A trip through New England with Weekends With Yankee

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Richard Wiese and Amy Traverso, the hosts.

I wrote about Annabel Langbein as having one of my favorite Saturday morning tv shows but I have another, it’s Weekends With Yankee, a half hour show that takes you through the back roads of New England. Yankee is a magazine and Weekends With Yankee is the tv show.

I usually hit the gym early on weekends – 7 am or so and I grab breakfast on the way home and settle in for these comfortable Saturday morning shows.

I think in another life I lived in New England, because I’m always drawn to it; I feel the same about Arizona and New Mexico, so maybe in a second other life, I lived there.

I’m always considering moving to Southern Connecticut. I like it’s location between New York City and Boston, and I like the small villages along the water on the Long Island Sound.

Anyway, back to Weekends With Yankee; what’s great about the show is there are three or four segments where they go all over New England. One segment may be a visit to a lighthouse, another might be a visit to a small bread factory in a small Vermont town, another might be lobster diving in Maine. You just want to be there as you watch.

It’s homey and informational and I want to be immersed in it all.

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Godspeed, Laverne

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When some famous people die, it’s like a family member passed. I don’t know why, but they are such a big part of our lives, it feels like that. That’s how it is with Penny Marshall. She was a part of the family.

From what I see on tv, on social media and from friends, I can see many people felt the same.  Chuck Todd on Meet the Press Daily, quoted a few lines from the “Schlemiel! Schlimazel! Hasenpfeffer Incorporated,” theme yesterday. He didn’t say what they were, he just used them in sentences.  He said, “Give us any chance – we’ll take it Read us any rule – we’ll break it,” and that was it. Later on he said, “There is nothing we won’t try.” He just fit it into a sentence. It was his way of paying tribute, because it meant something to him.

I remember the first episode of Laverne and Shirley. I was a kid, it was 1976 and I was on the floor of our family room on our orange shag carpet. Just as the show was starting, on a Tuesday night after Happy Days at 8:30 pm, my father entered the house with my grandparents who he had just picked up from the airport, they had come down for a visit – they entered just as the show theme song started! I’m not sure what happened after that. Did I ignore them to watch Laverne and Shirley? Probably not, but talk about the worst timing.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

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I was watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas” last night and as I watched, I scrolled through social media and I could see so many others watching, too. It’s amazing how this 1965 cartoon is Christmas.

I’m sure we know all the words by heart. My two favorite parts are where they are dancing on the stage and the end where they sing “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” I love the way Charlie Brown jumps back when he sees the tree.

It’s comforting knowing millions of people are watching the show along with me and enjoying it and making it part of their holiday season.

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I want to be Ray Donovan

I’m into Ray Donovan these days. Big time.

My cousin –  actually many people –  have been telling me about the show for years, but I never watched. I’m not sure why because I used to watch all those Sunday night shows at that time period over the years – True Blood, The Sopranos, Boardwalk Empire ….

ray-donovan1Anyway, I started watching season 6 this year when the new season started. I didn’t really know the characters, but I was following the story. Well, my cousin had a conniption fit. “You have to start from season 1, episode 1, how can you just start watching at season 6?” he asked.

I told him I didn’t know, but I was enjoying it. He insisted that I had to stop watching the new episodes and start from the beginning. So I did that.

When I got back to Miami from NY, I started watching the episodes from scratch on demand and I stopped watching the new episodes on Sunday nights. I had a plan to watch one a week, sort of like as if it was a fresh show being shown weekly, or maybe even every night, watch one episode at 7 pm nightly, but I’m too hooked now. I’ve been binge watching a bunch of shows at a time. I am so hooked. I want to be Ray Donovan!

I did this with Breaking Bad. For some reason, I never watched the first run shows but one day I was flipping channels and as fate would have it, I caught episode one, number one coming on at that very moment. So I watched from the beginning. And I was hooked after 10 minutes!

The shows were on demand and I watched all of them in order and when AMC tv does a marathon, I watch those, too. Now I watch them in any order whenever I catch them. My two favorite episodes is when Fring gets his at the nursing home and the train one – where they are stealing the meth. They are the two most memorable to me.

I want to visit Albuquerque now, thanks to Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul – yup, I watch that now, too. Another cousin of mine didn’t realize that Better Call Saul is the prequel to Breaking Bad. He mentioned that to me on Thanksgiving. I’m not sure what he thought of all the same characters from Breaking Bad being on the show or that they were in the same location, but now he knows.

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Thanks to the Durrells and Anthony Bourdain, I have wanderlust

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The Durrells – in Corfu

I’m feeling wanderlust. I was watching the Durrells in Corfu the other night and I really would love to live like them. If you haven’t seen it, it’s a PBS show, it’s a true story about a mother and her four children who move from England to Greece in the 1930s after the father passes away. The kids are about 11 to 22 years of age.

The surroundings and town are so beautiful. They live in a big old house at the water’s edge, surrounded by the sea and beautiful mountains and they are ensconced with the locals who become their friends.

Each of the kids has his own thing going on from the youngest one loving and collecting animals to the oldest being a writer who is trying to be a world traveler. It’s excellent.

Right after the Durrell’s I turned to Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown and it was about West Texas, which according to this episode is completely different than I thought. The people are very accepting, they love their Mexican neighbors across the river, they speak Spanish, out of respect, as one man put it, they eat Spanish food and there is a large Mexican influence, they know that their land was once Mexican land, and oh yea –  they don’t want a border wall. This is one of the best episodes I’ve ever seen. It may be posted here on the Parts Unknown website by now, worth a look.

I am at the point in my life where I feel like selling all my possessions and just traveling and cartooning along the way, incorporating the locations in my work. When I think of the southwest, I think of George Herriman who had a very big connection to that area, as you can see in Krazy Kat.

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Annabel Langbein; natural New Zealand cooking

annabel“No matter how humble the food, people are always so happy to be cooked for.”

Those are the words of Annabel Langbein, a cook and food writer from New Zealand.

On Saturday mornings, I watch her tv show on one of our PBS channels. She cooks from her kitchen from her cabin in the woods, on a lake, in New Zealand on “Annabel Langbein The Free Range Cook,” which only has a few episodes – three seasons, 13 episodes per season. Anabel cooks off the land, she grows most of her own crops and she heads out to local farms for other sources of food.

I don’t cook, I barely like to boil water, but I enjoy cooking shows, I find them very relaxing. Put that together with Annabel’s New Zealand accent, probably my most favorite accent in the world, and it’s enjoyable, especially when she goes out to forage for food in the New Zealand country side and mountains. The scenery is so beautiful.

At the end of each episode, she brings a bunch of friends together and they eat out on teh deck of the cabin, they eat what she prepared throughout that episode. The people are mostly those who were in the episode earlier – maybe a wine maker or a farmer or a helicopter pilot who took her up over the mountains or maybe an apple orchard owner where she picked apples for that meal’s dessert earlier in the day.

She drives an old yellow truck and prepares meals out in the wild where she is spending time, like at the apple orchard or up in the mountains.

Anabel has an interesting history, she started out as a hippy in the 1970s, having left home at age 16 and lived in the wilderness, cooking over open fires, which eventually brought her to her cooking life.

Getting close to the action

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Miami Vice cast

I was talking about “old” Miami Beach, which to me was the 1980s. This was before all the glitz and glamour and before they called it “South Beach.” It was just Miami Beach.

We used to watch them film Miami Vice often. And we really got up close. Years later I would watch them film Burn Notice around town, but we couldn’t get as close, but I managed at times, I would take pictures and write about them here, and here and here). And this is a funny story called, The Accidental Extras, how we were mistaken for extras while they were filming.

I remember one time in the ’80s we were watching Miami Vice film and there was a car chase on Ocean Drive and we were standing right there on the sidewalk watching. Cars were speeding and spinning mere feet from us and there we were, watching the action.

Once I left the beach, the actual beach with the sand where I was laying out, and I got in my car and as I drove down Collins Avenue, I was stopped and asked if I wanted to be in a movie. I said, ok and was told to drive when they said, “action.” I did, but I never made in the movie. You can see the scene they were filming on the opening credits of “The Making of Mr. Right,” the 1987 film with John Malkovich and Ann Magnuson.  It’s where Ann is driving down Collins as the film titles roll at the beginning. You can see a lot of the Miami Beach I hung around in at that time, raw and not made into the pink and purple and neon place it is now.

Back to Miami Vice. Once my friend Jack and I were watching them film at the Hare Krishna hotel. Were were right up close and personal again. As we watched, my friend said, “Isn’t that Karen Black?” She was a big actress at the time. I asked, “Where?” And he says, “You’re leaning on her chair!” And so I was. She was sitting in a director’s style chair and I was leaning on the back of it, while she was sitting watching the scene. You could literally get up that close in those days.

I always remember in that episode, “Victim’s of Circumstance,” how they screwed the Hare Krishnas out of their moment on film. In the last scene, Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas are walking from the hotel, down a walkway/alley type thing and behind a wall were the Krishnas. As the two men reached that spot, the Krishnas came out from behind the wall and did their thing with drums and tambourines, you know how they do. Well, that was the final scene in the episode and on tv, as the two guys walked, the credits rolled. As they reached the wall, the scene froze, it just froze and the credits rolled over that. So the Krishnas were never seen on the show.

Years later, the Krishnas moved from that hotel to a church in my neighborhood and I got to know them on a first name basis.