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'Miami Connection' plays Ron Robinson 

THURSDAY 11/12

'MIAMI CONNECTION'

8 p.m. Ron Robinson Theater. $5.

I have never been to Miami, but I've been imagining it my whole life. What it comes down to is a web of colors and sounds, plasticity and kitsch: "Scarface," palm trees and pink stucco, "Miami Vice," blue neon, 2 Live Crew, coral reefs, Carl Hiaasen and George McCrae's "Rock Your Baby," cocaine, avocado, Art Basel, Rick Ross. The best Miami films are gauzy, indistinct, dream-like — there is always something gauche about them, something that's too much. They say Miami is drowning now, at the front lines of implacable climate change. They say it's coming back in style, too, which seems only right. "Miami Connection" was an independent film released in 1988, a vanity project designed to feature the talents of its star, Y.K. Kim, martial arts entrepreneur and author of the self-help book "Winning Is a Choice." It has been called the "most hilariously terrible film made in the '80s," but this, to me, seems like a fundamental misunderstanding of its goals, and of Miami itself, which is a prism of poor taste: It refracts the low-brow and the lowest common denominator into a beam of pure white light, a shimmering, debauched uncanny valley. What do you need to know about this movie? That it stars a motorcycle gang of ninjas? That the heroes are a Taekwondo-trained synth-rock band called Dragon Sound? That it stems from a coke deal gone sour? Do you need to know that it marks a kind of dumb guttural utterance from the crass and clumsy bottom of America? What do you want to hear? Tell me what to say, and I'll say it.

FRIDAY 11/13

SHOOTER JENNINGS

8:30 p.m. Revolution. $20.

Shooter Jennings is maybe the only musician ever to both collaborate with Billy Ray Cyrus and play the Warped Tour. He portrayed his own father, Waylon, in a movie, and once made a record narrated by Stephen King, which was released in the form of a USB flash drive shaped like a tarot card. His taste in band names is so awful as to seem intentionally so, like performance art: KilRaven, Stargunn, Hierophant, The Triple Crown. His relationship to country music is as complex and embattled as you'd expect from a guy who spent formative early childhood years in a crib aboard a tour bus frequented by Willie Nelson and Kris Kristofferson. He isn't entirely invested in the whole enterprise: He's publically feuded with Luke Bryan, and has recorded an EP in tribute to disco pioneer Giorgio Moroder. It all seems very complicated, and I mean that in a good way.

SATURDAY 11/14

ARKANSAS TIMES WHOLE HOG ROAST

6:30 p.m. Argenta Farmers Market. $15 adv., $20 day of.

The Arkansas Times Whole Hog Roast is a huge community feast and block party of the sort that modern civilization rarely bothers with anymore, all of us having been atomized and isolated into smaller and smaller social units to the degree that we hardly even speak, preferring to bond by texting each other photos of our pets from behind the barricaded doors of our apartments. This isn't like that at all; this is the opposite of that. This is a bacchanalian festival of a much older, wilder vintage. Professional chefs and amateur teams alike will pitch tents, roll up their sleeves, and get to work. They'll bring their pigs, dig pits and shovel charcoal and set up china boxes and grills and two-tiered smokers, and they'll reach deep into their top-secret family recipe books for the strongest possible dry rub or seasoning or potato salad or baked beans or whatever — this is a competition, don't forget. Buy advance tickets at arktimes.com/hog15.

SATURDAY 11/14

BROOKS WHEELAN

7 p.m. Juanita's. $15.

Brooks Wheelan is a stand-up comedian from Iowa who was a cast member on "Saturday Night Live" during the 2013-2014 season. He did impressions of Rand Paul, Jared Leto, Kid Rock and Matthew McConaughey, delivering skewed public service announcements on Weekend Update. And then he was dropped from the show, for whatever reason — it's a transitional period, maybe; that happens sometimes, and the cast member rarely knows why (see Michaela Watkins's pretty tragic recent interview on Marc Maron's "WTF" podcast). Wheelen announced his situation in a tweet: "FIRED FROM NEW YORK IT'S SATURDAY NIGHT!" He's followed his stint with a new album and stand-up tour, performing on "Conan" and "Late Night with Seth Myers," and filming a Comedy Central special.

SATURDAY 11/14

PETER CASE, LOVE GHOST

9 p.m. White Water Tavern. $15.

Peter Case dropped out of high school at 15 and washed up in San Francisco. That was the early 1970s. He started a band called The Nerves that made lean, modular power pop that had one foot in the early '60s and the other in the emergent punk scene, the all-American simplicity of Jan & Dean warped by nightlife and poverty. You'd maybe know their song "Hanging on the Telephone," a great song, an earworm even — a song that sounds more pitifully, thrillingly desperate than its teenaged subject matter would suggest. (Blondie covered it; its version was good but not as coiled and intense.) When The Nerves couldn't last, Case started another band, The Plimsouls, who had a small hit called "A Million Miles Away," the video for which is a kind of perfect New Wave time capsule. All of that is prologue, though, to Case's contemporary legacy as a folk singer-songwriter. He plays Americana, but as is befitting a former member of The Nerves, it's a brand of Americana in which modernity and banality always manage to seep through. Sharing a bill with Case is Love Ghost, the solo project of Little Rock's Jason Weinheimer, who in addition to producing and overseeing a pretty stunning catalog of local records at his studio, Fellowship Hall Sound, also happens to be a formidable songwriter and compelling front man. The band's long-awaited LP "Skies Are Grey," will be released this weekend as well. Hear it at loveghost.bandcamp.com.

WEDNESDAY 11/18

SVEN BECKERT: 'EMPIRE OF COTTON'

6 p.m. Sturgis Hall, Clinton School for Public Service.

A Harvard professor who has written books on voting rights, the 19th century bourgeoisie and the history and mechanics of global capitalism, Sven Beckert's new book is "Empire of Cotton: A Global History." It's a story about American mythology, slavery, political economy, the Industrial Revolution and war — the story of our country through the lens of a plant. The book, a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, originally published in December and reprinted in a new edition this month, has been called "momentous and brilliant" (Newsday), "rich and diverse" (Washington Post), "important" and "masterly" and "eminently readable" and "an astonishing achievement" (New York Times). "We are about to embark on a journey through five thousand years of human history," Beckert writes in the introduction, explaining his project as the investigation of "a vast mystery." And to the extent that there is a mystery, it isn't a modest one: The question, as he phrases it, is, "Where does the modern world originate?"

WEDNESDAY 11/18

THE UH HUHS

9 p.m. Pizza D'Action.

Little Rock's The Uh Huhs make brash and energetic garage pop, as taut and physical as you might expect from a band whose name is a grunted affirmation. The only proof of their existence is a handful of brief, halting punk songs about failing to communicate, failing to pay attention, failing to stay put. It's music that makes you want to take up smoking, or quit your job. It's about boredom but it isn't boring. It's about poses and posturing, but it's modest and fun. Now the band has collected these songs into an EP, which is available at Arkansas Record-CD Exchange and will be released officially at their show Wednesday at Pizza D'Action. Also on the bill is Goat Pope, a new project from members of Pallbearer.

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