Attending the ballet at the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts was an eye-opener for me. I just haven't been involved enough in the rich tapestry that is the Miami cultural scene, and it is reflected in my lack of knowledge about the cultural renaissance that is exploding across downtown Miami. Just kidding. It's the same old dingy, scary, empty few blocks, not much going on. I would hate to think what might happen to a couple of tourists who get a flat tire, or a couple of kids who get in a drug deal gone wrong. Because the great thing about the location of the place formerly known as the Performing Arts Center, or PAC (they sold the naming rights to Carnival Cruise Lines, which, I guess, is better than Burger King), is the close proximity to one of the most drug dealer-rich neighborhoods in Miami (after the other new and hot neighborhoods, the Design District and Wynwood). Although in this case, with all the police milling about, I would recommend you bring your own, or, as we used to say, Arrive Stoned.
This is a place people love to hate, and, except for the view looking down from the fourth tier into the lobby below, which some might call 'soaring', I can understand the ambivalence. At intermission you may think about jumping, but just head over to the bar instead. Why they have volunteers or staff who don't speak English, or, even worse, slow bartenders who can barely handle a bottle of sparkling water, is beyond me. I mean, you have twelve minutes to recover at intermission, and you are going to need that drink fast! My recommendation, as with all cultural events (well, really all events in general), is bring a flask. Mine saved my evening, when, in the second portion of the show, they brought out the big hamster wheel and all the dancers started to swing from it. I actually had to slow down a little, as my head was beginning to spin as well. Luckily, I had purchased some food at the bar in anticipation of possibly peaking too soon-an 'artisanal' cheese plate. Now, I'm not no grammarian, nor am I one of those stinking word-lovers, but since when is a triangle of yellow cheese considered artisanal? And I'm pretty sure there was a tiny cube of feta, as well as an unidentifiable pale triangle that I threw on the floor in disgust after one bite. Bad cheese-I take it personally. Has 'artisanal' become just another generic buzz-word, a marketing ploy and nothing more?
Of course, at least artisanal HAD meaning at one time, as opposed to, say, Angus Beef, a pure marketing term-there is no evidence that Black Angus tastes better than Hereford, or any other breed for that matter. For you Cognac drinkers, same goes for VS and VSOP-pure industry marketing, I'm afraid. Or something that seems to be in fashion here in Miami (which means it's probably 5-10 years old), 'direct from the Chicago Stockyards'. Please. Now I'm supposed to care about exactly where they slaughtered the poor cow? “Raised on Mary Beth Willoughby's Heavenly Farms, at the foot of Mt. Shasta, in beautiful Siskiyou County, California, where he was raised in Barn No. 11, Stall D, and fed a wonderful diet of beer and Chee-tos, before we shipped him off to the Stockyards of Chicago, the Vegas of Stockyards, where we bid Brucie (our 4-year-old daughter Mollie's nickname for him-she's a big Springsteen fan!) adieu, before they hit him with the pith gun that drives an 8” spike into a cow's brain stem, killing him instantly. Enjoy!”
And speaking of beef, another very funny example of modern marketing is a TV ad from McDonald's that boasts that their beef is 'USDA inspected'. Wow, really? The only problem is that ALL beef sold in the United States must be USDA inspected, so I guess what McDonald's is saying, is that they are serving beef whose standards are the lowest they possibly can be, and still be legal for human consumption. Those are some bragging rights! And, luckily, there are several McDonald's (and not much else) in the area for your post-PAC event munchies drive-thru fix. I recommend you try the new artisanal fried apple pie.