"BOG-MIA" at Locust: Flower Trade Unmasked

In just a few days, more than 670 million roses and other buds will enter the Port of Miami for Valentine's Day. They will make their way to florists and other retailers across the country in one of the busiest weeks for the international flower trade.

It takes about two weeks for a cut flower to travel from farm to retailer to consumer to the garbage dump. This transitory exchange between man and the natural world is not only an example of a global industrial system but also the subject of "BOG-MIA," a sprawling new show by Virginia Poundstone at Locust Projects, where the artist has re-created the trappings of Colombia's booming cut-flower industry.

For nearly a decade, Poundstone, a New York-based sculptor, has explored the economic, historical, and botanical life of flowers. Her show at Locust marks the second installment of an ambitious seven-part investigation of the international flower trade, which Poundstone began in the Valley of the Flowers in the Indian Himalayas.

Following her exhibit here, the 36-year-old plans to visit an international flower auction house in the Netherlands, the nerve center of California's industry, and then a traditional Ikebana master's garden in Japan. After that, she hopes to travel to the flower fields of Kenya and journey with a botanist to the South Pacific to discover new varieties of flowers.

Poundstone says she became interested in art as a young girl growing up in Lexington, Kentucky. Her grandparents inspired her love of modern botany.

"My grandfather was a wildflower photographer," she says. "I grew up looking at his archive of images and identifying wildflowers in the suburbs where I lived and in the Appalachian woods where he spent the summer photographing them."

Poundstone says she spent a little more than a year working on her show at Locust and a week in Colombia last summer conducting field research. The route for flowers between Bogotá and Miami is "a modern-day Silk Road," she says. "I had my eye on Colombia as a site because of its floral production."

During her visit to Colombia, Poundstone learned the first flowers from that country arrived in Miami in the early 1970s. She also discovered that more than 90 percent of the flowers grown in Colombia are exported. Most enter the United States through the Port of Miami.

At Locust's entrance, Poundstone has employed the same plastic mesh used by Colombian flower farmers to create their greenhouse environments. Four of these panels, which rise from floor to ceiling, are emblazoned with a vast field of colorful roses, as is another sweeping canopy that winds overhead, giving spectators the impression they have walked into a massive landscape painting.

Two small video monitors on adjacent walls next to Locust's storefront windows show gardeners tending to seemingly endless rows of blossoms.

In the main gallery, Poundstone's first video installation unspools on two walls. It captures how workers separate the individual cut flowers into bunches of a dozen and box them for export. The videos are accompanied by a cheerful soundtrack of yellow-rubber-apron-clad women chatting while listening to folkloric music. The videos convey both Poundstone's anthropological attention to detail and her fascination with the subject matter.

"I worked as a commercial floral and event designer," she says. "This is how I became aware that flowers make a tremendous global journey to get to New York City. This massive industrial system... blew me away,"

While conducting research for "BOG-MIA," Poundstone discovered a book titled New Structures in Floral Design, written by Frances Bode in 1968. It inspired her geometric wire sculptures, which are displayed atop stacks of colorfully printed cardboard shipping boxes scavenged from a flower importer's warehouse near Miami International Airport.

"Mrs. Bode's goal was to compare how the world of art and the world of flower arranging were similar in their ability to be fluid, dynamic, and revolutionary," Poundstone says. She uses embalmed blooms that are a product of Colombia and sold mostly in Europe and Japan.

"The flowers are harvested at their peak, dehydrated, and then rehydrated with a glycerin-based chemical solution and dye. They are amazing things, exactly half-real and half-fake," she explains. "They are truly magical to see and figure out."

"I Wanna Be In the Show!"

Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts
Justin Namon
Thank God for TV syndication. Though some programs aren’t deserving of rapid and constant replays, I Love Lucy has been charming new audiences for decades since its eight-year run in the 1950s. Like any longtime show, this one had its highs and lows, but the shenanigans and sweetness of Lucy, Ricky, Fred, and Ethel keep most viewers from changing the channel to this day. Now, fans of the madcap redhead’s attempts at showbiz stardom will can see her tales revived in real, 2014 color and sound when I Love Lucy Live on Stage debuts at the Arsht Center this Tuesday. Adapted from the iconic TV show, the stage production began in the early 2000s with a traveling Lucy memorabilia exhibition. Producers saw the vast interest at every stop and in 2011 premiered a performance piece that creates an audience experience rather than a new story line. Patrons are transported into the 1952 Desilu Playhouse, where the cast is filming two episodes of I Love Lucy. Sets and music include Ricky Ricardo’s New York apartment and the Cuban sounds of the Ricky Ricardo Orchestra at the Tropicana nightclub. Between scenes, the Crystaltone Singers perform live advertising jingles of the show’s newest sponsors in ’50s-style harmony. I Love Lucy Live on Stage will run this Tuesday through October 5 at the Ziff Ballet Opera House (1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami). Tickets cost $26 to $89. Showtimes are 8 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 2 and 8 p.m. Saturday, and 1 and 7 p.m. Sunday. Visit arshtcenter.org or call 305-949-6722.
Tue., Sept. 30, 8 p.m.; Wed., Oct. 1, 8 p.m.; Thu., Oct. 2, 8 p.m.; Fri., Oct. 3, 8 p.m.; Sat., Oct. 4, 2 & 8 p.m.; Sun., Oct. 5, 1 & 7 p.m., 2014

"Royal Couple" Stole From Welfare in Two States

In the fall of last year, Colin Chisholm strode into a Citibank on Ventura Boulevard in Woodland Hills, California. Burning a hole in his pocket was a check for $120,000. He asked for cash in $100 bills, then hopped a plane to Minnesota with all the makings of an escape.

From his historic Deephaven mansion on the shores of Lake Minnetonka, Chisholm had steered a series of telecommunications companies with holdings in the Caribbean. As CEO, the 61-year-old with creased eyes and a graying pate wielded the respect and admiration of those around him. No one knew just how dire his situation had become.

Without warning, Chisholm stashed a cache of boxes loaded with dubious receipts in his unsuspecting neighbor's basement. He and his wife, Andrea, yanked their 6-year-old son, Colin Jr., out of school before the semester ended and said goodbye to their pack of orange-and-white Cavalier King Charles spaniels, who had names such as Driving Miss Maisie.

After packing their bags, the Chisholms fled their lakeside home with the chipped white paint and fading green roof, high-tailing it through the forested, winding private road and stone archway that had once been the gateway to new lives.

By the time Hennepin County Sheriff's deputies came looking for the Chisholms, in February, they were nowhere to be found.

The next few weeks were a mad and dizzying affair. Investigators haven't made it clear whether the $120,000 check came from one of Colin's investors or wealthy family members, but if he had that kind of cash, he shouldn't have needed to steal from taxpayers' coffers. In one of the biggest welfare fraud cases in recent memory, Colin Chisholm was accused of raking in more than $167,000 in welfare, food stamps, and medical care from Minnesota and a yet-untold amount of public assistance in Florida.

Although the Chisholm case is unusual — only about 5 percent of welfare-fraud investigations end up in court each year — it highlights a hole in the system, one that's built almost entirely on faith.

There are national databases that can check whether people are receiving benefits in multiple states. But most folks are caught through tips, says Jerry Kerber, inspector general at the Minnesota Department of Human Services. There's nothing "in place to go check people's lifestyle and see whether or not their lifestyle really does match what they're claiming in income."

In Florida also, the system is fundamentally reactive. A February audit of the state's Division of Public Assistance Fraud released notes that Broward County has only five investigators who each deal with 953 cases per year for a salary of $11.83 an hour. On top of being overworked, they're unprepared: Not one of Florida's 42 fraud investigators has a college degree in financial analysis. The audit found that about 13 percent of referrals eligible for investigation were dismissed or ignored and that 12 percent of cases they closed were dismissed simply because there was not enough manpower to investigate them.

So while the Chisholms were able to fly under the radar in Minnesota, they were basically anonymous in Florida, where investigators were overwhelmed.

Regardless of the circumstances, to those who knew the Chisholms, the accusations were inconceivable. The couple was practically royalty, with seemingly bottomless pockets. They rubbed elbows with media power brokers and addressed themselves in social settings as Lord and Lady — the descendants of Scottish aristocrats.

"I'm having a hard time thinking that Colin is this person everyone says, but everything's pointing to it," says Kim Ritter, a family friend. "The facts are speaking loud and clear."

The walls of the Chisholm home shined with oil portraits. In the middle of the rented mansion stood a chapel, where Colin liked to take guests after showing them a registry of notable yachts in North America, one of which he owned.

At dinner parties, Andrea entertained friends with a genuine and affable air. Her seven purebreds were worth an estimated $2,000 each and looked like they had leapt from a Rococo watercolor. Her hair was bright red and immaculately kept under the white puffy hat that made an entrance before she did.

Smart and gregarious, the Chisholms struck many of their friends, neighbors, and associates as New Yorkers who'd just flown in from Gatsby's West Egg.

"They were gracious people," says John Peterson, a fellow Lake Minnetonka Kennel Club member. "They didn't put on airs."

They also cut an imposing figure when they moved to Florida in 2005. There, Colin tooled around town in a two-seater Lexus, squiring guests from marinas to a $1.5 million rental home in Lighthouse Point. He boasted that his yacht had been built by his great-grandfather — Hugh J. Chisholm, a prominent Maine industrialist. And though Colin looked a world apart from the salty sea dogs he employed, he impressed them with his first-rate seamanship.


During a tumultuous eight-hour trip down the Intracoastal Waterway after Hurricane Wilma in 2005, Colin served as a second set of eyes for the captain. Together they piloted through floating palm trees, sunken vessels, broken bits of docks, and stray buoys on the way from northern Florida to their home port in Aventura.

When he wasn't gushing about his boat, he was name-dropping powerful people. Colin spoke of Washington's inner circle as if they were guests at his cocktail party. Like President George W. Bush, he was fond of referring to the vice president's chief of staff as "Scooter," the way he would an old boarding-school chum.

"He was a brilliant guy," one of the seamen says. "Colin was a great conversationalist."

Lest there be any doubt about Colin's bona fides, the men in his life were treated to private viewings of his personal financial statement. After dinner, he would pull them aside — away from the ears of the wives — and reveal the wonders of his treasure chest.

It was almost pornographic: $67,500 in antique furniture alone; a 1950 Chris Craft U-22 and 1968 Chris Craft 26-foot Cavalier estimated at $72,000. When you factored in the successful media businesses, the Chisholms proudly claimed $97.3 million on paper.

Best of all, Colin wasn't shy about sharing his good fortune. He found a willing pool of investors at Episcopal and Catholic churches throughout the Twin Cities. If holding out a collection plate for business endeavors seemed odd, no one questioned his motives. After all, Colin was a member of the exclusive Knights of Malta, the world's oldest surviving order with roots in the First Crusade.

A local Catholic newspaper thought so highly of Colin that he was profiled in an article about the employment ministry at the Basilica of St. Mary. After becoming a member in 2007, Colin began volunteering his time as a job coach, preaching the virtues of teamwork and encouraging his pupils to think like "C-level employees" — the executives at the top of the food chain with titles that started with "Chief."

Even more impressive were the connections he'd made as a businessman. One day at the Basilica, Colin pulled out his cell phone and rattled off contacts that included high-ranking officers at national broadcasting companies, according to Kim Ritter.

At 52, Ritter was down on her luck and questioning the value of networking events. Finally, she had found someone sincere.

"Out of all the people when I was unemployed, he made me feel good about myself," Ritter says. "He never said I couldn't do anything."

Colin's reference helped her get a full-time job, and the two maintained a friendship outside the Basilica. When she was diagnosed with cancer the following year, Colin offered to drive her to treatment. He asked a prayer group to knit her a shawl.

She sold her house in Apple Valley and moved in with her folks while looking for a smaller place. She reached out to Colin for help, noting that she'd made $20,000 off the previous home sale.

It didn't take long for Colin to get back to her with an odd request. He agreed to negotiate the purchase of a new town home but asked if he could borrow that $20,000, Ritter remembers.

Which got her thinking: Why would a successful CEO ask a sick woman for a loan?

In light of the new revelations, Ritter is compelled to ask herself today whether the friendship was ever real. Choking back tears, she says, "I don't know the answer to that question."

Colin came by his ambition honestly. His mother, Mary, became Maine's first female Democratic state senator in the fall of 1964, when he was 12. She assumed her seat from Cape Elizabeth with a promise to represent the voices of the dispossessed.

"I campaigned on them," she confidently told a reporter, "and I campaigned hard."

It would be his first taste of the spotlight. As he grew, however, Colin defied the popular knock against being a senator's son. Whereas future movers like Bill Clinton and Dick Cheney took pains to dodge the draft, Colin willingly signed up for the armed forces during the Vietnam War.

The call of duty brought Colin to the Marine Corps Air Station in Jacksonville, North Carolina. There he bought his cigarettes from a Southern belle named Virginia Nance. She hardly knew the young man but followed friends back to his apartment one night. The lawn furniture he used as a living-room set did not impress, though she was taken by his charms.

"He could sell a snowball to an Eskimo," Virginia recalls. "I loved the man."

There would be no pickup line, no pitch. Instead, Colin put on his best suit and tie and showed up at the Nance family doorway to ask for her father's blessing of the courtship. A fellow Marine, her dad approved. One dinner led to another, and a year later, in the summer of 1973, the couple said, "I do."


With the threat of war behind him, Colin moved his family — including Virginia's 4-year-old daughter, Mary Kathryn — back to New England to follow in his father's footsteps out of the armed services and into sales.

By 1980, Colin had talked his way into a job at CNN's New York office. At a media event in Atlanta, the presence of a certain mustached mogul made such an impression that Colin decided to strike out on his own.

"He wanted to become the next Ted Turner," Virginia says, "so he quit."

Over the next three decades, Colin would craft several companies out of a single idea: piping American television to cruise ships and resort hotels in the Caribbean. He relied on investors and whatever money he could scrape up from family, including $68,915 from his wife's 401(k) after an early retirement from AT&T. He struck a tentative $26 million agreement with General Electric to rebrand existing CNBC and E! programming.

As his dream took root, Colin turned his attention to his family lineage. On a trip to Scotland, the Chisholms stayed with distant relatives in Inverness, the northernmost city in the U.K., which sits at the mouth of the River Ness. There he visited Erchless Castle, once the seat of the Chisholm clan, known throughout the Highlands for their dexterity at rustling cattle.

Colin returned to the States referring in good humor to his wife as Lady and himself as Lord. But as the titles were repeated ad nauseam, they stopped sounding like a joke.

All was not well at the Chisholm manor. As the 1980s receded, the trappings of wealth began to fall by the wayside, to be replaced by a long list of debts. In 1990, Midlantic Home Mortgage Corp. began foreclosure proceedings on the couple's Northport, Long Island, home. The money from GE never came, because Chisholm failed in the final hour to stitch together the last $2.5 million needed to keep up his end of the bargain.

The family boxed up its possessions and headed to Maine, where Virginia was forced to take a job in a flower shop. Before long, both angry and tired, Virginia had found her way back to Jacksonville, North Carolina. Once there, her daughter filed for bankruptcy, alleging that Colin had cosigned with her on a credit card and ran up $40,000 in charges.

After years of living apart, Virginia marched into the Onslow County Courthouse on May 7, 2002, and filed for an official separation. She called Colin to relay the news — but she was in for a surprise of her own.

"We're already divorced," she remembers him saying. "I got a quickie."

He wasn't kidding. In October 2001, Colin had filled out paperwork at Nevada's Second Judicial Courthouse in Reno. Virginia's signature appears as a joint petitioner, but she swears someone forged it.

Colin also presented clerks with an affidavit from a resident who claimed under penalty of perjury that Colin had established temporary residency in Hawthorne, Nevada. That witness happened to be Eric Brix — the brother of the woman who would become the new Lady Chisholm.

Andrea Brix was raised in Estherville, Iowa — a small town of about 6,000 — by a single mom who was known for reclusive behavior. From the beginning, Andrea took a different path, forging a robust social life as a popular cheerleader with a well-earned reputation for partying.

Inspired by a classmate who made it onto a soap opera, Andrea moved to New York in her mid-20s. At five-foot-seven, the graduate of Nancy Bounds Modeling School knew she'd never be tall enough for the runway, but she figured she could get some print work down the line. Besides, she was living at the center of the country's wealth.

"She was so much more interested in money compared to anybody else I knew," remembers Kathe Beauvais, a childhood friend and bleached-blond nurse. "She could tell the ones who had money, and that's who she was really impressed with."

In spring 2002, after the new couple had settled in Connecticut, Colin slid a diamond ring onto Andrea's finger to make their engagement official. Unfortunately, the expensive bauble was well beyond his means. He had been able to afford it thanks to a happy accident.

The previous year, Caribtel Limited, one of Colin's companies, had entered into a contract with Verizon to facilitate international telephone calls. But when Verizon merged with Bell Atlantic the following year, the bank wire information had to be reentered manually. The routing number for Caribtel was erroneously substituted for Qwest Communications International's. The typo bequeathed Colin a windfall of more than $250,000.


Moving to correct the mistake, Verizon made phone calls to Caribtel, then sent a letter seeking restitution. Colin responded by offering to repay the debt with the equivalent in media time, according to a Verizon attorney, but the company wasn't interested in free commercials. It filed a lawsuit instead.

Colin was summoned to appear in U.S. District Judge Alfred V. Covello's courtroom in New Haven, Connecticut, but he failed to show up. Covello awarded default judgment to Verizon and ordered Colin to pay $260,000 to cover fees and interest.

On November 23, 2002, Colin's 51st birthday, he was arrested and questioned about the money he still owed. He told Greenwich investigators that he had used it to buy a diamond ring and pay down the debt on his lavish wedding reception.

"It's all gone," Colin testified. "I don't even have enough to pay my attorney."

The couple retreated to a cottage in New Canaan, Connecticut, on a private road shrouded by trees. Colin put down the security deposit and the first month's rent but promptly stopped making payments, according to court papers. The landlords nagged him until he finally produced a check for $9,029. It bounced.

New Canaan Police pulled into the driveway on a bright day in February 2004 with a warrant in tow. Colin greeted two officers at the front door and showed them his driver's license before being led peacefully to the squad car. At the station, he had a ready excuse: His company had stopped payment of the rent check. A bail bondsman put up the $9,000 to spring him from jail.

All might have been forgiven had Colin honored his rent agreement. Instead, he skipped court. A second warrant was issued for his arrest — along with a bail bond for $20,000.

It would be another year before the matter was resolved. All told, Colin would end up $42,029 in the hole.

By then, the Chisholms had packed up their things and moved on. They already had their eyes on a new source of revenue: the taxpayers of Minnesota.

Coast Guard officers stormed the 83-foot yacht, careful not to damage the solid-mahogany dining table that cost $15,000 and ran 15 feet long. Just off Pompano Beach, they searched all three bedrooms, looking for the Lord and Lady of the high seas, but came up empty.

Colin had spent much of his life pursuing the boat himself. In 2004, he stumbled upon the advertisement for the $1.4 million Wishing Star in Stuart, Florida, formerly named the Aras when it was owned by one of his distant relatives. The yacht was the ultimate symbol of wealth; designed by Trumpy, it had all the cachet of the New York real estate tycoon with whom it shared the name. After taking ownership of Wishing Star, Colin rechristened it the Andrea Aras. He used it as a corporate headquarters for his company, the Caribbean Network (TCN), and it was likely the first major purchase he made with investors' money.

For almost a year, he was able to stay afloat. Colin projected an air of confidence to potential investors without saying a word. He took church groups out on the high seas, and by the time they returned to shore, the parishioners would be ready to invest in any one of Colin's companies.

"They wanted to have a positive image of success and profitability, even though the company had yet to earn any money," says Thomas Kelly, Colin's attorney.

But it was all an illusion. Colin had agreed to pay $1.2 million for the yacht, dropping $220,000 up front. True to form, he stopped making monthly payments soon after.

Figuring they were in danger of having the yacht repossessed and lacking the $157,000 lump sum payment that was due, the Chisholms took the boat north to Savannah, where they spent the summer entertaining important guests, like the mother of then-Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue.

"They were hiding out," recalls the captain who piloted them there.

The Chisholms sailed back to Florida thinking the heat was off. A couple of months later, Colin called another captain — his newest hire — in a panic.

"The Andrea Aras has been stolen from us!" he blurted.

Of course, the captain had no way of knowing about the financing situation, and he liked his new employers quite a bit. Just a week earlier, Colin had offered him $84,000 a year to pilot what was probably the nicest boat the veteran mariner had ever laid eyes on.

So the captain dialed some buddies, who helped him track the Andrea Aras to outside of Pompano Beach.

"The federal marshals were onboard and told us we better get out of the way," he recalls. "I looked pretty stupid at that point in the game."


Medica Insurance agents scoured the paperwork with suspicion. More than $60,000 in public assistance health claims had been frittered away on massages and other services at the Marsh, a wellness center and spa in Minnetonka. Worse yet, the recipients of this largesse were a couple who lived in a historic lakeside mansion valued at $1.6 million.

Something clearly didn't add up. The case fell into the laps of Amanda Lange and Michael O'Hara, two veteran Hennepin County fraud investigators. Combined, they brought more than 50 years' worth of experience to the table. And in 2013, they came to the same conclusion: The Chisholms had been shameless with the government cheese. The scheme, as the investigators would later allege, had been concocted in 2004 and would require lying about their income and home address for eight years.

When first filing for welfare, the Chisholms claimed residency in Andrea's mother's home in south Minneapolis — a diverse and middle-class part of the city — but failed to provide any proof of income, an obvious red flag. Hennepin County wisely denied the application, but the state went ahead and approved it without a second glance.

Throughout their time in Florida, the Chisholms had been sucking at Minnesota's teat. On February 1, 2007, when Andrea gave birth to Colin Jr. in Palm Beach, the entire pregnancy and more than two years of expenses were covered by UCare, the state health-care provider. The total cost to Minnesota taxpayers: $22,136.

Although the Chisholms also collected welfare benefits from Florida, the Sunshine State's Department of Financial Services won't provide any details about its ongoing investigation. The case was referred to it by the Hennepin County authorities, but it has yet to be passed along to the State Attorney's Office.

Returning to Minnesota in April 2007, the Chisholms became even more brazen and successfully applied for food stamps. Over the next five years, the couple signed and submitted 13 forms for benefits. All told, they reaped $167,420 in free services from the state.

In early 2012, growing suspicious, the Hennepin County Human Services and Public Health Department asked the Chisholms to produce any and all personal and corporate financial filings. In a response letter, Colin maintained that he was indeed indigent.

"As to TCN," Colin added with emphasis, "that company did not get funded and never filed anything."

The county didn't buy it and moved to cut off benefits. After a year of digging, Lange and O'Hara were about ready to complete their investigation. There was just one last piece of the puzzle: Andrea's grandmother.

Eloise Heidecker was suffering from dementia and needed constant care, but the Chisholms had failed to list her as a housemate with substantial assets of her own. When searching the elderly woman's bank statements, investigators found that Andrea — who maintains power of attorney over Heidecker — had deposited checks from company investors in the old woman's account and paid herself handsomely for the couple's personal needs. In April 2011 alone, the Chisholms spent more than $23,000 in airfare, hotels, cell phone bills, and fine dining, according to court papers. That same month, Colin paid for his admission into the Knights of Malta with money from Heidecker's piggy bank.

As spring 2013 approached, Lange reached out to Colin with questions about his whereabouts and income over the past nine years. The call that came back wasn't from Colin but his attorney, Thomas Kelly.

Throughout a 40-year career in law, Kelly had made his name defending white-collar criminals, including former Republican Sen. Larry Craig of Idaho, who was busted cruising for gay sex at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

On the phone, Kelly explained that any statements in response to the charges would come from his office. The investigators interpreted this as a "no comment" and forwarded their findings to the Hennepin County Attorney's Office.

While reviewing the claims, Kelly became convinced that the best thing for his client was to quickly negotiate a repayment plan and keep his name — and past endeavors — out of the newspapers.

"There's no question he owes people a lot of money across the country," Kelly says. "But that doesn't make him an immoral or evil person. It makes him bad to invest in."

Months passed without any word from the state. Kelly got the impression that charges could be filed in the fall. Anticipation grew. So in September, Colin boarded a plane to California and returned home with $120,000 in $100 bills.

The charge against Colin came down on February 19, 2014 — one count of wrongfully obtaining public assistance over $35,000 — punishable by up to 20 years in jail. In March, Andrea was slapped with the same charge, and the hunt for the couple was on.


Standing before TV cameras, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman mocked the lord and lady of welfare. His manner swung from humorous to indignant as he laid out the merits of the case and vowed that justice would be served.

"These were rich folks ripping off the system," Freeman thundered. "I will make sure they do hard time."

C>olin had spent the winter of 2013 trying to lure Grand Prix auto racing to the Bahamas.

Colin desperately plundered his Rolodex for help. One email he sent to a family friend in Minnesota characterized the recent news reports of his run from the law as "outrageous." Colin conceded that he might be a "sinner" but professed that he was innocent of the present charges. He asked for refuge and concluded by appealing on religious grounds.

"You know how to help us or direct us, thank God."

On March 31, the Chisholms packed their bags one more time and headed for a bus. But before they could board, Bahamian Police officers — who'd been keeping their eye on the apartment — seized the couple's passports. They sent the family back on a ferry to Port Everglades, Florida, where they were immediately arrested. (Their son is in the custody of relatives.)

At his extradition hearing the next day, Colin looked exhausted. A gaggle of reporters gawked as he lurched toward a Broward County courtroom in handcuffs.

"Hey, Colin," a TV journalist taunted, "if you're so wealthy, why did you need to steal all that money?"

Colin lifted his heavy eyelids but kept his head down. The hallway exploded with laughter.

Later, Broward County Judge John "Jay" Hurley halted the proceedings to question whether Colin was fit to continue. He looked ready to pass out in his seat, the flashes of the media cameras illuminating his drained face like a jack-o'-lantern.

"Do you need medical attention?" the broad-faced, avuncular judge asked.

Colin shook his head. After the hearing, he shuffled out of the spotlight, disappearing into a pack of indistinguishable blue jumpsuits.

Later that night, he inched slowly toward the jail phone that allows prisoners and visitors to communicate at the Paul Rein Detention Facility in Pompano Beach.

"Hello?" he asked, in a barely audible whisper to a reporter he'd never met before.

Can you speak about the case? the reporter asked.

Colin shook his head slowly.

"Well, is there anyone close to you who would be willing to speak about your character?" the reporter asked.

Colin stood quietly, lost in thought. Finally, he said: "There's no one left to call."

#ichooseart Showcase & Gallery Night presented by KIND Healthy Snacks

From beatboxing to poetry, KIND Healthy Snacks encourages South Florida to Do the KIND Thing by joining them in recognition of our community's most talented young artists. During Art Basel 2014, KIND will shine a light on the importance of music and the arts in the lives of youth through their #ichooseart campaign, an effort that includes several spontaneous street performances by student artists, a formal gallery of their work, and a unique opening night celebration. Focusing on the power of choice, KIND hopes to inspire guests to make powerful decisions in their lives both large and small, from living healthy lifestyles all the way to leaving a positive mark on the world through simple acts of kindness. Starting with a Thursday night student showcase from 6:30 pm–10:30 pm at Brick House Wynwood (187 NW 28th Street), KIND invites the community to experience the talent, passion and dedication of local young performers while enjoying cocktails, refreshments and the buzz of Midtown Miami. This event, free and open to the public, will serve as the kickoff to a series of pop-up performances that Basel-goers will spot throughout the city on December 5 and 6.
Thu., Dec. 4, 6:30 p.m., 2014
The so-called cultural diversity that local politicos always seem so eager to trumpet can be a misnomer. Though some prefer to ignore it, that ugly cultural divide that pits “us” against “them” often still lingers. So thank Microtheater and artistic director Barbara Garofalo for helping to bridge that chasm by offering plays in both Spanish and English this summer. But be prepared — it’s an unusual concept. The plays are produced within the confines of refurbished and (thankfully) air-conditioned shipping containers that have been repurposed for live theater. Still, at only $5 per play and with a diverse array of works running about 15 minutes long, Microtheater offers plenty of unique live performance opportunities. Best of all, Microtheater is an ideal example of what a melting pot can be. Having previously produced its works only in Spanish, the company is now presenting plays in English, written by both new and veteran playwrights. Along with a best-of slate of presentations, it gives everyone, regardless of origin or ethnicity, the chance to share the experience.
Thursdays-Sundays. Starts: Aug. 8. Continues through Aug. 24, 2014
James L. Knight Center
Tyler Perry is a machine. The writer, actor, songwriter, director, and mass producer of African-American dramas, comedies, dramadies, and romcoms produces so much work it wouldn’t be surprising if he has a secret room full of Cambodians piecing together story lines with dice labeled with various plot ideas. The most prominent one being “cross-dress like an old black woman.” Somehow it all works, and Perry has amazingly maintained his dominance nearly ten years since the release of his first film, Diary of a Mad Black Woman. Perry’s genius now comes to Miami this Wednesday and the following Thursday in the form of a play called Hell Hath No Fury. The enigmatic description of its plot makes us think it’s a dramatic black romance. Or is it about bondage? Or maybe about sibling rivalry and a “player”? We can’t really tell, but what we do know is there will be a whole bunch of yelling and singing. Really, what more could any fan of theater ask for? Showtime is 7:30 p.m. at the James L. Knight Center (400 SE Second Ave., Miami). Tickets cost $49 for Wednesday and $53 for Thursday. Visit jlkc.com or call 305-416-5978.
Wed., April 30, 7:30 p.m., 2014

15 Steps: Superior Seafood in a Confused Space

On a recent Sunday, two guests stand in front of a muted TV set near the entry of 15 Steps inside the Eden Roc hotel. They're laughing at America's Funniest Home Videos.

Rich amber lighting and plush leather seating fill the center of this first-floor restaurant. An out-of-place communal picnic table sits near an open kitchen. And a row of small tables off to the side is paired with one conventional chair and one enormously high-backed white leather throne.

See also: Closer Look: 15 Steps at Eden Roc Miami Beach

In this mecca of mismatches, the strong Lapidus old-fashioned, named for the hotel's famed architect, Morris Lapidus, is served with bourbon, amarena cherry syrup, and chocolate mole bitters. It costs exactly as much — $16 — as a Squeeze Me, made with Stoli Blueberry, mint, and "handcrafted lemonade." The evening I was there, Tropicana lemonade was poured from a carton.

Much of the menu is similarly curious. Drinks take up half of it, while the food is listed in small print and crammed onto a single page. Though the restaurant touts its ties to local farms, you'd never know it by reading the menu.

When entering, you might even be unclear about where you are dining. The collage mural in the entry reads "1500 Degrees."

Last summer, the Eden Roc, owned by Eden Roc LLLP, changed management from Marriott International to Destination Hotels & Resorts, a hospitality management company specializing in independent luxury hotels. In the shuffle, chef Paula DaSilva, who made a name for herself at the Eden Roc's signature restaurant, 1500 Degrees, returned to her old home, 3030 Ocean in Fort Lauderdale. Her replacement was 3030 Ocean's chef de cuisine, Jeremy Ford. The name of the restaurant was also changed from 1500 Degrees to 15 Steps, which was chosen to reflect the number of steps it takes to get a fish from boat to table.

Despite the upheaval, the farm focus and dining room décor remain intact. As a restaurant in an iconic hotel with a revolving door of guests, it has served meals during the entire process.

On one of my visits, the seafood preparation was particularly good. The ultrafresh Atlantic wahoo was poached for exactly 15 seconds, placed in ice water, and cut thicker than sashimi. A Meyer lemon and shishito vinaigrette, along with a fun citrus foam bubble, topped it. One taste revealed the clean freshness of flavors, but I was left wanting something more. I found the answer on the plate. Dipping the fish into dollops of Florida avocado mousse with lime juice and cumin brought it to life.

The chef had to nail that dish — a wahoo is tattooed on his arm.

An Italian-style roasted tomato soup served during one of my visits was replaced on a later visit with a roasted Florida corn soup. The latter was a bit more complex — based on a stock made from cobs without kernels rather than chicken bones — with fennel and leeks as aromatics. Crab, tomatillos, peppers, and the charred kernels graced the soup as a vivid salsa. The result was another winning bowl.

Because of the season, the produce is at the peak of freshness, but sometimes even Mother Nature can be bland. One night, a roasted carrot salad with greens, avocado, walnut pesto, and spicy sunflower seeds included the vibrant, fresh taste of every ingredient except the scant purple carrots. Another night, a roasted beet salad was made from those same carrots, smoked ricotta, pine nuts, and pomegranate vinaigrette and then topped with candied mandarinquats, a hybrid of a mandarin and a kumquat. And those purple carrots were divine.

Every day, a new menu is printed. Changes depend upon what's provided by two farms — Swank and Paradise — as well as which fish are available. "People go nuts if we remove a staple, like the gnocchi," Chef Ford says.

Indeed, the gnocchi and black truffle ragout is a pleaser. The hefty potato pasta is topped with black truffles before a fried quail egg, slow-braised pork shank, and mushrooms are thrown into the mix. It is so rich it should be a main dish.

The entrée that exceeded all expectations was the pan-roasted halibut. The perfectly cooked fish was glazed and coated with toasted coriander seeds for a wonderful ­pop-in-the-mouth sensation. It was served in a soy and ginger broth with spicy greens, baby turnips, fresh asparagus cut into disks, and beet chips. It was priced at $29 but was also featured in the daily three-course prix fixe dinner menu, with a starter and dessert, for $39.

The Bell & Evans chicken breast with red quinoa, baby turnips, greens, and roasted pistachios was also well cooked, though it was a bit on the salty side and not nearly as exciting as the halibut.

For dessert, the grapefruit soup brought a pucker like no other. Florida grapefruit juice was infused with yuzu and a touch of sugar. An orange blossom ice cube was placed in the bowl along with a tarragon sorbet that melted with each stir until there were remnants of granita bits. The most difficult aspect to grasp about this dessert was the cubed coconut jelly, which resembled tofu floating in miso soup. It was a creative, liquefied spin on a fruity treat.

A more approachable sweet is the manchego panna cotta. It is simultaneously creamy and gelatinous, like cheesecake with some bounce or a deconstructed dessert cheese plate. It comes topped with kumquat compote and a thyme cookie.

15 Steps has a very talented young chef and a playful waitstaff — I overheard one waiter joke to a patron that the restaurant is trying out a concept without a bathroom. That's all fine. But in this locale with these prices, boxed lemonade, slapstick television, and recycled décor detract from the overall impression.

The space will change again soon. Nobu Hospitality plans to open a Nobu Hotel inside the Eden Roc, similar to the concept at Caesars Palace Las Vegas, and a Nobu restaurant will open in the 15 Steps space. In summer 2015, Ford and company are slated to take over the spot in the hotel now occupied by the Cabana Beach Club.

Right now, Ford is taking the appropriate steps: focusing on food, building a staff, and using the current space as a "testing ground." When the transition begins, he will split his time between helping the Nobu team and planning this new oceanfront restaurant, where it's hoped he can make a home in a space that goes well with his cuisine.

The Eden Roc has a storied past that stretches from Frank Sinatra to the Kardashians. Let's hope this newest incarnation is closer to its distant past than more recent times.

1826 Restaurant and Lounge: Magnificent on Multiple Levels

You'll find all the usual suspects at the all-glass, four-story restaurant on Collins Avenue. There's the purr of Lambor­ghinis out front, the parade of Real Housewives in tight bandage dresses, and a short red carpet outside. But, like a beacon, the glowing fuchsia lights outside indicate something different at this standout standalone restaurant: The level of style matches the sophistication of cuisine.

Once inside 1826 Restaurant & Lounge, there's nowhere to go but up. You can enter the elevator and head to the third floor, where you'll find a contemporary setting with a light display, elongated windows, metal barstools, and lounge chairs made from recycled airplane skins. If you're a VIP or a member of a private party or you order bottle service, go straight to the fourth floor.

Or you might head directly to dinner, for which you will be leisurely led up the stairs to the second floor. There, you'll find a throwback, mod style with pod chairs in a sleek and refined space. The restaurant's four numbers are engraved in the brushed concrete. Take a peek through the window into the garde manger station, and you might see chef Danny Grant meticulously placing herbs, edible flowers, and final touches on plates.

Grant has garnered two Michelin stars and was named a best new chef in 2012 by Food & Wine for his work at RIA in Chicago. He now works every part of this expansive three-story kitchen. "It has to be precise," he says. "This work is unforgiving."

The place opened during the South Beach Wine & Food Festival this past February. The pressure was on when Dana Cowin, editor-in-chief of Food & Wine, and a slew of celebrity chefs dined there the first night. Grant, like the restaurant itself, rose to the occasion, prompting Cowin to Instagram her tuna tartare and a congrats to the chef. Was that opening date intentional? "That is just how the stars aligned," Grant says. "I would've liked to have opened earlier."

Bread service is a touchstone of fine dining that can often feel stale, but at 1826 it is both casual and family-style. The selections are stellar and change regularly. Some recent choices include rolls made with roasted shallot, smoked bacon, and Parmesan; squash blossom and mushroom; and olive tapenade. They are baked to order and look something like a Cinnabon roll. Savory and flaky, they set the tone for the meal. "I wanna show love," Grant says. There's something about warm leavened bread that does just that.

The menu is separated into three sections: the Harvest, the Hook, and the Hunt. It's difficult to gauge portion size. Our server offered some pointers: The dishes listed first in each section are usually smaller. She recommended six to nine ($8 to $52 apiece) for two people. If that seems like a lot, it is. Five plates plus dessert were more than enough for my two-top.

According to Grant, the menu was designed so the kitchen gets hit in waves. Food comes out as it is ready. Our first arrival was Florida avocado salad with grapefruit, palm hearts, and citrus emulsion. It was more elegant than similar salads at other restaurants around town.

Much of the rest of the food arrived at once — so quickly that the server had to deliver two spoons for removing final tiny cubes of cucumber from the shared salad plate.

Four croquettes from the Harvest section brought big flavor. The crunchy exterior remained intact while the center oozed with potato, a mild sheep's-milk cheese, and a hint of black truffle. The recipe was born in Grant's apartment when he first moved to Miami from Chicago.

Sweet corn and garganelli pasta included summer squash and zucchini ribbons. The plate celebrated the season with spring onions and black truffle.

A heartier dish was the artichokes barigoule and gnocchi. Artichokes are nearly impossible to pair with wine, difficult to prepare, but ultimately satisfying because of their hearts. Grant has mastered how to highlight the most romantic of thistles. He braises them in an aromatic liquid comprising smoked bacon, oranges, onion, carrot, white wine, and chicken stock. Then he strains the liquid, braises the cleaned chokes, and cools them in the same liquid. He then reiterates the flavors in the delicate gnocchi, and with the addition of the black truffle butter it becomes a rich stew of bold flavors. Crisp, salty hunks of guanciale — cured pork cheek — don't overpower the meaty, triangular-cut artichokes.

Less than perfect were the Florida shrimp. They were rather tasteless prior to being wrapped in phyllo dough for a fun nest effect. A dip in the mint-coriander sabayon, though, perked the prawns right up. The roasted cod garden cassoulet with arugula and heirloom tomatoes was light and delicate, with strong kicks of dill.

Meat dishes were stronger. The finely chopped, dry-aged beef in a tartare mixed with red onion and celery root was scooped into mini-cornets with horseradish cream on the bottom. These four tiny cones were carnival-like. It was hard to resist biting the pointy bottom to suck out the cream, as you might do with the fudge at the bottom of an ice-cream Drumstick.

The short rib was exceptionally tender, cooked at a very low temperature for two full days before a trio of lemon zest, preserved lemon, and lemon oil was added. Fried Brussels sprouts topped the dish, and sunchokes sat below.

Even those heavier dishes are ­lightened, Grant says, because "people here eat lighter food, come in later, and don't want to walk away feeling heavy."

Passionfruit semifreddo with coconut, Greek yogurt, and basil also plays to the taste buds of the Magic City. It is a star sweet, created by pastry chef Soraya Caraccioli-Kilgore, that matches the precision and artistry of the restaurant.

Drinks, on the other hand, are lacking. Placing the drink menu on an iPad mini adds nothing to the experience. Cocktails are unimaginative and unimpressive, and only justifiable when a handful are half-priced during happy hour in the lounge. The wine selection is far stronger, although there were still hiccups. One evening, I ordered a $14 glass of rosé but received a $28 sparkling version instead. It was a stellar glass — until the bill came.

The pacing of the meal and the bar program may be off, but the food, presentation, and decor are spot on. Grant proves that style over substance no longer reigns in South Beach. When cuisine matches the showy scene, new heights in fine dining can be reached.

2 Fast 2 Furious at Soundscape

SoundScape Park
Check out the fast and furious posse in the first of many sequels. RIP Paul Walker.
Wed., Dec. 10, 8 p.m., 2014
Shots Miami
On this night, Shots is featuring four hot local DJs showing the world how Miami celebrates an Art Basel opening.
Wed., Dec. 3, 2014

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