Say what you will about West Palm Beach's Mayor Nancy Graham. She's a tad cold. She's unresponsive to her constituents. She's out of town a lot, visiting foreign dignitaries and discovering the virtues of Italian architecture. And she's hardly the most photogenic of Palm Beach County politicians -- that honor goes to the stunning Palm Beach County Commissioner Karen Marcus. But take a look at Graham's city. Within the last decade, she's been instrumental in transforming downtown West Palm Beach from a crime-ridden, drug-infested neighborhood where nobody wanted to shop, much less sit down for a cup of coffee, into a family-friendly strip of bars and restaurants, coffeehouses, and weekly outdoor music festivals. With West Palm's latest improvement project, CityPlace, under way, the best is yet to come. But, alas, Graham decided not to run for reelection, and she'll soon be leaving office. Her vision and influence, though, will surely outlive her career in city politics. Unless, of course, the economy goes sour.
Remember William Martin, the guy with the Palm Beach mansion and the Rolls-Royce and the beautiful daughters? The guy who told everybody he was a Harvard-educated psychiatrist who once worked for the CIA? The guy who married a succession of society ladies and told his daughters their mother died in a car crash? The guy who, for almost two decades had been living a great, big, complicated lie? For sheer audacity we think Martin, whose real name is Stephen Fagan, deserves this award. After all, his tidy little scandal shook hallowed, oh-so-proper Palm Beach, a place that had been itching for a good scandal. Fagan, who was extradited back to Boston last spring to stand trial on charges he kidnapped his daughters from the mother they believed dead, brought the national spotlight back to the underbelly of Palm Beach. Once again the world came to see that nothing is as it seems behind the island's squared shrubs and brick walls.

The fountain honoring Huizenga is happening for two reasons: The trash-and-car king has thrown some of his vast wealth (Forbes estimates it at $1.6 billion) into Fort Lauderdale, and Fort Lauderdale's Downtown Development Authority (DDA) doesn't want the green stuff to stop coming. Huizenga has given millions to charities, including the new homeless shelter, the Boys & Girls Clubs, and the Broward Center For the Performing Arts, and he certainly has the pockets to give more. So what do you give the man who has everything? A piece of immortality -- an honor that the DDA no doubt believes will produce a fountain of cash in return.
It was half past ten on that dark night in September, and most of Broward County was hunkered behind locked doors, awaiting the expected onslaught of Hurricane Georges. As the winds brought the first sheets of rain ashore, a skinny, raggedy figure stood alone on the median of Broward Boulevard. He was dressed in a jacket and ball cap, and in his hand was a newspaper. "How ya doin' there. Paper for ya?" he greeted the driver of the only car in sight. "What paper?" the driver wanted to know. "Today's paper," the man replied, grinning wryly through the rain. "Late edition." As if it mattered; as always, the man was already sliding the paper onto the dashboard. "Hey, wait, I don't have any change on me," the driver countered. "And what the hell are you doing here anyway? There's a hurricane coming." The man stepped back: "Don't worry 'bout it. Got papers to sell, ya know. Take care of me next time." Thus Richard Ferris, nighttime news-hawker of Broward Boulevard and Federal Highway, concluded another successful sale.

Sweaty and sunburned from jostling with the trendoids and tourists on East Las Olas Boulevard? Then duck into the doorway between Indigo and Golden Lyon marked "Riverside Hotel." Walk down the dark hallway, past the pay phones and gift shop, and through the glass double doors. Select your choice of daily newspaper from the rack on your right: the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and of course the Miami Herald and the Sun-Sentinel. Now plop yourself down in one of the comfortable flower-print chairs. Soak up the air conditioning and quiet. Laugh at the fireplace adorning each end of the room. Much better.
Your first inclination will be to pick some private, out-of-the-way spot. Forget it! Hell hath no fury like a lover dumped, and what you're gonna want are lots of witnesses around in case things get bloody. Sawgrass Mills has a fine security force and 100,000 shoppers on any given day. Therefore, park your car near the Pink Flamingo entrance, tuck yourself behind a table at the center of 15 restaurants and 270 stores, order a sober glass of carrot juice and speak calmly: "Chris, I think we need to talk."

Good ol' Edgar. He's always there for us, perched on a railing. He's just one of the 43 species that inhabit the aviary for injured birds at Flamingo Gardens. When it first opened, in 1991, Edgar was the first tenant; now he's the welcoming party. But you have to get the conversation going. Michael Ruggieri, director of animals, says that fish crows like Edgar are born mimics. Repeat something a few times, and they'll respond. We've heard Edgar utter "hi," but he also says "hello," "what ya' doin'" and "good morning." His fellow tenants, which include 14 species of wading birds, have it pretty good: They live rent-free in a place divided into five South Florida ecosystems, and their healthy offspring are taught to hunt, then let loose in the wild. Visitors have it good, too. Aside from the aviary, Flamingo Gardens offers gardens, a mini zoo, and fruit, including the tangelo, a hybrid of tangerine and grapefruit invented by Floyd Wray, who started the operation with his wife, Jane, in 1925. When Jane passed away, her will set aside 60 acres for preservation, and the not-for-profit Flamingo Gardens has remained faithful, hosting 30,000 schoolkids and 100,000 visitors every year. That's a lot of hellos, but Edgar's happy to oblige.
"Chris, I think we need to talk." That's all you say on the phone. When Chris shows up, you're waiting in the Pier Top with a bottle of Dom Perignon and a view of nighttime Fort Lauderdale that's second to none. Tiny bubbles, twinkly lights. "I was a fool," you say. Later, feeling as suave as Julio Iglesias, you might point out that the Pier Top Lounge revolves once every 66 minutes. "Everything comes full circle, Chris. Especially love."

Not even a pane of glass separates those inside Nick's from the action on the Broadwalk just outside. The windows swing in and anchor to the ceiling, leaving large openings in the stone façade. All the better to spy on the parade of exercisers speed walking, teenagers cruising, couples courting, babies wailing, condo commandos conferring, Canadian snowbirds squishing in Aquasox, tourists sweating in rented pedicabs. Peer past them to the sun-addled die-hards blackening on the beach, then adjust your pupils to the worn nautical interior and peel a few spicy, beer-steamed shrimp and slurp a daiquiri. Patience. If you sit here long enough, it seems, every demographic and nationality will make an appearance. Yet despite this variety, a lack of pretension or even self-consciousness binds the passersby into a single stream.

Say you just had your hair done. Ten minutes ago. If you're a man, you had it frosted. Or cut short and brushed forward à la George Clooney. Your hair matters less if you're a woman. Because you're wearing something tight. And black. If it's Saturday night, you hope to catch a glimpse of Donald Trump. Or Jenny McCarthy. Or Yanni. (OK, no one cares about Yanni.) So you wait in line with the rest of the riffraff, while the beautiful people stroll past in the VIP line. Sunrise 251 is in its first full year of operation, so it's bound to be crowded. Here's a hint: Tell the bouncer you're friends with Stephen Heise, the bar's self-described "fun manager" and the owner's older brother. That's who Trump et al. call when they plan to swing by. Then pay the $5 cover -- no problem if you're part of the well-heeled, 25-to-55-year-old jet set that frequents Palm Beach's newest nighttime hot spot. Strut past the dance floor, wind toward the bar past the handsome folks on their cell phones, and buy yourself a bottled beer. Do not -- again, do not -- light up a cigar. That's so '98. Now check your posture. All right, you've arrived.

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