrounded by hundreds of passionate Puerto Rican fans. When Tito wins, jump and scream and dance and shout with glee. If not for the fighter, then at least for the bargain.
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.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®