Street Talk - May 2006

By staff May 1, 2006



Young prof Ena Salter shares her passion for math.

"Growing up, I was horrible at math," says 25-year-old mathematics professor Ena Salter, who last fall became Manatee Community College's youngest professor ever. "I was told in sixth grade that I needed to be in remedial math. My mother said, 'Absolutely not.'" Salter cried her way through math tests until college, when a professor at Georgia Southern University took her under his wing. "He taught me that math was not about the formulas and the numbers, but a way of thinking," she says. Now, with a master's degree in mathematics, she dreams of getting her Ph.D. from Yale. "I tell my students my story; if I can do it, anyone can."

What's it like to be a 25-year-old professor? I've been laughed at. They honestly think that I'm another student-MCC's average student age is 27-and that I'm pretending to be a professor. It's important to let them know, yes, I am the teacher, you will listen to me and we will do math.

Why is math important? Life is all about decisions. I want my students to be able to think critically to figure out the best option for them. And if they make a mistake, to be able to backtrack and figure out where they went wrong.

Do your students buy that? I get lots of encouragement from them. They tell me that they love coming to my class-I jump and dance around [when I teach]. If they're bored, they're not going to learn anything.

Do still you keep in touch with your mentor? I talk to him weekly. He comes to Sarasota and visits.

-Hannah Wallace


We really shouldn't have gone out that night.

But when you work for a living and sail when you can-and when a couple of old salts call to announce the wind is up and going higher, adding, "We think it's time to go"-you go.

Six hours later, exhausted, soaked and with a bad case of the chills, we tied up at Marina Jack's fuel dock and dragged ourselves inside where, as usual, Howie greeted us as though we'd come from the opera.

My Irish coffee ("And keep them coming") was no problem. But eggs Benedict-well, the kitchen was closed, he said. "Hey, it's like midnight, you guys."

But then a miracle occurred. A waiter appeared and asked if we wanted fried potatoes or fruit with our eggs, and I vowed out loud never to miss a chance to praise Marina Jack in public.

Late night dining in Sarasota is a chancy, sometime thing, but there are some real gems too, if you're up late.

Say you're performing on the Van Wezel stage and want dinner afterward. According to my sources there, The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota has been known to hold its kitchen open for that sort of a person.

The rest of us have to know a little secret about the Ritz. That would be that food is served in the Ca'd'Zan Bar there until 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 12:30 a.m. Thursdays and 11:30 p.m. the rest of the week-good food, too, because they don't serve anything else at the Ritz. Lobster and crab quesadillas, jumbo shrimp salads and the eight-ounce Ca'd'Zan burger are all $14. Caesar salad is $9, and an amazing cold salmon plate with smashed potatoes, asparagus, tomatoes and olive oil to kill for is $26.

How's that for romantic?

Oh, sure, some folks still tell you Sarasota "has no late dining." But I've come to believe that's because whoever you asked isn't ever out late. These are the folks who'll tell you the Waffle House at 1414 S. Tamiami Trail is the only place open late. And the truth is, they haven't even been there in a decade or more-make that since they had kids and had to start paying a sitter.

The next question, of course, is how late is late? If you're unwilling to accept anything before midnight as being late, we're in some trouble. Quite a few kitchens stay open to midnight, especially Friday and Saturdays, but not many after that.

But except for the 24-hour Waffle House, everything is going to be downtown. Late night menus don't make it on the keys or in the 'burbs.

For example, Mattison's City Grille, 1 N. Lemon Ave., keeps its kitchen open to 1 a.m. on Fridays when there's a street party out front. But most Fridays and Saturdays the kitchen closes at midnight. It's even 11 p.m. the rest of the week, but, hey, you can get real food, like Maytag blue-cheese-encrusted filet ($24.95) or sliced duck breast ($21.95) or, for those less hungry, a pizza ($12.95-$16.95).

Likewise, downtown's anchor bar and grill, Patrick's, 1400 Main St., offers food until midnight every night of the week. There's the rib eye ($18.95), grilled salmon ($17.95) or chicken pot pie ($11.95).

Probably best of all, harking back to my Marina Jack experience, Patrick's will not only knock you out a plate of great eggs Benedict ($8.95), they'll even do their own variation-eggs Patrick with chunks of tenderloin instead of Canadian bacon, and Bernaise sauce instead of Hollandaise over the top. Oh, yes, there's great fried potatoes on the side.

Just what every stomach needs at that hour.

So the truth is, you can find food (fairly) late in Sarasota. Just don't go looking outside downtown.

And if you're young, hip and energetic enough, you can even just party on and catch the crack-of-dawn 6:30 a.m. openings at, say, the Silver Star Deli, 180 N. Lime Ave., or my favorite, Coffee Carrousel (1644 Main St.), to get the day started right.

But if it's 3 a.m. and you're crashing and starving, it's back to the old standbys in Sarasota. Of course there's the Waffle House already mentioned, and then there's the ultimate all-night pit stop for a full load of sugar, carbs and caffeine, the 24-hour International House of Pancakes, 1199 N. Washington Blvd.

Face it, we all end up at the IHOP real late a few times in our lives-sometimes amongst the most exciting or at least memorable nights of all.


Jennifer Cohen

When the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which would guarantee equal rights under law regardless of gender, failed to pass in the 1980s, it seemed to die along with bell-bottoms and disco. But now it's back, thanks to a Supreme Court ruling that there is no time limit unless Congress writes it into the legislation. ERA supporters need three more states to pass the amendment for it to be ratified-and Florida is one of the battlegrounds. Leading the charge in Southwest Florida is 46-year-old Jennifer Cohen, the National Organization for Women's Florida membership director and president of the Venice/North Port chapter.

Women have made great gains in the workplace. Do we really need a constitutional amendment guaranteeing equality?

Absolutely. As the Constitution is written, the only right women are guaranteed is the right to vote. If we pass [the ERA], it won't always be the best thing for women, because they will be treated equally in custody and divorce; that's one reason why some women don't touch it. We're saying that women can handle equality; what we can't handle is inequality.

Is there a realistic chance of Florida passing the ERA?

It's never made it out of committee. But our goal this year is to get a hearing. Instead of being in Tallahassee just for lobby days, we're going to be there for the whole session. We're going to be in their faces.

Has NOW's support of abortion rights hampered its voice on other women's issues?

We're not the leader in the abortion issue, Planned Parenthood is. But we totally support them. It's not our No. 1 issue. Our No. 1 issue is women's rights-equal rights, equal pay, equal opportunities. These issues have always been at the forefront of NOW.

Opponents say that the ERA will open the door for gay rights. Will it?

Equal rights mean equal rights. If we have an ERA, it makes it a lot harder to discriminate.

Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique and mother of the women's movement, recently died. What's her legacy?

She saw the future and she led us there. Women in the past tended to live through their men, and now they're living their own successes.

What does it mean to be a feminist today?

To have a respect for women, a belief that women can be equal, that they can be strong, that they can lead.

Feminists and NOW have been lambasted by conservative critics as "femi-nazis." Has that hampered movement?

Whatever they call us, it doesn't affect us. We're not going away. We're going to keep fighting until we see a woman president. We want to make sure all Americans are treated equally, and if that makes us militant, then that's what we need to be. -Kim Hackett


Inside the visual arts with Mark Ormond.

Artist Florence Putterman, who has studios in Pennsylvania and on Lido Shores, has established a foundation that donates her prints to hospitals, universities, community centers and other nonprofit organizations. "These are works I did in Paris and Milan in the 1960s with Giorgio Upilgio, one of Italy's top printers," she says. She also has prints done at Tamarind, with Julio Juristo in Tampa and others made in Sarasota with Patrick Lindhardt, an artist and a master printer who's worked with James Rosenquist and Robert Rauschenberg.

Art news in brief. Jonathan and Toni Greene sold their Towles Court gallery, Metamorphosis, to focus on their new space on Pineapple, called Greene Contemporary. Aric Miller, who had a show at Metamorphosis, now has works hanging at new restaurant Esca at Links and Main. Jack Vinales on Pineapple is also featuring Miller's work. John Sims has been working with Jill Lerner at Jill Lerner Editions on a new series of prints based on his Flags that should be released soon. Carol King has closed design studio Bleushift and is thinking she "just wants to make art." Bleushift was one of the most creative studios in town, giving the Sarasota Film Festival its media identity... Ann Wykell, former assistant director of the Sarasota County Arts Council, is celebrating five years as cultural affairs coordinator of the city of St. Petersburg. She recently hired Myriam Springuel, a former Smithsonian executive and Sarasota-based art consultant, to review and assess their public art program.

Dana Gioia, chair of the National Endowment for the Arts, made his first trip to Sarasota to speak during a weekend symposium held in connection with Sarasota Season of Sculpture. Gioia said he had wanted to visit the Ringling Museum for the last 40 years and was particularly impressed by the Rubens paintings there. A poet himself, Gioia also said, "The purpose of art education is to create complete human beings."

The art libraries at Ringling School and the Ringling Museum are two of Sarasota's best-kept secrets. Each adds hundreds of books a month to its stacks, and each is open to the public for research. Linda McKee, head librarian at the museum, says they have over 65,000 art books. Kathleen List at Ringling School counts more than 55,000 publications on art and design. The Cook Library at New College also has art books in the stacks available for study. McKee adds that the museum library subscribes to more than 125 periodicals and has 3,000 rare books, including 800 that belonged to John Ringling. And they also have about 100 books that belonged to Mrs. Potter Palmer, donated by one of her heirs.

Street Talk



Development, downtown and other civic issues.

By Kim Hackett

What does Sarasota have in common with New Bedford, Mass.? A lot, if Tony Souza gets his wish.

The effervescent Souza recently marked his first year as executive director of the Downtown Partnership of Sarasota with an ambitious plan to create a historic district on much of Main Street. And that's just the beginning of Souza's 2006 operating plan, which calls for turning Fruitville Road into a tree-lined "first-class thoroughfare" from U.S. 301 to U.S. 41, with sidewalks connecting downtown neighborhoods, a redesigned Five Points Park and 2,000 affordable, high-density housing units built downtown through public-private partnerships.

"It's starting to feel like home," says Souza, who came here from a similar downtown organization in New Bedford, where he created an economic district around the area's rich whaling history.

The operating plan is a culmination of community forums the partnership held last year and borrows liberally from the New Bedford plan, with new sidewalks, streets, corridors and signage, Souza says. But it will be uniquely Sarasota, with building façades returned to their former glory, regardless of the style.

Souza can take on the demeanor of the Wizard of Oz as he sits behind his desk and, with the click of a mouse, turns Main Street into a brick-lined, European-flavored avenue with outdoor cafés and swank national and local retailers tucked here and there.

If only it were that easy in real life.

To get that new look with restored façades requires the approval of the city, tapping in to grants and a variety of incentive and tax programs. The district would be voluntary, Souza says, so downtown residents and business owners won't be coerced or restricted from making changes to their buildings. But to tap a pot of money to help with the renovations, they'll have to adopt the new guidelines.

"We don't want a Disneyland," Souza says emphatically. "We want a sense of place where people want to visit."

Souza expanded the board to 25 when he took over the partnership and has taken an umbrella approach, including such downtown stakeholders as the Newtown Redevelopment Office, the Main Street Merchants Association, developer Ian Black, and Larry Fineberg of Benderson Development. Even the police department has a representative.

Still, that's no guarantee that everyone is on the same page. City Manager Mike McNees, who will have to add the historic district to his plate of projects, talked a lot about "prioritizing money" when discussing the subject.

"The idea of a historic district has a lot of merit," says McNees. "But it seems to be taking on a final form before anyone else has had a chance to be in on the conversation."

No price tag yet on all of this.

THE STATUS OF WOMEN: NONEXISTENT. Betty Friedan has been deceased only a few months, but the Sarasota County Commission recently gave reason for the feminist leader to be spinning in her grave.

The commissioners pulled the plug on the group it formed to advise it on women's issues. The County Commission, which relies on about 90 boards to advise it on everything from waste water to animal vaccination schedules, said it had no use for the Commission on the Status of Women.

"They didn't have a mission," says County Commissioner Shannon Staub. "And it got a little political and moved over to advocacy."

The women's commission itself supported the dissolution. The advisory board was a watered-down version of its former self after a chairwoman and several board members resigned two years ago. (I was on the board for a few months in 2004 but resigned when I began reporting on the county.)

The board, started in the 1980s, had brought together a diverse group of artists, architects, activists and local female leaders, including Nina Burwell, a former New York City cop who started an innovative after-school program at Alta Vista Elementary School; Carol Newnan, state president of the American Association of University Women; and three-time congressional candidate Jan Schneider. There's a national CSW headquarters in Washington, D.C., with local and state CSWs across the country, but they're all structured differently; some, like Manatee's, are independent organizations, while others are under local or state government.

So how did all these high achievers fail to achieve in the county's eyes? Some former members say it all came down to control; the county wanted its advisory board to behave like the rest of its advisory boards, but members wanted to do much more.

Ironically, the beginning of the end came just as the Sarasota board was about to step into the national spotlight by hosting the national CSW convention. Commissioners told the advisory board to go ahead and compete for the convention, but after they landed it, the commissioners changed their minds.

The Sarasota advisory board, with egg on its face, had to withdraw, and all those prominent women and tourism dollars went to Miami instead last year. It was downhill from there, leading to the board's death in February. Don't expect former members to rest in peace, however; there's been talk of forming an independent commission, like Manatee did. The downside to all of this is that there's no official body giving voice to women's issues in the county, but it doesn't sound like the commission was listening much the last few years anyway.


Marina Jack owner Robert Moran calls himself "Virginia Haley's marina arm," helping the executive director of the Sarasota Convention and Visitors Bureau by attracting affluent boaters to Sarasota Bay.

"We're making Marina Jack the premier destination for boaters in Southwest Florida," says Moran, who recently renovated the floating docks and expanded the boat slips to 361 along Bayfront Drive. "They spend a lot of money downtown and on St. Armands Circle. We're doing all this to promote Sarasota."

Moran's "marina arm" is going to muscle up in the coming months as he finalizes plans with the city to take over the free mooring area on the south side of Bayfront Park, giving him a monopoly in the area. Moran has owned Marina Jack Restaurant for about five years and took over O'Leary's, the other waterside eatery, last year.

The 50 or so mostly rickety boats that now dock permanently in the waters near Marina Jack could be told to sail away as soon as this summer. The city is negotiating with the state to lease the freely run marina and turn it into a $650,000 "organized mooring area," with room for 109 boats. Marina Jack will run the new mooring area with a harbormaster on site to handle the details. Boaters will be able to use the shower, bathroom and laundry facilities nearby.

The city has grumbled about the boats there for years, saying people living on them dump waste into the bay and throw engine blocks into the water to use as anchors. "There hasn't been a desire by the city to do anything about this in the past," says deputy city manager Peter Schneider. "But now there is, and we have Marina Jack willing to be the operator."

No word on rates, but they'll be reasonable, says Schneider, because the state says an operator can't make a profit. "We think it's going to be a real amenity to the bayfront," Schneider says.

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