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Sistrunk Without the Crunk?

Another late-night shooting in downtown Fort Lauderdale, only with a twist.

Not a racially motivated act, conjectured the cops. This time, it's a white gangbanger packin' heat who caps the ass of a black Himmarshee partygoer. It all happened in front of the Friday-night bar crawlers filling the streets, no less. And in a revolutionary effort to find the identity of the shooter, the Sun-Sentinel included the victim's rap sheet at the end of the article. No doubt that information about 25-year-old Catt Campbell's arrest record will spur the populace to cough up some additional clues.

Summer always brings violent skirmishes because South Florida's tenuous race relations chafe in the heat. Talk to the folks at High Tide head shop in Davie, who have been robbed four times in the past month. The store's employees are mostly white; the suspected robbers, black. In today's bong-busting climate, how much TLC do you think cops spread around when a head shop calls 'em for help?

To really see the schism up close, take a drive through Fort Lauderdale's ever-expanding urban core, past those new "lofts" and enormously out-of-scale condos waiting for millionaires to fill them up. Then take a drive down the scenic Sistrunk Corridor, which starts just six blocks north of downtown, and view the most neglected street in the area. For some reason, the migratory patterns of Fort Lauderdale's ubiquitous giant construction crane (Nauglea overdevelopus) don't lead to this portion of town. The key positions of Broward's politicians remain glaringly, nauseatingly familiar. You wouldn't want to kennel your blind three-legged mutt at the schools in this part of Fort Lauderdale.

Two nights after the Himmarshee shooting, I tried to convince members of my little lumpen proletariat to head back to the scene of the crime. A late-night visit from rapper Ginuwine at the newly appointed Club Venu (née Chili Pepper, née the Edge) beckoned. No one felt like going. With fliers reading "Doors open at 10 p.m. sharp," my compadres, all of them seasoned night-owls, quickly deduced that this was going to be an extendo-evening that wouldn't conclude until Monday morning.

"Why would you want to put yourself in the middle of that?" came one incredulous response. Well, to see the man called Ginuwine in his first-ever Fort Liquordale appearance, of course. Turns out I could have stayed at home and heard local pirate DJs have more fun with his music than Ginuwine or the crowd seemed to be having that night. Not until after 3 a.m. did Gin offer up a drowsy take on his current hit "In Those Jeans" (as in "baby, is there any room for me up in there?") by which time the chicken grilling in a huge barbecue pit near the stage was attracting nearly as many interested parties as the man. But the vibe was unusually chill -- at 3:30 on a Monday morning, folks are too tired to do much shooting, dancing, yelling, or anything.

Attempting to bring live music back to the center of the city, Venu's plans for the future include shows from Interpol (October 11) and KMFDM (November 10). And as a nightclub, Venu already has the right attitude: "No Gucci? No Versace? No Problem!" reads one of its ads.

These hopeful glimmers hold the promise of a fun-filled fall, but let's not start sucking each others' dicks just yet, gentlemen: The list of hip bands spilling across our well-hung state is a lengthy one. Yet the number of musicos making the trek to South Florida remains dismally low. Bite your lip hard and bury your puffy eyes in a nearby pillow -- or plan on a road trip north next month if you feel like being in the same room as Built to Spill, the Sea and Cake, Yo La Tengo, Cursive, Songs: Ohia, Dressy Bessy, Mogwai, or Richard Buckner. Damn. What does Orlando have that we don't, besides that giant mouse?

What's that? A monorail? Figures.

As impressed as Bandwidth was by the Blue Man Group's percussion-fueled frenzy at the Sound Advice Amphitheatre on August 20, something about it seemed awfully familiar. The extravagantly choreographed Complex Tour borrowed liberally from Laurie Anderson's 1986 Home of the Brave stage performances, at least on a visual level. And the Blue Men's ponderous PVC pounding and techno-tribalism sounded extremely derivative of a 1984 album by David Van Tieghem (Anderson's percussionist) called These Things Happen, which also served as a soundtrack to one of those wild Twyla Tharpe dance performances. If you don't believe me, drop me a line and I'll burn a copy of These Things Happen just to prove it to you. That'll learn you.

Still, the Silent Cobalt Ones broke down the 16th-note sequencer riffs in Donna Summer's "I Feel Love" and the Who's "Baba O'Riley" to show that such impossibly rapid melodies can be duplicated by the human (albeit blue) hand. While holding orange neon sticks.

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Jeff Stratton
Contact: Jeff Stratton

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