Copyright by Judy Blume and used only with her written permission. Not to be further reproduced or distributed except with her permission.

When I was in elementary school, I wrote an "autobiography" called "I Want to Be Like Judy." It had a pink construction paper cover and came in second in the school library contest. I never imagined that  30-something years later, Judy would say to me, "Let's take a selfie!" (See our virtual tour - link below.) I loved all her books, but "Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself" was one of my very favorites. I read it over and over. Ten times? Fifteen?  

Joyce Tenneson /

From the opening pages of poet Richard Blanco’s refreshing memoir, “The Prince of Los Cocuyos: A Miami Childhood,” it’s clear that you’re not wandering Calle Ocho in one of those nostalgic, Little Havana paradises that so many Cuban-American chronicles try to recreate.

Instead, you’re wandering a Winn Dixie in Westchester.

Wilson Sayre / WLRN

Say you walk into an office building. On the reception desk is a nice, lush, green-leafed plant with white dots on it. You think, “how nice and outdoorsy.”

Chances are it's a deathly, toxic plant called a "dumb cane."

That's one of the tidbits included in Michael Largo's most recent publication, "The Big, Bad Book of Botany." It’s an encyclopedia-style book about botany sprinkled with surprising, funny and historical tales of plants.

"Culture Concrete": A Dance Film Set In Miami Marine Stadium

Nov 12, 2014

In 2013, Hattie Mae Williams, a contemporary dance choreographer, won a grant from the Knight Foundation’s Arts Challenge.

Now, the New World School of the Arts graduate is having her film debut with “Culture Concrete,” premiering at The LAB Miami in Wynwood this Saturday, Nov. 15.

It’s set within the abandoned Miami Marine Stadium in Virginia Key. Since the stadium's abandonment in 1992, it has become a hub for graffiti artists, both local and international.

The daily lowdown on books, publishing, and the occasional author behaving badly.


The Florida Grand Opera is trying to stay afloat after years of decline. It hosted a series of town hall meetings this past weekend to reach out to the community for help.   

Since 2006, the opera has spent $19.4 million more than it has taken in. 

Susan Danis, general director of FGO, has been working for two years to implement a new strategy for the company.

Burger Profiles From Coral Gables' Burgerliscious Fest

Nov 7, 2014
Gregory Castillo / WLRN

Some of South Florida's best restaurants gathered on Thursday night in Coral Gables for a night of beer, burgers and friendly competition. 

At the fourth annual Coral Gables Burgerlicious fest, the battle was on to find what eatery would reign supreme.

Behind the burgers are some of the city's most talented chefs and with their creations came a certain inspiration. We asked some of the chefs what it took to create their competition sliders. 

Chef: Rafael Fonseca

Restaurant: Prieto @ Regency Miami

Coral Gables Museum

Imagine you’re a college professor driven from your home country on a wave of prejudice and bigotry. You seek refuge in a new country, where you find yourself teaching a group of people subjected to similar intolerance. This nearly forgotten part of 20th-Century history is being revisited now at a Coral Gables Museum exhibit.

10/31/14 - Next time on South Florida Arts Beat, the partnership between sister cities – Nice, France and Miami, Florida, present the Third Miami/Nice Jazz Festival, a month-long celebration of the diversity of Jazz. Founder and CEO, Phillipe Pautesta-Herder brings us the details.

Chris Brown Paints Mural For Overtown Children

Oct 29, 2014
Pattrik Simmons

Singer Chris Brown and local artist Ron Bass have collaborated on a mural painted in Overtown on the wall of a restaurant called House of Wings.

It was unveiled Monday -- thanks to the help of Headliner Market Group -- to a crowd of schoolchildren eager to meet Brown, said Nikki Williams, the restaurant owner's sister. City of Miami Commissioner Keon Hardemon was also in attendance.

Eileen Suarez / New Theatre

This story originally ran October 28, 2014. It was rebroadcast May 6, 2015.

“Taste this, Siomara, and tell me that this doesn’t taste like Cuba.”

“Mom, I don’t know what Cuba tastes like.”

-- from “The Cuban Spring” by Vanessa Garcia

Miami Theatre Center creates, develops and produces programming for audiences of all ages and abilities. 


  For staff member Judy Litt, it's a labor of love.  

Image Courtesy of YoungArts.Org

Under the stained glass of the Jewel Box building at the YoungArts Plaza, the National YoungArts Foundation will hold its first "Outside The Box" performance on Oct. 25.

Spokesperson Vanessa Leitman says the show will play off the building itself, using light and interpretive dance along with crowd interactivity. Leitman says the crowd will be able to suggest what happens as the show goes along. 

Christine DiMattei / WLRN

Until about 18 months ago, the auditorium at Broward College’s Pembroke Pines campus was largely unused.

“They’ve done graduations for kindergarten through fifth grade,” laughs Lamar Lovelace, director of the Broward College South Campus Office of Cultural Affairs. “A few film festivals here and there, but no concerted effort to program around arts and culture.”

But now, the 352-seat theater has been re-branded as BSOCA. And Lovelace is hoping its audiences get fired up enough to change the world. 

Five Reasons To Love Fall In South Florida

Oct 22, 2014
Flickr Creative Commons

Leaves change colors up north but for South Floridians, fall is full of other colorful treats to relish.

1. Sauna time switches to indoor venues as humidity and temperatures fall out of the summer stratosphere. This means the full outdoor scene revs up with fall festivals and art shows, boating, biking and other activities.

Plus, the end of both election and hurricane season is fast approaching. Soon, those omnipresent campaign ads and ominous circulation patterns will fall off our radar.