Being a cineaste in Miami means making your peace with malls. Over the past few years most choice indies and foreign flicks have landed at either the eighteen-screen South Beach Regal or one of the area's other multiplexes -- not our hit-and-miss art houses. So getting your celluloid fix has meant braving arena-size crowds and nightmarish parking. Fortunately the new Intracoastal Cinema has stepped into a comfortable middle ground, consistently earmarking several of its six screens for art fare. Even better, Mitchell and Nancy Dreier, the couple who own the Intracoastal (as well as five Broward theaters including the Gateway and the Sunrise), have moved past the usual Miramax suspects to spotlight such fare as the joyously whacked Spike & Mike's Sick & Twisted Festival of Animation, Charlotte Rampling's haunting comeback Under the Sand, and Mohsen Makhmalbaf's timely Kandahar. Plenty of free parking just steps from the front door, big screens, cushy seats, and (in stark contrast to most multiplexes) a relaxed air all combine to make moviegoing an experience instead of a trial.
This ain't the Waverly in Greenwich Village or anything, but it's as close as Miami gets. Part of the pleasure of going to the Cosford is meandering through that gorgeous, lush (and very non-NYC) University of Miami campus. The magic room on the second floor of Memorial Hall is where we get to see, a year or two after the New York crowd does, the recent labors of European directors and their counterparts in the Americas and elsewhere. Among the films on Cosford's multinational marquee this year were French director Jean-Pierre Ameris's Bad Company, a tale of twisted adolescent love and sex; Runaway, an English-Iranian documentary by Kim Longinotto and Ziba Mir-Hosseini set in a women's shelter in Tehran; and Israeli director Joseph Cedar's Time of Favor, a drama involving a Jewish soldier who plans a terrorist attack in Jerusalem. And let's not forget the latest screen gems from Canada. "Maelström [director Denis Villeneuve's 2001 opus] is the most celebrated work in French Canadian film history," Cosford's program guide proclaims. The theater screens two films each week. Movie nights are Friday through Sunday. The downside to the Cosford: It's closed during the summer. The schedule is online at www.miami.edu/com/cosford. Admission is five dollars for the general public, three bucks for senior citizens and university employees, and free for UM students. Take Granada Boulevard into the university and look for the signs, which will take you to Campo Sano Avenue and the parking lot. Best to call for directions.
Heartily pounding out the rousing "St. Louis Blues" or gently improvising on the tranquil bossa nova melodies of Antonio Carlos Jobim, eminent pianist Eddie Higgins always puts his indelible stamp on the keys. The Massachusetts-born and raised musician gravitated to Chicago to study at Northwestern University and stayed twenty years. Countless Windy City club dates together with a long list of greats including Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, and Cannonball Adderley morphed into a twelve-year tenure at the London House, where he led the trio. The moments out of dark, smoky rooms have been spent touring the world and in recording studios as a solo artist, an arranger, or a sideman to the likes of Wayne Shorter, Jack Teagarden, and Coleman Hawkins. Thirty-two years ago, Higgins landed on the sandy shores of Fort Lauderdale and has been plying his deft skills around South Florida ever since. His elegant playing can be heard at various concerts and during the week at the Van Dyke Café on Lincoln Road. Just make sure you catch him in the high season. In the summer, he escapes to Cape Cod.
Film and theater directors and actors, poets and writers have been allowing audience members to have at them for years in frank exchanges about content and merit, seriousness and triviality. Now the Rubell family, boutique hoteliers and major art collectors, are applying the principle to visual artists. Several times a year accomplished artists like Jeff Koons, Andres Serrano, Ross Bleckner, Cindy Sherman, and Damien Hirst will display their work and appear in the cozy Bamboo Room of the Rubell's Beach House hotel to talk about art with fans and perhaps less-than-fans. So far this year's artists have included Rineke Dijkstra, the famed Dutch chronicler of youth at bay (April 25), and Maurizio Cattelan, the impish sculptor who portrayed Pope John Paul II struck down by a meteorite and got the art world all upset (May 2).
Okay, so it's not an album, it's a three-song EP, but then, as they say, it's not the length that matters, it's what you do with it. And this little disc is more an act of protest than a digital artifact. Dismayed by the faux-phenomenon surrounding Brit crit darlings the Strokes, the Hair did what any angry underemployed all-too-inventive band would do: stroked back. Jeff Rollason and friends burned up a batch of stroke-anti-stroke sarcasm to distribute to unsuspecting fans at the Strokes Billboardlive show -- and the songs don't sound half-bad! If, as the original rock critic Lester Bangs claims, David Bowie's stardust-sparkling whine was a response to the carefully posed amateur cool of the Velvet Underground (who the Strokes flagrantly rip off), there's just as much whiny sparkle here. And as legend has it, Strokes pretty-boy frontman Julian Casablancas even signed a copy!

Most of Miami's rap hopefuls dream of the day their big break arrives in the form of a major-label record contract. Once they've signed on the dotted line, so their thinking goes, everything else is automatic: fame and fortune, groupies and gold teeth. Right? Not always. Take local emcee X-Con, whose independently issued single "Whoa! Lil' Mama" generated enough of a buzz to snag a deal with major Elektra. And if you opened up glossy hip-hop mags such as The Source, XXL, and Vibe last winter, you were greeted with full-page ads announcing the imminent arrival of X-Con's debut album. But good luck actually finding a copy of Dirty Life in the stores: The execs over at Elektra unceremoniously dumped X-Con from their roster immediately upon his album's release, cutting all promotional support, even refusing to answer questions about the matter. A somewhat chagrined X-Con isn't talking either about this mysterious career setback; rumors have been flying, citing everything from an aggrieved CEO with a personal beef to an abrupt change of heart over the rapper's commercial prospects. As to the latter charge, the curious can decide for themselves by rooting around Morpheus or other sites. Your downloads won't get X-Con any closer to MTV, but they won't put any change in Elektra's pockets either -- a dirty life, indeed.

This is no joke. Jim Clark, a former WAMI-TV (Channel 61) sports producer with otherwise good credentials, began whipping Channel 9 into shape in the fall of 2001. Under his guidance we can still witness extraordinary performances by one of South Florida's best acting troupes, the Miami Commission, but now we can enjoy the show without the garbled audio. The station also transmits meetings of other bodies that occasionally make important decisions, including the Code Enforcement Board, the Historic and Environmental Preservation Board, the Parks Advisory Board, the Planning Advisory Board, the Urban Development Review Board, the Waterfront Advisory Board, and the Zoning Board. But there's more. Viewers, and perhaps some of our elected officials, can bone up on the basics of our system of government in the United States by watching On Common Ground. This program is funded by various state governments and the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service. Channel 9 also offers the PBS-produced show Crossroads Café, which is designed for people learning English as a second language. For those of us whose first language is English but still need a little more practice, the station presents TV 411, a production of the Adult Literacy Media Alliance. Call for current program times. The station is carried only on cable within Miami city limits, but Clark hopes to have it streaming on the Internet in the near future.
Really, this is more an award for founder/director Robert Rosenberg than it is for a collection of films. As we saw this year with the Miami Film Festival, there's more to creating a successful event than meets the camera's eye. Rosenberg started his fest four years ago with a combination of love, enthusiasm, a good curatorial eye, and a healthy respect for organization. That great mix shows. Each year the festival has grown, but at a controllable pace. The offerings are not so disparate as to lose cohesion, but fresh enough to give us something out of the ordinary. Films were selected well in advance, as were the dates and times they would screen. Thematically this year the issue of identity broke new ground -- gone are those teenage coming-out stories; in are ones about gay men falling for straight women. Not all the films worked, but the festival itself has a firm grasp of its own identity, the best template indeed.
You'll have to provide your own sweat, smoke, and spilled mojitos, but this live document of the Allstars residency at Hoy Como Ayer's Fuácata party (edited and spliced together in dizzying Miles Davis Bitches Brew fashion) is still one of the slinkiest set of grooves around. DJ Le Spam (that's still Andrew Yeomanson to his mother) drops salsa turntable samples and Fidel's speeches over double-time beats; funky guitar riffs butt up against rapid-fire timbales. And somehow the whole concoction coheres, becoming much, much greater than the sum of its parts.

Pit stop not really required, though for joggers and bikers it's ideal. This roadside fresh fruit, vegetable, chocolate brownie, and fruity milkshake stand, located on an otherwise residential stretch of Red Road, is worth a trip all by itself. Located far (and not so far) from the madding crowds of U.S. 1 and the Shops at Sunset Place, and just down the street from Parrot Jungle, Wayside is a true oasis, a quiet little spot with outdoor tables and chairs beneath a lush South African sausage tree and tall, lanky bamboo, where you can bring a friend, a pooch (dogs are welcome), or a good book. The perfect refueling station for the long, strange, never-ending trip we call daily life in South Florida.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®