Thanks to the Durrells and Anthony Bourdain, I have wanderlust

durrells

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

miamivice

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.

Anthony Bourdain; a friend in my head

anthony-bourdain-no-reservationsAnthony Bourdain is friend in my head. You know how you see people on tv or movies and you just feel as if you know them? Every once in awhile someone famous dies and I feel as if they were/are a family member. I mean I guess I feel that same way when they were alive, but it hits hard when they pass on. Random people have had that effect on me over the years. It was shocking to hear his name announced on the tv this morning. I had my back to the Today Show, I was making breakfast when they announced a famous chef had passed. I held my breath as they said the name, hoping that I didn’t know the person they would announce, so it knocked the breath out of me when they said his name.

I loved Anthony’s attitude and story-telling technique. I was drawn in like so many millions when he took us on adventures of far away places and even places close to home. I’ve lived in Miami most of my life, but on his Miami episode I learned so much.

First No Reservations and then Parts Unknown. I would watch marathons of these shows, always drawn in from the beginning of each episode. The food and the locations were featured, but Anthony was the star.

The Cafe

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The cast in front of Cyril’s Cafe.

In a previous post, I was mentioning that Babu cafe episode of Seinfeld, which is called The Cafe. What’s interesting is that I was at an Indian restaurant with a friend maybe 10 years ago in New York City and it reminded me very much of Babu’s cafe. They had just opened and the place was sparce. They didn’t have their liquor license so the owner, as he was waiting on us himself, said we could run around the corner and buy a bottle of wine at the liquor store and bring it back. I don’t think we did that. But the place reminded me so of much of that Seinfeld episode.  In life, a lot of things remind me of Seinfeld episodes.

I’m happy to say, all these years later, that the Indian restaurant is still there in Greenwich Village, and flourishing.

Another reason I liked The Cafe mention is that I love a British sitcom, a Britcom, called The Cafe, which I watch on one of our local PBS stations.

Like so many  British tv shows, there are only a few episodes over two seasons, only 13, which is sad because the show is so great. Another sad thing is that there must be commercials on these because you don’t see the commercials on PBS which makes the show only about 20 minutes long. So you get into it and it’s over!

But it’s so charming and sweet and quirky. It’s about this cafe called Cyril’s, on the ocean in Weston-super-Mare, which is in on the Bristol Channel. It’s a real cafe in a sort of octagon shape, that was built just for the show and plopped right on the boardwalk in that area.

The scenery and place is as much a character as are the characters. A mother runs the cafe with her daughter and her mother (the grandmother) sits around and makes wisecracks, and the characters from the town are in and out.

The writing is so great. The mother says, “Talk of the Devil,” every time someone comes in, even though she wasn’t talking to them. When people leave, they all say, “Laterz!” And when people first see each other, there is a around of “All right?” They all say one at a time, “All right?” “All right?” “All right?” It’s really charming.

Check it out on YouTube here.

10 things you didn’t know about Trading Spaces’ Paige Davis

10 With Tom
10 questions in 10 minutes

paige-davisTrading Spaces is coming back! Yup, the granddaddy of DIY shows! Paige Davis is back along with most of the designers you might remember from the popular show that ran from 2000 to 2008. Along with Paige, returning are Doug Wilson, Genevieve Gorder, Hildi Santo-Tomas, Vern Yip, Frank Bielic, and Laurie Smith. Carpenters Ty Pennington and Carter Oosterhouse are back too!

As you may remember, two sets of neighbors redo a room at each others houses over a weekend with the help of two designers for that week.

The new version premiers Saturday, April 7 at 8 pm on TLC.

I had the chance to ask Paige the 10 With Tom Questions. Here we go . . .

TOM: How did the idea for the reboot come about?
PAIGE: I’m not 100% certain, but I believe TLC felt it was good timing on the heels of the nostalgia wave that is sweeping television right now. There are currently so many reboots of old shows. It’s comforting and fun. Waiting for Trading Spaces to air is like saving the best for last.

TOM: Had you kept in touch with any of the cast/designers over these past 10 years that the show was off the air?
PAIGE: Definitely. And Facebook and social media has made it even easier than before to keep up with each other’s lives.

TOM: Where will the shows be taped? One city? Different areas of the country as in the past?
PAIGE: Our show has always been taped around the country. This reboot is no different. This season there are episodes in southern California, Atlanta, and Baltimore.

TOM: Are you stopped by fans when you travel? What is their number one question?
PAIGE: I am stopped by fans sometimes, yes. The number one thing I’m asked is, “Will you come to my house?” I always say, “Careful what you wish for.”

TOM: Are you a designer, have you designed or did you just fall into the hosting aspect of the show?
PAIGE: I am not a designer. Though I do have a love of decor and design. I am a dancer/singer/actress by trade. Trading Spaces was simply a job I auditioned for. A bit of fluke that I booked it.

TOM: If you had one super power, what would it be?
PAIGE: To never be hungry or to be able to curb cravings with the wiggle of my nose.

TOM: What was the last tv show you watched?
PAIGE: Speechless.

TOM: What’s the last thing you took a picture of?
PAIGE: The Playbill cover of Carousel on Broadway. My dear friend is in the ensemble. We went to see her last night.

TOM: When you guys trade spaces, what is your favorite room in the house for a do-over?
PAIGE: I can’t speak for the designers, but I love when we do family rooms because they have the most jeopardy if the homeowners are disappointed. Lots at stake when it’s a room you spend a great deal of time in.

TOM: Starry Night, Mona Lisa or Les Demoiselles d’Avignon by Picasso?
PAIGE: Picasso, all the way.

TOM: Thanks Paige! We’ll be looking for you on April 7!

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Visiting The Muppets

One of my favorite places to visit when I’m in New York is the Museum of the Moving Image which is Astoria, Queens. It’s chock full of memories with items from tv and movies and also video games. Currently, the featured exhibit is The Jim Henson Exhibition which of course features the Muppets. This may now be a permanent part of the museum according to the museum’s website.

Big Bird, Miss Piggy, Kermit the Frog, they are all there.

The Jim Henson exhibit features so much related to the Muppets, including actual Muppets, but also scripts, drawing concepts of how they were created, videos of original programming and so much more.

It was really sweet to see people’s reactions as they related with the characters. Everyone has a special memory regarding the Muppets and periods of their lives.

The museum of course has lots of memories regarding tv and movies, with props, scrips, collectibles, old movie and tv cameras, etc.

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