When TIME recognized the Ebola fighters as their 2014 Person of the Year, a collective nod and shrug followed. We live in an age of instant un-gratification. It may seem like there is rarely good news, except for in the Arts, so lets celebrate our 2014 highlights.
Music: There is so much going on in Miami that no one could possibly witness it all; furthermore, there is something for everyone: ULTRA, Winter Music Conference, Beck’s Access, the Fillmore, the Arsht, Hard Rock Live. That said, let’s single out two precious venues. At South- Miami Dade Cultural Art Center, several great shows took place. Kurt Elling soldiered on while sick, and killed it; he was simply brilliant.
Jon Batiste shared a long night of joyful New Orleans; he made us jealous. Etienne Charles reminded us that we are in the capital of South America, Central America, and the Caribbean; he made us want to be on time. Asecond place worth extra praise is Bardot. Just in December, Les Sins, James Blake, Tokimonsta, and the Juan Maclean. Earlier – Mayer Hawthorne, Erykah Badu, Talib Kweli, Jerome LOL. It’s the place to go if you worship SoundCloud, can stay up all night, and don’t mind the misspelling of pretzels on their menu.
Art: In 2013, I got spammed mercilessly by promoters hawking their crass, little Art Basel events. It got to me, I responded to nothing, and silence worked. This year, I focused on the heavy hitters and Art Basel was again spectacular. The main venue contains so much well-curated quality that the only drawback is its popularity. There are a lot of noisy pedestrians and too much plastic surgery leading to the old joke: No one goes there anymore. It’s too crowded. SCOPE was superb — the best of the satellites gorgeously perched on the sand. UNTITLED had the most attractive, interior venue and most edgily curated show. Miami Project and CONTEXT were outstanding in Midtown/Wynwood. Jennifer Rubell’s Marie Antoinette breakfast was the strangest. The Dream Defenders righteously disrupted traffic all weekend and many approved. Final result – major bullseye for the region.
Food: Despite all the attention given celebrity chefs, nobody can touch Zak the Baker. His product is unrivaled, his style is sophisticated and unassuming, and he has a loyal cult which would like him to be knighted. He is truly a local, cultural treasure. The Bakery should inspire what is increasingly looking like a real culinary Wynwood revival started by Joey’s but inspired entirely by Joel and Leticia Pollock at Panther. On the beach, the Pubbelly crew always deserves major love, and Lucali on a cool night with the garage door open is absolutely lovely.
Film: Increasingly, Miami is a Mecca for good film and festivals. Special love to France Cinema Floride, O Cinema showing “CitizenFour,” the timely myth of a postracial America in “Dear White People,” the style of “The Grand Budapest Hotel,” and despite a Texas devoid of Latinos, Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood.”
Street Art: The RAW Project at José de Diego Middle School upped the Wynwood ante for everyone with its towering walls and a big spraycan full of tasteful, thoughtful murals. MTOs dunce is drop-dead brilliant as is Santiago Rubino’s redhead.
Uglies: Last but not least, Miami would not be Miami without mentioning the worst: Our transportation disaster, merciless traffic, grotesque Marlins Park, callous drivers, painful poverty, and wealth disparity – all artful.
When something in the news bleeds, it still leads, no comment passes by evil Internet trolls who anonymously torment others like bad drivers create road rage, while at the same time, no one likes a complainer.
In any case, this is not a space to grouse about what went wrong in 2014, but rather that we Miami folk are quite fortunate when it comes to opportunities to be entertained.
Carl Rachelson is a teacher at Palmer Trinity School and a regular contributor to the Pinecrest Tribune. He may be contacted by addressing email to firstname.lastname@example.org.