Thursday, November 30, 2006

Requiem For A Fishing Club

The South Florida Fishing Club meets a couple times a month at Tony Roma's, a restaurant in Sunny Isles Beach noted for their spare ribs. At the last meeting this was the view to my left. About six more members were to my right. Three or four wives had finished eating and gone out of the meeting room for some girl talk around the bar. Nothing like the turn-outs of thirty to forty or more avid anglers that would show up for a meeting when I first joined about 15 years ago.

We had an active junior division and several of the area's top fishing guides were members. I joined because my then new girlfriend Vivette loved fishing, and she had two kids who fished also. I needed a kid friendly club with other women anglers, and the good folks at my local tackle shop, Fred Lou Bait & Tackle, suggested SFFC.

Now all the local neighborhood bait and tackle shops are gone. Between The Sports Authority and then the new Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World they can't compete on prices. The clerks in the mega box stores, the stores themselves, aren't part of any neighborhood. There's no longer a tackle shop within walking or biking distance of most kids where they can get some advice or drool over the latest new reel. No place for adults to drop by on the way home from work just to chat and find out where the fish are

Yeah, the prices are great, but they're doing nothing to cultivate the next generation of customers, the new fishermen. They're doing nothing to bring those folks together with one another. The clubs are dying.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

The Aroma Of The Food, The Allure Of The Smoke

Everytime I go to the annual Greek Festival I end up eating way too much. Still, I end up going there a time or two over the weekend, and I always bring home a bunch of pastries dripping with honey "for later". By morning they're gone too, nothing left to have with my morning coffee. They're just too tasty to resist.

If you're one of those oddball people that still drives around with open windows in your car you can smell the food on the grills from a block or two away, at least on the down wind side. Wander around between the booths set up in the church yard the temptations are overwhelming. Chicken, lamb, strange pasta that looks like oversized rice grains, salads with pungent dressing, spinach pie, and the pastries of course. Then you get to sit at communal tables set up either outside or under big tents. Nobody stands on ceremony about who sits where or with whom, so you can enjoy the company of old friends and quickly make new ones.

In an era when you can no longer light up and smoke in a restaurant you can still smoke outside, and I guess tents are considered "outside". Plenty of people were smoking. It probably doesn't make all that much difference anyway, surrounded as we were by all the charcoal fires cooking the food. Nobody complained either.

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Rainy Night In Paradise

I guess I've got a bit of a dejected look on my face, not so much from the rain - we needed the rain - but because I can't light up a cigarette to smoke while drinking my coffee. Like most Starbucks around here there's an outside seating area where you can smoke, but even the big umbrellas won't keep you dry if there's a bit of breeze blowing. Nowadays smokers don't have to worry about emphasema or lung cancer. We'll die from pneumonia first.

Oh well, it gives me time to contemplate other things, like the color film I've been using for the last few months. Professional color films are designed to give optimum color under certain types of light. One kind for daylight and electronic flash, another kind for the much warmer light of tungsten bulbs. With flourescent light daylight film is close but still has trouble coping with the greenish hue. Of course a true pro would never be caught dead buying amateur film in Walgreens.

So there I was a couple months ago on a Sunday afternoon, nearly fifty miles from home near the border of Broward and Palm Beach Counties, to shoot a reception for a wedding that had actually taken place months before. The groom, a newspaper editor, was a good friend of mine going back thirty-five years or so, someone I'd worked with on a few papers and magazines. "Black & white" he'd said, "We just want black and white. No color." I checked again before leaving the house. I put a dozen rolls of black and white film in my bag and headed north.

Of course by the time I got there there'd been a change of heart. Mad dash to Walgreens! I picked up several four packs of Fuji 200 which was on sale for a tiny fraction of what the pro stuff would have cost. That's how I discovered that it works great with sunlight or tungsten, mixed tungsten and electronic flash, even the flourescents in the kitchen. Great color! And why not, when you think about it. Amateurs aren't going to carry several kinds of film. It also has brighter punchier color than the pro film, and so far people seem to love the look.

Now that I have the "color problem" solved without going nuts "color correcting" everything, and carrying nearly a dozen color filters with me everyplace, I've started shooting more color just for fun. I still prefer the look of black and white for my personal work but I've been experimenting with what I can do in color. This is one of those experiments. It would look so nuch better, though, with a touch of cigarette smoke in the air.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Interview

On patriotic occasions like Memorial day, Independance Day (better known as The Fourth of July) or Veterans' Day nothing makes the reporters and TV crews happier than finding an old veteran to photograph and interview. Well, it was Veterans' Day and the news media were out in force.

North Miami had a major news coup with the star of their Veterans' Day festivities, 103 year old Dr. Louis Stein. He's a veteran of World War II and he served a total of 27 years in the U.S. Army.

He walked from the parking lot to his seat alongside the mayor and city council in the front row with just a bit of help from his cane. Here he's fielding a barrage of questions from one of several TV stations that interviewed him. He was probably long retired well before the youngest person on those TV crews was born! Some people are truely made out of the right stuff.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Lonesome Traveler?

Over the years I've seen some strange cars at the North Miami Post Office. This one says "Everywhere I go I always take the weather w/ me". Well, they seemed to have picked a cool rainy week to visit Miami considering that this has been one of the mildest falls I can ever remember. I hung around for awhile hoping to meet the people, but I was left to assume that they were using the parking lot simply as an easy to find meeting place and left the car as they went elsewhere with friends.

After I headed the few blocks south for my morning coffee at Starbucks I looked around, listening perhaps for a dstinctive accent, but other than a few Hispanic and Haitian accents everybody else spoke the same universal dialect that has largely taken over the country as network television and movies have become the primary teacher of our children. That's been going on for several generations now. One writer referred to it as Standard North American Anglic to distinguish it from what the British call English.

When I was a kid growing up in southeastern Massachusettes you could tell what town a person was from by listening to them speak, towns only 15 or 20 miles apart. When I moved to Miami in the 1950's you could tell which blacks had decended from Bahamians and which came from north Florida and Georgia. Amongst the whites the New Yorkers here pronounced their "R's" but those from New England pretended the letter didn't exist, speaking in a fast clipped manner.

Those days are gone, long gone. And the car? I never saw it again.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Just Picking Away But It Ain't No Picnic

My ex-wife Claudia specializes in the restoration of antique (and contemporary too, at times) porcelain. Figurines, vases, lamps, all sorts of decorative pieces. You break it she can fix it. You'll never see where the breaks were when she's through gluing, filling, and sanding followed by airbrushing with lacquer, and the fine details added with a tiny brush. She's great at matching colors. If a small piece, a hand for instance, is missing, no problem. She's got a library full of books to find out exactly what the missing hand looks like and she'll recreate one.

She uses a variety of dental materials for making molds and needed pieces, the same way your dentist makes bridge work and false teeth. Going to the dentist with her is a trip! She and Howard comparing notes, talking about the latest materials and techniques, like she too was a dentist...LOL. Howard is probably a better dentist because of some of the techniques she's taught him over the years.

Usually really old pieces that break also have old repairs, having been broken and fixed before. Claudia likes to get all the old glue, paint, whatever, off of the piece and start fresh. Otherwise you risk getting a reaction between the old and the new, the glue and the paint, which just makes for frustration and more work. I've known Claudia for about twenty five years now, and although we've been divorced for perhaps fifteen years we've remained good friends. While we were together she taught me the secrets of getting the old glue and paint crud off so she would be able to put it back together properly. Now she still calls me up on occasion when she's backed up with work, and I take an X-acto knife, cotton swabs, an assortment of dental picks, and I usually work outside in her back yard so that I'm not breathing so much of the solvent fumes. This is the broken base of a large urn that had been soaking in solvent for about a week. I was able to break it apart on the old softened glue line. Here I'm picking the old glue off of the break, scraping with the tip of the knife. Claudia always makes sure that there's plenty of coffee on hand, and after I play with her dogs for a few minutes I get to work. Yes, she pays me!

Friday, November 24, 2006

Zorba The Greek? Watching The Belly Dancers

Nowadays North Miami bills itself as a diverse community, but over the last three or four decades the meaning of "diversity" sure has changed! When I first met Father Philemon Payiatis it was still legal to start a city council meeting with a prayer. Various priests, ministers, and rabbis from the city's houses of worship took turns saying the prayer so the meeting could get under way. I met and became friends with several of the local clergy, and did some photography for the various churches.But Father Phil and I became close friends. For many years I photographed the festival.

Still, diversity back then meant Jewish or Christian, everybody spoke English, and everyone was white. When the Greek Orthodox Church had their annual Greek Festival a large cross section of the community turned out for the food and festivities. You didn't have to be Greek to enjoy the food, music, and dancing with your friends and neighbors. Then the "color" of the city shifted as Carribean islanders, mostly Haitian, and various Hispanic groups started moving in. Assorted dialects of Spanish,along with Haitian Kreyole (the way they spell Creole) were heard in the shops, in the schools, on the street, everyplace! Strange looking fruits and vegetables appeared in the market. A lot of whites with school age children moved, mostly to new communities in western Broward County. This depressed housing prices and the new residents got some real bargains!

Eventually the Greek community dwindled to the point where the annual festival stopped being held. Then a couple of years ago they decided to start it up again. Father Phil is a frail old man and semi-retired now, and a new priest runs the church. The younger generation of city residents seems to get along with one another across all kinds of racial, ethnic, and religious lines.

They had a great turn-out at the festival and as usual the food was delicious! A Greek belly dancing demonstration, with girls in traditional costumes, was followed by a "Come on and join us" from the two dancers, one of whom is out of camera range. The two blonde women really gave it their best shot but the black woman, there with her daughter or kid sister, was a natural. Within minutes she had the steps, the hand movements, and the pelvic rotation absolutely perfect. When the music speeded up and the sensuous rotation turned into rapid vibration of the hips and the thighs the two blondes gave up but the black woman kept up with the Greeks no problem! She got a lot of frenzied applause which was well deserved.

Then I bought some coffee and picked out some scrumptious Greek pastries dripping with honey. A lot of people there knew me from years ago. We sat and chatted, catching up on what our kids were doing. But I kept looking at all these middle aged women, mostly a bit overweight too, and wondered which of them I'd photographed twenty five years before wearing sexy costumes as they demonstrated their belly dancing skills.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Have a great Thanksgiving

Sorry folks, no picture or story today. I'm having dinner with friends and taking a break from the blog.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

North Miami ~ Politics As Usual Or Just More Monkey Business?

Claudia, my ex, is always getting on my case with "You're a respected member of the community. You shouldn't be seen going around town carrying a raggedy old toy monkey with you!" and more recently "Get a haircut! You look like a street person!" but those of you have been following my self-portrait project over the past couple of years (and maybe have a sense of humor) likely understand that all those photographs of me in various places around town are acting. Monkey is a prop and he gets other people involved in the photographs. And the hair? It just lends variety to the way I look.

Last year I shot some black and white pictures showing me on the North Miami Board of Adjustment, and my hair was short. I don't think I had the beard then either. I started growing the beard in January after my son Jonathan was here for a visit. He had a beard so I figured that I'd see how I looked with one again.

A couple of weeks ago I was at the grand opening of the new Starbucks next to city hall and they were making a big deal of it with a big pile of snow outside. I took Monkey along for some pictures playing in the snow, a rare treat here in Miami. Check it out:

...and along comes Carol, the lady sitting next to me on the board here. She asked about Monkey, and like most females she thought that he was cute and she was quite impressed with what a sentimental caring guy I must be to still have my childhood toy after all these years. Unlike Claudia she didn't think I was nuts. (Of course she never had to live with me.) "Why doesn't he ever come to the board meetings with you? Bring him with you Wednesday night!" she said. We discussed the effect this might have on the people there to get a zoning variance and decided to just get a few shots before the meeting started.

It turned out that several items on the agenda were either postponed or withdrawn so it was a very short meeting. When my daughter Elena ran for state representitive in Georgia this year she said in her campaign literature that she first got interested in politics from going to city council meetings with me when she was a little girl. I hope that Monkey doesn't get any bright ideas about running for mayor.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Monkey Checks Out The Leica M8 At Dale Labs

The invitation had come a few weeks ago. It was Leica Day at Dale Labs in Hollywood, Florida, with Roland Wolf the Leica rep there to show all the latest goodies, the new lenses, and the long awaited Leica M8 digital camera. I decided to take Monkey along. We got to attend the Friday night reception for pros instead of Saturday when it was open to the public.

All week long Monkey sat on the table by my front door holding the invitation so we wouldn't forget. Finally Friday arrived. Monkey climbed into the bag along with some film, a Leica M3 with a 21mm f/3.4 Super Angulon lens, and a Weston Master V light meter. I also had 35mm and 90mm lenses tucked in there. It was crowded! A Leica M2R wore the 15mm Heliar that I used for these photos.

The Leica rep was dressed in black as if to prove that black fabric will really come out black in M8 photographs, but he admitted that some black fabrics, in some lighting conditions, sometimes do come out magenta. Leica's fix would be available in two weeks. It seems that an infrared cut-off filter will solve the problem. As soon as he finished showing the camera to two other guys I explained about my project and he said "sure!"

When Monkey came out of my bag Elaine spotted him from across the room. She's a member of the family that owns Dale. As I told her about Monkey she got all excited and said there were some of Monkey's friends in the office. Soon Monkey was trying to check out the M8 with the help of a fuzzy brown bear and a cute little snowman.

Monday, November 20, 2006

My Cheatin' Heart

No, I wasn't out cheating on Dawn with some sexy young thing. I was having coffee at the new Starbucks in downtown North Miami. Most of the staff was trained at the Starbucks I usually frequent so they all know me, but somehow it just doesn't feel right. It's a different atmosphere and a different crowd. Not the same old people!

Still, it's nice to be where cliques have yet to form. It makes it easier to meet new people. I was in there while the staff was still getting the place organized, about two weeks before the official grand opening. I was driving down 125th Street and noticed that the lights were on and it looked open. I drove around the block to park in the lot in the rear and I walked in.

I was warmly greeted by those on the staff that knew me, and quickly introduced to a few that didn't. I was handed my usual, a tall coffee, and I sat down at one of the tables. The place was empty except for this young lady at the next table. I struck up a conversation with her and we chatted for maybe half an hour. She was headed for the art museum just across the plaza. I never did find out her name. Still, it wasn't my familiar haunt. I felt like I was cheating.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Out Of The Past And Into The Future

I'd gone over to see the Veterans Day celebration, wandering around with my camera and one of those little American flags they always give out tucked in my shirt pocket. I heard my name being called. It was Mike Rozos in a can't miss bright red shirt! I hadn't seen him about thirty years, since he'd left his position as head of North Miami's Department of Parks & Recreation, moving away to take a bigger and better job elsewhere.

We chatted about what had gone on in our lives since the days when we were in the Jaycees together and I did a lot of photography of the city's recreational programs and the completely revamped parks, the brainchild of Mike. He really brought some big changes to the parks and the city is better off for them.

We talked about our kids, how they were now probably older than we'd been back then and about the fact that other than some grey hair we were both in pretty good shape for a pair of dudes who could order off the senior citizens menu at Denney's.

He remarked about my curly hair and beard looking pretty much the same as it was back then and that I was still wearing jeans. It took some explaining to convince him that the hair style and beard were new, that I'd run across some photos of myself from 1973 and decided it might be neat to grow it out again and get a different look to myself in my self-portrait project.

I told him about the twenty-five years or so when I was clean shaven and wore a suit and tie, served on various city advisory boards, and even made a run for city council twenty years ago. That election cycle also saw a young man of only 18 run for council. Well, Scott Galvin lost big time but came back a few years later and won. That's him, Concilman Scott Galvin, in the black suit chatting with Mike.

Mike is back in South Florida, now the Vice President of Recreational Design & Construction, Inc. of Fort Lauderdale. He's hoping to convince the city to use his firm to redo the parks again. Well, it's been thirty years! We entered into an agreement with the county school board to build some newschools onexisting park land and then build new parks where the old schools had been. Mike seems like the right man for the job. I'm really looking forward to renewing our friendship after all these years. We're meeting for lunch next week..

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Very First Time ~ In 1962

A lot of you have been following my self-portrait project that I started a couple of years ago when I purchased an ultra-wide angle 15mm lens. I'm always going around taking photographs of the places I go and the people I'm with, and I'm also in the photograph myself. Recently I've started shooting some color, although the bulk of the project has been shot in black and white and I'm planning on switching back to black and white.

Well, a couple of weekends ago Dawn was over here trying to get my house to look like it wasn't inhabited by a guy who has a penchant for throwing nothing out and has been living here alone for four or five years. She took it upon herself to attempt making mayhem out of madness, going through piles and bookcases and boxes not looked at in years. She found some of my mom's photo albums proving that Monkey was already missing his nose about the time that I was first learning to walk and she found some early photographs that I had taken when I first got interested in photography.

This one is interesting. Converse Photo Supply in New Bedford, Massachusettes had gotten in some of the first Olympus Pen cameras and I was fascinated by the tiny thing, about the size of a pack of king-size cigarettes. It took 72 pictures on a 36 exposure roll, an important factor on my student budget. The savings on film alone would cover the cost of the camera (about $20.00) in a couple of months. It had four shutter speeds from 1/25 to 1/200 of a second plus B and a 28mm f/3.5 lens. I couldn't resist!

I mostly shot black and white and developed my own, but it was late October and the leaves were turning shades of orange and yellow and red. I splurged and bought a 20 exposure roll of Kodachrome, blowing my film budget for the month between the film and the processing. I headed up to Buttonwood Park. I have no idea what moved me to think about trying to photograph myself but I exposed a few frames, holding the camera at arm's length in one hand. I really liked this shot and had a number of small prints made up, blowing my film budget for another month or so, but the girls all loved the photo. Gotta keep 'em happy!

So Dawn was busy going through all of those old photos and let out an excited "Oh my God! Is this YOU?" I have no idea where the slide is but she'd found one of those slightly faded forty-four year old prints. We talked about how strange it was that I'd done essentially the same thing all those many years ago as I do now, yet for perhaps forty-two years never even thought about pointing the camera back at myself. I'd even forgotten about the old picture.

Friday, November 17, 2006

A Veteran Veteran ~ Dr. Stein at 103

Some people got it, some don't, it seems. Dr. Louis Stein served 27 years in the U.S. Army, surviving World War II. He carries a cane but walks like he really doesn't need one. Here he's at the City of North Miami's Veterans' Day celebration sitting front and center next to Councilman Scott Galvin who wasn't even born when most of Dr. Steins crowd was retiring. To Scott's right are Councilmen Michael Blynn and Jacques Despinosse. They all got up and spoke along with Mayor Kevin Burns, because that's what we pay them to do I suppose. Speak about what a great country we have, what a great city we enjoy, and introduce the various drill units, honor guards, marching bands, soloists singing patriotic songs, from the local schools.

Dr, Stein sat patiently through all the ceremonies, watching the activities, and applauding the kids as they did their things. I'm looking forward to photographing him again next year. And yes, I know what you're thinking! But I'm reminded of something I read years ago, about a reporter interviewing a 109 year old woman. He remarked that he hoped to see her at her 110th birthday celebration. She replied "Don't worry. I'll be there!" Stunned, he asked how she could be so positive about it. "Sonny" she replied, "did you ever read the statistics as to just how few people die at the age of 109?"

See you next year, Doc!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Florida's Famous Touch Screen Voting Machines

No, Monkey didn't go to the polls with me last week. I'd already heard enough stories about poll workers hasseling people with cameras during "early voting". Yet just a few days earlier, at an early voting site Clarence Patterson, North Miami's city manager, asked me to shoot a photo of him voting. No poll workers hassled either him or me.

Anyway, it was The Official Day, it was Tuesday, it was ELECTION DAY! I showed up at the Congregational Church a couple of blocks away from my house at about ten in the morning. I guess the cars in the parking lot all belonged to poll workers. There sure were no voters there. After looking through the registered voters lists, checking my ID, and deciding that the clean shaven guy in the drivers license photo was indeed me, I was led to one of our infamous touch screen voting machines. The same ones that caused such as stir a couple of years ago during the presidential election. There's no "paper trail" and it seems that the system can be easily hacked into as well.

So there I was, the only voter in the room looking at the infernal machine with a poll worker hovering over me, asking if I understood how to use the machine, did I need any help. "I assume it's already preprogrammed to just record Republican votes!" I quipped. "Hey this is Florida!" was the reply. "Of course it is! Katherine Harris wouldn't have it any other way." Then I raised my hand holding the camera to get a self-portrait of myself voting.

The poll worker went ballistic. "You can't take pictures in here! You can't photograph people voting!" I pointed out that I was the only one in the photo and that the morning's Miami Herald had an article that didn't agree with her reasoning. I clicked off a few more frames while she was distracted by her own rant. Most people can't tell the difference between me gesticulating as I speak or my talking while I'm taking pictures. On my way out I thanked her and all the other poll workers at the long table up front for their devotion to the democratic process, and then I headed off to Starbucks for a badly needed cup of coffee. My civic duty was complete.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

We Want Our Coffee NOW!

Monkey insisted that we attend the grand opening of the brand new Starbucks on N.E. 125th Street in North Miami. No, he didn't want to go to City Hall next to the plaza or the new police station behind it. Not even visit the Museum of Contemporary Art between them. Yes, he wanted to play in the snow, but mostly he just wanted his morning coffee.

What we didn't expect was all the speeches. Speeches and more speeches! Starbucks regional manager had to thank the city. Someone from the North Miami Chamber of Commerce had to thank the company. The mayor had to welcome them to the city.

Smack dab in the middle of this photograph is Mayor Kevin Burns wearing a black suit, just standing around and chatting with people while he waited for Speech Time. After the speeches were over Kevin and the regional manager clipped the red velvet ribbon, and we finally got our hot fresh brew and samples of some fantastic pastries. Then we played in the snow for awhile and Monkey got invited to attend the Board of Adjustment meeting with me tonight. I took him, but he seemed really bored by all the arguing about whether or not a day care center belonged at a particular location, a small office building in the midst of an apartment complex. We ended up voting "not".

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Starbucks snows Monkey in North Miami

It really did snow in 1977 but this was last week in downtown North Miami at the plaza in front of the art museum. Starbucks opened a new coffee shop there, and they trucked in a load of snow, actually I suppose it's finely chipped ice, and had a machine on the roof spraying a gentle cascade of artificial snow down over everything.

Monkey spent most of his life carefully packed away by my mother. I suppose he'd played in the snow with me when I was a toddler 60 odd years ago but in 1977 I didn't even know that he still existed. That January morning my wife Stephanie excitedly woke me up before it was properly light out. "It's SNOWING! Hurry! Get up! Come see it!" she shouted.

I'm not much of a morning person but I dragged myself out of the bed, put on a robe, and followed her to the front door. I should have grabbed a camera! A light mist of snow flakes was drifting down from the grey sky. The paved street and sidewalk had enough stored heat so it melted on contact but the blades of grass had cooled enough in the night air so a light dusting of white graced the lawn and the trees. I poured a cup of coffee, lit a cigarette, loaded a camera, and went back to the door. Perhaps only fifteen minutes had gone by but the sun had peeked through the clouds, the breeze had warmed up a bit, and there wasn't a spec of white left to see. It was gone!

Anyway, I took Monkey to the Starbucks grand opening and he got to play in the snow while we had our morning coffee. We both had a great time!

I recently became aware that some other bloggers post a link to my blog on their blogs so it's only fair to reciprocate. From time to time I'll be posting a link here on The Price Of Silver. Today's link often has some interesting things but a warning! It's written like a Middle School alternative newspaper, which should be obvious from the name of the web site. Still, it's usually worth a gander. Frank will be thrilled!

Monday, November 13, 2006

...And All That Jazz!

I don't want to repeat myself so if you scroll down four posts to November 8 there's a post titled "Gimme Shelter" which describes this plaza in front of the City of North Miami's art museum, and the Friday night outdoor jazz concerts. When the city used to hold concerts at nearby Griffing Park people would just sit on the grass or bring blankets. I don't know if the brick pavers are really all that uncomfortable to sit on, or perhaps we've all just gotten older and have enough aches and pains as it is. The city sets out chairs, but if you really want to sit in a chair it's best to just bring your own. Things do get crowded at times.

Possibly it was the fact that people used to bring coolers with refreshments, and the illegality of drinking beer and wine in a public park was so much easier to overlook when the concert wasn't smack dab in front of the police station. A few drinks probably makes the ground feel softer. So would a few tokes, but you don't smell that in front of the police station for sure!

Anyway, the people are friendly, the music enjoyable, and the price of a free concert is always right. Straight across 125th Street is the Lunastar Cafe, a coffee house type place that also features live music, usually has an art exhibit, serves great food, and has a good selection of beers and wines. On this (the south) side of the street, about directly behind where my head is in the photograph, is a brand new Starbucks with outdoor seating so you can get a coffee and see the concert. There are a bunch of art galleries along N.E. 125th Street, extending a block or two in each direction, and they're often open late on concert nights. Check 'em out!

Saturday, November 11, 2006

...When I'm Sixty Four?

My soon to be wife Dawn has a remarkable memory for song lyrics. My 64th birthday was on the ninth, 2 days ago, and she called first thing in the morning singing "Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I'm sixty-four?" She can tell you what group sang it, what instrument everybody was playing, the name of the album, the whole nine yards! She still loves me.

I shot this photo a couple of days ago. This afternoon I picked up a double cheeseburger at Burger King, Claudia had an apple and a banana along with today's newspaper, and off we went to visit Carl at the nursing home. As usual Claudia made some cracks about my unkempt hair. I reminded her that Dawn liked my hair this way. I told her about what happened this morning at the city's Veterans Day program. I heard my name called out and it was Mike Rozos whom I hadn't seen in probably 25 years, maybe closer to 30. He remarked that my beard and hair hadn't changed in all that time except for a touch of grey. He'd recognized me instantly from a hundred feet away in a crowd of a few hundred people.

After we caught up on who was doing what since he left his job here as Director of Parks and Recreation all those years ago, and moved away for bigger and better things, I had a hard time convincing him that he'd missed out on seeing me during the close to 25 years I was always in suit and tie and had my hair trimmed weekly, my face shaved daily. I finally had to dig out a photo to get him to believe me. He's now back living in nearby Hollywood. We exchanged cards and promised to get together.

This afternoon was the annual Greek Festival so I decided to check out the food. With Dawn being Greek I suspect that I'll once more be spending a bit of time at the Greek Orthodox Church. I used to do a lot of photography for them years ago. Today I shot some pictures of the belly dancers and chatted with people I hadn't seen in years. I pigged out on chicken, potatoes and string beans as only the Greeks can cook them, and whatever space was left inside of me was then stuffed with Greek pastries dripping with honey. Yum!

Friday, November 10, 2006

Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary...

Most every week I take Mary grocery shopping, and she manages to make it as complicated as possible. She just celebrated her 84th birthday which means that she grew up in an era when most families didn't have an automobile and many kitchens still had an ice box rather than an electric refridgerator. The ice man brought ice every day. When you shopped you bought only what you could carry.

Every neighborhood had a cluster of stores, each with its own specialty. You bought meat at the butcher shop or meat market, fish at the fish market, bread at the bakery, etc. and the drugstore had a little luncheonette and soda fountain. Now, of course, we have super markets with about everything you might want under one roof. Mary still has the old mind-set though. She wants to go to this market because they have the best fruits and vegetables, that market because the meats are the best, still another because the butcher saves Mary the chicken heads for her cats. But that's just the start of the shopping excursion because a small local supermarket chain often has the best prices on canned goods. Well, you get the idea.

Now as Mary's eyesight is suffering from cataracts she's had to give up driving, but we live in a world that has very much evolved around the automobile. Instead of a cluster of shops every 8 or 10 blocks there's a super market every couple of miles. I keep trying to explain to her that the cost of all that driving around more than eats up whatever little savings she gets by visiting all the stores, but it's useless.

She probably just enjoys getting out for the few hours, fixing her hair just so, putting on a touch of make-up to go with one of the suits she still enjoys wearing when she goes shopping, so I put up with it. I've known her for over 25 years now, and I also know that nobody else will put up with it. I'm stuck. As healthy as she is I suspect that I've got quite a few more years of putting up with taking her shopping.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

A Double Cheeseburger & An Apple, Please

It's been over a year now since Carl had the stroke. He's long out of the hospital, but he's still living in a nursing and rehab facility. He's able to get around a bit with a walker and does great with a wheelchair. He goes to physical therapy daily and has most of the strength and control back in the hand an arm that was just hanging limp not all that many months ago. His speech is pretty much back to normal. Considering that he's 73 years old that's some amazing progress.

Claudia, my ex, visits him every week, and most times I join her. We've both known Carl since before we met one another. I've known him for nearly forty years now, ever since I did the newspaper story about about how a black shoe repairman had a successful business in a white neighborhood. Claudia met him a few years later. She had an apartment perhaps a block away from his shop and needed somebody to keep her shoes in top shape.

He hates the assorted concoctions of tasteless mush they serve at the home, better suited to people on restricted diets, and perhaps with no teeth to chew their food to boot. Claudia makes sure to always pick up some fresh fruit for Carl, and on the way over gets him a double cheeseburger at Burger King.

He was kidding me about my needing a haircut, but I reminded him about the huge Afro he sported back when we first met. I told him that he was lucky to have a good friend like me, somebody willing to grow enough hair for the two of us.

Those legs on the left? Claudia's legs. Even the extreme wide angle view of the 15mm lens wasn't enough in the tiny room. I remember the first time I met her, and those legs were the first thing I noticed about her. Two dozen years later they still look damned good.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Gimme Shelter

A couple of weeks ago I wore my Miccosukee Indian jacket because we were supposedly going to get the first Miami style cold front of the season. It never arrived, but the temperature did get down close to 70. I was attending the free Friday night Jazz concert that the City of North Miami holds in the plaza in front of MOCA, the Museum Of Contemporary Art. The plaza is also next to City Hall, and on the other side of the museum is the new police station. It keeps things nice and safe, for sure, but I kind of miss the Old Days when an evening concert was usually accompanied by the smell of pot smoke, but hey! Times change.

Now the teenagers and twenty-something guys have crew cuts (or whatever they call 'em now) or shaved heads, and the shoulder length hair and pony tails you see on men is mostly silver colored, and either surrounding a bald spot or creatively combed to cover one. The young women on the other hand have rediscovered the sixties look of hip hugger jeans and mini skirts, while for the most part their moms (and grandmothers) have enough sense to...well, let's just say that they have enough sense.

Out by 125th Street in front of the museum is one of the city's new bus benches. The county runs the bus system, and it's not a bad one either, but they make no provision to protect the bus patrons from the rain or the brutal summer sun, shield them from the chill wind, or give them a place to get some relief for their tired feet. Well, we have a fantastic city administration, and the mayor and council decided to do something about the problem. Obviously they couldn't pass by the opportunity to "Get their name in lights" at just about every intersection, but there is now not only a sheltered bench but a bus route map (on the other side) at an ever increasing number of the city's bus stops. Thanks!

Monday, November 06, 2006

You May Be Right, I May Be Crazy

I drive around town listening to the local classic rock station on the radio. Sometimes a phrase "sticks" in my mind and it seems to fit a photograph to perfection. I then use it to title one of my blog posts. Here I have a look that lends itself nicely to the phrase.

Actually, my ex-wife Claudia has been telling me that people will think I'm some kind of a kook for carrying around my early childhood favorite toy, Monkey, and using him as a prop in many of my photographs. She also keeps telling me to get a haircut, but a couple of months ago I ran across some photographs of myself from the early 1970's with this hair style (and a lot less grey...LOL) and thought it might be fun to use the style in my self-portrait project.

On the other hand my bride to be, Dawn, likes my hair this way. She's known me about ten years longer than Claudia, and she remembers me when I wore it in a tangeled mess of curls the first go round. Dawn also loves the fact that at age 64 I have this full bushy head of thick curly hair when most guys my age are well on the road to baldness. "If you have it flaunt it!" she tells me. I may still be good friends with Claudia, and she and Dawn are good friends with one another, but I know which one should be told "Yes Dear, I agree that I should wear my hair this way". Actually it's a great style. I shampoo it, use a bit of cream rinse, and just shake my head much as a wet dog shakes after going for a swim. No styling, no blow drying, no combing, no brushing. It soon gets air dry and looks like this, no effort! And both Claudia and Dawn agree that I epitomize laziness.

Laziness is a given, but craziness is in the eye of the beholder.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

....After Midnight

Strange, the things we remember and the things we forget. This scan is off a small print taken about 1981 with my camera by one of the people who was at the Christmas party. I was hired to shoot dozens of photos of everybody there posing with Santa Claus. I remember the black wool suit which I'd purchased just a few months earlier, the one that all the women always referred to as "midnight blue", but I couldn't see it. To me it was "black".

The big mystery is the young lady. What was her name? Did she work for the client? Did she work for the public relations agency that hired me? Who was the client? Which agency? Phyllis Apple Associates? Hank Meyer Associates? Joan Spector Public Relations? Any one of half a dozen other agencies? All that I'm pretty sure about was the place, Aventura Country Club.

Sometimes, seemingly out of nowhere, those details about a long ago photograph will pop into my head for no good reason. Sometimes I'm driving down the street and see something that triggers the memory to emerge out of the murk. Sometimes it's just there when I wake up one morning. Well, three days have passed since deciding to post this photo and? Nothing! Yesterday I was driving down the street and suddenly thought of some names that could go with a photo I'd posted months ago. I suppose it's time to pull that back up from the archives, click on "edit", and add the information. Sometime in the future perhaps this young lady's name will get added here.