Ben Greenman on Questlove, George Clinton Memoirs: "When It Comes To These Books, You Have To Audition"

Categories: Books, Interview

Courtesy of Okay Player
Ben Greenman and Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson in NYC.
A great book is like a great song, once it gets in your head, it's in there for the rest of your life. Just ask Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and George Clinton, two of America's greatest living recording artists, and now authors.

Their albums and shows have pushed the creative boundaries of successive generations of sound while consistently maintaining mass appeal. So how does one transcend beyond selling millions of records? The written word.

It's all with the help of co-author Ben Greenman. The Miami native and former New Times reporter penned the New York Times best-selling Mo Meta Blues, for Quest, and Brothas Be, Yo Like George, Ain't That Funkin' Kinda Hard on You?: A Memoir for Clinton.

Greenman grew up fishing with his grandpa in Hallandale and graduated from Palmetto High. Here's what he had to say about his favorite stories, spending a year backstage at Late Night, and fishing with George Clinton in Tallahassee.

See also: Jonathan Eig on The Birth of The Pill: "Birth Control Is Not Just a Women's Issue"

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Florida Grand Opera's Stellar Madama Butterfly Gives Glimpse of Exciting Season

Courtesy of Brittany Mazzurco, Florida Grand Opera
Giacomo Puccini's Madama Butterfly with a libretto by Giuseppe Giacosa and Luigi Illica, was not well-received on its premiere in Milan's legendary La Scala in 1904 -- the reasons being far too numerous and open to debate to strangle our flow here -- but Puccini, a man director Marc Astafan (making his Florida Grand Opera debut) calls "the Great Manipulator," revised the troublesome areas and when the production returned three months later it became a huge success. Puccini's resume is untouchable, from Turandot, La bohème and Tosca, which was performed last season by the FGO with a command performance by Jouvanca Jean-Baptiste, being his most well-known.

The opera has endured as one of the world's most beloved for a number of reasons that go beyond the obvious cultural clash of its main protagonists, 15-year-old Cio-Cio-San and her arranged American husband Lt. B.F. Pinkerton. Madama Butterfly is at heart a simple tale with many tendrils. The FGO has opened their 74th season in grand fashion, with solid stage work and symbiotic performances from the singers that further strengthen an already solid work.

See also: Florida Grand Opera Gets Sexy and Sweaty at The Stage

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Provocative Video Artist Ryan Trecartin To Speak at Frost Art Museum

Categories: Around Town, Art

Roberta Fallon via Wikipedia
Ryan Trecartin's video A Family Finds Entertainment is now a decade old. With the serious intent of Bill Viola and Nam June Paik fused with PCP into the Tom Rubnitz and John Waters school of filmmaking, Trecartin heralded the rise of the DIY, YouTube auteur that is so common these days.

Born in 1981, he's been a product -- through action or inaction -- of the video game generation but with enough of a cognizant experience of that generation's transitional period to emerge without being jaded while fully embracing the absurd.

Campy and provocative, Trecantin has been proclaimed by The New Yorker as "the most consequential artist to emerge since the 1980s." His installations and videos are theatrical, often pushy échanges violents, that the upcoming Helen Venero Artist Lecture Series describes as "seen as a watershed for their exploration of the profound shifts in culture and social interaction that are defining our current moment." His worlds are populated with intricate layers of absurdist narratives.

See also: Leonel Matheu Weaves a Spell on Viewers at the Frost Art Museum

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Art Basel Miami Beach 2014 Local Gallery Guide

Courtesy of Robert Fontaine Gallery
Space Fruit, Still Lifes (Watermelon), Andy Warhol (1979).
If all you do during Art Basel Miami Beach is stick to the big fairs, you might as well call it a day and go back home.

Seriously. Some of the best contemporary art we've seen during Art Basel has been away from the convention center and tents.

Local galleries feature both homegrown and international talent, including a mix of well-established artists and those on the cusp of greatness. And wouldn't you rather have bragging rights that you saw so-and-so before they were big? (Basel is just one big bragging Olympics. Step your game up!)

That being said, there are way too may galleries to possibly feature them all. But we've picked out some of the best shows that coincide with Art Basel Miami Beach, some of which are already exhibiting right now -- because it's never too early to start Basel-ing.

See also: Art Basel Miami Beach 2014 Fairs Guide

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The Ten Best Things About Santa's Enchanted Forest

Categories: Culture, Lists

By force of copyright, "the most magical place on Earth" can only describe Walt Disney theme parks, but the most magically-Miami place on Earth is without a doubt Santa's Enchanted Forest.

If you're really from South Florida, you've got a story. Either you grew up taking in the lights and free rides, or you grow up and wander in with some friend who can't believe you've never been there before, only to discover that the most deliciously-ratchet children's park of all time is also incredibly fun for adults.

Don't believe us? Who are you? Some kind of fun mizer? Just check out all the awesome stuff Santa's has in store.

See also: Eight Best Places to Go Stoned in Miami

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Lip Service Turns 8, Becomes a Badass Literary Force and Publishes a Book

Courtesy of
Esther Martinez-Kenniff and Andrea Askowitz, besties.
"Maria and I didn't start out an interfaith couple. We became one 15 years into our marriage. Up until then, my wife was a lapsed Catholic and I was a bad Jew. We shared a New Age spirituality and read mystical books to each other as we carpooled to work. We had children and raised them with a schmear of Judaism and a sprinkle of Catholicism.

We weren't interfaith but we were inter-ethnic: Jewish and Cuban, nitro and glycerin. We fell in love the way only opposites fall in love: recklessly, foolishly, and completely.

The truth is I fell in love with Cuban girls a long time ago, when they infiltrated Shenandoah Junior High School. To me they all looked like Gina Lollobrigida, with large breasts, pouty lips, and big, sexy eyes." -- "Nitro & Glycerin" by Doug Shear

So opens Shear's story about romance, faith, partnership and ultimately of political betrayal in Badass, Lip Service: True Stories, the Double Album, an omnibus collection of some of Lip Service's best stories in its first eight years of operation.

See also: We Got Lip Service in Traffic Last Night

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Jonathan Eig on The Birth of The Pill: "Birth Control Is Not Just a Women's Issue"

What's the most important invention of the 20th Century? Is it the telephone? The assembly line? The airplane?

Nope -- it's the birth control pill. That's according to author and journalist Jonathan Eig, whose book, The Birth of The Pill, traces the pill's origins and the risk-taking innovators who pushed through societal barriers to bring it to millions of women worldwide.

Of course, he didn't come to the decision lightly. When he first heard a rabbi make the case for the pill as last century's biggest breakthrough, he thought, "That's nuts." So he decided to investigate, even though it made him a bit of an oddball amongst his peers.

See also: John Waters Talks Carsick, Miami Book Fair International, and His Singing Anus

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Wynwood's Danilo Gonzalez To Name Mural Contest Winner: "I Want a Landmark"

In the bowels of Craigslist, buried in the catacombs of 'Community' is an ad with a plaintive plea. "WE NEED A MURAL!" its title reads in all caps. "SHOW US WHAT YOU CAN DO!" It's a pithy post, no longer than one sentence, with a photo of a long, single-story warehouse. From its base to its asbestos shingled roof, the building is coated in the same drab grey hue. One half of its awning (also grey) reads, "Warehouse Project;" the other half, "Men's Corner." It definitely needs a makeover.

"It's pretty ugly," says artist and gallery owner Danilo Gonzalez, who commissioned the ad. The building, a former apparel storage facility, had been abandoned for over five years when Gonzalez signed the lease back in 2012. The surrounding neighborhood was a ghost town and the only nearby business was the Light Box at Goldman Warehouse. But Gonzalez had a hunch that things would change. Development in Wynwood, he believed, was to going move west, towards the freeway, not east towards Miami Avenue. "People thought I was crazy."

Today, Gonzalez's 27th Street art mecca, the Wynwood Warehouse Project, is a testimony to his perspicacity. "There was nothing happening here three or five years ago," he said. "Now, everybody is moving this way exactly as I predicted." But with change, comes progress, and with progress, people. The Wynwood of today is certainly not the Wynwood of a few years ago. What was once a haven for grit and creativity is now a hotbed of glitz and gourmands. Wynwood Arts District, you say? Wrong, sweetie. It's Wynwood Café District.

See also: MasterMind Awards 2015: Win $1,000 and a City-Wide Arts Showcase

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Metro Zu's Lofty305 Plunges Head First Into the Art World with Miami Showing

Lofty305 (left) and Posh God of Metro Zu.
Lofty305 woke up at 9:40 a.m. in his Midtown Manhattan apartment. It was a Monday. He brushed his teeth with non-fluoride toothpaste and rinsed his XS afro with coconut oil. He ate two Butterfingers, worked out at the building's gym, and snacked on hummus. Then he started painting.

He painted a pink portal with two mounds ("ladies boobs") coming out of it. He painted long tubular tentacles -- one wrapped around the body of a naked lady ("healing her"), another squeezing the life out of a blue shark. He painted jet skies and he painted lamps. He painted a "little shepherd dragon" and a ridge of mountains that looked like watermelon slices.

And then he took a break. Painting is tedious work, especially when you're working with a canvas that is six-feet tall. The canvas that he was supposed to be working on, the one that he'd ordered online, was late. His package should have been delivered that day. But the online tracking system said otherwise. Wednesday, it read, not Monday. This was not okay. I've got to start one now, he thought.

In fact, he needed the canvases immediately because Art Basel was only a few weeks away and the paintings needed a good three weeks to dry. He panicked. He cajoled a friend into going with him to the art store. He bought the replacement canvas. Together, they lugged it the ten blocks back to his apartment.

See also: Art Basel Miami Beach 2014 Local Gallery Guide

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Alexander McCall Smith: The Only Man In a Skirt at Miami Book Fair International

A few years before HBO turned Alexander McCall Smith's The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency into a show, casting Jill Scott as the female Sherlock Holmes of Botswana, I read the first in this very, very long series of novels. You can be as cynical as you want, the story is actually quite enthralling and amusing. My mom was the one who suggested I check it out. She's read probably all of the author's books, including those in his many other series (check out this absurdly long list). So when she saw he was speaking opening night at 2014's Miami Book Fair International, we had to go.

I was honestly a little hesitant, but as it turns out, the fair's main man, Books & Books' Mitchell Kaplan prefaced the reading with very true words: "You only have to see Alexander McCall Smith once before you want to see him again."

First off, the guy came out in a kilt, tie, knee-high socks, and a sporran.

See also: John Waters Talks Carsick, Miami Book Fair International, and His Singing Anus

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