July 28: Duende Dancers Launch Second 100 Years of Broward

Posted on July 28, 2015 8:18AM

Posted by Kitty Oliver - guest blogger

Professional dancer, choreographer and producer Pablo Malco is passionate about Duende, the eclectic countywide weekend showcase of artistic creativity that will cap off Broward County's 100-year anniversary celebration October 2-4.

Malco is a member of the Creative Minds Team of five professional artists, creative entrepreneurs and artist-collaborators with expansive careers in all areas of the visual and performing arts who are at the helm of the event. They have developed a unique approach to showcase local talent in a series of events and performances bringing together thousands of people in a mosaic of art, culture and entertainment that launches the county's second 100 years.

He began dance auditions in July scouting for performers with versatility who will take over downtown Fort Lauderdale's Second Street for an outdoor entertainment spectacle on the opening night of the event. In keeping with the definition of Duende, which means a quality of passion, inspiration, and emotion - a soulful expression of creativity using the arts to bring together Broward County's diverse talent and people - he is promising something surprising and different.

"I'm looking for a mixture of dancers - street dancers, ballerinas, fire dancers, belly dancers - but with diversity in more than one discipline. We're want to put together something that has never been seen before here on this scale - street dance with flute and violin music, ballet done to hip hop poetry and salsa," he said. "The idea is to represent Broward's culture and not leave anybody out."

Malco, a Brooklyn, NY native, is a choreographer, dancer, producer and artistic director of the Developing Dreams Foundation and Pfuzion Dance Theater. He has appeared in music videos, concerts and tours with Jason Derulo, Mims, Paula Abdul, Ricky Martin, and Will Smith and he performs internationally conducts workshops and works with performing artists around the world.

Over the three days the grand finale Broward 100 event will feature programming along the Second Street corridor and Las Olas Boulevard in downtown Fort Lauderdale and the beach as well as satellite sites throughout the county. A theatrical performance directed by Broadway producer and Cirque Dreams founder Neil Goldberg will be staged at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts with top talent gleaned from more than 1,200 performers who auditioned for what Goldberg is touting as "the greatest Broadway-style Broward spectacle ever."

According to Pablo Malco, collaborating with the other four members of the Creative Arts Team has been one of the best parts of Duende so far. "I've learned a lot working and sharing with such creative people from different backgrounds - a singer, a musician, a festival director. People can expect something uniquely produced."

Duende is expected to become an annual signature event in Broward, showcasing talent and creating global connections.

July 27: Long Journey

Posted on July 27, 2015 8:20AM

Posted by LauderBLOGGER

It's easy to forget how far some people travel to visit Greater Fort Lauderdale. For many, it's hours on a plane. For lots of other folks, a trip here means days of driving. For still others, getting to South Florida requires one full year of sailing. Last week I met two visitors who landed on our subtropical shores by sailboat after a long, long journey. And what was one of the first things they did after their arrival? Why, they got married of course. It was a charming little tale that I picked up while chatting with a couple during lunch at Southport Raw Bar, that delightfully funky Fort Lauderdale restaurant on the 15th Street canal. I'd popped in for a quick bite, just some conch chowder and a glass of lemonade before returning to the office. Soon, a couple was seated across from me at another canalside table.

They were a middle-aged man and woman who seemed very pleasant, clearly on vacation. Relaxed, cheerful. I detected some sort of accent when the man ordered their meals but I wasn't quite sure where he was from. I would find out shortly.

At one point, he leaned over to me with a question about something. And that quickly led to a full-blown conversation. I asked, "Where are you both from?" South Africa, as it turned out, specifically Cape Town. "Wow," I replied, "long flight, huh?" Nope, but it was a very long sail indeed - they just had pulled into a dock on the canal after sailing their boat for a year. "We made a lot of stops along the way," the man explained, "Brazil not too long ago." He told me his name was Bob and we shook hands as new friends with the same first name. I never did find out her name. But they offered a few more intriguing nuggets about themselves before we parted. "We like it here," Bob told me, "this is our last stop on the trip and we're thinking of opening a business, investing in this community." That was a nice thing to hear: An adventurous South African couple who already loved Fort Lauderdale so much they planned to relocate to the city permanently. The next tidbit about them was the news that really made me smile. Bob glanced at her and said, "We've been engaged for three years. And we finally just got married. Here, today!" They were having a pitcher of beer and a lovely lunch to celebrate their wedding. How cool was that? I congratulated them both, wished them luck on their new life and headed back to work. Their journey to Greater Fort Lauderdale was longer than most. In many ways. And based on my brief chat with them, I suspect their presence in South Florida will bring something vibrant to their adopted home too. In many ways.

July 22: Fridays Off

Posted on July 22, 2015 9:58AM

Posted by LauderBLOGGER

Summer is a great time for it, especially here. Yep, here in South Florida where summers are languid and lazy and long. I'm talking about taking Fridays off work whenever possible. Ahhh, so very nice ... What better way to find some extra time for yourself, to slow down a bit for one season? Not so simple for you, maybe. Okay, how about an occasional Friday without going to the office? Or even just leaving early on a Friday afternoon now and then? Oh believe me. I know this is one of those easier-said-than-done things. I'm running into the problem myself as the summertime goes along, with August already very near now. I keep thinking as each week progresses: "I may just take a mental health day this Friday ... Maybe start with a lengthy lunch somewhere then hit a matinee movie or something. I deserve it!" But when Friday rolls around, do I take my own advice?

Actually, yes. Sometimes I do, sort of. Let's say that I am working on not working so much this summer. And making some small progress with it.

On two Fridays so far, I've decided on the spur of the moment to go somewhere pleasant for lunch. Admittedly, this is a modest beginning. I grant you that. But it's a start and I offer it as encouragement to those of you who might like to do the same, but haven't yet. For me, the first Friday venture this summer happened only a couple weeks ago. I was out on an early Friday afternoon running errands around Fort Lauderdale, popping into this store and that shop - some of it for work purposes, I confess. Then I began to get hungry, glanced at my watch and the next thing I knew I was sitting at a café table on the Fort Lauderdale beach, enjoying a lovely little restaurant I've visited for years. I ordered a mahi-mahi sandwich, some fries and an iced tea. And I took my time, savoring the gorgeous sea view even more than the meal. It did me a world of good. A week later, I made it happen again. Different lunch spot, different view, this time in downtown Hollywood for excellent Thai food. Another therapeutic break for me. I realize that these brief outings don't qualify me as the poster child for summer slowdowns at the workplace. And I must be honest with you: On both Fridays I returned to my desk after lunch for another two or three hours. As I said, it's just a start. I'm grateful for these two pre-weekend getaways, no matter how imperfect they were, and I'm hoping for more before September arrives. I'm also hoping you can run with my imperfect example, escaping your desk or computer or whatever on some summery Fridays. All day if you can manage it, part of the day if not. Even a long lunch if nothing else. Because, well, yes ... even a long Friday lunch is a start.

July 20: Mango Madness

Posted on July 20, 2015 2:03PM

Posted by LauderBLOGGER

In case you don't know, it's mango season. South Florida is a-blossom with mangos, which of course actually means the fruit that fills our many mango trees after the flowery blossoms are gone. We have lots and lots of fresh juicy mangos at the moment. Last week I reminded us that July is National Ice Cream Month, by Congressional mandate no less. So since we're talking about food and all ... Hey, let's not forget those amazing local mangos. Besides, fresh mangos go wonderfully with ice cream - in it, on it or alongside it. Oh, yum. You can drop by any decent supermarket or green market in South Florida this time of year for inexpensive quality mangos. If you're very lucky, you can pick them off the trees yourself.

When it comes to mangos, I am lucky. I live in a condo community that surrounds a small lake. And in between the buildings and the lake is something else. Mango trees, several of them, mature and heavily fruited. These trees are absolutely loaded with mangos.

So I recently popped out my door and wandered among the trees and then snatched myself a mango. Just one - I avoided the temptation to be greedy when my neighbors also want their share. Well, let me be honest. Some of my neighbors want more than their share, which is where mango appreciation can turn to mango madness. I see these folks out there regularly, armed with long fruit pickers and big plastic bags. Bags that they fill with mangos from our trees. Over the years, I've noticed that a few of my neighbors become almost obsessive about gathering and eating these free mangos. Mango season can do that to South Floridians. But as for me, I patiently ripened my one handpicked mango, then cut and ate it in a single sitting by myself. It was delish! I may grab one or two more before the season ends, though I'm disinclined to battle my neighbors over mangos. I can as easily go to the store, pay about $1 or so each and return with all the mangos I care to handle. By the way, I highly recommend that you find inventive ways to use mango if you're in South Florida now. Try whipping up cocktails with fresh mango juice, for instance. I love fresh mango mojitos. Wow, much better than just the usual mojito. All you have to do is puree one mango and mix some of that thick fruit juice with the usual mojito ingredients. Or make mango bread or mango cake or, oh yeah, mango ice cream. There are many many ways to enjoy the mango abundance in July. Get your hands on them wherever you can ... uh, except for the mangos around my place, please. There's enough competition for those already.

July 15: Good Tastes

Posted on July 15, 2015 12:37PM

Posted by LauderBLOGGER

Ice Cream monthDid you know it's National Ice Cream Month? Me neither. But it is. Wow, and I already missed half of it. I discovered this obscure but important annual celebration by accident just today. I was looking online for the local Jaxson's Ice Cream Parlor & Restaurant, trying to find out who won the Broward 100 contest to name a new flavor. (Renee K. Quinn is the winner for coming up with the top concoction: Caramel Mocha Coconut Crackle. Mmmm, sounds tasty.) And there it was, this national ice cream party invitation staring me in the face. It was saying to me, "Go forth and eat ice cream!" Well, that's what I think it means anyway. And who am I to argue?

Actually, it gets even better than National Ice Cream Month. Because it also happens that National Ice Cream Month includes a National Ice Cream Day. And it happens that this happens this weekend. Yay! Yes, indeed. National Ice Cream Day takes place this Sunday, July 19. Definitely something to mark down on your calendar.

I was doing my best to celebrate National Ice Cream Month last weekend, even without knowing it was National Ice Cream Month. My girlfriend, Gwen, and I ambled along the Hollywood Broadwalk until a brilliant idea occurred to me, just out of the blue - you know, the way great ideas always pop into the mind. Ideas like the General Theory of Relativity and the opening sentence of "Finnegans Wake" and such. My idea was a bit more humble, admittedly, but still very good in its own humble way. "Let's get some ice cream!" the idea told me. And so I said those five wonderful words aloud and we wisely followed the inspiration a few blocks to an ice cream shop. Mango sherbet for her, half dark chocolate and half mint chocolate chip for me. (Mmmm, very tasty.) But now that I know it's officially National Ice Cream Month, with National Ice Cream Day only a short ways off ... hey, I know my civic duty when I see it. This is very serious stuff. National Ice Cream Month and National Ice Cream Day both were declared celebrations starting in 1984 by way of Joint Resolution 298. Yep, no kidding - this was an act of Congress, signed into law by President Ronald Reagan. Fortunately, Greater Fort Lauderdale has many superb spots to demonstrate our ice cream patriotism. May I suggest, for instance, Kilwins? Look for their shops on Las Olas in Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood Boulevard in Hollywood, among other locations. Or the aforementioned Jaxson's or Dairy Belle, both in Dania. Or ... Too many options to name them all. Of course, there's still plenty of time for as much sampling as you can handle. I certainly plan to do my part for my country during the rest of this month. And if my own ice cream sampling happens to slip over into August before I'm done celebrating National Ice Cream Month, I'm sure no one in Congress will mind.

July 13: On Location

Posted on July 13, 2015 10:20AM

Posted by LauderBLOGGER

Filmed In BrowardSo then, about Robert De Niro. Yep, I was around him in Fort Lauderdale during the filming of Cape Fear, that very cool remake by Martin Scorsese. Actually, I also got up close with Scorsese and his two other big stars in that flick, Jessica Lange and Nick Nolte. If you've read my previous blog, Made in Broward, you know why I'm mentioning my brief brush with these notables. There's a free local film fest going on through Thursday, July 16. Called Filmed in Broward: A Reel Celebration of Cinema, the series shows movies shot in Broward County - an impressive list. The festival is just one small piece of the huge Broward 100 celebration of this county's centennial. Find out more about Filmed in Broward at this link:

Anyway, here's my little Cape Fear tale: When I worked as a reporter at the South Florida Sun Sentinel newspaper, a journalist buddy and I wanted to check out the filming of this major movie. He covered the county court, which was a backdrop for some scenes. And he'd heard a good tip: De Niro and Scorsese would be outside rehearsing the film's big street fight near the courthouse on a Saturday morning.

We turned up early and got as close as we could without attracting the attention of security. And sure enough, there were Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese and some stunt men blocking out the fight scene, walking through the brawl in slow mo. As far as we knew no one else witnessed this rehearsal except us - the only spectators in sight. As work wrapped up, De Niro's limo pulled within a few feet of us, waiting for the actor to climb inside. A bit starstruck, my pal and I watched without saying a word as a small but very muscular De Niro moved toward the car. Until De Niro glanced toward us and muttered, "How ya doin'?" before quickly jumping in as we both answered with a timid, "Hi!" The two of us also managed to hop into a courthouse elevator with Nolte and Lange after they finished filming an office scene. And no, we didn't say anything to them either. I remember trying to look at Ms. Lange as often and inconspicuously as possible. And yes, she was as beautiful in person as onscreen. My only other personal connection to Broward's films is with Marley & Me, based on a best-selling book by John Grogan. John and I worked together at the Sun Sentinel and we knew each other socially, chatting at parties about our shared Michigan roots. He's a nice guy and we're still Facebook friends. His Sun Sentinel columns formed the basis of that book as well as the film version, which was shot in Hollywood and elsewhere in Broward. I was privy to some personal pics of John at the film's premiere with Jennifer Aniston, one of the Marley & Me stars. And yes, he assured us she was just as gorgeous in person as onscreen too. Another very good friend of mine made it into the final cut of Marley & Me as a newsroom extra, good casting because he was a real reporter at the time. And okay ... there you have it. My own small connections with the films of Greater Fort Lauderdale. Believe me, I would gladly have volunteered for much more - you know, maybe playing opposite Owen Wilson as Grogan's friend in the Marley flick. Or thrashing my way through that Cape Fear fight scene alongside De Niro. Or whatever. I was ready for my closeup, for sure. Just saying in case, like, there's any casting agent reading this blog: Next time you're coming to Broward for a big movie project, let me know. As you can clearly see for yourself, I have film experience.

July 8: Made in Broward

Posted on July 8, 2015 12:48PM

Posted by LauderBLOGGER

How about going to the theater for a free movie - a flick filmed here in Broward County? You may not know it but some memorable films have been shot in and around Fort Lauderdale, partly or entirely. And now you have the chance to see them without paying a cent, courtesy of the Broward 100 celebration going on this summer and fall. Broward County, of course, is Greater Fort Lauderdale. And Greater Fort Lauderdale has attracted some heavyweight filmmakers who wanted to borrow our palm-lined beaches, our expansive Everglades, our busy sunlit streets as backdrops for their stories. Starting July 9 and continuing through July 16, you can head over to Cinema Paradiso for free showings at an event called, Filmed in Broward: A Reel Celebration of Cinema. No ticket necessary. All you have to do is show up. You can find more information by clicking here.

So what "memorable films" were shot here, you ask? Because, hey, you don't remember hearing about all these movies made on location in Broward, right? Okay, how about this for starters? Ever heard of "Cape Fear" by Martin Scorsese? Or "The Birdcage" by Mike Nichols, starring Robin Williams and Nathan Lane and Gene Hackman? Yep, they included scenes filmed in Greater Fort Lauderdale.

Here's a few more titles and stars you may know, just as a sampler. "True Lies" with Arnold Schwarzenegger and "Analyze This" with Billy Crystal and Robert De Niro. And "Donnie Brasco" with Al Pacino and Johnny Depp and "Marley & Me" with Jennifer Aniston and Owen Wilson. And "Caddyshack" with ... well, you know. The list continues and so does the list of no-cost showings at Cinema Paradiso. Good summer fun, for sure. As it happens, I have a certain personal connection with a couple of these films. No, I wasn't in any of them, not even as an extra wandering through the background. (Though a buddy of mine was ...) But I did get to rub elbows with Robert De Niro - sort of. And Nick Nolte and Jessica Lange, who were in "Cape Fear" with De Niro. The author of the best-selling book, "Marley & Me," was a colleague of mine for years at the Sun Sentinel as well. These brushes with Broward's cinema heritage make for some interesting brief tales to tell. Since the Filmed in Broward celebration continues next week, I'll share my stories with you then. For now, you may want to check out the link and make movie-going plans with your friends. Comedy, drama, thriller? You decide. The list is impressive, many good choices for a cool flick on a hot July day.

July 7: Bookfest Adds Spice

Posted on July 7, 2015 7:42AM

Posted by Kitty Oliver - guest blogger

Bookfest Adds Inspirational Spice to Summer Fun

Some of the country's top African American authors who have made a mark in the literary world will gather in Greater Fort Lauderdale at the African American Research Library and Cultural Center for the South Florida Book Festival July 17-18 to introduce their latest work and tell other aspiring writers and book lovers how they did it.

Award-winning journalist and talk show host Tavis Smiley will be one of the featured authors making a special appearance at the "Evening to the Stars," a dressed-up affair and book signing on Friday night that kicks off the festival. On Saturday, the NPR radio and television commentator and interviewer will talk about his new book, My Journey with Maya Angelou.

Other highlights of the free Saturday lineup show why this festival has become one of the country's top book events drawing hundreds of visitors and residents to the library, a cultural gem in the heart of Fort Lauderdale's historic Black community. Pulitzer Prize winning author Nick Chiles and co-author, Georgia attorney Robbin Shipp, are set to provide timely insights into crime and punishment in the U.S. as they discuss their new NAACP Image Award finalist book Justice While Black: Helping African-American Families Navigate and Survive the Criminal Justice System. Eric Jerome Dickey, a perpetual New York Times bestseller and prolific contemporary fiction writer with more than 21 books to his credit, will read excerpts from his latest provocative thriller, One Night, and his new novel, Naughty or Nice. Nationally heralded entrepreneurs, including rocket scientist and media maverick Mary Spio, will share stories about brash, inventive routes of financial success and Sex and South Beach author Dr. Sonja will lead a frank conversation on the intimacies of modern relationships.

A new event this year will be the" Chef Smackdown" on Saturday night, a special evening of competitive cooking and samplings of soul food creations that closes out the weekend. Ticketed events are $25 in advance and $30 at the door.

The South Florida Book Festival kicks off what is shaping up to be a summer of inspiration, information, recreation and family reunion fun for the multicultural traveler in Greater Fort Lauderdale.

The National Urban League brings its high-profile conference to the area for the first time July 28-31 with high-profile speakers, presidential candidates and "Save Our Cities" agenda that looks at issues relevant to the African American community nationally and strategies for solutions. Pre-and post-conference activities will include informative events highlighting local culture, youth involvement, health initiatives, and business and career opportunities. Radio personality and entrepreneur Tom Joyner will bring his nationally broadcast program to Fort Lauderdale for a live feed from the Convention Center during the conference.

As work continues on a plan to create a permanent home for the American Tennis Association in Greater Fort Lauderdale, the country's oldest Black tennis organization has made tennis a summer family reunion tradition in the area.

Thousands of Black tennis players, tennis enthusiasts, and their families will once again converge Aug. 2-8 for the 98th Annual Conference and Championships of the ATA. Players from 8 to 80 will take over four of the area's top tennis courts for enthusiastic rounds of competitive matches, youth development workshops and special events, parties and camaraderie.

This summer, the area is teeming with visitors from around the country enjoying summer fun.

July 6: Parrot Heads

Posted on July 6, 2015 11:44AM

Posted by LauderBLOGGER

Usually you'll hear them before you see them. Though brightly colored, these are creatures whose sound is even more distinctive than their appearance. And a lot easier to notice. I'm talking about the wild parrots heard everywhere around South Florida, always a treat for tourists. Lots of locals also love our flocks of parrots, including me. (The birds are not to be confused with that other species of parrothead found locally and elsewhere, of course, which belongs to fans of Jimmy Buffett, the folks who soon will get their own resort in Hollywood. The Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort is set for its grand opening later this summer. You can click here for details about this big addition to Greater Fort Lauderdale: But okay ... about those real parrots. The flying kind with beaks and very loud squawks. Where can you go to reliably enjoy them with your own eyes? And ears?

Over the 4th of July weekend, I found myself again sitting at one of the most predictable flocking areas, even snapping a couple pics of a parrot pair hanging out on the low branch of a huge oak tree. And that's when I thought, "I need to let our tourist friends know about these parrots."

You'll discover this small park off Las Olas Boulevard, walking distance from downtown Fort Lauderdale. I've written about it frequently for other reasons, my own personal fave among all the great spots to spend some chill-time around this community. Colee Hammock Park is a tiny but lush refuge from the bustling South Florida streets. Click here for a map that should help you find it. On Sunday, my girlfriend Gwen and I parked ourselves on a shaded park bench there, just kicking back on a warm July afternoon to watch the passing parade of boats. Everything from the Jungle Queen to inflatable dinghies, from grand yachts and tall-masted sailboats to a kayak that held a man and a woman and two small kids. You're likely to see vessels of many kinds when you're at Colee Hammock Park. But almost certainly you'll also see and hear the wild parrots. I've rarely visited this park without at least a couple of parrots joining me at some point. Look for that enormous oak tree I mentioned. It's one of the most popular perches for these loud and colorful birds. Then listen for their distinctive call, those shrill screechy squawks that tell you parrots are in the area. If you search among the oak branches, you may glimpse the green parrots tucked in among the leaves. Often you also can follow their flights back and forth across the New River, typically small flocks squawking their parrot heads off much of the way. Our wild parrots are part of South Florida's unique environment, something to tell your family and friends back home about during your vacation to Greater Fort Lauderdale. They definitely are Facebook-worthy, especially if you can manage to catch them in a photo or two. And Colee Hammock Park is one of the best parrot viewing areas I know. Pick a nice bench in the shade, relax and keep an eye out for them ... and an ear. Believe me, they'll let you know when they're around.

July 1: Celebrating Us

Posted on July 1, 2015 9:27AM

Posted by LauderBLOGGER

Three cheers, please - for you. And also for me and for all of us as we approach the 4th of July 2015. It seems a fine year to celebrate our freedom, a moment when our economy remains strong and more of our military members are at home from foreign conflicts and same-sex marriage now is the law of this land. These and many other good things are cause for a joyful commemoration of our nation's birth. Yay! Of course, Americans always have been great at throwing parties. And here in South Florida? Well, we know more than a thing or two about party-throwing, as pretty much the whole world recognizes these days. Our region is famous for big bashes.

So where better to spend the 4th of July weekend? If you're lucky enough to be hanging with us over the Fourth, you've got plenty of tri-colored party options. You'll find some of them listed at this link:

As you'd expect, you'll find fireworks displays among the offerings. And a lot more too. Like, how about a 4th of July fireworks cruise? You can do it through the Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six hotel. Then there's the 4th of July All-American Swim Party from noon to 4 p.m. in Tamarac and Hollywood's 4th of July Star-Spangled Spectacular. Maybe you'd like to begin early with the Red, White & Sailor Blue Independence Day Party, which actually happens the night before Independence Day - July 3 at 7 p.m. in Fort Lauderdale. Or check out some big band jazz that same evening or ... You get the idea. No shortage of patriotic parties in Greater Fort Lauderdale, for sure. It's all really only the first wave of our summer parties, including some shindigs that are part of the big Broward 100 celebration happening this year. You can find a listing of those events by clicking here: They'll lead us right through the warmest months and into October's huge Broward 100 Duende grand finale weekend party, something I'll be telling you a lot more about in these blogs during the coming weeks. For now, though, let's do the 4th of July as the 4th of July should be done. The Founding Fathers probably didn't anticipate hot dogs and hamburgers and backyard barbecues, leisurely days at the beach and family picnics. But I imagine they would be pleased to see us having fun on the 4th, if they could. We are the fortunate heirs to their vision of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This weekend is a perfect time to remember that, oh yes, and to enjoy it.