Sunday, July 2: A beautiful day to join the guided walking tour of South Beach’s art deco buildings, courtesy of the Miami Design Preservation League. It ran 90 minutes, during which time we got to see South Beach’s predominant architectural styles: Art decoMediterranean revival, and MiMo.

Art Deco is short for the French term arts decoratifs (decorative art), which in turn was derived from a 1925 expo called Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (International exposition of decorative and modern industrial art), where the style was popularized.

The Miami Design Preservation League says that art deco designs feature the following:

Over-all symmetry, ziggurat (stepped) rooflines, glass block, decorative sculptural panels, eyebrows, round porthole windows, terrazzo floors, curved edges and corners, elements in groups of three, neon lighting (used in both exteriors as well as interior spaces).

Many of South Beach’s buildings were built in the 1930s, when a later variant of art deco architecture called Streamline Moderne, a.k.a. Art Moderne, came into being. According to Wikipedia, “Its architectural style emphasized curving forms, long horizontal lines, and sometimes nautical elements.”


You may recognize the Carlyle (construction started in 1939, and was completed in 1941) from a number of films. It was the gay nightclub in The Birdcage, and also appeared in Scarface and Bad Boys II.


The Leslie hotel was designed and built in 1937 by Albert Anis, who designed a number of hotels in Miami Beach. It’s one of the newer renos, having been renovated in 2014.


Anton Skislewicz designed the Breakwater, which was built in 1939. Its roof was used as the backdrop for this famous ad for Calvin Klein Obsession from 1987:


The Congress was built in 1936 and now is functions as vacation condos. Its owners also own the two buildings to its right, and painted all three buildings with the same white and light blue color scheme.


On the next block north of the Congress is Hotel Victor.


At 12 stories, the Tides towers above its Ocean Drive neighbors. It was the tallest art deco building of the mid-1930s and was designed by Lawrence Murray Dixon.

The tour took us inside the Tides, which has a beautiful lobby, from which you can see the “Turtle Room”…

The story is that many years ago, one of the Tides’ guests left five large tortoise shells in their room. It’s presumed that the guest was a smuggler, but for some reason decided that the shells were too “hot” and simply ditched them. The hotel had several duplicates of the original shells made, and both originals and copies hang on the wall today, and it’s said that no one at the hotel knows which are which.


They’ve plugged up the porthole windows on the Essex, but kept the other art deco features, such as the tower, eyebrows, and the font. It was built in 1938 and designed by Henry Hohauser.


The Webster was also designed by Henry Hohauser, and its art deco pedigree was enhanced by the classic cars parked in front of it that day. It started out as a hotel, but is now a three-story boutique for designer clothes.


The Kent hotel first opened in 1939.


Originally named the Fairmont and constructed in 1936, the Fairwind is another 2014 reno.


The Crescent was built in 1941, and yet another Henry Hohauser design.

Winter Haven

Completed in 1939, the Winter Haven was designed by Albert Anis.


Another Henry Hohauser hotel: the Edison, built in 1935.

Señor Frogs

Yet another Henry Hohauser design: Señor Frogs, which was once Jerry’s Famous Deli:

McAlpin/Ocean Plaza

The McAlpin and Ocean Plaza are side by side on Ocean Drive and are now Hilton properties.


Did Henry Hohauser design everything in South Beach? The Penguin (originally the Golden Dawn) is another of his works.


The answer to my question about Henry Hohauser above appears to be “Yes. Yes he did.” The Commodore is another one of his designs, this one dating from 1939.

Other buildings we saw

End of the tour

We returned to Miami Design Preservation League’s Art Deco Welcome Center at the end of the tour. We decided to close it out with photos of ourselves by the Miami Beach clock/thermometer, and then head to lunch.

Recommended reading

Previous articles in this series


The teaser trailer for The Disaster Artist, James Franco’s movie about the making of The Room takes one of the most iconic scenes from that terrible movie, and turns it into pure cinematic gold. Let’s hope the rest of the film is as good.

If you’ve never seen The Room, here’s the “Oh hi, Mark!” scene referenced in the trailer:


Star Trek / electronics joke of the day

by Joey deVilla on July 18, 2017

I’m laughing and groaning at the same time.

In case you don’t get the joke:

Thanks to Douglas King for the find!

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It’s a plot by the Pentavirate: there’s suddenly a lot of KFC-branded merchandise on the market. I’m seriously considering getting the “FRIED CHICKEN USA” shirt so I can wear it to the gym.

It’s not just clothing and jewelry. In China, KFC partnered with Huawei (the largest smartphone manufacturer you’ve never heard of) to release a KFC-branded phone to commemorate the restaurant chain’s 30th anniversary in the country:

In case you don’t get the “Pentavirate” reference, here’s the relevant scene from So I Married an Axe Murderer


Michelle Royal at Café con Tampa

by Joey deVilla on July 14, 2017

 Café con Tampa is a weekly gathering where people interested in the issues that affect Tampa Bay and the world beyond meet to learn and share ideas with interesting, entertaining (and sometimes infuriating) guest speakers. It takes place every Friday between 8 and 9 a.m. in the wonderful setting of Oxford Exchange, a combination of restaurant, book store, gift shop, co-working space, design studio, event venue, and one of the best “third places” I’ve ever set foot in. It’s attended by an interesting audience that’s often a mix of movers and shakers from the worlds of arts, business, academia, and government. If you want to have interesting conversations with some of the area’s movers, shakers, and idea-makers (and enjoy Oxford Exchange’s delicious breakfast spread), you should attend!

Today’s speaker at Café con Tampa was Michelle Royal, CEO and founder of RIDG, which is pronounced “ridge” and short for Royal Innovation Design Group. A consultant, entrepreneur, and speaker based in St. Petersburg, she helps people and organizations create breakthroughs in the way they think and act, which are very necessary in this day and age. She gave an interesting talk and started some lively discussions today. Here are my annotated notes…

  • I work in innovation and disruption
  • I was raised in the Subway franchise world. My family owned first the Subways in Arkansas, well before it had caught on in the U.S., never mind the world, and learned a lot of business and entrepreneurship
  • When I first moved here, I changed lines of work — from psychology and therapy to real estate
  • That’s how I found Tampa Bay’s creative economy, just as it was getting ignited
  • During that time, I attended conference that changed the trajectory of my life, launching me into the world of innovation and design
  • I landed in the perfect suite of mentors, who taught me how to engage in the innovation process

  • We love to use the word “disruption” a lot these days
  • There’s currently an overload of data, so it’s not surprising that data analysis is now a big field
  • To me, the big issue these days is the workforce
  • I’m an engineer, but not of software or hardware, but humans. That’s where I’ve chosen to innovate.
  • The work we do is around innovation is to help us hedge against intractable problems coming our way
  • Accenture’s CEO recently said that half the jobs there did not exist 4 years ago
  • There are new roles – the transition is happening
  • Over the next 10 years, both our workforce and the nature of work will transform
  • I’m concerned about automation and augmentation
  • My passion around disruption is to tap into things that empower us

  • In order to take on disruption, you need to cross these five thresholds:
    1. Commitment: The willingness to understand and do what it takes to move beyond the effects of disruption, using our most powerful tool, our mind. This is largely about reality setting, and it will be required as digital and human worlds collide.
    2. Alignment: Ensuring that all parties concerned are together in understanding and direction. It’s the right answer to the question “Do we see things from the same perspective?”
    3. Focus: Attention paid to and around immediate risks and opportunities that you want to take advantage of.
    4. Capabilities: How much time, talent, and money can we pour into the disruption opportunity?
    5. Network strength: What network resources are there to help you tackle this risk opportunity? Can your customers handle the change?

For a little more context, here’s RIDG’s video (it’s 6:35 long) about what it means to be “disruption ready”:

  • Dealing with disruption requires many kind of intelligence working concurrently:
    • Cognitive intelligence
    • Emotional intelligence
    • Social intelligence
  • Human problems require a level of interpretation and collaboration that cannot be done by machines — at least not by machines now or near future
  • There’s a lot of work to do, but we came out of an educational system that didn’t completely teach us how to do so
  • Remember: Machines cannot create meaning, nor can they motivate action to bring about change
  • My passion is for human engineering and preparing us for the future


How would you suggest we re-orient Trump past his “prom fixation” — the need to be the most popular, the most talked-about person — in order to get him to make positive changes?

  • There’s a thing called synthesis genius that I like to use in this sort of situation
  • Ask yourself this: Was Trump the only disruptor in this election? Definitely not — so was Bernie, and even Hillary, in her own way
  • We had an election campaign rife with disruptors, and the biggest disruptor won
  • To get past an uncomfortable state, we need reality setting, which requires listening to others and understanding their realities. This is valuable, especially when faced with scenarios and complexities that are upsetting and terrifying
  • This calls for both “the right kind of crazy” and an environment of trust
  • Because trust is involved, innovation requires a character and integrity that we haven’t emphasized recently
  • How would I shift Trump’s mindset? I would point him in the direction of things that he wants. That’s going to be tricky, since right now, he’s getting exactly what he wants.

With all the current forces and factors affecting work, jobs are under threat. How do we have a society without jobs?

  • We have to shift our perspective and redesign what “work” is
  • There’s some great work happening on that front in the UN: take a look at their Sustainable Development Goals 2015 – 2030
  • The Singularity University in California has aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals
  • Silicon Valley is not our savior! It will not save us from changes in workforce, food sources, or job opportunities. They’re solving some challenges, but only those that they deem worthwhile.
  • You need to be aware of where the U.S. stands on social progress? According to Social Progress Index, the U.S. is in the top 4 for innovation, but 19th or 20th in social progress
  • By “social progress”, we mean availability of basic human needs and foundations for well-being, including healthcare, some work to support family, basic education, opportunities for advancement

What about blue-collar work? Why is it being ignored or given less stature when there are many blue-collar jobs that pay as well as many white-collar ones?

  • We should look at Germany, and how they invest in trade schools
  • No matter what the work is — blue-collar or white-collar — the question to ask is: Can it be automated and replicated?

I’m fascinated by the use of the word “disruption”. How do you distinguish between disruption and just plain old evolution?

  • The difference between the two is the speed at which things have changed
  • There are all sorts of disruptive technologies that have appeared not that long ago: consider Facebook and Bitcoin
  • A lot of disruption is being driven by Moore’s Law

A note from Joey: Moore’s Law is named after Intel co-founder Gordon Moore, who observed in 1965 that the number of transistors you could pack onto a chip doubled every two years. It’s since been diluted into the more layperson-friendly summary that computer power doubles every 18 months.

I’m in the restaurant business, where the predominant narrative is that there aren’t enough people to do the work. How do we attract people to do the work, which requires standing for a long time in “fire and ice”?

  • Millennials have a work ethos: they want work with meaning, that matters, and has an impact
  • I have an accounting client that’s afraid that their work in boring their workers, but in fact it’s helping their customers and making a lot of things for them possible
  • Either you know how you’re changing the world, or you’re not
  • It’s all about human engineering: knowing what motivates people and how to get it to them
  • We have to be passionate and care about what customers need
  • That’s what my work is: I’m in the business of reassurance

What do you think about things like the Blue Ocean Strategy or Lean Startup? 

  • There’s a religiosity about entrepreneurs in the popular media
  • I see the same 5 faces over and over on Wired and Fast Company talking about the same things
  • Silicon Vally will not save us, neither will companies whose prime objective is to raise value for shareholders
  • I read a recent Wired article on dealflow [the rate at which investors receive business proposals and investment offers] — Silicon Valley had 1,500 last year, New York had 800, and Florida’s not even on the map
  • Small communities cannot compete with Silicon Valley; our solutions have to be local and unique to our needs in order to properly serve us
  • We have to find things together  as a business community, work together and support each other
  • Certainty comes from capital, or grit and grind — and grit and grind needs community support!

In a world with increasing automation and an Orwellian corporate presence, with everything monitored and measured, how do we maintain a good quality of life and disrupt disruption?

  • This calls for something I mentioned before: alignment, between organizations and the communities they serve

Can or will government play a role in disruption or mitigating its effects, especially with Millennials not having had an impact on government yet?

  • If government is obsolete, we might as well throw in the towel
  • I’m on Alliance for Innovation, working with local governments to advance themselves
  • The landscape of policy and politics needs to change, and it’s up to us to define that change
  • Consider the question the electorate just asked: What if government was run more like a business? The answer, of course, is the current administration.
  • What experiments can we try? One possibility is micro-initiatives – $500 projects
  • Another experiment: the one in Times Square, where they put chairs in the middle and shut it off to traffic, before making the superblock investment, which is a way of reorganizing flow and making cities more liveable. They did this in Barcelona.
  • That’s one of the ideas we can borrow from Lean Startup — teaching people to think differently

Bill Carlson: I’m concerned about the messages we’re getting out to young people. I was recently at a meeting with local leaders, and one of them suggested taking all university funding, focusing it on solely STEM, and getting rid of “stupid [non-STEM] degrees”. What do we do about this, especially since in 10 years, it’s the white collar jobs that will get wiped out?

  • The Institute for the Future identified these as the top skills we’ll need:
    • Sense-making,
    • Various intelligences — cognitive, emotional, social
    • Working virtually and physically
    • Taking multiple pieces of info and creating meaning from them
    • Multimedia multitasking
  • These all sound like Millennial talents!

We talk about disruption like hurricanes — why don’t we talk them more as things we can use in our favor?

  • Uber does — they treat it as a tactic or tool. Consider the way they’ve disrupted employment law in order to further their business model
  • That’s the difference between a headwind and tailwind, for those of you familiar with sailing
  • It’s all about viewing disruption as something that happens to us or as something we can harness
  • There are unintended consequences
  • We have choices today — they might be killing us — but we have choices!


On sale at my local grocery: Vitalis and Aqua Velva?

by Joey deVilla on July 13, 2017

I didn’t know they even made this stuff anymore!

If you’re under 30, chances are you’ve never heard of Vitalis. It’s an old-school hair product called hair tonic, and it provides a little hold, a lot of shine, and a scent that you’ll either love or hate (it’s a sort of antiseptic, aftershave-y smell). If you’re cosplaying as Archer or Don Draper, you’ll want to get some of this in your hair.

As for Aqua Velva, I think of it more as something that desperate winos drink rather than aftershave.

Recommended reading:



The job search is over: I’ve joined Sourcetoad!

by Joey deVilla on July 13, 2017

On Monday, July 24th, I will assume my new role as Lead Product Manager at Tampa-based software development company Sourcetoad.

Here’s what Sourcetoad does:

Here’s who Sourcetoad are (minus me, naturally), You can learn all about them on our Team page:

Here’s a local TV news story featuring Sourcetoad:

Here’s another local news story profiling Sourcetoad: Talent, innovation, smarts, tenacity drive growth of tech company in Tampa.

I’ll be providing Sourcetoad with technical, strategic, and customer management leadership as we enter a growth phase. We’re currently in the process of expanding the business, the customer base, and the office — and yes, our headcount too — as we move into some interesting and promising markets. My job will be to shepherd all our products (which I’ll talk about a little later) through their development lifecycle, from the moment when we first sit down with the customer and find out what they need, all the way to the maintenance and upkeep of happy customers’ working software.

The sample size is small, but our Glassdoor rating’s quite good!

The desk at the home office.

In the meantime, I’ll have a little over a week to finish some freelance projects for friends and associates at the home office before I report for my first day at the office. It’s a short drive — in fact, a bikeable distance — from home, and it’s in a pretty nice spot, too! Here’s a view from Sourcetoad’s front door:

I’m quite pleased with the way things have worked out!

This article also appears in Global Nerdy.