It's not every day that you get to take a selfie with Grammy award-winning pop star and philanthropist Gloria Estefan, only to discover that she's among the kindest and most humble people you will ever meet. Nor is it everyday that you get to represent your family as your grandpa gets inducted -- with the Estefans -- into the Miami Beach Hall of Fame.
But that's exactly what happened to me last week.
And of course, I had this great speech prepared that I rehearsed to anyone who would listen: my team, my family, my Uber driver. Then the Miami Beach mayor introduced me, basically saying everything that I planned to say. So stood up and I winged it! But I liked the speech so much that I'm sharing it with you:
The architect Morris Lapidus was my grandpa Mo. When he was two his family came to this country fleeing the pogroms of Russia in search of the American dream. They settled in the LES of NY. As a boy he saw the lights of Coney Island and was forever inspired to pursue a career in the arts. He attended college to obtain a degree in acting and got tired of waiting in the wings, so he decided to become a set designer. Learning that you had to take architecture classes, he switched to Columbia University where his career in architecture was born.
My grandpa was a critically acclaimed store designer before becoming a hotel architect. After he designed his first hotel the critics turned on him. Ada Louise Huxtable at the New York Times said you had to be blind to appreciate his work. But you embraced him. He became one of your own. What other city would celebrate woggles, cheese holes and stairways to nowhere like Miami Beach?
When he designed your Lincoln Road Mall as a pedestrian shopping center his reasoning was that cars don’t spend money.
Morris Lapidus loved Miami Beach. For him, his life here embodied the American dream. This would mean so much to him. He was often asked how he dealt with the bad press. And he would always light up and say that he outlived his critics. I wish he was here today to experience this great honor. But his legacy lives on in the great hotels — the Fontainebleau and the Eden Roc — that are still in service. On behalf of the family thank you for honoring my Grandpa Mo.