MY TRAVELS PART 5A TO SIDNEY, AUSTRALIA   Leave a comment

TO SIDNEY

I left Auckland, New Zealand, on Saturday, July 29, sad to go but looking forward to more adventures. I arrived in Sidney, Australia, and was taken to the Crest Hotel which was in the heart of Kings Cross, which really didn’t mean anything to me until I started walking around and realized it was the Australian version of Greenwich Village. I have only vague memories from 42 years ago but I do remember buying a beautiful Opal ring for Bernie and I bought myself a green stone ring with the head of a knight carved into it. I don’t know what happened to Bernie’s ring but I do know many years later I cracked my ring and had a plain green stone put in it and wore it for many St. Patrick’s days. A few years ago I gave it to Chuck.

One thing I do remember about Sidney was that bars closed at 9 PM. Do they still? Did they in Auckland? I did go to a bar on the edge of a park and I ate in a restaurant across from the park. I remember the restaurant was a long narrow room and, obviously, people didn’t tip (or was it on the check?) because the server asked if I was an American and I nodded my head I definitely remember he said, with a big smile on his face, “I hope more Americans come and visit us!”

I do remember walking down to the harbor and seeing the Sidney Opera House which wasn’t quite finished and wouldn’t open until 1973 but it already had that distinct look that would make it a symbol all over the world. I, also, remember not taking the tour of the city I was booked for but I don’t remember why. Hung-over? Drunk? My itinerary does say it was an afternoon drive.

It might have been that the night before that I went to the Shakespeare Bar, a 3 story building, that was unique in that the first floor served nongay couples, the second floor gay men and the third floor gay women—remember this was 1972! I sort of recalled it was near, or maybe attached, to a hotel of the same name. I, also, met two guys who took me on a tour of gay bars of which I only remember one. I don’t remember the name of the place or where it was though it seemed to have been away from the Kings Cross section but I do remember, to this day, what I saw!

Posted July 14, 2014 by greatmartin in TRAVEL

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FIRSTWATCH–THE DAYTIME CAFE–FORT LAUDERDALE–REVIEW   Leave a comment

Having been a server for over 38 years the last thing I would do would be to walk in a place that is closing in 10 minutes, but, unaware, that is just what I did. When I realized what I had done I apologized to our server Lindsay and she explained that it wasn’t a problem as she still had side work to do and there were still 3 other parties who hadn’t finished. She won me right there with her attitude !

So there is no misunderstanding the restaurant is open 7 AM-2:30 PM!

The restaurant itself is spacious and overlooks a plaza with a water fountain and as you approach the plaza there is a huge mural depicting a sunny Florida sky. The whole Sea Ranch Center is very inviting and there is plenty of free parking.

As large and as inviting as the FirstWatch in inside they also have an attractive large space for dining outside.
The menu is attractive and makes you want to try everything starting with the Siesta Key Cocktail or the Pesto Chicken Quinoa Bowl. We didn’t want to keep them any longer than we had to so I ordered the Reuben (($7.99) and Allen had the open face Chicken salad melt ($7.99) both served with an order of soup or salad. Our drinks, his diet soda and my coffee, were $2.39 each and the latter served in a steel carafe. The check came to $22.01 including tax plus tip. I don’t remember where I got it but I had a 2-4-1 coupon so the check was finally $13.54. Due to Lindsay’ attitude, especially when she mentioned she was off to another job and didn’t rush us, and knowing we kept her a little later we left her a $10 tip, well worth it.

A friend mentioned looking for some good Eggs Benedict and without hesitation I recommend The FirstWatch, ‘the daytime café‘, to her!

Posted July 12, 2014 by greatmartin in DINING REVIEW

“DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES”–MOVIE REVIEW   Leave a comment

 

Comes February, 2015, an ape may win the Best Actor Oscar as Andy Serkis gets first billing as Caesar deservedly if nothing else but for the acting he does with his eye. Very close behind him is Toby Kebbell as Koba, another ape. None of the actors playing humans such as Jason Clarke, Gary Oldman, Keri Russell and Kodi Smit-McPhee stand a chance when they are on screen with the aforementioned apes or the other ape actors like Judy Greer, Karim Konoval and Nick Thurston.

First and foremost I must emphasize that “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” must be seen on the BIG movie screen just as “Gravity” had to be seen in a movie theatre to really be appreciated.

The only other ‘Ape” movie I have seen was the very first in 1968 and just the production values from makeup to costumes to special effects since then is a show in itself. It is beyond my comprehension how visual effects supervisors Joe Letteri and Dan Lemmon achieved what they do in this movie.

The direction gets the strong hand that it needs from Matt Reeves. The script writers Mark Bomback, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver follow the trend and true westerns of the past with bad guys and apes versus good guys and apes, including a high noon shoot out and a major draw dropping fight out between the hero and villain–no, not who you think!

The bottom line is that “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” has to be seen in a movie house on the large or it will be just another meaningless movie. Get ready for an ape to win the major acting prizes!

Posted July 11, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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MY TRAVEL TO NEW ZEALAND PART 4   Leave a comment

 

In the 1970s we didn’t have digital and/or compact cameras, consequently I didn’t bring a camera along with me when I went to New Zealand. I also, remember thinking that I could pick up postal cards as they had better pictures than I could take. Big mistake! I don’t have a single picture of my trip to New Zealand!

I arrived in Auckland, New Zealand, and immediately fell in love with it! I stayed at the Logan Park Hotel on the top of a hill and I burst out laughing with my first view out the window. Across the street was a huge area of grass and there were sheep grazing. The bellman explained that it was a lot cheaper than hiring someone to mow the grass and, maybe being a naïve tourist I believed him!

Sober or drunk there are some things I will never forget about Auckland, one being the people I met starting with my leaving the hotel the first time. I had the Damon’s gay guide in one hand and a map of Auckland in the other and I had asked at the front desk where Queens Street was and they told me to make a left leaving the hotel and then another left, walk down the hill and it would take me there. In a short time I found myself at Queens street but had no idea where to go to find the gay bar in the guide. I, obviously, looked like a tourist and a young, good looking guy stopped and asked if he could help me and I told him the place I was looking for. He told me to follow him and it wasn’t long before we were down by the Princess and Queens wharves and he pointed the bar out to me. I asked him to join me for a drink but he said he wasn’t that way—I forget the term he used but I got the message right away. He told me to have a good time and hope I enjoyed my stay.

I don’t know how much, if any, things have changed in Auckland city since the 70s regarding bars but to me it was like a whole new world. You went up to the bar, ordered you drink, paid and then went to waist high tables where other men were drinking. I quickly learned that unless you specified ice when you ordered scotch you got it straight. There were 3 or 4 guys at the table and I noticed one smoking so I lit a cigarette. I stood there smoking and sipping my scotch when one of the guys, finishing his drink, asked what we were drinking, went to the bar and bought us all a round. Was he cruising? I didn’t know. Another guy took out a cigarette and offered all of us, including me with a cigarette in my hand, one. I held mine up and said, “No thank you. I already have one lit.” As soon as I spoke and they heard my accent the other guys turned into being my best friends. They couldn’t stop asking me questions about the “States” and they explained the ritual of offering cigarettes and buying rounds of drinks for everyone at the table. They seemed to be shocked that we didn’t do this back in the USA.

To make a long story short though I missed preplanned trips, or at least I think I did, set up by my travel agent such as going to the summit Mt. Eden and going to the War Memorial Museum ‘to see New Zealand’s finest display of Maori artifacts’ or going to the shores of Waitemata Harbor I did see a lot of Auckland that I would never would have seen before. The guys decided to be my host and though they didn’t know each other they decided who would take me where after they took me for a typical New Zealand dinner. I only stayed in Auckland for 2 days but I don’t recall ever meeting nicer guys on a trip or being shown such hospitality before. It even extended to my returning to the States and receiving two sheep skin rugs that one of the guys exported and that I still have.

Australians don’t take this wrong but the next time I come over ‘down under’ I will spend more time in New Zealand. I want to rent a car and drive from one end of the country to the other stopping in Wellington, Christchurch but starting in Auckland to say hello to one of the guys I met 42 years ago!

Posted July 11, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

“THIRD PERSON”–MOVIE REVIEW–LIAM NEESON SEES LIVE PEOPLE   Leave a comment


As a rule I will usually post my movie review the same evening after I have seen the movie but I wanted to give the “Third Person” awhile before giving my opinions. I don’t remember the last time I saw an audience with such puzzled faces walking out of a movie theatre as I did after the end credits were shown.

While I prefer my movies tied up in a bow with rational explanations of why/what took place I don’t mind the occasional one with ambiguous endings but sometimes the writer/director, in this case Paul Haggis, who also wrote and directed the Oscar winning “Crash”, goes a little too far. There are 3 stories going on here simultaneously but really there is a fourth which helps in adding, “What?!” to the ending. I don’t like to give spoilers so I really won’t give my explanation except to say as a writer I have written books of fiction giving characters different aspects of myself and leave it at that.

The stories revolve around Mike (Liam Neeson), Anna (Olivia Wilde) and his wife (Kim Basinger), Sean (Adrien Brody) and Monika (Moran Atias), Julia (Mila Kunis) and her ex (James Franco) and her lawyer (Maria Bello) each story involving a child, girl or boy, dead or alive.

One couple is in Paris, another in Rome and a third in New York and whether on purpose or not the writer/director Haggis will have Mila in New York, where her main story takes and place, and twice in Paris without any reason except writers have the freedom to take their story where they want.

All the actors do fine but Kunis’s make up is a bit too much even for a one time soap opera star and Brody comes up bland playing opposite Atias, an Israeli actress, as a Romanian gypsy!

I don’t know how to explain this but though the movie is interesting it is also boring, the running time being over 2 hours and 20 minutes. The film is about all aspects of love but doesn’t get the viewer involved which in the end makes it a failure.

Posted July 5, 2014 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIE REVIEW

BROWARD PERFORMING ARTS CENTER FT. LAUDERDALE, FLORIDA   Leave a comment

In February, 1991, the Broward Performing Arts Center opened on the North side of the river as the anchor for the western end of what the city was developing and calling the Riverwalk as a major tourist attraction.

I went to the BPAC opening attraction which was “Phantom of the Opera” and was really impressed by the building particularly when it was all lit up at night. The second show I saw there was in May of that year was “A Chorus Line” and went 3 times–for those who aren’t aware “ACL” is my favorite show of all times having seen it on various stages all over the USA 101 times.

Now 23 years later it is being given a major overhaul in the millions of dollars, not only to the original 2 buildings, one being the Au-Renee theatre which sits 2,700 people and the other the Amaturo Theatre which has a 600 sit capacity but they are adding a major restaurant, rehearsal hall and banquet room in an additional building on the waterfront.

I have lost count of how many shows I have seen at the Au-Renee which presents the touring Broadway shows, special events and star concerts. In the smaller Amaturo I have seen “Forbidden Broadway”, concerts by the Gay Men’s Chorus, Alvin Ailey dance recital plus other shows.

This coming season I will be seeing: Annie, The Phantom of the Opera (23 years later), The Lion King, Motown, Pippin, Anything Goes and the Cirque Dreams in the Au-Renee auditorium.

The whole complex is a showcase for the arts of Fort Lauderdale and a night out there is really special.

Too bad the Riverwalk still hasn’t been completed and has been somewhat of a bust due to the city not holding enough events there and the high cost of parking but with the allure of the major shopping and restaurant Los Olas Bouvelard hopefully it will be what was envisioned for it for so many years.

Between the Broward Performing Arts Center and the Discovery Museum Center across the street from it this is a must see for anyone who comes to visit me. Hey, maybe in February 2016, when I celebrate my 20th Leap year birthday they will have “A Chorus Line” again and we can all go!

Posted July 4, 2014 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT

THE ADRIENNE ARSHT CENTER FOR THE PERFORMING ARTS MIAMI FLORIDA   Leave a comment

 On March 4, 2011, I made my first trip to the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County (hereafter called the Arsht) to see “Jersey Boys” in their main auditorium called the Ziff Ballet Opera House. It had been over 40 years since I had been in that area as when I lived in Miami Beach in the mid 50s to early ‘60s it became a ritual every Monday for me, Joe and Albyn to come to downtown Miami, have lunch and go to the movies near what is called The Little Havana section.

Since that time, both Joe and Albyn, after being together 50+ years died a few years apart. My aunt Flo and I would come into Miami and have lunch at Burdine’s department store before she did some shopping and that is where the Knight Concert Hall is now standing across the street from, and part of, the Arsht Center. In front, facing Biscayne Boulevard, off the Arsht plaza to the south on the corner is all that is left of the Sears building, their 7 story tower which is an historic landmark, and I don’t see it without thinking of the 3 very important people in my life: Flo, Albyn and Joe and though the area may be completely changed they will always be the same.

To the south of the Arsht Center, going east, is the MacArthur causeway that takes you straight into Miami Beach and, also south, on Biscayne Boulevard, a few blocks down is the American Airlines arena where the Heat lost their championship bid and Bayside Park, the latter made up of shops and restaurants and, in front is The Torch of Friendship that was dedicated to the memory of Jack F. Kennedy. The torch was lit up until about a year ago when so much construction has been going on that it had to be turned off, hopefully temporarily.

Aside from the Ziff Ballet House auditorium, which sits 2,400 people and the Knight Concert Hall sitting 2,000 there is also the Carnival Studio theatre which holds 200, in which I saw “The Sparrow” which originated in Chicago . In addition there is an upscale restaurant called The Prelude. Surrounding the Arsht Center were 4 parking lots but now one has been demolished for more construction. The area surrounding the Arsht and the Arsht itself are in constant change. Recently there was talk of Beckman bringing his soccer stadium to the area but that was shot down.

Aside from Broadway in Miami the halls play host to the Florida Grand Opera, Miami City Ballet, New World Symphony, celebrity concerts presenting over 400 shows a year!

I have seen over 20 Broadway touring shows in the Ziff Ballet Opera House and this coming season on the schedule are: “The Book of Mormon”, “I Love Lucy On Stage”, “Cinderella”, “Newsies”, “Sister Act”, “Wicked” and “Beauty and the Beast”. I have seen most at the Broward Performing Arts Center but with different casts, and also being presented in different auditoriums, it will almost be like seeing new shows and I am certainly looking forward to seeing all of them.

Posted July 3, 2014 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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