Last weekend, I attended a wedding deep in the heart of Texas, witnessing the union of two U.S. Army officers (one my niece) in a handsome ceremony that intertwined flowery marriage conventions with the heightened formality of the military, a field of ribbons lining the groom’s dress blues.
In the transition between the traditional kiss and the first public introduction of the young couple as “Mr. and Mrs.” the pastor paused to take a nontraditional turn. Citing their military status and the sacrifice it involves, the pastor, speaking for the crowd, said the oft-repeated words that, in this perfectly timed moment, seemed to ring with uncommon authenticity: “We thank you for your service.”
Facing the assembled, the couple, so youthful and confident and prepared, received waves of applause, delivered with joyful sincerity.
“When I first got out, and people were telling me that, I didn’t know what to say. Not at all,” says Allen Minor, 27, as he recalls being thanked for his Army service. “Eventually, I started saying, ‘I appreciate it.’ I appreciate that they are taking the time out of their day to show their expression of gratitude.”
This is a tricky social transaction for both sides, Minor says. Civilians feel a responsibility to say something genuinely supportive to a member of the military, but, lost for other words, have created a cliché. A soldier’s response can seem equally rehearsed, but is likely just as sincere, Minor says.
“The outsider is saying, ‘Thank you for your service’ because they don’t know what else to say, and the insider is giving some sort of response because they don’t know what else to say, either,” Minor says with a laugh.
On the list of military service to be respected and thankful for, Minor’s must be near the top. From 2006 to 2008, he served as a mortuary affairs specialist, the soldier who processed bodies, body parts and personal effects of the dead.
This work, he will freely admit, wounded him in ways that have yet to heal. He has found a form of therapy in poetry and spoken word, and is one of four writers and performers of “Conscience Under Fire,” a stage production directed by the acclaimed Teo Castellanos, being performed on this 9/11 weekend at Teatro Prometeo on Miami Dade College’s Wolfson Campus (300 NE Fourth St., Miami).
“Conscience Under Fire” is a product of MDC Live Arts Vets’ Lab, a Knight Foundation-supported workshop that encouraged participants to use words to exorcise their PTSD demons. The four soldiers in the cast include former Marines Hipolito Arriaga and Andrew Cuthbert, both of Plantation; Anthony Torres, of Homestead, who served as a mental health specialist at Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq; and Minor, of Daytona Beach.
“Talking about it and releasing it may not fix everything. And it doesn’t fix everything,” Minor says, sliding into a familiar laugh. “It doesn’t make everything better, but it does allow for a certain element of relief, of getting it off of your chest.”
“Conscience Under Fire” performances are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Tickets are free at MDCLiveArts.org. Hit the link for an interview with the creators of “Conscience Under Fire.”
A GOOD RUN
Fort Lauderdale has always hosted one of the most prolific fundraisers with its version of the annual Tunnel to Towers 5K Run and Walk, which raises money in cities across the county in honor of first responders lost on 9/11. The event was created by the Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers Foundation, named for an off-duty New York firefighter who was on his way home to his wife and five children on Staten Island after a night shift when his scanner alerted him to the World Trade Center attacks. After running nearly two miles through the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel with 75 pounds of gear strapped to his back, he was picked up on the other side by a fire crew that dropped him at Ground Zero, where he became one of 343 firefighters who lost their lives. The fifth annual Fort Lauderdale run is 7:30 a.m.-noon Sunday, beginning at Huizenga Plaza in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Info: Tunnel2Towers.org.
With his recent Comedy Central special, “Angry Pursuit of Happiness,” Christopher Titus had plenty to say about contemporary life in the “rough-ass world” of exported violence, erectile dysfunction and pajama-wearing in public. At 7 p.m. Sunday, he’ll get in your face with the dark comedy of his “Born With a Defect” touring show at the Palm Beach Improv. Tickets: $25 (two-drink minimum). Info: PalmBeach.Improv.com.
FINS AND SKINS
Nothing like a little football tailgating with friends to make you feel like a proud ‘Merican, even if the NFL still has a team in the nation’s capital that uses a slur for a nickname. You can watch the Miami Dolphins’ 1 p.m. Sunday beatdown of the Redskins of Washington with hundreds of other fans during the indoor-outdoor block party at Himmarshee Public House (201 SW Second St., Fort Lauderdale). You can watch the kickoff to a season that feels unusually hopeful on a 16-foot LED screen mounted high over the crowd while surrounded by food vendors, cocktails and beer (Concrete Beach Brewery, Funky Buddha Brewery and Salt Water Brewery), games and giveaways. The party runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free. Info: Facebook.com/PublicHouseFTL.
HOCKEY NIGHT IN HOLLYWOOD
You want red, white and blue? The free movie at 8 p.m. Friday at the ArtsPark in downtown Hollywood is “Miracle,” the true story of the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team’s victory over a seemingly invincible Russian squad. Kurt Russell stars as coach Herb Brooks. Info: VisitHollywoodFL.org.
Without a free and vigorous press, not only have the terrorists won, but you’d be late to everything. Steve Rullman and the local music scene setters at PureHoney magazine celebrate its against-the-odds success with a fourth anniversary party on Saturday night at Respectable Street (518 Clematis), featuring a strong lineup of local talent topped by imports AJ Davila y Terror Amor, led by the former Davila 666 frontman. Others scheduled to perform include the peripatetic John Ralston, Pocket of Lollipops, Sweet Bronco, Cog Nomen, Chaucer, Kremlin and Milk Spot. Info: PureHoneyMagazine.com.
BRUNCH OF THE WEEK
We are a nation of prodigious appetites, not merely metaphorical. A couple of weeks ago, Brett Chiavari, proprietor of Davie's BC Cafe (4801 S. University Drive in the Atrium Centre, suite 123), reworked the brunch menu he serves 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Sundays, with Steakhouse Eggs Benedict ($12) and Grand Slam Breakfast Ramen ($10) joining the carryover favorites, Bananas Foster French Toast ($10), Chicken and Waffles Sliders ($12) and the Breakfast Burger ($10). Because some people (ahem) find the decision too difficult, Chiavari also offers the Sampler, a platter of half-portions of all five entrees ($30). Bottomless mimosas and bellinis cost $12. Info: BCTacos.com/BCCafe.
No, multiculturalism is the best revenge against evildoers. Even a contrived event such as Rocco’s Tacos’ Sept. 16 celebration of Mexican Independence Day and National Guacamole Day is a reminder of the unbreakable bond with our friends to the south. And discounted tequila. All day Wednesday, each of Rocco Mangel’s four South Florida restaurants (Palm Beach Gardens, West Palm Beach, Boca Raton and Fort Lauderdale) will offer a 50 percent discount on bottles from their famed Tequila Bible (including more than 330 varieties). Bring a friend, since you have to consume the bottle on-site. ... More Rocco news you can use: Mangel will open his Delray Beach location with a Sept. 29 debut party, open to the public, from 8 p.m. to midnight. You'll find free chips, guacamole and salsa, but you buy your own drinks. The restaurant will begin service on Sept. 30 (dinner only). Info: RoccosTacos.com.
A SHOT OF DAVE BARRY
Confounding any lingering opinion that anyone can mix drinks behind a bar, Dave Barry will take part in a Saturday event at The Café at Books and Books in the Arsht Center called Tertulia. More clearly, the evening also goes by Authors Tending Bar, wisely subtitled (Or Friends Who Crack Each Other Up While Mixing Drinks). Joined by writer friends Adam Mansbach (“Go the F*** to Sleep”) and Alan Zweibel (“It’s Garry Shandling’s Show,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and the novel “The Other Shulman”), Barry will tend bar beginning at 7 p.m. It’s free and open to all. Info: BooksAndBooks.com.
THE GUITAR, THE VOICE
Guitarist Doyle Bramhall II sprang from the Austin music scene circa 1990 in the briefly super supergroup Arc Angels, populated by a then-22-year-old Bramhall and singer-guitarist Charlie Sexton, backed by drummer Chris Layton and bassist Tommy Shannon, former members of the late Stevie Ray Vaughan's band, Double Trouble. A revered sideman for the likes of Eric Clapton and Roger Waters, Bramhall just finished a tour with the Tedeschi Trucks Band and Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. But all that guitar can obscure the fact that few singers can deliver a bluesy love song with more passion and character. Sheryl Crow says he’s got her “favorite voice of all time.” Bramhall brings his solo tour to Fort Lauderdale’s Culture Room at 8 p.m. Saturday, with JL Fulks the opener. Tickets: $20. Info: CultureRoom.net, Facebook.com/DoyleBramhallIIMusic.
At Bal Harbour Shops, the free fashion-centric film series at Fashion Project, “Dressing Down the Movies: Nat Chediak on Fashion,” will screen the original, 1960 “Ocean’s 11” in all its tailored-suited glory. The signature Rat Pack flick, about a Vegas casino heist pulled off by Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis Jr. and Peter Lawford, will screen at 2:30 and 7 p.m. Friday. Fashion Project is on the third floor at Bal Harbour Shops (9700 Collins Ave.). Info: FashionProjectBHS.com.
As you knew would happen, tickets that went on sale for the popular Lantern Festival at the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach on Oct. 17 are ALMOST GONE! The 3-8 p.m. event, with its signature floating lantern ceremony, fireworks and Japanese folk-dancing (not to mention the Kirin beer garden and sake station), will sell out. Tickets (which aren’t sold at the gate) are $15, $10 ages 4-10, at Morikami.org/LanternFest. ... In other Morikami news, the season's final installment of Sushi & Stroll, the smartphone-led sunset walk through its beautiful gardens, is Friday (Sept. 11). Tickets are $8 at the gate, $6 ages 4--10. Info: Morikami.org.
Looking ahead to next weekend, on Sept. 19 Craft Beer Cartel (557 SW 12th Ave., Fort Lauderdale) will hold its second annual home-brewer showdown called the End of Summer Brew Competition. The winner of the evening’s balloting (you get to vote) will get the chance to brew the winning craft beer at Wynwood Brewing. Registration is $20, which covers two beer entries (additional entries are $10). Hit the link to register your beer for the End of Summer Brew Competition. If you’d rather drink and vote on the beers than make them, $15 will get you in. Because Craft Beer Cartel is a joint venture between Adam Fine and Riverside Market man-about-town Julian Siegel, this is a beer event with random inspiration: The nonprofit Yoga Gangsters, who will help you prepare for the beer with a 75-minute yoga class across the street in Riverside Park. A $25 fee covers the yoga class, entry to the home brew competition and one People’s Choice vote. Info: Facebook.com/RiversideMarket.
MOON OVER MARGATE
From the folks who bring you hip events such as Indie Craft Bazaar, Night Owl Market and Food in Motion comes Margate Under the Moon, a family-friendly festival with live music, food trucks, art, games and free beer at the corner of Highway 441 and Margate Boulevard on Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. Bands include AnastasiaMax, Octo Gato and My Electric Heart. A free DIY tie-dye stand will offer all the supplies and tips you need to reimagine your old T-shirt, or they’ll sell you a new one for $5. Admission and parking are free. Info: MargateUnderTheMoon.com.
CARS AND FOOD TRUCKS
The Creative Workshop, the Dania Beach car customizers responsible for all sorts of rolling bad-assery, will have an open house from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, while the city is celebrating Dania Beach Founder's Day with bands, food trucks and other forms of fun around City Hall a block away. Creative will be giving tours and displaying their top cars all day, with prizes given to the top three winners of the “people's choice” balloting. Info: Facebook.com/TheCreativeWorkshop.
PUT ON YOUR HAPPY FACE
The “transmedia opera” called “Melancholalaland” surveys some challenging terrain in its world premiere 3 p.m. Sunday the Miami Beach Cinematheque (1130 Washington Ave.). Conveyed by singers and dancers in a live mix of video, animation and digital music, this dystopian view of a future ruled by a global corporation that specializes in anti-sadness drugs was created by Dr. Joey Bargsten, a Hollywood resident and professor at Florida Atlantic University’s School of Communication and Multimedia Studies on its Davie campus. As Bergsten told the Sun Sentinel’s Rod Stafford Hagwood, the work has more in common with modern composers such as Philip Glass and John Adams than Mozart. “It might remind someone of the pioneers that I really have to bow down to, like Kraftwerk," he says. Hit the link for the interview. "Melancholalaland" tickets are $25 ($13 for seniors and students). Info: MBCinema.com.