Archive for October 2013

HOW HALLOWEEN BECAME A GAY HOLIDAY PART 3   Leave a comment

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COME ON DOWN AND JOIN US–PARTY TIME

MANY EVENTS HAPPENING IN SOUTH FLORIDA!

MORE THAN YOU CAN GET TO IN ONE NIGHT!

http://www.clubzone.com/halloween1/miami-halloween-parties

 

FOR THE BIGGEST PARTY OF ALL

http://www.jumponmarkslist.com/us/fl/fll/events/wicked-wilton-manors-gay-halloween.php

Wicked Manors 2013 in Wilton Manors, FL

Author:
Carrie Fowler
Curator:
Michael Newlin
Join the gang from Mark’s List when South Florida’s favorite LGBT Halloween event returns to Wilton Drive on October 31, 2013. Don’t worry, you’ll find your zombie prince – This years theme is “Walking Dead on the Drive”! So many options, so little time. Whether you want to be a zombie princess or a ghostly ghoul, start planning your Wicked Manors Halloween costume today. The event will be bigger and better than ever with Halloween Costume contests and entertainment throughout Wilton Manors. As in past years Wilton Drive will be closed during the event. This year’s event is being brought to you by the City of Wilton Manors and The Pride CenteratEquality Park . The event will begin at 7:00 pm and will benefit the vital programs and services of The Pride Center. The always-entertaining Miss Misty Eyez will serve as hostess on the main stage throughout the evening. The event has been called Wicked Wilton and Manors Masquerade in recent years and returns to its Wicked Manors name this year.

This year’s Walking Dead on the Drive event includes 8 Costume Contests throughout the evening on the Main Stage. There will also be costume contest in the individual bars and nightclubs along the drive.
7:00 pm – Kid’s Costume
7:30 pm – Pet Costume
8:00 pm – Dead Celebrity Lookalike
8:30 pm – Best Sex Appeal
9:00 pm – Best Drag/Crossdressing
9:30 pm – Most Unique or Outrageous
10:00 pm – Best Group Costume
10:30 pm – Walking Dead Theme Costume Grand Prize
You may enter the contests by showing up to the Mainstage Contestant Area 15 minutes prior to the scheduled time listed above.
There will be a Contest Coordinator who will determine if your costume meets the criteria for the contest category you would like to enter. Winner of each contest will be determined by crowd applause level as deemed by the emcee.

Thriller Flash Mob

Be part of Wicked Manors history this year as a performer in the First Annual Wicked Manors THRILLER FLASH MOB! REGISTER USING THIS LINK to perform on the street at the Mainstage of Wicked Manors for thousands of costumed revelers!! We will be holding open rehearsals starting Saturday, October 19th from 1:00 pm to 4:00 pm at the Pride Center at Equality Park. Please review the entire rehearsal schedule as we highly encourage you attend all of the rehearsals to get yourself prepared for this truly amazing experience! The THRILLER FLASH MOB will be performing at 9:00 pm and 10:30 pm at the Mainstage surrounded by literally thousands of costumed Halloween revelers! Other performances may be scheduled throughout the night so be prepared to SPONTANEOUSLY BURST INTO DANCE when you hear that classic MJ Halloween Hit!

Posted October 31, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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HOW HALLOWEEN BECAME A GAY HOLIDAY PART 2   Leave a comment

HALLOWEEN IS A NATIONAL GAY HOLIDAY!!!

(APROPOS OF THE HOLIDAY I HAD A SPIDER BITE MY RIGHT ELBOW AND MY ARM HURT SO BADLY I HAD TO GET TO THE DOCTOR!!)

THE FIRST ANNUAL FESTIVAL OF SOULS AT THE RIVERFRONT IN FORT LAUDERDALE– COME ON DOWN AND PARTY!

THE BIGGEST CELEBRATION OF THE HOLIDAY WILL TAKE PLACE IN WILTON MANOR ‘NEXT DOOR’ TO FORT LAUDERDALE–ALL ABOUT IT TOMORROW–NOT TOO LATE FOR YOU TO GET DOWN HERE AND JOIN THE FESTIVITIES!

 

And, oh my, looked what they added for the holiday–I am going to have treats all week! Some witch must love me!

Carrot Crème Cake Or Fresh Made Carrot Bar Cake
7 count carrot cake truffles Save up to $2.00
$4.99 with Winn-Dixie Customer Reward Card
 
Carrot Cake
Cake of the Month 8 inch, double layer Save up to $4.00
$9.99 with Winn-Dixie Customer Reward Card


 
 Count Jumbo Carrot Cupcakes
two-bite mini carrot cupcakes or carrot cake roll Save up to $2.00
$2.99 with Winn-Dixie Customer Reward Card

 

Count Jumbo Carrot Cupcakes

two-bite mini carrot cupcakes or carrot cake roll Save up to $2.00
$2.99 with Winn-Dixie Customer Reward Card
   
   

THE FOLLOWING WILL TELL YOU ABOUT HALLOWEEN BEING A GAY HOLIDAY

http://whitecrane.typepad.com/gaywisdom/2007/10/halloween-the-g.html

 OR/AND

 http://www.huffingtonpost.com/irene-monroe/halloween-americas-gay-holiday_b_1034013.html

OR/AND

http://www.washingtonblade.com/2011/11/03/halloween-our-american-gay-holiday/

Just go to the above URLs and find out all about it!!

 

AROUND GATEWAY

 

 

  

  

  

 

 

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Posted October 30, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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HOW HALLOWEEN BECAME A GAY HOLIDAY! PART 1   Leave a comment

There is a distinct difference between cross dressers, drag queens and the neighbors who put a lamp shade on their head for Halloween. And neither catagory necessarily means the person is gay or has a sexual identity problem. I don’t profess to be an expert on any of these subjects though I have enjoyed Jim Bailey as Barbra Streisand in his one man show in Las Vegas. I am not a fan of ‘Dame Edna’ but I loved Charles Pierce and who didn’t laugh at Flip Wilson as Geraldine?

Since ancient days men have gone on stage dressed as women and the Shakespearean era was known for not allowing women on stage. There is an excellent movie starring Billy Crudup and Claire Danes with the latter playing female figures such as Desdemona on stage until the king decrees that women can do stage roles . There was also “Shakespeare in Love” where Gwyneth Paltrow had to play a young man auditioning for the role of Romeo. Who hasn’t laughed at Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon in drag in “Some Like It Hot” or enjoyed Dustin Hoffman as “Tootsie”?

What does all this have to do with Halloween being a Gay holiday? What follows is MY experience and what I observed over the years. Now I haven’t been into a gay bar in years so I don’t know if this Halloween we will still see hundreds of Judy Garlands and Nuns but at one time both were a symbol of the holiday.

In the 1950s and 1960s many States had laws on the books–and some probably still do–that a man could not dress as a woman or he could be arrested. In fact I went to a number of bars, called the Bird Circuit, in New York where men where not allowed to touch each other. Some had dancing in a back room and if a bartender thought a customer looked suspicious, like a plainclothesman, he would flick the lights in the backroom from a switch under the bar and the men would immediately stop dancing.

Back then there were infamous drag balls in Harlem that were known far and wide attended by many socialites. The costumes were outrageous, each one more glamorous than the next one and though illegal it went on without a hitch. Dressing up in costume for Halloween became high art and some of the grandest balls were held that night.

I vaguely remember being in the Faision D’Or bar one Halloween sort of surprised by all the women who were in there–hey I was young back then–only to slowly became aware it was men. Living in New York drag shows were nothing new and in fact there was a nightclub that catered to tourists where the cast was all men dressed as women except for one woman dressed as a man. Yes even back then drag was an accepted form of entertainment.

I don’t remember the name of the bar on Miami Beach that was off LIncoln Road on Alton Road that in the early 1960s did drag revues and a few blocks south was the famous Jewel Box Revue that traveled all over the USA and would be nodded to by the character Paul in “A Chorus Line” in 1975.

There being drag in New York and Florida really didn’t surprise me but I was surprised to find a drag bar–don’t remember the name–in Memphis, Tennessee, when I moved there in 1969. I, also, remember the high caliber , finely polished drag show I saw in Sidney, Australia, a few years later where it was all live music including the singing but that’s another blog.

Halloween as a big gay holiday hit home to me when I moved to Fort Lauderdale in 1979 and went to The Sandpiper nightclub that October 31. At that time we had 4 different gay magazines/bar guides/newspapers and the ‘Best Costume’ events were being held in every bar–gay or nongay–but the biggest awards/ prizes were in the gay bars. That was the night I thought the whole world was made up of Judy Garland!

(TO BE CONTINUED)

Posted October 29, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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GOING AROUND TOWN   Leave a comment

October has been a good month and it looks like weather wise the last week will be great—including low humidity and a cool breeze!

Movie wise went to see “Enough Said”, “Gravity” IN 3D, “Captain Phillips”, “Naked As We Came” and “The Counselor”–3 out of 5 were outstanding (the first 3) and the other two were okay.

Theatre wise saw “Mamma Mia” which on stage is so much better than the movie version. It also led to an ‘adventure’ with Allen and I spending the day in Miami Beach and Miami (for those who don’t know they are completely 2 different cities!)

Of course, being an important part of my life, food is always involved and we continue our winning streak eating the 2-4-1 lunches at the Cafe Vico. Next week will be the last Thursday and we will be trying new places again. In addition to Cafe Vico we ate at Smokey Bones, The Dubliner Pub, Boston Market, Balan’s, Subway and IHOP. (Shhhh–don’t tell Allen–I went to the Pomperdale Deli AFTER seeing my doctor–you know the weighing in, blood tests, etc., Always go after! Had a ‘New Yorker’ which is corned beef and pastrami with Swiss cheese and dressing on a delicious soft rye bread and a good sour pickle!)

Though one of our regular go to the movies theatre closed, deservedly, we saw that the riverfront was getting ready for Halloween with a big scary show called “Festival Of Souls in The Demon Mansion” taking over the second floor, not to mention finding a new type of flower walking along the bank of the river.

On a high note there is a possibilty that I may get hired to do some writing for another blog site but don’t want to jinx it so won’t say more now.

I, also, did something strange today–I decided to walk around the perimeter of Gateway! Though it was rough on the legs I must say I enjoyed it. Of course I stopped to give John the paper and I stopped at the corner of 19th ave and 7th street to take a few pictures. Oh yes I also stopped for awhile to watch a school of fish in the canal and then I had to stop  to say hello o Norma, Harlan and Patricia who were at the point. Continuing my walk Francis was sitting outside his door so we had to catch up and Jerri came along so we did some chatting. A little later, since I was so close, I stopped to say hello to Norman who told me he was going on a cruise to nowhere for a couple of days and nights on a ship from England that is trying to sell cruises in South Florida. I finally go home feeling tired but good. I won’t mention it took me about an hour to go a little more than a mile!!! BUT I WALKED!!!! And you likeexercise—why?

I’m a little short of money–going to Miami Beach does that–at the end of the month but nothing to worry about and prepping myself for the holiday season coming up starting with the gay holiday Halloween!

 

Weather in Fort Lauderdale , Florida

bing.com/weather
Now Sat Sun Mon Tue Wed  
81°
Partly Cloudy
Partly Cloudy Partly Cloudy Partly Cloudy Partly Cloudy

 

 

°F | °C 83° / 71° 82° / 73° 83° / 76° 85° / 77°

85° / 77

 

Posted October 26, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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A HEALTH CHOICE & POOL RULES FOR OLD FOLKS   Leave a comment

Turns out that my carotid artery is blocked–I have 3 choices:

1) Carotid endarterectomy which is an operation to peel away the plaque with a scalpel–surgical dangers are stroke, bleeding, infection and a slight possibility of death.

2) Angioplasty where a soft narrow tube is inserted into the groin and removes the plaque through the tube and a stent is inserted–the dangers are the same as above but recovery is faster

3) Do nothing and have a high risk of a stroke.

And what option would YOU choose????

This was posted 6-7(?) years ago and I chose #3–I am not a worrier so after the decision that was that–I didn’t think of it until recently when I had a big lump on the right side of my throat–turns out it wasn’t anything (whatever that means!)

I did find out this week why what I thought was my smokey, microphone ready, sexy voice wasn’t anymore–seems in 2008 when I had the aorta valve replacement I had a partial paralysis of my right vocal cord while I was ‘under’ and I understand many strokes, even deaths, take place when one is under anesthesia–that was brought up by my new vascular surgeon when he was discussing the complications of my P.E.D. I will be going for 2 ultra sounds next week so he can see what is going on and we will go from there. Once again I am not worried as that won’t do anything.

Funny but you don’t hear anything about this when you are a ‘kid’!

******************************************************************

ON THE LIGHTER SIDE

When you live with old folks the pool rules are a little different–can you read the “Don’t use the pool if…” rule ?

 

******************************************************************

Posted October 24, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE PART 5   Leave a comment

Memories are a funny thing. I moved to Memphis in October, 1969 and for 2-3 years I lived at the Hamlet apartments which was on East Popular Avenue which turned into Poplar Pike Extended. I only remember 3-4 incidents associated with that apartment but they are for another blog.

I once did a blog about the fact that I averaged a move every 5 years and of the 10 years I lived in Memphis 7 of them were at Chatham Village and 3 at the Hamlet. I loved the townhouse on Park Avenue (in the picture above) and have many great memories of the years I lived there. It was next to the Methodist East hospital, which came in handy a few years later, when I was drunk, returned from a trip to NYC arriving in Memphis in a snow storm, slipping on an icy step from where I had parked my car and split my forehead above the eye. (That’s another blog–hopefully I’ll remember all these separate blogs I have been talking about. LOL) I, also, lived across from train tracks but never heard the trains going by. Ummmmmm, do I talk about the red light or is THAT another blog? Okay, another blog!

 

One of the first ‘sightseeing’ things I did after a week in Memphis was to go to see The Pink Palace. It was originally built by Clarence Saunders who owned the Piggly Wiggly (I’m sorry but even 41 years later I laugh when I say, see or write that name.) It was built with pink Georgian marble which is how it got its name. I don’t remember the history of when he lost the home to bankruptcy and it became a museum of natural history and planetarium but I do remember the afternoon I spent there and thinking it was quite impressive.

After the assassination of Martin Luther King certain ‘events’ started to go downhill and I was lucky enough to see two of them before they were changed. One was the Cotton Carnival which was, at one time, a salute to cotton, and took place in June every year,with krewes like they had in New Orleans at Mardi Gras time. There would be a Royal barge come down with the debutantes of the season and then a parade plus special balls all over town. In the middle of the 70s it became more of a salute to ‘sister’ cities around the world.

Ever since I was a teenager and we had a summer home in Lake Hiawatha, New Jersey and I would go to the end of the summer fair near Morristown this city boy has loved fairs of all kind. It didn’t take me long to hear about the Mid-South fair and I was there for the rides, concessions, 4-H club and, of course, all the food competitions.

Both events started going downhill in the mid 70s and I don’t know what happened after I left Memphis but I have heard both the Carnival and the Fair have made a big comeback in the 2000s. I’ll have to check that out with Chuck and Terry.

Just before I left Memphis they started to construct Mudd Island which would eventually get the Pyramid sports arena. It had a monorail from downtown to the Island which was featured in the Tom Cruise film, “The Firm”. I didn’t get to Mudd Island until I visited Memphis in the 80s with Bill and we went to see an outdoor production of the touring company of “A Chorus Line”.

When I arrived in Memphis it was a ‘dry’ State which meant you couldn’t buy drinks in restaurants or bars but you could bring your own bottle and would be charged for set ups and/or a corkage fee. It would be 2-3 years before the law was changed but until then people would get drunk as they had to finish the bottle before leaving the restaurant/bar because you couldn’t have an ‘open’ container in your car. I wish I could remember the name of the jazz club I use to spend a lot of time in not only because of the entertainment but they had lockers that you could rent to leave your bottle of unfinished booze and have it there the next time you came to the club. That whole thing was quite the ‘culteral’ shock to this New Yorker but I did adapt, quickly.

Though I didn’t go there often there was a park on the bluffs of Memphis overlooking the Mississippi river that offered awe inspiring sites of the river, downtown Memphis and the shore line of Arkansas.

There was a lot to see and do in Memphis and I did and saw a lot but the place I spent most of my time was Overton Park in the center of Memphis with many different aspects including a band shell that Elvis did a show or two, a zoo, a natural woodland but that’s only part of the story and they weren’t  the reason I spent so much time there–besides, and how dare I say this, I didn’t care for Elvis!!!

     

Still to come: Gig Young, Overton Park, Overton Square, picking greens in the field, JWag’s, Goldsmith’s, Jackson, Jonesboro, Chattanooga, Circuit Playhouse, Theatre Memphis, sex in the buckle of the bible belt, Joe, Issac, Gene and more!

Posted October 23, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE PART 5   Leave a comment

Memories are a funny thing. I moved to Memphis in October, 1969 and for 2-3 years I lived at the Hamlet apartments which was on East Popular Avenue which turned into Poplar Pike Extended. I only remember 3-4 incidents associated with that apartment but they are for another blog.

I once did a blog about the fact that I averaged a move every 5 years and of the 10 years I lived in Memphis 7 of them were at Chatham Village and 3 at the Hamlet. I loved the townhouse on Park Avenue (in the picture above) and have many great memories of the years I lived there. It was next to the Methodist East hospital, which came in handy a few years later, when I was drunk, returned from a trip to NYC arriving in Memphis in a snow storm, slipping on an icy step from where I had parked my car and split my forehead above the eye. (That’s another blog–hopefully I’ll remember all these separate blogs I have been talking about. LOL) I, also, lived across from train tracks but never heard the trains going by. Ummmmmm, do I talk about the red light or is THAT another blog? Okay, another blog!

 

One of the first ‘sightseeing’ things I did after a week in Memphis was to go to see The Pink Palace. It was originally built by Clarence Saunders who owned the Piggly Wiggly (I’m sorry but even 41 years later I laugh when I say, see or write that name.) It was built with pink Georgian marble which is how it got its name. I don’t remember the history of when he lost the home to bankruptcy and it became a museum of natural history and planetarium but I do remember the afternoon I spent there and thinking it was quite impressive.

After the assassination of Martin Luther King certain ‘events’ started to go downhill and I was lucky enough to see two of them before they were changed. One was the Cotton Carnival which was, at one time, a salute to cotton, and took place in June every year,with krewes like they had in New Orleans at Mardi Gras time. There would be a Royal barge come down with the debutantes of the season and then a parade plus special balls all over town. In the middle of the 70s it became more of a salute to ‘sister’ cities around the world.

Ever since I was a teenager and we had a summer home in Lake Hiawatha, New Jersey and I would go to the end of the summer fair near Morristown this city boy has loved fairs of all kind. It didn’t take me long to hear about the Mid-South fair and I was there for the rides, concessions, 4-H club and, of course, all the food competitions.

Both events started going downhill in the mid 70s and I don’t know what happened after I left Memphis but I have heard both the Carnival and the Fair have made a big comeback in the 2000s. I’ll have to check that out with Chuck and Terry.

Just before I left Memphis they started to construct Mudd Island which would eventually get the Pyramid sports arena. It had a monorail from downtown to the Island which was featured in the Tom Cruise film, “The Firm”. I didn’t get to Mudd Island until I visited Memphis in the 80s with Bill and we went to see an outdoor production of the touring company of “A Chorus Line”.

When I arrived in Memphis it was a ‘dry’ State which meant you couldn’t buy drinks in restaurants or bars but you could bring your own bottle and would be charged for set ups and/or a corkage fee. It would be 2-3 years before the law was changed but until then people would get drunk as they had to finish the bottle before leaving the restaurant/bar because you couldn’t have an ‘open’ container in your car. I wish I could remember the name of the jazz club I use to spend a lot of time in not only because of the entertainment but they had lockers that you could rent to leave your bottle of unfinished booze and have it there the next time you came to the club. That whole thing was quite the ‘culteral’ shock to this New Yorker but I did adapt, quickly.

Though I didn’t go there often there was a park on the bluffs of Memphis overlooking the Mississippi river that offered awe inspiring sites of the river, downtown Memphis and the shore line of Arkansas.

There was a lot to see and do in Memphis and I did and saw a lot but the place I spent most of my time was Overton Park in the center of Memphis with many different aspects including a band shell that Elvis did a show or two, a zoo, a natural woodland but that’s only part of the story and they weren’t  the reason I spent so much time there–besides, and how dare I say this, I didn’t care for Elvis!!!

     

Still to come: Gig Young, Overton Park, Overton Square, picking greens in the field, JWag’s, Goldsmith’s, Jackson, Jonesboro, Chattanooga, Circuit Playhouse, Theatre Memphis, sex in the buckle of the bible belt, Joe, Issac, Gene and more!

Posted October 23, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE PART 3   Leave a comment

   

 

February 29, 1976 I celebrated my 10th Leap Year Birthday by having a party at the Memphis Hilton hotel for 300 of ‘my closest friends’, more about that in a minute. There was a reception from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM in the Toastmaster’s room with cocktails, appetizers and a jazz trio followed by a sit down dinner, in the Director’s room, featuring Prime Ribs, Yorkshire pudding,Caesar salad and a band ending with desserts and dancing in the Corporate room with another band and a singer.

 

  

 

Needless to say, if you know me, the 5 tier cake was a carrot cake with cream cheese and walnut icing. The whole affair was on the front page of the Commercial-Appeal society section and hundreds of pictures were taken which is a good thing as I was drunk the whole evening, (that wasn’t inthe newspaper story), and only remember minutes here and there including a ‘thank you for coming’ speech sitting in front of the bandnext to the singer and not making sense!

 

 

 

Regardingthose 300 ‘friends’ there was my lover, Johnny, his parents, most of the employees of the business I had started, Our Weigh, plus about a dozenpeople who had lost 100 pounds and more under my guidance , 2 tables of gay friends and friends who had flown in from Chattanooga, Atlanta, Kansas city, New York, St. Louis and so on. It was the people who weren’t there that was a bummer such as my Aunt Flo who was the first one to show me unconditional love, my father who had come to Memphis the year before and we were on the verge of a reconciliation, a group of people who decided to stay with Bernie when we split, not to forget Bob, Nina, Jean, Ladye, BJ, Chuck, Bob,  Gene, Joan, Addie,  Joe, Issac and, yes, Bernie himself (which didn’t surprise
me) and my brother and his family and many others. Of the 300 people there I have only heard from and/or seen 5(!) of them since 1979–goodthing I have albums of pictures of them!  LOL

I promise there will be no mention of food in Part 4 but right now I want to share another memory of that time. Memphis was sort of a hub of many cities within reach by car in a few hours such as Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Hot Springs, St. Louis and, one trip we took, was on July 13,1974,  to Fort Smith, Arkansas, on the far west boundary of the State. Why? Food, of course.They were offering, to anyone who could eat it all, within an hour, a
free meal of a 72 ounce sirloin steak, a shrimp cocktail, a salad and abeverage. I still have the notarized bill stating that I did it. The next day I had to go on radio and talk about being a Weight Watcher!!! LOL

 


 

I
didn’t drive a car until the age of 33, October, 1969, when I moved to Memphis. Up to that point I had lived where transportation was readily available or I had friends to rely on. Before I left NYC Bernie said I should have a few driving lessons because I would really need a car when I got to Memphis. Joan took me down to Wall Street on a Sunday in her VW Beatle, with a stick shift, to give me a few lessons and without going into the gory details, and her pulling her hair out, after an hour the lessons were over! When I got down to Memphis Bernie spent a weekend teaching me how to drive, then that Tuesday I got my license and three days later the company leased me my first car–a brand new1970 white Cadillac convertble –which I would walk into the dealer 5 years later and pay cash to own it.

 


 

Coming up: Our Weigh, Weight Watchers, Gig Young, Chuck, Bob, picking greens, Overton Park and Overton Square, Cotton Carnival, mid-South fair, Jwags, Mudd Island, the pyramid, my last trip to Memphis, Issac, Joe, red light, Pink Palace, Millington navy base, Carbondale, Jackson, Jonesboro, Chattanooga and, oh yes, SEX IN MEMPHIS

Posted October 21, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE PART 2   Leave a comment

 

 

It’s no secret that these days I take a camera wherever I go so I am sort of surprised that for the 10 years I lived in Memphis I took very few pictures outdoors–in fact I don’t even have a picture of the new, white, 1970 Cadillac convertible that the business bought for me in 1969!

I’ve gone through google, bing and other search engines but I couldn’t find pictures of what I wanted such as Pappy’s Lobster Shack which was definitely a shack. Not only were all the rooms mismatched but each wall had many patterns of wallpaper and no two tiles on the floor matched. Pappy’s was in Overton Square before it was renovated and was one of the first restaurants I went to after arriving in Memphis. Though it is over 30+ years I can still taste that Pompano en Pappolette that was so good I wanted to eat thye parchment paper it was baked in.

Memphis had many excellent restaurants including The Four Flames and Justine’s, both antebellum homes, with the former serving prime ribs and the latter concentrating on old fashioned French food. Though it was 1969 and Martin Luther King had been shot to death in downtown Memphis the so called ‘better’ restaurants still hung onto Black servers. Justine’s was a 5 star restaurant and as formal as a restaurant could get.

      

Being Memphis there were barbecue restaurants all over the city one being the world famous Rendezvous Room just a walk away from the Peabody Hotel. On the other hand the two or three what they called ‘delis’–with New York always proceeding the phrase–were horrendous. There were many excellent restaurants including The Shelby Motel right out side of town where they had the most succulent fried catfish and, I forget the name, a restaurant right off the Memphis University campus where you could get the best Southern breakfasts, with grits, made as they should be.

It was on top of the Union Planters bank building on Poplar Avenue that I ate in my first revolving restaurant and it was there, having dinner with John, that we sat and watched Nixon resign. There were Italian restaurants like Grisanti’s and—darn! Where did I keep the camera?!–one I loved that was just across the railroad tracks between Park and Poplar Avenues–maybe Chuck remembers the name–he is younger than me!  LOL

I really didn’t mean to make this whole blog about food but the great restaurants in Memphis only added to my joy of living there. Next time I’ll talk about the ice skating rink, picking greens,  seeing “The Boys In The Band”, which was a shock at that time in the Bible Belt, Gig Young in “Long’s Day Journey Into Night”, Mudd Island and the pyramid, Overton Square and park, Our Weigh, Memphis In May carnival, my missing diaries from 1970-1976 and what I think happened to them, my last visit there and why I felt I had to leave in 1979.

Posted October 20, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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MEMPHIS, TENNESSEE PART 1   Leave a comment

(IT IS HARD FOR ME TO BELIEVE THAT IT WAS 44 YEARS AGO–oCTOBER 1969– I WENT TO LIVE IN MEMPHIS–IT TURNED OUT TO BE ONE OF THE BEST DECADES OF MY LIFE!)

Joan said to me, as we drove out to the airport, “Remember you already have three strikes against you. You are Gay, you are Jewish and you are a Yankee. The only thing saving your ass is that you aren’t Black!”

It was the 4th of July weekend in 1969 and I was flying to Memphis for the weekend to see if I wanted to move there permanently. I wasn’t doing too bad in New York, working part-time as a waiter and part time as a lecturer for Weight Watchers at which I was very successful. I had lost 100+ pounds in 1967 and later that year Bernie had shown up at one of my classes. He worked at the main office of WW helping train franchisees. We spent that Christmas together and then we got an apartment between 2nd and 3rd avenues in the 30s. In 1969 Bernie decided he wanted to buy a franchise and Memphis, Eastern Arkansas, Western Tennessee and Chattanooga was the best of the few areas still available. He wanted me to go with him and help get it started and build it up. Addie, and Joan, told me not to trust him, to get it in writing. I trusted him and didn’t get anything in writing   but that’s for another blog.

   

Bernie picked me up at the airport and we took I-40 and I-240 to the Holiday Inn on Poplar Avenue and I fell in love with the city. One of the first questions I asked, and never got an answer,  was why was West Memphis in Arkansas? And that was just the start of 9 years and 10 months living and working in Memphis, Tennessee.


                    

The only thing I had to lose when I left New York were friends and I knew we would keep in contact and we did. I moved to Memphis on October 12, 1969 to become the Director of Operations for our franchise area. I, well Bernie, rented an apartment not too far from the Holiday Inn I had stayed at. I, also, learned that Memphis was the home of Holiday Inn and the original was still on Summer Avenue not that far from our main office.

In spite of Joan’s warning being Jewish wasn’t something ‘bad’ in Memphis. There was a good size Jewish population and many of the upper and influential  families were Jewish. One of the things that did surprise me was that in one of the Memphis suburbs, ironically called Germantown, there was the largest Jewish Community Center in the ‘Bible Belt’.

For almost a year we worked 24/7 to make WW a success and we far exceeded our goals. When I had time I would run around discovering things about Memphis that surprised me and little by little I got to learn the city. The gay life was more plentiful than I had expected but aside from 3 gay bars it was mainly behind closed doors and most men were leading double lives, but more about that later.

               

To this day I will never forget the first time I saw The March Of The Ducks in the lobby of the Peabody hotel in downtown Memphis, They were a famous tourist must. Every morning the elevator would come down from the roof of the hotel nonstop to the lobby, a red carpet would be laid out and music would be played on a recorder as the ducks would march out of the elevator to the fountain, spend the afternoon there and then near the evening would be marched back to the elevator and up to the roof. To see group of tourists watching ducks march to and from an elevator, taking pictures of them was, and still is, one of the funniest sights to be seen anywhere.

This New Yorker was taken aback by the size of the supermarkets which, to my eyes were humongous, and couldn’t be afforded in New York and not to forget the ‘lift’ which raised your groceries up so  the customer didn’t have to empty the basket.

There was so much more to discover about this beautiful city. I always felt that someone ran behind the cars picking up any debris thrown out by the occupants. There was no doubt in my mind that every home and business owner got up at 6 AM and mowed their lawns. Every Spring the city became a perfume factory with the aromas of the jasmine, tulip magnolias, irises, hyacinths, gardenias and roses, just a few of the many blooming plants, trees and bushes that over take and make the place seem even more magical.

Before I talk anymore about the city I came to love, and fell in love with, and fell in love in, I must say that strike against me as a Yankee worked in my favor because everyone wanted to hear my ‘funny’ accent and my classes were always full.

So much to share, so much to talk about, to tell you about Memphis: Justine’s, The Four Flames, Pappy’s Lobster Shack, the Shelby Motel, J-Wags, Whitehaven, the red light outside my door, opening my own business, Theatre Memphis, Overton Square and Park, the first place I saw a revolving restaurant, a city full of things to see and do and people so warm, outgoing and in your face honesty and so much behind doors and all the lies that go into making a life and a city. In the 70s I saw Bette Midler take a staid audience and turn it wild as if to say, “There is no stopping Memphis,” and there wasn’t.

Part 2–the places tourists see and those they don’t–brown bagging booze—small jazz clubs–revitalizing downtown–Mudd Island and the Pyramid–of course, Elvis–the Southern Belle still lives as does the Southern Gentlemen and don’t take their softness as a weakness–so more to come.

Posted October 19, 2013 by greatmartin in Uncategorized

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