Starry Starry Night


“Starry, starry night
Paint your palette blue and gray
Look out on a summer’s day
With eyes that know the darkness in my soul.” Don McLean

Awash in color, surrounded by music and lost in beauty I had a thought.

Art endures. (Yes, I know that’s not original).
A lot of other things fade over time but great art lasts forever.
That was the takeaway after attending “Beyond Van Gogh” at the Ice Palace in Miami.
It’s a hot ticket and for good reason. The exhibit is spectacular, moving and technologically impressive.
The exhibit runs through July. If you can swing it, I highly recommend you check it out.
The exhibit celebrates the life and works of Vincent Van Gogh, spotlighting not only his art, but also his struggles and his close relationship with his brother Theo.
It’s all uniquely presented, an immersive experience that is hard to describe. Let’s just say it’s quite a spectacle. You are placed “in” the art and the results are powerful. It’s worth the crazy drive to Miami.
There are lots of lessons in the life and in the art of Van Gogh.
Despite becoming one of the most influential artists in history Van Gogh was not commercially successful, and his suicide at 37 came after years of mental illness, depression and poverty.
And yet there is something powerful and exuberant in his paintings.  
Van Gogh failed at other careers including an attempt at being a preacher and while productive as an artist he just couldn’t quite make it either financially or commercially. 
He did however, have a great relationship with his younger brother Theo. The two exchanged heartfelt letters for years and they are a treasure,
In fact, the letters are a big part of the exhibit and shed light on their loyalty to each other and their philosophy on art and beauty. 
Theo was an  art dealer and his unfailing financial and emotional support allowed his brother to devote himself entirely to painting. Theo died at the age of 33, six months after his brother died at the age of 37.
One of the causes listed for his death was sadness. He kept everything his older brother sent to him, Vincent did not.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Vincent since seeing the exhibit. Been reading about him as well. 
I’ve also been mulling over the meaning of art in our lives. 
We are big music fans in our home and I’m constantly seeking out songs to sort through emotions that I experience. 
As a child of the 70s, I gravitate to rock music and count myself lucky to have lived in an era of so many great musical artists whose gifts have become the soundtrack to our lives. 
Along the way, I’ve found so many songs that have gotten me through the joys and sorrows of life. If you want to dance, cry, mourn, think, feel heartache, feel alive or smile there’s a library of great music to live by. 
Seeing the work of Van Gogh makes me hungry to explore the visual arts. Because standing in the exhibit surrounded by LED lights and digital recreations of his art, we felt moved deep inside. 
The issues of the day come and go or come and stay but great art goes deeper. Much deeper to the best parts of ourselves, where the good stuff, the real stuff exists. 
If we’re lucky, we find artists who speak to our condition; who touch our souls and express who we truly are as people. 
That’s why art endures and the rest of the stuff we deal with is ephemeral. 
We need art. It’s that simple. It’s just that beautiful.

Smart Capital + Vision= Transformation

Boynton Beach’s new city hall anchors an ambitious vision that includes culture and business.

Have you seen the blizzard of news coming out of Miami?
It seems like every day there’s a major announcement; one headline more exciting than the other.

–“SoftBank makes $100mm bet on Miami as next US tech hub”—Financial Times

–“Why Miami is the next hot tech hub”—Crunchbase

–“Miami is becoming a magnet for companies trying to escape high taxes”—CNBC

And the list of interesting news goes on and on.

But the headline that intrigued me the most came from the real estate site Bisnow: “Miami Billionaire Launching Downtown Innovation Hub.”

The story details how Moishe Mana has broken ground on a downtown building that he intends to make the center of a burgeoning tech and startup community.

The 13-story “Nikola Tesla Innovation Center” will have 136,000 SF of space, mostly for offices with 2% reserved for retail. It is expected to be completed at the end of this year, with occupancy to begin in Q1 of 2022.

Mana and his team assembled about 60 properties downtown; which is an impressive feat. But he has also laid out an audacious goal: make the area the “economic engine of Miami.”

While the real estate “placemaking” is an interesting part of the equation it’s only one part of the vision. Mana is also doing what he can to assemble talent and connect key players who can make the dream come true.

In January, Mana announced a partnership with California based Plug N Play, a “global innovation platform” that works to build relationships between startups and large corporations.

Also at the table is city and county government and that’s important and essential.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez is getting a lot of buzz these days for using his Twitter account to talk with tech titans and sell them on the virtues of Miami. Mayor-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, was my Leadership Florida classmate, and I can say with certainty that nobody will work harder to make things happen. Daniella is the real deal.

So yes, the stars are aligning in Miami.

While vision is also important and essential so is the ability to execute.

I researched Mr. Mana’s career and learned that he has done something similar before; he played a key role in transforming Manhattan’s Meatpacking District from a derelict section of the city into a trendy area driven by art and culture.

Mr. Mana’s strategy for Miami also includes art and culture. The concept is being called “Mana Common.”

On a recent webinar discussing the projects Mana had this to say.

“I totally understood we needed to do something exceptional,” Mana said. “The problem is, every time there is a neighborhood built, then come the real estate funds that basically destroy the whole ecosystem. So I said, ‘We’re going to buy a big critical mass of real estate and we’re going to build a sustainable community where we do not need to trade with the real estate.’ This is a home for the brain. This is a home for creation. This is a home for changing a city.”

The operative word in that thought is exceptional—the desire to do something special and transformational.

Closer to home, I recently took a tour of Boynton Beach’s new City Hall complex, innovation center, library, children’s museum and amphitheater. If you haven’t seen this project yet, it’s well worth the drive.

The vision shown by this public private partnership is inspiring and the potential is enormous.

The City Hall— which includes ample community space— is beautiful with natural light and cozy meeting rooms available to the public.

The plan is to add a café and build out a space that will be used to grow local companies.

Post-Covid there will opportunities for art, music and events in a beautiful open space anchored by the amphitheater.

As I took the tour, I thought to myself “hey, Boynton Beach has got it going on.” I think it’s the nicest City Hall I’ve seen.

I admire cities and entrepreneurs who aspire.

Smart capital + Vision= transformation.

It’s not a sure thing. But you miss every shot you don’t take.

The Eagles Soar in South Florida

Fans will get this picture

Fans will get this picture

I’ve been thinking about music lately.
What is it about music that touches us so deeply that the magic lasts a lifetime?
In many cases, we still love the music we listened to when we were teenagers.

Must of us don’t have the same hobbies, fashion sense or tastes in books (classics aside) but yet I’ll still listen to Darkness on the Edge of Town which came out when I was 14 years old. Close to forty years later, the songs still delight, although they resonate for different reasons as you grow older.
That’s not to say that every song or band you listened to as a kid remains a favorite today. But it’s amazing how many do.
So it was with great anticipation that we went to see the legendary Eagles last weekend in Miami.

I had never seen them live before even though I have loved their music since the 70s.
The concert was nothing short of magnificent. The band members–all of whom are in their late 60s–sing, play and perform incredibly well. They clearly love the old songs, are proud of their history and are having a great time connecting with their fans.
The “History of The Eagles” tour has been rolling along for two years now and may just be the last hurrah.
In order to forge a stronger connection with the fans and the music, The Eagles insist on a no cellphone policy. They want you to enjoy the songs in the moment and not through the screen of your smartphone. What a concept. The policy is enforced and enforced and enforced by venue security because it seems that people–and the crowd was predominantly baby boomer–just couldn’t or wouldn’t comply despite numerous warnings.
The crowd was something. I don’t go to a lot of concerts these days but I was surprised. Lots of drinking. Lots of walking around.
We happened to sit next to the three stereotypes of obnoxious fans.
Type 1: Wikipedia man. He insists on giving a running commentary on every song during every song. “Timothy B. Schmit was brought in to replace Randy Meisner in ’78. No wait, maybe it was 79. He played with Poco. He was born in Sacramento. Or was it Santa Fe”. On and on he went drowning out the music with his drivel until the woman sitting in front of him finally told him to quiet down. He called her a Nazi. Nice.
Type 2: Crazy Stripper Lady. You know the one who dances to every song–in a style that..well check out her name. She acts out every song, sings loudly along with the band and screams at those around her to get up and boogie. Yikes.
Type 3: Drunk Man. In addition to talking “this is our song, sweetie. I can’t tell you why its about us. This is our song. Listen. Listen to this. We do this.” Before the night is out he will spill two beers on his neighbors, the second incident spurring a name calling back and forth in which he loudly proclaims that he won’t be leaving. Until mercifully, he does…right before an amazing encore performance of “Desperados”.
Quite a collection of characters, but try as they might, they could not overcome the joy that is listening to The Eagles

But, The Eagles deserve better. The music deserves better.
The humans who attend these shows deserve better.
Is a peaceful easy feeling to much to expect?  Maybe one of these nights…