Lots of super heroes at NY Comic Con

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I went back to NY Comic Con on Sunday, it was a bit gloomy on opening day, Thursday, I guess due to the rainy weather in NY, but on Sunday, it was really fun. There were thousands upon thousands of people there.

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And each year, the costumes and the co-play gets better and better. Spider-man seems to be the most popular and they all seem to congregate. This is only a few who were photographed together, before I took this photo, there were about a dozen or so.

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I try to capture the crowds, I posted videos on social media and it doesn’t do it justice, there are just so many people – all happy, all patient, you have to be in this crowd.

So another year has come to an end. Keep the NY Comic Con website handy and sign up for updates so you can get in on next year’s event: newyorkcomiccon.com. It comes up pretty fast.

NY Starbucks are a sitcom onto themselves

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There’s always something going on at Starbucks in New York. I guess it’s the same in Miami, at my Miami location, which is home, everyone knows everyone else, and sometimes there is one big conversation going on in the whole store, you know, sort of like an Andy Griffith episode. In New York it’s different, there are the regulars, but so many tourists pass through and there are so many stories.

It’s almost as if any Starbucks in New York could be a sitcom, or a comic strip!

The other night I went to Starbucks which is across the street from where I’m staying and I ended up drinking two wrong coffees! Why? Because there were three Toms there at the same time! There were only a handful of people there, so there weren’t many people to get confused with, but apparently there were three of us!

I ordered on the app as I usually do, I walked in and heard my name called so I took the coffee, but after I tasted it, it didn’t taste right, so they gave me another coffee named Tom; still wrong. Two Tom coffees, both wrong. I told the girl behind the counter what I had ordered – a cafe mocha with extra whipped cream, and she said, oh, this is for another Tom.

I said, “Another Tom? There are three Tom’s here ordering at this very moment?” She said, “Yes, we have a lot of Tom’s here tonight!”

This morning I went across the street for breakfast. I usually go to Pret A Manger every morning and get the same thing – coffee or green tea and oatmeal. But I ended up in Starbucks. And it was a madhouse, very crowded and crazy. I didn’t use the app because I don’t usually order green tea and oatmeal on the app so I thought it would be faster to order at the register rather than look for the items on the app. But it was quite confusing. There were three registers open with people yelling in orders from every direction.

I ordered and the lady handed me my tea. I guess I looked confused, but I was just wondering who was going to hand me the oatmeal. I must have really looked confused because a guy next to me waiting for his order said, “The milk and sugar is over there,” and he pointed behind us. I smiled and tapped him on the shoulder, you know, friendly-like, and I said, “I know, I’ve been here before,” meaning Starbucks, any Starbucks. He got a bit embarrassed and laughed but I explained to him I was just waiting for the oatmeal. It was a nice funny experience early in the morning.

I was handed my oatmeal, said goodbye to they guy who was still waiting, and left.

Beach life

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At the Bay side on Key Biscayne

Went to the beach today. According to my car, it was 105 degrees! You know for about 25 years, I went to the beach almost daily. When I was growing up, it never got past the mid 80s. Never.

I stopped by Key Biscayne today, which is/was one of my usual spots, along with Miami Beach. Usually I would go alone on weekdays and with my friends on weekends. Sometimes for an hour, sometimes for eight hours. Sometimes I would meet my friends and we would walk or run on the boardwalk on South Beach and then go drinking at Mac’s Club Deuce or places like that. Other times I would go to Crandon on Key Biscayne alone; sometimes Matheson Hammock. I have an alligator story about Matheson hammock that I’ll tell you some time.

There was a period where I would go to Key Biscayne alone and I made myself stay on the beach until I came up with two or three comic strip ideas, then I could go home.

I would stay until it got dark many times, then come home, shower, change and go to happy hour with my friends. Most of my life I lived as if I was on vacation or retired. I didn’t work many hours in a day, most days I worked an hour or two in the morning and was free the rest of the day. So many days I was done with work by 10 am. I want to go back to living like that again. Sometimes, when I stopped going daily, I would still go for maybe an hour once in awhile. I would grab lunch somewhere and sit at at picnic table at the shore and have lunch.

I now live near the beach, it’s a quick drive. Back then I had to drive sometimes long distances, but I would make that trek daily. Summer and winter. All times of the year.

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There was a period where I would go to 16th and Collins, right on the beach in front of the St. Moritz Hotel, the Loews Hotel is part of The St. Mortiz now and 16th Street is closed and part of the Loews property. The Loews wasn’t built then and 16th Street was open, so you could park there. It was so derelict that you would put money in any one of the parking meters and it would fall out at the bottom. It was just a regular street like the South Beach side streets are today. A street that ended at the edge of the sand/beach, on either side there were parking spaces and meter. Broken meters. My car got broken into there one time. It usually was only me at that beach and a few older people from the Charles Hotel which was nearby.

This old postcard above is how I remember the St. Moritz from the back, the beach side. It was desolate at the time, closed in the mid-80s. I don’t remember the pool, but I guess it was empty and covered. For some reason I just remember the hotel. I guess it was so far back from the shore that that is all I would see, the tall hotel. If you look at this second photo below, that is the same color blue I would see. This smaller image is from the front. I would park my car to the left of the front, which was 16th Street. Today it is closed and part of the Loews Hotel.

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My best friend Franco talked about buying the St. Moritz. It was just a dream of his. When I would lay at the beach at the shore but facing up at that hotel, I would notice that the two top windows had tinfoil on them, so I would imagine laying on the beach, looking up and seeing the tinfoil sparkle in the sun. That was Franco opening and closing the jalousies so that he could get my attention – sort of like a Bat signal, we didn’t have cell phones back then. That was my cue to come in from the beach to work my shift at the front desk. This of course all in my head, Franco never bought the hotel and I would just imagine it as I lay on the sand. If you look at the larger photo above, the one on the postcard, you can see the two top center windows I was speaking about.

One time as I was leaving the beach, I was in my car, and a traffic cop came up to me and said, “Do you want to be in a movie? If you do, drive naturally when the light changes.” They were filming the opening credits on Collins Avenue to the movie, “Making Mr. Right.” The movie came out in 1987, so this may have been one of my hey day years, 1986.

There really was no traffic in South Beach, which I don’t think was even called South Beach at that time, so they could just film a movie without really disturbing anything. It was the same with Miami Vice at the time. They would just shoot the show right there, mere feet from you. Even car chases on Ocean Drive were just a few feet away, I’m not sure how they got away with it.

One time they were filming at the Hare Krishna hotel, just off the boardwalk. I walked over with my friend jak and we were watching. I was leaning on a director’s chair watching, and my friend jak says, to me, “Isn’t that Karen Black?” I asked, “Where?” He said, “You’re leaning on her chair!” And it was Karen Black. It was that small of a town and homespun at that time period. Whenever I see the rerun of that episode I think of the Karen Black incident. It was an episode called, “Victims of Circumstance.”

If you look at the opening credits of Making Mr. Right you’ll see that car scene, that very day I was asked to be part of the traffic in the opening. I didn’t make the cut, but you can see that moment in time. The whole movie takes place during that period, so I like to watch it sometimes just for that. Speaking of credits, on the Miami Vice shot, it was the closing credits they were filming that time. At the very end, the Hare Krishnas come out from behind a wall as Crockett and Tubbs walk by them. When the last image is shown on tv, they literally froze the scene at the moment the Krishnas were coming out from behind the wall. The directors/producers whomever, screwed them out of their moment in the sun!

Crandon and Key Biscayne, was another world. It was like being on a tropical island. It was never busy during weekdays and the water was gin clear. There was hundreds, possibly thousands of palm trees. Key Biscayne or parts of it were a coconut plantation around the turn of the century, so it was paradise. I used to break open coconuts and rub the coconut milk on my body. Sometimes when I’m watching the tv shows Survivor or Naked and Afraid, it reminds me so much of that time and period.

South Beach, which wasn’t South Beach yet, was run down and old, just the way I loved it. We all knew each other before all the New Yorkers and party people came and overtook it in the 90s. Back in the 80s it was a small village, rundown and all ours, no tourists or wanna bes.

I was at a party once at the Versace mansion only it was not a mansion, it was a rundown apartment building. It was long before Gianni Versaci, there was an open courtyard surrounded by apartments where people lived. As you entered, there was a wrought iron spiral staircase where the big wooden door is now. There were no gates and no big door at the entrance, you would just enter the courtyard and go to the apartment you lived in.

I can go on and on, we had the run of Miami Beach, we were all over the place, we went to every dive bar on every side street, we hung out at the beach, Flamingo Park and everywhere in between. Lincoln Road was desolate then. You wouldn’t go there after dark, but during the day we hung out there. So many memories, I’m not sure why they are all flooding back now, but I’ll tell you more next time.

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They were born in the early 1800s; listen to them

I’ve been watching a lot of YouTube videos lately – on my 55 inch tv, which makes it so much more pleasant.

I’m finding all sort of things. Yesterday, I came upon this video “Interviews With Elderly People Throughout the US,” filmed in 1929. Some of these folks were over 100 years old! Most were in their 80s and 90s. But listen to them – so full of life at 100!

Imagine, one guy says, “I was born in 1827, I graduated school in 1845 . . . ” 1827! 1845!

One man is 70 years old or so and he’s retiring from his job as a train conductor. You can see him jump off the train and speak to the camera. He tells about starting his career in the 1850s, now it’s 1929 and he is retiring. Another old lady is 103, I belive, she dances the waltz with a guy!

This is great, it’s worth a watch. There are other videos in this series too.

Here is more interviews with elderly people.
And here is Recollections of the Civil War

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Dominoes are part of a large new concrete landscape

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Photo courtesy Droga

Artist Bo Droga and his volunteer crew have been creating a large row of dominoes along US1, under the Metrorail tracks in Coral Gables, FL. The large columns in the area at the University of Miami along Ponce de Leon Boulevard have been turned from drab cement to black and white domino pieces. Droga’s work is inspired by many things, usually by his immediate surrounding and the local material at hand. “The common thread within my artwork is the simplicity in form, and use of everyday material,” he says.

The volunteers helping him on the dominoes project are all moms, all volunteers and all French.

The “Miami Dominoes” installation will eventually include 46 of the columns when completed, as of now, there are still a few more being worked on. They are up to 18 feet high.

Droga is Australian, who came to Miami by way of Paris. After all these years, he is the one who had the eye to see something that was staring us all in the face all these years.

I must admit when they were building Metrorail in the early 1980s, I would see the pylons/columns which we called “Stonehenge South” at the time and thought they would make great surfaces for advertising. Thank God that never became the case.

The crew uses large metal forms to create the round domino dots. The area will eventually be part of the long Underline project and Droga envisions outdoor tables and people sitting around in the area playing dominoes – a sort of sister to Domino Park that is in Little Havana.

Dorga originally had the domino idea for a project in Australia, but it never got off the ground due to permitting issues and when he moved here and saw the Metrorail pylons, he knew exactly what to do.The Miami-Dade County transportation and public works department helped him get permitted and he was off.

One thing that the local community has noticed – the dominoes are a “double six” set, where in Miami, “double nines” is popular. Droga knows that, but feels that the sixes make for a better look and art installation.

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My dirty car

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I’ve gotta start washing my car. As I left my condo building the other day, our maintenance man who was watering the plants with the hose asked me if I wanted him to wash down the car because it was dirty. Then later in the day I was at the mechanic and he said that I don’t take very much care of the car. The car runs perfectly and I always have it serviced and have things repaired, I just don’t wash it. Then he offered to buy it, this is the second time in my life that a mechanic offered to buy my car. I sold one to my mechanic years ago, this one I’m not ready to part with yet.

I’m too lazy to wash the car myself, for a few bucks, someone else will do it, so why not? This guy Jerry comes to our building and washes the cars. I usually wait for him to come to the building to do someone else’s car, so when I see him, I ask him to get to my car next and it’s done right away. If I call him to come over, he takes hours to get here and I end up sitting around all day waiting for him to arrive.

The car wash I loved to go to in the past is now a condo, so that’s out.

Funny thing, when I first moved into the condo here about 16 years ago, the day I moved in, the neighbor who parks right next to me was washing his car and I noticed he was always washing his car. I guess it was therapeutic for him, he loved to wash the car.

A few months later, he said to me, “Don’t you notice how clean your car is?” I said, “Yes, why?” He said, “Because “I’ve been washing it every time I wash my own! I couldn’t stand how dirty it was!” I was shocked. I told him I thought it got clean from the rain. We don’t get much rain and I park underground, but I thought the times I was out and about driving in the rain, it washed the car.

He got insulted. I don’t think he ever washed my car again after that.