First Words — 06 February 2020
Where all our roads lead to agreement

By Mark Gauert

City & Shore Magazine

Ask people what they enjoy most about life in South Florida, and no two answers are alike.

We’ve been posing the question – along with 14 others – to some well-known South Floridians since 2017 in our popular Quote Unquote Q&A feature. What do they like?

“There is nothing like sunshine in your life and having the ocean so near,” says Nicole Henry, internationally acclaimed jazz singer.

“Proximity to the islands,’’ says Spencer Antle, founder and creative director of Island Company.

“Being on the water,’’ says Andrew Doole, president of U.S. Boat Shows, which runs the events in Fort Lauderdale, Miami, Palm Beach, St. Petersburg and Sarasota.  

“Cafecito and croquetas!” says Frankie P, radio personality DJ and host of Y100 Miami and WILD 95.5.

“It’s not boring,” says Dave Barry, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, author and one of the most consistently funny people ever to appear in print. “Sometimes — when a hurricane is coming, for example, or I’m driving on the Palmetto — it’s not boring to the point of being terrifying. But usually it’s a good kind of not boring. Things keep happening here.”

Ask people what they dislike most about life in South Florida, though, and we almost always get the same answer:

“The traffic,” says Tony Segreto, local broadcasting luminary.

“The traffic,’’ says Bonnie Clearwater, director and chief curator of NSU Art Museum Fort Lauderdale.

“The traffic,” Spencer Antle says.

“The traffic,” Andrew Doole says.

“The traffic,’’ says Susie Levan, author of Getting to Forgiveness — What a Near-Death Experience Can Teach Us About Loss, Resilience and Love.

I thought about the question because Levan was the most recent subject to answer our quiz, on pgs. 28-29 of the January issue. It left me wondering if it was time to retire the query and concede that bad traffic is a given drawback here.

I was just about to do that when I noticed the diversity of answers to a follow-up question in the quiz, “What do you do when you’re stuck in a traffic jam on I-95?”

“Usually pray,” Tony Segreto says.

“Pray or dream of being Mr. Incredible and flying above it all,” says John Offerdahl, Dolphins great and restaurateur.

“Turn on my favorite podcast (Gastropod and The David Chang Show are a couple of my favorites),” says Michelle Bernstein, James Beard-award winning chef, restaurateur and host of TV shows Check Please, South Florida and SoFlo Taste.

“Turn up my satellite radio and let the music relax me,” says Ron Magill, communications director of Zoo Miami.

“I find the best solution is to take a deep breath, exhale slowly, then ingest a massive quantity of narcotics,” Dave Barry says.

These may not all be, uh, the best ideas, but they are all interesting solutions to a problem we all face in South Florida. We like being around here, we just don’t like getting around here.

This month we’ll probably drive to Boca Raton for the 14th annual Concours d’Elegance at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. It’s a fun, three-day extravaganza of cars and motorcycles Feb. 7-9 that celebrates pretty much everything we love about cars, motorcycles and life in South Florida.

It starts with a big party, after all — Friday night in a hangar at the Boca Raton Airport. Saturday, there’s an exposition of collector cars valued as much as $20 million, an exhibition of automobile art and a gala dinner, featuring our cover subject, comedian Billy Gardell. And, on Sunday, the Concours competition fills the greens at the Boca Raton Resort & Club with classic cars and motorcycles and classic car and motorcycle enthusiasts.

It’s one of the things I enjoy most about life in South Florida. Despite the traffic on the way there.

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