Archive for May 2012



                              1962-MARCH 1966                                    Early 1968     

The ending of my 3rd decade of life and the beginning of my 4th sort of blend together.  I have, more than once, wrote about being on the verge of suicide in March of 1967 and then my life turning around when I joined Weight Watchers but I haven’t really spoken about the people in my life around that time.


I met Joan and Addie through my Weight Watchers classes and they became friends with Bernie, Ronnie and me. We all loved eating out and became regulars at : Pilgrims, Candlelight, Act 1, Boondock, Aldos, 5 Oaks Fedora’s and the Tip Toe Inn. I wonder if any of them exist but then again I have know idea if Joan and Addie are still around, but that’s another blog.

They, along with Ronnie, were 100% against me going to Memphis with Bernie and not having anything in writing and, if you read my previous blogs, you know they were right. When I made the decision to move there–I had nothing to lose. After spending the July 4, 1969, weekend there–I came back, told them my decision and that it was imperative that I learn to drive. Yes, at 31 I didn’t know how to drive because, in Miami Beach and New York, public transportation was a blessing.

I will never, ever forget Joan taking me to Wall Street on a Sunday afternoon–it was so quiet there it was almost eerie–and giving me my first driving lesson in her VW bug. It being a stick shift need I tell you about all the grinding of the gears, using my two feet  and stumbling all over the place. After about 10 minutes Joan said that was enough and she would pay for my driving lessons!! That didn’t happen as it took 2 days in a church parking lot during the week in Memphis with automatic everything and I got my driver’s license.

Joan and Addie lived in a condo (or was it a co-op?) on 7th Avenue near 14th street and we became quite close. I don’t remember the last time I spoke to Joan but I spoke to Addie in the 1980s when she was down on a visit to see her mother, though I am not sure if that is correct. I do know I haven’t spoken or  seen them in over 30 years. I did the facebook search but got nowhere.

Ronnie and I remained friends even coming to Miami Beach in 1968 for a vacation  celebrating my weight loss. The third member of the ‘3 gay caballeros’ was Joe, who worked with us at The Brass Rail, was in the closet and married. After all these years dare I mention his last name? I did that FB search again but nothing happened and it is 44 years later so I don’t think I am risking anything but the possibility of us connecting again so here goes. Joe Dorcette would go out to eat with us or the theatre when he could. He was a ‘camp and a half’ always having us in stitches and was outrageous cruising guys in public no matter where we went and at the same time making the straightess of guys laugh along with, not at, him.

Getting back to facebook–I have NEVER had luck searching for people via them and I have tried. There were so many people who were good to and for me back in those years such as Mary Culleton, Toni Bove, Marilyn Rubenstein, Fred Silver the pianist, Charle, Fred, just to mention a few people that I can see in my head today and bring me such pleasure in having known them. Where are they? What has happened to them? Will I ever know?

And then there was Alex who Bernie and I met in the New York Museum of History and became our roommate.

(To be continued)


“Move forward

with optimism and growth,

and realize your future

with hope, courage

and determination. “

(Maria’s cards)

Posted May 31, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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It was my first night of work at The Brass Rail, which was on the corner of 49th Street and 7th Avenue just north of the Palace Theatre, and the manager called a waiter over, told him to train me and then introduced me to Ronnie. We immediately hit it off and it was only an hour later that he told the manager that I was ready to have my own station though I wasn’t quite sure of the menu, that I handled the front of the house as the pro I obviously was. I’m not exactly sure of the date I started there but it was probably right after the World’s Fair which would make it 1965. Over the next 4 years Ronnie and I were like brothers doing everything together except having sex. We got drunk, ate out in the best restaurants in New York, went cruising up to a point at which we would separate.

After work a group of us servers would go around the corner to a Chinese restaurant, have a few drinks and some appetizers up until about 11 PM when Mary would leave to go back to her family in Queens, Durinka would leave, Joe, who was in the closet would some times go cruising with us and the rest would do whatever they did after work. Most times Ronnie and I would go over to Downey’s put $5 each on the bar and Frank, the bartender, an ‘old’ Irishman with throat cancer, would serve us drinks, not charging us and then taking our 5 dollar bills and thanking us for the tips.

Ronnie and I were both theatre geeks and we saw so many shows–back then previews cost $5-7 and we went to those on our days off–that unless I google them I can’t tell you the year I saw them or with Pepe or Ronnie but I think the majority were with the latter . Some of the shows we saw were: Fiddler on the Roof, How To Succeed in Business, Man of La Mancha, Hair, Funny Girl, Cabaret, I Do, I Do, Sweet Charity, Stop The World I want to Get Off, Mame, Hello Dolly, Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf and, remember this title, Persecution and Prosecution of Marat as performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under The Direction of the Marat De Sade–more about the shows we saw in a future blog about 1967!

Ronnie lived in an old apartment building in the 50s off 8th avenue, where Paul Newman and Piper Laurie filmed scenes for The Hustler, that was called The House Of Pansies–bet you can figure out why!! There was one New Year’s Eve that he threw a party for a motorcycle club that would make you blush if I went into details–it still makes me blush!

One night walking home from work to where I lived on West 75th Street off Central Park so I could change before we went out Ronnie and I heard what we thought were Barbra Streisand records. We knew she was doing a concert the next night there and we figured it was fans getting there early to get up close to the stage and we decided to walk in. There was Streisand rehearsing, making sure everything was just right including the flow of her dress, exactly where she was on stage and every step she took. It was amazing and though we weren’t thinking of fighting the crowd to see her we were there the next day!

We were both working the night of the first big blackout in New York in 1965. The Brass Rail closed early as they sold out all their food very quickly. Ronnie and I left, stopping at a few bars which were just pouring free drinks for all the customers. It was a fun, calm night in the city nothing like what happened almost a decade later when there was city wide looting and crimes

I have so many memories Of Ronnie sharing moments like that with me but since he was also involved, very much so, in the beginning of my 4th decade I’ll leave some of the rest for the next chapter.


(To be continued)


“Wake at dawn

with a winged heart

and give thanks

for another day of loving.”


(Maria’s cards)

Posted May 30, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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This hibiscus has all 3 colors: pink, yellow and red


If you can’t be in awe of Mother Nature, there’s something wrong with you.
Alex Trebek





Posted May 30, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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Is Maggie (Brit Marling) a 23 year old woman from the year 2054 or is she a scam artist on the run from the FBI?  Is 8 year old Abigail (Avery Pohl) her mother? And why, and with what, does her father inject her foot with every night?  Does each member, of what might be a cult, really have to learn that handshake that is so complicated were the actors chosen only by those who could accomplish it?


Peter (Christopher Denham) and Lorna (Nicole Vicius) are a young couple in California who are would be filmmakers. They are planning to join a cult and make a film exposing it to the point that Peter swallows a radio transmitter to make recordings of what is said. They, and supposedly 7-8 others are put through a ruse each time they come to the meeting of being blindfolded, driven for 20 minutes, get naked and shower and then putting on robes before they get into that handshake and taken to a room where they meet Maggie. She wears a robe with a shawl and hoodie, is attached to an oxygen machine, eats food grown by her followers and has their blood sent into her body via various tubes for protein. At other times there is no oxygen tank in sight.


At the beginning we go through psychology 101 where she has them vomit up, literally, their problems followed by, maybe, Peter being drawn in by her and foolishly agreeing to doing something that can cause him all sorts of problems. Peter seems to be more taken in by Maggie than Lorna is which causes them problems as a couple.


Out of nowhere the camera moves to a woman (Davenia McFadden) on an airplane coming into Los Angeles, checking into a hotel, carrying all sorts of paraphernalia and then we go back to the cult meeting. In another 10-15 minute sequence there is a woman showing Lorna how to shoot a gun which, as far as I can tell, has nothing to do with the movie just as Peter stopping his car to urinate and, as far as I can tell, uses an asthma inhaler means anything except to extend the movie to 84 minutes.


The director, Zal Batmanglij, who wrote the screenplay with Brit Marling,  doesn’t really do anything to hide the cheap production values


If you are a movie goer who likes  the ending to tie up all the loose threads this one will only leave you confused with a lot of questions.


PS If you see the movie please come back and tell me what the title has to do with the movie–thank you.

Posted May 29, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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“New York, New York, It’s A Wonderful Town” and it was in the mid to late 60s. My life was spent in restaurants, either eating or working in them , bars, movies, theatres and/or ‘den of iniquities’ .

I had so many favorite restaurants to eat in but the one that topped them all, and still does, is Marchi’s , which opened in 1930 and has served the same bill of fare ever since consisting of 5 courses, which are really, 7-8, and each better than the last. To give you an idea the last course is a platter of fruit, another platter of cheese and a lemon fritter, but you aren’t finished yet as they bring out a tower of Cristolis.

This is their card which I took in 1965 and have kept ever since! Inside it tells you all about the restaurant since the day the converted a brownstone into a fabulous place to eat. Don’t plan to do anything else that evening.

Among many other restaurants I loved were: Paddy’s Clam House on 34th Street just west of Macy’s, world famous for their cheesecake Lindy’s, Dempsey’s, the Stage Deli for a Hymie’s Special, the tourist trap called Momma Leone’s that was great, the 5 Oaks in the Village, Luna’s in Little Italy, one of the first ‘completely gay’ restaurants was on 8th Street east of 5th Avenue (sorry, I don’t remember the name) and a Spanish restaurant not far from there where a legend to be, Barbra Streisand, sat next to us, a seafood house on 3rd Avenue in the 50s, Gallagher’s Steakhouse in the theatre district, Downey’s, Joe Allen’s, Sun Luck Gourmet, Dan Dowd’s, The Slate on 11th Avenue, Hell’s Kitchen area, The Brassiere and who could forget the Automat? Another restaurant, and once again I forget the name, that was on the east side , was where I had buffalo, venison and all sorts of wild game for the first time. When you have a couple of hours I’ll tell youafewmore.

When I wasn’t eating in restaurants I was working in them and I had a few memorable jobs. One of them was at the Gas Pavillion at the World’s Fair in 1964 in Flushing where as a waiter I cooked table side, yes on a gas cart! The fair ran for two six-month seasons, April 22–October 18, 1964 and April 21–October 17, 1965 and it was during the former time that Flo visited me and Pepe and if you look at the previous blog you will see it was cold!

Another was Dan Stampler’s Steak Joint on Greenwich Avenue in the Village where I waited on Diahann Carroll, who was absolutely stunning, and her boyfriend at the time David Frost. I worked in the 5 star Four Seasons Restaurant on 52nd Street where I saw things happen in the kitchen that I still don’t believe I saw! There was the lunch job at Miller’s on Wall Street where the tips were pretty bad and the Ham ‘N Eggs on the west side in the 50s where I waited on Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward–yes, he was a good tipper–funny what you remember and what you don’t. There was the Ad Lib on 45th (or was it 47th?) Street and Madison (or was it Lexington?) Avenue which was small, upscale and got a very snobbish crowd. It was also where I connected with Dan Dowd’s steakhouse and when I returned to Fort Lauderdale in 1979 I was able to get a job at his restaurant there.

My last job as a waiter in New York was at the Brass Rail which I was going to talk about here but will wait until Part D, as this is too long as it is, because it is where I met Ronnie who became very close to me–no, not that way! We became drinking, eating, cruising and theatre buddies who did outrageous ‘only in New York’ things.

(To be continued)


“To be a star

you must shine your own light,

follow your own path,

and don’t worry

about the darkness,

for that is when the

stars sine brightest.”

(Maria’s card)




Posted May 28, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized


High School Graduation 1952

At 76 years of age the mind is full of memories and it is sort of a battle to keep the past away and live in your present. I don’t live in my past but I do think about it when I hear a voice or smell an aroma or  I see something that sort of gives me a flashback to 20, 40 or even 60 years ago. I’ll read a blog someone writes about music and it will touch off memories or like someone had as their topic “Little things mean a lot” and I’ll think of that old song that was such a big hit in ‘my’ time and that will set off a slew of memories.

I am about halfway through my series of “7 Decades of Adventures and Discoveries” I write a different part every other day and I go back to the past through looking at photographs of which I have thousands over the years, but for some reason only have my graduation picture from my teen years. Though I have pictures when I was in the Marines the last 2 years of my teens I don’t think of myself as a teenager at that time.) I, also, have diaries from 1967 though I have kept diaries since I was 10 I lost about 20 of them along the way.

1947 backyard of our summer home in Lake Hiawatha, New Jersey

Last night, just for fun, I picked a date in 1967, looked up what I was doing and then looked at the same date over 30 years. I could see all the changes I went through during those years and the people I knew, some remembered, many forgotten, shows and movies I had been to and with whom, people I had gotten ‘involved’ with and all remembered, trips I had taken, jobs I had and places I had lived.  It was a wild ‘trip’ and I might share it in a future blog–no, not all 30 years!!!

December 1944–My older brother’s Bar Mitzvah at the Essex House in Manhattan

That was then and this is now and I keep them completely apart but it is sort of a mental game remembering all that has happened in my life and I can see all the steps that it took to make me who I am today.

I tell every ‘kid’–that is anyone under 30 but it is not to late too start no matter how old you are–to keep a diary. Use your blogs to write about your life day to day and you can get as personal as you want if you keep one blog site as yours, not letting anyone know where it is, or as horrifying as it may sound keep a written, private diary. Should you decide to do it as a blog print it out every 6 months because even if you save it on your Internet you could ‘lose’ it.

Take pictures everyday, of your friends, people you meet, restaurants you go to, your family, places you go–sure you’ll be told you are ‘a pain in the ass’ but in 2033 when you see yourself with your arm around ‘Jack” you’ll be glad you were a pain in the ass!

I have forgotten so much and wish I had written in more detail and I did it for me, not for anyone to read in the future–actually I have told my heirs to burn my diaries, pictures and erase all my blogs because a lot could be embarrassing to others not to mention myself! I tell a lot in my blogs but not all–that is for my diaries!

Okay, why are you reading this–go take a picture of the world right outside your window so in 2033 you can tell people that don’t know what hot or cold or snow or rain is because ‘back in 2012 it was a lot worse and I have proof!’


“Books are the legacies that a great genius

leaves to mankind, which are delivered down

from generation to generation as presents

to those who are not yet born.”

Joseph Addison, 1672-1719 English Essayist

(From the Complete Pocket Positives)

Posted May 27, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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                           BEFORE                AFTER



                        PURPLE                   JACARANDAS                   RED


If I haven’t done  what I wanted to do by now I won’t be doing it.


“They”—Republicans—scream, rant and rave 24/7 against Obama and Democrats (and then they are sweet to us individually!) and yet they say I’m angry because I call them rude and crude–and then they block me!{#rofl.gif} {#rofl.gif}


This is outside my dentist’s office–not too shabby.


“Keep in your soul

a friendly thought,

in your heart a friendly song.”

Frank S. Whitney

Posted May 26, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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“MEN IN BLACK 3”–A MOVIE REVIEW   Leave a comment

When you walk into the movie theatre to see “MIB3” you are not going to see a ‘deep’ film but to be entertained and “MIB3” is entertaining–maybe mindless, but entertaining. It has been 15 years since the first “Men in Black” and though it helps to have seen that for a better understanding about the relationship between agent J (Will Smith) and agent K (Tommy Lee Jones) it’s not a necessity . It seems like every 2 minutes there is a new special effect and most are special along with many being funny.
The story in films like this really isn’t that important but through a little twisting of events agent J uses a time machine to go back to 1969 and as he is told “…not the best time for people of color. The villain, Boris the animal, (Jemaine Clement), who had his arm shot off many years before by agent K i s going back in time to change that course of history by killing the agent while agent J travels back in time to stop the young agent K (Josh Brolin) from shooting Boris’s arm off and, of course, to stop the latter from blowing up the world, I think!
Over the 15 years Tommy Lee Jones doesn’t look a day older while Will Smith, going from 29 to 44, still looks good but older. They both do a good job with their characters. Jemaine Clement  hams it up as he should, especially since he has little ugly creatures coming out of all parts of his body. Josh Brolin should be a top star now, especially after his performances in “Milk”, “American Gangster”, “W” and “No Country For Old Men” that he really has shined in, and I think one more role will put him over the top. As a young Tommy Lee Jones he does a fantastic job, not imitating him, but being a young Tommy Lee Jones through voice, movements and attitudes.
Emma Thompson, as agent O, has a laugh out loud 1 minute bit that is a far cry from any other character she has played. She did remind me of Julie Andrews every time she was on screen. Her younger version is a perky Alice Eve and Michael Stuhlbarg, as Griffin, who can see what and/or will happen in the future and can bring moments like the Mets winning the championship to the present, is a hoot. Bill Hader has a cameo shot as Andy Warhol.
We are in 1969, when the first moon landing takes place, and all you can do is put aside any logic on what’s happening in the movie and enjoy the place and time.
“Men In Black 3” is one of those movies that you will enjoy, and forget as you walk out of the movie house.

Posted May 25, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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:The theater is a wonderful magical place that can bring all the animals from an African Savannah to the aisles of the  Arsht Center in Miami. The opening of “Walt Disney’s The Lion King” is a stunner that has the audience cheering from the start. The show is spectacular from that opening number to the curtain call when we once again see all the animals. The book, written by Roger Allers and Irene Mecchi, isn’t as strong as the rest of the production but then as much as she did Julie Taymor couldn’t do everything.


Among the aspects Taymor was responsible for were the directing, costume design, mask and puppet design (along with Michael Curry), additional music and lyrics along with Lebo M. Mark Mancina, Jay Rifkin and Hans Zimmer adding to the original score by Elton John and Tim  Rice and they are the strongest parts of the musical. The scenic designs by Richard Hudson encompass all her work eliciting gasps and awe from the audience.  The choreographer, Garth Fagan, is watched over by his associate choreographer Marey Griffith while John Stefaniuk continues his work as Taymor’s associate director.


The show opens with King Mufasa (Dionne Randolph) and Queen Sarabi (Tryphena Wade) presenting their new born cub Simba to all the gathered animals. Scar (J. Anthony Crane) ,Mufasa’s brother,  laments that he is no longer the next to be king. The multitude of players then embark on a Shakespearean tale of love, loss, exile and, yes, happy ever after which is more Hollywood than Shakespeare.


We meet a young Simba (Adante Power) ,who may be a little too scrawny to be a lion cub, and Nala (Sade Phillip-Demorcy) the female cub who at first is his friend. In the second act they are grown and the roles are played by Jelani Remy, a strong, looking king to be who has the best voice in the company and Syndee Winters, who looks and acts like a queen from her first appearance on stage.


Along the journey we meet Rafiki, (Buyi Zama) almost a narrator of the show, Zazu (Mark David Kaplan) a hornbill who is an advisor to the King, Timon (Nick  Cordilone) a meerkat and Pumba (Ben Lipitz) a warthog who bring much needed humor to the show, The hyenas Shenzi (Rashada Dawan), Banzai (Keith Bennett) and Ed (Robbie Swift) are menacing as they should be and, in their own way, ugly. All the dancing, singing and acting really takes second place to all the production values which stop the show in a good way, such as the scene made up of stars and lights that come together to present King Mufasa’s face to Simba.


The orchestra, conducted by Rick Snyder, is made up of about 18 members including Stefan Monssen and Reuven Weizberg standouts on percussions, each one in a box on opposite sides of the theatre.


“Walt Disney’s The Lion King” is a must see show, if for nothing else the opening number, for the magic an American musical can cast over an audience. It will be in Miami for 4 weeks.


1st act  1 hour and 20 minutes   Intermission 25 minutes  2nd act 1 hour

Posted May 24, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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Manhattan, New York, New York city in the 1960s was a place you won’t be able to even imagine if you didn’t live there. It’s a world that many movies and TV shows tried to capture but never could. The Times Square/Theatre area wasn’t safe but you could find everything and anything you wanted. Walking down 42nd Street you were part of the  world made up of prostitutes, male and female, drug sellers and buyers, run-a-way kids and the world of porno along with tourists, Broadway stars and New Yorkers coming and going to work. Turn the corner and walk north up 8th Avenue and there is the world of steak houses like Downey’s, neighborhood bars represented by Blarney’s not to forget the Adonis movie house which became a porn theatre with sex happening in every nook and cranny. Ablock away you took an elevator to the second floor of a building and when you stepped off and turned to the left you walked into a replica of Central Park and had sex in the bushes while if you stepped left you were in an army barracks.

It wasn’t all about sex but New York had the sexual revolution before the rest of the world. Yes, I knew all about the gay city from the ‘bird circuit’, gay bars all over the borough to Mary’s on 8th Avenue in the Village or the Coat of Arms, an east side bar off Lexington Avenue, in the 50s with everyone dressed in jackets and ties for drinks in the front which was the bar and then go to the rear for dinner. And the Everod and St. Marks and Penn Station baths, just to mention 3, that were the definition of the ‘dens of iniquity’ and fun!

There are so many images running through my mind from the jobs I had to the plays and musicals I saw and the friends I made but one image stands above all and that is Jose ‘Pepe’ Cuesta. He was my age, Cuban, ambitious, hard working and had one goal, which was to get his parents out of Cuba and bring them here. His father had been one of the biggest cigar makers in the world and when Castro came in he took the Cuesta property. Pepe was going to an Academy in Virginia and his parents wouldn’t let him come back to Havana.

We met ‘Hollywood style, cute’ one snowy, stormy evening when I turned the corner from 8th Avenue to 23rd Street while he was turning from 23rd Street to 8th Avenue and we knocked each other, both landing in a pile of snow. Long story short–Pepe became my first long term relationship. It was with him that I moved into an apartment that we made a home together which was another first for me. He was a great cook and made Paella, flan, Arroz con Pollo and so many other dishes that I had never tasted before. He took me to concerts that starred Olga Guillot, Celia Cruz, Tito Puente and Los Trios Panchos, teaching me the words, in Spanish, of the trio’s “Un Historia de Amore”.

Our affair was almost over before it even started as I didn’t know “Latin time”. I had tickets to see “I Can Get It For You Wholesale” in which some actress Barbra Streisand was making her Broadway debut and whom I had seen a couple of times at the Bon Soir in the Village and it was for two evenings after that fall in the snow. I made a mistake by telling him that the show started at 8 PM and we got to the theatre just as the curtain was going up which didn’t sit well with me. I learned to ‘lie’ about times we had to be at places.

He lived with me as I grew fatter, drank more and, though I didn’t know he knew, my infidelities. He accepted me as I was and loved me for what he saw. When my grandmother died Flo brought her up here to be buried and she stayed the week with us. She hadn’t been up north during winter for many years and I still laugh picturing her sitting on the radiator to get warm. She loved Pepe and they had a lot of laughs together though he learned very quickly that only she could make fun of me!

It is sort of complicated to explain but, briefly, Pepe’s mother had been born in Spain and she couldn’t come to the USA seeking refuge so they had to get her here via Mexico or Puerto Rico. Pepe had worked 3 jobs for over 7 years until he had the money for his parents to make the trip out of Cuba. I knew what was coming from the beginning but didn’t think much about it. He came home one evening and said he was leaving in a month to go into business with Mundo, a friend, in Puerto Rica and after getting settled, get his parents there and then bring them to Miami and set up a home for them and live with them for awhile. He said he would help me look for a place in Manhattan if I didn’t want to stay in Sunnyside, Queens, and when I found a place he not only helped me move but gave me a large, round dining room table handcrafted by his father.

I could talk for hours about Pepe and all the kind things he did and  taught me but I still have the rest of the 60s to cover so I’ll just say that he was one of the best things that ever happened to me and the last time I saw him was when he came to Memphis in 1975 and when he was having dinner with me and Johnny he said that as great as I looked being thin I should never forget that he loved me when I was fat–that was Pepe. For many years I got a birthday card from him every year but they stopped coming and I have no idea what happened to him. I still miss him and I still know all the words to “Un Historia de Amore”.

(To be continued)


“Magic is

believing in yourself,

if you can do that,

you can make

anything happen.”


(Maria’s cards)

Posted May 23, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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