Category: "hometown"

artful Miami

12/11/17 08:36

Saturday morning we drove to Miami through intermittent showers. The rain must have dissuaded some art lovers, as the traffic on Biscayne Blvd. was fairly light, and we found a parking space – in the lot of Trinity Cathedral – without a problem. Twenty dollars for my church.

We sat in the car until a squall passed, then walked with umbrellas to Art Miami, a huge tent that had been set up on the site of the old Herald building. Inside, we waited with other damp people for about 25 minutes. At 11 am we were all let loose.

We stayed three hours and didn’t see everything. The Koreans had a large presence, with some brilliant artists who, like many on display, demonstrated a playful sense of humor. A few of the patrons were as interesting as some of the paintings, while  taking themselves much more seriously. Even the window looking onto Biscayne Bay – its causeways, its cruise ships, its condos – had the look of a canvas, showing the scene in a rare watery grey. Even I couldn’t help but think it was a view too good for journalists.  

For lunch we drove – again surprisingly easily – up Biscayne Blvd. to the Design District. While consuming our vaca frita and black beans and rice at Estafan Kitchen, we listened to a pianist who, during his break, was replaced by black-and-white videos of old Latin stars. Afterwards, we walked the streets, passing art lovers and construction workers. Two people stood at a streetside information desk.

 “When is this district going to be finished?” I asked the young man.

 “Who knows?” he said. “Perhaps it will be the Sagrada Familia of Miami.”

By Thomas Swick • Category: hometown

to market

11/13/17 10:02

We found ourselves in Hollywood Saturday morning and decided to check out the Yellow Green Farmer's Market, which we hadn’t seen since its opening a few years back. Then it was a hot, half-empty hangar off of I-95.

A line-up of cars slowly made its way into the nearly packed parking lot. After finding a space, we walked into the Italian Depot, stocked with freshly baked ciabatta, olive oils, pastas, including our favorite, Le Veneziane corn pasta, at about half the price we’d been paying for it.   

Stands were set up outside the main building, scenting the air with Venezuelan barbecue and Thai satays. Inside we found a bustling hall, part farmers’ market, part ethnic bazaar. It was a microcosm of South Florida: Peruvian ceviche, Honduran street food, Cuban sandwiches, Mexican tacos, Colombian arepas, Brazilian acai, West Indian hot sauces, Ethopian injera, Greek gyros. We found rustic round loaves of delicious gluten-free bread, Louisiana gumbo, smoked fish dip, healthy juices, pastries that looked like fancy soaps. It confirmed my belief, stated three years ago in Fort Lauderdale Magazine, that Broward is more ethnically diverse than Dade. It was exactly the kind of market I try to find when I travel to other cities, and I was amazed to discover that it has existed for years 10 minutes from my home. Why aren’t people talking about this place?

By Thomas Swick • Category: hometown

Out for a beat-the-sun walk at 6:30. My body still hasn't adjusted to the time change. Headed out of the complex into the hood, where the only early riser of the four-legged kind seemed to be the cat Spanky. (If I lived with a Doberman I too would be out of the house pronto.) Back on the island, I passed another walker, a middle-aged woman. I looked at her, but she kept her gaze straight ahead, ignoring my presence. Halfway around, I passed her again and this time I said "hello." Nothing. I thought of the Saturday last month in Nashville when a young jogger had wished me a good morning. Here I can't even get a nod from a neighbor. 

By Thomas Swick • Category: hometown

There was a good crowd at Savor Cinema last night for the Estonian film The Spy and the Poet. What is it about film festivals? We'll go over on a Friday evening, for a French or Spanish movie, and be about the only people in the audience. Or do the residents of Fort Lauderdale have a heretofore unrecognized interest in Baltic cinema?

Admittedly, a number of the people in attendance were speaking Estonian. I spoke to one couple, who had escaped their homeland after World War II. The Russian occupation was so horrific, they said, that people had been happy to see the Germans.

The film, set in contemporary Tallinn, included a number of Russian spies.

By Thomas Swick • Category: hometown

Fort Lauderdale's Day of the Dead, under the leadership of Jim Hammond (he of The Lion King), gets better every year, as last night demonstrated. Though it has certain built-in advantages over celebrations in other parts of the country. There is the weather, which makes it extremely agreeable to be outside the first week of November, and there is the added pleasure of seeing women in long dresses, and men in morning coats, in the city of T-shirts and shorts.

By Thomas Swick • Category: hometown

Hurricanes always remind me what a tree lover I am. Perhaps it’s because, since college, I’ve lived in cities, where they seem more precious because of their scarcity. In South Florida they’re not rare, but those that aren’t palms – which a Midwestern friend of mine could never accept as legitimate trees – are often imported. Even some of the fruit bearing ones we think of as indigenous.

I live on a man-made island on the New River that contains six condos of five stories each and an eclectic collection of trees, a few of them as tall as the buildings. These last few days I’ve looked at them with a kind of pre-wistfulness. The reason there are so few tall trees in this part of the country – apart from the flexible palms – is that they don’t survive hurricanes. And I’ve tried to console myself with the knowledge that they are not native, and that a post-Category 5 landscape would be, for all its bareness and brightness (the former Herald reporter Michael Browning, writing his first story after Andrew, began with the words: “There is too much sky.”) a more authentic South Florida landscape. But I would still dearly miss the trees.

By Thomas Swick • Category: hometown