Tuesday May 31, 2005
The Miami Art Museum seems to want us to take exhibitions on its first floor less seriously then what goes upstairs. Downstairs is for uneven group shows and the small project room somewhat dismissively called “New Work.” Upstairs is for big, important traveling exhibitions – the draw. So it’s encouraging that we get a show up there that’s curated by MAM staff for a change.
Marking Time: Moving Images is a video art show for video art skeptics. Most of the work in the show is more closely related to photography then to television or film; in other words, it presents images that need motion to make sense, but don’t have conventional characters or plot. In fact, the closest the show comes to a plot is Miguel Angel Rios’ A Morir (Til’ Death).
The piece shows three views of the same surface, from three angles, projected on three walls. Heavy wooden tops spin and move through the scene, which is so alien and geometrically pure that it could almost be mistaken for computer animation. The sound, as the tops slam into each other and hit the ground, is loud and visceral. At the end, all the tops have been knocked down, and there is silence. Everything on the screens has been painted a neutral color; but for a few scrapes, the images would look to be filmed in black and white. The real/not real confusion (i.e. “what the fuck am I looking at?”) makes the piece immediately interesting. But the portrayal of violence and entropy is what makes the piece memorable.
Bill Viola’s superslowmotion classic The Visitation is among other great pieces in the show. Then there are the paper stack pieces by Felix Gonzalez-Torres, which apparently qualify as “moving images” because you can take one of the posters with you. Whatever. Paul Pfeiffer’s sunrise/sunset video splice is soothing and nifty.
The inclusion of non-video work in a show that’s mostly video is probably an attempt to “question the assumptions of the viewer;” and maybe it will do that for some. But the truth is that it emphasizes the tension between looking at video art vs. looking at non-video art (even non-video art that can claim to somehow “move”). They require a different sensory process, and switching back and forth keeps the experience from flowing.
Not to say that the show isn’t well curated, though – the MAM has always had a knack for presenting video art. Each piece is presented flatteringly; some in large darkened rooms, some casually projected on the wall. Alfredo Jaar’s installation of lightbox photographs and mirrors gets a lavish room with its own entrance area. Paul Ramírez Jonas’ airport terminal display is cleverly mounted on the wall of the stairs leading to the show. And so on.
Good show, then.
Sunday May 29, 2005
[Contributed by Steve Klotz]
Yessssssssssss finally we’re getting real south Florida weather: the sunny, hot, and humid stuff I like.
Makes me sweat just blinking. When an average white man from the frozen northeast can get himself a serious, cutting-edge dark tan . . .
Me, I do the beach from 10 to 4. I alternate 60 minutes dorsal, 6o ventral. You can feel the skin sizzle about hour 3—that’s when I know I’m making progress . . .
I’m listening in at a meeting of a Tanorexics Support Group. Like starving anorexic skeletons who perceive their own emaciated bodies as hidoeusly fat and bloated, these are people who, no matter how many hours they’re out there roasting their asses in sweltering sunshine, no matter how many shades they darken, swear that it’s never enough. One day – one hour – out from under the rays and they think they’re paler than Casper’s ass and nothing anybody says convinces them otherwise. They need the burn, the carcinogenic glow, the stiff leathery skin to feel completely alive.
One time I remember going straight from the dermatologist’s office to the beach after he’d burned off half a dozen skin cancers from my forehead and shoulders. It was painful seeing those white spots. I had to get them to match the rest of me right away!
Holy melted cocoa butter. And this is just one meeting, maybe 20 people, in a community of Ra-worshipers estimated in the thousands. They’re all ages, all sizes, both genders, and some are nudists (imagine the guys applying suntan lotion to themselves. Wait. Maybe don’t). I’ve attended neighborhood association meetings in Little Haiti with paler people.
This group meets weekly at night (of course) in the lobby of a skin care clinic whose name I can’t reveal. Sorry. But you can find your own group, if you want one, by checking out sunbathers. After a while it’s obvious who’s got a problem. Heard of Gay-dar? Use your Ray-dar.
Mmmmmm. Feel the burn.
[See all Articles by Steve]
Friday May 27, 2005
Exquisitly realistic, hand-painted fake plantains mixed in with real ones are being used to smuggle cocaine. The feds just discovered a 750 pound shipment. Seems pretty light for a coke haul, no? Somebody better check the avocados.
Critical Miami faves Erika Morales and Carlos Rigau (aka Kenneth Cohen) have a big fat show opening tonight at Leonard Tachmes Gallery. Carlos will be showing dioramas in inhabited by a mystical creature, and an epic video installation. Erika’s whimsical drawings are inspired by her work in graphic design. Also, MSG Newness free-jazz unit, the Blues Fuckers, will show up the MoCA monthly snoozecore jazz show.
Thursday May 26, 2005
[Contributed by Veronica Fernandes]
In Italy (where I come from), when you say Miami you mean (99% without knowing it) Miami Beach. But when you’re suddenly going to Miami and you have less than two days to book a flight and find a place to live, you discover a very useful and practical thing: the map.
Miami is a different city from Miami Beach. Why didn’t anybody tell me that? What is Miami, anyway?
Answer 1: “Miami is Cuba – you better learn Spanish.” – Rachel, 15 years old
Answer 2: “Miami is the future of Italy (??)” – Carlo Rossella, Italian journalist
Answer 3: Miami is a rebours.
As soon as I realized that Miami mysteriously and successfully eliminated every single person who liked walking, I decided to prove that I could walk without any problem: spiritual way of facing problems. “Oh, there are some cars honking, probably they wanna tell me that I’m very cute in the morning.” When I think of my very first day in Miami, I smile with a very patient and enigmatic smile: I almost died under a truck because I crossed one second after the green.
Now I am in India, where they have one of the most interesting traffic rules in the civilized world. Every car, truck, bus, rickshaw, and bike has a big sign on the back that says “horn please.” When the driver hears someone honking he checks what’s behind him, and if it’s bigger, he humbly lets it pass, otherwise he starts hurtling insults. If a driver has to turn, he puts his hand out of the window: if the driver on the other side waves him in, the first one can turn. Otherwise no luck. If you don’t believe me, check the Lonely Planet. Last, but very important: because of all this, the pedestrians are not even considered (and they can’t honk), so when they wanna cross the street they start screaming out loud, “stop! stop! stop! stop!” and then start running. After all that, Miami seems pretty safe.
Not knowing Delhi, I decided that walking was too dangerous, so I tried the public transportation: very fast efficient way to bring a piece of Iceland in Florida. (And this is the last time I use the words “fast and efficient” in the same sentence as “Miami public transportation”). As I have a scientific mind, let me try to develop my thoughts in an outline:
While you wait you can
· have more than one ice-cream
· read a whole book in Japanese and find out what every single character means. (Actually, you could write an English-Japanese dictionary and sell it, with the book, to someone who’s waiting for the bus with you. Be organized and bring paper.)
· think at least 157 times of how beautiful the sunrise was (when you got up soooo early to be at work on time)
· sometimes your bus arrives but you miss it, because the old Cuban lady you met is waiting for another bus and you feel to rude interrupting her while she’s talking about her dead husband.|
As someone said, after irony there is love.
[Previously: Bye Veronica!]
Wednesday May 25, 2005
It’s been closed for more then three years now, and Critical Miami still misses the 1800 Club, that bastion of misplaced glory. A better place to sink into a booth for gin and hushed conversation this city has never seen. To add insult to injury, the site will be home to a monstrosity bearing the same name (and calm yourself – it’s all sold out).
But. No sense living in the past, so we give you the 7 Seas, a sort of 1800 Club crossed with Sloppy Joe’s on Key West, crossed with a Toys R Us. Dark and spooky on weeknights and teeming with all sorts of folks on the weekends, 7 Seas decor is inspired by a thrift store. A back room holds three stacked TV sets, candles, and assorted piles of stuff. And don’t get us started on the outdoor patio. Kick-ass.
2200 SW 57 Ave., Miami
Sweet Mary mother of Jesus! Is this even safe? Actually this picture was taken about a month ago, and these are all over the place now. We’ve even heard of 26 inchers. Critical Miami is exited about the oversize wire rim trend, because it’s going to make spinners suddenly look old and lame.
This car has been terrorizing the city for years, cutting off SUV’s and taxis, making questionable U-turns, and parking in strange places. Well, no more: it finally fucked off and cooked itself Monday morning. RIP.
We have been blessed with tolerable temperatures late into May this year. Well, with a humid high of 87 degrees today, it’s all over. We welcome our 6-month Summer (with some trepidation).
The South Florida Historical Museum is doing something tonight; good luck figuring out what. I overheard something on WLRN about a food tasting, party, lecture and whatever else going on. No luck getting clarification from their web site, which promises “Thursday, May 26 / Taste of the Carribean” (misspelled like that and all). Then the link takes you to a schedule where Taste of the Caribbean (this time spelled right) was on May 5th. It’s one thing when no gallery in town can keep their web site up to date. But for a major cultural institution to have misspellings and information that was never true on their homepage is bad (plus we tried to call them and that was no better).
Good art argument here, brought to you by the fine people of Artblog.net.
Monday May 23, 2005
Thanks for stopping by. Since rolling to a start sometime last month, CM has met with pretty decent success.
Average number of page requests since I bothered a bunch of people with an e-mail blast on the 9th of this month is just shy of 500 (although as I work on the site, I’m responsible for a chunk of that).
Actual physical flyers have been printed up and are being distributed. Site design and architecture are undergoing gradual evolution.
Kind e-mails have poured in from many people, including a number of prominent local journalists and on-air personalities. Ladies and gentlemen, we are feeling the love.
A number of people have expressed interest in contributing. We need more. You can share your stuff; see the above link or send me an e-mail if you’re interested. We also need feedback. What you do/don’t like. Suggestions for topics. Offers of cash. Whatever.
Thanks again for stopping by.
Sunday May 22, 2005
Miami Beach Mayor David Dermer is pushing for a law that would make it illegal for convicted sexual offenders to live within 2,500 feet of a school. It sounds like a good idea, but it’s not.
Consider: Only 5 to 10 percent of sexual crimes against children are ever reported. 97% are committed by family members and friends of the family. So living near a school is irrelevant, because it’s not how most child sexual predators find their victims. This suggests that the law would create little more then a false sense of security. Also, by grouping all sexual offenders into a single category (an 18 year old who has consensual sex with a 17 year old is considered a sexual offender) we spend massive resources on groups of people, some of whom are know to be very unlikely to re-offend.
The point that is stressed by researchers over and over is that money spent on prevention is much more effective at preventing these crimes then money spent controlling convicts the way we are currently doing it.
Now, Miami Beach is a small place. Very little of it is not within 2,500 feet of a school. Some suspect that Dermer is merely trying to push convicted sexual offenders off the island altogether. Understandable, but the City of Miami is not happy about it, and is considering suing.
We may have kvetched when the MacArthur causeway got closed down for a few days for BBII, but Critical Miami loves it when big movies come to town. Well, the ultimate, Miami Vice the movie is on the way.
Now hear this: Casting directors are hosting an open casting call for extras (ages 21-35) today, 3 to 8 pm at Nikki Beach. Bring your headshots.
Saturday May 21, 2005
So far so good, right? This is America, and that’s how we do things.
Well, not so much. Ft. Lauderdale has declared a “no protest zone,” which basically means that protesters can’t come within one mile of the meeting site.
There is something here to be said about the First Amendment. The question is, does a right to assemble peacefully mean that we can assemble wherever we damn well please, or does it mean that we can assemble where the government tells it’s ok to? Apparently, this issue is not yet settled, and so a number of parties are suing the City of Fort Lauderdale for the right to assemble where their protest might actually make a point. The ACLU is involved.
This is actually not shocking. Stuff like this has been going on for a few years, notably at George W. Bush’s first inauguration. The trend in US history is that in times of trouble people’s civil liberties get put on hold, even those that are right there in the first amendment.
Friday May 20, 2005
Those who have not seen The Last Picture Show at the MAC have a pretty good chance tonight. At 7:30 pm, Christopher Phillips (a curator at the International Center of Photography) will talk about “Why Artists Love (and Hate) Photography.”
Their guest speakers are usually pretty good, and the show is a must-see.
Update: It’s 8 hours before the event, so it must be time for the MAC’s PR department to issue a press release about it. Sharp:
In recent decades, photography has seemed inescapable in the world of contemporary art. However, the enthusiasm of artists for photography has often been accompanied by a definite wariness and skepticism regarding this medium. This talk will explore the ways that artists such as Joseph Beuys, Robert Smithson, and Dennis Oppenheim, among others, have both utilized photography and sought to distance themselves from it.
Thursday May 19, 2005
An occasional series on hurricane season
[Contributed by Steve Klotz]
Three weeks before hurricane season
and the weather bunnies are already worked into a froth,
cooking up Worst Possible Scenario
to scare the snot out of us…
“Three storms a week, 80 of them major,
35 certain to strike south Florida between the Golden Glades and Metrozoo!
Run! Buy batteries, insurance, and a spare generator!
You need an ocean’s worth of bottled water
and a boxcar’s worth of canned okra!
Board up the cave!
For chrissake don’t panic!! DO NOT PANIC!!!!!!
And Stay tuned to ME and THTS STATION all day and night!!”
Hey fellas, keep it wrinkled, okay?
I dial up the electric company to see what they learned from last season
to do a better job this year.
Certainly after a half century of hurricanes,
including last year’s pounding that left thousands of customers
without power for weeks on end,
Florida Plunder & Loot (FPL to you)
is all set for the season, right?
“Damn betcha, we’re ready already!” says the voice on the phone.
“We closed up the stateside Emergency Help Call Center,
and hired a terrific Hot Line Report Service in Bangladesh
to handle all distress calls.
They’ve been specially trained by laid-off airline reservation agents
skilled in Sympathetic Delay Management:
once callers get through, these folks’ll know just what to say
to keep ‘em on perpetual hold without committing the company
to any specific course of action or expense!
We’ll have 2 complete layers of useless information-botchers
who only know enough English and Spanish to promise to refer complaints
to a non-existent ‘Supervisor’ who will call back ‘immediately.’ Ha!
“And we relocated all emergency equipment to flood-resistant
safe zones in central Georgia and Alabama to ensure their availability
no less than 10 days after flood waters recede!
That means all three replacement generators and both service trucks
will stay high and dry, ready for deployment
once our local administrators return from their mountain headquarters!
“We know a lot about handing emergencies here at FPL!
What better use for the revenue earned from those rate increases
besides our customers’ safety and service?”
Don’t know about you, but I’m buying rubbers.
[Contributed by Potato Head]
Life and Debt
Somebody pointed out to me that even if you tell the My Footprint site that you live in a cave, walk everywhere, and grow your own food, you’ll still be told you need 1.5 planets. That’s because you live in the U.S.A., and just by doing so you’re supporting lots of environmentally damaging stuff. By virtue of the country where you live, you are an asshole by default. Life and Debt is an eye-opening (and visually beautiful) movie about the damage that you, my friend, are giving your tacit approval to.
This great documentary explains, in surprising detail, how IMF and World Bank policies are making poor countries poorer, looking primarily at Jamaica. It’s a visually arresting movie, and worthy of being seen on a big screen. The Historical Museum is screening the film tonight, for free. I would very strongly encourage you to go.
Time and Again/Snap
For you cinophiles who of course have already seen Life in Debt, your pal Justin Routt is showing his two new shorts tonight at Amika, 1532 Washington Avenue, on Miami Beach. Also free admission, but with also free drinks and sushi.
Actually, screw it, if you make an effort you can catch both.
Wednesday May 18, 2005
Are you like Critical Miami: are you fascinated by Freemasons? You may want to check out this lecture, tonight, by one of the few U.S. female 33rd Degree Freemasons at Miami Intelligence. 7 pm Wendnesday (a hefty $10).
Tuesday May 17, 2005
People, there are a lot of wack drivers out there. Now, we care about out readers. So with that in mind, here are a few things you should know as you drive about town.
1. As you sit in the driver’s seat, you’ll probably be focused on the steering wheel. You may have mastered it. Great. Now let’s look right behind it; you’ll notice a sort of lever on the left side of the wheel, which can be pushed up or down. This is your turn signal control. It goes up if you’re turning right or changing lanes to the right, down for left.
You may be thinking, “but Florida law says I don’t have to signal lane changes.” True; but you’ll want to, anyway. There’s a slightly coked-up real estate agent in a G55 AMG barreling down that other lane, and that turn signal might just save your life.
2. Many of you have problems with 4-way stops. Here’s how it works. You stop. If anyone else is already standing at the stop, you let them go. If someone’s pulling in to the stop, you can just go: no need to wait! In fact, since you slow everybody else down by waiting, some people may assume you’ve fallen asleep in your car, and just keep going through the stop, once again putting you in jeopardy. So be safe and don’t sit there waiting for the other car to come to a complete stop.
3. If you’re on a street with more then one lane going in your direction, you may find yourself traveling next to a car going the same speed as you. In this case, you will want to slow down or speed up, and get in the same lane as that car. This will prevent people who want to pass tailgating you, and decrease your chance of death.
4. See the operator’s manual of your car on the correct use of your high-beams.
Monday May 16, 2005
Sunday May 15, 2005
. . . to friends and readers: the following mad art-dash last night was not very well planned nor communicated. In the future we shall endeavour to do a better job letting you know what all there is to see. On to the shows . . .
A marionette show outside failed to dazzle us. I guess there was too much ahead to sit and give it the time it needed. Not pictured is a very large installation by José Bedia in the entrance gallery.
Maria Jose Arjona gets her performance on at Damien B.. The crowd did not give her the proper respect, probably because she was between the entrance to the gallery and the Chivas Regal bar (with regard to which, by the way: nice).
An installation at the Bikeo Gallery.
Outside, hip-hop on the street.
A wonderful photo and video show, Swamp Cabbage, by Julie Lara Kahn at Locust about old-school Florida. The video included mesmerizing footage of a herder demonstrating where the term “cracker” comes from.
We caught the tiniest little bit of a performance at the Carla Fache gallery. Weird and wonderful, unlike the MOR abstract expressionist sofa art inside.
Photos of Cuba are cliché in Miami. These (at Filtro, tho, were worth stopping for.
At the Food Culture Museum across the street was the bountiful food tasting(!) portion of the aforementioned Swamp Cabbage exhibition. Wild hog sausage, snapping-turtle stew, fried alligator, buttermilk biscuits, and much else was sampled. By the way, this is one of the neatest places in the neighborhood, and sadly, appears to be up for sale.
Erika Somogyi at Rocket Projects. Can you guess who the artist is?
Our evening concludes at Churchill’s, where several loud/fast bands set the stage for oVo, on tour from Italy (Cohen suspected them of faking on this point, but was proven incorrect, and ultimately won over, gushingly buying a cd and a t-shirt). They started with the thickest sound imaginable from a duo, and built from there, to searing heights of sludgy power.
Eventually the audience could not limit itself to spectatorship and, in a furious burst of activity, the band tossed off its instruments, a burst of prerecorded marching band music came in. Things came to a head, as the audience and band danced, united.
In the second half, oVo emerges victorious, having switched to violin and a percussion instrument made of a bass guitar and signal processors. Astounding.
Ladies and gentlemen, Cohen encourages you to come see the music of our time (or something): Lightning Bolt plays Churchill’s tonight, and the enthusiasm from fans of the group we’ve spoken to is enough to build up wildly unreasonable expectations. Not, however, to be missed.
Friday May 13, 2005
[Contributed by Harumi Abe]
I went to Titanes Sumo-wrestling event. Wow. That was my first word.
I understand it is a costume party, but no body understand the difference between Japanese and another Asian country…. The hippie African type of dram with some music I suppose inspire by Akira, the Indonesian looking roof, all the geisha dance and costume like Kill Bill . . .
I understand where people are getting idea of Japan. But as a Japanese person how should I supposed to think of this culture cross mess. Even Franklin, a professor who knows the difference of Japanese and Chinese, was dressing china dress. Is this a Comedy show or an Art!????
A huge space on the fourth floor of the Buick Building houses this massive installation, which the whole Design District was abuzz about last night. An airplane lavishly outfitted with seating, in-wall dioramas, and a tail-deck overlooking a cardboard model of a city has been constructed from scavenged materials. The show also includes a bewildering amount of related stuff – a group of parachuting sculptures, drawings, and a million other things.
Stewardesses were on hand, along with sharply dressed guards, a full band, an open bar, a dreadlocked dance troupe, some very serious looking photographers, and more cute art kids then you can shake a stick at. Delightful.
The whole thing was built by Starleene, a quartet of artists from New York who were “discovered” by Craig Robins while building an outdoor car crash installation on one of his properties during Art Basel last year.
Thursday May 12, 2005
Nina Arias, who was famously separated from the Rocket Projects gallery last September, is throwing a “one-night Sumo-wrestling and Japanese costume party” at the Moore Building tonight. The event, Titanes, runs from 8 to midnight, and invites you to dress up Japanese (free).
We believe that Miami Light Project actually commissioned their latest production, Scratch and Burn, which sounds amazing. It’s playing all weekend, but tonight’s performance is the only one that includes a question and answer session with the performers ($25). The Art and Culture Center of Hollywood opens the Hollywood All-Media Juried Biennial , which includes a number of Miami artists, including our pals Ross and Isabel ($5).
An opening at Rocket Projects (Erika Somogyi in the Project Room (looks good); Cristina Lei Rodriguez is still in the main room) is part of this Second Saturday thing. Also an opening party at the Rubell Collection (more information to come on this one).
All this week 13 Tibetan monks are creating a Sand Mandala at Art+ Gallery there will be a closing ceremony this afternoon, although you may want to drop by another day and see them at work; they’re open 11am to 6pm.
Wednesday May 11, 2005
[Contributed by Steve Klotz]
Esperantina, Brazil: Mayor Felipe Santolia declared May 8 “Orgasm Day,” which he said was intended to improve relationships between married couples.
“We’re celebrating orgasm in all its senses,” he said. “There’s even a panel discussion on premature ejaculation. But from what I’ve seen, women have more trouble achieving orgasm than men, especially in marriage.”
—Numerous News Sources
So much for the hot-blooded latin lifestyle—celebrating Orgasm Day with a panel discussion. Hell, a panel truck has more possibilities.
Personally, I approve of orgasms—mine, yours, my partner’s, complete strangers’, and especially those whose celebrations of their arrival include
blood-curdling screams summoning their deities, limb-thrashings, and scatological tsunamis. But I don’t know that “Orgasm Day” contributes much to their achievement.
So I called a few local experts for their input.
UM President Donna Shalala told me that female orgasms were fundamentally distinct from male’s, and that as a male I shouldn’t even be allowed to mention them because to do was sexist and condescending to women: in fact, as a male, I shouldn’t be allowed to mention anything. Ever.
Former Attorney General Janet Reno didn’t know what I was talking about. No wonder she and Clinton didn’t get along.
World famous exterminator Truly Nolen thought I said “organism,’ and, delighted to learn about this special day, offered to inspect my premises for free (I declined).
The Governor’s office released a statement to the effect that whatever people wanted to do in recognition of the holiday was a private matter in which the state and Republican Party had no official interest unless there was a foster underage teenager’s fetus or an adult in a persistent vegetative state involved, in which case the full measure of the state’s judicial and political forces would be mercilessly unleashed.
The Dolphins media relations bureau wondered why anybody would care about something as vapid and trivial as an orgasm when the college draft and boot camp were happening.
Comic writer Dave Barry suggested I find something more important to do, but when I asked him for suggestions, he couldn’t come up with anything original. Again.
Shit. In this horse ball town, maybe a panel discussion is exactly what we need. Seems like when it comes to orgasms, it’s every man for himself.
Tuesday May 10, 2005
Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra Cleveland Orchestra has agreed to make Miami its “second home,” for three weeks per year, once MPAC is finished. This is considered a feather in MPAC’s cap. Go figure.
Anywho, you may recall that South Florida had, until recently, its own orchestra. Heated debate ensued today at Critical Miami headquarters about why the Florida Philharmonic couldn’t raise enough money to stay afloat, with no conclusive conclusion drawn. If anyone has thoughts beyond “South Floridians are a bunch of obstinate, vacuous, and generally ignorant philistines who won’t put themselves out for anything other then immediate gratification of sensual needs," please let us know. Meanwhile, careful if you’re driving into downtown on from the north: MPAC construction has Biscayne down to one lane each way through August 16th.
[ Previously: OBEY! ]
[Contributed by Potato Head]
I see Ed Bell dropped by here yesterday to check the spelling. Okay, then, let’s talk about WLRN [91.3 on FM the radio dial]. I’ve very little experience with public radio outside S. Florida, but WLRN seems to do a decent job. It seems like we should be able to muster a national-caliber show like This American Life, but I guess it’s not meant to be. What we have is Ed’s worthy arts show (where “arts” seems to mean mostly performing arts), and Joseph Cooper’s Tropical Currents.
A local public radio show, Tropical Currents ought to be the most boring of all possible experiences. And Cooper is nobody’s idea of a dynamic radio personality. But. Somehow. It’s magic.
Joseph Cooper is an utterly ordinary, if pretty smart, guy. He seems to make no particular effort to “entertain.” (Actually, these are both just my impressions; it could all be part of the act.) That’s what makes him so riveting on the radio. The Diane Rhem Show has endless intelligent callers; it’s a national show. Joseph has a much smaller pool of callers to deal with, and some real characters (and idiots) get through. He deals with them with delicious, barely disguised, contempt. You can actually hear him sigh on the radio.
Mostly, though, he’s just a regular dude. He cares about the environment. He doesn’t like big business pushing people around. He’s reasonable for miles and miles. But he sounds like a reasonable guy sitting at the next bar stool, not like a reasonable guy on the radio. (Kind of like Tom Snyder.)
[Mp3 downloads of Cooper’s show are available online (nice; most NPR stuff is available in RealAudio only). How about adding an RSS feed for podcasting, WLRN? How about keeping more then four recent shows online for download? And, for the love of sweet Jesus, how about an actual schedule of upcoming shows? Please don’t tell us Joe flies by the seat of his pants??]
Monday May 9, 2005
Holy crap: someone is giving trapeze lessons in Bayfront Park. This contraption was spotted over the weekend between the amphitheater and the big fountain. Don’t they know we’re living in a litigious society?!
Sunday May 8, 2005
The Miami Art Museum has a somewhat modest permanent collection (this fact was, inexplicably, used as an argument against Museum Park). Nonetheless, the museum has put together some wonderful exhibitions from its collection in the past, of which Figuratively Speaking is not one. The resurgence of figuration in art since mid-20th century abstraction seems like a trite idea to base a show around, but of that’s not the problem with this show. Put simply, very few of the pieces in the show are really great, and many of them have been seen at MAM before. But let’s focus on the positive.
In the pamphlet essay, Peter Boswell focuses on the three oldest pieces in the show. Of these, Romare Bearden’s collage, Return of the Prodigal Son (1967), is the winner (here’s a crappy scan). Balancing crudeness and grace, it somehow looks right at home in 2005, almost forty years after its completion. Oscar Muñoz’s Cortinas de Baño (Shower Curtains) use a watercolor-like effect on hanging plastic sheets to simulate what bathers look like through steamed-up glass. One of the figures’ foot rests in a pool of blood, referencing the civil war in the artist’s native Columbia (those living off the fat of the land in the USA might think of a woman who’s cut herself while shaving her legs, but oh well).
The museum’s web site uses Carrie Mae Weems’ Mayflowers from Maydays Long Forgotten to illustrate the show, and for good reason. This understated photograph is the best thing in the show. It shows three young girls laying on the ground outdoors. One girl wears a simple flower pattern dress, and gazes up at the sky; one girl wears a formal, frilly dress, and looks down at the first girl; the girl in the middle wears a laurel of leaves and flowers on hear head, and stares down the viewer. All that, and a successful use of a round frame. A few other pieces in the show were great, including Wamgechi Mutu’s Untitled (another collage), and a Lorna Simpson digital montage.
What was bad? Pretty much all the paintings, for starters. The worst of them, David Salle’s Untitled, previously caused eye-rolls during the Let’s Entertain exhibition. Oh yeah, and a little animated LCD piece called Thin Little Running Man was displayed in a way that can only be described as incompetent. Apparently it is so precious that it needs to be hung behind protective plexiglas and still needs a line on the ground to keep people from getting too close. Infuriatingly, all this makes a little speaker on the piece impossible to hear (one curious little girl who put her ear to it was reprimanded by a guard). There was no explanatory text to shed clues. This would be like displaying a painting behind frosted glass.
The MAM’s next exhibition, Marking Time / Moving Images, opens on the 13th. We trust they’ll get it right this time.
Friday May 6, 2005
Our friend Veronica, who spent the last two months in Miami, and instigated some of the touristy explorations over the last couple of weeks, has returned to Italy. Next week she’s off to India, the little globetrotter. Stay in touch, Veronica!
We miss her, and are listless. Sudenly, it seems like there’s nothing to do in this crappy, sweltering city. The New Times Night and Day section is full of crap like “Meet Cristina Saralegui” at ElDorado Furniture. The Miami Herald web site returns 441 hits for our search of their god-awful events database, none of which seem to be actual events on the dates we asked.We heard about openings at Snitzer and Diana Lowenstein (website plays annoying music and is horribly out of date), but who can be bothered?
The good news is that there is plenty to do starting in about a week. Stay tuned; next thursday, Critical Miami will plan your weekend.
Update: While the editors were puting together this New-Times-bashing post, our Marketing department was busy sending them a request to cover CM in the forthcoming Best Of issue. Oops . . . sorry guys; we love you (most of the time).
Tuesday May 3, 2005
That’s a quote this morning from County Mayor Carlos Alvarez, talking about a study (here’s a bug-me-not link for the Herald) conducted recently at FIU, which apparently was looking at the public’s perception of a move by him to create a “Strong Mayor,” and weaken the county commission and county manager.
It may be technically true, Carlos, but it sure makes you sound like an ass.
Monday May 2, 2005
Critical Miami is happy about all the stuff going up in Downtown. And we’re cool with the building in Wynwood. But we’re totally grouchy about what’s going on with Watson Island. A few happy years ago, it was an eccentric little radar blip on the way to Miami Beach. Those who pulled off 395 were rewarded by a squirrelly little bait shop, an amazing fish market, a heli-tour pad, and a generally cool hang-out area.
Today we have the crap-tacular reinvention of Parrot Jungle, the supposedly great but unfinished-seeming Children’s Museum, and . . . the helicopter tours are still there! But wait – it’s not for long. The City of Miami Department of Economic Development has more crap in the pipeline for Watson Island: I give you Island Gardens (pictured)! What might this be? What did our fearless leaders pick to round out the Parrot/Kid Museum trio? What did they deem would best round out the character of the island? Ah, of course: condominium towers and a big shopping mall.
Would this be a problem if they were just taking a place with interesting character and overdeveloping it with generic “attractions”? Well, actually yes; but what’s annoying is how these things are all doomed to failure. Parrot Jungle is in the red, and according to an article (horrible registration required (bugmenot link) )in the Herald today, has not much prospect of meeting visitor expectations. The fact that a kitschy “attraction” like this is more successful in a tucked-away tropical setting then next to a highway in the city center should have been predictable. Not sure how the Children’s Museum is doing, but based on daily drive-by analysis of their parking lot, not great. Is a shopping mall going to save this chazzerai? Keep in mind that Bayside is right over the bridge.
Who knows, maybe it’ll be great. City of the future, and all of that. But we’re going to miss the old Watson Island. Heck, we already do.