Page 1




Orange Theory Fitness





Cool Stories

for Hot Summer Days

JULY 2014 $3.95 U.S.

The Life of Bishop Henry Porter



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Social Scene July 2014

Volume 57 No. 7



28 ZONE IN Orangetheory Fitness


By Sue Cullen

32 SEASON SHOWSTOPPERS A pictorial review of one of the best seasons ever By Julie Milton, Executive Editor

BEACH READS 70 The Necklace By Muriel Redifer

76 For the Love of a Street Magician By David Himmel

81 Escape from White Lion Lair By Janet Keene

COVER Cover photo of Orangetheory franchise owner Mark Flannagan by Herb Booth/Booth Studios




July 2014

Exclusive Kitchens and More The Kitchen is the Heart of your Home



Visit our Showroom: 6051 N. Washington Boulevard, Sarasota FL 34243 •



16 EVENTS CALENDAR SOCIALS 14 Y Foundation Gala 15 JFCS Tribute to Veterans Luncheon 22 9th Annual Dick Vitale Gala 56 Woman’s Exchange Grants & Scholarship Ceremony



24 CULTURE MATTERS Presented by The Arts and Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County

26 GALLERY SCENE Art Exhibitions presented by The Arts & Cultural  Alliance of Sarasota County 

48 SCENES FROM AN INTERVIEW The Life of Bishop Henry Porter By Gus Mollasis

57 SCENE TOGETHER Engagements & Weddings  By Debbi Benedict 

64 EDUCATION MATTERS Sarasota Film Festival Educational Outreach By Ryan G. Van Cleave


66 BEHIND THE SCENE Sarasota’s Society Maven Gives the Latest Scoop By Debbi Benedict

87 SCENE LOCALLY News Shaping Our Community

88 LITERARY SCENE By Ryan G. Van Cleave




July 2014

Stuart J. Roth Founder and President

Salt & Light Productions is the award winning non-profit organization dedicated to providing multi-media program services to charities across the nation.

Salt & Light Radio WITH

Stuart J. Roth

Saturdays at Noon


1220 AM/106.9 FM

Salt & Light Radio with Stuart J. Roth shares compelling testimonies from people in our community who inspire us to greatness and action. We strive to address many of the social, economic and spiritual issues confronting families and individuals in life’s most challenging situations. Our radio program reflects the same commitment to public service that has been exemplified by our video program services at Salt & Light Productions.

Our mission is to serve others and be a source of inspiration and encouragement to those less fortunate. We remain cognizant that “to whom much is given, much is required.”

7357 Merchant Court • Sarasota, FL 34240 • Phone 941.487.4061 • Fax 941.487.4062



Ronald Milton

Executive Editor

Julie A. Milton

Business Development

Salena Wilhoit

Account Executive Art Director

Tammy Whalen Michelle Cross


easons come and seasons go and I’m not talking about the weather. It’s interesting that in Sarasota, when you say the word “season”, everyone knows exactly what you mean. And

if you don’t know, then think social, get a party dress or handsome

Editorial Assistant Special Issue Director

Cheryl Galbraith Debbi Benedict

suit, and attend a gala next season! This issue brings our annual season “Showstoppers”. From serious to fun to thrilling and sublime, the 2013/2014 social season had it all. Read our season snapshot as well as event photographer extraordinaire Cliff Roles’ picks for his standouts. Scene social


Dick Jackson

columnist Debbi Benedict also talks season in this issue and asks people on the scene to tell our readers about their favorite events.

Contributing Writers

Debbi Benedict

Be sure to read Debbi’s “Behind the Scene” column for even more

Sue Cullen

interesting season tid bits.

Gus Mollasis Steven J. Smith Ryan G. Van Cleave

I want to add how honored we are at Scene to be a part of so many special events every year for local nonprofits. As we have done year after year since 1957, Scene donates many of its pages in support of nonprofits. In annual value, it equates to approximately $250,000 in advertising space (over $14 million since 1957).This


Herb Booth

is a major part of our editorial passion. We believe that it takes a

David Dessauer

collaborative effort to make a community strong and we have been

Daniel Perales Cliff Roles

blessed to be able to do our part for these many years. We’ve received so many emails and notes about how much Scene readers enjoyed our “Beach Reads” feature last summer so it is back by popular demand! In keeping with Scene’s support of authors and


7269 Bee Ridge Road,

artists, we’ve collected some short stories for your reading pleasure.

Sarasota, FL 34241

The stories are by local and/or Florida connected fiction writers with story illustrations by Ringling College of Art + Design students.

Phone Fax Website

941-365-1119 941-954-5067

SCENE Magazine publishes 12 issues a year by RJM Ventures, LLC. Address editorial, advertising and circulation correspondence to the above address. Sufficient return postage and self-addressed, stamped envelope must accompany all manuscripts, art work and photographs submitted if they are to be returned or acknowledged. Publisher assumes no responsibility for care of return of unsolicited materials. Subscription price: $12.95 per year, $19.95 for two years. All contents copyrighted. Reproduction without permission is prohibited. ISSN 1535-8895.




July 2014

Also happening this summer will be a new editor at Scene. While I will still serve as Executive Editor, we are adding a wonderful, experienced person who will offer her varied talents to Scene and oversee all of the fascinating stories about our community we feature each issue. Our plan is to combine our skills to develop new projects, while continuing to deliver the high quality editorial content in Scene you’ve grown accustomed to reading. Look for more on this news soon! Happy July 4th!

Luxury living is right here, here, here and here. Now you can get the new home you’ve always wanted in the area you love. Enjoy the Sarasota-area’s incredible culture, beaches, and shopping in an innovative, energy-efficient home that’s designed for the way you want to live. Ashton Woods Homes is known throughout the industry for building homes with award-winning designs and offering home buyers a high level of personalization options.

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3 THE RETREAT From the Low $300s (941) 350-2182 Visit the model home at Palma Vista.


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© 2014 Ashton Woods Homes. Plans, specifications, prices, and available items are subject to change without prior notice or obligation, and may vary by elevation. Square footage is approximate, and subject to change without prior notice or obligation. Images are an artist’s conception, and not a guarantee of final specifications. Please contact an Ashton Woods Homes Sales Agent for details and additional information. Ashton Woods received the highest numerical score in United States in the proprietary Lifestory Research 2014 Most Trusted Builder in America StudySM. Study based on 43,200 new home shoppers in 27 markets. Proprietary study results are based on experiences and perceptions of consumers surveyed between January and December 2013. 5.14 CRC#1517613


Y Foundation Gala

This year’s YMCA Foundation Gala, Going for the Gold: The Golden Lotus, was uniquely beautiful. Co-Chairs Merrill Bonder & Pat Martin welcomed over 400 guests to the transformed Frank G. Berlin, Sr. Branch YMCA for an evening of color and spice worthy of an Indian paradise. Guests embraced this year’s theme by wearing a range of traditional Indian attire to original East meets West creations while enjoying fabulous food, a heart-warming vocal performance by a School House Link student (the Y’s program for homeless youth), and the sights and sounds of Bollywood.

Photos by Cliff Roles

Pat Martin, Jennifer Grondahl & Merrill Bonder

Carl & Cindy Weinrich

Evella & Keith Feldhacker

Paul Bowman, Charlotte & Kurt Stringfellow

Dan & Debbie Dannheisser

Roberto & Leah Mei


Summer Colors MK Designs and The Golden Image Jewelry Store Stunning, Unique and One of a Kind 30 South Palm Ave., Downtown Sarasota 941.364.8439 |




July 2014


JFCS Tribute to Veterans Luncheon The Tribute to Veterans Service to Community Awards Luncheon sponsored by JFCS to support its Operation Military Assistance Program honored four local veterans for their patriotism, service to others and offering hope to local veterans. Award recipients were SSG Richard R. Alvarez, Commander, Kirby Stewart American Legion Post 24; MSG Christopher L. Davis, Program Manager for Goodwill Manasota, The American Veterans and their Families Initiative; SPC Andy Hooker, President, Sarasota County Veterans Commission and proud member of Alpha Company of the Vietnam Brotherhood; and COL John C. O’Brien, Past President, Military Officers Association of Sarasota. COL Troy Scott chaired the event which included a presentation of a framed print of the Flag Raising at Iwo Jima by WWII Veteran Harold Ronson to JFCS Board Chair Joe Mendels.

Tonya Getzen Gowan, Molly Jackson & Holly Johnson

Available for immediate delivery.

Photos by Cliff Roles

Rose Chapman & Troy Scott

Richard Alvarez, Chris Davis, Andy Hooker & John O’Brien

Joe Mendels & Harold Ronson


Matt Otto & Judith Hoffman

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July 2014





July Calendar For a complete listing of community events please visit

Photo by Cliff Roles

Suncoast Offshore Grand Prix Festival Through July 6. This week-long celebration is filled with fun, excitement and a variety of events up to and around the powerboat race. Benefits the Suncoast Charities for Children. 941.371.8820 x1800 |

The Ringling’s Summer Circus Spectacular Through August 2. Annual Summer Circus Spectacular at the Historic Asolo Theater. Presented in collaboration with Circus Sarasota, this on-stage exhibition of circus artistry provides delightful summer entertainment for children of all ages. Tickets: $12 - $15 | 941.360.7399 |

The Ringling Art After 5 Thursdays through November 20 5:00 pm. Explore the art in the Museum of Art and Circus Museum or catch a romantic sunset on Sarasota Bay as Ca’ d’Zan. Enjoy music and insights into the collection through gallery discussions. Tickets: $5 - $10 | 941.359.5700 |

BeachHouse Restaurant’s 19th Annual Fireworks Extravaganza July 3 BeachHouse Restaurant, Anna Maria Island. Enjoy the fireworks from the beach along with a special VIP dinner and a fabulous party.

Gloria Musicae’s A Patriotic Spectacular July 4 First United Methodist Church 4:30 pm. Enjoy rousing patriotic songs, traditional American folk songs and a tribute to Harold Arlen that highlight the vocal fireworks that Gloria Musicae presents. Tickets: $35 | 941.387.6046 |




July 2014


is Life.

Enjoy it to the Fullest.

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2700 Gary Player Blvd, Sarasota 941-378-3399 |


Selby Gardens Tropical 4th of July July 4 Selby Gardens 6:00 pm. Enjoy the laid back island sounds of Impulse, pre-bayfront show. Activities and entertainment for kids of all ages. Tickets: $17 - $20 |

24th Annual Siesta Key Fireworks July 4 Siesta Key Public beach 9:15 pm. Bring your beach blanket and beach chairs to enjoy the Siesta Sunset. Viewing is anywhere along Siesta Key Beach, Crescent Beach.

Art Center’s 2nd Annual Florida Flavor


July 10 – August 15 Art Center Sarasota 10:00 am. State-wide

For more than 23 years,

which showcases the exceptional artists who live and work in

the Glasser/Schoenbaum Human Services Center has been a place for low-income and at-risk

juried exhibition across all four of the Art Center’s galleries, Florida. 941.365.2032 |

individuals, families and children to find help

Florida Studio Theatre’s Sarasota Improv Festival 2014

when they need it most. Each dollar received

July 11 – 12 Goldstein Cabaret. Enjoy some of the hottest

serves a wide array of human service agencies

groups on the Improv scene nationwide. Acts from all over the

who in turn help improve the lives of approximately

country will perform on the Cabaret stage in the festival. 941.

10,000 underserved community members per month.

366.9000 |

AJC’s Summer Lunch & Learn Series July 17 Michael’s On East 11:00am. Features Jason Isaacson, AJC’s Director of Government and International Affairs, and his topic will be Hard Road to Peace. Mr. Isaacson will explore whether the goal of the Israeli-Palestinian two-state solution is realistic. AJC recognizes that peace is possible through a two-state solution that will only be achieved with face-to-face negotiation between the parties involved. He will delve into this issue and examine the United States’ role in this process. Tickets: $25 | 941.365.4955 |

Please call or visit our website to learn more about how you can help make a difference.

Historic Downtown Venice’s Christmas in July July 18 – 19 Historic downtown Venice. Mrs. Claus will hand out candy canes and the elves promise there will be snow! Over 50 downtown stores and sponsors participating with sales and prizes to win.

Van Wezel’s Friday Fest on the Bay July 25 Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall 5:00 pm. Bring your lawn chairs and blankets for this summertime outdoor concert,

1750 17TH STREET, SARASOTA FL 34234 941.365.4545 • Jay Berman, Executive Director 18



July 2014

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age-old conflict between parents and children, freely based on the story of Genesis.

The Price


Through July 13 A story of two brothers: one a successful surgeon and the other a policeman who sacrificed his education and career to care for his invalid father. After harboring a lifetime of jealousy and anger toward each other they reunite after 16 years to dispose of their deceased father’s belongings.

941.365.2494 /

The Sty of the Blind Pig July 17 – August 3 Set in the 1950’s in Chicago south side, a 30 year old black woman who still lives with her old-fashioned, religious mother is emotionally awakened by an unexpected blind visitor.


Knowing Me, Knowing You: The Hits of ABBA July 10 -20 An all singing, all dancing all ABBA musical revue covering the best songs from “Chiquitita” to “Winner Takes It All,” with interactive and informational “pop ups” that expose interesting facts about the songs, albums, movies and band members.

SARASOTA OPERA 941.366.8450 / Opera in HD: Aida July 10 & 13 Production from the Arena di Verona. Opera in HD: Manon Lescaut July 24 & 27 Production from the Royal Opera House. Jonas Kaufman, the leading tenor of today, with rising young star Kristine Opolais in a new production of Puccini’s classic opera, conducted by Antonio Pappano.


941.955.7676 /

Through July 6 Celebrating their 25th anniversary, America’s Premiere doo-wop group will perform songs from the 50s and 60s.

Patriotic Spectacular

Becoming Dr. Ruth

July 17

Through July 27 A moving, funny portrayal of Dr. Ruth Westheimer, America’s most famous therapist.

July 4 American Idol® Live!

Come Back Alice July 25

Clearly Invisible


July 8 – August 3 Magic Up Close with Carl Seiger combines illusion, jazz, and storytelling. While reminiscing about his life as a magician, Seiger invites audiences to find out what’s up his sleeves as he performs sleight of hand up close.

941.488.1115 /

Taking Shakespeare July 23 – August 17 A journey of an avid video game lover, who seeks out an older Shakespeare scholar so he can bring the Bard’s words to life.

MANATEE PLAYERS 941.748.5875 / Children of Eden July 25 - 27 This frank, heartfelt and often humorous musical examines the




July 2014

2nd Annual Summer Cabaret Festival July 18 – August 24 Local talent returns to entertain you with a variety of music and comedy in a nightclub setting. Twinkle and Rock Soul Radio July 19

WESTCOAST BLACK THEATRE TROUPE 941.366.1505 / Marvin Gaye Prince of Soul July 16 – August 10 This show begins in the 1950s at the start of Gaye’s career with Motown and follows its twists and turns until his untimely death.

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9th Annual Dick Vitale Gala

As Dick Vitale fondly reminded the crowd in The Ritz Carlton ballroom on May 16th, his friend Jimmy Valvano once said, “If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day.” By Jimmy V’s standards, the 850 plus attendees of the 9th Annual Dick Vitale Gala all, undoubtedly, had a full day. This year’s gala honored three college coaching greats – Notre Dame basketball’s Mike Brey, Indiana basketball’s Tom Crean, and Alabama football’s Nick Saban. Coaches, athletes, and celebrities from across the globe gathered at the event, masterfully designed by Mary Kenealy Events, in support of Dick Vitale and The V Foundation as they surpassed their goal and astonishingly raised over $2 million dollars to fund pediatric cancer research.

Mary Mahoney, Nick Bollettieri & John Mahoney

Photos by Cliff Roles

Jake Taraska, Erin Kisielewski, Skyler Dunn, Kyle Peters, Dick Vitale, Austin Burnett, Tatum Parker, Jack Hoffman & Berkeley Kemper

Nick Saban, Mary Kenealy, Dick Vitale, Tom Crean & Mike Brey

Jack Krasula, Greg Kampe, Debra & James Epolito




July 2014

Bob & Kay Lloyd, Mona & Dan Morello

Jerod & Tricia Ward

Nik & Erendira Wallenda

Tom Niedenfuhr & Judy Landers


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1 1) Summer Circus Spectacular 2014 Circus Arts Conservatory Through – August 2 The fabulous and affordable Summer Circus Spectacular 2014 provides exciting, world-class circus performances every Tuesday through Saturday through August 2 at Sarasota's Historic Asolo Theater. The show features everything from hilarious clowning, masterful juggling and amazing quick change to incredible hand-balancing and the undisputed "Queen of the Air." Why It Matters: Summer Circus Spectacular 2014 pays tribute to the rich legacy of the circus arts in Sarasota through a unique production that blends colorful history and incredible performances. In 1927 John Ringling moved his circus quarters to Sarasota and since then, circus became an integral part of the social and economic life giving our community its unique identity. Spectators enjoy an intimate circus experience that imparts the joy and tradition of the circus


arts all within Sarasota’s most storied theater.

2) Becoming Dr. Ruth Florida Studio Theatre Through – July 27 Florida Studio Theatre announces the opening of the second show in the Summer Mainstage Season Becoming Dr. Ruth, by Mark St. Germain. The show will open in the Keating Theatre June 25 and run through July 27. Witness the heroic journey of Dr. Ruth Westheimer as she revisits her fascinating life after the death of her third husband. From her time as a young child in a Swiss orphanage to her time working as a celebrity sex therapist, Dr. Ruth approaches the chapters of her life with a charming sense of humor. A moving, funny portrayal of one woman’s determination to survive, thrive and keep learning. Why it Matters: Dr. Ruth has certainly garnered a reputation in her later years as a feisty yet lovable public figure. However, few know how she became this legendary icon. Becoming Dr.


Ruth looks at the intimate and inspiring story of one small body that exudes strength, humor and above all hope.

3) The Players New Play Festival The Players Theatre of Sarasota July 21 – 26 The Players New Play Festival has been an educational tool for local playwrights for the last 13 years. Its mission is to give opportunities to local writers to have their works read by local actors, directed by a local director with feedback given by a local audience.  One of the plays actually wins a production and is mounted on the Players Stage.  This is a unique “grass roots” festival that artistically benefits everyone involved.  Why it Matters: This festival is a pinnacle moment for dozens of local theatre artists as they work together to create the perfect play.  The stakes are high, the energy is amazing as the local theater arts community gathers to support one of their own.




July 2014

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GALLERY SCENE Presented by the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Sarasota County

Louis Cabot Photography

displayed in the Durante Gallery and Cultural Corridor.

Experience the beauty of Longboat Key through stun-

“My father was an avid traveler who took great pho-

ning photographs captured by resident Cabot. A recipient

tographs wherever he went. I followed in his footsteps. I

of LBKCA’s 2013 Ageless Creativity Award, Louis Cabot

don’t remember not ever owning a camera. I do remember

has been photographing his environment for most of his

taking pictures when I was just a little kid and loving it.

life, starting with a Brownie box camera 80 years ago.

My parents created a dark-room for me in our basement

Most of his early work was family and travel. More recent-

when I was about 12 and I spent hours there enlarging

ly he has added landscape and nature from the coasts of

and developing, and, yes, manipulating or editing black

Maine and Florida.

and white prints,” says Cabot. “Photography for me is a full

On display at the Longboat Key Center for the Arts are

time occupation, a major addiction…. Maine…Florida…

varied and breathtaking images of Longboat Key and be-

seashores, beaches, sunsets and the birds…birds, birds! It’s

yond. The exhibition consists of 28 photographs on canvas,

a great hobby to grow older with.”

Longboat Key Center for the Arts | Summer 2014 to December 2014 | 6860 Longboat Drive S., Longboat Key, FL 34228 |




July 2014

Summer Showcase The annual Summer Showcase exhibit features the core group of Dabbert Gallery artists, including 15 painters, three sculptors, one printmaker, one pastel artist and one photographer.   From as far away as Sydney, Australia; Laguna Beach, Calif.; PeWaukee, Wis.; Prince Edward Island, Canada; South Berwick, Maine; Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Westport, Conn., it’s a very artistically and geographically diverse group of the best professional artists working today.   As part of this very select group, 13 artists are from Florida of which nine call Sarasota home. Artistic style ranges from the large emotionally rich, colorful abstracts of Barbara Krupp to the breathtaking contemporary realism   of Yuqi Wang, William Suys and Jeff Cornell. James Griffin's impressionistic sun-drenched Sarasota land and streetscapes often reveal abstract, almost surreal elements within his paintings. Although usually smaller in size, Nancy Turner's meticulous collagraphs and eloquent monoprints, focus her passion about women's cultural and political struggles Using rich color patterns in both watercolor and oil, Robert Baxter, at age 84, creates a milieu for his fascinating faces that populate his lived in and understood international world of art. Dabbert Gallery | Through - Aug. 3 | 76 South Palm Avenue Sarasota, FL 34236

Summerfest 2014: The Florida Highwaymen In the early 1950’s through the 1980’s a group of 26 African-American artists painted beautiful landscapes that displayed the serene, undeveloped Florida landscape of their time. Today these artists are known as the “Florida Highwaymen” and because of the tranquil scenes and history involved, their original paintings are highly demanded by collectors and enthusiasts. The Florida Highwaymen  used vivid and bright colors in their paintings  to display the beautiful untouched Florida landscape.  They painted wind-bent palm trees, serene sunsets, churning oceans and bright red Poinciana trees. In 2004 the 26 original Florida Highwaymen were inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame.  The Highwaymen are credited for encouraging the beginning of the “Indian River School” and “Backus” art movements. The Venice Art Center | July 11 – August 15 390 Nokomis Ave S, Venice, FL 34285 |

July 2014





Photos by Herb Booth 28



July 2014


eing in the best physical shape possible, looking great

Encouraged by the success Flannagan and others have

and feeling fantastic is very appealing and an import-

achieved with the training program, more than 300 people al-

ant part of the Florida lifestyle. However, the usual hit-

ready have taken advantage of a significant savings incentive

the-gym approaches to getting those results can dampen the zeal

for making early reservations. “We’ve gotten great response so

of even highly devoted fitness enthusiasts. At least until now.

far because Orangetheory Fitness is different in a number of

For those who don’t relish spending hours at big box gyms

ways. The results are unquestionable, and another difference is

just to plateau or reap only modest results, local real estate

that there’s no contract to sign,” he said. “Everything is month

developer Mark Flannagan is opening a new boutique fitness

to month, which means they can sign up to get the lifetime sav-

studio in Sarasota that is designed to change that. Orangetheo-

ings without being committed to a long-term contract.”

ry Fitness delivers galvanizing workout sessions designed to be

Orangetheory Fitness workouts are science-based and com-

challenging but attainable. The new studio is scheduled to open

bine heart-rate-based, high-intensity interval training on tread-

later this summer in the Sarasota Pavilion plaza at the corner

mills and rowing machines with strength training. Participants

of Stickney Point Road and U.S. 41. (Looking for a landmark?

burn 600 to 1,000 calories per hour-long session and continue to

Hooters is next door.)

burn 200 to 400 calories in the 24 to 36 hours after the workout.


July 2014




“When I watched my first class, I was apprehensive about

ing and group personal coach who watches over the session,

being able to do it myself, but I did it at my pace and finished it,”

each individual works at his or her own pace based on where

Flannagan said. “I continued the workout four times a week and

they are physically. The coaches work with people to modify the

in a few months time I lost 15 pounds, but more importantly, I

program if needed.” Bikes and elliptical machines provide alter-

gained muscle and lost fat. I lost 5 inches off my waist and my

natives to treadmills and rowers for those with injuries or other

blood pressure is the lowest it’s ever been. I feel much better.

physical limitations.

I sleep less and have a lot more energy. The

Flannagan is bring-

I just burned 886 calories in one hour. The exercises are concentrated ing triathlete Whit Re-

results were so good and science-based. The workout mixes up cardio and strength train- utlinger (shown right) that I decided to open onboard as a coach

ing, and the group element with a coach involved pushes people

up my own studio.”

for his new Orangeth-

because odds are they are not pushing themselves to where they eory Fitness location. crets to the workout need to be for best results. The monitors take the guesswork out Reutlinger, who is a One




is spending 12 to 20

of whether they are getting the most out of their workout or not.

minutes in the “orange



ory Fitness personal

zone,” which means a person’s heart rate is at 84 percent of max-

trainer, has experience teaching a variety of exercise classes that

imum. Participants wear heart rate monitors throughout the work-

include SBT resistance training, spin, aqua, and boot camps.

out and they, along with a certified group personal trainer who

“None of those alone come close to the workout you get at

leads the sessions, track their heart rates, which are displayed on

Orangetheory Fitness in one hour because it is a combination

60-inch monitors throughout the studio. That way members have

of all those things,” he said after completing his own Orange-

real-time information about whether they need to ease back or

theory Fitness workout recently. “I just burned 886 calories in

step it up to get the maximum benefit from their workout.

one hour. The exercises are concentrated and science-based.

“The second part of the workout puts it all together with

The workout mixes up cardio and strength training, and the

strength conditioning using Suspended Bodyweight Training

group element with a coach involved pushes people because

(SBT) straps for resistance training, light dumbbells, floor exer-

odds are they are not pushing themselves to where they need

cises, and medicine balls for balance training,” Flannagan said.

to be for best results. The monitors take the guesswork out of

“The conditioning strengthens and stabilizes muscles for bet-

whether they are getting the most out of their workout or not.”

ter posture, a strong core, good balance, sculpting, and toning.

In order to be Orangetheory Fitness certified, personal train-

That was the reason I got the results I did. My weight loss was

ers must complete a rigorous five-day training program and have

due to the interval training during the workout and the added

an in-depth knowledge of physiology and safety training as well

calories burned after the workout. The waist reduction is due to

as a passion for fitness and the ability to use that passion to mo-

the sculpting and toning created by the strength training.” After

tivate others. The focus on training starts with the creator of the

each session, participants receive an emailed report detailing

Orangetheory program, Ellen Latham, a highly trained physi-

the results of their workout and progress.

ologist with certifications in personal training, group exercise,

Another aspect of the Orangetheory Fitness approach that

pilates, and spinning. Latham’s lifelong passion for health and

Flannagan appreciates is the variety that keeps the workouts

fitness was inspired by her father, a physical education teacher

fresh and interesting, and which is often missing in other types

and coach in Niagara Falls, N.Y. Her desire to be on the cutting

of exercise. “The Orangetheory program as a whole is one of

edge of fitness resulted in the creation of “The Ultimate Work-

the most unique. Every day is a different workout,” he said,

out,” which became the foundation for Orangetheory Fitness.

“and our workouts are effective because the templates are written by certified experts in the fitness industry.”

Flannagan first became aware of Latham’s science-based approach through his daughter, who is in the fitness industry in

All of the workouts are based on the physiological theory of

Denver. “She encouraged me to check it out, so I went out there

excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC), which cre-

and did my first workout with her. When I walked in, I thought

ates an oxygen debt (anaerobic) condition in the body, stimulat-

‘wow, this place is cool.’ It’s so pretty, it looked like a wine

ing the metabolism and causing the body to use more oxygen

bar,” he said. With an intimately sized space, upbeat music, rich

and burn more calories during and after the workout.

orange walls and tasteful artwork as backdrop to the gleaming

“I’ve been asked if anybody can do this, and that’s probably

machines and monitors, Orangetheory Fitness defies the utili-

the most unique thing about this program. Orangetheory Fitness

tarian spareness expected of most gyms. “I never used to wear

has participants who are 20 years old to our oldest member, who

orange, now I wear it all the time. I even have orange underwear

is 86. People come here who have never worked out or who ha-

for heaven’s sake,” said Flannagan with characteristic wryness.

ven’t worked out in years, and we also have triathletes who want

“Orange represents energy and excitement. It creates a good

to improve their times,” he said. “Because of the heart monitor-

feeling. You can feel the energy when you walk in the door.”




July 2014

Each studio features a variety of equipment, from treadmills and rowers to bikes, elliptical machines, suspended bodyweight training straps, dumbbells, medicine balls and more.

60-inch TV screens show real-time feedback from individual heart rate monitors so each person is able to track whether or not they are in the “orange zone” – that is reaching 84% of their maximum heart rate.

That energized feeling, or “juice,” was exactly what Flannagan was looking for as a new venture. Having had successful

discounts and no annual commitment. For seasonal residents, memberships can be “frozen” while they are away.

careers building a nationwide sales organization in the mer-

Flannagan is so convinced that people will love both the ef-

chant services business and then as a real estate developer, he

ficiency of the workouts and the results they’ll see that his plans

began looking for something new to engage his talents. “About

include rolling out additional locations near downtown Sarasota

a year ago, I decided I wanted to find something with excite-

and in north Lakewood Ranch as well as in Denver, he said. “My

ment and energy that was cutting edge,” he said, “something I

energy and excitement were due to my results because results are

could get excited about.” Given the results Flannagan saw with

everything. I may not feel like going in and working out, but I do

Orangetheory Fitness, he knew this was the venture he sought.

because I looked in the mirror, and I liked what I saw. Plus, I’m

Leading up to the opening of the new studio, Flannagan has

in and out in just four hours a week,” he said. “When you look

been connecting on Facebook at Orangetheory Fitness – South

good, your confidence level goes up, and you walk with more

Sarasota with people who are enthused about the program

authority. That’s something everyone can get excited about.”

coming to Sarasota. He’s also offering pre-opening reservations up to a 20 percent discount on sessions. The incentive

Orangetheory Fitness – South Sarasota

is only being offered prior to the studio’s opening, but the sav-

6509 South Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, FL 34231

ings continue for the life of the membership. The studio will be

Sarasota Pavilion at intersection of Stickney Point Road & U.S. 41

open seven days a week with weekday hours from 5 a.m. to 8

941-444-2439 |

p.m. and a somewhat lighter schedule on weekends, Flannagan said. Sessions can be purchased month to month with quantity

Facebook: Orangetheory Fitness – South Sarasota July 2014





SHOWSTOPPERS Photos by Cliff Roles

(unless otherwise labeled)

It was one of the best social seasons in memory. Events were big, bold and all-around fun. And as we’ve been doing for 57 years, SCENE was there to capture many of the special moments. Here is a snapshot of standout events we hope you’ll enjoy as we remember a very special season on the Sarasota social scene. – Julie Milton, Executive Editor




July 2014

Cliff’s Picks

Everyone knows the dashing Brit, Mr. Roles. If he didn’t photograph you this season, well then maybe you didn’t stand out. Perhaps a make-over for next season is in order? Here are some of Cliffs standout people and events from a jam-packed season from which he needs to take a walkabout (literally). Clockwise from right: Renee Phinney, Richard & Michael Scire, Selah Freedom Fashion Show, Asolo Rep Mainstage Celebration, New College’s Pique Nique su la Baie Fashion Show & YMCA Golden Lotus Gala.

July 2014




Famous Faces

Celebrities breezed in and out of Sarasota lured by Ringling College, Sarasota Film Festival, Woman’s Resource Center, The Hermitage Artists Retreat, the Junior League of Sarasota, and more. Here are just some of the famous faces who graced the Sarasota social scene this season. Editor’s Note: But the biggest name to hit our town is not on this page…keep looking! Clockwise from left: Richard Dreyfuss, Matt Dillon, Anna Paquin & Stephen Moyer, Michelle Phan, Luke Wilson, Dr. Ruth Westheimer & Olympia Dukakis.




July 2014

American Jewish Committee

Brian Lipton. Can he put on an event or what? He is so spectacular as Executive Director extraordinaire of the American Jewish Committee, West Coast Florida Chapter, that Marilyn and Irving Naiditch donated $100,000 to AJC to honor Brian’s passion and dedication, which have resulted in new heights of success for the region. This past season AJC honored Gulf Coast Community Foundation president Teri Hansen and philanthropist Gerri Aaron. Two great picks for sure.

Asolo Rep Starry Night Dinners and Annual Gala

Laura Wood (Special Events Manager at Asolo Rep). Remember her name. She is simply Wonder Woman. If you weren’t at a Starry Night Dinner, I suggest you buy a ticket to attend one next season. You will have a blast. The Gala was spectacular as well. Loved the Rainbow Room theme and the band was fantastic!!

July 2014




BGCSC Dream Makers Ball

Great Gatsby! From flappers to jazz to gaming tables, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Sarasota County scored big with its Dream Makers Ball. Funds raised from the event provided scholarships for kids in need to attend a Boys & Girls Club in Sarasota County including North Port, Venice, Sarasota and Newtown.

Children First

Children First held two terrific events this season. Flip Flops & Fashion is still the best beach event in town with the great food and ambiance at Sharky’s on the Pier as well as a fashion show with local leading ladies as models. And when it comes to honoring children, what better theme for a gala than a Fairytale Ball? Guests got right into fairytale character with some great costumes. Children First offers a Head Start and Early Head Start Program and serves over 550 of Sarasota County’s lowest income children from birth to five years old.




July 2014

Circus Arts Conservatory

Our beloved Circus Arts Conservatory did not disappoint with its gala this season. If you were there and didn’t have a good time, there’s something wrong with you. Be sure to catch the fun with our circus king and queen, Pedro Reis and Dolly Jacobs-Reis at next year’s gala and help preserve the heritage of the circus arts through performance, training, education and outreach.

Child Protection Center

The Child Protection Center (CPC) held its first Men, Whiskey and Watches event at the Ritz-Carlton, which was fun, different, and brought out the younger philanthropists in town. For its gala, Blue Ties & Butterflies, guests responded by wearing lots of blue and giving to a cause that everyone should support. While the subject may be uncomfortable for some, helping to save the lives of children is a comfort worth fighting for. CPC’s mission is the prevention, intervention and treatment of child abuse.

July 2014




Community Video Archives Luncheon

As she has done for the past 24 years, community icon Annette Scherman manages to bring out the movers and shakers for her Community Video Archives (CVA) Luncheon. Honorees were Gerri Aaron, Alexandra Quarles, Sam Shapiro and Daniel Kennedy. Next year, CVA will honor Annette for her devotion to the community. You better call for your seat now. This one will be sold out in no time!

SMHF’s Dr. Oz Event

Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation wins this season for bringing the most popular celebrity to town – the famous Mehmet Oz, MD, cardiothoracic surgeon, author and television personality – host of The Dr. Oz Show – as a guest speaker at its event featuring Women’s Health: Prevention of Cardiac Disease with Proper Nutrition. What was really cool is that Dr. Oz donated his time for the visit proving he is as nice as he seems on TV!




July 2014

Education Foundation’s An Evening in Paris

Amazing art, a lively auction and the community’s most accomplished high school artists converged for Education Foundation’s “An Evening in Paris.” Anytime you can see the beaming faces of 25 talented teens, it is well worth the price of admission. Besides, you’ll know your donation benefits the 41,200 students in our public schools through the work of the Foundation.

Exotic Car Fest

Last year it was Bond girls. This year it was The Great Gatsby. No matter what theme they come up with, this event delivers showcasing over 160 luxury and exotic cars and glamorous events over a three-day happening. Proceeds benefit a different charity every year. Get on board next season and experience a spectacular weekend!

July 2014




Florida Winefest

Florida Winefest and Auction threw a “Banquet on the Block” and everyone came. Fantastic! Leave it to Sandy Loevner and the Winefest gang to excite and entertain every year. This year’s events included winemaker dinners and tastings, a lunch event, a POPS dinner with Sarasota Orchestra, the block banquet, and its grand brunch and auction. Since 1991, over $7.5 million has been awarded to 77 different nonprofits in Sarasota & Manatee Counties. Put this blockbuster event on your must-attend list for next season!

Glasser/Schoenbaum Gala

Maybe it’s because I have such fond memories of Dr. Kay Glasser. Maybe it’s because I get that the 17 agencies housed at the Glasser/Schoenbaum Human Services Center are vitally important to our community. I just loved this glitzy and glamorous event. They’re building a new children’s medical center you may want to help build. Call the new executive director, Jay Berman, and tell him Julie Milton sent you.




July 2014

Golf Tournaments

Not to be outdone by glitzy galas, there were several terrific golf tournaments raising money for many worthy causes. Most notable were Concession Cup, Callaghan Tire Pro-Am, Habitat for Humanity Sarasota’s Fore the Love of Habitat, JFCS’s Golf Tournament, Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation’s Golf Tournament; the Laurel Oak Cup for Special Olympics, and the Ringling College Golf Tournament. All of them were way above par! Photo by D

Photo by Curt Bo

avid D essa



JFCS Events

OK, the JFCS Gala is one I absolutely love. In fact, every event Jewish Family & Children’s Service does, I always enjoy. And Bea Friedman, thank you so much for sponsoring the Sarasota Orchestra to provide the gala entertainment. It is always a classy, well-done evening. At what other event can you play golf and when you’re done attend a tent party for 600 at Longboat Key Club with fine wine and tastings from 25 local restaurants? The JFCS Celebrity Chefs Food & Wine Tasting & Golf Challenge Event, of course! Event proceeds enable JFCS to continue serving those most vulnerable in our community – children, adults, seniors, and veterans. Be sure to mark both of these great events on your calendars for the upcoming season. But don’t wait too long, tickets sell out fast!

July 2014




JFED’s Women’s Day Luncheon

One of the most entertaining celebrity speakers came to us courtesy of The Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee at its annual Women’s Day Luncheon. Veteran broadcaster and award-winning journalist Campbell Brown shared heart-warming and hilarious personal stories about finding love in Iraq, converting to Judaism, and trying to win over her mother-in-law. It all had a very happy ending. You should have been there.

Key to the Cure

What’s pink, lots of fun and is the much anticipated season kick-off event? Key to the Cure sponsored by Saks Fifth Avenue and Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation, of course! Where else can you get pink drinks and desserts and walk around Saks saying hello to 700 people in town like you’re the mayor! Best yet, the event benefits women’s cancer programs at Sarasota Memorial.




July 2014

La Musica Events

The indomitable Sally Faron scored big this season with two La Musica events. Sonata a Due, held at The Charles Ringling Mansion, was especially beautiful, and the recital most enjoyable. If you’ve never been to La Musica’s Interactive Dinner, you should. It is a blast. Guests and La Musica musicians play “musical chefs” in a fun and action-packed evening. Having an international chamber music festival is quite special. Be sure to experience it next season.

Masked Balls

Jewish Federation jumped on the masked ball theme with their first Purim Masquerade Ball, which included another popular event addition this season – the after party – where the fun continued. Look for this one to grow bigger and better! Last season’s opener, Die Fledermaus, was the inspiration behind Sarasota Opera’s Masked Ball with opera supporters arriving in elegant and creative masks. The excitement continued with the divine voices of opera principal artists and dancing to the sounds of the 42nd Street Big Band. Sarasota Opera’s Curtain Raiser season opening event, also featured performances by principal artists and is always an elegant yet comfortable evening. If you’ve never been to the opera, what are you waiting for? We have one of the finest opera companies in the world. I promise you will have an unforgettable evening!

July 2014




ODA Banyan Bash

On a lovely evening last March 15, if you wanted to know where all the beautiful, young couples went, look no further than ODA’s Banyan Bash. With the campus illuminated with thousands of lights, ODA supporters enjoyed café-style seating with food from some of the finest local restaurants and dance tunes that rocked the amphitheater. More than $350,000 was raised in support of the people and programs that make Outof-Door such an exceptional school.

Conservation Foundation’s Palm Ball

Elegant orange grove décor lent itself well not only to the tropical theme of this year’s Palm Ball, but to the critical issue of saving our land, the important mission undertaken by the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast. The Palm Ball, held on the shores of Little Sarasota Bay, ranks among Sarasota’s most elegant and enjoyable events. Make sure you get your ticket next season and help support the vital conservation initiatives of this important organization.




July 2014

Planned Parenthood Safe Sex Bash

It’s always one of the best Halloween parties in town. This time it was the dark and sexy Studio 13: The Undead Disco. Imagine over 400 people dressed like they came out of the grave grooving the night away amidst a sea of glitter, glamour and gore. I don’t recall people talking about safe sex back in the good old disco days of the 70s! Bravo Planned Parenthood.

Suncoast Blood Bank’s Red Hot

Do you have any idea how much it costs to test every unit of blood, process and store it so when you need it you’ll know it’s not only available to you but it meets the highest safety standards? My, the things we take for granted. It doesn’t happen without contributions to one of our most vital lifesaving organizations – Suncoast Blood Bank. Their annual Red Hot event is fun and of course full of red!

July 2014




UCP Chocolate Sundae Festival

It’s always the sweetest event of the season in more ways than one! More than 800 darling, sweet children (and grown-ups) with eyes as wide as moon pies gobbling up sweets galore all to benefit UCP of Southwest Florida, which serves the community by providing a full array of services and resources to people with disabilities and their families. It’s always on a Sunday afternoon in March so be on the lookout in SCENE for the date!

USF Brunch

Sunshine, the bay, 1,000 people, great food, a fun atmosphere – that’s USF’s Brunch, its signature fundraising event. It is the feelgood event of the season especially when you have proud, grateful students shaking your hand to thank you for your support. Help make higher education possible for a student. Get on board for next season’s Brunch on November 2, 2014.




July 2014

Dick Vitale Gala

Just when you thought he couldn’t possibly raise any more money, he did it again. Dickie V to the rescue. This amazing ESPN Hall of Fame Sportscaster raised over $2 million at this year’s event and since 2006 has raised more than $10 million for pediatric cancer research. Through tears, pleas and plain old passion, Dick Vitale is a man on a mission. Bravo.

Van Wezel Foundation Gala

Imagine this. It’s Jay Leno’s last night as host of the Tonight Show. He rushes from the NBC studios, hops into his private jet and flies directly to Sarasota to perform at the Van Wezel. Well guess what? That’s exactly what happened at this year’s VWF Gala. Excitement was in the air as guests enjoyed cocktails and dinner on the bay at the Van Wezel and were ushered to their seats to enjoy a night of comedy from the master himself. You should have been there. Wonder who will be performing at next season’s gala? Stay tuned!

Y Foundation’s Golden Lotus

A YMCA transformed into an Indian paradise? Impossible you say? Not for the talented chairs and committee members of the Y Foundation’s Golden Lotus event. This evening of color and spice was one of the best of the social season. If you don’t know about the important work of the Y Foundation, call executive director Jennifer Grondahl. From helping homeless youth to counseling to camps and much more, there are lots of great reasons to support the Y Foundation.

July 2014




Scenes from an Interview:

Bishop Henry Porter by Gus Mollasis

He is a hometown boy blessed with many gifts including his ability to connect people with their passions and talents, while helping them seek and keep their faith. Born in Newtown, Bishop Dr. Henry Porter has traveled the world to spread the good news of the gospel, doing so with both a smile on his face and a song in his heart – and most often it’s a gospel song that he’s probably written. As a graduate of Yale, he believes strongly in the power of education. But what he believes in most is the power of people to do the right and good thing when they are exposed to the word of the Lord. His journey has taken him to churches, schools and prisons from small points thousands of miles away and back to his Newtown parish and community. Whether it is in a tent in Zimbabwe or in a pew of his church, The Westcoast Center for Human Development, something is sure to happen to you when you meet this man. You will change. And you will definitely feel the love that is in his heart for his fellow man, no matter where you come from and no matter where you are going. I know – it happened to me when I walked into his sanctuary on a warm June day and left refreshed from his inspiring words accented with music still washing over me. As I drove home, I did so smiling and humming one of his tunes as I reflected on the scenes from an interview of this amazing man’s life. Where were you born?

They gave me about anything I asked for, but I didn’t ask

Right here in Sarasota. I was born down the street. Midwife

for a whole lot, because somehow built in was this thing

Mrs. Brooks delivered me and they brought me home to

to be concerned about others. My mother checked on

1986 29th Street and Washington Court, when 301 was

people. My dad would go cut the hair and shave some

just a two lane highway.

of the elderly men. I would go with my dad everywhere. He would collect the dues for the church because he

What was your childhood like especially on Sunday mornings?

was a class leader. Mother was singing in the choir be-

I was born where the grass grew tall. We played in the ditches

fore I was playing, so when I started to play piano, my

with the crawfish and minnows, catching tadpoles. My moth-

mother would go everywhere as Hazel Porter and son

er sang in the choir and my dad was an usher at the church

(laughs heartily). It was a joyous thing. The people were

– The Harris Chapel AME. I was playing around the altar and

close knit and everyone cared. My granddaddy was

they would sing these songs that I still remember. As a matter

there since the 1920s. You felt like nothing was missing.

of fact, this morning I woke from a dream singing (breaks into

It was an isolated community because of the segrega-

song) “Hallelujah, Glory, Hallelujah, I’m going to praise His

tion issues, but you didn’t know about that because the

name, Hallelujah.” The church was just stirred. The people

family and community were your “all in all”. We would

were so together. Newtown was a popping place.

always have family reunions every year. We were all very close. My teacher, Miss Connor, lived around the

What is the greatest thing your parents instilled in you as a

corner. She would stop by and say, “Mrs. Porter, Henry

child about how to live a good life?

was talking a whole lot in class.” And I would think my

My mommy and daddy cared. Best parents in the world.

God, why does she have to live right around the corner? July 2014




Describe where you went to school and the greatest lesson

the community and the world. As you look back at these

you learned from your studies about the human condition.

years, what is the common thread in what people ask you

Way back in the first grade, I remember my teacher, Mrs.

to help them with regarding their faith?

Green, would always stress the importance of sharing. I

Love. It’s love. You may not recognize it because love in

would bring these batons to my class from the Ringling

itself is so diverse. It is invisible and yet visible. It’s felt and

Brothers Circus that I got because my uncle worked there

yet it can seep into the heart and do phenomenal things

and we would march. I always wanted to march because

you never thought of it doing. You find yourself with the

I wanted to be the drum major. Mrs. Green would say,

person who says he is missing something. They want to

“Henry, you share. When you do things for people like

have children. I’ve met barren people who’ve had children.

bringing in all these batons, it’s to share them and not be-

We’ve prayed for them and for people who’ve had cancers.

cause you have some other motive.” So I learned to let the

People are looking for peace. And people are looking for

other people march, because if I felt that good marching in

peace all over whether it is in Hong Kong, Germany, Par-

front, what would the rest of them feel? All of my teachers

is or Nigeria. They want that. And it’s found in different

were knitting our community together by showing us you

forms. But when it manifests, it meets whatever the needs

care because some of the kids were not as fortunate as

are. It all comes back to love. So all I do is I love people.

others. All of our teachers and principals were watching out for us. It was always about not standing there to fight

You have written many gospel songs in your life. What is

it out, but instead walking away from it to create peace in

the process you take in writing a song?

your community since we were all we had.

Music comes to me. It plays in my mind like a phonograph plays. A girl calls me on the telephone from the University

When did you first know that you wanted to make the min-

where I taught a class and says, “Bishop, memories of you

istry your life’s work?

are etched in my mind.” And I say, “Hold it, just a minute.”

I’ll tell you exactly. I was 17. I wanted to be a mathemati-

And I put her on hold. The moment she said, “Memories of

cian so badly, and then I had the born-again experience. I

you are etched in my mind,” there was music in my mind

was seeking the Lord. I had been in church all my life, but

that played with it. (He starts singing):

when this experience happened to me it was like every-

“Memories of you are etched in my mind,

thing was brand new. It was like your mind expands to a

And I find myself thinking of you all the time.

point of being open and willing to become what you are,

Sometimes my days turn into tears

not just what you have in mind. You see possibilities, and

Cause I’m not there with you.

my mind opened to the possibilities. The Holy Spirit told

I’m not there with you, and I want to be.

me that I was a teacher, singer, musician and preacher. It

I’m not there with you, sure like to be.

seemed to fit so well. And I like people.

Sometimes my days turn into tears Because I’m not there with you.”

You have a deep and pronounced faith. What is your defi-

So I put that all on the tape recorder, and then I took her

nition of faith and what does it mean to you?

off hold, and said, “Hey, I’m back.” (Laughs heartily) I think

I think faith is believing God to be who He says He is, and

it’s something more that acts on you rather than you acting

believing Him when He says you are all He says you are.

on it. You hear these melodies that just come to you from

When He tells you that you can walk to the Pharaoh with a

the Good Lord.

stick that you prodded sheep with and say, “Let my people go,” you feel like you can really do this because He said it

The Westcoast Chapel states that it is “The Church of Con-

and that’s what makes it so rich. I like the rhinoceros, the

tinuous Joy, Where Jesus is Lord.” What does that mean to

hippo, and the ostrich. And all these are so strange. You

you and what do you hope the folks take away from your

look at them and you think wow, who comes up with this

church after they enter the doors?

idea? I’d like to know you. Look at all the trees that are

Service. That they serve because if you have been blessed

blooming like a mango tree. I love mangos and peaches.

and filled up you don’t just go away full. It should have

Aren’t they wonderful? So when I talk about my faith, I

affected you to the point that you would touch someone

believe that I am made in the likeness of God. All other

else. When you find something funny, you want to share

people are made in the same likeness, so you don’t hate

that with someone else. If something has come to you to

them, would you? You wouldn’t hate them because they’re

improve, rebuke you, to show you a better way, I say this

like you – whoever they are and wherever they are.

to all my students, “We grow and as we grow we must find new and better ways to express ourselves. If we do

You have recently celebrated your 45th year of ministry to




July 2014

not, we will resort to basic, common and unclean ways of

expression.” God forbid. Watch this. I’ve got sparkles in

The Westcoast Gospel Chorus of Florida has its roots in the

my hand and they’re red, silver, blue and gold. And these

1970s at the time shortly after Dr. Martin Luther King was

sparkles are in God’s hand and He sprinkles them down on

killed. Tell me about how spreading the gospel through

the people of the world. And some sparkle is in you that

music helped heal a community and helps people move

I don’t know about, but if I get to know you I will sparkle

closer to faith.

like your sparkles. I believe that.

We were singing this new song that had just come out by Edwin Hawkins called “Oh Happy Day.” They were new

Faith plays a big part in helping people succeed in life,

chords for us. I knew the traditional gospel. And he comes

but so does education and encouragement. Please tell us

out singing “Oh Happy Day,” and they were playing it on

about your role as an encourager and an engineer of prog-

the radio stations and it crossed over. At that time, peo-

ress and how you hope to help people reach their “towers

ple were saying if it plays on the Blues station then you

of greatness.”

can’t sing it in church. So we were University students

The first thing that I have to get you to do is like you.

and we were singing it in the churches and the pastor of

When you think that you’re not good enough, that some-

one church says, “I don’t want that sung in my church.” I

thing is so wrong, that you can’t see you and the light-

said to him, “They’re singing, ‘Oh happy day, when Jesus

ness in you. There is a light. The first thing I do, for

washed my sins away’, that’s not a blues song.” (Laughing)

example, when I’m teaching piano, I tell my student not

That’s why education takes down barriers. Sometimes it’s

to stop if he or she makes an error. Keep playing with

by moving blocks at a time, and sometimes it does it with

the time. So in your life, you always keep a time table

a sledgehammer. And sometimes it does it with a file, nice

in your head and the dream in your heart. You keep

and easy, like you do your nails. Just to help people come

the dream and you move toward it in time. People ask

to the knowledge that we’re really not trying to hurt you,

me, “What can I become?” I say let’s explore that. Be-

we’re just trying to get you in shape. The education gets

fore Native American Indians would make something

you in shape. After we sang for a while, the preacher came

from a rock, before they ever did sculpture, they would

to understand he was given a congregation with a gener-

knock on the rock, listen (makes knocking sound) and

ation of young people who were going through some real

say “who’s in the rock?” I’m not trying to mold you into

hard trials and who were suffering from what they saw as a

something that you’re not. I want you to be who you are.

blow against freedom with Dr. King being killed. And now

I tell my children that. I’m not looking for another Henry

you have this music and you are being given people, but

Porter. My son’s name is Henry Porter. I want to see who

you don’t know you’ve been given them because you’re

you are and believe that there will be something there

trying to fit them into the only box that you know. So when

that you will be able to expand. I don’t think I’m the only

I came home with that knowledge, I liked Newtown, I liked

helper, I think we all are. This little 6-year-old came to

the people. I had been in all the churches. I played for all

me and I sang this song to her: “Be kind, be kind, one

the churches. I knew the people. We were one community.

to another, tender hearted, tender hearted, forgiving one

I put an article in the paper and invited everybody to come

another, so as Grace has forgiven your brother.” So then

and take part in the concert at Hearst Chapel AME church.

she asked, “Can we use others in the song in the place

We met and we formed the group that is now the gospel

where it says brother? “Even as Christ has forgiven you,

chorus. It was anybody in the community. I didn’t have

so forgive others.” “Yeah,” I said, thinking to myself why

auditions. And I never have. How do you audition for life?

would she want to change that? She had no brothers.

You’re just born. Sometimes we put things in a category

She is six-years-old. Isn’t that beautiful? Forgive others.

where we exclude those that should be included. So if he

I hugged her and said, “We changed it.” We changed it

couldn’t sing, is that going to hurt our choir? No, because I

because she needed it and she was being more inclusive

can say, “You’re good. I’d like to use you as an usher.” And

of everyone. I can only show you how I have been treat-

he was still a part of the Westcoast gospel chorus. Because

ed as all my teachers taught me. All these people em-

we were a chorus of educators, a chorus of singers, a cho-

braced me. Did they embrace me because I was smart or

rus of dancers, a chorus of ushers, a chorus of people who

was a stellar student? I don’t know that. I have nothing

are helping people’s lives.

to compare that with. But all I know is that when I embrace others, I must embrace them as I was embraced.

What drives you to travel so much and so far to spread the

So when I work with my students, I do so as if they were

word of the gospel?

all valedictorians. That’s the kind of personal care I had

To me love is just phenomenal. And what drives me is when

in my life. I know what that did for me. That’s why I sing

He said, “You should go into all the world and preach the

this song, “I Still Care.”

gospel.” And the preaching of the gospel is good news. What

July 2014




got me to Africa is this white gentleman from the Detroit

this, what? If no action, why? It is your day and your time,

who came to visit me in Sarasota. He had a calling that he

prepare for the phenomenal.

felt he was supposed to work with black people. So when he came to see me, he said, “You’re not the black people that

Give me an example of how the power of prayer helped to

I’m supposed to work with.” I asked what he meant. He said,

restore your life.

“I believe that I’m supposed to go to Africa.” I said great and

From the time that I was a baby until 14, I suffered from

he went to Africa and opened up a Bible School and people

chronic bronchial asthma. I would get adrenaline shots fre-

were so touched. He came back to Sarasota and visited me

quently. We had a black doctor from Bradenton we went

again and asked me, “Why haven’t you been to Africa?” I

to in the middle of the night to get shots when it was an

told him I didn’t know why not. He got me an invitation to

emergency. He died and I had an asthma attack shortly

Africa and I went. When I got there, I started singing in a

thereafter. Mom and dad took me downtown but it was so

place that was packed. They asked why it took me so long

crowded that we could not get in. My mother said to my

to come there. Nobody has to ask me that question again.

dad, “Earnest, let’s take him home.” My breathing was so bad, and I was scratching my sides in panic. My dad agreed

How is the villager in Zimbabwe similar to your church

and he took me across his shoulder to our house on 29th

member in Sarasota as it pertains to seeking and putting

Street and put me on the bed. My dad, who I had heard

their faith in the Lord?

pray in church many times, knelt down near my bed and

People are about the same everywhere. After one meet-

asked me, “Son, do you want me to pray for you?” And I

ing and all the services we conducted in a big tent, there

said, “Yes, dad,” while wheezing heavily. Dad started the

was this beautiful black girl who stood up and testified,

prayer and I was expecting him to say the prayer that he

“I thank God for sending this minister, because I thought

always prayed in the church. But dad didn’t pray that. He

that because I am black, I could never become anything.”

said these words: “Father, you don’t have to heal my boy,

And I said, “You live in Zimbabwe, in a black culture.”

but please don’t let him suffer so much.” From that day

She thought being black was a deterrent to her becoming

until this one, I have never had another asthma attack. And

a success even in her own country. I have never forgotten

that’s why I take this to the rest of the world. It was a gift

that girl. People want peace and love.

to me.

When you meet someone who is not a believer, what is your

Finish the following sentences:

approach and what responsibility do you have to enlighten them?

The most important thing we can do for the world’s chil-

Never, ever, ever hit people in the head with a two-by-four (Laughing). That’s not what you do. I say it this way. I make

dren is… Educate them.

this Lemon Jell-O cake. You’ve got to taste it. It’s marvelous. It tastes so good. Bessie Pitts made it for me the first time.

The United States of America is…

When I first give a person a piece, I say, “Do you like Lemon

A great place to be with a lot to share and it needs to share

Jell-O cake?” If they say I love it, I cut a big piece. If they

its wealth with the rest of the world.

say they don’t, I cut a small piece. I give you just a taste so that you can tell me if you like it. So my approach is “taste

A good community is…

and see.” I don’t throw it on you like that. You’ve got to see

Where people love and care about each other including

where you are landing. Some people are not quite ready or

those less fortunate than they are.

their problems are so pronounced that they can’t see that you have brought them a solution. You can’t talk too long to a hungry man without giving him a sandwich. Do you have a favorite verse from the Bible?

When I travel to Africa I feel… Love. Peace. Connected. Most of all it shows me my heritage. To me, Sarasota means…

Proverbs 22:20 – “Have not I written to thee excellent

Home. Prosperity. A very lovely place. It is paradise on

things in councils and knowledge, that I might make thee

the Gulf.

know the certainty of the words of truth, that thou might answer those that are sent to you.”

A good man is one that… Loves himself, his family and his community.

If you could have a one minute TV commercial that could be broadcast around the world, what would you say? If not now, when? If not here, where? If not you, who? If not




July 2014

The best thing a man can do for his family is… Love them.

Jesus Christ is the …

all these hymns from the AME church. Well at that very

So much pops into my mind that I feel limited in trying to

moment, I fell across the organ and started to cry like a

describe it, but He is the savior of the world.

little baby. And I’m thinking I have fouled it up with these guys, they’re going to think I’m a softy. When I opened

What worries you or troubles you the most about this

my eyes maybe 10 -15 minutes later because I was so


ashamed that I cried, I looked at the men in the aisles

Selfishness, hatred, not taking the time to get to know other

on the floor weeping. They gave me the thumbs up sign

people and connect with them. Because I feel if you know

which they told me meant that I was straight up. I told

people, feel them, touch them, you can connect and you’ll

them, “I don’t know what you have done, but God does,

see them like you see yourself. Nobody in the world is

but I will treat you like I don’t know what you have done

just like you. I am also one of a kind with my own unique

in your life.” The Holy Spirit then told me to say aloud

idiosyncrasies. Whenever two people get together, the

that there was a man standing in the back of the room

friendship that is formed is unique and without duplica-

who stabbed someone very badly and that if he came

tion. There’s no other one like it in the world. And I think

now to the altar, God says he has no hard feelings. A man

we need to rediscover the uniqueness of working together.

came forward to the altar and tells me he was contemplating killing himself until he heard my music and came in to

What gives you the most peace about the next world?

join the others. Later he would tell me that everyone, in-

I’ll be able to see the One that I’m so fascinated about and

cluding his family and the judge, had hard feelings toward

how He thinks. Because I like minds, but God, how do you

him. He said that for the first time in his life, when I told

come up with all this?

him that if he came to Him, that He would have no hard feelings, he felt forgiveness. His life has changed. He’s a

You have received awards for your work in America and

minister now in Jacksonville.

abroad for schools and prison ministry and for being a “Prophet of Love” for the internationality televised HLP

Have you ever had doubts about your faith?

Love Campaign. What do you tell prisoners and students

You know sometimes you are praying for something and

alike about faith and the power of love?

it doesn’t come through and it doesn’t happen at the time

There are two million people in prison and seven million

you hope it would. It makes you go back three or four

people in the system in some form. That’s a lot of peo-

times. You know what I do? I believe I’m not the only one

ple. I tell them all the same message because they’re all

with faith, so I get a group of people and I have them pray

people. If I do something good, like for example, when I

with me. I call friends from all over the nation and I have

make lasagna, I’m not going to give it just to my students

them pray, because one of us can get through (he smiles)!

who show all this promise and not share some of it with prisoners. My mind can’t make those kinds of divisions. I

What do you tell those who have doubts about their faith?

tell the prisoners that I have to prepare them for TRAFA,

If you’re going through something, don’t be alone, con-

which stands for “The Right Attitude for Advancement”.

nect with someone. If you pray, He’s everywhere and

They tell me that I teach them like I was teaching my stu-

He’ll send an answer sometimes in strange ways. One

dents. To which I would then say, “I was sent here. I’m not

night I was in Savannah, Georgia where I was having a

looking you up and down trying to figure out what you

meeting. It was late and I was resting on the couch. The

have done.” Let me tell you how I got there. One night

TV was on and I heard this woman saying, “As long as I

when I was teaching at Florida A&M University, I was

do it, I have the power. But when you begin to do it, you

awakened in my bedroom by a little man with a TV on his

have the power.”

chest and he was singing, “I need somebody to help me, help me to make it through, need someone to help me,

What is the greatest reward to living a Christian life?

but there’s nothing that they can do.” And I’m looking at

Being filled with the Holy Spirit. It’s the ultimate.

him singing and the camera pans and it said State Prison. I thought yes, I get it, I’m supposed to go to the prisons.

How do you want to be remembered?

So when I called the prisons and told them that I want-

Love. As Jesus said, “By this all men will know that you are

ed to come, they said, “Why would you want to come

my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

and preach to those who have thrown their lives away?” When I went to the prison, I took my organ, my speakers

When you leave this world, what do you hope is the first

and 30 people with me. And when I got there, I started to

thing you hear in the next one?

sing these songs, “Lord I hear the showers of blessings…”

Well done, my good and faithful servant. July 2014






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Woman’s Exchange Grants & Scholarship Ceremony Karen Koblenz, Executive Director of the Woman’s Exchange, announced the 2014/2015 grant and scholarship award recipients at a celebration held at the Exchange and catered by Café L’Europe. Guests included grant recipients from many of the arts and cultural venues in the community as well as the student scholarship winners and their parents. Since 1962, the Woman’s Exchange has awarded more than $7 million in grants and scholarships. Funds are realized through the organization’s consignment operation which consists of more than 260 volunteers and 5,000 consignors. Many human services organizations regularly receive donations of household items and clothing worth millions of dollars.

Karen Koblenz, Debbie Haspel, Margaret Ann Behrends & Elizabeth Powers

Photos by Susan Wilcox

Jeffery Kin & Michelle Bianchi Pingel

Barbara Simon, Jim Shirley & Elizabeth Lindsay

Linda Davis & Mike Holmes

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July 2014


Together By Debbi Benedict


Shining Bright Ashley Dooley + Patrick Thomas What could be more romantic than a marriage proposal under the Northern Lights? A last minute vacation to see the lights in Iceland, where neither had been, but had always wanted to visit, was the setting for a special night for PNC Wealth Management event planner and Rodan+Fields consultant Ashley Dooley, and Bolt Electric owner Patrick Thomas. Ashley attended Cardinal Mooney and Florida State University, while Patrick is from Marietta, Georgia and attended Kennesaw State University. They met while both were working for Clockwork Home Services in Sarasota, she in event planning and he in franchise sales. Patrick designed the cushion cut ring with a double halo from Vanessa’s Fine Jewelry. Their parents are Dwight and Linda Dooley and Patrick Thomas, Sr. and Nellena Rodriguez. The wedding is planned for 2015 in Sarasota.

Photo: Katie Beyer Photography.

Top of the World Laura Parker + Andrew Samson Scaling great heights for a romantic proposal, Andrew Samson carried a heavy backpack to the top of a mountain in Big Bear, CA to ask Laura Parker for her hand in marriage. And what was in that heavy backpack that he insisted on carrying to the tippy-top of that precarious rock formation? A framed photo of the moment they first met. As Laura opened the gift, Andrew said, "From that moment, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with you." He got down on one knee and proposed. After she said yes, more goodies came out of the bag – their favorite song, “Overjoyed,” by Stevie Wonder, and a bottle of champagne. They had met at a mutual friend’s birthday party in Los Angeles, where they both now live, she is an actor and founder of a tutoring company and he is a writer and producer for Fox Sports1. He also won a daytime Emmy for the PBS show, WordGirl. Oddly enough, they both attended University of Pennsylvania where they lived across the street from each other, yet never met. Their parents are Dr. Charles Parker, Jr. and Mrs. Lynn Greer and Dr. Russell and Susan Samson of Sarasota. The wedding will be at Bay Preserve in Osprey in November 2014.

Photo: Regina Rached Photography.

July 2014




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Weddings A Global Affair Erin Barker + Douglas Christy, III International travel was the theme in the Love Makes the World Go Round wedding of Erin Barker and Doug Christy, held at sunset in the glow of the palatial Charles Ringling Mansion on the New College campus, from which Doug graduated. Both also graduated from Florida State University with law degrees. Doug is an attorney with Wetherington Hamilton in Tampa and Erin is the Director for Planned Giving at The Ringling. The attendants wore navy blue Halston Heritage gowns and the bride’s strapless lace and beaded gown was from Brides Against Breast Cancer. Expanding on their travel theme, each table at the reception was named after a place they had traveled to together with a photo of the couple in that location. Though travel was the theme, Erin and Doug wanted it to feel like a backyard garden party. They had yard games including bocce ball, ladder golf, and a cornhole toss. The reception was catered by Treviso. Cocktail hour featured a grits bar with all the toppings - fried shrimp, chives, cheese, hot sauce, and bacon. The dinner menu included pulled pork and barbecue chicken. For dessert, Doug's mother made homemade cookies and they had a cookie table to go along with the three-tier cake made by Pastries by Design. There was dancing and a photo booth/guest book so guests could take photos and leave a note for the bride and groom. Victoria Blooms was the florist. The bride and groom left under a tunnel of sparklers and had the father of the bride's 1972 Cutlass Convertible as the getaway car, which the bride drove. Their parents are Charles and Cheryl Barker and Douglas G. Christy, II and Maureen Cavallaro. Their honeymoon was two weeks in Italy, including Rome, Florence, Venice, and the happy couple ended their trip at a bed and breakfast in Tuscany.

Photo: Ware House Studios.

Making a Splash Ashley Gaw + Drew Peters   Water has played a major role in the romance of HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital Speech-Language Pathologist and Forbidden Tan co-owner Ashley Gaw, and LCM Capital Advisors portfolio manager Drew Peters. They initially met on a cruise to the Caribbean that they were on with both of their families and water was the star of the proposal. Drew planned a day of fishing for the couple at their favorite spot, Midnight Pass. As they arrived at the beach to get their fishing poles ready, Drew began saying sweet things to Ashley, pulled the engagement ring out of the tackle box where he was hiding it, and got down on one knee to propose. The wedding was held at Faith Baptist Church, with the reception at in the courtyard at The Ringling. Ashley’s

July 2014




gown was by Essence of Australia. It was a sweetheart neckline with hand-sewn crystals on the bodice, and a ball gown silhouette with flowing layers of tulle over satin. The reception theme was Vintage Southern Charm, with many personal touches. Ashley grew up collecting vintage skeleton keys at local antique stores and wanted to incorporate these into her wedding. The keys were hung on a door with a tag that led guests to their seat. The table numbers were held on old vintage glass doorknobs. Old lanterns were the centerpieces. Each bridesmaid had a handmade skeleton key necklace and Ashley carried an old skeleton key attached to her bouquet for her something old. Beneva Flowers was the florist and Simply Gourmet provided the catering. The cake display was completed by Ashley’s Matron of Honor’s mother, who owns a bakery and catering company based out of St. Petersburg, called The Chalkboard Kitchen. It was a cake extravaganza with five different flavors. Their parents are Patty Gaw and Gaylon and Laura Peters. For their honeymoon, Drew and Ashley took an excursion to Southern Utah and hiked Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park and skied in Brian Head. At the end of their trip they were able to see the Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. They began their trip at 40 degrees and ended at 102 degrees!

Photo: Naomi Chokr Photography.

Divinely Delicious Molly Klauber + Lieutenant Commander Ethan Biter You know it’s all about food for the scion of the Klauber restaurant dynasty. Molly Klauber met her beloved Ethan Biter at the Gulf Coast Cheese Fest, which she co-founded, and their first date was at Bern’s Steakhouse. Molly currently manages her father’s Michael On East restaurant, but soon will be moving to Jacksonville, as Ethan is a Lieutenant Commander, stationed at the naval base there. He is a test pilot and an aspiring astronaut. The couple was married in the courtyard at The Ringling. As a string quartet played, they walked out of the ceremony under a traditional military sword arch. The bride’s dress was a full ivory lace creation with a tulip bottom by Monique Lhuillier. Flowers were by Victoria Blooms and Maria Brady with Choreographed Events was the wedding planner. Of course, the reception was catered by Michael’s On East and the food was superb! Molly’s truffled macaroni & cheese bites was only one of the specialties served during the cocktail hour, along with a special whole cheese wedding




July 2014

cake, which was wheels of cheese stacked into a wedding cake. Short ribs starred as the main course. A berry Chantilly wedding cake was made by Cakes by Ron and was cut by the couple with Ethan’s sword. Also served was a bountiful dessert buffet that included chocolate chip cannoli, mini red velvet cupcakes, mini S'mores, macadamia chocolate tartlets, mini banana cream pies, mini cheese cakes and mini tiramisu martinis. The Kara Nally band played during the cocktail reception and Serenade of Souls was the reception band. The seating chart was on two giant mirrors. Molly’s dad, Michael, sabered a bottle of champagne to toast the happy couple. An after party was held at Michael’s Wine Cellar. All of the wedding guests were invited to join the couple on a post-wedding Royal Carribbean cruise to Georgetown and Cozumel to continue the celebration. Their parents are Michael and Terri Klauber and Mirta Matheu Klauber and Rich and Tina Biter. The couple will soon honeymoon on the Amalfi Coast of Italy and Southern France.

Photo: Binary Flips.

A Perfect Union Mackenzie Mudgett + Donald Longueuil Outdoor activities are central to the lives of Michael Saunders Realtor, Mackenzie Mudgett and Donald Longueuil, a partner at Scala Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Lugano, Switzerland. They first met at the Head of the Charles Regatta in Boston where she was rowing in the Princeton alumni boat, while Don, a graduate from Northeastern University, also a former rower, was there as a spectator. Though she was attending Wharton Business School in Philadelphia at the time and he was already working in Connecticut, they knew immediately they were meant for each other and made the long distant relationship work. While on a skiing trip to Vail, CO, Don proposed on a scenic overlook. Their wedding was performed at The Church of the Redeemer. The music was provided by the Redeemer choir, led by Ann Moe and the soloist was local star Adelaide Boedecker. Mackenzie’s wedding gown was a Vera Wang, bought in New York City and was a perfect match with Mackenzie’s personality - classic and professional on top, and then, almost unexpectedly, fun and party-ready on the bottom. The veil was a cathedral length Vera Wang. She wore coordinating Christian Louboutin shoes. Her something borrowed was a diamond bracelet from one of her best friends. The attendants also wore Vera Wang gowns. Champagne cocktails kicked off the reception at the Sarasota Yacht Club, which was an intimate and formal affair. The Kara Nally Band welcomed guests during the cocktail hour, and Rhythm Nation from Atlanta made sure that everyone rocked their best moves on the dance floor. Flowers were from Beneva Flowers. Maria Brady of Choreographed Events was the wedding planner. The elegant, contemporary, and chic evening was filled with love, laughter, and fond  memories that ended with warm mini-donuts served on the dance floor. Their parents are William and Patricia Mudgett and Patricia Longueuil and Gary Longueuil. Their honeymoon kicked off in Seychelles where they snorkeled and relaxed and then it was on to Tanzania for two weeks on a traveling safari.

Photo: Genevieve de Manio.

July 2014




A Royal Affair Lauren Turner + Gregory Cohen As owners of Hi Hat Ranch and one of the founding families of The Field Club, the Turner family is Sarasota royalty. The late rancher, Latimer Turner, was the family patriarch and his wife, Velda, is a charter member and past president of the Junior League of Sarasota. They are the grandparents of Lauren Turner who recently became the bride of Gregory Cohen. The couple met at a friend’s lake house on the Fourth of July and immediately became inseparable. Lauren graduated from Vanderbilt University and Savannah College of Art and Design. She currently manages the individual giving for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra. Greg is a University of Georgia graduate and is an account executive with Lockton Companies. The wedding was at First Presbyterian, Lauren’s childhood church. Her dress was an Amsale gown with an asymmetrical peplum and a fitted bodice over a jeweled cincture. Her ten attendants wore full length gowns by Bill Levkoff in Victorian lilac. The reception was held at The Field Club with a Great Gatsby meets Downton Abbey theme. The flowers, by Tiger Lily, were inspired by an English garden and the rest of the decor was resplendent 1920s glam.  Dance music was provided by the Flavor Band, an eight-piece big band from Atlanta and their first dance was Chicago’s You’re the Inspiration. The wedding cake was from Cakes by Ron. In the midst of all the fun, guests donned neon headbands and wristbands when the dance floor heated up - a bit of irreverence during this classic wedding. Bobbi Hicks of Weddings by Bobbi was the wedding planner. The couple arrived to the reception by yacht and spent their first night on the yacht as husband and wife. Their parents are James and Karen Turner and Richard and Joelle Cohen. The couple describes their honeymoon in Barbados as heaven on earth. They snuggled on the beach, went snorkeling with sea turtles over a shipwreck, jet skied, rode horseback on the beach, and went deep sea fishing. Just perfect for this bride and groom.




July 2014

Photo: Barbara Banks Photography.

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Education Matters By Ryan G. Van Cleave

APRIL 4-13, 2014



Open Openin Va


Educate to Em

Since its inception in 1999, the Sarasota Film Festival has quickly become one of the top independent Fr film festivals in North America. The festival is far more than just a multi-day showing of exciting inde- Tribu Cin pendent film features, documentaries, shorts, and kid-friendly picks. The second half of SFF’s mission statement clearly outlines what else they do that makes them a prime topic for a column like this: Sa “To celebrate the art of filmmaking and the contribution of filmmakers by hosting an international film Closing Night Fil festival and developing year-long programs for the economic, education, and cultural benefit of our Awards at community.” While many other film festivals have an educational or outreach component, only SFF has all of their offerings for free. What better way to inspire, educate, and entertain young people than by promoting creativity, collaboration and community involvement? As students learn film appreciation, screenwriting, directing, producing, and editing, they become empowered storytellers and better critSun Follow us “mySFF” ical, creative thinkers. According to bestselling author Daniel H. Pink, these skills are crucial to the 21st you century: “The future belongs to . . . creators and empathizers, pattern recognizers and meaning-makers. These people . . . will now reap society’s richest rewards and share its greatest joys.” Clearly, SFF agrees.


SarasotaFilmFes (941

To that end, Emily Harris, SFF’s Education Director, explains that throughout this past year, SFF Education’s efforts have reached over 6,000 area students through their programs and events. “Working

with students from elementary, middle, and high schools, I was surprised at how strong the opinions of the students were when critiquing and analyzing films,” Harris says. One of SFF’s programs, Classroom




July 2014

Pa i d fo r in p ar t b y Sar as ot a Count y Tour is t D evelop ment Tax reven u es.

Critic, is a film screening and written review workshop for 7th graders. The 7th graders who participated this year wrote some very passionate, thoughtful reviews of selected youthFEST shorts, Harris notes. “Kids have a lot to say. They just aren’t always given a platform to share their voice, which is why it is so important to continue offering our programs to the community.” Let’s be honest — the students who participate in activities through SFF are the future of filmmaking, which, as an organization, SFF obviously supports and celebrates. Harris adds, “Participating in SFF Education programs and events gives students a sense of accomplishment and pride, as well as an amplified voice. And it’s FUN!” Films + fun is a tough combination to beat. This summer, an exciting new film — fun project is happening thanks to a partnership between SFF and the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. In celebration of Newtown’s Centennial, select Booker High Students will learn the fundamentals of filmmaking as well as a bit more about their own local history. As many as 15 students will attend various sessions this summer and fall where they’ll learn the fundamentals of storytelling with an eye toward the basics of making a documentary film. Crafting information, interviews, and stories into a compelling sequence is no easy task, which is why they’ll learn firsthand how to do this from SFF instructor and filmmaker Samuel Curtis, a graduate of Riverview High School and Florida State University’s filmmaking program. Also helping with this project is Judge Charles E. Williams, a local filmmaker, civil rights historian, and Circuit Court Judge. The subject of the students’ project will be Newtown itself. They’ll interview local community leaders as well as fellow students and community members to get a sense of the past, present, and future of Newtown. This isn’t just a classroom exercise. Not only will this film’s trailer be revealed at a reception and art exhibit during February, but the actual doc-

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umentary will premiere at the 2015 Sarasota Film Festival. Every student involved in the creation of this film will be invited to attend and be honored for their efforts. Talk to area teachers, and you’ll see that our community’s growing interest in film is spilling over into the classroom. It’s not at all unusual for students to produce animation storyboards in literacy lessons or for teachers to use film clips to introduce a lesson. Films are a great leveller — almost a universal language. While some young people are hesitant to talk about books, they speak up when it comes to films because they have engaged with so many films already. They have a strong frame of reference. Give them an appropriate film vocabulary and what they offer is surprisingly astute. Plus more and more students are discovering the emotional power films offer. Thanks to SFF, Emily Harris, and projects like the Newtown documentary, film continues to be an important element of creative self-expression in our area. If you’d like to help support their efforts, use the contact information below. Harris hopes to one day have all of SFF’s education programs run year-

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round and she’s determined to fundraise until that reality takes place. For more information on the Sarasota Film Festival, please visit www. or call (941) 364-9514. To specifically reach Emily Harris, SFF’s Education Director, email her at

And online at

July 2014





Behind the Scene

Society Maven Debbi Benedict Gives the Latest Scoop As we wrap up the 2013-14 social season with a big, luxurious satin bow, here are the thoughts of some of Sarasota’s social swells about what made this season one of the best ever! Committed board member and generous philanthropist, Renee Hamad told me she had to admit that her most memorable event of the year was the Junior League Sustainer’s Legacy Luncheon, which featured presidential daughter, Julie Nixon Eisenhower, and her husband, presidential grandson, David Eisenhower, as guest speakers. Renee said, “I am always eager to meet and hear celebrities, especially those who are part of our American history. I was mesmerized by Julie’s speech. She has turned out to be such a poised lady, so accomplished, so savvy, and so humble! With her background, I don’t know if I could be so down to earth! Her husband, David, also held my attention and won my praise. This couple has so much to give! God bless them and their family!” Renee thought the Hermitage Artist Retreat’s Greenfield Prize Dinner was another brilliant event and wonderful evening, filled with fun and laughter while serving a wonderful cause. Of course, I will have to agree with her on that! It was a terrific evening and Olympia Dukakis was such an interesting speaker, as was Greenfield Prize winner Nilo Cruz. Last but not least, Renee thought the Women’s Resource Center’s Luncheon at the Ritz, with Dr. Ruth as a guest speaker, talking about sex in no uncertain terms, was a hoot! And believe me, it was! Here are a few of Dr. Ruth’s bon mots – “I can tell by the way you walk if you are sexually satisfied” and she advised women who were recently divorced or widowed to “Bring yourself to sexual satisfaction before going out on a date”. Now those are things you don’t normally hear at a Sarasota charity luncheon! Michael’s On East’s catering maestro, Phil Mancini told me he was going to play a little favoritism and say that all the hard work put in by a great group of people paid off because he thought his business partner, Michael Klauber’s daughter Molly’s wedding to Lt. Ethan Biter was just beautiful. It was one of two big society weddings, along with the fall wedding of Diana Kelly and Matt Buchanan that were the talk of the town, though both were very family-inspired weddings. Both were held in




July 2014

the Ringling Museum courtyard and both,


not only were exceptionally beautiful, but filled with love and joy. Phil personally attended Forty Carrots’ Firefly Gala and thought The Go-Gos were amazing. He


really likes the concept there and he wants to suggest Earth Wind and Fire for next year,

Matthew S. Baker, DDS, MS

hint, hint. Out of all the catering he does, Phil thought the stand-out luncheon menu

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for the year was the Coquille St. Jacque entree and the strawberry crepes dessert at New College’s Pique-nique sur la Baie. He had so many people comment on its originality. It was oh, so French! Orchid Ball this year, with the addition of the new children’s garden, has made the Selby Gardens’ event more appealing than ever. Phil shared that what has amazed him the

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place in this community. The crowds were huge and they opened their pockets more than ever. I would have to agree with him. Several organizations had sold out their events before the invitations were even in the mail! Phil said, “We have been meeting with clients this year to get dates secured

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for next year and I think we have the most contracted going into next year that I have ever seen.” Now that’s saying something! He also said The Conservation Foundation’s Bay Preserve is a spectacular waterfront location for The Palm Ball. You can’t beat that Old Florida look. He ended by saying, “We just need to bring back New College’s Mistletoe Ball and The Ringling’s Ungala.”


My sentiments exactly! The demise of those two events have left holes in the social season that have not been able to be filled.


I implore the powers that be to bring back those events and with them, the glamour and panache that they provided.   Dancer extraordinaire, Wendy Feinstein shared with me that Community AIDS Network’s Candance will be one of her favorite memories, not only for this year, but

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forever. She said, “The room at Michael’s was beautiful, the crowd was vibrant and alive. The money raised for CAN was the

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most ever...and I got to dance my Argentine Tango in front of all of those people and win!

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My partner/instructor was, and still is, Luis Peña.” Some of the things she learned about herself made her laugh, some she liked, and

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some she is trying to change. For instance, she is way too intense and she feels she needs to lighten up. Wendy discovered that

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George & Mary Dakkak

“Protecting you is our family business.” July 2014




being a perfectionist is fruitless and the reinvention of one’s self is fun at any age. I think that is the single most important thing you learn when living in Sarasota, that being in your 60s, 70s, or even 80s, is not a hindrance to being vital and exploring new things. Wendy said that she found it funny that she learned she likes performing in front of an audience. What she loved most about learning to dance Argentine Tango, is that it is a mental, physical and technical challenge. She has always been very athletic and a natural in most sports, but not at all in dancing. Dancing is the biggest step out of her comfort zone that she has ever taken and that applies mostly to the character involved in Argentine Tango, but she assures us that she is getting that part down pretty well! Each year CANDance is one of my favorite events and it is such a joy to see so many of the social “celebrities” twirling around the dance floor in costumes that you would normally never see them wearing. You should make sure you have CANDance 2014 on your dance card for the coming season! The most darling of the event “helpers” is Sights and Sounds master a/v man, Brent Greeno. He is always an integral part of any event. I love it when he asks people to take their seats so the event can begin and he starts naming names of the stragglers, with affection, of course! He told me that of all the events they were involved with, it was very hard to pick out one or two of his favorites, but he did come up with a few! Brent’s best theme award goes to Planned Parenthood’s Safe Sex Halloween Bash - Studio 13, inspired by Studio 54. Halloween is Brent’s favorite holiday, so that might have something to do with it and I also noticed over the years, that Brent loves a costume! For best views at a luncheon, he had to go with Children First’s Flip Flop and Fashion luncheon on the Gulf of Mexico beach at Sharkey’s in Venice. That is always a pretty luncheon with everyone in their beach finest. Brent said you couldn’t beat the entertainment at The Center for Hope’s, Season of Hope Gala with the very funny Ron White and Margo Rey performing. Putting New Orleans’ wild Lenten atmosphere into play for being the best place to gather beads, Brent says has to go to Goodwill Manasota’s

We’re different and we know it.

Mardi Gras Party. I’ll have to agree with him that the best tear inducing moment goes to Girls

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town, his best new event is All Faiths Food Bank’s Citrus Ball. Brent ended our conversation

Inc. Celebration Luncheon with Rachel Mallett’s Girl of the Year speech. I think everyone in the room thought it was the most poignant speech of the season and spoken with such poise and confidence. We were all so impressed. After being involved in most events in by saying, “I must say that each event is great in its own way, and each gives to a great cause! But of all the events, the most memorable for me would be The Women’s Resource Center’s Renaissance Luncheon, where the cute and intelligent Dr. Ruth nicknamed me “that handsome young man!” And that’s the best reason of all to love an event! Saks Fifth Avenue’s queen of fashion and marketing, Sally Schule, told me that there were many events that she thought were extraordinary and she shared them in no particular order, just in the order of the stack of invites from some of the events she and store manager, Joel Ellzey, attended! First up was Asolo Rep’s annual gala, A Night at the Rainbow Room, for best glamour and best band backdrop. Make-A-Wish’s Cooking for Wishes Interactive Luncheon for the best time cooking, even though her team almost burned down the Michael’s On East ballroom . She also enjoyed Polo under the Palms, benefitting the Center for Building Hope and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center for the best way to mix casual day to evening. Also tops on Sally’s list was Ringling College of Art and Design’s Avant Garde

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for best participation in costume attire. That event is always a treat for costume lovers! And finally, the Child Protection Center’s Blue Ties & Butterflies event is the best way to bring to light to the fact that abuse is not just what you read about in “other “ cities, but that yes, it does happen to us, the residents of Sarasota. The recently retired Executive Director of the Glasser/Schoenbaum Human Services Center, Phil King, said he is a bit prejudice, but G/S’s The Art of Caring event was outstanding in that the collaboration between the human services and arts communities provided guests with entertainment from some the leading arts organizations and raised money for the new children’s health clinic. Phil said, “Season seems like a blur, and I feel like we are just now recovering. I can›t begin to think about how many events Dennis and I attended. Of course, now we are already adding events to our calendar for this fall. USF’s Brunch on the Bay is always one of the most popular events in town, providing guests a great opportunity to hob-nob and enjoy great food. Planned Parenthood’s annual dinner was outstanding.  It




July 2014

artist surgeon.”

was well organized, the program was appropriate, and it was entertaining. Again, it was special because there is no one more deserving of recognition than PP’s CEO Barbara Zdravecky.” Financial whiz, Aimee Cogan, had many

“I was an before I was a

of the same events on her list that others have mentioned. She shared with me that

– Dr. Alissa Shulman

the season began with lots of excitement as her team sponsored a table for another year at Forty Carrots Wine, Women & Shoes. Her husband, the dapper Chris, and his co-chairs magically transformed the Ritz Carlton into the picturesque skyline of Manhattan for Asolo Rep’s A Night at the Rainbow Room The event though that really pulled at their heartstrings, was the Child Protection Center’s Blue Ties & Butterflies gala. Aimee said, “It’s inspiring to look at the bravery of those children as we launch into the next season and decide where we will channel our philanthropic efforts. Let the countdown begin!” My friend, Peggy Abt, told me that one of her favorite memories of the season was a personal one between she and I and I thought I would share it in part because it


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really is something that makes an event truly memorable. During one of Asolo Rep’s Starry Night dinners, which are traditionally intimate dinners held at someone’s home, it rained buckets just before we were to be seated for dinner on the terrace. Everything was soaked and they had to serve dinner in a makeshift manner and just make the best of it. Everyone understood and the evening went forward

Michelle Crabtree

Realtor, Broker Associate, CLHMS, CRS, CIPS, GRI, PMN, ABR, TRC, RSPS, AHWD, SFR, GREEN

2014 Five Star Real Estate Agents “Best In Client Satisfaction” – 7 Years

with everyone just making do. Peggy and I,

Women’s Council of Realtors

who knew each other, but not well, ended

2013 “Entrepreneur of the

up sitting together and having the time of our

Year” & 2009 “Business

lives, talking and laughing our heads off! We

Woman of the Year”

often reminisce about that evening and how much fun we had. It’s those serendipitous

2013 & 2007 SAR

moments where you meet a new friend or

“Meritorious Service Award”

have copious amounts of laughter with old

2010 Florida Realtor Honor

friends, like I did at La Musica’s Sonata A

Society – 6 Years

Due, when Scott Anderson kept me, Gayle Guynup, Renee Hamad, and Michael Scott in laughing fits the entire evening, that are truly special and that’s what makes for a memorable event – being with fabulous people and just having fun. Until next time…TaTa! Debbi Benedict is SCENE’s society maven and Special Issues Director. Contact Debbi at 941-483-4460 or

Cell: 941.724.HOME (4663) Office: 941.907.9595 Email: A third generation local & Broker Sales Associate since 1982; dedicated to your needs. Serving Sarasota, Bradenton & Lakewood Ranch.

2010 Director, Sarasota Association of Realtors (SAR) – 3 year term 2008 WCR Sarasota Chapter President 2005 WCR Sarasota “Realtor of the Year” July 2014






By Muriel Redifer Illustration by Danielle Taylor

Southwest Coast of Florida, August 6, 1516

At the fingertip of dawn, the crew prepared to drop anchor.

Alejandro stood on the creaking deck of the galleon a day

The sails were furled and secured. Boots were yanked off rank

after they rounded the scabbard of Florida and the ship had

feet so that the men could push tenders through the shallows. The

ventured northward again into the Gulf. In the darkness, islands

explorers were awed by water so warm and clear that they thought

followed the coast like beads on a necklace. Moonlight illuminated

of bathing tubs at home, not the strangeness of a foreign beach.

their billowing sails and waves frothing to white sand. Seeking a

Eager to make camp and start cook fires, they shoved the boats

protected bay, they eased closer to land until they heard clouds of

onto the sand. Then Alejandro saw her between the trees, a distant

egrets wing up, crying in alarm at their approach. Sea turtles rose

figure on the shore. Perhaps he noticed her because he was so

from the water, dozens of them, creeping to shore so slowly that

grateful. Only an angel could have assured his landfall after the

Alejandro had to stare to be sure that what he saw was moving. But

roiling voyage from Spain. But even at such distance he was sure

his eyes were young and keen. Bit by bit, the great turtles dragged

the native was lovely. So lovely that when the other men loped to

themselves to lay their eggs by the dunes.

hoist armor, muskets and crates inland to camp, he slipped into

He leaned on the guardrail, his lantern suspended above the

the tree cover.

water. Over one hundred silvery fins teemed beneath the light.

Barefoot still, he could track the beach line silently, in shadow.

This land was rich with life, the young man thought. As he made

Having learned to hunt deer at his family’s lodge in Andalucía,

a futile effort at counting them, someone clapped Alejandro on

he crept with bright eyes on his quarry. At last growing close he

the back so hard it cracked the air. He nearly dropped the lantern.

crouched in a thicket. It smelled of salt and sulphur. Clouds of

The sailor said, “You’ve lost the soft look about your face. In the dark someone might mistake you for a man.” His breath reeked

insects bit into him, but he remained immobile. Her skin shone in the rising sun. Slim and lithe, she moved with ease, pulling a mesh sack of conchs from where she’d left it

like rotting fish. Alejandro smirked. At seventeen he was a head taller than the

secured with a wooden pike beneath the water. Her hair cascaded

bandy-legged sailor. Until the tempest he would have outweighed

down her bronze back, a silky waterfall as dark as ink. She bent

him as well. But after a week in the hold groaning from seasickness,

to grasp another conch, and slip it into her bulging sack. Saltwater

Alejandro’s face had hard angles. “I’ll lob you over this guardrail

dripped from her elbow. Taking the pike in her fist, she seemed

with one arm, and then we’ll see who’s the man.”

to stare through the water. Alejandro watched fascinated as a

The sailor snorted and spit into the water. This type of bantering

moment passed, and then another. Hovering, ready to pounce,

between the crew went on without stop in both stormy seas and mild.

she thrust the pike into the sea, pulled up a writhing fish, and

One of the more battle-hardened explorers had been

threaded it through her reed rope. Again she hovered. A small

listening to the two. He now grabbed Alejandro’s shoulder. “Better

swaying preceded the stab, her legs taut, then her entire body

to be sharp than boastful. The Calusas are a fierce people,” he told

acted in one swift motion. She did not miss. When she had strung

the young man. “They can shoot an arrow into a man from the

several fish together, she gathered the mesh bag.

shadows and then disappear like a specter.” The older man’s eyes

Just then Alejandro cringed when a palm frond crashed down

and teeth seemed to glow in the dim light. His voice held an edge

from the tree beside him. In an instant she spun and gasped. And

of both taunting and truth.

he in turn saw the baby bound tight to her chest. Its fingers clasped

Alejandro laughed, but a shiver ran up his back. “It’s best we

the mother’s bead necklace. The woman’s eyes were dark and

find water, some meat, and move on then.” …undetected he hoped.

furious. And then her pike was hurtling towards him. He jerked

He’d seen many a festering wound already on this voyage. A nick

left. Suddenly his right ear stung. Fleeing, the woman dropped her

could cost a man his arm. With luck he’d return to Madrid whole.

bag. Live conch shells bounced and clattered down. Wet clumps

“I can fight any sort of man, any sort that I can spot,” the explorer said, his face turned towards the nearing tree line.




July 2014

of sand flew up to coat her legs. She knew to run where it was hard-packed. He felt hot blood trickle down his neck. Chasing, the

July 2014




young explorer was hampered by the dunes and sea legs that were

“If I meet a beautiful Florentine girl, may I give it to her?”

rocking still. The baby’s fist then rose above her shoulder. A jerk, a

“I guess.”

snap, and her cord necklace broke. Six clay beads scattered on the

Filipe tousled Demetrio’s hair. “You’re in charge till we get back.”

crystalline sand and she was gone.

After the men had left on their journey, Demetrio trudged up

How stupid of me, the young man thought. Did he expect for her to tell him in perfect Spanish where to find gold, and while she was at it, the “fountain of youth” that none of the men believed in for an instant? Alejandro gathered up all but one of the beads, which was pulled away by the tide. Fired clay, slightly irregular, they felt

the stairs of their house passing his sister. “They’ve already gone?” she asked in a strained voice. “But you promised to fetch me first.” He scratched at his neck. “Oh.” His sister would have said something to ruin his gift.

warm in his hand. Surely this was a sign of good fortune, a sign of

She narrowed her eyes. “Have you seen Grandmother? She’s in

all the men would bring back to Spain from this new and bountiful

the chapel wringing her hands, looking everywhere for her rosary.”

world. He pressed his hand against his ear, and saw his palm was smeared with red. A near miss, he smiled at his good luck.

“The one with the blue porcelain beads?” “No, her lucky one, the one she uses for critical occasions. It’s brown and ordinary, but she found it in a very old chest in the attic


near some peculiar seashells. With such simple beads, she thinks it must have come from a convent. You sure you haven’t seen it?”

Madrid, Spain May 1, 1803 Demetrio kicked at the cobbles of the Calle Mayor in frustration. Finally 7, he was old enough to walk without holding his sister’s hand, but not old enough to escape parading behind his mother’s skirts on the way to mass. His sixteen-year-old brother

He shook his head. “No idea.” When Grandmother found out she was going to tweak his ears, and probably kill him. She always found out. Just then he saw his tutor at the door. Demetrio scuttled up the stairs and hid in the pantry behind a sack of flour.

was leaving in the morning for Florence, accompanied by their merchant father. Demetrio would remain behind trying to hide


from his jittery tutor with the hawkish eyes. In the great church, the boy lit a candle for Felipe. What more

Tuscany October 1, 1914

could he do for his only brother? There were cutthroats and plagues

“A hike to the castle ruin,” the innkeeper said, “would be

along the way. And he’d overheard his brother tell a friend that

perfect for a young couple like you. It’s a pleasant day for it, a day

Napoleon craved war with Great Britain. What talisman could protect

to make us forget our worries, no? My wife has already made up

Filipe on his journey? The boy had no money, and nothing of value.

your picnic.” His bushy eyebrows drooped in commiseration.

“This small flame is hardly enough,” he told his sister. If

Kostas had told the innkeeper the night before how sad Josette

Filipe died in war, Demetrio would be desolate and his mother

was to leave France. She hadn’t smiled in weeks, but then the whole

would never stop grieving. If his brother died, Demetrio, the only

continent was skittish. She should be glad her husband had a safe

remaining male heir, would never be allowed out of the house,

homeland to bring her to. In time she would understand. Taking

much less go into battle as he dreamed. Felipe must return.

a few days in Tuscany on their way to Greece, he thought, might

“Give him your sword,” she said, laughing. It was a child’s sword, purely decorative and barely large enough to dispatch a rat.

soften her misery. He didn’t want her to hate their new home. Josette took the basket of food from the innkeeper and peeked

In the wooden pew, Demetrio squirmed. His sister pinched

inside. To Kostas she whispered, “I’d trade anything for Brie and a

his arm. He loved the booming of the organ, but once the talking

French baguette from home right now. I might never taste another

started he strained to remember even a few words of Latin.

loaf as light as my mother’s.” She sighed, blinking back tears. “I

Looking beneath the seats in front of them, he noticed a rosary

know, I should just pretend we’re on holiday.”

on the stone floor. Scooping it up, he pocketed the loop of beads. Surely anything that had come to him in such a way after so much wishing would be overflowing with good fortune.

Kostas squeezed her hand. He knew the truth was too horrible for her to think of. The innkeeper sketched a crude map onto a scrap of paper.

At dawn the next morning, Demetrio crept downstairs and

“The castle has a name, at least the tower does. For as long as I

out the front door. Filipe looked like a man on his mount, erect and

can remember it’s been The Torre del Castello of the…how do you

determined, his riding boots firmly in the stirrups. Filipe’s horse

say in French…Promise-Gift? There’s this legend about the fairest

danced, nostrils flaring, impatient to head out. Demetrio held his

daughter of an Italian Duke, named Sofia, and...Oh dear...” He

hand up to his brother.

scratched his beard. “My wife might know it better.”

“What’s this?” Filipe asked.

After they walked towards the fields, Josette turned to her

Demetrio’s face felt hot with embarrassment. “To hang on the

husband and handed him the basket. “Tower of the Promise-Gift.”

bridle. For luck.” He’d stayed up late braiding the four brown beads

Finally, he saw a whisper of a smile cross her face. “I like that, but

onto leather cording, his fingers cramping with the effort. In the

what do you suppose it means?”

lantern light the beads seemed plain and inelegant to Demetrio, but Filipe was already knotting them onto his bridle.




July 2014

Not waiting for his answer, she ran ahead of Kostas through the rows of grape vines to the olive grove.

“Slow down, before you make yourself ill.” “I’m pregnant, not infirm.”


“We should stop in the shade to rest.” “You rest. I’m going all the way to the ruin. Tomorrow we have to start for Athens and then I’ll be sewing the layette instead of picnicking.”

Southwest Coast of Florida April 6, 1941 Sophia stood on the deck of the freighter, holding the hand of her child. The journey from Athens to the Florida straits had taken

The castle ruin had once been a sturdy fortress built in the

over two weeks, two weeks of uncertainty and fear. They had been

1200’s. It now lacked roofs, doors, or a gate to the courtyard. The

instructed to remain below deck, but after she heard of the invasion

well was dry. They spread a blanket on the thick grass. Josette

of her Greek homeland, she was sure she’d scream if she couldn’t

took out focaccia bread and cheese, red grapes, Prosciutto, and

escape the confines of the hold. Her husband Alex, an American,

a canteen. They passed the canteen back and forth, cool water

had joined the U.S. Armed Forces, her twin brother the Greek

slipping down their chins and sprinkling on their shirts. The grapes

Army. Her parents would suffer the invasion alone, and her father,

were sweet. Yellow moths fluttered nearby. After eating, Josette

Kostas, would surely join the Resistance. 5,000 men were lost from

took off her slippers and stretched out in the sun, as content as a

her country during the last war, and they had started out as neutral.

sheep. Her red hair fanned out around her head like a crown.

What might happen to her people now?

Kostas rubbed gentle circles on her mounded belly. “You’ll

Back in January Sophia and Alex had stayed up late over the

like Greece. Maybe when the war is over you won’t want to go

dinner table too worried to eat or rest. The Athenian home of her

back to France.”

family had always felt warm and safe, with its thick plastered stone

“I should have stayed with my family,” she muttered.

walls and cozy rooms. But that night cold air slipped under the

“And the shelling?” Not to mention a few bombs and the

door and she shivered, unable to keep her lips from shaking. There

certain occupation. Watching the North Tower of the Cathedral

were no good choices.

of Reims burning was enough of a warning for Kostas. He’d tried

“Come with me,” her husband had insisted. “You can live with

to help put out the fire, but it spread to the wood superstructure.

my parents in New Orleans while I go to officer’s training. Surely the

Finally the lead of the roofs melted until lead poured through the

U.S. will enter the war before long, and you’ll be stuck here.”

stone gargoyles like out of the mouth of hell, puddling on the

“But I was born in Athens. I’d hardly be stuck.” And what

ground. They could only back away in defeat. “It was no place to

about the voyage? One torpedo and they would all be drowned.

have a baby.”

From the window she could see the narrow cobbled street winding

Josette sighed. Closing her eyes, she said, “Maybe I will sleep.”

past neighbors she’d known by voice since she was small. “My

“You nap while I poke around the castle.” She looked so

English is terrible.”

vulnerable, so innocent. When she’d locked the door to their home

“Not as bad as my Greek.”

for the last time she didn’t realize that everything of value inside

Sophia’s throat felt constricted. “Zoe is too young to go.” She

would be robbed once Reims was overtaken, unless of course it burned.

was only four. “But old enough to survive an invasion?”

Kostas rose and brushed the crumbs from his pants. There was

Chills ran down Sophia’s arms. Zoe’s name meant “life” in

a winding stone stair leading to a nonexistent second floor and a

Greek, but how could Sophia be sure Greece was as safe as her

crenellated tower. Several stones dislodged as he ascended. From

father insisted? Alex’s words haunted her for months, until at last

two dozen steps up he could look out on the olive groves and

she packed up a trunk with their things and bought a freighter

grazing sheep. It was a fertile peaceful land, so far. But how long

ticket. The day before the ship sailed, she paced back and forth in

would it remain untouched? He’d thought of settling her in Cannes

the home she shared with her parents. Her father Kostas felt she

or Antibes in southern France, but in Greece his family could help

belonged with her family. But her mother, a refugee from the first

them, and he hadn’t been back in too many years. Leaning on the

Great War, believed the risk of sea travel was less than the risk of

sill, his elbow dislodged a stone. Clattering, it bounced down the

remaining so close to the conflagration. Zoe would have to grow

side of the tower. Nested in the hollow were three brown beads.

up fast.

“Kostas, where’d you go?” Josette called. Her voice was loud enough to corral a dozen children. Kostas ran down the stairs, rubble flying. He tossed the beads to her.

The freighter drove on into the night. Now it looked as though they would survive the passage. A strong wind behind them helped push the freighter towards their new home, a hopeful sign. Once they passed about half of Florida’s west coast, they would cross

She caught two. “Royal treasures?”

the Gulf towards New Orleans. Alex would be there to greet them,

“Pure rubies.”

if only she could keep herself together a little longer. Salt spray

She clicked the beads together in her hands. Irregular, they

misted her face. Zoe’s braids whipped in a gust.

looked handmade of simple hard-fired clay. “Then I’m fortunate indeed, a bead for each.”

Sophia took both her daughter’s hands in hers. “You’re old enough now to have this. My mother gave it to me when I was


about your age, and a matching one to your uncle.” She had

“Twin,” she said with a wry smile. “And they better not come early.”

threaded the brown bead to a blue ribbon so that it wasn’t easily

July 2014




lost. “Take special care of it.”

some more while I swim.” A marine biology major, she would stay

The child held out her arm. Sophia tied the ribbon to her

all day if she could.

daughter’s wrist, knotting it with shaking hands. “It’s for luck.” Zoe

The Gulf was as warm as his skin. Kicking just past the surf,

had helped her mother stay brave, never knowing the dangers they

some sheepshead and a needlefish darted by. Luis got some good

had faced in the crossing. Sophia pulled her daughter close, Zoe’s

photos of several rays undulating past, and a flounder. Perfectly

back against her, her arms encircling. They looked forward past

camouflaged in the sand and shells, it stirred up a cloud and headed

the steady waves towards their sanctuary.

off. Standing waist deep, he used his feet to feel for sand dollars.

But the rhythm of the sea, though it seems constant, can change

Lifting one up he waved it at Dawn. Taking a picture, he replaced it.

with no notice. As Sophia at last allowed herself to believe that they

Eventually he unearthed two more large ones, and a calico scallop.

were safe, a great wave was building. Suddenly it rose up over the

Then he found something that felt like a small moon snail under his

bow of the ship. Water hit them so hard air was pounded from her

toes. When he lifted it out of the water, he was surprised, a brown

lungs. She tried to lock her arms around Zoe, but the child slipped

bead. Putting it in the pocket of his board shorts, he waded to shore

out of her grasp. Screaming, she felt the steel deck sliding beneath

with his prize.

her so fast it was like being ground on a mill wheel. Then came the

“I found something,” Luis said, trying to sound mysterious.

impact as her shoulder hit the wheelhouse. Pain exploded. Blanking

She was holding a sea urchin, which was creeping on its

out, there was only white, and then horrifying consciousness. And

spines across her palm. “Show me.”

then the water receded, leaving her gasping, choking and calling for

“Later, I have to fix it first. ”

Zoe, too horrified to weep.

“Fix it?” She returned the urchin to the water. Suddenly

Sophia heard an anguished wail coming from the opposite side

she snatched a giant horse conch out of the surf. “Triplofusus

of the deck. A sodden bundle of cloth tangled in a ship line unfolded

giganteus, look at the size of this beauty.” Its shell a rough gray

and became her daughter. Her head bowed, Zoe sat coughing, half

with at least ten whorls, it was almost as long as her forearm. Its

drowned. Forgetting her shoulder, Sophia ran to her.

soft orange body moved lazily. How she’d spotted it in the sea

“Are you injured?”

foam and kicked up sand he couldn’t say.

Zoe could barely speak, holding one arm as though it hurt. “No, no, no. But I lost hold.”

He snapped off several pieces of saltgrass and began to interlace them. After he had a sturdy 6” braid he slipped the bead

Sophia turned her daughter’s face to her, kissing her brow. “It wasn’t your fault. I lost hold of you.” “No, Momma,” Zoe said, holding up her perfect arm. “The bracelet’s gone.”

onto it. She gasped when he showed her. Luis tied the necklace around Dawn’s neck, then stood back admiring her. Strong and lean-limbed, her eyes sparkled in the sun and fresh air. He’d finally impressed the woman. She patted the bead. “You realize what this is?” she asked,


her voice lifting. He nodded. “Considering the shell mounds all around here. It

Southwest Florida Coast, August 6, 2014 Cirrus clouds in a fearless blue sky, for Luis and Dawn it was a perfect day for exploring. Over the summer the two often

could have washed out of one.” They sat together on his paddleboard and shared a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

paddled to small islands like this with just his waterproof camera,

He passed Dawn the thermos. “You’re part Native American.

sandwiches, and a thermos of water. A strong sun shone on the

Don’t you ever wonder if just a few Calusa Indians survived? Maybe

crystalline sand, making the two stand-up paddleboards look like

they slipped into the Everglades, or somehow joined up with another

they were resting on snow, Luis’s orange racer close to her cobalt



“It would have been hard. They weren’t treated very nicely,

As they walked together along the shore, Dawn lifted

and the diseases…”

something glistening and twisted from a clump of seaweed, over

“But perhaps.” He wanted it to be true enough to believe it.

a foot long. Gazing at it with reverence, she could have been

“You might even have a gene or two…” He lifted a strand of hair

admiring fine jewelry, but Luis knew better.

from her face.

“You have to admit this is beautiful,” she said, her dark ponytail swinging over her tan shoulder. “The Whelk Egg Casing,

Dawn tilted her head, thoughtfully rubbing the bead between her fingers. “Maybe.”

what an awesome helix.” Dangling it from her hand, the casing dripped seawater onto his foot. She looked lovely with sand on her

The End

cheek and dark eyelashes. “Look at these tiny capsules, probably 100 eggs in each, all strung together.” He waited for the Latin name, but not for long. “Busycon contrarium,” she said. He grinned. “And I thought it was called a ‘Mermaid’s

Muriel Redifer is a fiction writer and poet who is currently working on her first novel. An architect and Florida native, she lives in Sarasota. Her work has appeared previously in SCENE Magazine.

Necklace.’” Luis put on his mask and snorkel. “You poke around




July 2014


13th Season


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at the Jane B. Cook Theatre FSU Center for Performing Arts 5555 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota BOX OFFICE (941) 351-2808

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COLLECTED STORIES by Donald Margulies August 7 - August 24 ~ sharply written, fluid, lively

Street Magician

For the Love of a

By David Himmel Illustration by Danielle Taylor

I had been locked down in the longest, harshest and most unforgiving Chicago winter on record. Experts called it the Polar Vortex. I called it goddamn miserable. I was never one to complain about the weather, but that winter came early and strong and by the end of January, I was ready to get out of there. Though I stayed because of my crippling commitment to my daily toils of a career in digital marketing. I’m just no good at pulling my head out of brandcentric code in order to plan and book a vacation. Really, it’s the idea of spending money that keeps me chained to responsibility. I hate doing it. You see, once I spend the money, I no longer have that money to spend. It’s an issue that my therapist says is less about my approach to personal finances and more about my struggle to be “present in my own life.” Those are the words she uses, anyway. Then it snowed the second week of April and the streets were riddled with potholes so big, there was talk that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was lost deep within one of them. I Googled “South Florida Beaches” and Lido Key came up in the search. I booked a flight, a Mustang convertible and a hotel room. I left on the first of May — the coldest start to May that Chicago had seen in 75 years. The sunrays hit my face like a cop’s flashlight during a nighttime traffic stop. I winced. I wasn’t used to that sort of brightness, or even that sort of heat. It had been too long since I’d been warm. The automatic sliding doors of the Sarasota-Bradenton Airport whooshed closed behind me. I walked to retrieve my rental car letting my skin soak up every drop of vitamin D it could. With my silver Mustang convertible’s top down, I headed straight to the Lido Beach Resort. I needed a dip in the ocean, sunburn and a beer. ASAP. I was committed to the beach just beyond my room’s window where I worked on what you might call a base tan. For me, it’s a base burn. My parents and two brothers have olive complexions and tan with ease. I lack that trait acquired long ago from our desert-roaming Jewish ancestors. My complexion is more that of a redheaded Irish Catholic than of a brownhaired Ashkenazi Jew. I caught up on some reading: a few chapters of Drop Dead Healthy by A.J. Jacobs and a small stack of Time magazines filled with old news. At night, I’d ask the guy at the front desk for a dinner and entertainment recommendation. I’d make small talk with the bartender or patrons at the restaurants and bars, and before my buzz was too strong, I’d drive back to the hotel and pass out with the TV on. It was turning into the perfect week. I was warm and I was being present in my own life. Most people I tell this to think I’m strange for saying so, but I quite enjoy dining alone. I like doing a lot of things alone. It gives me time to think, you know, be introspective — work on some of the tasks my therapist keeps giving me. It also let’s me watch strangers be strange. I find that observing others helps me to better observe myself. It’s like an anthropology course in real time. Following another successful day of burning, reading and relaxing, my guy at the front desk recommended Café L’Europe. “Good evening. What can I get you?” asked the bartender as he stylishly flicked a coaster my way.




July 2014

“I’ll have a Stella,” I said. He reached for one of those branded Stella Artois chalices. “No need to dirty that. It already comes in a glass.” I nursed my beer while perusing the menu and other patrons. A young woman bogarted my attention. She was beautiful with long brown hair and big eyes. She wore dark jeans and a warm-weatherfriendly white top. I watched her as she walked on high heels from what I assumed was the women’s restroom to her table. A man was there with his back to me. One of the tricks to being alone and watching strangers is to not come across as creepy. I was not doing a good job of this. There was something familiar about this woman and I couldn’t take my eyes off of her. I had seen her before, but where and when? I didn’t know anyone in Florida, so the chances of me running into an old high school or college friend were unlikely. I finished the first beer, ordered another one and dinner, and went back to watching the woman. I collected her dining and conversational mannerisms and ran them through my memory database in search of a match. I wondered if she was one of the forgotten women I bedded during a righteous sexual bender in my mid-twenties. If so, it was better to leave her in my brain’s dustbin. Besides, she was with someone, so the chance of me picking her up, bringing her back to my hotel on the beach in my rented convertible and screwing her was not going to happen. But then it hit me. Her name was Brittney Ford. Brittney used to be my baby brother Jay’s girlfriend. I hadn’t seen her, or my brother, in three years, which is why I didn’t recognize her. Back then; she was a scrappy-looking kid with much shorter hair and a constant scowl on her face because she and Jay were almost always in some vicious lovers’ quarrel. I immediately diverted my eyes to the bottom of my beer bottle. Then I wondered if that was my brother at her table. It wasn’t possible. There’s no way they were still together. No two people could have survived that sort of volatile dysfunction. I slowly turned back to get another quick look at Brittney and her date. The man with the brown hair turned his head to speak to the waitress and sure as shit, it was Jay. My eyes shot right back. I stared into my drink and wanted nothing more than to crawl inside of the bottle to hide — let the bartender throw me into the trash and be carried away unnoticed by my long-lost kin. Three years ago, Jay and Brittney disappeared into the ether after a chair-smashing fight between him, me and our other brother, Andrew, at our grandmother’s 90th birthday party. It wasn’t my proudest moment, but it was a moment that had been brewing for a while. After Jay smashed the country club’s dining room chair over my back, he announced that he hated his family and never wanted to see us again. Andrew laughed through a split and bloodied lip and said, “OK, Kevin McCallister,” a reference to a Macaulay Culkin line in Home Alone. Jay grabbed Brittney’s hand and stormed out. Jay never returned phone calls, e-mails or text messages. Neither

July 2014




did Brittney. My mom contacted Brittney’s parents, but they didn’t have much information either, although they were pretty certain that Brittney and Jay were not together. An ambiguous e-mail from her a few months after the vanishing led them to believe she was living in a commune in Austin, Texas. All efforts to contact my brother were futile. Our grandmother, cousins, aunts, uncles and friends all did their best to reach out, too. Jay even unfriended us on Facebook. Through various grapevines and Google searches, we could vaguely keep my brother’s whereabouts and wellbeing known. At one point, he moved to L.A. Jay had always wanted to be an actor, though he’d never taken a single acting class in his life or attended one audition. There was a rumor he was living on a ranch in Jackson Hole, Wyoming for a bit. Just a few months before my trip to Florida, my father swore he saw Jay on the L train in downtown Chicago. While the rest of the family wanted Andrew and I just to apologize, we felt that doing so would have further enabled Jay to act like the selfish, entitled prick he was. That, right there, was the core of our tension. While I was buried in my chosen responsibilities, Jay wanted all the accoutrements of a life well earned without any of the accountability or work to show for it. Andrew was stuck between the opposite poles of me and Jay, though as he got older, he started appreciating my point of view. Things were often tense, but Jay’s disappearing act had put even greater strain on our family, and after a year and a few dozen therapy sessions, I put my anger behind me. I called him on his birthdays and sent him an e-mail at Thanksgivings. Total radio silence. The bartender brought me my meal, the surf and turf, but I couldn’t touch it. The anxiety of knowing my brother and I were in the same room after all of this time had knotted up my stomach and hoisted it into my throat. I kept my head down and asked the bartender for my bill. I had to get out of there. “Brian? Brian Wolff? Is that really you?” Brittney had noticed me as she made her way from what I still assumed was the ladies’ room. I kept my head down hoping she would keep walking. She leaned in and stuck her face between my food and mine. I looked up. “Brian!” she said. “Oh, Brittney. Hey. What are you doing here?” “We live here now,” she said, hugging me. “How about that,” I said. “What’re you up to these days?” “I’m still teaching.” “That’s great. You said ‘we’ live here. So you have a family now? Married and all that.” “Not married, but we’re talking about it. We’re always talking about it.” “Boyfriend dragging his feet, eh?” “You know how Jay is.” Yep, it was confirmed. “Oh, sure. Of course. That’s Jay.” “He’s right over here.” She pointed to her table then pulled my hand. “Come over. Bring your food. We just finished but we should have a drink and catch up. Bartender! Send this man’s check to our table.” As Brittney led me to the table, I said, “Really? You think it’s a good idea? The last time we were in a public dining room together it didn’t go so well.” “Oh, that’s ancient history. Come on.” Jay looked at me with what must have been honest to goodness disbelief because he said, “Holy Jesus… I don’t believe it. Brian.” We hugged. Jay was a grown man and slightly taller than me, yet, in my arms, he felt like that little kid I grew up with. I sat down and the waitress asked if we needed anything else. We all ordered another drink. I still couldn’t touch my food. “You look good,” I told him.




July 2014

“You, too,” he said. “What are you doing down here?” “Brittney’s teaching–” “I know that,” I interrupted. “What are you doing?” “I’m a street magician.” “A what?” “A street magician, Brian. I perform street magic.” “So, you’re not acting anymore?” “I’m still performing.” “Not the same thing.” “Acting. Magic. It’s all the art of performance.” “OK. So, where do you perform?” “All over. Was here in St. Armands today.” “We come here a lot,” Brittney said. “He’s getting a nice following. We’re hoping that he’ll get nominated for the Circus Ring of Fame.” “The what?” “It’s like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but for circus performers,” she said. “Have you performed in a circus, Jay?” I asked. The waitress delivered our drinks. “No. But it’s really for all performers.” “How about that.” I took a long swig of my Stella and set the bottle down next to the empty Stella chalice. Jay stirred his bourbon and ginger with the red cocktail straw then bent it over the rim of the glass and held it that way with his finger rather than take the damn thing out. He took a drink, leaving almost nothing but the ice. “What about you?” he asked. “What are you doing down here?” “Came down for a little R ‘n R, as they say.” “Where you staying?” he asked. “Lido Beach Resort.” “You should come watch him perform tomorrow,” Britney said with the same enthusiasm as a coked-up high school cheerleader. “We’ll show you around, show you our place. It’s cute.” “Sure, I don’t have anything else on the docket for tomorrow.” That was a lie. I was hoping to be done with Drop Dead Healthy before heading home and was only about 100 pages from finishing it. But I didn’t want to be rude and I was curious about their life. It was surprising how bubbly and friendly Brittney was. This woman was a far cry from the one I used to know. “How about we meet at your place in the morning, say, ten? You can take me to your favorite Saturday brunch spot.” “Better. We’ll make breakfast,” said Brittney. She was so excited. I started to wonder if she was, in fact, on coke. That would explain the multiple trips to the bathroom. We finished our drinks, hugged goodnight and went our separate ways. I drove a while along the coast with the top down, the wind in my hair and all that clichéd crap. My head hit the pillow a little after 1 a.m. I had a terrible time sleeping. They lived in Gillespie Park, which Brittney explained to me as the best place in Sarasota for artists and actors. I asked her about performers and she laughed. Jay didn’t hear my passive-aggressive dig because he was in the kitchen trying to make eggs and French toast. “What was it that Grandma used in her French toast to make it so good?” he called out to me. “Cinnamon and sugar,” I shouted back from the couch in their living room. I heard Jay grumble something about not having any cinnamon or sugar. Their place looked like they won a complete home furnishing from Target through some sweepstakes. On the wall above the couch were decals of cursive lettering that read, “Live, Laugh, Love.” There

was similar décor on the wall above their bed: Those read, “Always kiss me goodnight.” For two people living in an artist’s neighborhood, they didn’t seem to have a clue what artistry was. That apartment was what homogenized gentrification looks like. Jay served breakfast. He apologized for not making the French toast as well as Grandma and I could sense his level of fury. But the French toast was fine. When is it not? Scrambled eggs, rye toast, turkey bacon and orange juice with loads of pulp — a weekend breakfast just like Mom used to make. I considered calling our parents and Andrew, but decided it was best to enjoy breakfast without bringing in the rest of the family and potentially sparking a fight. That was me consciously living in the present. We drove back in two separate cars to St. Armands where Jay was set to perform. Brittney was meeting her girlfriends for shopping and lunch and would catch up with us later. Jay rode with me in the convertible. “That’s a nice place,” I said over the rushing wind and the blaring radio. “Thanks. I can’t stand those quotes on our walls.” “I’m glad you said it.” “But Brittney loves ‘em.” “Do you always kiss her goodnight?” “Probably. Turn left up here.” “Do you get paid for this street magic?” “Tips. And I’ve got cards that I pass out. I’ve booked a few gigs. Corporate parties and things like that.” “Do you have a website? How are you marketing yourself?” “I’m thinking about making some YouTube videos.” “So, what’s the end game?” “To be a professional magician, which I am.” “Sort of.” “No, I am. This is what I do. This is my job.” “But you’re not getting paid. Not regularly anyway. Have you thought about getting an agent?” “That’s not going to help.” “Why not?” “Because I can’t afford an agent until I’m actually making more money.” “If you’re a professional, an agent is a cost of business.” “I’m not making enough yet, Brian.” “Well, you shouldn’t have to pay an agent unless the agent actually gets you bookings, Jay. So really, it’s not a major expense. You only pay if you get paid.” “Yeah, but how much do I have to pay them?” “I don’t know, ten, fifteen percent? Look into it. And get a website. I mean, if you’re going to do this, then do it.” “It’s not like that.” He was getting angry with me. And I was getting angry with him. The conversation could have escalated to a fistfight with the car careening off the bridge and into Sarasota Bay, but we had arrived at St. Armands. Jay carried with him a magic suitcase. Not a magical suitcase, but a briefcase for all of his magic materials. With the magic suitcase in hand, white Chuck Taylors on his feet, wearing jeans and a white v-neck t-shirt under a black tuxedo jacket with the sleeves rolled up, Jay Wolff looked like the real deal. He set his suitcase down a few yards outside of a bustling coffee shop and opened it. He removed a few coins, a of couple decks of cards and a black Sharpie, and placed them in various pockets of his jeans and tuxedo jacket. Then he propped up a small, tented cardboard sign that read, “Jay Wolff — Magic!” I’d known my brother Jay for 27 years — well, 24 if you subtract the three where we didn’t speak — and watching him perform was like watching a total stranger. He was calm, confident, funny, charming and my god was he good. Magicians don’t have mystical powers. Their tricks are

practiced over and over again. Pulling one off is a matter of skill. Those big Las Vegas Strip magic shows are all smoke and mirrors. With the audience and the act separated by a stage and rows of seats, turning a helicopter into a sexy tiger or majestic woman is a cinch. But having a complete stranger write her name on a seven of clubs from a freshly opened pack of Bicycle playing cards, have Jay rip it into several pieces, place it into his jacket pocket only to have the woman pull the signed card — in one piece, mind you — from her own purse, well, that’s impressive. After every trick, people would demand, “Do it again!” He wouldn’t. Instead, he’d wow them with something entirely different. Crowds gathered. At one point, there were maybe 20 weekend shoppers and diners around him as he made a card float from a volunteer’s hand back to his, then tied his shoe into a perfect bow just by shaking his foot sporadically. Applause. Tips. “Do it again!” I took a moment from my brother’s show to consider myself. I was smiling. I was proud. I was unimaginably proud of my baby brother. After a few hours out there, Jay had managed to collect around 300 bucks in tips. He gave out business cards and some recipients even said they’d love to hire him. They asked if he had a website. He told them he was making videos on YouTube. “Well, you know I didn’t have a lot of friends growing up. So it was just something I started doing to kill the time.” Jay said to me over drinks at Lido Key Tiki Bar later on that day. “I had no idea,” I said. “I guess you already left for college when I really got into it.” “Why didn’t you stay in L.A. and pursue this in Hollywood? Isn’t that a better venue for it? I mean, hell, you’re only a few hours from Vegas.” “I don’t want to be a Vegas magician. My style is up close and personal.” “I know, but there’s a market for that there.” “We came here because of Brittney’s job. She’s the breadwinner, so, you know…” “I’m surprised you guys are still together.” “Why?” “Because you two were always screaming at each other.” “Relationships are hard work.” “Didn’t she routinely scratch you bloody?” “It’s not like that anymore.” “Well, you seem happy now. When did you move here?” “About a year ago.” “Did you ever live in Jackson Hole?” “Where?” “Never mind.” “It’s funny,” he said. “I’m impressed we haven’t killed each other yet. The last time we were together, it didn’t go so well.” “It did not. Speaking of… I’m sorry it went down like that. Andrew and I… We love you, you know? You’re our brother…” I should have stopped there. “But, man, you were just such a prick about everything.” “I wasn’t the prick. You started the fight.” “I’m not talking about the fight. I’m talking about everything else. Everything that led to the fight. Like a decade of you flipping out over nothing and playing the victim and punching holes in walls screaming at Mom and Dad when your computer crashed.” “Oh, God! That was one time. One!” “The computer, yeah. But remember when you got a ticket two days after you got your license for speeding and you demanded Dad pay for it because it was his car and his fault that the gas pedal was — what did you call it — loose? You realize how insane that is.” “Well, he should have told me about that.” “Jay! You had your diver’s license. You had driven that car before. It couldn’t have been a surprise — no. There’s no way you can blame July 2014




speeding on a loose gas pedal. Besides, so what? It was a speeding ticket. It’s a rite of passage.” “Well, what about the time you got drunk at cousin Liz’s wedding and jumped out of the car on the way home and tried to get into the cab next to us at the stop light?” “What about it?” “That was stupid. And Dad drove off and left you.” “So what? It didn’t hurt anyone. I was the idiot stuck having to find a cab home. We’re not talking about me. We’re talking about how you manipulate and abuse the people in our family. We’re talking about how you stormed out of our grandmother’s 90th birthday after smashing a chair across my back screaming obscenities then ignoring everyone for three years! And for what? It sure wasn’t so you could run off and find yourself, discover inner peace and grow up at all. Look at yourself. You’re half-assing it as a magician in Florida while your girlfriend supports you on a teacher’s salary.” “I make money doing this! I am not half-assing it.” “Jay, you need to get a plan together. You’re good. I mean it, you’re really, really good. But you’re almost 30 years old. It’s time to take some responsibility and stop expecting everyone to just give you whatever it is you think you deserve. It’s time to own your own life.” I sounded like my therapist. But I wasn’t using my calming voice. I was being loud and I was pointing my finger in his face a lot. Then he was pointing his finger in my face. “You don’t know what you’re talking about. You never listen,” he shouted. The short, baby faced bartender looked at us nervously. “Are you guys OK over here?” “We’re fine!” we barked. “Of course I care, you idiot. That’s why I’m telling you all this. And just what would you have liked me to listen to? All you ever do is yell at people.” “All you’re doing is yelling at me!” “Shut up,” I said as I turned away and took a drink of my beer. “No, you shut up.” I didn’t look at him. “Shut up, Jay.” “What are you going to do, Brian? Huh? You gonna try and beat me up again? It didn’t work so well for you last time.” I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I tried imagining myself lying on the beach under a blanket of sunshine, the sound of the ocean kissing the shore, my book resting on my chest as I slowly drifted to sleep. Then I heard my therapist’s voice say, “Be present in your own life.” “You’re a real ass–” Before he could finish the word, I became present. I sucker-punched him across the face. He fell off of his barstool. I kicked mine away. “You sonofa–” I cut him off again as I lunged at him punching the side of his head, which probably hurt me more than it hurt him. He socked me in the gut. I put a knee to his hip and headbutted him, splitting open his lip. He spit the blood at me staining the white linen shirt I purchased specially for this trip. We were on the ground, rolling around kicking and punching each other. I heard the bartender ask us to stop fighting or she would call security. I managed to get on top of Jay and pin his arms under my knees. When we were kids, we would wrestle for fun and this was a position I was quickly able to get either one of my brothers into before securing my win with a typewriter — tapping my fingers hard on their chestplates like I was clicking a keyboard then saying, “Ding!” and lightly slapping their faces as if hitting the carriage return lever until they admitted defeat. But instead of giving Jay the typewriter, I punched his face. A right, a left… I could see his bruises forming. When he stopped fighting to get out from underneath me as much, I stood up and grabbed one of the chairs




July 2014

from a table we’d fallen into. Jay was pulling himself up as I raised the chair above my head and said, “This is for ruining Grandma’s birthday.” Then I felt a terrible sting. I dropped the chair and fell to my knees. There was a splintered chair leg in front of me. It wasn’t from mine. Someone had just smashed a different chair across my back. Brittney had arrived at the bar. “Stay down, Brian, or I’ll get another one,” she said. I felt a small amount of blood run down the left side of my face. Jay stood up and Brittney took him in her arms. Two security guards rushed over. “Just a fight between brothers,” said Brittney. “We’re leaving.” “Who’s going to clean up this mess?” one of the guards asked. I stood up, walked to the bar, grabbed a handful of cocktail napkins and wiped the blood from my face. Then I pulled out my credit card and waived it in the air. “I will.” I looked at Jay. He looked pretty bad. I felt worse. He and Brittney walked out. One of the guards warned them not to come back. I was ushered into the security office where my photo was taken, personal information collected and credit card billed for $500. One of the guards gave me a wad of gauze for my head and they sent me on my way with the directive to never return. That following Thanksgiving, Jay came home. We hugged for proper etiquette, again, but mostly kept our distance. He and Andrew got along just fine. Jay told us that he would be moving back to Chicago. Florida, while he loved it, was no longer working out. Brittney had been arrested for possession and use of cocaine on school property. Not only was she a massive cokehead, but she had been dealing to several of the parents, raking in thousands of dollars a week. Jay said he had no idea. She would be staying in Florida pending trial. They’d be doing the long-distance thing. Without Brittney’s income, Jay was high and dry. Unable to make a livable wage on street magic alone, my 27-year-old baby brother had come crawling back home to the loving and enabling arms of our mom and dad. Before the evening ended, Jay approached me. “Hey,” he said. “Hey.” “So… you think you can help me get a website set up?” “Of course. I’ll charge you my Friends & Family Freelance Rate.” “Wait, so I have to pay for it.” “I have to do the work, yeah.” “How much will it really cost me?” I started to feel bad for the kid. He had nothing. And I supposed it took a lot of nerve to ask me for help. In a way, it was like he was admitting I’d been right all along. But that kind of thinking was not me being at my most present. Still, it was enough reason for me to waive any monetary payment. “You know what, since you’re a start up, I’ll give you the Special Friends & Family Rate.” “How much?” I told him that payment was a promise to never smash a chair, or allow a chair to be smashed across my back again. He laughed, which I don’t think counts as a verbal agreement. At the very least, with my brother back home, I know now that it’s safe to visit Florida again.

David Himmel is an author, playwright and editor. His book, A Camp Story (The History Press, 2012) is worth the read and his plays have been funny and performed on a few serious stages. He is the head writer of the web series Greetings! From Prison. David lives in Chicago with a dog named Eddie and a girlfriend named Katie.

Escape from White Lion Lair By Jarret Keene Illustration by Jael Jackson

Ryder Denton was a talented young writer, albeit a hack, living in Sarasota, Florida. Ryder had an MFA in creative writing from Florida State University and a flair for language, but was completely deadline-challenged. His efforts to support himself as a freelancer — a literary gun for hire — among the many Sunshine State media outlets had come to nothing. He was perpetually broke and owed the government a few hundred dollars every April, the cruelest month. Thus, he ended up working in the human resources department of Pharaoh Racino — a combined racetrack and hotelcasino — scribbling propaganda in a dingy cubicle farm. The racino paid him to write and edit an employee newsletter, The Tablet, the title of which suggested someone prominent in the company had heard of ancient Canaan. For all the creativity allowed Ryder, he might as well have wielded a hammer and chisel to crack cuneiform script into chunks of clay. He accepted the job under the illusion that he would spend his days interviewing chefs on how to prepare the perfect soufflé, probing showgirls on the usefulness of classical ballet, and discussing the philosophy of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War with executives. Instead Ryder toiled endlessly on pointless memos designed to make middle managers sound like brilliant pharaohs and everyone else sound like eager slaves. And now the entertainment director, Craig, had emailed Ryder’s supervisor one of the most humiliating assignments in the alreadyignoble history of the racino’s internal PR department: a front-page story on the new filtration system designed to remove the strongest odors in the jungle-like environs of White Lion Lair, a new big-tiger sanctuary constructed inside the racino. “I don’t want to write about animal-poop purifiers,” Ryder told his boss, Maureen, in her office. “I want to go deeper into the myths and realities of white lions, the fact that white lions are considered divine in South Africa — ” Maureen cut him off with a dramatic sigh. “Remember when you wrote that epic piece on the history of jazz? You barely mentioned the lounge here!” “The lounge is called Love Supreme, Maureen. After the John Coltrane album?” “That’s not why they named it that. And take the camera for pictures.” “I’ve got to shoot the story, too? Fine, I’ll photograph some lion butt.” “You would. Seriously, don’t let your writing get all academic.” “Well, I do have an MFA.” “Which stands for what? Mother —”

“Stop, Maureen.” “The trainer’s name is Alvin Powers, by the way. And call him before you waltz in there, OK? Don’t interrupt him. Powers is working with a famous biologist on lengthening the life span of our white lions.” “Saw it on Channel 8 last night.” “Watching TV, Mr. I’m-So-Literate?” Ryder, 23, had to chuckle. He was more than a little in love with his 35-year-old boss, a divorced MILF with an ex-dancer’s stilltoned body. She cursed like a sailor. None of it, however, mitigated the genuine dread that filled his heart at the prospect of composing an article about ridding White Lion Lair of the odor of cat feces. “I’ll call him now,” he said. She shook her blond-highlighted head, but with a naughty smile. “Get out there and make me proud, young Ryder. Do a good job and I’ll buy you drinks after work.” It was Ryder’s turn to sigh dramatically. *** Dr. Aragon sat at a table in Starbucks on Tamiami Trail, sending a birthday e-card to a fellow geneticist in Oslo, Norway, and sipping greedily from a nonfat cappuccino. Afterward, he planned on replying to a number of email interview requests from prominent European science journalists, all wanting to know his expert opinion on the recent discovery of giant sea creatures in Antarctic waters. Turns out there are starfish five feet in diameter. Since he didn’t have the organisms in front of him or in his laboratory, he didn’t have much to say except that the existence of kraken was always something he believed possible given the right set of environmental conditions. What he wouldn’t reveal, of course, was that he’d already achieved incredible results with air-breathing mammals. The lavish funding for his dream project came from a worldrenowned lion trainer and occasional environmental activist named Powers, whose awesome jungle cats had long dominated Hollywood, the Las Vegas Strip and several Florida theme parks and hotels. Aragon knew that Powers, in the course of his entertainment career, had amassed a significant fortune, but the last check had bounced and, although the famous trainer had assured the mistake had occurred on the bank’s end and that the money would be forthcoming, the scientist had seen nothing corrected so far. Annoying, because Aragon had just bought a new jet-black Hummer. July 2014







July 2014

As he sipped his hot drink, another priority email popped into his inbox with the subject line: “On the record?” Aragon put aside the e-card and opened the message. In it, a reporter whom Aragon knew from the glory days of the nowdefunct Omni revealed that he’d been contacted by a publicist claiming to represent Powers and that the key to unlocking the lifeexpansion secrets of white lions would soon be revealed in a major academic paper. And since Aragon obviously served as Powers’ lead researcher, could the reporter acquire an exclusive interview no later than today? Aragon felt his face getting hot. He rose from the table and dumped his still-warm cappuccino in the trash. He didn’t want the caffeine to escalate his heart rate any further. Fuming, he began striking the keypad of his MacBook Air and dashed off a 2,000-word screed to Powers. Reading it through again, he tweaked a few words for added vitriol and raised his hand to slam the return key … then thought better of it. Instead, he deleted the email and took a deep breath. Rubbing his temples, he asked himself why Powers had put them in such a wretched position. Alerting the media was tantamount to suicide for a project that hadn’t been vetted through any university or federal grant. Was Powers purposely sabotaging things? If so, for what absurd reason? If he’d gone bankrupt, why not be on the level about it? Why risk having the results fall apart and tempt a scientist to take his research elsewhere? True, Aragon had had the test results independently confirmed in Oslo, but … Suddenly a password-protection alert arrived, flashing its high-priority warning. Answers to the scientist’s question were sitting in front of him now: Powers had somehow broken the code, downloading files from Aragon’s lab computer. In his haste, Aragon ripped the power-supply cord from the coffee shop wall socket and slammed shut his Air too forcefully, angering a neighboring Mac fan, white ear buds in. “Shame!” said the skinny hipster college kid, working on a MacBook, an untouched Frappucino on his table. “Get a life,” sneered Aragon. He grabbed his keys and made for the exit. *** Without even checking to see if a memory card was in the camera, Ryder strapped it over his shoulder, stepped out into the smoky racino floor, and headed in the direction of White Lion Lair. He’d also left behind his notepad and digital audio recorder, but didn’t care. Employees were rarely articulate, and Ryder would end up fabricating their quotes anyway. Why bother with the empty theatrics of in-house journalism? The Police’s “Truth Hits Everybody” played on the sound system, and Ryder weaved through the throng of gamblers. He’d done his homework. The beasts in question originated from a private game reserve in South Africa’s Eastern Cape. Brought to the States in the early 1970s, they lacked many of the inbreeding depressions that afflict captive lions. Extinct in the wild, white lions only numbered about 300 in the world, and at least a dozen of them were cared for by Powers right here in Sarasota. He bred them for a number of theme parks, and enjoyed a reputation for well-trained, good-natured cats. Ryder arrived at the lair at the end of a feeding. Powers, inside

the lair with the gorgeous animals themselves, placed some kind of raw hamburger-like patty directly into the maw of one of the lions. Ryder knew this meant he’d have to wait for the cats to get sleepy before Powers would exit the lair and head toward the White Lion Lair Gift Shop, a place crammed with stuffed animals and t-shirts. So the young scrivener gave the tourists room to gawk and decided to pass time by chatting with a couple from — “Albuquerque,” the man said. “Enjoying Pharaoh Racino?” Ryder asked. “Humph,” said the woman, on the dowdy side, unimpressed with anything. “Well, we were having a great time,” explained the man. “Until that trashy hooker over there asked my wife if she was interested in a three-way.” Ryder snorted. “Man, don’t they have security in these places?” “Security needs to help that lion tamer,” said the woman. Ryder turned. The same cat Powers had fed reared up on its hind legs and swatted at the trainer’s brow as if his head were a ball of string. The crowd gasped. Powers fell to the ground. A fellow trainer came to his aid, and another clapped to draw the lion’s attention. The lion then yawned as if nothing had happened. Gradually, Powers, leaning on his fellow trainer with what looked like a sprained ankle, exited the lair as a purple-jacketed security officer approached. “We need to fill out a report,” the officer insisted. “In the gift shop,” said Powers, voice hoarse, the superficial scratch on his forehead oozing slightly. Ryder hung back for a moment and watched the trainers direct the aggressive lion into the dark recesses of the lair, probably to the loading dock. Would she be caged with a scarlet placard around her neck that read “Beware of Lion?” Ryder entered the gift shop just as an employee was printing up a piece of paper for Powers. The old man pulled a pen from his shirt pocket, clicked it. Ryder noticed his hands shook; his face was ashen. “Frisky cat,” said Ryder. “Was that Baby? I thought she was a lioness of, you know, advanced age or something.” “Yes, Baby’s a senior,” said Powers, refusing to look up from the paper, but not writing anything, either. “Name’s Ryder. I’m with The Tablet,” he said, extending his hand. “Been giving Baby steroids, huh?” Powers coughed once, looked up and squinted at Ryder without shaking his mitt. “You guys misspelled one of my employee’s names in the last issue.” “Oops, you mean Phuk.” Ryder hated it when people pointed out his newsletter’s copious errors. “Sorry about that. Vietnamese is tricky.” “You spelled it with an F,” said Powers, dabbing forehead with handkerchief. “And with a C and a K.” “Yes, well, it seemed correct at the time.” “Here for a story on the new filtration system, I imagine.” “You got it.” “Sorry, not installed yet. You’re early, I’m afraid. The usual ventilation fans are running now.” “Huh. It’s just that we got an email from Craig with marching orders.” “Craig doesn’t understand that my cats need time to adjust to the sound.” July 2014




Ryder furrowed his brow. “I thought the filters were silent.” “They are, which is why they spook my cats. I’ve been introducing the filters to them back at my ranch.” Ryder recalled reading somewhere that Powers rotated lions every 24 hours, with three in the lair most days. Ryder recalled another thing, too: “Hey, you know, The Tablet has never published photos of the ranch. Think I could drive out there this weekend?” Powers turned back to the document, cleared his throat. “For the newsletter?” “Well, maybe I could profile you in a magazine like Florida Monthly.” Powers directed his gaze at Ryder and appeared to consider the idea. “You write for real magazines, too?” “When I need extra coin.” Ryder raised the camera. “Should I photograph your wounds?” “Prefer you didn’t.” “No problem.” “Tomorrow might be the good opportunity to talk more about my research with Dr. Aragon,” said Powers, finally writing his name and address at the top of the accident report. He tore off a scrap, handed it to Ryder. Powers was smiling. “Two o’clock?” “Sure. May want to clean and bandage that,” Ryder added, indicating the cut on Powers’ forehead. The trainer shrugged. “I assure you my cats are free of scratch fever.” “Good to know,” said Ryder. “See you tomorrow.” He returned to the office and brought Maureen up to speed— except for the Florida Monthly article. She didn’t seem convinced Powers was in his right mind. “What’s he up to? As far as Craig knows, the installation is complete. How long does it take getting lions accustomed to less noise?” “No idea. How about those drinks?” “Take a rain check? My son is sick again, and I’m off to daycare.” “You should sell your kids for, like, money.” “Not until eBay says it’s legal. Speaking of, you have my permission to use the company camera tomorrow.” “Great. You’ll get tons of cat butt, I promise.” “I’m sure.” *** The next day was windy. It took Ryder fifteen minutes to reach the ranch, which bordered the nearby town of Arcadia, the journey completely caking his Hyundai in lovebugs. He pulled up to a gate that said NO TRESPASSING and searched his jeans for the scrap of paper Powers had handed him, hoping for a cell number. But Powers was already limping his way to the gate from a trailer 20 yards away, the wind threatening to let fly the Buccaneers baseball cap barely covering a swath of gauze. Ryder poked his head out the driver’s side window. “Am I early or late?” “Early,” said Powers. “Come in.” He unwrapped chains from the gate, pushing it open. Ryder parked next to the trailer and got out of the car. He took a moment to survey things. Aside from the trailer and Powers’ pickup, there was a rectangular warehouse with what looked like giant Plexiglass windows on the roof.




July 2014

“Sort of a greenhouse you got there,” Ryder said to Powers. “Is there vegetation?” “Lots,” said Powers. “It’s called a habitat. Helps them more psychologically than anything.” “Lead the way, Mr. Powers.” “Follow me.” Despite the sprained ankle, Powers led him to the habitat and paused before opening the door. “A flash may confuse them, so allow the lions time to adjust to your presence.” “You bet.” Then Powers opened the door, and all hell broke loose. There was an eardrum-bursting roar and an odor of rot, followed by the sight of the habitat exploding in a hailstorm of particleboard smithereens and shards of fiberglass. Ryder instinctively ducked, grinding the company camera into the ground, cracking the lens. The impact of Powers’ body knocked the breath from the writer’s lungs. Gasping for air, he crawled out from under Powers and crouched low, feeling vulnerable and monkey-like as he swiveled around to catch sight of whatever had charged them. What he saw made him scramble backward, and he gouged his skull on a piece of the half-demolished habitat. Now, on top of everything else, he was bleeding. “Oh, kitty,” said Ryder. The perspective had to be wrong, but according to Ryder’s eyes one of the white lions had somehow grown to the size of a school bus. It raised its massive paw in the air like a guillotine, and a shadow fell over Ryder. Despite an initial roar, the cat’s expression was now serene. It gazed blankly at Ryder. In his fear, he somehow tripped the flash. The paw dropped to the ground, the cat clearly curious about the source of light. Suddenly there was a sharp crack, and the lion flinched. It got low to the ground and roared again, this time with a bit more fear and pain than hot anger. Without another sound, though, it blinked several times, turned and trotted off toward the parking lot, stumbling into Ryder’s car and crushing the passenger side with a drugged misstep. Ryder watched on in amazement as the lion gradually lay down on its side and fell still. The animal’s chest rose and fell, which meant it was still breathing. “Thank God,” said Ryder, his legs shaking too much to stand. “Not God,” said a man in a lab coat. His baldness, white beard and thick glasses were the only normal things about him, especially after you noticed the smoking tube of PVC resting on his shoulder like a rocket launcher. “My name is Dr. Aragon. You’d better come along.” Ryder saw an intimidating black Hummer, door swung wide, parked next to his own car by the trailer. “Not unless you’re headed for the hospital. Alvin here is — ” The writer recoiled from the dark blood pooling under Powers’ corpse. Nausea gripped his throat. “Dead.” Aragon pushed at the center of his glasses. “As will be many people in Pharaoh Racino if we don’t hurry.” “Pharaoh Racino?” “White Lion Lair. Powers shipped one of the test cats there this morning.” “Test cats? What the hell was he testing?” “Something with which he had no business. Mainly my unpublished notes.” Aragon fitted a metallic projectile into his

homemade PVC blaster and aimed it at the drowsy lion. “Wait, what are you doing?” said Ryder, now able to stand. “Get in the truck.” “Man, all I wanted to do was write a magazine article.” “Plenty to write about now.” *** Using his cell phone in the passenger seat of Aragon’s Hummer, Ryder reached Maureen. “Call Craig’s department,” he told her, “and have them quarantine a lion named — ” “Lioness!” barked Aragon, gunning the engine. “Sorry, a lioness named Baby. Under Dr. Aragon’s orders.” “Ryder, it’s Saturday morning. I’m with my son at the walk-in clinic.” “You’re an executive, Maureen. They’ll listen to you.” “All right. But can you tell me what’s happening?” “I’m riding in Dr. Aragon’s Hummer. We’re on a mission to stop a mad lion.” “How mad?” “We’re talking fifty feet of pissed-off puddytat.” “I told you to stop smoking pot in the morning.” “Make the call, Maureen.” Ryder hung up just as Aragon screeched onto the Fruitville Road turn off, rubber tires burning gray smoke. Laying on the horn, the military scientist nearly flattened a motorcycle cop issuing a ticket with his bike parked before yanking the Hummer onto the sidewalk. A few pedestrians, already unnerved by the wind and lovebug swarms, ran in all directions. One even screamed an epithet. “Go back to Ohio!” Ryder screamed back, even as he deathgripped the truck’s oh-shit handle. “Dr. Aragon, why did Powers delay the filtration system?” “He thought it would hamper the oxygen levels and temperature controls he needed to grow the cats in the lair and habitat. Powers was rather clumsily — The Hummer hit a steep Pharaoh Racino property speed bump at 60 miles per hour. Ryder’s teeth rattled. “—relying on principles outlined by those of us studying the growth rate of jungle animals. He told me he needed help extending the lifespan of his lions. I agreed, but then he kept taking strange experimental detours. I think he wanted to sell cat meat, judging by the contacts he made last month.” “Cat meat. To whom?” “Who knows? The Chinese, maybe.” “Weird. He had no idea, did he?” “No, he didn’t realize they’d grow so fantastically. Neither did I, really. Otherwise I would’ve heeded my suspicions.” “How many monsters did Powers make?” “He only had enough resources for two cats.” “Valet?” asked Ryder. As they drove into the racino parking lot, a roar could be heard from inside the structure. Aragon looked at the writer. “Too late. We’re going in.” “Going in where? Oh no — ” The Hummer careened into the crowded Pharaoh Racino entrance, swerving through the queued taxicabs and waiting airport shuttles and luggage-grappling tourists and around the concrete

barriers and scraping a car with its metal grill and shooting off bright sparks. Valet employees and hotel guests leaped for cover, and before Ryder could fasten his seatbelt, Aragon had smashed the massive all-terrain vehicle headlong into the front entrance. Face ricocheting off the dashboard, the sound of shattered glass crashing from all directions, Ryder touched his nose to make sure it hadn’t been severed. Although Pharaoh Racino security officers weren’t armed, they were tough characters, and he was almost as scared of them as he was of another giant white lion attack. Motoring past the tiled lobby, Aragon somehow got a back tire caught on a nest of slot machines, and the Hummer did a doughnut right there on the racino carpet before slamming its front end against the short wall of the center bar. Aragon grabbed the PVC tube from under his seat and scrambled out of the truck, running for the lair. “Wait!” Ryder shouted, barely squeezing between the passenger door and a splintered craps table. Apparently sensing an imminent collision, Aragon stopped dead in his tracks and — like a football lateral play — tossed the PVC tube at Ryder before getting slam-tackled by a burly security officer. Squelching the terror in his heart, Ryder caught the PVC. Glasses crushed by the security officer’s boots, arms wrenched behind his back, the scientist yelled at Ryder: “Take her out!” Ryder hesitated a moment before the fear of being viciously, bone-crushingly tackled got his legs moving. He sprinted for the lair, parting the waves of patrons who likely deemed him either a thief or a crazed terrorist. A few screamed, but mostly they scattered, giving Ryder a wide berth. An alarm began wailing. From the corner of his eye, he discerned security officers quickly making their way toward him, but he was already at the lair. What he saw absolutely horrified him. An enormous lioness, Baby, had already broken through the Plexiglass and was busy gnawing with much enthusiasm on a recently deceased tamer’s mangled thighbone in the now-empty poker room. The cat’s golden eyes pierced Ryder’s own as Baby ripped raw, bloody flesh from the bones. He fumbled with the improvised weapon Aragon had tossed him, trying to find the trigger. A deep and deafening growl complicated Ryder’s effort to determine which end of the barrel to point at the lioness. Unsure, he made an uneducated guess, praying that he wouldn’t be launching a grenade at the officers no doubt gathering behind him. At least they weren’t piling on top of him; they’d have larger concerns if this didn’t work. Before he could draw an exact bead, Baby leaped through the racino, her weight causing the ground to shudder and reverberate. Pursuing her, Ryder spotted a security golf cart and jumped in, slamming his foot into the electric pedal and lurching forward. “Out of the way!” he yelled at a dazed cocktail waitress who managed to balance a tray of drinks despite the mayhem. Baby left a sudden and merciless trail of shattered roulette wheels and poker tables in her wake. She even bowled over a candy-red sports car that had been perched atop a bank of slots, almost snuffing an old woman struggling to escape with her walker and oxygen tank. The thud of the vehicle hitting the floor and the crack of the windshield sent shivers down Ryder’s spine. How in the hell was he going to immobilize what must be a 10-ton animal? Worse, this was feeding time, which meant Baby was probably very hungry, despite the instant meal she’d made of the trainer. Christ, July 2014




feeding time at a racino full of plump, juicy tourists. They’d even rubbed themselves in delicious coconut tanning oil, the fools. Naturally, then, Baby was headed for the pool. Once outside, there was no telling how much deadly carnage the giant lioness would accomplish. He caught up with Baby poolside as she licked a paw and rubbed it against her head, basking in the light. Sunbathers hurried back inside, many of them tripping in their sandals, falling down, leaving their towels and bags behind. “It’s the tiger that bit what’s-his-name in Las Vegas,” a bikiniclad woman asked her husband. “You know, the magician.” To Ryder’s complete dismay, a crying child on a raft gingerly floated into the center of the pool. Her mother stood at the edge, screaming and gesturing for the girl to swim away. Silly woman, thought Ryder, you’re going to draw — Sure enough, the frantic behavior caught Baby’s attention. After snacking on a cowering greyhound that must have fled the racetrack in the confusion, the lioness stood on all fours now. She reached out to snag the girl’s raft with sharp claws. The child sobbed as the oversized paw descended, and Ryder brought the cart to a halt by smashing it into a lifeguard stand, knocking it into the water. The splash distracted Baby, and Ryder was once again face to face with giant feline death. Stepping out of the cart, legs shaking, hands sweating, he raised the PVC tube, squinted and clenched his jaw. “Heavenly creature,” he said aloud, stunned for a moment by the cat’s ivory beauty. Ryder pulled the spring-loaded trigger, launching whatever lethal rocket had been inside and leaving him engulfed in a thick cloud of acrid smoke. The projectile detonated against the head of the lioness with brutal force, and Baby emitted such a long, chilling shriek that Ryder felt compelled to drop to one knee and cross himself like a good, panic-stricken Catholic. He lay quiet for a while, waiting for his ears to stop ringing and the smoke to dissipate. They did, finally. News helicopters began hovering over the scene like buzzing vultures. SPD officers had arrived —after all the fuss had ended, naturally — guns drawn, but they ignored Ryder. Instead they slowly surrounded the unmoving lioness, inspecting the corpse for signs of life. In which case, they would most certainly have emptied their clips. One of the cops prodded her burned and fractured jaw with the butt end of his flashlight. Baby stayed dead. Satisfied, the officer spoke into his shoulder radio, grabbed a spool of yellow police tape and began sealing off the pool area. Ryder tasted blood in his mouth. He wanted a cigarette, though he didn’t smoke. He also wanted a gallon of vodka. It was almost four in the afternoon. He would invite Dr. Aragon for a drink at a locals bar — any bar but the one at Pharaoh Racino. Maureen approached, an expression of horror on her face. She gently placed her hand on Ryder’s shoulder. He remained on his knees, dazed. “How’s your kid?” he asked, speaking first. “Fever’s down. He’s with his dad now. What about you?” He laughed. “Writing an article on filtration doesn’t sound so bad now.” “I bet. Let’s go, Ryder.” “I think I love you,” he said, giving her a hug and a peck on the cheek as they left. Later that night in bed, feeling like a panther, he whispered in




July 2014

Maureen’s ear: “Grrr.” *** By the time Ryder had vouched for Aragon in a written statement and in a tape-recorded interview, the scientist had already been booked, processed and released after serving 82 minutes in the Sarasota County Jail. From a table at The Coffee Loft near Ringling College, he answered a call letting him know all charges had been dropped. He was using a remote server to erase files from the mainframes in Powers’ habitat. Soon he’d be taking his notes with him to Oslo, where he and a friend would get the project running again, this time with funding from an actual government zoo rather than a privately contracted, and very much glorified, zookeeper. Testing the expansion serum on a couple of white lions would’ve been much easier had he known Powers planned on shipping one to Pharaoh Racino that morning. And the arrival of an amateur journalist, while ultimately very opportune, had certainly added another layer of complexity he couldn’t have anticipated. Still, by and large, the whole thing had gone rather smoothly. A lioness had killed Powers as hoped, and now Aragon was released from contractual obligations and free to sell his discoveries to the highest bidder. On the negative side, a trainer was eaten, the Hummer totaled. Private insurance in the States would be costly from now on. Fortunately, he worked for the government and rarely paid his own coverage. He’d rely on public transportation until his flight. The weather was getting warmer. Soon Sarasota would be nearly inhospitable. Moving to southwestern coast of Florida last year, he had very much looked forward to working with and vigorously experimenting on white lions. Too bad Powers’ hunger for publicity derailed the plan. Norway would be a much different story, however. Although there was an abundance of wildlife — bears, lynx, wolves — there were no unique creatures with which to test out and confirm new gene-mutating concoctions. He sipped coffee. Or were they? Aragon typed “Oslo, Norway wildlife” in the Google search bar and noticed a result marked “reindeer.” Ah, reindeer. Aragon opened up a new message in Entourage, addressing it to his Oslo buddy. He mused on the subject line, before chuckling to himself and tapping out: “Next Xmas.” In the body of the email, he wrote: “Santa Claus better buckle up tight.” Born in Tampa, Florida, Jarret Keene traded the Hillsborough River for the Las Vegas Strip. He teaches creative writing at College of Southern Nevada and covers underground rock music for Vegas Seven magazine. He has written and edited several books including the crime-story anthology Las Vegas Noir.



OUR COMMUNITY SECOND QUARTER SALES SURPASS 2013 AT THE CONCESSION The Concession, a gated golf-course community located between Sarasota and Manatee counties, has surpassed its total 2013 sales of 32 closings within the first 20 weeks of 2014, with 34 home sites sold. Two new models were recently unveiled at The Concession – the Verona by Lee Wetherington Homes and the Amalfi by Arthur Rutenberg Homes. Neal Signature Homes will show its newest model in June, creating a new “model row” for visitors to browse. For more information, please visit the website.

USF SARASOTA-MANATEE RECEIVES DONATION FOR HOSPITALITY MASTER’S DEGREE SCHOLARSHIPS USF Sarasota-Manatee received a $100,000 donation from the Betty Schoenbaum Donor Advised Fund at the Community Foundation of Sarasota County to create the Alex and Betty Schoenbaum Scholarship Fund in the College of Hospitality and Technology Leadership. Scholarships from this fund will be available to all graduate level students for up to two semesters, based upon merit and financial need.  


Asolo Repertory Theatre announced that it received a $25,000 grant from Publix Super Markets Charities for its education programs. The grant will support the theatre’s commitment to make live theater accessible for students and community members through its New Stages Tour and Main Stages student matinees. The New Stages Tour takes 45-minute adaptations of classic theatrical works, performed by third-year FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training students, to schools and community venues across the state of Florida. Main Stage student matinees, which feature pre- and post-show activities, provide theater access for students at Asolo Rep, more than 2,000 this season.    

GLASSER/ SCHOENBAUM HUMAN SERVICES CENTER ANNOUNCES NEW BOARD MEMBERS & GRANT AWARD The Glasser/Schoenbaum Human Services Center announced the appointment of three new members to its Board of Directors. Newly elected board members are Michael Johnson, Jo Ann Koontz

and Jonathan P. Whitney. Michael Johnson is a financial advisor at Edward Jones Investments and is the Center’s new treasurer. Jo Ann M. Koontz is the founding attorney and CPA of Koontz & Associates, PL practicing in the areas of Real Estate, Business Entity Formation, and Taxation. Jonathan P. Whitney is an associate attorney at the law firm of Lutz, Bobo, Telfair, Dunham & Gabel and deals in real estate and business litigation.  The Glasser/Schoenbaum Human Services Center also announced that it has been awarded a grant in the amount of $38,000 from the Sarasota Memorial Healthcare Foundation for the new Sally & Sam Shapiro Babies & Children’s Medical Center, which opened June 30, 2014. The new 12,000 sq. ft. Babies & Children’s Medical Center will help the Center accommodate the growing demand for children in need to have access to healthcare.

CONSERVATION FOUNDATION OF THE GULF COAST SELECTED FOR EXCELLENCE PROGRAM Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast has been selected to participate in the Land Trust Excellence Program sponsored by the Land Trust Alliance. The Excellence Program provides intensive, multiyear investment to help increase conservation impact and operational performance proficiencies in select land trusts. Only 25 land trusts were invited to partake in this opportunity. Ann Charters, chair of the Board of Trustees said, “Participating in the Excellence Program puts us on the fast track, moving us from good to great. It gives us the boost we need to increase our impact, preserving and protecting land along Florida’s Gulf Coast.” Conservation Foundation is utilizing the funding to update their strategic plan and create their first ever conservation plan, organizational plan and fundraising plan. www. |

TAMPA BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL’S 2014 NONPROFIT AWARDS At an awards ceremony in Tampa conducted by the Tampa Bay Business Journal and sponsored by Maudlin & Jenkins, an independent panel of judges named 42 organizations as finalists for the 2014 Nonprofit of the Year Awards. Southeastern Guide Dogs was awarded the Overall Nonprofit of the Year Award. Goodwill Manasota was honored with the Nonprofit of the Year Award.  Realize Bradenton was recognized as the 2014 Public & Societal Benefit Nonprofit of the Year. The South Florida Musuem was named the Arts, Culture and Humanities Nonprofit of the Year. Other local finalists included the  Sarasota Ballet,  Forty Carrots Family Center, Big Cat Rescue Corp.,and The Roskamp Institute. July 2014





LITERARY S By Ryan G. Van Cleave

Once a year, I make the pilgrimage to New York City to attend Book Expo America, which is the largest annual book trade fair in the US. Anyone who’s anyone in publishing is there promoting books, selling books, buying them, or all three. And after two days of the literary madness — which includes scouring through dozens and dozens of recently released or advance reader editions of the best new titles — I’ve brought back a couple of recommendations that I think every SCENE reader should consider adding to their bookshelves.

Marlene, Marlene, Queen of Mean by Jane Lynch (Random House Books for Young Readers, hardcover, 32 pages, $16.99).

Celebrity-written picture books are typically underwhelming, but Lynch (of Glee fame and a former Sarasota resident) does a fine job here. Marlene, the class bully, feels authentically written and her story is told with a fine sense of rhythm that’s reminiscent of Dr. Seuss. Add in Tricia Tusa’s endearing illustrations, and this book is a great way to initiate important conversations with children about bullying. One additional note — the book is written with former children’s book editor A.E. Mikesell and clinical psychologist Lara Embry. Talk about bringing in some ringers to ensure a terrific product! Watch for Marlene, Marlene, Queen of Mean’s release in September 2014.

Cop Town: A Novel by Karin Slaughter (Delacorte Press, hardcover, 416 pages, $27).

Bestselling author Karin Slaughter’s new book, a stand-alone novel, has everything that she’s come to be known for as a crime novelist. A fast pace. A riveting plot. Complex characters. A sharp eye for detail. (Of particular note is her ability to create such compelling, believable female characters — all too rare in today’s literary landscape.) Cop Town: A Novel is the story of Kate Murphy’s first day on the job for the Atlanta Police Department in 1974. Her privileged life did not prepare for the rampant racism, homophobia, and misogynistic cops that are the norm for this era. Will she and fellow cop Maggie Lawson find The Shooter, a cop killer, in time? Will Murphy ultimately decide she’s not cut out to be a cop? Cop Town: A Novel is available now. 88



July 2014

The Ploughmen: A Novel by Kim Zupan (Henry Holt and Co., hardcover, 272 pages, $26).

Zupan — a former carpenter,

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smelterman, pro rodeo bareback rider, ranch hand, and Alaska salmon fisherman — makes quite

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the debut with his first book. This is the story of a young dep-

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uty and his 77-year old prisoner

Prosciutto & Serrano Hams

who forge an uneasy friendship through the bars of a Copper

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City county jail cell. Valentine Millimaki has night duty and a strained marriage. John Gload is a hardened killer awaiting

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trial. An obvious mismatch, these two somehow find a way to

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not only connect but share something profound and essential.

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Set in the tough but beautiful plains of Montana, this book is

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a strong entry into the world of Western literature. Even Pulit-

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zer Prize-winning author Larry McMurtry is impressed, claiming that “Kim Zupan has captured the feel of Montana: He has made a fine beginning.” He’s right.

Watch for The Ploughmen’s release in October 2014.


49 S. Palm Avenue Sarasota, FL 34246


The Marshmallow Test: Mastering SelfControl by Walter Mischel (Little, Brown and Company, hardcover, 336 pages, $29).

In this book, renowned psychologist Walter Mischel clearly outlines what self-control is and, perhaps more importantly, how to master it. Mischel is famous for his Marshmallow Tests. (Give a child a marshmallow. Eat this one now OR wait and get two later?) The choices of a test like this are shown to have serious implications in later life. The ability to delay gratification is fundamentally linked to one’s level of success in life. Higher SAT scores. Better cognitive and social functioning. Healthier lifestyle. Stronger sense of selfworth. If you’ve ever struggled with retirement planning, weight issues, smoking, or heartbreak, this book can reveal what’s really happening and how to get back in control. Want to change the way you think about who you are and what you can be? The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control might be just what you need. Watch for The Marshmallow Test: Mastering Self-Control’s release in September 2014.

July 2014






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Julie 2014 issue of Scene Magazine