On the Beach

Dredge Up a New One

Strolling the beach in south Broward used to be a really short walk. Hurricanes, high winds, and old-fashioned erosion had turned much of Dania, Hollywood, and Hallandale beaches into little more than narrow ribbons of seaweed-strewn sand. There was hardly enough room to stretch out and catch some rays, much less play a spirited game of paddleball.

Now comes the Broward County Beach Renourishment project. This $41 million undertaking involves dredging sand from offshore onto 38 miles of Broward beaches, making many of them wide enough for the Dolphins -- those guys who play football -- to use as a scrimmage field. According to Broward county officials and Great Lakes Dredge and Dock Co., the outfit that's doing the dredging, the biggest benefit is protection for our beaches during hurricanes.

Red-light District
Red-light District
Immortal Fritters
Colby Katz
Immortal Fritters

A few days after Katrina had passed us by, the 'Pipe put on his flip-flops and rolled along the beach with Dr. Hal Wanless, the chair of geological sciences at the University of Miami, to scope out the damage done to the newly restored beach in Hallandale Beach. How did refurbished Broward hold up?

In some places, the impact was obvious. Parts of the beach had eroded by ten feet or more, giving the shoreline a jagged, hacked-up look. The good-natured professor immediately got down on his knees and began scooping up handfuls of the recently dredged sand.

"It doesn't look too fine at first," says Wanless, an expert on beach formation. "You think, 'Hey, this is real nice sand. '" Then he brings a handful close to his face. The sand is still dark gray from its days on the floor of the briny deep. "The problem is that much of this sand is too fine to stay on the beach -- which is why it was offshore in the first place."

Swirling tides turn the beachfront into a giant prospector's pan, washing away the finer stuff and leaving the gnarlier grains on the beach. The refurbished areas now have sand that came from the relative calm of offshore. "A lot of these bigger pieces have never seen surf action before," Wanless says. "So what happens when they get pinged around on the beach?"

He presses one of the bigger shell fragments between two fingers to demonstrate surf action. It disintegrates like sugar in water. "In a storm, this is just going to blow away," he says.

It was obvious last week that a good chunk of it already had.

"The real problem is that this sand is not of the right quality," Wanless says. "It's like anything else you buy. If you buy a crappy appliance, it's going to break and you're going to end up spending more in the long run. It's the same thing with sand." So where do you shop for the good stuff? Try the Bahamas, Wanless says, or topsoil in Florida wildernesses.

Why didn't the 'Pipe think of that?

Immortal Fritters

Art Teele may be dead, but his Bahamian conch fritters are destined to live on. The Miami city commissioner's suicide came too late to prevent Real Men Cook, a collection of lip-smackin' recipes culled from prominent African-American alpha males across the nation, from including his contribution. While Teele may have died under a dark cloud, his culinary legacy is preserved, along with scores of Real Men's kitchen concoctions, so that, says editor K. Kogi Moyo, we may continue to "look up to them as role models for generations to come." Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, the keynote speaker at last year's Democratic National Convention, lauds the book as "not only a collection of great recipes but a chance to meet the hearts of the great men behind them."

Teele's method for frittering the gastropod mollusk -- involving diced celery, Scotch bonnet peppers, and a tablespoon of fresh thyme -- is the second recipe in the 180-page tome, just after Andrew J. Williams' instructions for braised beef tenderloin. Teele's conch recipe makes 50 golden-brown fritters.

Someone's over in the kitchen right now, frying up a batch. That you, Jim DeFede?

Red-light District

In the late '90s, British entrepreneur and "virtual prospector" Stuart Lawley made millions providing services that allowed small companies in Europe to set up websites. Then, in 2001, Lawley did what every other self-made millionaire seems to do: He bought a mansion in South Florida.

After settling into his new $5.9 million digs in northern Palm Beach County, Lawley became president and chairman of Jupiter-based ICM Registry. The company's sole focus was to create and manage an .xxx extension on the Internet. Instead of using the .com or .net extension, adult companies could voluntarily use the .xxx label, making it easier for consumers (and concerned parents) to know when the computer was heading toward X-rated content. The tag would take the ambiguity right out of sites like, say, bigjugs.xxx.

"The .xxx extension allows for the development of responsible business practices [in the adult industry] and steps up the battle on child pornography," Lawley's business partner, Jason Hendeles, tells the 'Pipe. (Lawley was out of the country and unavailable for comment.)

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