Mandy Baca, Author of Discovering Vintage Miami, Talks About the Past

Courtesy of State Archives of Florida
Vintage postcard of Biscayne Boulevard.
Kendall native Mandy Baca is an unlikely historian. Her first loves aren't the dusty archives and musty-smelling books that normally keep historians company, rather they're the aromatic spices of the kitchen.

Baca is a trained gastronome, she earned a master's degree in Italian gastronomy and tourism from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy. While that might sound almost scientific, Baca described her degree as a crash-course in "traveling, eating, [and] pretending to study." With that background, it's no surprise that Baca's first book, The Sizzling History of Miami Cuisine: Cortaditos, Stone Crabs and Empanadas, delved into the rich background of Miami's food culture.

Baca's second book, Discovering Vintage Miami, is a bit of a divergence from her foodie-focused background. The heavily-illustrated volume is a jaunty history tour through some of the Magic City's best vintage establishments. There are some familiar places in Discovering Vintage Miami, places that have endured through Miami's makeovers: Arbetter's Hot Dogs, Joe's Stone Crabs, and S & S Diner. But there are other lesser-known places that might be a discovery even for the most native of Miamians.

See also: Poet Richard Blanco Speaks About Renewing Relationships With Cuba

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From Ferguson to Miami: FusionMIA Project Gives Overtown Youth a Voice (Photos)

Boy Behind Metal Fence, Overtown, Elijah Wells
The Through My Lens: Art is Life photography workshop, which took place November 8 and was sponsored by the Play to Win Foundation, Nike, and Microsoft, gave several of Miami's teenagers the chance to express themselves and their life experiences through art. The opportunities and validation the workshop provides is in stark contrast to the teenagers fighting a corrupt system in Ferguson, Missouri, some in chaos, others in silent pleas. This essay is a look at how a city can uplift its youth or tear them down, inspiring them or teaching them that they don't matter.

The photography taken during the workshop will be featured at the FusionMIA 2014 African American Abstract Masters exhibit featuring the BET Art Lounge December 3 at Mana Wynwood Production Village (318 NW 23rd St., Miami) and lasts until December 7. Admission to the BET Art Lounge is free. Visit

See also: FusionMIA Photography Workshop Gives Students Art Basel Opportunity

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Right to Wynwood Shows Some Truth About Miami's Favorite Art District: Watch It Here

Wynwood is constantly teeming with photo shoots and roving videographers setting their works in the color-drenched backdrop of once-bedraggled warehouses turned blossoming outdoor art museum. People make music videos, build modeling portfolios, and create surreal melodramas there. And some have taken to making documentaries about this burgeoning nerve center of creativity -- what Wynwood means, what the people there stand for, how it is the paint-soaked ideal of Miami's cultural future, and so on.

Most of these films have been rubbish. But a new short film about Wynwood by Camila Álvarez and Natalie Edgar debuts today, and it is an exception among the wide array of trite tinsel hanging from the hippest section of the Magic City. It is honest, smart, substantial, and utterly worth seeing.

The documentary, Right to Wynwood, was intended as a final project for an honors research course at FIU. Over the course of the past few years, it has grown into something far more relevant, partly because of the high quality of the film itself and partly because of the increasing significance of Wynwood as a community to this city.

See also: Wynwood's Murals Transform the Neighborhood

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Cryptic Readings: Miami's Occult Fascination Comes to Life at UM

Michael L. Carlebach Photography Collection, Special Collections Department, University of Miami Libraries, Coral Gables
Perhaps one of the creepiest things about scary movies is when they are based on real events. There's nothing more frightening than seeing a horror flick and realizing that art, indeed, imitates life.

As a culture, we've always been fascinated with all things supernatural. Heck, even the word itself sounds more fun to be "super" than just plain "natural."

"I think Miamians are quite open-minded about the possibilities of 'other worlds,'" says Cristina Favretto, director of the Special Collections Department at the University of Miami. "We are so culturally diverse that we're able to entertain the notion that people have very diverse beliefs and a wide variety of views on the afterlife, the spirit realm, etc."

See also: The Four Most Haunted Places in Miami

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The Four Most Haunted Places in Miami

Photo by Karli Evans
In addition to the ghosts of disillusioned Midwesterners and model rejects that roam the streets of South Beach, lots of other spooky spirits are hanging around the Magic City. Just ask Paul George, native Miamian, professor of history at Miami Dade College's Wolfson Campus, and historian at HistoryMiami.

With only a few days until Halloween, we spoke with George to get some background on the most ghastly and ghoulish haunts in our fair city.

See also: Annabelle's Tony Amendola Talks Possessed Dolls and Hauntings at the Biltmore

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The Crossfire Kids Airs Tonight on WPBT2: "Young Immigrants Are Not Villains"

Courtesy of WPBT2
"We like to think we are a humane country, but the way the United States treats their immigrants, particularly those from Latin American countries, is appalling." Miami-born filmmaker Oscar Corral echoes the feelings of many in our city, thousands touched by the immigrant experience.

His latest endeavor, The Crossfire Kids captures the struggle of young immigrants caught in the political crossfire over our country's immigration policy. Premiering tonight on WPBT2, the multi-week, cross-platform programming event features a web companion series and an exclusive online original mini-documentary. The web companion series will begin releasing on October 14 through WPBT's uVu channel, with new videos each week through October.

See also: Cubamerican Airs on WPBT2 Thursday: "It's the Story of Our Exile"

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Relive the Beatles Invasion in Traveling Memorabilia Exhibit at HistoryMiami

(c)The Bob Bonis Archive
While there have been literally millions and millions of words offered about the Beatles, none come close to what it was actually like to witness the music and mayhem that was reaped in their wake. The anticipation of each and every new album; the cool and charisma that found fans worshipping them like gods; their indelible influence on fashion and style; the revolutionary sounds they created and inspired. All of this was part and parcel of the Fab Four phenomenon, a cultural event that has never been replicated since. In less than a decade, they forever changed popular music, leaving an imprint that remains undiminished a full half-century since.

That's one reason why anything associated with the Beatles has taken on an air of awe and intrigue, as if it can somehow connect us mere mortals with some kind of sacred sacrament. The connection was especially clear here in South Florida, when in 1964 the band's second appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show was broadcast worldwide from Miami Beach and the locals were given opportunity to watch them romp in the surf and travel about like tourists.

See also: "Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow" To Highlight Untold Civil Rights History

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Avra Jain Preserves Miami's History at Vagabond Hotel (Video)

The long line of Biscayne Boulevard is home to a string of historic hotels in various states of decay and charm. Looking to recapture the seaside glamor of these spots is the Vagabond Hotel on Northeast 73rd Street, the iconic inn whose soft opening last month gave us a glimpse of the carefully reconstructed details and upscale adjustments to come.

See also: Inside the Vagabond Hotel, Biscayne Boulevard's Restored MiMo Gem (Photos)

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PHOTOSTREAM: Share Your Miami Instagrams in Dwntwn Arts Days Project

#DDAFF2014 participants.
Blowfly has seemingly saved his home with IndieGoGo and some numb-nutz named Zack Brown conned 50 grand for "potato salad." Crowd-sourcing can be a powerful tool. From filmmakers to musicians, the possibilities are endless -- even more so when a pair of local artists utilize the basic concept of it for an installation this month during DWNTWN Art Days, which celebrates the way our town has changed and continues to evolve.

Artists and frequent collaborators (read: artistic instigators) Barron Sherer and Kevin Arrow have taken the concept and translated it into a locally-sourced photo project using Instagram and hashtags as the unifying front for the creation of the installation that will stream at the Miami Center for Architecture & Design from the September 19 through September 28.

The end result should be a compilation video on YouTube that won't make you cringe and/or wince in pain. The best part of the project is that its relative success hinges on the community's participation. Here's where you, the smart phone-wielding public, comes into play.

See also: DWNTWN Art Days: Fringe Projects' Public Installations and Frost's New Maker Space

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Cubamerican Airs on WPBT2 Thursday: "It's the Story of Our Exile"

Courtesy of Danny Bellas
Andy Garcia in Cubamerican.
To live in Miami is to be immersed in Cuban culture, but how many of us really know the tale of our neighbors, our ancestors, and ourselves?

José Enrique Pardo had enough of romantic Hollywood depictions and took matters into his own hands. With only two short films under his belt, he set out to document what drove millions of Cubans to leave their home, to send their children more than 90 miles away -- perhaps never to be seen again -- and to answer the equally important question of what these first-generation immigrants have done with their freedom.

What gives him the right? It's his story too.

See also: Cubamerican: Moving Documentary on the Cuban Experience in America, Debuts in Miami

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