Getting to Know Miami’s Handsome Beats Brigade

It doesn’t take a mathematician to see that Miami’s electronic music scene is beginning to add up to something. Between the Irregulars who make their home at Awarehouse and the regular core of racket-makers who can be heard everywhere from Electric Pickle to The Vagabond, they are enough in number to form a loyal legion. Take into account the co-conspirators and you’ve got a sum equal to if not greater than any other aspect of this polyglot metropolis.

So it only makes pitch-perfect sense that someone would come along to tap into that action. That someone is Ronald Miguelerena, who’s started an unquiet riot known as Handsome Beats Brigade. Loosely structured around the notion that inspiring minds can inspire in kind, HBB is bringing a whole new beat to the charitable works scene. It’s also proof positive that if you will it, they shall come.

Back in August, HBB staged its first big throwdown, and a far-flung crowd of next generation scenesters found themselves united in a way they’d never before experienced. Sure it was all kicked off by a set of unusually usual suspects, but by the time the last note faded from the bright night sky, each and every dance fan in attendance counted themselves charter members of this new and unique contingent.

On Saturday night, HBB will be bringing round two to the retro-fitted North Beach Bandshell, so I thought it wise we sat down with Master Miguelerena himself. Here’s what he had to spill:

Just what is Handsome Beats Brigade?

HBB is a growing collaborative effort which consists of electronically-inclined musicians, DJs, visual artists and others, who all gather on behalf of good cause. Each month we put together some kinda spectacle. It could be a videography exhibit, a fashion show, a music festival, or a combination of things. Whatever it is, all proceeds go directly to charity. In fact, we’ve made it so folks can follow how every cent of their ticket purchase or donation gets transformed into water and food for people in need.

Does HBB back a primary organization?

Yes, right now we are happy to feature The Prem Rawat Foundation (TPRF) as our charity of choice.

How’d you come to connect with them?

Back in ‘04 I attended an event at Miami’s James L. Knight Center, which was sponsored by TPRF and Miami-Dade Community College, and where over $25,000 was raised on behalf of the Indian Ocean tsunami victims. I was very impressed by their mission, and by their method. I’ve been an active supporter ever since!

What is it about TPRF that you find so impressive?

TPRF provides humanitarian aid in an innovative, empowering and non-intrusive manner. The organization focuses on respecting people’s dignity, religion and culture, all the while creating valuable and sustainable help. They’re also completely transparent — Charity Navigator has given them a four star-rating for three consecutive years — and they support the likes of Mercy Corps, International Relief and Development (IRD), and AmeriCares.

Who are some of the acts and artists that have count themselves a part of Handsome Beats Brigade?

Hmm, let’s see, band-wise we’ve got organicArma, Transoverload, Niki Em, Dusthead and Afrobeta. Among the DJs are Axiom, Axl, Fumes, Le Brion, Kremadelik and Tomaz.

Weren’t some of them involved in HBB’s first blowout?

Yes: DJs Axiom and Sonic both spun, and Transoverload, organicArma and Niki Em all staged. Niki’s Project Ragatronic, I’m privileged to say, includes me on guitar, as well as multi-instrumentalist and producer Role, who’s also in Transoverload, which itself boasts OrganicArma’s Dharma on drums. It gets a little confusing, I know… We are all a big,happy family!

Will any of the aforementioned be playing Saturday?

Yes!! Niki Em’s back, and so are DJs Axiom and Axl, who’ll be joined on the decks by Le Brion, Tomaz and Fumes. Also performing will be Miami’s most fusionistic Xperimento.

Have you already slated a round three?

We have! On November 18th we’re bringin’ in Spam Allstars, Dusthead and Universal Citizens. I’m also trying hard to book Venezuelan rock band La Vida Boheme, who’ll be in the States collecting a Latin Grammy. Wish me luck!!!

In a sentence, what do you see HBB eventually evolving into?

A weapon of mass elation.

Handsome Beats Brigade: Heartbeats for East Africa Saturday October 22 at the North Beach Bandshell. For more information log on here.

The Ballad of the Belvedere: John Hood Rides High with a Little Help from His Friends

The call went out early last week, after my beloved Buick Regal was murdered by an armed carjacker. Miamians go nowhere without wheels, of course, so while the fact that my ride had sacrificed itself to save my life may have been noble, it left me immobile. And I’d needed to buy a new vehicle. Believe it or not, the writing racket doesn’t pay quite as well as you’d expect, and I was a grand short of the purchase price. So I’d asked 50 of my friends to pony up 20 bucks each in order for me to re-wheel. Boy, did they come through.

Yep, you guessed it: that snap crowning today’s column is of my new 1956 Plymouth Belvedere. No, the extra grand wasn’t enough for me to buy the ride outright. But it did give me enough for a serious down payment. And Junior at Little Havana’s Pirata Motors was cool enough to finance the rest man-to-man. So I’m now not only back behind the wheel of a beautiful piece of Detroit history; I’m driving what Queen calls “the machine of a dream.” And I couldn’t have done it without a little help from my friends.

And what friends they are: former Bully editor Ken Wohlrob came through from the Big Bad Apple; so did the delightful Daphne Kaizer Lawrence, the ever-lively Leo Durant, and Jen Georges, who braved the Big Easy with me, while Trixie and Rip came through from L.A.

But it was my hometown Miamians who represented the bulk of my buddies. On the sound side there was Rhythm Foundation’s James and Laura Quinlan, house master DJ David Solano, and organicArma/Awarehouse man Dharma; while in venues there was The Vagabond‘s Carmel Ophir, Travis Carey and Jeannie Fernandez, as well as Gemma/Rosinella/Grano owner extraordinaire Tonino (no last name please). The visualist list began with Rakontur’s reeling Billy Corben and fab French transplant Alice Raymond, and went to a slew of better Butter Gallery ops, including owner Paco De La Torre, artist Rick Falcon, and the one and only Francesco Lo Castro, who, as you well know, just painted my portrait, which was already more than enough. Then there was Mr. Feathers (another class of Lo Castro alum), the Notorious Nastie (who, knowing his rep, undoubtedly will be), my brother Paul Jordan (who, with Giselle, has given me a nifty niece), and, most robustly, Green Family Foundation honcho Kimberly Green, who continues to be an unwavering friend and accomplice.

Without the above I’d still be walking, and as swingin’ as my swagger might be, it’s still not enough to get me around in high style. For that I needed a collective of fine and dandy friends. Thank Zeus I’ve got ’em.

And what of the ride? Well, Wiki tells me it’s one of the “Forward Looking” designs from famed automobile re-creator Virgil Exner, who must’ve been so thrilled with the success of the Belvedere, he actually had a heart attack the year it was produced. Fortunately, the high design mind didn’t die, and instead went on to put his mark on many a Chrysler classic, one of which is now owned by a cat called Hood.

When you catch me tooling around town though, please remember that I’m doing so solely because a gaggle of the grooviest people who’ve ever lived stepped up to keep me mobile. And when you see that smile of mine cracking even wider than usual, it’s not just for the ride; it’s for the folks who make the ride all the more worthwhile.

BlackBook Staff Picks: Dining, Drinking, Shopping, & Staying

Here at BlackBook, we pay a lot of attention to where cool customers go out — bars, clubs, restaurants, shops, hotels, you name it. So why not flip the frame and let you see where we go out? Here’s a periodically updated, exhaustive list of hotspots currently favored by everyone at BlackBook, from the mighty bosses down to the humble interns, from the charming local lounges around the corner to the jet-setting temples of luxe living. ● Creative Director – Jason Daniels, The Odeon (NYC) -American Psychos down salmon and steak frites, but the real scene’s on the sidewalk. ● Vice President, Content – Chris Mohney, Agua Dulce (NYC) – Festive outpost feels like Miami, F-L-A.

EDITORIAL ● Senior Editor – Nick Haramis, Motor City Bar (NYC) – Front like you remember how to drive and these 8 Milers might let you hang. ● Features Editor – Willa Paskin, Mayahuel (NYC) – Tequila temple where patrons pay homage to the goddess of agave. ● Writer-at-Large – Alison Powell, Peppermill (Las Vegas) – Vegas institution pushes diner food in front and romantic cocktails in the back. ● Nightlife Correspondent – Steve Lewis, Serpentine (NYC) – Patrick Duffy’s legendary scene uncoils in west Chelsea. ● Assistant Editors – Ben Barna, Jupiter Room (Montreal) – Drink your face off for cheap and dance ’til it aches. Cayte Grieve, Blackstones (NYC) – Foster Ethan Kamer, Joseph Leonard (NYC) – Elegantly distressed Village charmer serving up three solid meals a day. Eiseley Tauginas, Barrow Street Ale House (NYC) – College sports fans and West Village regulars cram into cozy confines. ● Copy Editor – Michèle Filon, Back Forty (NYC) – Manure-free urban farm sates virtuous, albeit rare, healthy food cravings. ● Editorial Interns – Molly Gunn, PDT (NYC) – Somebody told, but still a nice sophisto surprise behind the grunge of Crif. Megan LaBruna, Mercury Lounge (NYC) – Catch a future indie rock god at this rite of musical passage. Toren Curtis, The Vagabond (Miami) – Great indie scene. Even better music. Ashley Simpson, SPiN New York (NYC) – Marginally-more-athletic alternative to beer pong gets its own private club. Averie Timm, Downtown Cipriani (NYC) – Über-scene congregation of A-list supermodels, art stars, and financiers. Food, too. If you care. Annie Werner, Antone’s (Austin) – This revered blues club’s namesake did more for black-white relations than the Oreo cookie. Hillary Weston, The Four-Faced Liar (NYC) – Greenwich Village-proper pub is something out of Middle Earth, or Docklands. Either way: the real deal.

ART ● Art Director – Amy Steinhauser, Mizu Sushi (NYC) – Popular lunch spot for Flatiron media types needing to bitch. ● Assistant Designer – Serra Semi, Momofuku Ssäm Bar (NYC) – Chef-of-the-minute David Chang fancies up Korean burritos and gets avant-garde after 6pm. ● Photography Assistant – Stephanie Swanicke, Canal Room (NYC) – Jersey hordes in the house, but discreet famous faces still rock all night. ● Freelance Designer – Krista Quick, t.b.d (NYC) – Sleek and chic lounge in the heart of Greenpoint.

FASHION & BEAUTY ● Market Editor – Bryan Levandowski, Shang (NYC) – Toronto-bred Susur Lee takes on nouveau Asian small plates at the Thompson LES. ● Fashion Assistant – Wilson Mathews III, Dylan’s Candy Bar (NYC) – King-sized candy shop hypnotizing children and torturing adult waistlines in the UES.

BLACKBOOK MEDIA CORP ● Chairman – Bob Hoff, Voyeur (LA) – The inspiration is Eyes Wide Shut…so yes, there’s lots of leather. ● CEO – Ari Horowitz, Nikki Beach (St. Barts) – An escape into paradise in the middle of, well, paradise. ● Associate Publisher – Brett Wagner, Barrio Chino (NYC) – Chino Latino tequila bar serving up 50 kinds of that devil stuff. ● Director of Finance and Operations – Joe Friedman, Brooklyn Bowl (NYC) – Rock and bowl will never die. ● Corporate Counsel – Drew Patrick, Tournesol (NYC) – Coq au vin and crème brûlée? Oui! Oui! ● Executive Assistant – Bridgette Bek, Tu Lan (San Francisco) – Word-of-mouth dingy treasure serving good, cheap Vietnamese food in a downright crappy location.

ADVERTISING – ● Senior Account Executive – Dina Matar, Ilili (NYC) – Upscale Lebanese moves miles beyond falafel. ● Account Executive – Brian Kantor, Lillie’s (NYC) – Victorian pub with just enough antiquery to make you feel grand. ● Executive Director, BlackBook Access – Gregg Berger, Indochine (NYC) – French-colonial greets uptown-cum-downtown diners. ● Advertising Director – Michelle Koruda, Shorty’s .32 (NYC) – Josh Eden under-promises and over-delivers at this Soho charmer. ● Detroit Account Executives – Jeff Hannigan, The Lodge (Chicago) -Ye old typical Division Street cheese, but always a shameless good time. Kristen von Bernthal, Hudson Bar at Hudson Hotel (NYC) – Acid-trip décor. Sit on a log and rest your drink on a gnome head. ● Midwest Account Executives – Susan Welter, Hopleaf Bar (Chicago) – Andersonville’s best bar. Belgian beers and food meet in a place that’s too smart to be too cool and vice versa. Andrea Forrester, Coast Sushi (Chicago) – BYOB meets the sea at this high-quality Wicker Park sushi spot. ● Southwest Account Executive – Molly Ballantine, Rustic Canyon (LA) – Leave it to the upper-cresty West-siders to show everyone else up with their moody, fashionable darkwood and cream take on the ubiquitous neighborhood wine bar. ● Northwest Account Executives – Catherine Hurley, Coi (San Francisco) – The apotheosis of both the molecular gastronomy trend and the sustainable food movement: ethereal, futuristic flavors in a serene environment. Shawn O’Meara, Nopalito (San Francisco) – ● Sales Coordinator – Celia Ballou, Pink Pony (NYC) – Pseudo-bohemian bistro that’s better for people watching than, like, eating or whatever.

MARKETING ● Marketing Manager – Julie Fabricant, Bottega Louie (LA) – Proof that Downtown is still gentrifying. ● Partnerships & Promotions Manager – Andrew Berman, K & M (NYC) – Former perogie factor converted to current meat market for the indie-rock set. ● Interns – Cristina Girgis, Barbounia (NYC) – Tony Medi with good bones. Interior is all about the arches. Alexandra Vickers, The Slaughtered Lamb Pub (NYC) – Magical enough to overlook the horror movie gimmick.

DIGITAL ● Director of Development – Daniel Murphy, Max’s On Broadway (Baltimore) – Ahhh, good old Max’s I remember you well…well what I can remember anyway. ● Lead Architect – Matt Hackett, Caracas Arepa Bar (NYC) – Arepas, seventeen ways. Venezuela is for carb lovers. ● Developer – Bastian Kuberek, Greenhouse (NYC) – NYC’s first Green club tries to make bottles and models sustainable. ● Developer – Dan Simon, Hudson Terrace (NYC) – Rooftop pleaser for drunk summer afternoons. ● Designer – Matt Strmiska, Uchi (Austin) – Thoroughly inventive and delectable sushi in vibrant environs, compliments of lauded chef Tyson Cole. ● Developer – Sam Withrow, The Knockout (San Francisco) – The vibe is blessedly lawless,prolifically musical and down right hedonistic. Peep tall cans and a sweaty dance floor. ● Quality Assurance Engineer – Sunde Johnson, Melt (NYC) – Brooklyn brunch spot becoming the standard for neighborhood dining. ●Mobile Developer – Otto Toth, Alloro (NYC) – Cacio e Pepe peeps get creative on the Upper East.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Bob Hoff, Voyeur (LA). Ari Horowitz, Nikki Beach (St. Barts). Eric Gertler, Matsuhisa (Aspen) – World-famous Nobu chef brings incredibly tasty, stylish, pricy sushi to Aspen. Joe Landry, SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills (LA) – Phillipe Starck and Sam Nazarian mind meld to create a papparazzi-inducing modern luxury hotel in (well, near) BH. Irwin Lieber, Fishtail by David Burke (NYC) – Fresh seafood in the UES by celeb chef David Burke. Dan Pelson, Marea (NYC) – Hopes for a high tide abound at Michael White’s temple to Italian seafood. Barry Rubenstein, Bryant & Cooper (Hamptons) – While it may be trying a little too hard for a classic old-time-y vibe, the steaks are nonetheless quite good. Jack Sullivan, The Raleigh Hotel (Miami) – The local equivalent of LA’s Chateau Marmont.

Art Basel: First Picks

We’ll have boots on the ground covering all the best of Art Basel throughout the week. But as Miami gears up for the premier artfest, here are just a few brief notes on what’s shaping up as a the top tickets in town. Much more to come.

Tuesday, December 2Circa28 in Wynwood for ArtOfficial. ● 11 p.m. – Art Photo Expo Presents In Fashion Photo in honor of Naomi Campbell (SET main floor).

Wednesday, December 3Mokai, 235 23rd Street, “hip hop party of the week.”

Thursday, December 4 ● 944 Magazine Presents Unscene photography exhibit. ● Louis, 2377 Collins, Marilyn Manson sings and shows of his paintings.

Friday, December 5 ● 11 p.m. – Porcelain Twinz Fetish Burlesque (their first East Coast show since leaving The Box in New York). ● Heathrow Lounge, 681 Washington Avenue: Prefuse 73. ● The Vagabond, 30 NE 14th Street, for Tommy Sunshine performance. ● Rok Bar, 1905 Collins, for 80s lounge scene.

Saturday, December 6 ● Official Wizard of Oz Ruby Slippers closing party hosted by Jennifer Oz Leroy with Jimmy Choo, Sergio Rossi, Moschino slippers, and a special aerialist performance by the Wicked Witch.

Miami: Top 5 Indie Havens

imageThere are people who live in Miami and don’t have tans.

1. The Vagabond (Downtown/Brickell ) – Among Miami’s ostentatious club scene. Hipsters mingle with hip-hop and rock ‘n roll lovers in the name of gin and dope beats. 2. The Whitelaw (South Beach) – Hotel Hip, social boutique hotel. Extreme minimalist décor, great bar scene. Peeps with personality, in; prima donnas, out. 3. Magnum Lounge (Wynwood/Design District) – Shady backway entrance, schmaltzy piano bar, dimly lit, screw-the-Bush-administration vibe plus quality neighborhood dining.

4. Cafe Maurice (South Beach) – Perfect for wine after work and a non-greasy late-night bite. Lots of charm packed into a tiny red space. 5. Hotel St. Augustine (South Beach) – In-the-thick- of-it boutique feels blessedly out of the way. BYOB fun at Tangerine Bar.