Sunday, December 31, 2006

A Bird On Monkette's Head Is Worth Two In The Hand

Dawn decided that repainting the kitchen was as good a place as any to get started on making the house look civilized again after way too many years of looking like single-guy-lives-here-alone. Her friend Paula vounteered to help, along with Claudia, my ex. I've got a rickety old wooden ladder but Paula has a reasonably new aluminum one, one that doesn't wobble when you stand on it or do a dance as you climb the steps. That required a 25 mile drive to Paula's house, in south Miami-Dade County because the ladder fit in my truck no problem, but not in Paula's car trunk.

The girls had a great ol' time painting and chatting and cooking some dinner, but we weren't really through with the ladder yet. We took Paula home in Dawn's car while the ladder stayed. A few days later I returned the ladder and Monkette went along for the ride. When we got to Paula's house her pet bird freaked out with joy upon seeing the cute little toy monkey. After a short flight all around us she decided it was safe to perch on Monkette's head, and seemed to really enjoy the soft pleasant feel of the fur on her feet. When it was time to drive home it was difficult convincing her to let Monkette leave with me.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Decisions, Decisions. Sometimes I Really Hate Making Decisions

It's probably the first time that I've skipped a day in writing something on the blog, and the photo was there with no explanation or caption. Now it has a caption which has no relation at all to the title. Why? It got one comment in that time, a big surprise to me. Yes, I have that gaunt look of starvation about me. One of my earliest memories is of my mother begging my pediatrician for the secret to "getting my little Alan to gain some weight".

Since then I've always been looked upon as a challenge by women, as one after another they've made the futile atempt to put some weight on my bones. At 6'3" I usually range from about 158 to 164 pounds, and it's not from lack of caloric intake. The usual comment is "Oh my God! If I ate what you eat I'd be 300 pounds in no time!" Vivette did get me up past 180 for a brief time and none of my clothes fit properly. I don't know if it was from my contentment or her good Jamaican cooking, but within a month or two of our breaking up I was back down to around 160 again. Yeah, a bagle and cream cheese sounds great, as long as the bagel is toasted and dripping with butter before the cream cheese goes on.

Now as I'm about to marry Dawn she's assumed the challenge of fattening me up with her Greek cooking. She discussed it with my son and my immediate ex-wife Claudia, and even mentioned the possibility of getting some Jamaican recipes from Vivette. Time will tell.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Where Have All The People Gone?

The Miami area has filled up with both tourists and seasonal winter residents, but you'd never know it at my local Starbucks, no matter how insane the traffic is on U.S. 1 where it goes right by the front of the place. There are usually lots of people here, students mostly, from the four nearby university campuses, sitting around and chatting or studying from early morning until late at night, but not these days.

A few days before Christmas a lot of them went home for the holidays, while others traveled to other places on vacation. I guess by the end of next week things will be back to normal again. Monkette enjoyed her outing, though, and the staff supplied her with a tiny Starbucks cup as a prop to use in the photos. I'll have to take her back there in another week or two, when the place is crowded once more. In the meantime I'm actually able to read most of the newspaper while drinking my morning coffee.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

'Twas The Week Before Christmas...

...and not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse! I couldn't believe how deserted the Target store was that morning. The parking lot was nearly empty, the shelves neatly stocked, and a few of the check-out lanes were staffed but empty. When I drove by the day before Christmas the parking lot was jammed and I was glad I'd shopped early and gotten it out of the way.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Grandpa Al Checking Out The Monkeys At The Toy Store

Nope, I didn't buy one for little Gabriella. I couldn't find one cute and cuddly enough. Nothing at all like my Monkey from my own childhood. Nothing like Monkette that Todd Frederick bought as a companion for Monkey when he flew out to San Francisco for a photo shoot and came back sporting an earing.

Now for the next few days I won't have much time to look because my son Jonathan, along with his wife Deborah and little Gabriella, are here in North Miami visiting. Todd did make up a couple of cute prints of Monkey and Monkette which I framed to hang in Gabriella's room back in Massachusettes. I still remember the pictures of Donald Duck and Goofy that I had in my room as a baby. I have no idea of what ever became of them. Hopefully I'll find the right monkey and mail it to her.

I've been going around shooting lots of pictures since they got here, both black & white and color. Some with the 15mm on theBessa L and some with the 40 Summicron-C on my Leica CL. Thursday we're planning a trip to the nearby Enchanted Forest park to get some more formal shots of the family. By next year Gabriella will be big enough to break the law and feed the ducks swimming in Arch Creek which runs through the park. As a kid I loved feeding pieces of bread to the ducks in Buttonwood Park in New Bedford.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Another Neighborhood Christmastime Get Together

The wood roofed shed attached to the rear of the house looks straight out of the 1950's, and you half expected to see an old Ford pick-up hitched up to a trailer carrying an air boat, ready to go at a moments notice out to the Everglades for some bass fishing or maybe some deer hunting. People just don't build sheds like that anymore, at least in town they don't, and the Everglades which started a few miles to the west at U.S. 27 not that many years ago? Now you need to drive through another couple dozen miles of bumper-to-bumper congested roads in the subburbs before you can get anywhere near places where bass can be caught or deer hunted.

On the other hand, one creature which was on the endangered list twenty years ago, the alligator, is thriving just fine and adapting nicely to urbanization by eating ducks (and the occasional dog) in urban canals and golf course ponds, and they even show up in backyard swimming pools on occasion. Just a few days ago there was a story in the paper about some guy who makes a living (a good one too, it seems!) diving for lost golf balls in country club lakes. A big 'gator grabbed him, but a couple of bystanders managed to get him free with no life threatening wounds.

But here I was, visiting some nearby members of one of the local civic organizations, probably the homeowners association, and ultimately people are people. After dinner the ladies clean up the kitchen and then sit around the living room chatting about what ladies chat about while the guys go out back. Notice the big screen TV in the background. Can't miss the game now, can we? And on the right is a refrigerator (right next to the washing machine) so there was plenty of beer and ice. Councilman Jacques Despinosse has to learn to relax more though, loosen up a bit, and try going just one evening not wearing a tie and jacket.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Congressman Charles Rangel and I Practicing Our Smiles

I guess this was about 15 years ago at one of Congressman Bill Lehman's monthly breakfasts at Turnberry Isle Country Club in Aventura. Most every month he'd have some well known Democrat talking about something or another of local or national interest, and reminding the voters here what a great, dedicated, and hard working guy he was. This was Charles Rangel's turn, and then of course when Bill would be in New York he'd return the favor.

Things have changed a lot over the thirty odd years. The novelty of seeing a black congressman is long gone, and when Bill's old district was split up during the last "redistricting" Alcee Hastings and Carey Meek, both black, won office. When Carey retired a couple of years later her son Kendrick won the seat.

I did all of Bill's photography, starting when he first ran for congress, and throughout his twenty year stint there. has some more info on Charles Rangel's latest adventures in the U.S. Congress. He's still going strong and a powerful and influential man there .

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Party Time

I just love this time of year, except that I can't find a parking place at most of the places I go to on a regular basis. What's great, though, are the places that I don't go to all that often, like the good folks in my fishing club, the South Florida Fishing Club, or the Central North Miami Homeowners Association hosting backyard barbeques, and members who rarely show up at the monthly meetings seemingly come out of the woodwork for the food, festivities, and drink.

Factor in the office parties and the regular monthly breakfasts and luncheons that are gussied up for The Holidays, and it's a wonder that no matter what I do I can't seem to gain any weight. Well, this was at a party in a nearby backyard a few weeks ago, and I placed myself where I'd be illuminated by a red flood light in the garden. Sometimes this "works", sometimes not, and I wish my face filled a bit more of the frame. I guess that if I was a Photo-Shoppin' digi-freak I could "fix" that, but this was good old fashioned amateur color film, Fuji 200, straight out of the Bessa L which was sporting my favorite lens, the 15mm Heliar.

Tonight at 6 PM I'm heading over to another holiday party hosted by afishing club member. Right now it's a heavy drizzle as that front moves through, but inside or out I plan on shooting some film. I'm thinking that it might be time to start using some B&W again. I have nearly 30 rolls of Ilford HP5 in the fridge and I miss playing in the darkroom.

There's a young woman photograher, Danielle Stolman, who shoots for a small newspaper and is also getting her wedding photography business up and running. She recently started her own blog which you might want to take a peek at, and perhaps even post some kind words of encouragement for her:

Friday, December 22, 2006

Waiting For Gabriella

A few months back Monkey, my childhood toy, climbed into a Priority Mail box for the flight to San Francisco where he was a guest of Todd Frederick for a few weeks, seeing the sights. He came back wearing an earring and brought his new girlfriend, Monkette, back with him as well.

Well, Monkey is a bit old and he's quite content to just sit around the house all day in his chair, but Monkette thinks that going to Starbucks with me is pretty cool. What I find strange is that Monkey attracts females of all ages, but for the most part they just ignore Monkette. I wasn't yet a toddler when I first got Monkey and in two days my new three month old granddaughter Gabriella is coming to visit. I'm interested in seeing her reaction to my toy monkeys. Stay tuned!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Facing East

Dawn has been helping me rearrange my house to look like civilized people actually live here. She bought me a genuine computer desk to use instead of the decrepit table I'd used for the past five years or so. This has me facing the east wall of the room instead of looking out the west window at that damned overheight fence. Remember that fiasco about a year ago? Me getting the shit beat out of me by the neighbor's contractor? Check the blog archives.

Well, finally Clarence Patterson, the city manager came over a couple months ago and he agreed that the fence was a few inches over height, and that the post holes had never been inspected for depth or being set in concrete. He finally got me to agree to let it stay if they dug alongside a few posts to check for depth, and probed with a metal rod to check them all for concrete footings. The city council also moved Code Enforcement out of Public Works, where it never should have been to begin with. The city now has it as a seperate independant department with its own director with some real college education in the subject, somebody who didn't come up through the ranks from auto mechanic at the motor pool. Now I'm hearing from all over the city that code enforcement is much improved. I'm still waiting for an apology from the neighbor, or perhaps even from the director of Public Works. He was, after all, the one ultimately responsible for my black eye.

Now when I sit here at the computer I get to look at various framed photographs and other art work on the wall. What I really need in here is a good sound system, and maybe even hook up my turntable. I still have hundreds of 12" vinyl albums from the 60's and 70's that I'd love to listen to again. Analog sound is the best! Even Bob Dylan says so.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Smelling Like Garlic

Half a century ago North Miami had a sizeable Italian population, probably an equal number of Jews, and the rest was a hodge-podge of plain 'ol white Americans. There was a small black neighborhood, but it was just across the city's northern border in North Miami Beach. Marcella's was the place to eat spaghetti, or go for pizza on a date after a football game. She started out making pizzas in a bar owned by her husband. The pizza business prospered and grew. She moved from the little bar on 139th St. to to a great corner location just across the street at 12th Ave. and West Dixie Highway. It was the place to order pizza, and she had several three wheel motor scooters zipping all over town making deliveries. She opened another location on Miami Gardens Drive, and then a third in Freeport, in the Bahamas.

Eventually Mario The Baker opened almost across the street from Marcella's on West Dixie Highway. There was more than enough enough business to go around. Then she got in trouble with the IRS, the story goes, and things came crashing down. Mario prospered, but still there was competition a couple miles to the south. Mama Jennie's on N.E. 2nd Ave. had her fans too. Like most culinary experiences everybody has their favorites. I think people mostly still agree that Marcella's garlic rolls remain unequaled but I'm willing to drive past Mario's just a few blocks away to get to Mama Jennie's when I want some great spaghetti, and the rolls are nearly as good Marcella's, if my memory allows. I was so excited over the taste of the garlic roll I was biting into that I screwed up aiming the 15mm lens in this shot so I'm barely in the frame, and then my fingers got so covered with garlic and olive oil that I decided not to mess up my Bessa camera and just eat the food.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Painted Red

A few weeks ago Dawn started the "Big Move" by getting together with her friend Paula, who now lives in the southern part of Miami-Dade County, and my ex, Claudia who lives a few blocks away from me. They're all friends. The girls had a "painting party" and we now have a magenta kitchen. Then this past weekend her friend Tom and his son Morgan drove down from Tampa in his extended cab F350 pick-up truck towing a trailer full of some of Dawn's furniture, boxes, and a stove that actually works. I was down to one functioning burner on the old stove, but with a microwave, an electric fry pan, a toaster, a coffee maker, and a toaster oven who needs multiple burners, right? Well, it seems that women actually use stoves for cooking!

We had to take the oven door off the old stove to fit it through the back door of the house. Somehow the oven door didn't make it out to the trash pile. It was still on the back porch next morning when somebody made off with the old stove.

Another of Dawn's kitchen remodeling ideas was a fancy light fixture to replace the ceiling fan, and here you can see Tom taking down the fan as his son Morgan hands things to him. A couple of shadeless table lamps supplied the light until the fixture was installed. Tom also replaced a light switch so the front porch light now works for the first time in months.

Monday, December 18, 2006

In The Groove?

Strange, I seem to have started something with this style of photography. Other people are giving it a try, some with a 15mm lens like I use, others with a slightly less wide angle like a 21mm that they might already have, or even the 47mm Super Angulon on the larger 6x9cm format. Todd Frederick writes:

"Al, on the wide angle thread I posted on filmlives, they want you to join in. Want me to post one of you photos on the WA thread?

Take a look and read Pico's comment. "

Before I got that Email from Todd, as I was looking at this photograph on the computer screen, and I'm not kidding by saying this, It got me to wondering just how so many of these arm's length "self-portraits" end up with the design elements and composition that they do, including such seemingly random happenings as the girl's head exactly lined up with the groove in the masonary, the timing just perfect to catch her just as she emerges from behind the stone base. There was no way I could have even known that she was there!

After a few years of shooting these 15mm self-portraits I've developed a sixth sense, I suppose, for posing myself as well as composing so I know where I'll be in the frame. I guess I take the occasional gander behind me so my subconcious at least knows what's there, but I'm still amazed at the relationships I capture between myself and the background, my surroundings, the lighting. On a 24 exposure roll I'll shoot maybe an average of six situations, and usually come up with one useable shot from each.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Just Reading The Morning Paper

Starbucks again, the Miami Herald on my lap. I always try to read the local news section first, then I attack national and world, in that order, as time allows. In the morning and early afternoon there are usually a few older guys (mostly) hanging out but there's little in the way of conversation. A bit perhaps, about the latest doctor's visit, maybe how business is doing, or family coming or going, but nothing like the heated discussions amongst the students from the four nearby university campuses. Those I find exciting!

The morning crowd is not only older but for the most part white and male and English speaking. Sure, there are some Russian and German accents tossed in with the Spanish, but my generation of white "Americans" pretty much stays to itself.

When I first started dating Vivette 16 years ago heads would turn when we entered a restaurant. Yeah, she was tall and good looking, but to see a white guy appproaching fifty years of age walking arm in arm with a black Jamaican woman was not a common sight. Now I see mixed race couples all the time amongst the college students, as well as groups of girls, who are obviously best friends, planning the weekend's shopping excursion to the mall. The guys tend to group up according to their interest in sports, or what their major is.

And here in the residential neighborhoods nearby? I see some mixed race couples with kids as well as some very white looking women pushing baby carriages or walking with their kids. Twenty years ago the whites with kids had fled as black Carribean islanders had bought houses in the neighborhood. The schools had pretty much turned black. Now the process has reversed. But my age group? I have no idea where the black guys my age hang out, but when I come back for my afternoon coffee in a few hours I'll most likely be sitting with a table full of black, white, Hispanic, male, female...It's a process not yet complete but the world is changing! I love it!

Friday, December 15, 2006

Outside The North Miami Chamber of Commerce - At Last

I first became involved with the Chamber of Commerce when I was shooting for the North Dade Journal and also the City of North Miami. The Chamber sponsored the annual Miss North Miami Pageant and they needed photographs of the girls for newspaper publicity and for their program. Penny Valentine pretty much produced the pageant herself, twisting arms to get "volunteers" to help out, twisting more arms to get advertisers in the program book, sponsors for the contestants themselves, and then selling tickets to both the pageant and the Miss North Miami Pageant Ball.

One of our Miss North Miami winners, Sandra Santiago, ended up playing the lead female detective in the Miami Vice TV series. Greenwich Studios, where Miami Vice was headquartered is less than a mile away from here. This year we finally made the Big Time when Miss North Miami Jenna Edwards was crowned Miss Florida.

Penney and her husband Bill Valentine were realtors before "retiring", and Bill was on the City Council for a number of years. Now, when most folks would be glad to be celebrating at least a decade of retirement, they're both still active and at the Chamber office everyday, and neither of them looks their age, not even close!

The office is at the corner of West Dixie Highway and N.E. 131st St. The coffee pot is always on. There's parking behind the building. Whatever you need to know about North Miami you can find out at the Chamber. I still end up going to a couple of meetings a month here even though I'm not currently on the board of directors.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Groceries For The Cat House

About a month ago Mary moved into a "new" trailer. It's smaller than her "old" trailer but it's closer to the convenience store and the bus stop. She still has the same landlord but she's payng a bit less rent. There's also a small concrete block storage building on the lot, to the left in the lower photo.

I guess he figures that he can clean up her old trailer, maybe slap some paint on the walls and install some cheap carpeting and perhaps get even more money than Mary had been paying. On the other hand, living in a trailer with a small dog and perhaps a dozen cats, and being too old to really keep things clean, frankly the place stunk! You'd have to have one hell of a head cold to not notice.

Here we'd just gone to the grocery store and Mary was carrying the bags inside as I took them from the truck to the trailer. There was a time when I would have then gone inside and she'd make a pot of coffee. These days I'd rather buy her a cup at the nearby Starbucks before we go shopping. Starbucks doesn't smell like a litter box. I guess she can't smell it.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Who, What, Where, When, and Why?

The Five W's, what every news story has to answer. Basic Journalism 101 if you didn't already learn it in high school, or before.

Since I started carrying that 15mm lens equipped Bessa camera everyplace I go, and I'm not out shooting for some publication or another, I've gotten lazy. I almost always have a pen with me, and most of the time I have a folded sheet of paper or two in my shirt pocket. That harks back to the days where I'd meet the reporter at the location and without fail the first question (directed at me, of course) was "Hey, Al, you don't happen to have a pen on you, do you?" usually followed by "Got any paper?" Imagine going out on a photo assignment and asking the reporter if he happened to have a few rolls of Tri-X handy.

Well, I'm reasonably sure that this was a backyard barbeque with a bunch of folks from the South Florida Fishing Club, likely following one of our tournaments. We have several new members that I wouldn't easily recognize, and since the wives for the most part hang out with one other during the club meetings I don't know many of them anyway. I suppose I should go back to carrying a notebook, taking names, all that stuff, if I'm going to keep doing this blog. Too much like work! Hell, I didn't even get my aim right in this shot. My face is off camera to the left!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Sometimes Everything Just Falls In Place...Perfectly!

I don't remember what the reason was for giving Mary a ride to see the doctor a few weeks ago. She's always complaining that they give her so many appointments just so they can bill Medicare. Anyway, a couple of years ago her vision had gotten to the point where she decided to give up driving. I think she was 82 at the time. I promised to take her to the grocery store every week, and when I can I take her to her doctor appointments also. The city has a little shuttle bus that will take her for free, even picking her up and dropping her off right at her house. This usually means getting to the doctor's office an hour or two early and perhaps waiting afterwards for perhaps another hour to get the ride home. Then she still doesn't get her shopping done.

I usually just take her. Sometimes I leave her and she calls me on my cell when she's ready to go. Other times, like this one, I go in with her, watch the soaps on the TV or read the newspaper, and usually get some info from the doctor about the state of her health so I can tell her if I think maybe she needs to go back and see him again if I don't think that her latest prescription is working correctly. Then we go to the grocery store and do some shopping. On occasion I'll take her to Starbucks. She loves her coffee and still smokes cigarettes. She did give up on the brandy, though, a few years ago.

She has no children of her own and what's left of her family, a couple of elderly brothers, live in Pennsylvania. I've known her for nearly 30 years now, so I guess that makes me "family" in her mind. She's still quite independant and lives with a small dog and a bunch of cats in a little trailer. Going into a nursing home would destroy her.

So here we are in the doctor's waiting room. The ceiling fixture of little spot lights makes for some interesting light patterns on the wall, nothing like the usual boring flourescents would make. She wasn't feeling well and it shows, and I guess you could say that I'm striking a pose for the benefit of the camera in my left hand. Half an hour later she'd been convinced that there was really nothing wrong with her and was suddenly looking chipper again as she pushed a shopping cart through the nearby Publix Market. The only help she needed was lifting a 40 pound sack of cat food into the cart.

Monday, December 11, 2006

All Those Thrilling Board Meetings

I was photographing for a weekly paper called The North Dade Journal back in the late 1960's, and one of the things I covered was the local North Miami political scene, including city council meetings and some advisory board meetings. I thought of myself as the hippy photographer back then, complete with bell bottom jeans and shoulder length hair, but it wasn't long before I was asked if I was a city resident and would I like to serve on the Youth Opportunity Board.

Within a few years I was vice chair of the city's planning commision and on the boards of directors of the N.M. Chamber of Commerce, North Dade YMCA, and the North Miami Mayor's Economic Task Force. I chaired the mayor's re-election campaign and ran for city council myself. I was constantly attending breakfasts, luncheons, and dinners. At least I was eating for free. I was always dressed in suit and tie and at some point during the early 1970's my long hair was sacrificed. But I had no time for myself. It was always run here, run there. I tried to resign from a few of the positions but it was always "Oh no, Al, we need you!"

Finally about a dozen years ago my mother died. That was my excuse. I resigned from everything! I started fishing again. I'd recently gotten a new lady in my life. Life was getting good once more. A few more years went by. My friend Scott Galvin decided to run for council again. He got elected. He had board positions to fill, appointments to make. My phone rang. First it was just the Board of Adjustment, and I was surprised to discover that I was overdressed when I showed up in suit and tie. Then other less important "opportunities" kept arrising and good ol' Al said "yes" again. Now it's not just the casual clothes, but my hair seems to slowly getting back to where it once was. I grew a beard again. Hippy Al. My ex is always on my case about it. She says that as a "respected member of the community" I shouldn't look like a "street person". On the other hand my fiance looks at my thick mess of curley hair and says that at my age "If you got it flaunt it". So here I am at one or another of those seemingly endless meetings sitting around the table discussing Important City Business. The city is in good hands.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Fix It Up And Set It On Fire?

Well, perhaps not intentionaly, but this place had only recently had new shingles put on the roof and new siding installed on the sides, a fancy textured concrete driveway was put in front, and very likely extensive interior improvements as well. Then somehow a fire started. It looks like it was mostly just in that front bedroom on the right side of the house. They were lucky! This was probably the last development in North Miami before they started requiring houses to be built of concrete block construction.

Right after World War II there was a big demand for housing. This development in North Miami is known as the Roads Section, running from 131st Street to 135th Street between N.E. 14th Ave. and N.E. 16th Ave. The streets run at angles to the streets and avenues in the surrounding area and are called "roads" and "lanes". They're mostly curved or even gentle "S" shapes.

Even though these wooden houses were built long before the current "hurricane proof" building codes went into effect they've survived many storms that have leveled more recent "better" concrete construction. The one thing that wood can't stand, though, is fire. Fortunately one of the city's fire stations is but 5 or 6 blocks south of here, right on N.E. 16th Ave. I never did find out the reason for the fire but it was soon extinguished.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Too Damned Warm For Snow, Too Damned Cold For Monkey

It must be thirty years now at least since North Miami started its Winternational Festival, tying it in with the Thanksgiving Day Parade as a way of kicking off the Christmas shopping season and hoping to reinvigorate the 125th Street shopping district. Didn't happen! The malls were too firmly entrenched, the local shops too shoddy or "neighborhood oriented". But the parade and festival survived and prospered.

In more recent years high end antique shops started to replace the second hand shops. The city built a new police station in the heart of downtown as well as the Museum Of Contemporary Art, more commonly called MOCA. That attracted a good number of art galleries. The whole flavor of the shopping district changed. Recently we knew we'd made it when the Starbucks opened!

So here we are, with the Starbucks behind Monkey's head in the photo, and trucked in "snow", finely chipped ice actually, piled up for the kids to play in and then soon melt in the eighty degree Florida "winter" air. Anyway, it sure looked nice and some parents did bring their kids to experience the snow, something most had only seen in movies and on TV.

Nowadays we have a lot of city residents of Carribean decent, Haitian, Jamaican and some Cuban mostly, so there's not the "snow tradition" of Americans from the northeast and midwest, or Europeans from Germany, Scandinavia, and the British Isles. But kids are kids. Snow is irresistable. They had fun.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Links In A Growing Chain

A week or so ago I wrote that I'd start including some links to other blogs, interesting websites, and photography forums. Here's one by Jorge Torralba that you can access at . Thanks, Jorge!

Starbucks just constructed a new coffee shop just to the right of what shows in this photo, and North Miami City Hall is just to the left of what shows in the picture. The mostly white builting is the new police department headquarters while the building on the left is MOCA, the Museum Of Contemporary Art. The little former street, N.E. 6th Court, between City Hall and Starbucks got paved over with bricks and became pedestrian a only plaza, with outdoor seating for enjoying your coffee while having a smoke. All along N.E.125th Street behind me are art galleries, boutiques, and antique shops, along with a more traditional type of coffee house with live jazz and folk music along with art exhibits also. Alexis Sanfeld opened The Lunastar Cafe perhaps 7 or 8 years back. Since it's the only place like this place near this place it's gotta BE the place, right? She also has a selection of food and imported beer and wine. Starbucks doesn't carry those things. Alexis is a trip!

Oh goody! Now you faithful readers have two websites to check out and I can go out for some coffee :-)

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

North Miami Police Honor Guard at the Veterans' Day Parade

The City of North Miami had a parade and memorial ceremony for the city's veterans on Veterans' Day. Here is the police department's honor guard. The city's oldest vet was attending at age 103.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Monkey Checks Out The New Starbucks

...but we decided that we didn't like it as well as the one we've been going to for the past couple of years. Sure, this one is right there in front of the Museum Of Contemporary Art, also known as MOCA, and next to North Miami City Hall. They blocked off N.E.7th Ct. and paved it with bricks making for a nice large outdoor plaza, but parking is less convenient and it doesn't get the vibrant crowd of college students that frequesnt the Starbucks at 135th St. and Biscayne Blvd. It's too quiet, and while it tries to be "arty" it's really quite staid.

Of course Monkey is about ready to retire. He reminded me that I started to collect Social Security when I turned 62 a couple years back, and we have documentation in the form of photographs to show that Monkey is at least 62 now himself. I tried explaining to him that he's never paid into the system but it's not easy convincing a senile old toy. Monkey wants to apply anyway. He suggested that we could at least drive up to Ft. Lauderdale and go by the district office of Congressman Alcee Hastings. That might just work, too! Alcee would probably love to have a photograph of himself with monkey hanging on his office wall.

Even though Monkey is getting old and frail he came back from his recent San Francisco trip with a sexy young hussy by the name of Monkette (thank you Todd Frederick) who'd convinced him to start wearing a gold earing in his left ear. Monkette is eager to check out the sights here in North Miami even if Monkey is lazily sitting at home watching TV while waiting for the checks to arrive. Whether or not Alcee and Monkey pull of the Social Security stunt of the new century I promised Monkette that I could cover her cappucino tab. She should start showing up on The Price of Silver in a week or so. Let's all give her a warm welcome!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Sitting By The Crossroads Once Again

Here I am back at my favorite Starbucks enjoying the evening air, watching the people come and go. The place is right at the corner of U.S. 1, alias Biscayne Blvd., and N.E. 135th St. which heads west to Interstate 95. We're within a couple dozen blocks the campuses of Miami-Dade College and Florida International University to the north, with a couple more institutions of higher learning, Barry University and Johnson and Wales University nearby to the south.

Sometimes when there's nobody around to talk to, like during school breaks or exam week, I just sit and think about what I want to write, or what new direction I might take my photography. This was one of those nights, just as tonight is. The night I shot this I had a copy of The Rangefinder, a professional photography magazine, to try to jog my creative juices into flowing. Tonight though, I was lucky enough to get some Emails from two other talented photographers featuring some of their latest work. I'd like to share their sites with you folks.

Ronald Moravec sent me this portfolio, photographs in the woods, the leaves in their full autumn glory still on trees standing in the snow. He sometimes uses a 15mm lens like mine, although I don't think that he shot all of these with the 15. He also seems more adept than me at staying out of his own photographs...LOL. He writes:

"the one with the brown leaves on the small tree to the left side was with your favorite CV15. M6- mostly 35mm New Fuji 160s Profesional. This seems to be really nice film that scans very well."

...and Todd Frederick, the genius with photoshop, who scans and posts the photos on my blog for me, prefers experimenting with cheap plastic "toy" cameras like the Holga. Here's a site featuring some of his latest photos:

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Veterans' day ~ Before The Program

These ladies were handing out little American Flags to people who showed up for the North Miami Veterans' Day program. I made a donation and propped one of the flags jauntily in my shirt pocket so it would show in my photos of the occasion.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Planning The Tournament ~ Serious Buisiness At The South Florida Fishing Club

Guys love competition and nothing guarantees a good turn out at a meeting of the South Florida Fishing Club like planning a tournament. At various times of the year we have a kingfish tournament and a dolphin (also called dorado and mahi-mahi) tournament where the biggest fish is the winner. We also have annual tournaments for sailfish and tarpon where the most released fish is the winner. They still have to be a minimum length but since neither one is very good to eat it's best to just catch them for fun and let them go again.

Tarpon are an inshore species and I've won several nice trophies for the most releases. The other fish are offshore species and I tend to get seasick so I act as the club weighmaster, keeping track of who catches the biggest dolphin or kingfish. Usually somebody will give me a mess of fish to take home so I bring a cooler full of ice with me. After the weigh-in we have a barbeque in someone's back yard with all the boats rafted up at the dock.

Friday, December 01, 2006

A Last Look At Mary Poh's Old House Trailer

This was the last time I dropped Mary off at this trailer after taking her to a doctor's appointment. Last week I helped her move her belongings, her little dog, and her collection of "inside" cats to her "new" trailer a couple blocks away. I guess the "outside" cats, strays really, that hang around because she feeds them, will find the new place on their own, along with the racoons and the occasional possum that ventures out of the nearby wooded area for a free meal.

The new place is smaller and doesn't have the screened porch, but it's owned by the same landlord and the rent is less. It's also closer to the neighborhood convenience store and the bus stop. I might even get back in the habit of buying some pastry and going over there to join her for afternoon coffee a few times a week. At 84 her housekeeping habits have slipped a bit, and with all those cats around the place often smells a bit more than I want when I'm having coffee and danish. Hopefully she'll stay ahead of the game with a smaller place to maintain. She's actually a very bright college educated woman who reads the newspaper everyday. She can be very interesting to talk with, and she discusses everything from antiques to politics.