King Mango Strut

We had a parade yesterday – the King Mango Strut, started in 1982 it’s usually the last Sunday of the year, but this year it was a week later, on Sunday, Jan. 8.

It’s a great small-town event and the best part is that most people know each other. It’s like Cheers, where everybody knows your name.

It was put off a couple of years due to the pandemic, but it was back this past weekend and it was so much fun. There are bands and lots of parodies of things that happened over the year – statewide, local and national. All one big parody.

It started as an offshoot of the Orange Bowl Parade and took on a life of its own. The center of town is shut down and the Strut takes over. If you haven’t seen people all year, they are sure to show up here on this very day.

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Life in a small village

So I’m starting off 2023 in a quandary. A friend and I were headed to lunch a couple of days ago. We went to one of the most popular places in town but the wait was up to 45 minutes so we left. As we walked passed the restaurant, the restaurant owner came running after us. “Oh good,” I thought, “He’s going to get us a table, slip us in somewhere.”

No such luck. He says, “Do you want to meet the new commissioner?”

We lost a City of Miami commissioner (a city council person) for our district in the City of Miami, because the elected guy ran for another office in November, and he had to give up his seat, so now they have to replace that seat for the remaining 10 months.

I didn’t want to “meet the new commissioner,” but I followed in hopes of getting an open table.

The restaurant owner brings us to this guy sitting at an empty table. Here we go, I thought, a meeting. Not lunch. I actually knew the “new commissioner,” and I’ve known him for many years. We were just speaking the week before about a village issue. The restaurant owner asked me to sit down. I asked, “Can I order then? If I sit down can I order lunch?” He didn’t answer, so I asked a few more times and finally he said yes, half heartedly.

The restaurant owner didn’t know we knew each other and his reason for bringing us over to the table was so that we, or I, could be talked into speaking up for the “new commissioner” at the city commission meeting next week – so that the commission appoints him to the seat, rather than have an election, which is what most of the residents in the district/village want – a free and fair election. Not an appointment.

What bothers me after I thought about it all later, was that the restaurant owner didn’t know the “new commissioner” and I knew each other. So why did he grab me to speak up at a meeting for a stranger in his eyes? Why doesn’t he speak up for the guy if he is so interested in him getting the seat? Probably because he worries about getting involved in politics because it would hurt his business. But I should get involved?

When the “new commissioner’s” food arrived I could tell he didn’t want us at the table. He wasn’t rude, but when I sked him if we were going to talk politics the whole time he said, “Yes, probably,” which meant to me, “Get out now while you can.” So we didn’t stay at the table to eat, we walked down the block to another restaurant but now I am supposed to speak for this guy at next week’s commission meeting. He has already texted me a number of times regarding this. My goal now is to get out of it, especially since most of my neighbors want an election and not me to speak up for this guy’s appointment.

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Good ‘ol Jimmy Hartford

I was watching the Connecticut news the other night and there was a story about Hartford. All of a sudden, the name Jimmy Hartford popped into my head. Jimmy Hartford was a made up name my friend Ernesto used years ago. Not for himself, but for a fake friend.

What I mean is, in the 1980s, my friend Ernesto and I used to run along the back of South Beach hotels. It wasn’t even called South Beach at the time and the hotels were mostly derelict. There weren’t many tourists, and many hotels at the time were occupied by older people. This is long before gentrification of the area.

So we used to run along the back of the hotels in the sand and then randomly jump in hotel pools. There were no barriers or security or anything and usually there was no one in the pools except for us. We just hopped a short wall, or just walked in off the beach which was not blocked in any way. When we were confronted, Ernesto would say we were there visiting our friend Jimmy Hartford, and he would make up a room number – Jimmy Hartford in room 301 or room 510 or whatever.

Many times, there was no such room number and most times we were thrown out.

It’s amazing that hearing the word Hartford brought back that memory from so long ago. These days I can barely remember friends and family members’ names at times and I remembered that.

I’ve been thinking a lot about the 1980s these days. They were perfect. Everything about them – the clothing, the music, the movies, the whole environment – the whole decade.

When we die, I often think that we could time travel and go back to any time period we choose. I would choose to live from Jan 1, 1980 to Dec. 31, 1989, and then do it all over again.

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Keep your mouth shut!

I laughed when I saw this on Facebook. It reminded me of something that happened to me a few years back, maybe 10 years ago.

I was at a meeting, covering the news for our village like I did. And at the beginning of the meeting, this guy, Joel, stands up from the dais and yells out to me in the back row, “Tom, you can stay if you keep your mouth shut and don’t say anything!”

I was dumbfounded because I never spoke at meetings, even at important City Hall meetings, I would just take notes for the news story I was writing. I didn’t speak because I didn’t want to be part of the story. I quoted everyone else, I didn’t want to quote myself.

I said, “Joel, when have I ever said one word at any meetings?” He just sat down and proceeded with the meeting. Our village was like the Gilmore Girls, you know, everyone showed up for meetings, the whole town would be there in one scene.

I don’t hold grudges, even though that was a stupid and rude thing to do and we are still friendly to this day, but I hadn’t thought of that in years until I saw this quote on Facebook.

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Days of our Lives

I saw an article on line about Days of Our Lives, the soap opera – it’s moving from on air to the Peacock streaming platform.

The only reason it caught my attention is because seeing this hour glass and logo reminds me of summers so long ago. Way back when our mothers would watch this, I think it came on at 2 pm. How do I know? Because we kids would run around the neighborhood jumping from pool to pool at each other’s houses and as we ran along the sidewalks, we would hear the theme playing, “Like sands through an hour glass, these are the days of our lives,” and then the music would play.

Almost every summer day we would hear it coming out of each house as we ran down the block. I guess people listened to tv’s quite loud in those days and also people didn’t have air conditioning, so they weren’t locked in and confined in their cocoons and the sound came blasting out.

I had a similar experience in Boston a couple of times. When the Red Sox play, it seems like every tv and radio in town has the game on. And as you walk down the street, particularly Newbury Street, you can hear the game coming from each establishment. So you actually hear the whole game as you are walking – from pizza places, clothing stores, restaurants and so on.

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Wellness check

Today’s comic almost reminds me of something that happened some years back, maybe about 10 years ago.

I had taken a friend to the doctor’s office, which is at the hospital next door. I live next to a hospital. My friend had a cancer scare. Luckily everything worked out and he was totally fine, but this was a check up for something and we went to a cancer doctor, an oncologist.

I sat waiting in the waiting room and in walks the UPS guy and after him the FedEx guy with deliveries. Both of them knew me since they were my delivery guys, too.

Both of them separately had such a worried look on their faces. They asked me if I was ok, and I don’t think they believed me that I was there “for a friend.” But it was so nice to see their genuine concerns.

It’s weird that I would have the same delivery guys as the hospital which is a huge complex. Even though I am next door, I am in a neighborhood full of houses, you can’t see the hospital from the street, it’s on a lot of property and is sort of a campus, so you would think they had their own delivery thing going on.

But then again, I would see the delivery guys in the center of the village, about a mile away in the other direction, so I guess they covered the whole zip code or something. Many times I would be walking by in the downtown area and they would give me my packages as I walked by, saving them a trip to my house later in the day. It was more of a convenience – they would do this early in the day and their schedule would have them coming to me later in the day, sometimes 6 or 7 pm. So it was nice of them to give me the packages at 10 am as I walked by, rather than have me wait till the end of the day.

Anyway, this cartoon reminded me of that. I didn’t get the idea for the cartoon from those situations, but after I drew it, it reminded me of those situations.

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Arranging meet ups with friends

I’m planning my trips for New York this year. From June until the end of the year I spend a lot of time there.

I was talking to a friend the other day, we were talking about all the meet-ups I had in New York over the years, you know, with friends from Miami, who happened to be in NY at the same time.

What’s interesting is that in the 1980s and 1990s, I did this a lot. I would meet friends from home/Miami and we would hang out in NYC for the day or whatever. But how did we do it? We didn’t have cell phones and I can’t remember how we arranged it.

I just know that on such and such date, at such and such time, we would meet up. I remember meeting my friend Albert in front of the Empire State Building and my friend Vincent came by my hotel and so many others would meet up with me.

I’m wondering if I made an announcement -” I will be in NY from Nov. 10 to 30. If anyone is going to be there, let me know.” I mean we didn’t have social media, did I just announce it to everyone at once? Did I tell people one-by-one over time? Whatever the case, we were at the appointed location, date and time. Always. I can’t imagine that happening now. Now we would text each other 20 times before we would ever end up meeting up.

Back then I would stay at my cousins’ house or at hotels but I don’t remember people calling either place to arrange to meet for lunch or hang out or whatever. So I am guessing we made the plans way in advance.

I’m just flabbergasted that we met at the exact place and appointed time. And I guess I made it known when I was going to be out of town. I had a lot of friends back then, so I really think I must have told each one of them one at a time what my plans were and if they were going to be in town at the same time, we arranged our meet up date. Amazing.

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Winter Arts Festival time

We did our local arts festival yesterday and will go back again today. When I say did, I don’t mean we showed our art, I mean we walked around, ate, drank, kibitzed and enjoyed the show. For one thing, the town is mobbed with people and it’s impossible to get in and out so it’s best to just stay put and enjoy the event.

It is getting a bit out of hand with the $25 entry fee and $15 gyros and $18 taco dishes, but it is what it is.

This weekend every year is the busiest weekend of the year in Miami. There are a few arts festivals, the boat show and some other things. They say it’s impossible to find a hotel room or rent a car – they’re all booked for the weekend.

Oddly enough, it was cold all winter, where I love, but yesterday and I guess today, when a bunch of us go back, it will be very hot.

I ran into my nephew’s friend, he told me that he and his wife got in for free. He said to the people at the gate that they forgot to stamp him when he left and then he rubbed the wet stamp on his wife’s hand after they stamped him – sort of like we used to do at the clubs. So he saved 50 bucks.

I used to be part of this as a sponsor when I did the daily news around here so I would get lots of tickets to give out free. But not anymore, I’m now a peon like everyone else (which I love being by the way), but people didn’t know and I got so many texts and calls from friends and family asking me for tickets. Even the UPS guy was hounding me for tickets. How he got my phone number I’ll never know.

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Our local celebrity

We have this homeless guy in town. At least I think he’s homeless, because I’ve given him a lot of money over the years because I want to help him out. And now I see what he is doing with some of that money – he’s on Instagram! And he’s asking for donations on his Instagram page.

I am cracking up over it, because he’s a local celebrity, one of the bars sells t-shirts with his picture on it and gives him the money and a friend of mine with a business in town handles his accounts when need be – like maybe cash a check or whatever. He’s a left-over hippie from the 1960s, one of those people that everybody loves so we support him.

Anyway, I noticed he started following me on Instagram and he has such great pictures posted. Really well lit and he’s in the pictures with beautiful women around town. He’s living the dream, well it looks like he is living the dream, I don’t suppose being homeless is the dream – but he may not be homeless, after seeing all this I’m flabbergasted. He’s got a lot of jewelry, is dressed well and is hanging out holding his own at local watering holes and places.

Maybe that’s his schtick – making out as if he needs the money, so people give him money, and he lives off of that.

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Sharing Cher; Thank you for being a friend

There is a special dedicated to Betty White on Monday night – 10 pm eastern time on NBC. This is Cher who taped this as part of the special. Cher is singing on the Golden Girls soundstage.

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