Special Features — 08 January 2016
Staff picks: Our favorite City & Shore stories

Editor’s note:  Our staff looks back on memorable stories from City & Shore‘s first 15 years.

Matthew McConaughey? Niki Taylor? A loveably rambunctious yellow lab? It wasn’t easy for our writers to pick their favorite stories from the first 15 years of City & Shore Magazine, but  here’s a start.

12 Minutes with Matthew McConaughey

By Eric Barton

Matthew McConaughey was just about to walk in when his handlers changed the plan. He didn’t want to do organized interviews, they announced. He wanted this to be a casual conversation. Like at a party.

Then he stepped into the room, in a charcoal suit and hair still looking wet from the shower, and everything changed again. Now, we were going to stick to the original schedule. No announcement, no discussion. Maybe McConaughey hadn’t wanted to do the structured interviews, but he’s easy, man.

Each of us would have 10 minutes with him, and I was third in line. My notebook had two pages of questions, in case his answers were brief. I’d be asking about Florida, where he’d spent summers as a kid. Halfway through the first question, he jumped in, “Ah, you’re the guy who wants to ask about Navarre Beach.”

He spent most of the next 12 minutes – two more than promised! – talking about Florida with the excitement of a man who’d just returned from vacation. He told stories and laughed and didn’t want to stop … until the handlers stepped in again. He’s an actor, so surely he could act interested and engaged and genuinely kind.

But no, I thought, that’s him. Laid-back zen, just as he seems on the screen.

 

John Grogan & Me,

By Jonathon King

You don’t get to write many good dog stories as a South Florida journalist, and even honorable-man stories are not so easy to come by. Combine both with an overall “good for you” tale and you’ve got the trifecta, which I was lucky enough to hit in a 2008 story on author John Grogan and his best-selling memoir Marley & Me.

By that year Grogan’s book about life with a loveably rambunctious yellow lab had already sold 3 million copies worldwide and City & Shore was catching up with him just as the movie based on Marley’s tale was being released. Admittedly, I had an inside track since I had worked with John at the Sun Sentinel in the 1990s and knew him firsthand as one of the nicest guys I’d ever met.

An anecdote that didn’t make the story was when John and his wife, Jenny, were invited to an on-site shooting of the film at then Pro Player Stadium. As they approached the movie set, John’s wife spotted a director’s chair with “Jenny Grogan” printed on the canvas back and, impressed with the hospitality, sat down. In time a soft voice belonging to Jennifer Aniston said, “Excuse me, but that’s my chair.” To which the real Jenny turned and replied: “Oh, I’m sorry, it had my name on it.”

Smiles and introductions ensued. Nice Midwestern boy with a bestseller meets nice Emmy Award-winning actress while puppies run between their legs. Who says feel-good stories are un-publishable?

The power
of Powers for Good

By Robyn A. Friedman

I’ve interviewed some amazing people over the years, including the occasional celebrity and professional athlete. But the stories I remember most are about people who are not so well known: the ones giving back to the community while balancing a family and work.

That’s why City & Shore’s Powers for Good is my favorite story. Or, actually, stories.

To say the people I’ve interviewed for the long-running series are inspiring is an understatement. Many do far more than just donate time or money. They give of themselves, and they change lives.

I think about Terry Stiles, who has supported the Museum of Discovery and Science for over three decades. And Tammy Gail, a breast cancer survivor who was determined to give something back to the community when she founded Glam-A-THON, which has raised $418,000 for the Broward Health Foundation.

John D’Eri was inspired by his autistic son to create a groundbreaking social enterprise called Rising Tide Car Wash, which now employs 30 people with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Faustino Gonzalez co-founded a nonprofit that donates durable medical equipment to patients in need.

By agreeing to be a part of Powers for Good, these good folks have let us into their lives, to learn what makes them tick and what motivates them — but, also, to encourage others to follow their example.

They’re more than stories to me. They’re inspiration.

 

My Most Memorable Photo Shoot, Take 1

By Greg Carannnate

It didn’t take Donald Trump’s recent tiff with Neil Young to remind me of one of my favorite photo shoots. I have never forgotten it.

When Trump appeared on the cover of City & Shore in February 2004, I couldn’t have envisioned the bombastic phenomenon he has become as presidential candidate. He was simply a famous/infamous developer about to make the jump to reality TV with The Apprentice. Still, the Trump name and persona were larger-than-life, and I had no idea what to expect when I, as art director, writer Deborah Wilker and the late photographer Peter Langone entered Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach for the interview and shoot.

Word came that Mr. Trump was “detained” on the golf course, but as consolation we were offered dinner in the club’s dining room. (I remember foie gras and champagne.) He arrived about an hour later, and following further delays to change into his suit and choose the perfect tie, he proved to be a cooperative subject. At one point, I found myself on a sofa making small talk with The Donald when – I can’t remember how – the topic turned to, of all people, Neil Young.

I said I’d just seen Young perform in West Palm Beach. Trump replied that he loved Neil Young and that he’d also seen the iconic rocker’s recent show at his New Jersey casino. It’d be hard to find two more opposite iconoclasts on the planet, so the absurdity of the conversation about the musician who personified the counter-culture with none other than the billionaire who embodies The Culture is for me a moment that’s, well, gone but not forgotten.

However, whatever absurdity this moment held for me was trumped last summer when Young’s Rockin’ in the Free World was usurped by Trump’s campaign and a grip-and-grin shot of the pair was circulated. Young asked Trump to cease and desist. The photo had nothing to do with the presidential bid, the rocker said – it was taken at a pre-campaign meeting in which he’d asked the tycoon to finance his music player venture. Of course, Trump’s response was typically Trumpian – he tweeted that Young was a “hypocrite.”

Hey, hey. My, my.

 

My Most Memorable Photo Shoot, Take 2, 

Greg Carannante

Perhaps my favorite (and proudest) memory is talking Chris Evert up onto a trampoline. Photographer Andrew Itkoff and I had just entered her West Boca home for a photo shoot for the December 2003/January 2004 issue when we saw her kids bouncing on the big trampoline in the backyard. Itkoff immediately seized on the opportunity for a great shot, but Evert politely resisted our gentle arm-twists.

Just before we wrapped up the session, I gently prodded once more. Sensing a challenge, her competitive spirit took hold and she relented. She kicked off her shoes, hopped up on the thing and jumped like a pro. Ever the champ, Evert gave us the wildest celebrity photos of City & Shore’s early years.

 

Niki Taylor – Then and Now

By Elizabeth Rahe

Niki Taylor was posing on the hood of her prized 1978 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am when she took a call. As she filled the caller in on our photo shoot, her playful tone seemed to belie an earlier assertion that there was no special man in her life. Taylor exuded warmth and gentility as she welcomed us – City & Shore Style Director Elyse Ranart, New York fashion photographer Jill Wachter and this writer – to her country home outside of Nashville on a scattered-thunderstorm day in April 2006. She introduced us to her twin 11-year-old boys, and we made our way to a nearby pasture and barn to photograph her for the August/September issue.

Thirty-one at the time, divorced for a decade and the survivor of near-fatal injuries from a car accident, the supermodel who grew up in Pembroke Pines talked about her faith, her contentment with her life and the hope of marriage in the next five years. “Children pass through your life, and your husband is the one that you’re supposed to grow old with. That scares me when I say that …”

Six months later she was engaged to Burney Lamar, a NASCAR driver she had met at a charity event in January of that year. Wachter was the photographer at their December 2006 wedding. Today the boys, Jake and Hunter, are 21; and Niki has given birth to two more additions to the family, Ciel, now 6, and Rex, 4.

Turns out I was right about that phone call.

 

Beautiful Dancers

By Elyse Ranart

The saying goes you’re only as good as your last photo shoot. I don’t know if that’s true, because I’ve loved all of mine since becoming City & Shore’s fashion and style director in 2005.

But if I had to choose just one, I’d say this past December’s cover story with the Miami City Ballet was indeed a favorite.

Shooting the dancers in eveningwear had all of the elements that, for me, make a great visual story. From the young, beautiful and enthusiastic dancers to the breathtaking gowns they wore in a way no model ever could, it was truly a magical moment.

As our cover dancer, Ellen Grocki, floated from the dressing room to the studio – in a sugar-spun tulle gown by Oscar de la Renta – she passed a group of very young ballet students on their way to class. Seeing Ellen, they all let out an “ahhhhh,” in unison.

I was thinking the very same thing.

 

Trey Magnifique, Miami Heat 

By Dave Wieczorek

When LeBron James signed with the Heat in July 2010, crowning the triumvirate of James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, it was impossible to separate the excitement of genuine promise from the false hope of hyperbole. So to assess how turning up the Heat might alter our cultural and economic climate in South Beach, I interviewed experts ranging from a sports-marketing whiz and a popular club deejay to a Big Brothers Big Sisters executive and a fashion guru.

I learned there wasn’t a skeptic among them – or us – even in this age of mercenary athletes. We all figured LeBron, D-Wade and Chris would deliver.

They did, and the numbers prove it was fun getting caught up in the hoopla of winning, until it ended in summer 2014: Two championships in four trips to the NBA Finals. TV ratings that soared. An AmericanAirlines Arena sold out beyond capacity. Cataracts of cash spilling from the tills of bars and restaurants. According to a study the Heat commissioned in 2012, the team brought a $1.4 billion bonanza to South Florida each year. The franchise’s estimated value today of $1.18 billion doubled following James’ arrival.

And LeBron, D-Wade and Chris themselves? Good citizens whose admirable character on and off the court likely influenced generations young and old. On my personal scorecard, what they accomplished ranks with the Dolphins’ undefeated season and the birth of the Marlins.

The bottom line for the too-brief era of the Big Three? While it lasted, Thrice was nice.

 

I can’t pick just one: The stories that stand out 

By Deborah Wilker

I’d almost forgotten I’d interviewed “Bachelorette No. 1” — Trista Rehn, (now Sutter) until my trusty editor reminded me. A Bachelor cast-off, she had been an anonymous physical therapist/Miami Heat dancer until prime-time fame struck, one of many reality personalities who redefined the concept of “celebrity” as the 2000s unfurled.

The modern age of the reality “star” was an interesting phenomenon to watch (initially) but I much prefer writing about the truly accomplished: Athletes, musicians, politicians, actors, particularly those who return from the brink or claw their way into industries that never wanted them in the first place.

I’ve been fortunate to speak with some inspiring people for the magazine, among them Alonzo Mourning, Sheryl Crow and Dolphins running back Ricky Williams, who I learned walked barefoot almost everywhere and obliviously rode his bike between his homes in Miami and Fort Lauderdale (just because).

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson seemed to not quite believe what a huge star he was becoming when we put him on the cover in 2008. Same with Tony Goldwyn in 2013. The villain from 1990’s Ghost had been directing and producing in later years – until Shonda Rhimes re-discovered him, tore his clothes off and placed him in Scandal, re-catapulting him to stardom in his early 50s.

Beth and Howard Stern provided a lot of fun with a 2013 cover about their new lives in Palm Beach. Howard shot the photos for us, and was probably the easiest-to-work-with big star ever.

A year after we had spent the day with Donald Trump in early 2004 (on the eve of The Apprentice launch; as blustery then as now), we lined up the former Mrs. Trump, Ivana, for a cover. She was full of advice, the best of which was: “Yes some women might phone a man. But I would not do it.” Words to live by.

For sheer education nothing beat my day at Saks Fifth Avenue with the designer and TV personality Michael Kors. What would the average woman pay to have this guy’s ear for an afternoon: $15,000? $50,000? Strolling the department store with him, and later at lunch, I drank it all in. Keep it simple. Keep it classic. Wear black.

 

My Lunch with Chef Daniel Boulud 

By Rebecca Cahilly

As a freelance writer, I try to divide my time equally between my two main loves: boats and food.

Please imagine my excitement when the invitation to attend a private luncheon at Café Boulud on Palm Beach hosted by the renowned, James Beard Award-winning, Michelin-starred restaurateur Chef Daniel Boulud came across my desk.

Unfortunately, the boat side of my work would have none of it. The morning of the luncheon I was stuck – yes, literally – on a yacht in the Bahamas where a photo shoot for another assignment had gone awry due to bad weather. My dining options that day would be left in the hands of a very cranky yacht chef if I didn’t get off that boat soon.

But fate was on my side, as the seas finally subsided enough for me to jump on a small tender to shore and race to the airport. With only minutes to spare and no time to do my hair, I skipped breathlessly onto the sun-filled terrace at Café Boulud at the Brazilian Court Hotel.

I did my best to look composed and demure. This was, after all, Palm Beach.

The terrace was breathtaking; the table decorated with terra cotta pots of fresh herbs, rustic lanterns and tangines. I felt a little twinge of guilt as I thought of my colleagues back in the Bahamas who were undoubtedly reduced to eating decorative candy to survive. But they don’t work for City & Shore, so I sank into my chair and melted into the Provençale ambience, as dish by dish from the summer menu for the pop-up concept Boulud Sud transported me to a sunflower and rosemary-filled heaven.

I didn’t say much during that luncheon. In my opinion, when one is treated to several courses prepared by such culinary talent there’s not much to do but clean your plate. But at one point I captured Chef Boulud looking at me with a quizzical, somewhat amused look on his face. He may have wondered why I looked so disheveled or maybe I had seaweed in my hair, I’m not sure; perhaps he was happy to see his guests so thoroughly enjoying the experience. There was no reason to tell him what it took for me to get there.

That luncheon was two years ago. As I write this, I’ve just received another invitation. Chef Boulud is coming back to Palm Beach to host an exclusive luncheon. My calendar says I’ll be in Antigua for something boat-related on that date. I’ll swim back, if I have to.

 

A moment in heaven on earth

By Charlyne Varkonyi Schaub 

Every design story, whether on a home or a garden, has taught me lessons over the years about color, scale and accessories. But the one that touched my heart was the November 2015 piece on 90-year-old Harvey Tatelman’s Japanese garden in Boynton Beach. Not only was his design authentic and beautiful, it exemplifies what my features professor used to call “the story behind the story.”

Tatelman’s garden, with its soothing waterfall, Buddhas and koi pond, was a precious gift to his wife, Claire, who has been battling breast cancer for several years. He promised her he would build her a view, a feat that seemed almost impossible in their tiny 25-by-50-foot space. Since he created the garden more than six years ago, he added a dry garden with gravel that is raked to portray waves, more plants and a more powerful 5 horsepower pump. I feel honored they shared their heaven-on-earth with me.

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