On a recent overcast day in downtown Fort Lauderdale, a cluster of reporters watched a tanned blond man sashay into the federal courthouse dressed like the Joker: orange pants, purple socks, red pocket square, and a Technicolored iPhone in his hand.
"Who's that?" one reporter asked.
"He's definitely not print," another reporter said.
No, he most certainly wasn't. The tanned man, Brian Andrews, is a newscaster with CBS4. He has recently taken up with the station after returning from a lengthy hiatus in Colombia. There, he'd delivered noticias en ingles as "El Gringo" for network news and squashed any modicum of street cred afforded to white Americans in Latin America. El Gringo's highlight reel includes deadpanning this line: "The classroom is filled with bats who are going to the bathroom on their heads!" In August 2008, he air-humped frenetically while playing a magazine rack as an accordion amid a throng of onlookers laughing at his sheer, unremitting whiteness.
But the life of El Gringo was apparently a dangerous one — which is why Andrews is back. Andrews, who'd given up a "huge career" in Miami in 2007 to go to Colombia, says he soon became the "highest profile gringo in Colombia after the [U.S.] ambassador."
"Anyone can cover a shooting at a Burger King in Opa-locka," he said at the time. "But not everyone can cover a volcanic eruption, a hostage release, a 747 crash, regular political scandals [and air-hump while playing fake accordions]... and make them hit home for a global audience."
But in mid-2010, El Gringo turned into El Pollo.
While "listening to chirping birds" in the countryside near Cali one day in July that year, he said he got a call from the FBI warning that FARC, a Marxist guerrilla force, was about to kidnap him, take him to the jungle, and kill him. He learned his kidnapping was set to go down on the Fourth of July: "The most gringo of gringo holidays."
Andrews geeked and called his mom in Palm Beach. "I could feel a wave of panic coming over me," he wrote in a 4,700-word blog called, "My Colombian Soap Opera." "It was sharp fear."
His mom told him to get home, and when he did days later, tearfully hugging her, it was "the greatest moment of [his] life."
"So, in the end, the FARC didn't get their gringo," he wrote. "This gringo didn't get to live in Colombia. But this gringo got to take everything he created there and turn it into something even more global."