Best Museum 2006 | The Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens | Arts & Entertainment | South Florida
Courtesy of Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens
Now that Edward Said is dead and buried, we can go back to enjoying good, old-fashioned Orientalism again. Because who doesn't love sushi, rock gardens, and the occasional geisha? The Morikami Museum serves all these up in dainty abundance on its 200 acres in Delray Beach that's dedicated to South Florida's unlikely but enduring obsession with Japanese culture. Opened in 1977 to celebrate the heritage of a small colony of Japanese immigrants imported at the turn of the century to grow pineapples, the Morikami now boasts several museum buildings, a 5,000-piece collection of historical objects, a tea ceremony gallery, and a series of gardens that reflect Japan's history. No other area museum comes close to offering its total immersion experience, where you are lulled into a delicious food coma by the museum café's fantastic bento box meal while pondering the sight of coifed Boca Raton den mothers traipsing through the manicured grounds shaded by Japanese paper umbrellas. Hiroshima? The rape of Nanking? Please, leave your historical downers at the door and enjoy the Morikami's gentle survey of the high points of ancient Japanese history, take in the tea ceremony, and buy a paper lantern on the way out -- because wallowing in the sanitized aspects of another culture is a mighty fine way to spend a sunny afternoon.
This place is proof that, every now and then, Fort Lauderdale can look and act like a real city. It's not a standup club, full of aspiring comedians. It's a real-live troupe, full of creative men and women who create hilarious cultural and political musical satire. Some of the material is local, like the bits on I-95 driving and hurricanes; some of it is national, like the Bush bits; and some of it is flat-out universal, like the smoking and cosmetic surgery pieces. Be prepared to drop some cash while you're there: Dinner and seating alone runs you $50 on Friday or Saturday nights (it's five bucks cheaper on Wednesday and Thursday). With drinks, tips, and dessert, expect to drop at least $90. Don't worry, though, it's more than worth it, and it's one classy date. The food is delicious (some of the best sea bass you're likely to find, for example) and the service is, well, extraordinary. Be prepared to tip your servers well. They're going to surprise -- and entertain -- the hell out of you.
Hey, Biff, remember those AV club kids you used to pick on in high school? Guess who they hung out with last week? Oh, no one important, just your favorite new band, the All-American Rejects. Don't get jealous -- it's all in a day's work for the budding rock journos at Swept Away TV. Run entirely by college and high school students and based in Boca Raton, Swept Away TV is proof that being a music fan doesn't lead to a life of burger-flipping. Shown in more than 60 markets nationwide (and on the Internet), the program features young broadcasters chatting it up with today's hottest bands -- the Fray, Our Lady Peace, Maroon 5, Jimmy Eat World, and All-American Rejects, of course. The program gets touring bands some local press, and it offers viewers a chance to see the interviews on TV. But most important, Swept Away is a mechanism for young music fans to become producers instead of consumers. Sorry, Biff, but your cool-guy shtick doesn't work in the real world. Now how about a refill on that Coke?
Um, hello? Roller skates, booty jams, and Queer Night? Sounds like a recipe for Studio 54 on wheels. While other Broward dance clubs shill unsuspecting partyers into pale imitations of the bottom county's superclubs and indie promoters continue to recruit teenaged alcoholic fashion victims for their dance nights at dive bars, the Gold Coast Skate Rink does what it's been doing for the past three decades: provide hot-ass dance jams to fun-loving skaters. The rink has always attracted soul, R&B, and hip-hop fans and the long-running, pink-friendly Tuesday night has now beefed up its DJ roster with local cut-killers Hott Pants and Lolo on the decks. Like their audience, they're the kind of cut-loose party people who realize that besides getting wasted and hooking up with relative strangers, a dance club is for, you know, dancing. Give yourself a break and just do the Hokey Pokey. After all, that's what it's all about.
Man, this is an easy one. Any venue that can host upward of 80 bands in a single day is pretty much capable of anything. If there's a live music event that the Pompano Beach Amphitheatre can't handle, that's news to the thousands of people who turn out for its colossal concerts. The biggest of its 2005 events, the 80-plus-band Warped Tour, tested the capacity limits of the amphitheater and its surrounding grounds... and it passed muster (if a bit of mud toward the end). So then it hosted the much smaller (but still significant) events like the Taste of Chaos Tour (also full of punk and emo bands), the Latium Entertainment Tour (featuring Latino sensations Frankie J and Baby Bash), and the Rock Never Stops Tour (with '80s metal bands Cinderella, Quiet Riot, and Firehouse). Wait, we're not done here. Last April saw the pairing of Todd Rundgren and Joe Jackson, a double whammy of oldies but still-rockin' goodies. And when Ashlee Simpson performed here, she used her own voice (zing!). So what does 2006 bring? More of the same, of course. There's always something big TBA at PBA.
No question. Langerado was a culmination of all the assets that South Florida can offer the rest of the world: gorgeous weather. A lush outdoor venue. Colorful, locally produced ambiance. Beautiful, barefoot women. Together, all of those elements emitted enough gravity to attract a musical lineup that easily trumped SunFest, Ultra, or Global Gathering. Between Wayne Coyne's space ball, Kid Koala's turntable magic, the dark ambiance of Secret Machines, and the Meters' vintage funk, the variety of sounds was astounding. Add in a Florida Native stage that proved our state's mighty contribution to the world of live music and you have an event that's both reflective of our local community and truly world-class. Major props go to Ethan Schwartz, Mark Brown, and the whole Langerado crew. Thanks for the vision and the guts to stick with a risky project. Now that Langerado has put us on the nation's musical map, let's do all we can to keep it there.

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