Archive for October 2018

Halloween Thoughts   1 comment

Halloween 3 years

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 was “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 were not allowed to touch each other.

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.Just last season HBO did a series called “Pose” which told that story.

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.

There was a 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!

 

Look at the date on the bottom picture and I realize it is exactly 32 years ago and I still recognize that guy–WOW!! I was never into the Halloween scene especially since the 1970s when everyone dressed as either Judy Garland or a Nun! At that time I was working at Wag’s on University Drive and Commercial Boulevard–it has since been 3 different businesses–and Gonzalez, who I had worked with in New York, had brought in a painting kit knowing I wouldn’t be dressed up for Halloween and got to work so there I was walking around serving customers as a cat! Back in ‘those days’ we didn’t have phones with cameras or point and shoot digital cameras so there were no selfies or such! I was looking through my pictures because I know I have one of my two friend’s, each named Michael, dressed up to go out to the bars–yes one was Judy and the other a Nun–but I can’t find it–will have to look again. Thinking of the holiday and the year I realize it is also 32 years ago both Michaels and one of my mentors, Albyn, died, 2 in the month of October. The three of them loved celebrating Halloween and it has become a bitter sweet time for me–I miss them but I see kids all dressed up getting ready to ‘trick or treat’ and I just want to say Happy Halloween and have a lot of fun! Sadly in 2018 I also have to add ‘BE SAFE’!

 

 

Look at the date on the bottom picture and I realize it is exactly 32 years ago and I still recognize that guy–WOW!! I was never into the Halloween scene especially since the 1970s when everyone dressed as either Judy Garland or a Nun! At that time I was working at Wag’s on University Drive and Commercial Boulevard–it has since been 3 different businesses–and Gonzalez, who I had worked with in New York, had brought in a painting kit knowing I wouldn’t be dressed up for Halloween and got to work so there I was walking around serving customers as a cat! Back in ‘those days’ we didn’t have phones with cameras or point and shoot digital cameras so there were no selfies or such! I was looking through my pictures because I know I have one of my two friend’s, each named Michael, dressed up to go out to the bars–yes one was Judy and the other a Nun–but I can’t find it–will have to look again. Thinking of the holiday and the year I realize it is also 32 years ago both Michaels and one of my mentors, Albyn, died, 2 in the month of October. The three of them loved celebrating Halloween and it has become a bitter sweet time for me–I miss them but I see kids all dressed up getting ready to ‘trick or treat’ and I just want to say Happy Halloween and have a lot of fun! Sadly in 2018 I also have to add ‘BE SAFE’!

Posted October 31, 2018 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, HOLIDAYS, LIFE, LIFE EVENTS, Uncategorized

Restaurants October 2018 Fort Lauderdale   Leave a comment

It’s no secret I love eating out just as it is no secret that I can’t afford to eat out as much as I want.

I can eat out because I had to give up my car in 2004 so between insurance, repairs (it was a 1974 Chevrolet Caprice convertible), gas, oil, license tags, registration fees, I was saving enough money to eat out is spite of prices of food, let alone restaurant prices, going higher and higher.

One way I can afford to eat out is buying/using coupons from groupon, localflavor, Sunday papers, mailers, in most cases being 2-4-1 or 50% off.

In October things were really looking up as I got to eat in 3 of my favorite restaurants including Bistro MezzaLuna where so far it has been impossible to get a bad Italian dish plus Quarterdeck which has 5 star Jambalaya among other items plus, yes, a fast food place, Subways which have great breads and sandwiches.

We did discover a new restaurant which I thought was a franchise but is just a concept put to work by Joe who owns Press&Grind. There is no doubt that he, and everyone he has trained to work for him, knows the customer is important and takes care of them.

Last, but not least, we discovered Burgerstop and their above average cheeseburgers that run a little high in price, though they are worth it, so it will be a once in a while go to place, definitely looking forward to going!

Posted October 30, 2018 by greatmartin in FLORIDA, FOOD, FORT LAUDERDALE, RESTAURANTS, Uncategorized

October 2018 Movies and Broadway Season   Leave a comment

The big theatre news is that the Broadway Across America has arrived for the 2018-2019 season starting with the 5th visit by “Phantom of the Opera” and will follow by “The King and I” in Fort Lauderdale and “Fiddler on the Roof” in Miami November 20 and, oh yes, some little show called “Hamilton”!

I am flabbergasted that an important, new, excellent movie “The Hate U Give” is not doing smash business. Come on, it is being beaten by “Venom”!!  “The Hate U Give” and the performance by Amanda Stenberg is a MUST SEE!

While “A Star Is Born” is not quite as good and entertaining as the Judy Garland version, which is considered a classic, Lady Gaga acquits herself in both the singing and acting  while Bradly Cooper makes a good directing debut.

And don’t forget the entertaining “Tea With The Dames” which is like spending time with 4 friends who tell it like it is whether talking about each others, themselves or other people in their lives!

New Foods   Leave a comment

I love new restaurants, foods, recipes, dishes, spices and I do my best to have at least new one every month in each category!

The easiest new things to have are found in grocery stores and in Fort Lauderdale we have many speciality stores from countries all over the world just as you wouldn’t be able to find a country that isn’t represented by a restaurant or a dozen or more restaurants providing dining experiences like Thai, Japanese, Mexican, Cuban, Peruvian, Brazilian, African, Spanish, Chinese, Italian, Greek, Filipino, Indian, Far Eastern, Israel, German, French, Vietnam, etc., etc. 

We have practically every food franchise and variations of the same from 16 different burger places to enough Mexican restaurants to feed every Mexican!

There isn’t a spice in the world that you won’t find here or, for that matter any food you need to make a sauce, soup or main course. Desserts? Name one and I will take you to a place you can find it.

Above are just some of the new foods, spices, salsas, soups, one or two items that had no English on them with some like the cream of Asparagus soup that was all in Spanish or what I think is a spice with only what looks like Chinese characters on it.

By the way that black bean salsa is a winner!

Posted October 27, 2018 by greatmartin in FOOD, RECIPES, Uncategorized

BURGERSTOP–restraurant review   1 comment

BRGRSTOP OCT 26 2018
First and foremost this is one of the best, juiciest cheeseburgers I have had in a long time, including it being cooked to the temperature I like!

The facts: Allen had the ‘Fu-Ghet-About-It’ burger ($14.95) and a Mint Chip White Chocolate shake ($8). He really liked the shake but found the burger a little hard to handle. I had the Under Construction Burger ($13.50) and a bowl of vanilla ice cream ($5). I had the burger medium rare with cheddar cheese, raw onion and tomato. It was thick on a good seeded bun and came with a side of thin fries which really didn’t thrill me. The $5 of ice cream was for 3 scoops and I have been charged about the same for a lesser amount in many other restaurants.

Gabriel, the server, did an excellent job except for 1 slight mistake. When we paid the check we did it with a credit card which he was able to take care right at the table but when handing the machine for me to sign he had added a 18% tip and didn’t say anything about it. I just happened to catch it when I saw the total and explained to him that I preferred leaving a cash tip—I was a waiter for 38 years and other waiters will understand why. He showed me where I could enter ‘no tip’ which I did and asked for a receipt. Our check with tax came to $43.94 and we left a $10 tip.

Though there are legitimate reasons for adding a tip to a check, and I still won’t/don’t like it, it should be a rule that the customer be told when the check is given.

Basically, the lunch check came to $26 each which is way too high for my budget and wouldn’t allow me to eat there very often but when I am ready for good burger, a treat, and having it the way I want to I will go to BRGRSTOP.

Another negative: the ever annoying televisions!

It was fairly empty being 3 PM with a couple at the bar and 2 other couples at tables but I have an idea it can be pretty noisy when even at half capacity. The place has an interesting but very ‘busy’ interior.

Bottom line? I loved that burger!

“The Happy Prince”–movie review   1 comment

Happy

I was looking forward to seeing “The Happy Prince” as 1) I am a big fan of Rupert Everett who hasn’t been doing much in films for quite awhile and 2) I admire Oscar Wilde’s writings and witticisms.

I read that Everett has been trying to get this film made for 10 years and even did it on stage for 2 years. He got Colin Firth, Emily Watson and Tom Wilkinson to star along with him plus gave Colin Morgan and Edwin Thomas major roles and all deal well with the material given them.

The major problem with “The Happy Prince” is the material, the screenplay written by Everett. He, also, directed and stars in the film which seems too much of a burden that he should have shared by either giving the directing or the screenplay to someone else to do.

Instead of concentrating on Wilde’s life after his imprisonment Everett brings in too much of his life before and in turn going back and forth in decades to the point of confusion from Wilde’s telling his story of “The Happy Prince” to his own two sons to a street boy and his brother and completely making  a puzzle of Lord Alfred Douglas also known as Bosie who was responsible for Wilde’s being sentenced to hard labor as a sodomite and his downfall. Bosie also causes Wilde the loss of his income and sons. How Robbie Ross became so important to his life and the role he played has to be just accepted by the audience just as Reggie Turner is without explanation.

With make-up, prosthetics and padding plus acting Rupert Everett gives us a well rounded Oscar Wilde in despair, a failure, a man unable to cope with who he was and who he is after being shunned by all who praised him before. With the destruction of a man who was considered a great playwright the screenwriter/director fails to make the audience feel the despair this man went through after being found guilty on charges of gross decency or of being one of many who did not talk about “the love that dare not speaks its name” and were persecuted for it.

Aside from going back and forth in time and countries not to mention debauchery “The Happy Prince” is pretty dark in the filming and photography while understandable with many places lit just by candlelight gets no relief when outdoors.

Possibly my expectations were too high or I was looking for something that wasn’t there. I thought I knew a lot about Wilde’s life but people such as Robbie Ross and Reggie Turner were strange names to me and I was hoping to learn more about these two men who were so important to Wilde in his downfall.

I found “The Happy Prince” to be a boring film about an incredible man.

Movie trailer     https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4HmN9r1Fcr8

Posted October 26, 2018 by greatmartin in ENTERTAINMENT, MOVIE REVIEW, MOVIES, Uncategorized

Flowers light my life up!   1 comment

I don’t know when I fell in love with flowers and plants but I do remember as a youngster going to Miami Beach with my family and being in awe of all the wild Bird of Paradise plants and multi-colored flowers. There was also our summer home in New Jersey and I can still smell the peonies in front of the house.
 
I think, though, that I really got involved with all of it when Johnny and I lived together in Memphis. We had hanging plants all over the townhouse and he was constantly working in the backyard patio garden. I found myself bringing home plants.
 
It was when I moved to Gateway, here in Fort Lauderdale, that I really went all out after seeing how many residents made their own gardens outside of their ground floor apartments.  I started buying all sorts of plants putting many outside on my walkway. Indoors I not only bought plants I would grow heads of lettuce, stalks of Romaine lettuce, green peppers or I would also break off a stick off the Hibiscus bush outside, stick it in a pot and watch it grow, put out buds and flower.
 
When we got new owners we also got new rules and no longer do you see any flowering bushes, trees, resident’s gardens or plants out on my walkway.
 
I do have 28 plants in my apartment from Geraniums to Begonias, Cuban plants, Aloe and Christmas cactus, a miniature pine tree and I just ‘buried’ some tomato seeds in a pot.
 
Nothing, yes nothing, makes me feel better than seeing flowers in bloom and if you ever want to get me to do something bring me flowers or a plant!

Posted October 25, 2018 by greatmartin in LIFE, MOTHER NATURE, PLANTS, Uncategorized

I will not move again!   1 comment

For the first 63 years of my life I averaged moving every 5 years. Between my being born until I left ‘home’ I lived in 3 different places and after the Marines  between 1956-1969 I lived in Hollywood, California, for a year, 4 different apartments in Miami Beach, 3, that I can remember, in Manhattan before moving to Memphis where I lived in 2 different places in 10 years of which 7 were at 5921 Park Avenue.

In 1979 I moved to Fort Lauderdale and until 1999 I changed living places 3 times and then 2 things happened. The bad was that I was financially in very bad shape in 1997 and, luckily, I had a few friends who were willing to help me out (and, yes, I paid them all back!) While I was going through that period my friend Perry told me about looking into getting on a HUD home listing. I put applications in 3 different locations and a week before I might be sleeping in my car I was called to come to Gateway, that my application had been approved. I was relieved primarily because of the 3 places I had applied to this was the one I wanted to move to and I did.

I moved into what was called a small one-bedroom apartment but, according to rules then, after I lived there for a year I could apply for a large one bedroom apartment which is what I did. Not expecting it to happen it took 5 years (!) for me to move into the apartment I am in now and have been in for 14 years.

Over the years I have had some bad things happen to me but more good than bad and moving here was more than a lifesaver, it gave me a life and helped me be a happy, more satisfied old man than you will ever meet.

There is no more peaceful place than The Point, especially late at night, sitting there in a big city not hearing any noise except, maybe, a plane passing overhead. The sky is filled with stars and a moon that is reflected on the water of Karen Bay. The Point is at the east end of the Gateway property and one can’t sit there without knowing they are lucky to be where they are.

Posted October 24, 2018 by greatmartin in LIFE, LIFE EVENTS, Uncategorized

“First Man”–movie review   1 comment

Inline image

Two momentous events happened in July 1969. The first being watched on television, by an estimated 400 million people, was Neil Armstrong’s landing on the moon July 20th and the second, after spending the weekend in Memphis I decided to move there, a move that would change my life in many ways. I’ll leave it up to you which was the more important!

“First Man” deals with the landing of the moon where the outcome is already known so for the director Damien Chazelle to a make nail-biting, the edge of the seat last half hour of suspense shows an excellent accomplishment following his work of  “Whiplash” and “La-La Land”.

Neil Armstrong, played by Ryan Gosling, is a man who is disciplined to not show emotions, even in the case of his daughter’s death, to others so the actor gets a lot of credit making this man interesting enough to want to watch and for you to hope he succeeds. It is Jan Armstrong, played by Claire Foy, who provides the personal emotion, especially in a scene where she tells her husband that he is the one who has to tell his kids that he might not return from his mission to land on the moon. She has another dynamite scene where she tells a NASA official that they are all just little boys playing with balsa wood not knowing what they are doing.

The actors surrounding Gosling and Foy, from government figures to fellow astronauts and their wives to politicians are a list of talented actors whose name may not ring bells but their faces are instantly recognizable and they all deliver. To name a few: Kyle Chandler, Jason Clarke, Pablo Schreiber, Olivia Hamilton, Corey Stoll, Lukas Haas, Patrick Fugit, Christopher Abbott, Brian D’Arcy and Cory Michael Smith.

The opening scene and a couple of others are shots that had to be included to show what these men were up against and why Armstrong was picked to lead the crew for the flight to the moon but knowing where the movie is heading sort of makes it drag during the first hour.

Space films like “Gravity”, “The Right Stuff” and, yes, “2001: A Space Odyssey” are meant to be seen on a 30-90 feet wide by 10-30 feet high movie theatre screen and so should “First Man”. 

 

Movie Trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PSoRx87OO6k

“But you don’t look 14!”   2 comments

With all due respect, you kids (anyone under 60) shouldn’t believe the lies that old people tell you!

Age is NOT just a number.

You are NOT as old as you feel.

60 is NOT the new 40.

Should I go on? Your body will tell you first thing in the morning when you try to get up that, yes, you are old. The medicines in your cabinet tell you that you are old. Doctor visits tell you that you are old. Now I can go on and tell you all the ways you will know you are old but we weren’t told so why should I spoil your fun (and moaning and groaning) as you find out.

But, and this is a big but (not to mention that most of you will get a big butt as you age!) getting old is great in many ways such as you know that worrying is a waste of time!

Let’s not talk about all the ‘specials’ you get such as reduced restaurant bills at Denny’s or the fact that you can rant and rave in restaurants, after you have cleaned your plates, about how bad the food is, how horrible the service was and the manager will pick up your check just to get rid of you. You can got to supermarkets on certain days and get 20% off. (And there are a lot more financial advantages off-set by higher medical bills!)

Complaining is an art for old people as is telling the young know it alls that they don’t know anything until they become old people who do know it all.

Biscuit, Mimi and Dallas, in the picture, are constantly told that ‘you don’t act 14, as they say out loud, ‘how old you really are in dog years?’. (Let’s just say Rian is over 14! LOL)

I constantly hear, “You don’t look/act like you are 82/83 years old!” in a surprised voice. Then when I tell them I am actually 20, being a Leap Year baby, they are silent!

What does a 82-year-old man look like? I live in a community of about 300 seniors and, let’s say, a third are men. I can line up 5 guys in around 80 and one will have a walker, another will be carrying an oxygen tank, the third will have just returned from a jog to the beach and back while the 4th will be in a wheelchair being pushed down to The Point. I am the 5th–the one who drank too much as a youth and had to stop (January 21, 1981, when I was 45) because I was having blackouts. I’m the guy who smoked 2-3 packs of cigarettes a day for 60 years and stopped (July 21, 2008) when I had to have an aorta valve replacement. I am a guy who ate all the wrong foods for years and lost 100+ pounds in March 1967 when I was 31 and for the last 50 years have been fighting between 11 and 25 pounds (depending on the month of the year).

I have PAD, fight high blood pressure and cholesterol, am a pre-diabetic, have AFIB, COPD, take blood thinners among 13 other meds, see a primary doctor a minimum of 4 times a year plus 6 specialists at least once a year and take a home test every two weeks to get my INR count.

“You don’t look 82!” Thanks but you haven’t seen my insides! I look in the mirror and I see the kid that will be 21 on Saturday, February 29, 2020, but when I get up in the morning or walk the steps up to my apartment or go to climb a step-ladder to hang a picture I know what 82/83 looks like!

Hey keep on saying “You don’t look 82!” and I will say “Thank You” because I have learned how to accept a compliment without adding ‘but’.

Oh yes, I promise to never say “When I was your age…..”.

Posted October 22, 2018 by greatmartin in HEALTH, LIFE, LIFE EVENTS, personal life, Uncategorized

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