Archive for July 2012


When I first arrived in Memphis I felt like Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” only it wasn’t Kansas I wasn’t in anymore but New York! Yes people talked and walked and did things slower with the attitude, “If it doesn’t get done today it will tomorrow”, and when I finally adapted that attitude I loved it but getting use to it plus understanding the Southern accent and the sayings took a little while! I must say from day one I found all Southerners to be gracious, opening their homes to these Yankees, cooking us meals and eager to take us around. I found out that many did invite us to their homes and/or joined our WW class to hear “..those funny guys from the North talk.” It really didn’t take long for my favorite word to become ‘Sho-o-o-o-o-t’! I found Southern women to really be ‘steel magnolias’ and though I thought Southern gentlemen were soft spoken and a bit effeminate and that most were gay the first two traits hid tough guys who didn’t take or give any bull.

Here it is 43 years later and I still remember walking into the Giant (that was the name) supermarket on White Station Road for the first time and it lived up to the name. New York had grocery stores like A & P but this was a SUPER market! It was huge and bright with spacious aisles and even had a lever to lift up your wagon so you didn’t have to bend over to put things on the cashier’s counter. The shelves had so many items I never heard of and the meat section parts of animals that I have never tasted. I fell in love with Memphis that moment, if not before. At the same time I discovered Sessel’s (on Union?) who made the best in store carrot cake I ever tasted! I became so Southern I went to my first–and last–football game.

On Mount Moriah Road, or was it Mendenhall Road?,  there was a ‘hair stylist shop’–in Memphis???–where I had my hair cut every 10 days, since I read in “The Man In The Gray Flannel Suit” that a gentleman has his hair trimmed every 10 days, and gray sprayed in my temples to make me look distinguished and older. I don’t have to do that anymore as the temples are naturally gray without spray!

After that, going west, was the Perkin’s Pancake House right between the railroad tracks and Goldsmith’s department store–funny the things you remember though I had a good reason to remember the latter which I will get into later–while across  Poplar was Sears which didn’t have any outside windows though Johnny (as I would learn later) was their ‘window dresser’!

Memphis is the home of Beale Street and the blues, along with Stax records and the start of rock and roll and, yes, became the home of Elvis. The original Holiday Inn and Fedex started here. In 1969 the airport was renamed the Memphis International airport. While I was there work started on Mud Island which had a walkway showing all of the Mississippi river from where it started to where it ended. They were also building a pyramid along with an amphitheatre where a few years later, when I returned to Memphis on  vacation, I saw an outdoor performance of “A Chorus Line”.

On October 21, 1969, I got my driving permit and got my driver’s license on October 29 and a week later I was driving a white Eldorado Cadillac convertible with a MARTIN license plate. I was moving on up!


In 1972 I was making enough money to not only start a month long vacation but doing it going first class with airplanes, hotels, limousine and personal guides though I much preferred going out on my own. My first vacation was to Dalls, Honolulu, Papeete, Moorea, Bali Hai, Bora Bora, Auckland, Sidney, Cairns, Melbourne, San Francisco and back to Memphis. Sadly I was drinking heavy and missed a few trips such as the Barron Gorge and Falls, Kuranda, Atherton Tablelands, Tinaroo Falls along with other side trips. My excuse? Most were scheduled in the morning and my travel agent knew not to book me any morning trips! I don’t have a single picture from that trip but I still have the trip ticket and a couple of sheep scatter rugs that someone I had met in Auckland sent me as a gift.

The following year it was South America starting off with Rio, on to Buenos Aires, Iguassu Falls–where I got lost in the jungle–Sao Paulo, Brazilia, Caracas, Guatemala, Mexico City, Acapulco and then Puerto Vallarta where I got so sick I don’t remember cutting the rest of the trip short, getting to Memphis without knowing how I got through customs and ended up in the Baptist hospital. Again no pictures and considering how much I drank on the trip I am surprised any germ lived. The one thing I did was write a lot of letters to Bernie and myself so I have a journal of that vacation as I had asked Bernie to hold all the letters for me and I still have them.

The 1974 vacation would be brought to a halt for another reason.


Posted July 31, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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What is it about me that makes it impossible for me to walk out on a movie that is boring me to tears? Why is it that I am unable to fall asleep in a movie that makes me nod off for a second? And, why oh why, do I get suckered into seeing  movies 3 or 4 times a years that has ‘ART MOVIE” marked all over it that are, usually, very disappointing?


“Beasts of the Southern Wild”  won the top audience award at the Sundance film festival and the best debut award at the Cannes film festival and its young star 8 year old Quvenzhane Wallis has captured the heart of every critic with reviews that haven’t been seen for a child star since, let’s say, Drew Barrymore in “E.T”.


An independent film directed by Benh Zeitlin and co-written by him and Lucy Alibar shows its threadbare budget but they have opened it up tremendously from the play, originally written by Alibar. There is a lot of sloppy camera work but the area known as The Bathtub south of the New Orleans levees is shown in all the bad and good of nature.


The story, in simple terms, is how a motherless child, Hushpuppy (Wallis) is being taught, with tough love, a lot of love, by her father Wink (Dwight Henry) how to survive in a harsh world, only we see it all from Hushpuppy’s point of view. We also see the animals–wild boars or mythical beasts called aurochs?–she imagines but I didn’t care to contemplate what they symbolized and it didn’t seem to matter.


Quvenzhane Wallis is everything a child star should be and nothing that most are. She is not precocious or a brat and she has an extremely expressive face. If anyone else had played the role of Hushpuppy Dwight Henry would probably have walked away with the picture. He plays the role of a responsible father who has to prepare his beloved daughter for a hard life even if it means being cruel to her.


I am not sure if the volume of the sound track was too low, or just the way the actors spoke, but I wasn’t interested enough to say something to the  manager and since no one else did let’s mark it up to having trouble in my right ear.


The problem with “Beasts of the Southern Wild” is that there are too many buts in the film.

Posted July 30, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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Posted July 29, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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I have experienced better at the Sea Watch. I have been eating here for over 30 years and the experiences have ranged from bad to excellent. As it is one of the very few free standing restaurants built on the beach overlooking the ocean and it is a great place to take out-of-towners for the scenery alone, especially during the day, and then taking a walk on the beach I always recommend it.
I have found the best dishes are the plain fish but I don’t always follow that rule and, for example, I would suggest you stay away from the Bouillabaisse!
The restaurant has recently gone through a major overhaul and the chairs are not the most comfortable but the surroundings are still pleasant.
Also the menu has gone through a major overhaul as far as portions, and if I recall correctly, prices. Yes I know food prices have gone up but this was embarrassing.  I had the lobster roll ($19) which was drowning in mayo and on the same plate was served a very wet cole slaw. The plate was not dressed at all and the lobster roll was so small I almost finished it in 3 bites. Allen had the scallops ($19) which were about a half a dozen and the potato salad. Once again the plate was unadorned looking very blah–yes blah! I had coffee ($2.75) and he had a soda ($2.75) and the server didn’t offer Allen a refill of a glass mainly filled with ice and a little soda and I was never offered a refill on the coffee until I asked for one.
Our check, plus tax and tip, came to $55 for a lunch that was more of an appetizer than a meal.
Will I go back? Yes the next time I have someone from out of town visiting but I will steer them to the fish fillets and the scenery!


Posted July 28, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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Would the world come to an end if I didn’t go see a movie every Friday? Not wanting to take a chance I went to see what I thought would be the lesser of 3 evils, “Ice Age: Continental Drift”, the other choices being “The Watch” or “Step Up Revolution”. I had no desire to see “The Watch” which I gathered was another film for boy-men with rude, crude penis jokes and other R rated vulgarities while Allen had no desire to see the dance movie “Step Up Revolution” but being the nice guy I am (LOL) I agreed to “The Watch”. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending how you look at it) Allen was late picking me up which eliminated getting to the theatre for either movie so I picked “Ice Age: Continental Drift”. Next week there are 4 new movies opening and the following week 5, but I have decided to test my question at the beginning of this paragraph  when the next Friday comes along that we have to’settle’ for seeing a movie we will do something else. If the world comes to an end  on a  Friday you will know why and who caused it!


As it has been in the past 3 chapters “Ice Age 4”  covers the impact of climate changing along with the importance of family. It also throws jokes of all kinds with some aimed at pre-teens, others at teens and some at their parents with about 50% landing with a groan but there is that other 50%. The most spectacular aspects of animation today is just that–the animation of the characters and the scenes and “Ice Age” excels in the latter doing more with water, ice, the sky and the animals than the previous 3 films. The art production team here does a first rate job.


“Ice Age 4” adds a lot more characters, consequently a lot more star voices are heard, which is distracting the first half of the film as you sit in the theatre trying to figure out who is the pirate or the love interest for Diego and is that really Joy Behar’s voice? The distraction might not be too bad as most of the story is familiar.


Aside from Behar’s  voice there are the voices of Ray Romano, Queen Latifah, Denis Leary, Patrick Stewart, Peter Dinklage, Jennifer Lopez, Wanda Sykes and Josh Peck. For the complete list and pictures of the actors and the characters they play be sure to stay for the end credits.


The co-directors, Steve Martino and Michael Thurmeier, use their animation techniques to hold your interest if, and when, the story by the screenwriters, Michael Berg and Jason Fuchs, doesn’t.


Be sure to get to the movie house on time as before “Ice Age: Continental Drift” there is a 5 minute charming short starring Maggie Simpson, of The Simpsons TV cartoon show, called, “The Longest Daycare”.

Posted July 27, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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I scratched my arm two days ago and because of taking blood thinner (coumindin) it really gets messy and takes awhile to repair–problem is I am having with results of home test–last time that happened I had to go to the hospital–so I made an appointment with my primary for Thursday to get it tested there and to see if eating grapes, taking extra doses of Vitamin D, calcium and C play a PM non-aspirin for the pain in my feet, are affecting the PT count.
But before that I noticed a black circle–mole like–on my left leg which seemed to come out of nowhere–immediately called the dermatologist and went up there yesterday–he took a biopsy and said he would have the results in 2 weeks
Then to add injury to insult I got a paper cut on my index finger yesterday and it is red and sore today as if infected.
Did I forget to mention that I woke up Saturday and my right ear seemed block? Tried a few of the drugstore remedies plus some peroxide–nothing–still blocked up (And where did all that gray hair come from? I use to have it sprayed in to make me look older, more distinguished not it just makes me look old!)
Oh well I wasn’t going to the doctors until next year so, hopefully, my primary can take care of everything tomorrow–meanwhile can I get some sympathy?????
It’s Thursday evening and it all seems to be falling into place. My primary doctor gave me a prescription for an ear infection, told me to leave the arm unbandged and that I’ll just have to put up with the paper cut, which he said hurts more than if I got stabbed–Thanks Doc! Now I just have to wait for the dermatologist’s report on the biopsy which really doesn’t bother me–now!
I spoke to my doctor and all the wild rumors being passed around by the Republicans–he said as far as he is concerned, regarding me as a patient, nothing–and he spelled out nothing–will change. He said I will be treated as fast as I have been in the present and with the same care and concern. Why wouldn’t I trust this man who has seen me through a congestive heart attack, an aorta valve replacement and every ailment I have had since (he thinks) I’ve turned old! He, also, happens to be a Republican!!
Went for lunch at the Sea Watch after–on the beach–report on Saturday!


Posted July 26, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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There really is a lot to see and do in Memphis but like in most cities, except maybe New York, San Francisco and Chicago, you will hear “We are 10 years behind times” and “Culterally we stink” and yet they have the Brooks Museum, the largest and oldest fine arts collection in Tennessee, The Pink Palace, where you can explore the culture and history of the city and State not to forget the Piggly Wiggly stores in the ‘house, that Clarence Saunders owned, Theatre Memphis, Circuit Playhouse/Playhouse On The Square, Overton Park, University of Memphis, concerts in Overton Park , a Symphoney Orchestra , the Dixon Gallery and public gardens , a refurbished Orpheum theatre presenting Broadway touring companies and concerts–the list goes on and on but I want to talk about a few of the places I mentioned.

I saw Gig Young at the University of Memphis in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” which is  long show in 4 acts. Sadly Young was deep into his alcoholism and near the end of his life and the play never seemed to end. By the last act there were only a half a dozen of us left in the theatre. On another note there was a restaurant nearby, a student hangout, that served the best Southern food, especially breakfasts, in the city.

There really weren’t any expectations on my part regarding theatre in Memphis but I was certainly surprised. Remember this was the buckle on the belt of the bible belt but the Circuit Playhouse and Playhouse on the Square were doing “The Boys In The Band” and the “Rocky Horror Show” in the early 1970s and doing good productions of them while Theatre Memphis mostly did musicals, past and present.

There was, of course, THE Peabody Hotel ducks! At 11 AM they were brought down from the rooftop by elevator to the lobby where a red carpet is laid out and the ducks march to the fountain in the middle of the lobby to a Sousa March and then at 5 PM they march back to the elevator. I don’t know which is more amazing (or funnier) than the people who line up on both sides of the carpet, ooooh and ahhh and take pictures or the ducks marching. A sight to be seen!

There was the mid-South Fair which made Memphis seem ike a small town but on the other hand they had the Memphis in May Carnival with crewes on barges and boats among the bluffs along the Mississippi which gave it a big city atmosphere. In the mid to late 70s they saluted a different country  every year and the leading store, Goldsmith’s, would redo their whole place in that countries goods.

Then there was Overton Park. It was, appoxiamately, in the middle of the city between Poplar Avenue on the south and Summer Avenue. The first time I heard of the park was reading about it in Damon’s Guide which listed it as a outdoor cruising spot in Memphis. I’ll get back to that when I talk about the gay life in Memphis and there was a lot of it–a lot more than I expected. There was a zoo in the park but I must admit I never went to it though I understand it has really grown in the years after I left. They had a concert shell at the west end of the park near one of the entrances.

Every time I write something I think of a dozen other things and this series is turning out to be way longer than I expected it to be but hang in  as there are a few payoffs.


Posted July 25, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized


Reading about a dozen web sites you can get the distinct feeling that a functional family doesn’t exist! Though the majority anti parents is done by teenagers many grown ups really don’t have nice things to say about their families. Is blogging only done by discontents?

The roughest blogs are written by teenage girls mainly against their mothers–could it be a normal mother/daughter step to adulthood? Teenage boys also moan and groan but what I found surprising it is against their mothers! In the ‘old days’ the model was mother stayed at home and took care of the kids and father went out to work and brought home the money for all material things like a roof over their head, food on the table and clothes on their back. Now we have mothers in the work force, fathers being stay at home dads and the kids run everything. Are the inmates running the asylum?

Stepping aside, being objective, who has the harder role in parenting today? Has the father never gotten the “How to be a Dad” book or did he never read it? Is he doing what his father did not changing with the times? Is the mother a helicopter mom (hovering over the child too much) or is she busy with outside activities whether is be work or volunteering and turning her kids over to day care or a nanny or grandma? Or has nothing changed as far as parenting goes since 1944?

Though it is hard to do (and shouldn’t be) but for the purposes here put aside the 9 months of pregnancy and the actual childbirth (ARGHHHHHHHHHHHH) who do you think has the harder job raising the child? The bigger responsibility? And why are so many families dysfunctional?

For this blog let’s not hear from functional families and what a “Leave it to Beaver” childhood you had and how great your  “Father Knows Best” was–I promise I will have a post where you can crow all you want!

Ladies, where do you think te fathers are failing? What would you do if you were a father? Men the same questions for you—what do you think you could do that mothers aren’t doing and what do you think men can do that they aren’t? And let loose–your spouse and/or kids won’t read this!!!


Posted July 24, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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HBO is now showing a very powerful and moving documentary about Vito Russo who wrote “The Celluloid Closet”, a bestseller about gays in the movies. The film starts off on the light side showing a young boy growing up naturally, loved by his parents and brother, knowing he was gay in a time it wasn’t safe or easy being gay. The film sees him loving life in New York, being an activist for gay rights and when he becomes a best selling writer he started traveling around the world and continued on the lecture circuit. You will rejoice when he finds love and, even if you are a stone, you will have compassion for the twists and turns in his life.


Seeing this movie you will see the history of a movement, of a generation, of people who faced up to AIDS, fought it, fought the government and got results. It will present a New York, a generation, many of you may not be familiar with.


Whether you are gay, straight, male, female, Christian, Atheist, black, white, old or young, I defy you not to become awash  in tears the last 45 minutes in the life of this man who gave his all for others and, yet, feel hope for mankind that such a person lived among us.



Posted July 23, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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I would always think of Memphis as a town when in reality it is a city which in the 1970s had a population of around 600,000 people. The reason for that was after I had been in Tennessee for a few weeks I was coming across the bridge over the Mississippi river from West Memphis, Arkansas, after doing a meeting and decided to stop at the Peabody hotel for a drink and some cruising. The next morning, the very next morning, the manager saw me getting into my car and said to me, “I heard you had a good time at the Peabody last night. Don’t forget this isn’t New York, it is a small town and people talk!”

Just a few months later–and don’t forget Martin Luther King was assisinated in 1968 and this was a year and a couple of months later–I was taking a trip into Mississippi when someone said to me, “You’re a Jew, You’re a Yankee and you are Gay–well, at least you aren’t a Black.” (Though it was another word she used!)  I learned that in Memphis, “We don’t talk behind their backs like you New Yorkers do–‘they’ know where we stand.” I’m glad to say that by the time I left Memphis that attitude had changed quite a bit though there were some still fighting the Civil War and slavery!

That was the bad and I would rather talk about all the good and fun you can have in Memphis. I don’t remember the name of the place but it was a bar with lockers where you could keep your bottles of booze because, when I first moved there, Memphis was a dry city–you couldn’t order alcohol is a restaurant but you could bring your own. Luckily it was just a year or two before the laws were changed. Not being able to drive with an open alcohol container lead to many people getting drunk and loud in restaurants.

Talking about restaurants Memphis had a slew of good to great ones. The best of all was Pappy’s Lobster Shack in Overton Square–and it was a shack. Just like no two plates matched neither did wallpapers, tiles on the floor and ceiling and everything was rickety BUT they served the best Pompano en Pappillote and steamed Finn ‘N Haddie. There was Justine’s, the world famous 5 star restaurant, serving French food by Black waiters with white gloves (remember the time period) in a plantation type home. Also, and similar but serving more American food, the Four Flames.  Everyone took out of towners to The Rendevouz downtown for BBQ but I much preferred Corky’s. I don’t remember the name of the motel out east past Germantown but they had a catfish restaurant that served the best catfish I ever remember eating. And then for romance, seeing Memphis at its best and some good prime ribs, there was the revolving restaurant on the top of theUPbankbuilding on Poplar Avenue. I remember Johnny and I being there the night Nixon resigned and left the White House.

Last, but not least, there were two Italian restaurants in Memphis. One was Gristanti’s taht had been there a long time and John had come to WW and, if I remember correctly, lost 100 pounds, and put WW recipes on his menu. Then there was Palazino’s that was less than 5 minutes from where I lived and opened after I had moved to Chatham Village. I loved that place as it was comfortable, had good food and, yes, they knew who I was and treated me special!

I really am trying to cut back on these posts but there is so much to talk about when it comes to Memphis as a city so I’ll do one more blog taking you for a tour in the 1970s  when it was known as “The Gateway To The South”—mmmmm–and now I live in Gateway in Fort Lauderdale!!!


   I dislike this quoteMississippi begins in a lobby of a Memphis , Tennessee hotel and extends south to the Gulf of Mexico

William Faulkner quotes (American short-story Writer and Novelist , Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949, 18971962 )


Posted July 23, 2012 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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