Thank God for local news anchors. When the world is cold and alien, they brighten us up with an artificial smile and a sterile quip, carefully stripped of any edge or actual humor. WFOR-TV (Channel 4)'s Angela Rae is our best friend. WSVN-TV (Channel 7)'s Rick Sanchez is our idealized version of a real man -- big and, uh, shameless. Tim Malloy is -- wait a second. Malloy's definitely not our best friend. He's not big either. He's a little wooden, even kind of geeky. Deadpan stare, steady delivery. His "happy talk" isn't all that happy. He doesn't jump out of his seat when a story breaks. Malloy doesn't want us to like him; he just wants to tell us the news. He doesn't try to hype a story or dose it with some sort of forced humanity; and that's precisely why we believe him. The man has credibility because he knows that news, like revenge, is best served cold.
Broward Center for the Performing Arts
Keith Douglas
The Sunrise Musical Theatre is more spacious, the Carefree in West Palm Beach more intimate, and, for that matter, West Palm's Kravis Center has comparable facilities. So what makes the Broward Center so special? Location, location, location. No other South Florida venue has a site as well integrated into its surroundings as this two-theater complex perched on the north bank of the New River near Sailboat Bend, with views magnificent enough to make Fort Lauderdale seem impressively urban. The building and grounds are snazzily designed, and the facilities -- the 2700-seat Au-Rene Theater and the cozy, 590-seat Amaturo Theater -- are versatile enough to handle all sorts of concerts and theatrical productions -- from Steve and Eydie to David Copperfield to Rent. Within minutes a leisurely stroll along the Riverwalk will take you to the bustling new Las Olas Riverfront center, with its restaurants, bars, shops, and movie megaplex, or you could opt for the row of smaller, funkier restaurants that are contributing to the rejuvenation of SW Second Street. And if you're fortunate or flashy enough to be arriving by water, you can dock your boat on the river and head up the hill to the Broward Center.
Beauty, brains, cash, and a career. That's what we're looking for, right? All rolled into one package, without hang-ups or "issues"? Surely that kind of catch was lurking somewhere on the dance floor at the recent "Howl at the Moon" bash, one of a series of themed fundraising parties sponsored by the Young Professionals For Covenant House (YPFCH), a nonprofit organization that raises money for the home for runaway teens. The "Howl" bash had the feel of a house party thrown by somebody with interesting friends. The age range was twenties to midthirties, the dress business-casual, the music made for boogying, the dance floor full. Conversation was mainly of the light-bantering, flirtatious variety, but you could find a serious debate or discussion if you wanted. Judging by the business cards being handed out, the organization could as well be named "Young and Hungry Professionals For Covenant House." YPFCH also sponsors some cool vacation packages throughout the year, such as the upcoming Young Professionals Ski Trip (March 25 to April 2) and the Lost at Sea Weekend Bahamas Cruise (September 24 to 27). An extra benefit: One tends to feel less guilty about partying up a storm when it's all for charity.

The main function of weathercasters in South Florida is reassurance. We want them to remind us again and again -- every single night, in fact -- just how lucky we are to be living in this slice of sunbaked paradise. On top of that, we want them to spell out in explicit detail exactly how horrible the weather is in every other godforsaken part of the world: tornadoes in Oklahoma, mudslides in India, earthquakes in California. We want somebody who is enthusiastic about the weather, a cheerleader for our good fortune. (Never mind the occasional hurricane.) Chris Dunn, Channel 7's weekend weatherman, fits the bill. He's goofy in a likable way. With big, bushy eyebrows, a fleshy face, and reddish hair, Dunn moves about the weather map with barely controlled glee. He's just the kind of weather geek we need.
Hemingway had the right idea. Key West is paradise in the state of Florida. As long as you avoid the tourist madness of lower Duval Street, the place is pure Caribbean-style bliss. A four-hour drive in the middle of the ocean is a small price to pay for the regenerative powers of a weekend with no worries, mon. Find a little gingerbread inn on a lushly shrouded side street. Rent a bike (they're available on every corner) and bump down the cobblestones to the beach, or the bar (we like the Blue Parrot or Hog's Breath Saloon), or the drag show at Diva's. Even the testosterone-fueled frat party at Sloppy Joe's doesn't annoy us. Still, we'd probably avoid the Hemingway Hammer, the hot-pink frozen goo that is Joe's special. Key West is best experienced faceup in the sunshine, not facedown in the porcelain.
When reading the dailies, we rarely go to the jump page. That's because we get the basics -- the who, what, when, and where -- in the first 'graph or two. The rest is dueling talking heads. But some daily reporters are talented enough to slip their "voices" into an edited story. When Stacey Singer writes, we go to the jump. She's no beat reporter; she covers everything from boiler-room scams to Christmas tree purchases to recalls of baby products. She caught our eye a year ago when she wrote about her experiences as a temporary crew member aboard the Endeavour, a replica of an 18th-century Australian ship, which stopped in West Palm Beach. Six months later she was sloshing through Hurricane Georges' floodwaters along the Gulf Coast, surveying a four-state landscape, providing details on the damage done to homes, businesses, animals, and people's lives. "Under spitting afternoon skies," she wrote, "Gail Harvey, 59, took a fishing boat back and forth to her house to retrieve valuables, including the woodcarvings her deceased father had made." Details make the difference in reporting, and those a reporter chooses say something about who she is. The woodcarvings stuck with us, as do many of the tidbits of info and the imagery (such as winds twisting "gas station roofs as if they were tinfoil") Singer provides. Her eye for detail makes her not just a good reporter, but a fine writer too.
A yellow road-sign hanging from a tree warns "Butterfly Crossing," and the traffic is indeed intense. Dozens of yellow-and-black-striped zebras and classic monarch butterflies swoop, golden sulphurs hover high above, and orange julias flit about the garden that wraps around building contractor Ralph Johnson's Fort Lauderdale home. More than a year ago, Johnson and a friend, Bonnie Campbell, began courting butterflies. They sought books and seminars to find out which plants -- including cassia, milkweed, passion vine, and the wine-stained Dutchman's pipe -- attract the delicate creatures. Now Johnson and Campbell have their own photo album that tracks caterpillars through the pupa stage to full-blown butterflies and a log in which they've noted 13 species that have paid them a visit and as many as 70 sightings in the garden at one time. Johnson talks about putting together a guide to cultivating butterflies in South Florida and recently gave an impromptu instructional tour to a stranger who drove into his driveway and asked for his secret. He is already offering seedlings to his neighbors, sprinkling pollenlike fairy dust in the hope of creating a block-long private Butterfly World.
It's a suitably ironic commentary on the dismal state of so much South Florida architecture that the most striking piece of work around is this gloriously gratuitous bit of design from the world-renowned firm of Arquitectonica, which has offices in Miami. Built a decade ago, this marble-and-ceramic "stairway to nowhere" flies in the face of the notion that form should follow function in architecture. It's a flashy construction of geometric shapes fashioned from bright, shiny blue and red tiles and a checkerboard slab of gray marble, assembled with steps and railings to suggest a Jetsons-style confluence of the '50s and futurism. The overall effect is that of a sort of deranged el train station, and the punch line is that, once you ascend the stairs, there's nowhere to go -- the walkways extending from the stairs into the terminal lead to nonexistent train tracks. The structure is a piece of pure absurdist eye candy.

Those are Ben Franklins you smell in the lobby of the Chesterfield Hotel. Crisp and tightly packed in a gold money clip, placed neatly inside the interior pocket of a pinstriped suit jacket. The portly gentleman wearing the suit saunters, Dominican in hand, toward the dark-wood-and-brass bar at the hotel restaurant, the Leopard Lounge. Two dignified middle-aged women with martinis ("Very dry, please") chat at small, low-to-the-ground cocktail tables by the dance floor. A three-piece band croons Sinatra tunes. The portly man with the Dominican smiles at the women and does a two-step past them. Were it not for the friendly bartenders, the live swing and dance music, and the nudes painted on the ceiling in swirls of red and white, the Leopard Lounge might at first glance appear to be too austere a place for even the bluest of blue bloods among us. But since it opened about ten years ago, the Leopard has been real money's top choice for a drink. Yes, there are celebrities: Alan King, Phyllis Diller -- even Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown (when he's not in jail or rehab). But they're bourgeois. Real money is invisible, because real money doesn't boast. And the Leopard Lounge is high society, where discussions of money -- greenbacks, moolah, cash, dough, shekels, secret accounts in the Cayman Islands -- are considered gauche. So if you start chatting with someone at the Leopard Lounge, just assume he or she has more money than God. Or you. And let him or her pick up the tab.
Park your butt on the whitewashed concrete railing on either side of the 11th Avenue bridge, gaze out over the north fork of the New River, and squint. If the sun's low in the sky to the west of Sailboat Bend, and you clamp your lids down just enough to add a blurry sepia tone to the scene, you can imagine that it's 1925. Movies cost a nickel. Kids don't sass their mamas, and small bridges are cranked open and closed by hand. Be patient. It shouldn't take more than a few minutes for a boater to hail the bridge and ask to pass. Then the bridge tender will sound a bell and drop the stop arms. He'll walk to the center of the 48-foot span, poke the business end of an L-shaped handle into a hole in the steel-mesh roadway, and put his back into it, walking the crank in a circle like a pony harnessed to a grist mill. The bridge will swing parallel to the river channel, allowing boats to pass on either side. No motor, no noise, no hurry. Just like the old days. The Snow-Reed (named for two former Fort Lauderdale mayors) is the only metal-truss swing bridge operating in South Florida. Bridge junkies will surely appreciate its rim-bearing pivot design featuring eight rollers and a centrally located wheel. The rest of us will marvel at how smoothly the bridge carves a lazy arc after 74 years and be glad we don't have to crank it open and closed 20 times a day.

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