The Coastal Star

Around Town: Festival of the Arts Boca ends on a Brazilian high note

Branford Marsalis opened the Festival of the Arts Boca, playing with the Symphonia Boca Raton, directed by Constantine Kitsopoulos (right). Jerry Lower/The Coastal Star

By Thom Smith

Festival of the Arts Boca wrapped up March 11 with Sergio Mendes and Brasil 2017, a swinging blend of pop, rock and jazz, heavily flavored by the samba and bossa nova that launched Mendes as a major force in popular music half a century ago with Brasil ’66. Of course, none of the original ensemble remains, although much of the vocal load is handled by Mendes’ wife, Gracinha Leporace, literally a “girl from Ipanema,” who joined the group mid-’70s.
    The sellout crowd of 2,100-plus was into the show from open to close — Mas Que Nada, Going Out of My Head, One Note Samba, Day Tripper, even an updated Agua de Beber spiced up with a little rap.
    Despite their Social Security status, audience members danced in the aisles like teenagers and pressed against the stage during the encore to capture digital mementos on their smartphones.
    Such was the case last year when Herb Alpert and wife Lani Hall enjoyed a similar response.
    “Nothing is coincidental,” festival artistic coordinator Charles LeTourneau said.
    Alpert was responsible for Mendes’ initial success with Brasil ’66, and those ties still bind.  
    Politics also attracts sizable crowds at each festival, the protagonist this year being Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and Time contributing editor Jon Meacham.
    “Sorry we’re here with so little news going on. I was going to try to do this in 142 characters,” he joked.
    Meacham claimed a Pulitzer for his biography of fellow Tennessean Andrew Jackson, who coincidentally is a favorite of Donald Trump. Were it not for coincidences and twists of fate, he suggested, neither may have been elected.
    Accused of being a bigamist, Jackson challenged Charles Dickinson, a crack shot, to a duel. Dickinson’s shot missed Jackson’s heart by inches; Jackson then aimed and fired a fatal shot into Dickinson’s stomach.
    President James Monroe appointed Jackson the first governor of the Florida territory. Jackson “was governor for about 20 minutes, because Rachel  (Jackson’s wife) didn’t like mosquitoes,” Meacham stretched, “and you’re probably luckier for it.”
    The Trump phenomenon, on the other hand, “may be the most amazing moment in American history, unprecedented in American life,” Meacham said.
    “Donald Trump would not be president today if he had not been on The Apprentice for 14 years.”
    Last summer during the campaign, Meacham sat down with Trump, who told him he’d never read any of his books but liked him on TV. When asked how he was preparing to be president, Trump compared himself with Babe Ruth, telling Meacham: “I just swing at it.”
    A few days earlier across town at Florida Atlantic University, Angela Davis, one of the most visible “campus radicals” of the ’60s, offered some optimism as the new president settles in.
    “Maybe we need a Donald Trump to wake us up. Once he’s elected and people rise up in response, we have to say, well, this is a good thing, because we never knew we had this kind of strength,” Davis said in her Feb. 23 keynote address at FAU’s observance of Black History Month.  
    Best known for her support of community activism and the Black Panthers half a century ago, Davis, 73, is professor emerita at University of California, Santa Cruz and continues to press for reform of failed institutions. Among her targets: the “prison industrial complex,” an issue close to FAU.
    In 2013, the university’s administration approved a deal to name its new football stadium for Boca-based GEO Group in exchange for a $6 million donation.
    GEO is one of the largest international operators of for-profit prisons. GEO’s founder, chief executive and board chairman is George Zoley Jr., an FAU grad and former chairman of the school’s board of trustees.
    The backlash was so fast and furious from students, alumni, faculty and the community that  trustees quickly rejected the GEO deal and FAU President Mary Jane Saunders resigned.
    Prisons for profit don’t work, said Davis, who in 1997 helped found Critical Resistance, a grass-roots organization dedicated to dismantling the prison system, decriminalizing drug use and prostitution and providing basic necessities such as food, shelter and freedom.
    Davis, who also spoke at the Women’s March in Washington, warned that the nation is being run more and more like a corporation as legislators move to privatize not only the prison system but  education and health care.
    “We need a different kind of justice system that is not about revenge,” she said, noting that activists around the nation were inspired “by the actions you took on this campus.”
    Six weeks after being introduced as FAU’s new football coach on Dec. 13, Lane Kiffin had his coaching staff in place, including brother Chris as defensive coordinator. But Kiffin, family man that he is, had one more relation in mind.
    News broke in early March that Kiffin’s father will come aboard.
    Monte Kiffin’s role had not been defined and the athletic department was scrambling to create an official position, but ESPN reported he would serve as a “defensive analyst/NFL liaison,” a task well-suited.
    The senior Kiffin, 77, coached 29 years in the NFL. In 13 years at Tampa Bay, he turned the Bucs’ defense into one of the NFL’s best. He was Lane’s assistant head coach at Tennessee and Southern Cal, then worked two years at Dallas and most recently at Jacksonville in the NFL.
    Now the staff must combine the remaining players from coach Charlie Partridge’s teams with Kiffin’s recruits. Revelation Day is Sept. 2 — Navy comes to town.
    Bit by bit … First it was Nature’s Way Cafe, then Subculture Coffee. The two popular spots on Delray’s Atlantic Avenue closed recently after disputes with landlords.  
    Faced with a reported doubling of the rent, the owner of the Nature’s Way franchise decided to pack up after 10 years. The building’s other tenants remain, however. The property is owned by Hudson Holdings, which also owns Sundy House and several other parcels. Plans call for redeveloping 6 acres west of Swinton and south of Atlantic into Swinton Commons, a multiuse area of shops, offices, restaurants and hotel.
    Subculture, a spinoff of a West Palm Beach coffee shop operated by coffee roaster Sean Scott and restaurateur Rodney Mayo (Dada, Honey and others), moved into the space at 123 E. Atlantic two years ago. But relations with the Miami-based landlord never went well. The landlord sued and won.
He’s looking for a new tenant and Mayo and Scott are looking for a new nook, but not before they left a parting shot on Subculture’s Facebook page:
    “After a 2-year battle with our landlord over a small technicality in our lease, we are being forced to leave and find a new location. Unfortunately, along with the dramatic increase in property values in Delray, comes greedy landlords looking for any excuse to kick out existing tenants despite them paying rent on time. It is a shame the independent spirit and feel that launched Atlantic Ave. and Delray is now being pushed aside for the  corporate chains. We can only hope the Delray feel may survive in areas off of Atlantic Ave.”
    Some observers see the changes as a sign of the times as small cities struggle to compete.
    Others worry that Delray Beach’s small-town charm is giving way to the corporate culture of Starbucks and iPic theaters. During season, pedestrians can cover distance faster than the traffic moving at idle speed along two-lane Atlantic, which won’t be widened.
Bruce Gimmy, who has run The Trouser Shop on Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach for 32 years, will be leaving for a different reason: retirement.

He is looking for someone to take over the traditional retail business that he loves. At age 74, he says he’s ready “to fulfill my bucket list of travel to Australia, New Zealand, China, South American and the United Kingdom... to be my spouse’s yard man!”
And his tailor, Jana Roza, is leaving for a good government job.
Gimmy’s shop features resort wear, Fancies (patterns and seer-suckers) shorts, regular and long-rise shorts and pants, blazers and made-in-the-USA shirts. His shop is known as “fit specialists” because of the custom tailoring offered.
“The perfect [owner] candidate would be a successful men’s retailer up north who would like a Florida store on busy Atlantic Avenue,” Gimmy said. “Seasonally they could ship leftover summer garments from the Northern store south to catch the Florida season and then vice versa.”
    Seaside Deli and Market has a new owner. He’s Randy McCormick, a native of Ann Arbor, Mich., who for two decades operated Second Avenue Deli in Deerfield Beach.
    A few years ago he sold that business and moved to West Palm, but he couldn’t shake the bug. He was familiar with Seaside from frequent motorcycle runs along the beach. When McCormick learned that the Belliard family — former major leaguer Rafael, his wife, Leonora, and son Kevin, who served as manager — had put it on the market after three years, he jumped at the chance. The deal closed in early February.  
    What could be better: Seaside is legendary for its sandwiches; located in the County Pocket, it’s the only takeout spot on A1A between Manalapan and Delray Beach; and the beach is out the back door.
    Time to make sure the straps on those lawn chairs are sturdy. It’s SunFest time. The West Palm Beach waterfront party begins May 3 with headliners Weezer and Snoop Dogg,  plus Macklemore and Ryan Lewis and Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals on Thursday May 4. Hot show Friday will be Ziggy Marley, plus Flo Rida and Fetty Wap Feat Monty. A packed Saturday includes Loverboy and Breaking Benjamin in the afternoon and Marshmello and 3 Doors Down after dark.
    Sunday’s loaded lineup includes Widespread Panic, Christopher Cross, Ambrosia, Blink-182X Ambassadors and, back for an encore, Steve Winwood.
    Ambrosia, by the way, has added Mary Harris on keyboards. She’s the wife of drummer and founding member Burleigh Drummond, and significantly, a former member of Jimmy Buffett’s Coral Reefers. (Could Jimmy be lurking in the wings?)
    Away from the stages, the big change is artistic. The juried art competition has been eliminated, as sculptures and paintings selling for four figures don’t do very well at the festival, Executive Director Paul Jamieson said.
    Instead festivalgoers can enjoy demonstrations and performances by crafters, artists and vendors including The Armory Arts Center, The Arc of Palm Beach County, Dreyfoos School of the Arts, Education Gallery Group and the Brewhouse Gallery.
    Courtney Einhorn, a Bright Futures scholarship recipient and University of Florida graduate, will be painting on Saturday and Sunday.
    So how much will it cost you? Through April 29, an ordinary one-day pass can be purchased online ( for $41; two-day, $61; all week, $81. From April 30 to the end, prices rise $6 for a daily ticket, $11 for the others.
    However, kids 6-12 pay less than half those prices and up to age 5 are free.
    Seniors, 65 and up, many of whom were present when the likes of Crosby, Stills & Nash, Santana and a just-blossoming Harry Connick Jr. first packed the waterfront, get a break, too! Single-day tickets for $25, but only at the gate and only with valid ID.
 Gotta start somewhere ... so why not Lantana?  Jack Maxwell, the Travel Channel’s king of cocktails, is launching a new series, Booze Traveler: Best Bars. In the premiere, April 24 at 10 p.m., he’ll launch his search for outstanding dockside bars at Old Key Lime House, then make stops in Baltimore and California.
“A great cocktail is more than the drink,” said Maxwell, who’ll be joined by local connoisseur Vanilla Ice. “It tastes even better when sipped in an awesome location.
 “And, if it’s possible, my job as the booze traveler just got better. The hardest part is narrowing down all the great places I’ve discovered when someone asks for ‘the best’ or my favorite.”
    So much for the pirate looking at 40: Jimmy Buffett turned 70 on Christmas Day. The persona remains laid back but the reality is that the part-time Palm Beacher is a shrewd businessman. Now he’s expanding his $500 million empire into real estate, specifically retirement communities.
    Buffett is teaming with Minto Communities to develop Latitude Margaritaville, an adult living concept offering “exciting recreation, unmatched dining and FINtastic nightlife … island-inspired living as you grow older, but not up.”
    The $1 billion prototype for the nationwide venture borders I-95 in Daytona Beach. It will include 6,900 residences priced from the low $200s, plus shopping, dining, recreation, a bandshell and even a beach club, albeit about 10 miles to the east. Furnished models will be ready next year, but Parrotheads who don’t want to wait can place orders this fall.

    Reach Thom Smith at

Jane Smith contributed to this story.

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