I am still basking in the after-glow of a visit to sunny South Beach where it seemed that Man and Nature had wordlessly collaborated to produce a memorable love-fest (of sorts).  Whatever criticisms of Florida that I had harbored were carefully folded away with linen trousers and cotton sweaters into my valise as I prepared for my long-anticipated vacation.  Honestly, beforehand I had shopped for a new wardrobe, knowing that bronzed and muscled perfection was de rigueur; as well as flash/bling/bucks/booze/and all those C's.  Stacy and Clint always stress ' play up your strengths,' and this I did, quieting the inner critic responsible for generating expectations/judgements/demands and everything thing else that spoils enjoyment of the here and now.  And thus the charms of Miami/Fort Lauderdale enfolded:  Wynwood/Midtown where industrial-style galleries showcased cutting-edge practitioners and blue-chippers; countless courtyards of wall art (graffiti art); and independent shops offering new product design.  Last Friday night, Jimmy Z's Kitchen hosted a salsa party on their outdoor patio featuring the incomparable Melina Almodovar II.  The exotic singer (and her band) had the entire audience on the floor; single ladies/gay boys/couples/grandfathers and abuelas/young kids all grooved to Melina's sultry vocals.  " Like a house-party from the old days," growled the hottie in the far corner.  Precisely!!

Under the spell cast by the Herzog & de Meuron designed parking garage at 1111 Lincoln Road (pictured above and resembling a gigantic loft apartment with exaggerated ceiling heights, no exterior walls, wide views and perfect for events), the avenue throbs with outdoor cafes and smart shops.  Everyone from big retailers such as APPLE/TASCHEN/ADDIDAS Y3 to sushi bars and hookah dens to psychic readers and tattoo parlors have staked a claim in providing to the international crowd who fly in during the winter to enjoy warm days and balmy evenings.  A walk down the outdoor mall allowed me to overhear conversations in a multitude of languages, gaze upon beautiful people and visit two of my favorite shops, Alchemist which showcases the creations of Martin Margiela/Dries Van Noten/Rick Owens/Ann Demeulemeeester, and BASE featuring modern design (toys/music/accessories) for the home.

As aptly demonstrated by my gorgeous niece Suzette Guitian, beauty and brains synchronize quite well beneath the tropical splendor of South Florida.  Besides winning Teacher Of The Year at the Winston Park K-8 Center (Dade County Schools), Suzette championed mulching and can-recycling programs (as a Fairfield Challenge Educator), with her school winning top honors in Florida in the 'Great American Can Roundup,' a nationwide recycling project.  Her latest project involves the collecting of discarded blue jeans in the national Aeropostale recycling project for the homeless.  Math and the sciences are her passion, which she shares daily with her pupils.  " Girls and young women need to enter this fields in greater numbers, for this is where the future lies, " she said.  " Not in emulating Gossip Girl or The Kardashians!"  More power to you and your students, Suzie.

Thanks for all your comments last week, and hope you enjoy today's visual treat.


PS:  My stay in Florida was made even more enjoyable by the soundtracks provided by Luca Laserra, especially Melt (Lick Me Down Under Remix)!!


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