LauderBlog

May 27: Inquiring Minds

Posted on May 27, 2015 1:19PM

Posted by LauderBLOGGER

So what would you ask us? Because you don't live in South Florida. And we do. I would love to know what questions you'd want answered if you could put any topic before some longtime South Floridians. You see, I recently got a press release about this very thing from a company based in South Florida. They were promoting a blog that posed searing questions out-of-staters supposedly ask us often such as, "How do you survive the humidity?" and "So do you go to Disney World, like, every weekend?" Ahem ... Questions to which I can offer two simple answers: "You get used to the humidity" and "Seriously? Not even every decade if I can help it."

But their blog got me thinking. Thinking about things much more important than wet air and mouse silhouettes. So I thought you might like a few truly important questions answered by at least one real South Floridian. I suppose you could even call these searing questions ...

Such as, "No kidding, does anyone down there work?" Answer: "No. No one here works. Ever. This is an internationally known playground, full of clean beaches and plentiful sunshine, sprawling yachts and tight bodies. The only work real South Floridians do involves exercising those tight bodies." Or maybe you'd like to know this one: "Why can't South Floridians drive very well in the rain?" Answer: "Because we don't get much practice. It's sunny here, like, nearly all the time. Or moony anyway, when it's night. Whenever it rains, the storms usually come fast and brief. By the time we realize it's raining, the rain has stopped. And so real South Floridians go right back to working on tightening up those bodies." Next question? "Which cocktail do real South Floridians prefer at Happy Hour? Mojitos or margaritas?" Answer: "During Happy Hour, real South Floridians drink only champagne. Ideally Dom Perignon, served at exactly 45 degrees Fahrenheit. And by ‘real South Floridians,' of course, I mean those who have sprawling yachts and tight bodies." We have time for just one more: "Do you often feel like you're living in paradise?" Answer: "Yes. We do ..." Naturally, you understand that my replies to these searing questions can't quite be taken as universally accurate. I mean, some of us do work and don't have tight bodies. Some of us drink mojitos and margaritas at Happy Hour. Or vodka martinis, perhaps. Some of us even drive very well in the rain, thank you. But as for whether we feel like we're living in paradise? Well, that answer you can take to the bank, applying to one and all real South Floridians. Yes. We do ...

May 26: Hello Sunny

Posted on May 26, 2015 7:10AM

Posted by LauderBLOGGER

What's in a phrase? Sometimes a lot. And "Hello Sunny" is a phrase that carries meaning for those who live or play in Greater Fort Lauderdale. It's the slogan of the folks who run this website at sunny.org, appropriately enough. I mention this today because I've been seeing a lot of those two words wherever I happen to be lately. Oh, the slogan has been around for a while now. When you come to the sunny.org website, they're the first two words you're likely to see in welcoming you to the fun features and helpful links and frequent bargains that you can find here. But now, it seems, "Hello Sunny" is getting out and about.

Here's one example from several days ago. So there I was, sitting at my favorite small park in Fort Lauderdale on a warm afternoon. A warm and, yes, sunny afternoon. I'd plunked myself on a shaded park bench, looking out at the mansions across the river and the boats motoring over that river. And then a Water Taxi came along, flying a big flag. And on that big flag, two words: "Hello Sunny." Pretty soon another Water Taxi floated past. Same flag, same words.

Whenever I drive by the Greater Fort Lauderdale/Broward County Convention Center, I often see "Hello Sunny" lighting up the nearby electronic billboard. The catchphrase shows up regularly in that space along with event announcements and the rest. Then there's the airport. You may recall I blogged about my recent flights at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, where I finally got to experience the new south runway for myself. Well, sure enough - I also got to experience bumping into "Hello Sunny" in a spot I hadn't seen it before. I was just hanging around near my gate, waiting to board. And there were those words again, staring back at me from a small airport version of an e-billboard. "Hello Sunny" indeed. And hello and hello and hello. It's, like, everywhere. Which is good, I think, because this clever slogan reminds us why we're here. To me, "Hello Sunny" means welcome to the sunshine and warmth of course, but also welcome to that sunny beach just a few miles away. And welcome to the light shirts and shorts and flip-flops that are the uniform of the subtropics. Welcome to mojitos and margaritas at waterside cafes, welcome to clean-blue swimming pools ringed by royal palms, welcome to fresh mangos and coconuts just picked off the tree. "Hello Sunny" is more than a slogan. It's a lifestyle, really, an optimistic way of being in the midst of a pessimistic world. I'm glad to see "Hello Sunny" making the rounds, here and in other communities where it pops up from time to time - including a few little places like New York City and Chicago and London. That pessimistic world of ours sure could use more sunshine. A short, simple, sunny slogan can't hurt.

May 20: The First

Posted on May 20, 2015 11:54AM

Posted by LauderBLOGGER

Our lives have many firsts. Some are big: first kiss, first paycheck, first car, first home. Some are smaller, almost too small to remember. They come and go without us really noticing. Maybe it was something like our first boat ride or our first bite of mushroom pizza or our first glass of red wine. Or whatever it might be. We likely don't recall those sorts of firsts. I always think human beings should experience lots and lots of firsts, some of them important firsts and some of them just minor moments that add to our existence. And so it was that I looked forward to a small but meaningful first in my own life - my first takeoff and first landing on the new runway at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.

Ok, sure, I admit it. Not a major first in the grand cosmic scheme, is it? Still, it was important to me because my Dania Beach condo isn't all that far from the airport. I lived through the huge construction project that brought us the brand new south runway, an unusual structure because it slopes upward toward the east directly above busy Federal Highway.

I had watched the backhoes and bulldozers, the massive mounds of earth and the concrete columns for many months. The 8,000-foot runway cost $719 million, a giant undertaking that disrupted traffic in the area - my area - for a long time. I feel a certain personal stake in this runway, in some odd sense. And so it was that I came to that first takeoff. And first landing. I've been doing a bit of traveling lately and my recent flight carried me toward North Carolina from the south runway. I actually could spot my own condo building as the jet lifted off, climbing into a clear sky before banking northward. When I came home, my flight landed on the same runway, with more airport construction visible to my left and a view of lush tropical South Florida to my right. At last I had experienced the south runway for myself. Yes, they were two small firsts in my life for sure. The departure and arrival weren't so very different in most ways from nearly all the other flight departures and arrivals of my life, beginning with my first flight from Cleveland to Detroit at age 12. That was a memorable first. In a way, though, this new first was memorable too. I'd never before taken off and landed on a runway that I watched workers build, piece by piece, chunk by chunk. A runway that carried me within eyeshot of my own home as I left Greater Fort Lauderdale. It was a reminder how far this community has come since I moved here in 1989, when FLL felt like a minor regional airport. FLL is minor no more. It also was a reminder how far I have still to travel in my own life, or so I hope - with many firsts still to come, both big and small. When I stop to think about it, I suppose, maybe there are no small firsts anyway. Every first is a big one.

May 19: Faraway Places

Posted on May 19, 2015 8:30AM

Posted by LauderBLOGGER

They call us the yachting capital of the world. Are we? Yes, we are. By "us," of course, I mean "Fort Lauderdale." And by "the world" I mean ... well, planet earth. Not just the yachting capital of the United States, mind you, or even North America. The world. And not in some exaggerated-ego sense either, like Leonardo DiCaprio's famous film line about being "king of the world." He wasn't, as his character soon discovered. But definitely, Fort Lauderdale is yachting capital of the world - exactly as advertised. For one thing, we hold the world's largest boat show each autumn. Everything from superyachts to kayaks to boating paraphernalia is spread out around the Fort Lauderdale beach area. To me, the boat show alone advances our claim to be yachting capital of the world.

But there's more to it than just this. All you have to do is look around to see why the claim is true. My own experience certainly tells me so. I've traveled to six continents and 52 countries so far, including yachting meccas such as Sydney and St. Tropez and Portofino. But I've never seen the sheer number of top-quality massive yachts as we have in Fort Lauderdale.

I was reminded of this just the other day when I decided on a whim to head out my condo door for a walk. With no particular idea where I was going, I wandered through my neighborhood in Dania Beach. Two marinas are within a few blocks of my place, one of them a large marina with some gorgeous yachts. Including superyachts, the largest of the large. Again by sheer whim, I ambled into the bigger marina for a quick walkaround. As I strolled down a wooden dock, I was struck by the places represented by some of those yachts. There was the Andiamo III from San Francisco and the Dzul Ha from Basseterre, St. Kitts and Nevis. There was the Current Obsession from Montreal and the Trikomo II from La Guaira, Venezuela. I walked past yachts from Hershey, PA and Annapolis, MD and Wilmington, DE. Oh, and two yachts from Bikini in the Marshall Islands - one of them called Change of Latitude. Do you know how far away the Marshall Islands are from Fort Lauderdale? Let me tell you just how far: 7,322 miles by plane. The whole earth is only 24,901 miles around so Bikini is way way off indeed. And why do all these yachts travel to Fort Lauderdale? Because we are truly the yachting capital of the world. Once you're here, you don't have to go very far to figure that out for yourself.


May 14: A Futuristic Look at Black History in Fort Lauderdale

Posted on May 18, 2015 6:37AM

Posted by Kitty Oliver - guest blogger

The African-American Research Library and Cultural Center (AARLCC) is taking a high-tech approach to introduce visitors to the history of the library with a new theme park-quality animatronics exhibit unveiled earlier this month.

Funded in partnership with the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau (GFLCVB), the exhibit will remain on permanent display in the library's entrance to the gallery which features revolving shows by artists from the African Diaspora. It is dedicated to Samuel F. Morrison as "a visionary" who helped to establish the AARLCC and enjoyed an illustrious 26-year career as Broward County Library Director.

Visitors will be greeted by a lifelike robotic of Samuel F. Morrison, the catalyst behind the creation of the library, one of Greater Fort Lauderdale's premier cultural attractions. A sensor activated by each passersby activates the animatronic which features Morrison sitting at the edge of his desk poised to tell the story of the library and the surrounding community. Morrison's pre-recorded narration, as well as realistic gestures were developed with technological precision based on digital head and body scans.

"The African-American Research Library and Cultural Center plays a valuable role in our tourism initiatives and the cultural life of the African-American community and we see this endeavor as further expanding our commitment and support," said Albert Tucker, vice president for Multicultural Business Development for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention & Visitors Bureau.

The new display promises to become a must-see attraction for the thousands of multicultural visitors flocking to Greater Fort Lauderdale this summer for major events including the annual conference of the National Urban League and the American Tennis Association's 98th Annual Conference and Championships and Family Reunion Fun. For those who have visited the AARLCC in the past, the new Morrison robotic warrants another trip. 

May 13: Looking Ahead

Posted on May 13, 2015 1:30PM

Posted by LauderBLOGGER

Hey, I love spontaneity as much as the next guy. But sometimes planning helps. I mean a spontaneous question such as, "Why don't we stop here for ice cream?" will get me every time. No need at all for any advance plans. Or even things like, "Wanna go to the park for a while?" or "Maybe we should do the Bonnet House again today!" or "I'm feeling like an airboat ride in the Everglades. Whattya think?" All those and many many more questions will get me motivated to head out the door. (Or in the door, I guess, if it's that ice cream shop ... ) All this to offer a simple suggestion, especially for out-of-towners thinking about a possible June trip to Greater Fort Lauderdale. There's a big and very cool music festival from June 19 - 21 right in the heart of downtown Fort Lauderdale - get your tickets now.

Or soon anyway. It's called "Lauderdale Live," and continues this community's run of big-name outdoor music fests in recent years. You may remember that the Tortuga Music Festival played to sold out crowds on the Fort Lauderdale beach just a few weeks ago. (Blake Shelton already is booked as one of the headliners for 2016, by the way.)

Now comes Lauderdale Live. Another biggie. And so you may ask, "Big, like, who?" How about big, like, Phillip Phillips, who had a platinum-selling album and the huge single, "Home"? How about O.A.R., with their eight studio albums to date and packed live concerts at places such as Madison Square Garden? Not bad, eh? Other acts includes Sister Hazel and Ben Rector, Kris Allen and Luke Wade - and the entertainingly named New Orleans funk band, Dumpstaphunk. Among others. Good times will be had by all in attendance, guaranteed. So then, back to this advance planning issue. Now that you might like to go to Lauderdale Live, you'll want to explore buying tickets. Do that at this link: http://www.lauderdalelivemusic.com. It even can save you money on festival tickets if you book at one of the hotels included on the Lauderdale Live website. Still plenty of time, of course, but then again ... Well, it's like I said. This party should draw some big crowds and there's no sense risking a sellout that keeps you outside looking in. Nope, you'd rather be inside looking out. Because inside is the best place to be at huge music festivals like Lauderdale Live. Inside is the best place to be at ice cream shops too - no tickets required.

May 11: A Good Start

Posted on May 11, 2015 10:47AM

Posted by LauderBLOGGER

Sometimes it just all looks so beautiful. For me, South Florida seemed that way this morning as I took a long drive south along A1A. Even before the drive, usually annoying things like leafblowers didn't feel so annoying somehow. Have you ever had the experience? If so, you won't forget it. One of those mornings where everything appears fresh and vibrant and alive. Because you feel more alive in some way - or maybe you just feel more glad to be alive. It might happen to you after an especially wonderful night. Or after an especially bad one. Then dawn arrives and with it the brightness and the warmth. And yes, all that beauty.

As I drove in my Mini Cooper, sunroof and windows open, the humid air felt pleasant on my face, almost comforting. The traffic was what traffic often is in South Florida, a bit frenetic, a bit chaotic, distracted drivers everywhere. I suppose traffic is the same in most urban areas these days, isn't it? But on this morning, this welcoming morning, I mostly shrugged off the bad driving and paid attention to the sunshine. And the sky.

The sky was a pastel blue, the summery blue we get when the humidity comes, with wads of white clouds bunched here and there. In the distance, vast bulky columns of blue-black storm clouds towered - not menacing to me on this morning but dark and robust. And beautiful. I stopped briefly in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea for a coffee and doughnut breakfast before heading off again. When I got to the northern end of the Fort Lauderdale beach, I drove through puddles left over from the rain that had come and gone there. The cars in front of me spattered my windshield with spray. I didn't mind. I could see that the ocean had cleared after the brief storm, colored all teal closer in and a rich deep aqua farther out. I noticed that frothy tips of waves popped up on the sea in the distance, small whitecaps reflected in the sunlight, as foam breakers rolled onto the beach. The sky was mostly blue again by now, with only the faintest wisps of white visible, and then soon I was passing over the impressive bridge near Port Everglades and on south from there past the airport with the vividly painted planes gleaming on the tarmac. And I couldn't help feeling grateful for the drive, for the lovely lovely morning. Another busy work week would begin for me in a few minutes as I neared home. This had been a good start.

May 7: In Appreciation

Posted on May 7, 2015 2:02PM

Posted by LauderBLOGGER

Let's start by saying, "Thank you." Thank you for visiting Greater Fort Lauderdale ... or for living here, whether full-time or part-time. To which I only can add, "You're welcome!" Because I'm among those who live here full-time and spend my money on food and beverage and attractions locally. Sometimes even on local hotels for those great staycations. I am a tourist in my own adopted hometown. It's a fab place to be a tourist, as you know. Otherwise, you wouldn't be reading this - you already love the Fort Lauderdale area, as I do. And that brings me right back to those opening two words, "Thank you." Why? Because it's National Travel and Tourism Week, that's why.

And because Today, Thursday, May 7, the folks who run this very website held their annual thank you party, wearing red to show support for tourism. When visitors inject $11.4 billion into the Greater Fort Lauderdale economy, there's a lot to be thankful for. And that's exactly what visitors did last year, a figure that doesn't include us local tourists of course.

In this part of the world, tourism isn't just a nice seasonal income jump for business. It's the throbbing heart of our economy, season after season, year in and year out. In 2014, more than 14 million tourists stayed and played in Greater Fort Lauderdale. Wow. And one more figure: Tourism employs 168,000 people in this county alone. So most definitely a hale and hearty "Thank you!" is in order as National Travel and Tourism Week continues. Thank you for making South Florida your escape, your sanity. We all need an escape now and then - you're not alone. South Florida's about as good as escapes get. An escape from whatever or whomever may drive you a little nuts from time to time. In a way, this week is a thank you to those whatevers and whomevers, I suppose. So "Thank you" to the lousy winter weather up north. And "Thank you" to the unreasonable and unappreciative bosses that seem the norm these days. "Thank you" to the Internet for making work a 24/7 drain on the energy of so many employees - and "Thank you" to social media for ensuring that moments not consumed with online work are spent socializing online. "Thank you" to the traffic jams and "Thank you" to the distracted drivers doing their work or social media in the middle of those traffic jams. The list of possible thank yous is endless in our fragmented frantic society. They are the reasons you come to Greater Fort Lauderdale and employ 168,000 folks and spend $11.4 billion. We are your warm, inviting, sunny tropical getaway from all of that. And you know what? When you think about that list, all the weather and bosses and Internet and traffic and the rest of it ... well, $11.4 billion doesn't sound like such an extravagant sum to spend on vacations. Actually, it sounds like a bargain.

May 4: Fragrant Florida

Posted on May 4, 2015 8:42AM

Posted by LauderBLOGGER

They are in season now - not something special to eat, but something special to sniff. If you're near that something special any time in the next few weeks, you'll know it. Locally we call this "frangipani," though the plant has more than one name. Other folks call it plumeria or even the Hawaiian Lei Flower. Yep, they do often make leis out of frangipani flowers. The trees are so pretty in bloom and so remarkably fragrant that they're worth scouting out for a look. And a good close sniff. You see, South Florida has a thing for frangipani trees. You find them in many gardens, both residential gardens and commercial gardens. Around houses, around apartment and condo buildings. Around office complexes and hotels.

The frangipani is a peculiar plant, despite its popularity. Much of the year, this smallish spindly tree looks anything but lovely. Devoid of leaves, it kind of just sits in your lawn doing nothing at all, more dead-seeming than alive. But it's not dead. It's amazing.

That's the surprising appeal of the frangipani. About this time of spring each year, it explodes to life. First, the green leaves followed soon after by the flowers, those small white and yellow blossoms tinged in a delicate pink. They're gorgeous. And as you stop to admire the blooms, you begin to notice the scent too. Sweet and powerful as a stick of incense, the trees give off a delightful aroma that draws you toward it. If I pass a nearby frangipani tree when out for a walk, I usually can't resist pausing to sniff a flower or two. I carefully pull a branch down toward my nose and inhale directly from the blossom, literally stopping to smell the flowers. I highly recommend it. Because these remarkable trees don't stay remarkable-looking and remarkable-smelling for long. I've read online information about frangipani that says the flowers last all summer but that's not my experience. They always seem to be around for a month or so in South Florida, a relatively brief moment before the leaves fall and the blossoms disappear and the bare branches sit doing nothing again. Other trees and bushes bloom at various times throughout the year in South Florida, of course, turning our landscape into a perpetual tropical garden. The name, "Florida," actually comes from the Spanish word for flowers. But somehow, the frangipani stands out for me. Every spring it's a reminder, proving how patience pays and how concealed real beauty often can be. I think the frangipani is like many things in life - something special is there, hidden within. To find it, all you really have to do is wait.

Apr 29: You, VIP

Posted on April 29, 2015 1:14PM

Posted by LauderBLOGGER

You deserve it. The best, the finest. The VIP treatment. Because you work hard all year long and you take care of things and you take care of people too. Because you are responsible and reliable, paying attention to small details and trying to make things the best they can be. At work, at home. And because you care about your friends and your family and because you try to give to them more often than you take. Admit it. You really do work at life pretty hard - harder than anyone knows, probably. Sounds like you, right? Yes, I'm guessing that it does. Fortunately, there's something in the way of a reward waiting for you starting this Friday.

Oh yeah ... From May 1 all the way through October 12, you can vacation like a VIP in Greater Fort Lauderdale. Which is why the annual promotion is called, "Vacation Like a VIP." And it allows you all sorts of feel-good upgrades and high-end stuff appropriate to your VIP status.

Vacation Like a VIP means you can stay at some of the top hotels in South Florida with a free room upgrade and free parking. And a $100 resort credit for things such as golf or a spa treatment or food and beverage. Even kids activities, assuming your kids qualify as VIPs of course. Heh-heh, just kidding ... As far as Vacation Like a VIP is concerned, you and your whole family qualify for the next few months. In addition to the resort niceties, you also get a $25 American Express gift card, complimentary valet parking at the upscale The Colonnade Outlets at Sawgrass Mills along with a complimentary glass of Prosecco for two at Villagio Ristorante. Besides all this, Vacation Like a VIP hands you a Summer Savings 2-for-1 card worth $200. All you have to do is stay for at least two nights at one of these 10 amazing resorts. For instance, the Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale or W Fort Lauderdale. Or maybe Hyatt Regency Pier Sixty-Six or the Pillars Hotel. Or ... Well, you can check out the full list at this link: http://www.sunny.org/vip. Any of them would be worthy of your exalted stature. You know, being the VIP you are. Or the VIP you should be anyway. Folks like you simply don't get the appreciation you're entitled to, with all that hard working and attention paying and care taking throughout the year. Vacation Like a VIP is a chance to take matters into your own hands, finally getting some of the proper respect. The world may not give you what you deserve very often. But that doesn't mean you can't give it to yourself.