Archive for the ‘HOLIDAYS’ Category

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’!

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

Guess what I’ll be having for Christmas Dinner?   Leave a comment

Christmas Dinner Dec 25 2017 collage

Posted December 25, 2017 by greatmartin in FOOD, HOLIDAYS, Uncategorized

A Jew looks at Christmas Part 3   Leave a comment

 

To me the Nativity scene, Santa Claus, the Rockettes, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Carols, Jingle Bells, snow, cold weather, horse and carriage rides in Central Park, the skating rinks in Rockefeller Center and Central Park, decorated store windows, hot chestnuts, etc., just to name a few things–ALL make up Christmas.

         
 

It’s 79 degrees outside but I can walk into a South Florida mall and see a Christmas tree, a kid sitting on Santa’s lap, watch another kid throw a fake snowball, hear “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” on the loudspeaker and it is Christmas for me!!!

     
 

Now my Christmas may not acknowledge Christ or any religious aspect that a Christian may but I feel as warm, as moved, surrounded by cheers of “Merry Christmas” or seeing pins on women’s clothes of lit up Santa Clauses as anyone can. I look around and I think of “Peace on earth, goodwill to men” whether it is looking at a Christmas wreath or a Hanukah bush.

       

      

I was 16 and saw myself as a sophisticated man of the world with my cashmere leather-trimmed, falling just below the knee, overcoat, leather gloves, brown fur earmuffs and a cashmere scarf thrown around my neck in cavalier fashion about to take my first horse and carriage ride through Central Park with someone I had just met in the Oak Room of the Plaza hotel. I can tell you every inch of that ride and the beauty of being in the park in the middle of Manhattan surrounded by towering buildings sparkling like many colored jewels on a dark, snowy night three days before Christmas but I couldn’t tell you a thing about the person I was with.

         

         

          

I started this series off by saying I probably will never experience another Christmas season in New York but my memories of such magical times in my life will be with me forever. Whether I hear a choir singing carols or “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” or “All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” heard on the speakers in a mall or see and/or smell holly, mistletoe, a pine tree or a nativity scene or a menorah or Santa Claus or watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” an unforgettable time will come rushing to me.

        

It is never too early for

“Peace on earth and goodwill towards men”

I hope that each of you who have never experienced the magic, the wonder, the awe, the excitement, the meaning of the holiday, get at least one chance to have Christmas in New York City.

 

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2NafDuZ1ukI

 

 

Posted December 22, 2017 by greatmartin in FORT LAUDERDALE, HOLIDAYS, SEASONS, Uncategorized

A Jew looks at Christmas Part 2   Leave a comment

The last time I was in New York City was in September 1985 and the last time I lived in New York City was 1969. I don’t see myself ever going back but there are certain times, certain memories I have of life in the city that will never go away and they all revolve around Christmas time, the week before, the day of and the week after. Nowhere in any city of the world is there the combination of magic in New York City especially if there are snow flurries or, maybe, an inch of snow blanketing the city and turning the lights into diamonds in the evening.



   

I still feel the cold nipping in my ears, my nose being red and my being on my butt more than on my feet, not to mention my mittens NOT keeping my hands warm but the wonder of ice skating in the Rockefeller Center, in the middle of Manhattan, under the glow and warmth of one of the tallest decorated Christmas (not holiday!!) trees standing in the shadow of one of New York’s most impressive buildings not to forget on the opposite side rows and rows of uncountable poinsettia plants. You are surrounded by people looking down at you from atop the perimeter of the rink plus all the people eating and drinking inside the restaurant that the rink is in the middle of and which you can’t wait to get a table, have a hot chocolate and look at the skaters falling on their butts and/or those gracefully doing spin after spin and all enjoying themselves as much as you did.

There is the afternoon you wait in line with thousands of other people to get into the cavernous and awe-inspiring Radio City Music Hall where you not only saw a movie like Doris Day in “I’ll See You In My Dreams” but an even more awe-inspiring stage show where there is the Christmas pageant featuring live camels, the Wise Men, a live reenactment of the Nativity that doesn’t fail to affect people of all religions or none at all. That is then followed by the amazing Rockettes who go from being wooden play soldiers to rocking to Jingle Bells and, of course, a visit from Santa Claus.


There is so much to do so what do you do next? Maybe buy a bag of roasted chestnuts and walk along Fifth Avenue looking in the store windows all decorated with to die for fashions and jewels? Oh, I know, I remember, walk down to Herald Square (I was able to walk in those days) where Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s try to outdo each other with season decorations and you relive “The Miracle on 34th Street” or wait, wouldn’t it be better to walk along Lexington and Madison avenues where you can buy flowers from outside stalls and look at the Christmas trees for sale while the cold goes through you and you stop for another hot chocolate? Hey, we can go to the New Hampshire bar on 57th Street (Is it still open?) and watch a ‘Northeasterner’ recreated behind the bar and stop by Carnegie Hall and see what/who is playing.

It’s early evening and it is still light enough to walk in Central Park where the snow covers the din of the city and makes everything feel pure, soft and, yes, Christmas like. It’s magic time in a city that at times can be cruel, unfeeling and devoid of magic but for two weeks in late December it is as if Tinkerbell cast her spell and fairy dust over the city and its people. It is two weeks that EVERYONE should experience at least once in their lifetime and I was lucky to experience it many times as I reached adulthood.

Don’t even get me started about experiencing falling in love for the first time during Christmas in New York—oh, get me started–let’s talk about going to the Plaza for a drink, having dinner in the middle of Central Park, taking a carriage ride–let’s talk about it in Part 3.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwacxSnc4tI

 

Posted December 21, 2017 by greatmartin in HOLIDAYS, LIFE, Uncategorized

A Jew looks at Christmas Part 1   Leave a comment


I very seldom repeat past posts but I get so tired at this time of the year regarding “Merry Christmas”, “Happy Holidays”, “Happy Hanukkah” and “Happy Kwanzaa”–I personally don’t care what you say as long as this time of the year means something to you for whatever reason. This is a 3 part series that I wrote for a paper years ago–hope you enjoy reading it again or reading it for the first time!

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I LOVE Christmas and have since the days stores didn’t decorate for the holiday until Thanksgiving weekend when Santa appeared magically all over town and the Salvation Army went out in force and didn’t take credit cards and the men stood by their big, black kettles ringing bells. It was back in the days when there were Christmas, not holiday, trees and people gleefully yelled “Merry Christmas”, not “Happy Holidays”.

I remember 73 years ago sneaking out to my front yard where we had a tall, huge fir tree and decorating it with balls and silver strips and my mother lamenting, & quote; “What will the neighbors think?” and I didn’t care. We lived on Bogart Avenue, between Lydig and Pelham Parkway, the dividing line between the Sharks and the Jets–for those who don’t get the reference it separated the Jews from the Italians and our block was made up of both.

I didn’t think of it as a religious holiday but as a time for peace towards all men. Way back then–in the ice age–you didn’t hear songs like “Jingle Bells”  until Thanksgiving weekend, certainly not in October as a theme song for a cruise line. The celebration of the Christmas feeling started when you heard Nat King Cole sing, “Chestnuts roasting on an open fire…” from The Christmas Song or Judy Garland’s sweet, sad voice sang “Have Yourself a Very Merry Christmas” and, of course, wherever you went you heard Der Bingle (Bing Crosby) sing “White Christmas”.

Christmas wasn’t a religious time for a Jewish boy in New York but a time of cold weather, snow flurries, people running here to there with a smile on their face and everyone carrying wrapped packages with bows and ribbons. Of course I had an unfair advantage over my Italian friends because I, also, got to celebrate Hanukkah where children were given geldt (money) and went to the houses (apartments) of their grandparents who had immigrated from Russia and England and were surrounded by very large families and ate and ate and ate, because that is what Jews did on holidays, though I was to learn so did Greeks, Italians,Filipinos, Germans, etc.

Again, it wasn’t the religion of the holiday that attracted me to attend Christmas midnight mass at St. Patrick’s cathedral but the pageantry, the voices of the choir ringing out and the sound of the Latin language, again this was many years ago, echoing through the cathedral. I must confess–hey, it’s a Catholic church–that years later, in the 60s, Ronnie, Joe and I use to go for ‘camp’ reasons–to see Cardinal Spellman all dressed up in his finery, his red robes looking like a gown and, we thought, in all probability, hiding his red, ruby slippers.

None of this is meant, or said, in disrespect of the Christmas holiday and its true meaning but looking at an aspect of it that was open to all children who had imagination and loved to see their world almost become magical for 4 weeks–not like now where by the time the holiday comes around you are ready to scream if you hear one more Christmas song because you have been hearing them since August when you started getting the catalogs and the stores were decorated with wreaths and holly even before Halloween.

NEXT, PART 2, A MAGICAL TIME/PLACE NEVER TO BE FORGOTTEN AND SHOULD BE EXPERIENCED BY EVERYONE AT LEAST ONCE–A MERRY, MERRY CHRISTMAS!

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“With our thoughts we make the world.”

Buddha  563-483 BC Indian Religious Teacher

 

 Christmas past

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

Sadly due to new company rules Gateway residents can no longer decorate the way they use to.

Posted December 20, 2017 by greatmartin in FLORIDA, FORT LAUDERDALE, HOLIDAYS, LIFE, Uncategorized

“Roman J. Israel Esq.” and the Golden Corral   Leave a comment

It was a so-so movie and a pretty bad Thanksgiving buffet BUT I did wake up in the morning and I am thankful for that!

Denzel Washington never gives less than his best but sometimes even that isn’t enough to save a movie and Dan Gilroy, the director, who also wrote the screenplay, let’s the actor, as the title character, down in the second half of this 2 hour and 2 minutes film.

When we first meet Roman he is living in a studio apartment packed to the rafters with papers, books and more pictures on his wall than I have! He is ‘old school’ with his Afro, the way he dresses and, as we quickly learn, a veteran at fighting for civil rights along with being honest, ethical, principled and a savant of law.

He is a partner in a law office where he does all hebehind the scenes work and his partner handles all the court dates. Within a day his partner has a heart attack, is certain to die and the law firm has to be dissolved leaving Ramon without a partner, a job, alone and living in the past unable to be part of the present or future. George Pierce, played by Colin Farrell, is brought in by the dying partner’s niece to close the office. Unable to get a job he eventually takes a job at George’s firm. He is also invited to speak at the civil rights organization run by Maya, Carmen Ejogo, where he applied for a job, and she recognizes he is a man this generation owes a debt to for all his years of fighting.

All of a sudden Roman finds himself in front of judges fighting for clients which he shouldn’t be doing for many reasons. It is at this point that the screenplay loses its way and the theme of losing one’s moral center turns into an uninteresting thriller and even Denzel Washington who gives a fine odd-ball character performance loses the audience.

Though it is a given that Farrell is, like Washington, a fine actor the two just don’t seem to be working together in the same film. There definitely should have been more of Carmen Ejogo!

“Roman J. Israel, Esq.” goes downhill after the first hour and really can’t be recommended unless you are a diehard fan of Washington, and I am, but still it is a no.

Movie trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CItEtnp3nPY

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Golden Corral Nov 23 2017 collage

Thankful for all I have!   Leave a comment


Posted November 23, 2017 by greatmartin in FLORIDA, FORT LAUDERDALE, HOLIDAYS, Uncategorized

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