LauderBlog

Aug 3: Skydust

Posted on August 3, 2015 1:16PM

Posted by LauderBLOGGER

South Florida and North Africa have at least one thing in common: the same dust. I mean that literally. Dust that starts its humble grainy life there sometimes ends up on our horizon here. I learned this amazing bit of science 10 years ago from a friend, who looked out at a rich red-and-orange sunrise with me one morning and commented as follows: "Beautiful! It's from the African dust, you know!" And in response I looked at her as if she'd gone crazy and replied as follows: "What? You mean dust all the way from ...? Ohhhh, come on!" It turned out she knew more science than I did about South Florida's summer skies. Indeed it was African dust coloring our sunrises and sunsets. And the same thing has happened many times since, including this year.

The local weather folks usually talk about this when it's taking place, pointing to their maps as the African dusts blow in and then blow through. It's not like the dust hangs around for long, naturally. But during summertime weeks when this well-traveled dust wafts our way, those small particles can make our mornings and evenings bigtime bright.

I offer up all this to emphasize an observation I make on occasion in these blogs: South Florida's environment is like no other. Anywhere. And that never ceases to amaze me. I think lots of us who live here, or visit often, feel that same way. We are astonished by the complexity and variety of this subtropical landscape. There's no sensible debate about our environmental uniqueness, of course, because the Everglades alone proves the point. Simply nowhere on this planet is the same as our Everglades. In many other ways too, flora and fauna combine with climate to create those astonishing things. Yes, the Caribbean also gets some of the African dust, but a Caribbean island won't give you those dramatic sunsets over a sprawling Everglades - or those dramatic sunrises during a quiet walk on the Fort Lauderdale beach either. Do you know this dust has to hitch a windy ride for at least 4,000 miles to get to us? And maybe as many as 6,000 miles? I recently learned it takes a full week for dust to reach South Florida from North Africa. The next time you witness an especially brilliant South Florida sky soon after dawn or just before twilight, you may want to explore online to find out if African dust is paying us another call. Chances are good that it is. That dust may have blown off the Pyramids or whirled up from the Temple of Karnak, or perhaps simply come from some barren stretch of the Sahara. It doesn't matter, really. The truly astonishing thing isn't where the dust began the journey. It's where the journey ends.

July 30: 8,000 Years of Diversity in Broward

Posted on July 30, 2015 1:27PM

Broward County's diverse 100-year-old story is peppered with nuggets of Seminole Indian history from their unconquerable survival in the Everglades to co-existence with Whites on the banks of the New River to the alliance with Blacks escaping slavery who became incorporated into the tribe.

But Broward County has a little-known Native American story that goes much farther back and that can still be explored. It lies between the scenic Fort Lauderdale beach scene and the natural wonder of the Everglades. It is surrounded by the affordable conference, resort and family hotels with that offer visitors a quieter pace. It's tucked into the corners of Greater Fort Lauderdale's West Broward experience where publicly-accessible sites of archaeological interest today date back over 8,000 years.

Local archaeologist and anthropologist Paul J. Callsen loves to talk about what he calls South Florida's "very first people." He is among a group of presenters highlighting the richness and diversity of often little-known or rarely-explored aspects of history and culture in Broward 100 events staged around the county as part of the Broward Moments Lecture Series. His presentation, Broward's Early Residents: Native America, How They Lived in the Glades, will be on Aug. 11 at 6 p.m. at the Stirling Road Branch of the Broward County Library System.

As Callsen explains, "Long before European contact - the Spanish and later the English - there were the natives who had a rich society and I talk about where they lived, what they did and didn't do, and the economics the people had. The Seminoles came much later."
While South Florida is no Egypt or Mexico when it comes to pre-history sites, the area does have a few places that continue to be looked at and studied, he said, including downtown Miami and the Tree Islands in the Everglades. Long Key Natural Area and Nature Center in the town of Davie in West Broward is a prime site.

The 164-acre park with an elevated oak hammock, wetland marshes and an orange grove is one the largest natural areas and the most significant archeological resource in the county. In ancient times it was the home of the ancient Tequesta Indians. One hundred years ago the hammock was a series of islands surrounded by Everglades's marsh.

Pre-historic mounds unlocking the mysteries of the area's past can be found in Pompano Beach and, even more notably, along the Pine Island Ridge Natural Area in Davie. The Ridge was a habitation site for over 30 different settlements, including hunting camps of the Tequestas and a permanent home for Seminoles in the 1800s. The Ridge is accessed in Tree Tops Park which, at 29 feet, has the highest elevation in the county.

Diversity has been woven into the fabric of the area since pre-historic days.

July 29: Public Art

Posted on July 29, 2015 11:44AM

Posted by LauderBLOGGER

I'm a huge fan of public art. In Greater Fort Lauderdale, art increasingly is part of our landscape. Murals and sculptures, painted street intersections and outdoor free performances. There's more of it here now than ever. This summer, though, you can enjoy art of a kind that usually comes only with the price of admission. Public art that actually is housed inside a museum. And you can enjoy it for free. The NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale is holding events each Thursday through September 3, something they call Summer Starry Nights. Get it? As in the famous, "Starry Night" painting by Van Gogh. Anyway, these subtropical starry nights are a wonderful opportunity for art enthusiasts, tourists and locals alike.

From 4:30-8pm, you can walk in the museum doors for free on those Thursdays. Once inside, you'll find art exhibitions, of course. That much you would expect. But you'll also be treated to art lectures and films about art. And the Museum Café offers 2-for-1 beer and wine specials as well as a menu of light tapas. Sounds like a lovely evening, doesn't it?

You can find out more about Summer Starry Nights here. Click on the tropical-looking green and purple image along the right side of your screen for a bit more info once you surf on over to that page. You also may want to explore the website a bit to see what's going on at NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale aside from the Thursday events. The happenings include an exhibit of ceramics and works on paper by Pablo Picasso. He was a very busy guy, ol' Pablo, creating some 50,000 pieces. The museum has 72 of these on display, works he brought to life from 1931 to 1971. The museum happenings also include an exhibition of five paintings by Julian Schnabel, a highly regarded contemporary artist. As usual, there's much to check out at NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale. I think it's terrific that this important local institution has opened up to everyone for the summertime. Many of us love art. Not all of us have the money to visit museums regularly, if at all. Here's a great chance to expose families, especially kids, to fine art they might never experience otherwise. And to introduce art lovers of more means to the latest offerings of NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale. Through the Summer Starry Nights events, the museum is making its art more available, more openly public. Just exactly as art should be.

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: http://www.sunny.org/includes/calendar-of-events/Filmed-in-Broward-A-Reel-Celebration-of-Cinema/20149/.

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.