Less than eight months ago, Thomas Abrams was the toast of the town, raking in millions as a big, swinging financier and earning respect and admiration for his foundation, which he claimed provided millions for impoverished children. Then in October, the day before he was to host a $25,000-a-plate fundraiser at the Breakers, organizers had to tell the likes of Dan Marino, Eunice Shriver, and Buzz Aldrin that the gala was off. Instead of spending the weekend at the five-star resort regaling celebrities with unsubstantiated claims that he created the X-Men comic book hero Wolverine and played fullback for the Miami Hurricanes, the man who managed 260 accounts worth $6 million from his lavish Fort Lauderdale office was busy. Seems the FBI wanted to talk to him about evidence that showed he had bilked elderly investors out of more than $20 million. Six weeks later, Abrams was arrested and charged with six counts of wire fraud, six counts of mail fraud, and three counts of money laundering. Unable to get his hands on bank accounts the feds froze, the 39-year-old was forced to cry poverty; taxpayers are now picking up the tab for his defense. But whether he's convicted or not, his life will never be the same. In March, the feds auctioned off $700,000 worth of his beloved toys and sports and historical memorabilia. Gone are dozens of autographed bats, balls, jerseys, helmets, and gloves. Gone is a signed copy of Richard Nixon's August 9, 1974, resignation and Gerald Ford's September 8, 1974, pardon. The Harley and Jag? Gone. In retrospect, his fall from grace might have been expected. After all, here's a guy who made millions yet couldn't afford a dictionary so he could correctly spell the name of his company, Pheonix Investment Management, and his charity, Pheonix Foundation for Children. But spelled correctly or not, this is one bird that will only explode in fire, never to fly high again.
Spady Cultural Heritage Museum
Located in the 1926 home of Delray Beach educator S.D. Spady, the museum is a tiny gem of cultural preservation. Runaway slaves seeking refuge from bounty hunters settled in Delray Beach around 1894. The museum features the history of two African-American communities that sprang up from the ground they settled: The Sands, located on Fifth Avenue north of Atlantic Avenue, and Frog Alley, on Fifth south of Atlantic. Many local families loaned photographs to the museum for the exhibit, allowing the museum patron to peek into a little-documented slice of black history. Included are photographs taken in Frog Alley after a hurricane swept through the community in 1947, pictures of area businesses, and photos of residents. The S.D. Spady Cultural Arts Museum opened in July 2001. Museum hours are Tuesday and Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m. and by appointment.
Located in the 1926 home of Delray Beach educator S.D. Spady, the museum is a tiny gem of cultural preservation. Runaway slaves seeking refuge from bounty hunters settled in Delray Beach around 1894. The museum features the history of two African-American communities that sprang up from the ground they settled: The Sands, located on Fifth Avenue north of Atlantic Avenue, and Frog Alley, on Fifth south of Atlantic. Many local families loaned photographs to the museum for the exhibit, allowing the museum patron to peek into a little-documented slice of black history. Included are photographs taken in Frog Alley after a hurricane swept through the community in 1947, pictures of area businesses, and photos of residents. The S.D. Spady Cultural Arts Museum opened in July 2001. Museum hours are Tuesday and Thursday from 1 to 4 p.m. and by appointment.
"Where can you take us to see an alligator in the wild without getting too close?" Chances are that if you ever find yourself hosting two or more out-of-towners, you'll be asked this silly, impossible question. The answer to your out-of-town trouble may just be a visit to this quirky, 50-acre wetlands preserve in suburban Delray Beach, preferably during the early-morning or late-afternoon hours if you want to catch some good wildlife action. The wetlands actually consist of converted percolation ponds used by the Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management to reclaim treated wastewater -- and don't worry, you can't smell it. The ponds were modified to support a variety of vegetation types including aquatic, emergent, transitional, and upland plants and are now home to more than 100 species of birds, turtles, and, of course, alligators. A sturdy, one-mile boardwalk meanders through several of the small lakes; there are two observation points and plenty of signs to identify and inform your guests about the vegetation, birds, and other wildlife most common to the area. The wetlands are open from dusk to dawn daily, and admission is free.
"Where can you take us to see an alligator in the wild without getting too close?" Chances are that if you ever find yourself hosting two or more out-of-towners, you'll be asked this silly, impossible question. The answer to your out-of-town trouble may just be a visit to this quirky, 50-acre wetlands preserve in suburban Delray Beach, preferably during the early-morning or late-afternoon hours if you want to catch some good wildlife action. The wetlands actually consist of converted percolation ponds used by the Palm Beach County Department of Environmental Resources Management to reclaim treated wastewater -- and don't worry, you can't smell it. The ponds were modified to support a variety of vegetation types including aquatic, emergent, transitional, and upland plants and are now home to more than 100 species of birds, turtles, and, of course, alligators. A sturdy, one-mile boardwalk meanders through several of the small lakes; there are two observation points and plenty of signs to identify and inform your guests about the vegetation, birds, and other wildlife most common to the area. The wetlands are open from dusk to dawn daily, and admission is free.
"What the heck is that?" is probably a common reaction to this large, rectangular metal panel perched on three round pillars facing the library. The horizontal slab is tilted slightly upward, as if it's a mirror for the library's imposing façade. Or maybe, you might speculate, it's some sort of mysterious receiver for signals from outer space. But no, it's a piece of art -- a fact that becomes evident only if you're in the right place at the right time. The sculpture comes alive with brilliant color when the sunlight hits it just so, creating iridescent patterns that dance across the textured surface as you move past it. The panel is the work of Dale Eldred, who chaired the Sculpture Department at Missouri's Kansas City Art Institute for three decades. Eldred specialized in public art, particularly works that, like this one, explore the relationship between the earth and the sun. He died in the "500-Year Flood" of 1993, when the Missouri River swept through Kansas City, leaving behind a body of works (including this one) that depend upon the context of the urban outdoors for their ephemeral effects.

"What the heck is that?" is probably a common reaction to this large, rectangular metal panel perched on three round pillars facing the library. The horizontal slab is tilted slightly upward, as if it's a mirror for the library's imposing façade. Or maybe, you might speculate, it's some sort of mysterious receiver for signals from outer space. But no, it's a piece of art -- a fact that becomes evident only if you're in the right place at the right time. The sculpture comes alive with brilliant color when the sunlight hits it just so, creating iridescent patterns that dance across the textured surface as you move past it. The panel is the work of Dale Eldred, who chaired the Sculpture Department at Missouri's Kansas City Art Institute for three decades. Eldred specialized in public art, particularly works that, like this one, explore the relationship between the earth and the sun. He died in the "500-Year Flood" of 1993, when the Missouri River swept through Kansas City, leaving behind a body of works (including this one) that depend upon the context of the urban outdoors for their ephemeral effects.

That cranky old architectural genius Frank Lloyd Wright said it best: "No house should ever be on any hill or on anything. It should be of the hill, belonging to it, so hill and house could live together, each the happier for the other." Substitute building for house and you have an apt description of this jewel in the crown of downtown Fort Lauderdale's still-evolving Arts and Science District. The Broward Center for the Performing Arts so thoroughly belongs to the small hill it occupies between the western edge of Riverwalk and the eastern fringe of the historic Sailboat Bend neighborhood that it's hard to imagine it was never there in the first place. The center, designed by Massachusetts-based architect Benjamin Thompson, is a graceful conglomeration of curves and gentle angles that mirrors the meandering landscape below it. Marble, terra cotta, stucco, wood, and glass -- lots of glass -- conspire to create a luxurious complex that includes two auditoriums linked by a courtyard and characterized by spacious lobbies, sweeping staircases, and broad corridors. Now if they would just do something about that casino-style carpet....
That cranky old architectural genius Frank Lloyd Wright said it best: "No house should ever be on any hill or on anything. It should be of the hill, belonging to it, so hill and house could live together, each the happier for the other." Substitute building for house and you have an apt description of this jewel in the crown of downtown Fort Lauderdale's still-evolving Arts and Science District. The Broward Center for the Performing Arts so thoroughly belongs to the small hill it occupies between the western edge of Riverwalk and the eastern fringe of the historic Sailboat Bend neighborhood that it's hard to imagine it was never there in the first place. The center, designed by Massachusetts-based architect Benjamin Thompson, is a graceful conglomeration of curves and gentle angles that mirrors the meandering landscape below it. Marble, terra cotta, stucco, wood, and glass -- lots of glass -- conspire to create a luxurious complex that includes two auditoriums linked by a courtyard and characterized by spacious lobbies, sweeping staircases, and broad corridors. Now if they would just do something about that casino-style carpet....
You curse the devilish traffic and the paucity of open space, but these signs of overcrowding mean money in your pocket the day you sign on the dotted line of a warranty deed. Soaring land values mean money for nothin'. According to a recent Sun-Sentinel article, the median sales price for homes in the Fort Lauderdale area grew by 12 percent compared to last year, a jump from $161,200 to $179,800. The West Palm Beach-Boca Raton area saw a median sales-price increase of 14 percent, from $139,200 to $158,300. Why the upsurge? As Manhattanites learned long ago, when you're surrounded by water, you run out of anywhere to build but upward. New Yorkers built in that direction, but down here, single-family homes with a patch of backyard are all the rage. And you don't have to have a beautiful mind to realize there are only so many lots to go around.

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