Events and Things to Do in Delray Beach and Boca Raton

Boca Raton and Delray Beach are among the most vibrant communities you’ll ever find.

Both cities feature a vast array of events year-round that are sure to interest people of all ages and interests. From arts festivals and music events to a vibrant food scene and cultural landscape Boca-Delray has it all.

At YourDelrayBoca.com we strive to curate the best events and give you insider’s tips to make your experience the best it can be.

Things We Loved In April

True Food Kitchen at the Town Center Mall is a welcome addition.

Things We Loved In April…
The Bombay Café—there’s a reward for trying new cuisine. And I received one when I tagged along for dinner with friends and discovered Indian cuisine. I didn’t go spicy, but I did try a whole bunch of new things, and greatly enjoyed the new flavors. Bombay Café in Boca is terrific.

Grand Luxe blood orange soda. –Grand Luxe is a Town Center staple, but I had never tried their craft soda until recently. Highly recommended.

Springsteen on Broadway—see past blogs— but if you can– don’t miss this show. It would play well at the Crest Theatre, just saying.

Delray Affair, great weather, great times.

The double clucker at Caffe Luna Rosa. Simply the best chicken sandwich imaginable.

White chocolate samples at the Godiva store At Town Center.  Yes, Godiva chocolate makes ice cream and it’s really good.

The top sixty Beatles rock songs on Sirius XM. Hosted by Beatles fan extraordinaire Robin Zander of Cheap Trick the list was welcome background music as we cruised Delray and Boca. The number one song: Helter Skelter.

Honor Bar veggie sandwich. The Honor Bar is in Palm Beach, a nice ride up the coast.

Rediscovering “Feelin Satisfied” by 70s rockers Boston. Great great great song.

Reading Aaron Renn’s views on cities and regions. Always smart, always interesting. If you love cities subscribe to his “Urbanophile” blog.

Eating at the bar at the Gazebo. Great service, wonderful food and a great place for conversation.

Seeing my stepson’s best friend land a dream job with the Boca Police Department.

True Food Kitchen, a welcome addition to the Town Center Mall.  Healthy offerings—don’t miss the charred cauliflower and the Havana Lager.

Seeing the Animal Rescue Force at Pet Supplies Plus on Linton Boulevard. We got Randy, our feisty chihuahua, 13 years ago from ARF at the Delray Affair. They really do rescue us.
It was fun to introduce Randy to his “alma mater” and the volunteers were happy to see a “graduate”.
We hope you consider a rescue.

Wishing you a safe and great May.

Finding Inspiration @ Boca Lead

Pastor Bill Mitchell who has an extensive background in business draws big crowds for BocaLead.

 

I have to be honest, I’m more apt to say no these days than yes to social functions.

It’s nothing personal, it’s just that I’m tired, very busy and fantasize more about a Lazy Boy and a cold beer than I do a banquet and a baguette.

Over the years, I’ve been to countless luncheons, fundraisers, ribbon cuttings, cocktail parties and functions; you just get to a point where you just want to chill and binge on Netflix.
But there are certain people I just can’t say no to…Karen Granger is one of them.

Karen and I have known each other for many years and through many careers. The former President of the Delray Chamber is with a wonderful organization called 4 Kids these days and she’s happy doing important work for children and the community.
So when she invited me to attend a leadership luncheon I said yes.
Why?

Because I trust her judgment and because we are passionate about many of the same things. For example, we are both leadership junkies.
So Karen took me to a monthly event called BocaLead at Boca Community Church and it was amazing. Just as Karen promised.

A capacity crowd of 450 people packed into the event to hear Pastor Bill Mitchell give a fascinating and practical presentation on how to be a better leader.
It was something.

Everywhere I looked I saw community leaders—business leaders, non profit leaders, political leaders and educational leaders. These are the people who are dedicated to making Boca the finest city in the world. Yes, the world. They are ambitious in Boca and at BocaLead.
That’s a wonderful thing.

Newly elected Commissioner Ryan Boylston was there and we both agree that we would love to see something like this in Delray.

Apparently, the BocaLead concept is expanding to other cities.
Each month, the attendees enjoy lunch and fellowship and then learn about life and leadership.
Yes, it’s set in a church and it is part of Boca Community’s ministry, but the message was inclusive of all faiths.

The message is also decidedly optimistic, calling on leaders to dig deep, be present, recharge, give back and do good in the world.
That’s always a good thing, but especially now with where we are as a society these days.

It’s also very reassuring to know something like BocaLead exists and to see it so popular.
I can’t believe I didn’t know about it. I’m glad I do now.
I urge you to check it out. And mostly, I’m grateful for my friend Karen Granger.
For thinking of me. And for all she does for people and the community.

For more information on BocaLead visit http://www.bocacommunity.org/bocalead/

 

 

We Are All Going to School at Stoneman Douglas

A sixth grader from Don Estridge Middle School tells a large crowd at the Old School Square Pavilion that she’s tired of being scared.

We attended the “March For Our Lives” gathering at Old School Square Saturday.
It was moving and important.

We are experiencing a movement in our nation sparked by the amazing students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.
They are standing up to the NRA.
They are standing up to our feckless politicians.
They are fearless, committed and have title to the high ground. Their timing couldn’t be better.
America is ripe for change.

And it will be the children of the greatest nation in the history of the world who will restore our ideals.
Yes, this about gun violence, school safety and gun law reforms. But it’s also about citizenship, accountability, responsibility and activism.
In 845 communities all over the world, people are saying they have had enough.

This time it feels different. You can see it in the eyes of the Parkland students and the young people they are inspiring all over the world.
They are not going away. They won’t be bought, co-opted, fooled, triangulated or kept quiet.
Thank G-d.

In Delray, we heard from students including a sixth grader from Don Estridge Middle School who electrified the crowd with a plea for change. She told a capacity crowd that she doesn’t want to be afraid anymore. She doesn’t want to worry about her 9 year old brother coming home safe.
And it was powerful.
We heard from teachers too, including an Atlantic High Journalism teacher who was passionate about voting and getting things done to create a change in our violent society.
It was a day for children and teachers to lead us—not for politicians to pontificate. (Although a few droned on and on and on).

Let the children speak.

It’s time for the adults to listen or get out of the way.

The day gave me hope.
The children will lead us.
Because the so-called leaders have failed us.
The lessons our children are imparting are profound and abundant.
We must hold our elected officials accountable.
We must vote.
We  won’t stop until we succeed.

They are just getting started.
We need change now.
These children are going to deliver it.
Yolanda Renee King, MLK’s 9 year old granddaughter, summed it up.
“Spread the word! Have you heard? All across the nation, we are going to be a great generation!”
Yes indeed.

And just in time too.

Public Leadership (Doesn’t Have To Be An Oxymoron)

Former Mayor Nancy Graham.

I’m a big fan of ULI, the Urban Land Institute, a global organization that promotes sustainable land use and good design.
So when I was asked to appear on a panel on public leadership with two mayors I admire—West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio and former West Palm Mayor Nancy Graham– I jumped at the opportunity.
My son lives in downtown West Palm Beach and so I visit more often than usual these days. I think the city has  some great things going on including start up incubators, some interesting restaurants and the new and exciting Grandview Public Market which has invigorated the Warehouse District.
Mayor Muoio, Mayor Graham and the citizens of West Palm have a lot to be proud of.

Mayor Graham was a transformational leader who put together the groundbreaking deal for City Place and brought walkability expert Jeff Speck to the city years ago to promote vibrant mixed use and pedestrian friendly development.
We’ve  been friends for years and it was good to see her back in West Palm after years in California. She lives in North Florida these days and remains a very vocal advocate for city’s and her beliefs.
We spoke to a group of young leaders who work in land use, planning, architecture, transportation, development, housing and other important disciplines.

Takeaways included the need to have political courage, the need to engage the public around development issues, the importance of having a vision and sticking with it in the face of opposition and the critical need for mayors to always be learning, evolving and leading.

After all, a bright future is not guaranteed. It  needs to be earned and it requires work, vigilance and determination.
Mayors are uniquely positioned to drive positive change. Local government is perhaps the last bastion of progress and possibilities.
Washington D.C. and state capitals tend to be partisan and therefore prone to gridlock and obstruction.
Cities and counties have unique opportunities to effectuate change and think long term.

But only if they choose to do so. I’ve seen many cities seize opportunities and make miraculous progress.
Pittsburgh, Indianapolis and an array of rust belt cities have managed to come back to life through reinvention, strategic investment and political will.
I enjoy reading stories about Detroit and other cities that are finding ways to reverse decades of decay.  It’s inspiring and gives you faith that problems can be solved.

Locally, Delray Beach, Lake Worth, Pompano Beach, West Palm and Fort Lauderdale are interesting examples of cities that have employed vision, investment and public engagement to forge promising futures.
Each city was wise to choose its own strategy and “style”.

Delray’s scale and emphasis on the arts, culture, sports and diversity proved to be a winning formula that has paved the way to attract creative industries.  If we stay the course, market our amenities and add to the vision we can have more progress and solve our ongoing challenges.

Pompano Beach is pursuing an innovation district as an anchor offering. The city has made impressive strides in recent years.

West Palm seems to be embracing its role as the county seat and has aspirations to be an important city and not just a ‘hallway’ to the airport, Palm Beach and county government as the mayor noted.
BRAVÒ!
I love cities that aspire. I respect cities that have ambitions, plan for the future and honor the past.
Forward thinking. Political will. Vision. Engagement. Strategic investment. That’s the formula.
I’m glad to see ULI embracing the next generation of leadership. It was a joy to be in the room with energetic leaders who want to build anew and take our cities to the next level.
We have a bright future as a result of these efforts.

Mayor Muio.

Decision Time

Well…we did it again.

We managed to go through an election season without a substantive debate on the issues or a respectful discussion of ideas.

We did however manage to lie, label, disrespect, disparage and sling vitriol at each other with great fervor. And we wonder why people won’t run for public office…

Still, there are some emerging trends we should pay attention too if our goal is to be a stronger community.  One in particular that I think we ought to pay closer attention to are the attacks on a candidate’s supporters and their motives.

This year it has been open season on those who endorse or contribute financially to campaigns. But what if your goal is not to corrupt, but to support someone you believe in? What if your motive is good government? Are we that cynical that we preclude those motives as a possibility. As for economic interests, are we that myopic to label donors selfish just because they may wish to invest in our community and they support candidates that they believe will be reasonable or at least follow the local rules?

That said, I want to share with you a list of some (NOT ALL) of my civic heroes. Many of whom were subject to cynical remarks on social media this  cycle by people– who for the most part–  we’ve never seen serve our community. If they weren’t attacked,  many were dismissed as being unimportant as if endorsements and support don’t matter. I disagree. Here’s why:

Frances Bourque-words can’t describe Frances’ impact on Delray Beach. The founder of Old School Square, lifetime achievement award winner, historic preservation icon. Her vision gave us a place to gather and with it a sense of community.

Tom Lynch—three term mayor, School Board Chair, founding chairman of the CRA, lifetime achievement award winner, accomplished businessman and visionary. We recovered our civic pride as a result of his leadership.  Delray won its first All America City Award and was named the “Best Run Town in Florida” on his watch.

Doak Campbell-former mayor and commissioner. The Atlantic Avenue Task Force, Visions 2000, the creation of the CRA and the establishment of the first historic districts happened during Doak’s era.

Jay Alperin-former mayor and commissioner. 10 plus years service on the city commission. Past chair of Old School Square and the Chamber.

David Schmidt—former mayor and commissioner, president of Sister Cities, long time contributor to the Morikami Museum and someone who I sat next to on the commission for three years. David was a terrific mayor with a model temperament.

Yvonne Odom—civic icon who was the first African American to attend Atlantic High. Mentor to hundreds of young people for decades.

Rita Ellis—my successor as mayor. Past Chamber Chair, past chair of the Downtown Development Authority, longtime Beach Property Owners Association leader and successful business owner.

Bill Branning-two time chair of Old School Square, one of the best CRA commissioners ever, Vice chair of the Chamber, successful businessman and dedicated volunteer. Bill is devoted to all things Delray.

Cathy Balestriere– Past chair of the chamber, CRA commissioner, driving force behind Crane’s Beach House and growing Delray as a “destination.” Active in scores of Delray non-profits.

Scott Porten—a dreaded developer, who took a drive through car wash and gave us Citywalk with places like Brule and took a troubled area of town and gave us The Estuary. Scott is a devoted volunteer serving on City boards, chairing Old School Square and the Chamber and helping to lead the Beach Property Owners for years. He loves this city and gives back constantly. You WANT developers with Scott’s level of concern and passion for the city. Because they care about what they build.

Bill Morris—another developer who chairs Old School Square, supports FAU, the Boys and Girls Club and loves this city with all his heart.

Joe Gillie—longtime president of Old School Square who helped us win all three All America City Awards. Joe is Delray. Period.

Fran Marincola—longtime proprietor of the landmark Caffe Luna Rosa, 19 years on the Parking Management Advisory Board, past chair of the DDA, past chair of the Sandoway House Nature Center and longtime BPOA leader, Fran has a heart of gold. He’s devoted to Delray.

Jestena Boughton—historic preservationist and owner of the historic Colony Hotel, Jestena is a delight who has done so much for our town.

Susan Ruby—former City Attorney, leader in Del Ida and a personal touchstone of mine.

Ann Gannon– Palm Beach County’s Tax Collector, former state legislator, devoted to Delray and good government.

Chuck Halberg– I don’t know anyone who loves Delray more or who gives more than Chuck.

Dave Henninger–gave so much to this community especially the Achievement Center, Chamber, Lake Ida neighborhood etc.

David Randolph—long time city commissioner and mentor to so many.

Zack Staghn–decades of service to the community, mentor to countless leaders and devoted civil rights champion.

The list of people and organizations involved in this year’s campaign goes on and on. Amazing young leaders: Connor Lynch, Craig Spodak, Emanuel Dupree Jackson Jr., Lee Cohen, Sgt. Gary Ferreri, Rob Long, Kate Volman, Jason Bregman, Joe Collard, Rob Posillico, Amanda Perna, Matt Shipley, Steve Mackey and more.  Neighborhood leaders from WARC, the Northwest/Southwest Alliance, Del Ida, Seacrest, etc. etc.  Unions representing Fire, Police, general employees–the people who protect and serve us.  Organizations ranging from the realtors association to the Human Rights Council and more. Stellar long time contributors such as Fred Fetzer, Jon Levinson, Gary Eliopoulos, Nancy Dockerty, Bob Currie, Bill Nix, Zack Straghn, Cathy Weil, Shirl Fields, Mark Sauer, Suzanne Spencer, Joycelyn Patrick, Rick Caster, Christina Morrison, Bruce Bastian, Ingrid Kennemer and more.
Many of these people and organizations have been labeled: special interests, good old boys, the Establishment and worse.
But they are the people and the groups that are Delray. They represent the past, the present and the  future of our city.
They are the volunteers devoted to this community. The ones who give their time, their talents and their treasure to this town.
They back Jim Chard for Mayor. Most of the above also back Ryan Boylston for commissioner. (Fire backed his opponent, Police stayed out).
Can they all be wrong?
I don’t think so.
They know Delray. They care about Delray.
They’re not special interests. They are the backbone of this City.
And like me they want change. Unity not division. Progress not indecision and infighting. Leadership not bullying.
Tomorrow we have a chance to help Delray.
It’s Election Day.
Please vote.

Things We Loved In February…

The brand new (and gorgeous Arts Warehouse).

Mighty Max Delivers for the Arts Garage

E Street Band Drummer, Rock N’ Roll Hall of Famer and proud Delray resident Max Weinberg sold out two shows at the Arts Garage in February to raise money for the organization.

Max Weinberg’s Jukebox is an ingenious idea. Drawing from over 300 songs from the 60s and 70s, Max and his incredible band (three quarters of New Jersey’s Weeklings) play music that the crowd wants to hear from monitors scrolling song titles throughout the venue.

The performance was amazing with songs ranging from The Beatles and Rolling Stones to Steppenwolf and of course Bruce Springsteen. It was a party—with people dancing, singing and just having a great time.

After years behind the kit, Max proves to be a great band leader engaging the crowd, talking about his love for Delray, the Arts Garage and Haagen Daz chocolate ice cream. He even sprinkled in some yiddishisms (always a treat).

After an energetic two shows, he eagerly greeted fans backstage.

We’ve gotten to know Max over the past year and have shown him the sights of his new hometown. What impressed us the most was that he dived into all of the city’s websites reading master plans and visioning documents in an effort to understand the city. He’s a big fan of Delray Beach, especially our community’s support for the arts and culture.

He also happens to be a truly nice guy who has lived an amazing life and is generous with his time and stories.

Max is a powerful drummer with a great feel for the classic songs of the rock era. If you have a chance, run don’t walk to see the Jukebox on their tour.

P.S. we were treated to two songs by Max’s daughter, Ali Rogin, a journalist for ABC News. She did a great version of “Somebody to Love” and “Different Drum”, sounding every bit as good as Grace Slick and Linda Ronstadt.

Kudos to Arts Garage Board Chair Chuck Halberg and President Marjorie Waldo for pulling this special fundraiser off and for doing incredible work at an important local arts venue.

Happy 70th Rotary

Bexley Trail Community Park is now 106 trees richer thanks to some pretty awesome members of our community.

Community Greening teamed up with the Delray Beach Rotary Club and added 70 cypress trees and 36 slash pines to the landscape. The Rotary Club generously donated all of the cypress trees for the event, and volunteers from The Young Professionals Association of Delray Beach came out to help plant the trees.

“The Rotary Club of Delray Beach is proud to have been invited by Community Greening to improve Delray Beach’s ecosystem with the planting of 70 trees,” said Rotary Club President John Fischer.

The Delray Rotary is also celebrating its 70th birthday this year.

I was unable to attend their birthday event, which featured some past mayors but bought a few seats and I hope others had a chance to celebrate this outstanding group which has done so much for Delray Beach.

 

 

Negroni’s Trio

Speaking of the Arts Garage, we enjoyed a great show by Grammy nominated Negroni’s Trio this month.

The jazz band features a father and son duo from Puerto Rico, a bassist from Venezuela and two talented singers from Miami.

It was a joyous evening of stellar playing and singing.

The group mentioned three times during the show that the Arts Garage was their favorite venue in the world. Yep, the world.

They have good taste, catch them when they return to Delray.

Losing a community legend

A few weeks back we wrote about Vince Canning, who received a well-deserved proclamation from the City Commission recognizing a lifetime of service to the people of Delray.

Sadly, Mr. Canning passed in February, shortly after receiving the honor.

We send our condolences to Mr. Canning’s friends and family.

As someone wrote on social media, Vince Canning was part of the fabric of this community. Indeed, he was.

A very strong thread who touched a lot of lives; mine included.

 

Delray Beach Open

Congratulations to the Delray Beach Open.

The tennis event crowned a new star—20 year-old American Francis Tiafoe won his first ATP event—and set a new attendance record.

We enjoyed a few sessions and it was really great to see so many top 20 players and past legends including John McEnroe entertain local fans.

Estimated local economic impact: $17 million.

Arts Warehouse Debut

Congratulations to the Delray CRA for its successful launch of the Arts Warehouse near Third and Third.

The space is absolutely amazing and worth a visit. It will be a community asset for years to come (if the legislature and local politico’s leave the CRA alone) while also providing low cost studio space for local artists—many of whom get pushed out by gentrification.

Manager Jill Brown and her team have done a terrific job and we heard lots of oohs and ahs…as people toured the facility.

It was also nice to see Old School Square staff and board members in attendance evidence of Delray’s collaborative spirit. A rising arts scene lifts all cultural boats.

 

 

Personal Note

A lovely and astute reader called and asked why I didn’t include Old School Square in last month’s things we love feature.

Well, that’s a good question. So let me first say that I will always love Old School Square.

This list is a short list of things we love this month not a definitive list of all we love. We like to think we have a big heart and there’s simply not enough time to list everything we love every month.

But rest assured, Old School Square will always be first in our hearts and minds.

 

 

 

 

 

A Delray Valentine

We are less than a month out from the Delray Beach Municipal Election and the mud is flying. (Mostly, in one direction but I digress).

If you didn’t know better and you lived exclusively on Facebook, you’d think we were living in war torn Somalia. But you read this blog so you do know better.

That said, we think Delray deserves a little love this Valentine’s Day.

So here’s a list of things to appreciate about Delray Beach.

The Arts Garage—where else in South Florida can you count on seeing world class live music on a regular basis in an intimate venue in a convenient location? This gem of a place regularly features amazing musicians and you can even bring your own wine. We saw Grammy nominated Negroni’s Trio last week and left there smiling from ear to ear. This weekend, we will check out Max Weinberg’s Jukebox and revel in the company of a rock and roll hall of famer, E Street Band mainstay and a guy who might have the best backbeat in the business. Only in Delray.

 

The Arts Warehouse—is opening and she’s a beauty, with affordable studios, community space and local artists milling about. A great vision—courtesy of our beleaguered but invaluable CRA. P.S. You can’t spell Delray Beach without the C, the R and the A.

 

Seagate Hotel—on a Thursday night. Check it out. It’s a scene. Music, drinks, dancing and some really interesting outfits. And to think, this was controversial when it was first proposed.

 

Beer Trade Company—if you like craft beers and ciders, you have to check out Beer Trade on Fourth Avenue. A great locals scene, friendly staff, a serve yourself system which is simple and risotto balls that probably ought to be illegal because they are that good.

 

Harvest Restaurant—we’ve lived here so long we can remember when there was no place to dine, even on Atlantic Avenue. Now we are seeing the foodie scene migrate to other parts of the city and that is good news. Harvest serves healthy food, is beautifully designed, has a great indoor /outdoor bar and even has a fireplace for when the temperatures dip into the 70s. While you are off the beaten path make sure to check out Sushi Thai Fusion, the new Sardinia in the same South Federal Plaza and in a shameless plug 5th Avenue Grill and La Cigale. Also don’t forget wine dinners at Caffe Luna Rosa—a Delray staple. (See if you can find my picture on the wall and if you do, try not to laugh).

But the point is you don’t have to be on the avenue anymore to enjoy good food.

 

The Delray Open—we love going to the Delray Open, where you can see some of the best tennis players on the planet under the stars and around the block from where you live. What small city can make that claim? The event starts this week with a senior event featuring Hall of Famer John McEnroe who seems to love Delray too.

 

Lake Ida Park—winter afternoons in Lake Ida Park provides a perfect setting for a long walk with your dog or just a lawn chair and a good book.

 

The Downtowner—they are just fun to watch and to see the creativity of the local advertisers.

DDA Videos—simply amazing. Check them out and see how good the town looks.

 

Delray Historical Society—we plan to check out the new exhibit this week. It’s nice to see the Cason Cottage come to life.

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

 

 

 

 

A Get Together With Jesse Colin Young

Jesse Colin Young will be at Boca’s Funky Biscuit for two shows this weekend.

Editor’s Note: One of the perks of co-owning a local newspaper (Boca Newspaper, Delray Newspaper) is that sometimes you can cross off a bucket list item by meeting and interviewing someone you have admired. I had two such opportunities recently: a chance to talk with Jethro Tull lead guitarist Martin Barre and the legendary Jesse Colin Young. For a boomer music fan, it doesn’t get much better than that. Plus, this weekend we get to see Max Weinberg’s Jukebox at Delray’s Arts Garage. #bliss. We thought we’d share our Jesse Colin Young story in anticipation of his Feb. 16-17 shows at Boca’s Funky Biscuit.
There’s not too many people who can claim to be the voice on a song that sums up an era.
But Jesse Colin Young can make that claim and the song “Get Together” not only captures the vibe of the 60s, but it’s message is timeless and as Mr. Young describes it: “beautiful.”
“I remember the first time I heard the song,” says Young. “It hit me right away…unlike any other song, before or since. And I immediately knew I wanted to record it. I felt the song was destiny for me, in some way. I have a love for it. It’s spirit is what I believe in and it’s what the world is crying out for. It’s incredibly special.”
Get Together was a huge hit for the Youngblood’s and the song has since been featured in movies, TV shows and even a Walmart commercial which was released shortly after this summer’s protests in Charlottesville. In the ad, people of all ages, colors and ethnicities grab chairs and gather at one table.
“It’s what my generation stood for,” says Young who called us from his home in Hawaii, where he lives with his wife and where he has grown and sold organic coffee since 1990.
After stepping away from music for 7 years, Jesse Colin Young is back touring, recording and writing. And he couldn’t be happier.
Jesse and his band, which features his son bassist Tristan Young, will be at Boca’s Funky Biscuit for two shows Feb. 16-17. Tickets range from $50-65 and can be purchased at www.funkybiscuit.com
For 50 years Jesse Colin Young has been singing songs about peace, relationships and the environment. From his folk days in Boston and his first record, “Soul Of a City Boy”, he has articulated and recorded the tumultuous times of the 60s, 70’s, 80’s to the present, while reminding us that it is all about family, community and the precious natural world we live in. His musical style is now considered Americana, but in fact, it’s his unique fusion of jazz, blues, folk and rock with an emphasis on his extraordinary voice that makes his signature sound.
These are productive times for the artist. He is currently working on new material which he will release in 2018. The Boca shows will be a mix of long time favorites and the first ever live performances of new songs that Jesse is anxious to share.
“I will probably play 30-35 minutes solo with an acoustic guitar,” he says. “Then do another 90 minutes with the band. I want to see how the new songs do before an audience. That’s how you know if they’re any good. I think they are. But the audience will decide.”
Jesse says he’s writing steadily these days and about subjects that are relevant to today’s world including a new song about Dreamers, young people who came to America as children who are now caught up in immigration politics.
“I’ve written four new songs in the past few weeks,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t think I’ve ever been this productive.”
His Hawaii coffee farm has proven to be a creative oasis with beautiful views and– more importantly– limited cell phone service which has enabled him to write without distraction.
He bought the farm after his home “Ridgetop” near San Francisco (which is a beautiful song) was lost to a fire.
“I healed myself by becoming a farmer,” he says. “It was my wife Connie’s idea. We both love to grow things.”
Born in 1941, Jesse went to grade school with Art Garfunkel and remembers being in “Artie’s” fourth grade class. At this stage of his career, he’s touring to be with his fans, play, travel and enjoy life.
“I haven’t lost the high notes,” he says. “Playing for me is like coming home. I’m doing this for the pure joy of it. I also love the band. I like how they play and they put a smile on my face every night. It’s great that in my golden years, I get to play with the best bands I’ve had.”
Throughout his professional life of recording and touring, Jesse has always taken the time to dedicate his life to giving back to the world. He has performed on behalf of organizations ranging from No Nukes in the late 70s, The Dream Foundation and Saratoga Warhorse, to Prep Fest and the Kona Pacific Waldorf School. Holding environmental accountability, veteran support and quality education as a moral code of action, Jesse remains committed and active as an individual and performer.
He takes great pride in the No Nukes movement, which is on his mind, a few days after Hawaii had a scare with a false alarm about a missile attack.
He became involved with No Nukes along with his friends Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt after wondering if people really understand the dangers of a nuclear age.
“I think we got people’s attention,” he said. “You didn’t see a facility built facility for decades. It wasn’t a high falutin’ idea. We tied into community groups and supported the groundswell that was building. It was a special time. Artists make a difference..they truly do.”

Making Never Again A Reality

CBS 4 Anchor Rick Folbaum interviews Ben Ferencz at Boca West.

Benjamin Ferencz is barely 5 feet tall, but he is a giant of a man.

At age 98, the Delray Beach resident, remains a passionate crusader for human rights, international law and a living testament to the horrors of genocide.

He is the last surviving prosecutor from the Nuremberg trials and captivated a room full of people at Boca West last week with his experiences and life lessons– which remain relevant to our world today.

Mr. Ferencz was the keynote speaker at a dinner that raises funds and awareness for the U.S. Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C.

Mr. Ferencz was born in the Carpathian Mountains of Transylvania in 1920. When he was ten months old his family moved to America. His earliest memories are of his small basement apartment in a neighborhood known as “Hell’s Kitchen.” Even at an early age, he felt a deep yearning for universal friendship and world peace. He also found an early love for the law, having witnessed crime, he told the audience he wanted to be on the side of the law—and the good guys.

After he graduated from Harvard Law School in 1943, he joined an anti-aircraft artillery battalion preparing for the invasion of France. As an enlisted man under General Patton, he fought in every campaign in Europe. As Nazi atrocities were uncovered, he was transferred to a newly created War Crimes Branch of the Army to gather evidence of Nazi brutality and apprehend the criminals.

“Indelibly seared into my memory are the scenes I witnessed while liberating these centers of death and destruction. Camps like Buchenwald, Mauthausen, and Dachau are vividly imprinted in my mind’s eye. Even today, when I close my eyes, I witness a deadly vision I can never forget-the crematoria aglow with the fire of burning flesh, the mounds of emaciated corpses stacked like cordwood waiting to be burned…. I had peered into hell,” he said in a 1988 interview.

 

On the day after Christmas 1945, Ferencz was honorably discharged from the U.S. Army with the rank of Sergeant of Infantry. He returned to New York and prepared to practice law. Shortly thereafter, he was recruited for the Nuremberg war crimes trials. The International Military Tribunal prosecution against German Field Marshal, Herman Goering and other leading Nazis was already in progress under the leadership the American Prosecutor, Robert M. Jackson on leave from the U.S. Supreme Court.

 

The U.S. had decided to prosecute a broad cross section of Nazi criminals once the trial against Goering and his henchmen was over. General Telford Taylor was assigned as Chief of Counsel for 12 subsequent trials.

Mr. Ferencz was sent with about fifty researchers to Berlin to scour Nazi offices and archives. In their hands lay overwhelming evidence of Nazi genocide by German doctors, lawyers, judges, generals, industrialists, and others who played leading roles in organizing or perpetrating Nazi brutalities. Without pity or remorse, the SS murder squads killed every Jewish man, woman, and child they could lay their hands on. Gypsies, communist functionaries, and Soviet intellectuals suffered the same fate. It was tabulated that over a million persons were deliberately murdered by these special “action groups.

Mr. Ferencz became Chief Prosecutor for the United States in The Einsatzgruppen Case, which the Associated Press called “the biggest murder trial in history.” Twenty-two defendants were charged with murdering over a million people. He was only 27. It was his first case.

All of the defendants were convicted and 13 were sentenced to death.

Mr. Ferencz emphasized that the men he prosecuted were generals and PhD’s; evidence he said that war can warp the hearts and minds of educated and accomplished people.

The verdict was hailed as a great success for the prosecution. Mr. Ferencz’s primary objective had been to establish a legal precedent that would encourage a more humane and secure world in the future.

His lifelong motto became “law not war” and he told the crowd in Boca Raton last week that his work is not done; the mission remains elusive as we experience genocide in places like Rwanda, Syria, Myanmar etc.

Even at this advanced age—though he does 120 pushups every morning—he continues to work for the cause. He travels extensively to speak and advocate and was recently featured on 60 Minutes.

“Nuremberg taught me that creating a world of tolerance and compassion would be a long and arduous task. And I also learned that if we did not devote ourselves to developing effective world law, the same cruel mentality that made the Holocaust possible might one day destroy the entire human race.”

We felt honored and lucky to see and hear him speak. As guests of Shelly and Billy Himmelrich—two longtime supporters of the museum (Shelly was recently honored with a national award for her work with the museum) we were motivated to support the mission.

Eli Wiesel said the best museums pose questions, not answers and he is correct.

As a young journalist I had the opportunity to travel to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust museum in Jerusalem. The experience was indelible and motivated me to get involved with Steven Spielberg’s “Survivors of the Shoah” program which was launched after he made the movie “Schindler’s List.”

That experience allowed to meet survivors and to research their experiences.

It’s important for current and future generations to study history, because what happened in the past informs our present and our future.

While it is a rare occurrence to be in a room with a living legend like Ben Ferencz, if we open our eyes there’s a lot of history we can access in our communities.

If we talk to our parents and grandparents and ask them about their lives and experiences we are sure to learn great lessons.

I have been truly blessed in my life to have a father still alive and vibrant, grandparents who were wonderful storytellers and who lived rich lives and friends who have seen and experienced a lot of history.

On occasion—when invited—I will eat breakfast at Donnie’s Place with a group of Elders who never fail to educate me on local history, race relations and what Delray Beach was like “back in the day.”

I also have another close friend who reads widely on history and is generous to share what he learns over monthly lunches.

The opportunities are there. It is important that we never forget and it is also important that we share what we have learned.

 

 

12 Things We Liked About January

A dozen things we liked in January

  1. The Delray Chamber’s installation of Rob Posillico as the new chair. Rob is a dedicated chamber volunteer and a talented young business leader who understands the importance of an effective business community to a city’s well-being.
  2. The private dining section at the Seagate Hotel is simply terrific. If you have a small group gathering and want to show some class book a room, you won’t forget it.
  3. The chicken francese at La Cigale is magnificent. It just defies description.
  4. We enjoyed an excellent cybersecurity seminar with Brad Deflin of Total Digital Security in Delray this month courtesy of JP Morgan. Great information, albeit scary. There are a lot of threats out there. Be careful.
  5. Lunch on the deck at Prime Catch overlooking the Intracoastal on a nice day is simply hard to beat.
  6. Sometimes you have to get out of Boca/Delray and try a new experience. We did with gourmet Mexican at the wonderful Eduardo De San Angel in Fort Lauderdale. It was sublime and we saw a few Delray folks dining there as well.
  7. Boca makes Livability’s 2018 Top 100 Places to Live list. Boca beat out 2,100 US cities. Very cool.
  8. It was good to see the non-profit Connected Warriors open their doors at Boca’s Innovation Campus.
  9. Kudos to the City of Boca’s Office of Economic Development on the launch of its new quarterly newsletter. Lots happening in Boca and this publication captures a lot of it (so does The Boca Newspaper).
  10. Seeing Vince Canning recognized by the DelrayCity Commission. He’s a good man and highly deserving of recognition.
  11. Congratulations to the Delray chamber for a great kickoff to 2018. The sold out “installation” luncheon at the Delray Beach Golf Club didn’t hide the fact that the chamber had a tough year in 2017. But the event boldly highlighted the importance, relevance and need for a strong chamber. Newly installed chair Mr. Posillico set out a vision for an innovative chamber that would match an innovative community. We wish the chamber well.
  12. Words can’t describe the feeling of being in a room with a true living legend. Delray’s own Benjamin Ferencz, the last living Nuremberg trials prosecutor, charmed an immense crowd at Boca West gathered to support and celebrate the 25th anniversary of the U.S. Holocaust Museum. Mr. Ferencz, 98, shared his experiences at Nuremberg and his lifelong work to prevent genocide and encourage “law not war.” We’ll have more in a follow-up blog post. Special thanks to Shelly and Billy Himmelrich for including us what was an unforgettable evening.