Sometimes simpler is better. Way better. Whoever came up with the title for MoCA's dazzling career retrospective of the work of Morley, the British-born artist who settled in the States in the late '50s and became a citizen in 1990, not only hit the nail on the head but hammered it flush with the board. Whether you emphasize "the art of painting" or "the art of painting," you've got Morley in a nutshell. This larger-than-life character has traversed the territory from '60s photorealism (or what he prefers to call "superrealism") through surrealism into his own take on expressionism and back, all while never losing his ardor for the medium of painting and, in his masterful hands, its amazing range of possibilities.
Savor Cinema
Photo by Eric Barton
Cinema Paradiso used to be a church, and it still feels like one. With its stained-glass windows and its stature as home of the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, it's a place that draws passionate people to worship celluloid idols. Even better than the theater's cushy plush seats and amazing film selections (sports flicks, anime, foreign films, documentaries) is that the concession stand sells beer. Directors and actors are always doing post-show Q&As. Last year, eight-time world surfing champion Kelly Slater personally dropped by to introduce the premiere of his newest film, and in March alone, there was a showing of Anna Karenina accompanied by opera singers and a wine-and-cheese reception and a tribute to John Waters with the trifecta showing of Pink Flamingos, Polyester, and Hairspray. But there are Rated G events too, like an Easter bonanza for kids featuring movies, an onstage dance-along, an Easter-egg hunt, and a petting zoo. And President and CEO Gregory Von Hausch has been known to loan the space for cheap, or even free, to nonprofit groups and good causes.
Sure, indie rock rules the scene, and a ton of imitation bands are cropping up all over South Florida (with matching hair, trying to become the next Fall Out Boy). But that doesn't mean that any of these cookie-cutter groups actually knows how to play. Locally, the band with the strongest instrumentation and best stage show is Marijah and the Reggae All-Stars. Their blend of Caribbean and West African music is impressive live or recorded; they've mastered instruments from those regions. They've also got incredible timing and lock into a groove that's unmatched by any other act locally. Everyone in the band has more than 20 years of playing experience and gigs frequently with other reggae singers throughout the tricounty area. There also aren't many female-headed reggae bands out there, and Marijah is working twice as hard to stay afloat in this male-dominated genre. What stands out about the group is its ability to get crowds rocking with conscious lyrics and a heavy roots-rock attitude. You don't have to be a lover of Caribbean music to appreciate this band and the reggae-Afro-fusion sound it cranks out live. Just don't be surprised to see that this reggae band is actually headed by an Italian-American woman from New Jersey.
Can a Christian singer really rock? How can a vocalist be powerful and edgy while belting out lyrics like "Oh who am I, this breath of fading mist?/Where do I stand on this speck of heaven's dust?" Nic DiPace somehow balances Christ-like humility with a powerful and expansive voice. He lends emotive realism to Americana-laced guitar work, spilling over into guttural screams during punked-out anthems and conveying urgency and intensity with his moody wails. Just check out the West Palm quintet's Northern Records debut The Skies Pale in Comparison. Even though the band's official statement on the disc is "We just think that The Skies Pale in Comparison to who He is, and who we are in Him," even the godless will be humming along in glee.
As far as hip-hopping and b-boying in Broward County is concerned, there's nobody else with the lyrical dexterity or the street clout of Fort Lauderdale's Butta Verses. He's a member of the De La Soul family and soaked in a lot of exposure touring with them, but he's still got his own rhyming style that's witty, aggressive, and often comical at the same time. On stage, he delivers punch lines at rapid speed and has the cadence and breath control of a veteran. He was born and raised in the Bronx and carries the essence of hip-hop culture in his persona, both on and off the stage. Graffiti work, b-boying, DJ'ing, and MC'ing are all apart of his repertoire, which is what it used to take to even be considered decent in this genre. With those bases covered, he's miles ahead of most of the fly-by-night rappers popping up recently. He's also put out a few stellar mixtapes since relocating to Broward County that showcase his rhyming ability and buttery-smooth delivery. And since hip-hop today, even at the local level, remains saturated with garbage, it's good to see a rapper like Butta V standing tall and hopefully showing the new jacks how to do it.
More than two years of fine-tuning and detail work went into creating this slice of mopey melancholy, and the results speak for themselves. Charting overseas and winning plenty of domestic college-radio airplay upon its February 2007 release, The Postmarks bore as much resemblance to a lowly local release as a cello does to a kazoo. Due to the perfectionism of bandleader and multi-instrumentalist Christopher Moll, every moment of this multitracked tapestry has been polished to within an inch of its life, with ear-pleasing results. Plus, when was the last time a local record was fortified with glockenspiel? Timpani? French horn? An entire string section?! All of which was impressive enough to curry the favor of Adam Schlesinger (Fountains of Wayne) and Andy Chase (Ivy), who produced the record. South Florida hasn't exactly been a hothouse nurturing the darling buds of pure pop perfection, but the Postmarks have at least laid the groundwork here. Yes, The Postmarks is delicate, fragile, sort of sad, and twee as all get-out, but damned if it isn't the most affecting collection of songs to come from this peninsula tip in a long, long time. Enjoy while gazing out a raindrop-covered window for maximum effect. Absinthe optional.
Club Cinema
Our inaccessible geography aside, one major reason bands have forsaken us is our preponderance of pathetic venues with nasty bathrooms, bad sound, no parking, and just a general all-around malaise. Part of the problem is that few live music venues were designed as such — believe it or not, we've had everything from Cuban restaurants to Winn-Dixies doubling as rock-concert rooms. Naturally, like everything else in South Florida, Club Cinema is housed in a strip mall. But inside, the swankier-than-thou feel echoes famous rooms like the Fillmore. The lighting, the design, and the well-placed bars all signify class and attention to detail. Now, in these very pages, we've dismantled local politicians and exposed Club Cinema as a business that's very likely more mobbed-up than a Godfather-Goodfellas marathon. But what the heck — if that's what it takes to make audiences feel like they're watching a show in a real goddamned city, we'll take it.
This punk-rock band's members ranged in age from "barely old enough to drink" to "nearing retirement," but they all had a natural don't-give-a-fuck attitude that reminded you of your favorite group of high school misfits who just got a license but couldn't afford a car. So when they broke up last year, it was like losing a first love. They were the unifiers who kept the rest of us young, and their equal-opportunity disdain for anything mature was as infectious as their three-chord melodies. Fortunately for all involved, the boys of Stink started seeing one another again in secret — a small benefit show here, a warehouse show there — until they finally reunited. Who knows how long it'll last, so enjoy it while you can.
Modern metal is the new indie rock, let's just get that straight. Everyone has now officially traded in his Clairol black hair dye for a long, flowy metal mane. And despite this flooded market of mediocre metal, Fort Lauderdale is able to boast a band that was there all along, developing its musical identity, getting famous, and influencing this new generation of head bangers. May we present Torche. Exhumed from the ashes of Floor and Cavity, this four-piece produces an amazingly surreal take on stoner sledge metal. Vocal harmonies bind with slow-driving guitar riffs, while loosely tuned bass strings flail deep into the lowest sonic registers. Despite how much media hype surrounds this band, every time it returns home, it gets back to its roots, trading in larger, out-of-town venues for teenagers' house parties and small clubs like the Billabong. The boys of Torche embrace the energy produced at these shows and flip their hair in time with the music — along with the hundreds of smiling, jam-packed fans. Sabbath would be so proud.
It's not easy to draw out a moment of suspense — those instants when it's certain that something revelatory or horrifying is about to happen. In The Faith Healer, such a moment was drawn out for two hours. Barely a story, The Faith Healer, by playwright Brian Friel, is comprised of four monologues from three people — faith healer Francis Hardy (Stephen J. Anthony); his mistress, Grace (Sandra Ives); and his manager, Ted (Ken Clement) — recounting, in fragments, their two decades traversing the British Isles, healing or failing to heal as they went. What went wrong remains unclear, baffling even to those who were there. All they know is that, through some small accumulation of real or imagined betrayals, their journey destroyed them and in some way forced them to destroy one another. As the three actors tried to explain themselves, suffocated beneath the dead weight of memory, you wondered if the mysterious forces that acted upon them might not be present in the theater, ready to act upon everyone — and whether anyone would recognize such forces if they appeared.

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