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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

CITY PARK NEW ORLEANS

A Twinkle in the Trees

Celebration in the Oaks starts the day after Thanksgiving on November 25, 2016, offering a perfect way to cap off your day of shopping.

Centuries-old oak trees get a holiday makeover thanks to thousands of sparkling lights, creating a magical spectacle for guests who walk under the glistening boughs.

Children will delight in themed trees (the Who Dat tree is a local favorite for Saints fans) and the kid-friendly light displays in Storyland.

For adults, head to the Botanical Garden for glittering lights that adorn the more than 2,000 varieties of plant life on the property.

Along the way, you’ll see charming walkways decorated by local schools.

Are your feet tired yet?

There’s also a two-mile train ride to take you through the exhibit.

Overall, the light display spans more than 25 acres, and our typically mild winters make the park an excellent spot for meandering and admiring (with a cup of hot cocoa, perhaps?) at your own pace.

http://neworleanscitypark.com/celebration-in-the-oaks

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

OLD POINT BAR

IN HISTORIC ALGIERS POINT

Connected to the French Quarter via the ferry that crosses the Mississippi River and lands at the foot of Canal Street.

Great local music.

Ice cold cheap drinks.

http://www.oldpointbarnola.com/

Monday, November 28, 2016

ART CONCEPT


COME SEE MY WIFE'S PHOTO FROM BOLD BEAUTY

The new “waterfront fair in the round” focusing on modern and contemporary works will be held in a spectacular waterfront fair venue in the heart of downtown Miami’s  Arts, Museum and Entertainment District during America’s largest international fair week.

Just steps from world renowned restaurant dinning, five star hotels and luxury shopping the fair offers abundant parking and shuttle service.
Art Basel Miami Week (November 30, to December 4, 2016) is North America’s foremost art week for international and contemporary art. 
Since 2002 it has infused Miami with energy and excitement as over 76,000 creatives art lovers, and collectors from six contents descend on this tropical city confirming its position as a world cultural capital. 
Satellite art fairs spread from Miami’s sandy beaches, Midtown and now the new addition of Concept Fair in Downtown Miami’s vibrant Arts Museum & Entertainment District. 
Art Basel Week  has become the quintessential place for dealers to exhibit in what has become North America’s largest art fair event of the year.
http://nextlevelfairs.com/concept/concept-fair-2017/ 

Sunday, November 27, 2016

DEATH OF A DICTATOR



CASTRO'S PASSING OBSERVED IN LITTLE HAVANA



PEOPLE TOOK TO THE STREETS OF CALLE OCHO



VERSAILLES RESTAURANT WAS THE EPICENTER 


ITS COFFEE WINDOW HAS LONG BEEN

 
LA CASA DEL EXILIO 




Saturday, November 26, 2016

CRAZY CAT LADY



AND DAMN PROUD OF IT

by Heidi Johnson-Wright 
(from the EarthBound TomBoy files)


A multi-level tower greets those who come through my door.  Toys made of foil or fluff are strewn across my floor.

You might call me a crazy cat lady.

I suppose I am one. And a bit of a novice, too. While I’ve loved animals my whole life, I was certain I was a dog person. Until two fuzzy feline sweethearts came into my life three years ago. Two kitties -- a mother and daughter – who lived on the streets and needed a human mommy.

It didn’t happen overnight. There were many days when I admired them from afar. 

Then my husband and I tendered some kitty treats, and a bond began to form. 

We weren’t certain if either of us had allergies. So we started out with the rule that we wouldn’t allow them in the house beyond the front room. Then the rule quickly changed to “in the house but not in the bedrooms.” That rule didn’t last long, either.

Now three years in, the only forbidden zones are the cupboards containing household cleaners and the stove top. (OK, the inside of the refrigerator is off limits, too.)

So why the change? How did I become someone who never imagined being a cat mommy to a woman who does hours of online research to find the best cat harness?

Perhaps it links back to my disability. I developed severe rheumatoid arthritis back in grade school. The disease quickly became a juggernaut of severe joint pain and destruction. It has since resulted in two dozen major orthopedic surgeries, followed by months of torturous rehabilitation.

Do you know what it’s like to spend months on your back – your body aching from constantly maintaining the same position -- forbidden to enjoy the simple luxury of rolling onto your side?  

I do. I know what it feels like to lay in a pool of my own sweat collected under my lower back, unable to get air against my skin to evaporate the moisture.

It may sound like a small thing, something you could simply distract yourself from noticing. I assure you it is not. Because when your whole world consists of you in a hospital bed, you literally ache for the simple pleasures we often take for granted.

And I remember all of it: every miserable detail, even the sleepless nights from 40 years ago. Nights and days when I thought: “If only I could roll over for five minutes. If only I could lie on soft sheets. If only I could have a few moments of relief from these aches that never end.”

Perhaps that’s why – if you visit my home – you’ll see comfy cushions and baby blankets throughout my house and soft dish drying pads lying around my patio. I understand such things may label me a crazy cat lady. I proudly cop to that label. 

But don’t forget there’s more to the story. That cushions and blankets and pads symbolize a reduction in suffering. The reduction in suffering that tantalized but evaded a frightened young girl in a hospital bed. The reduction in suffering that I am determined to provide to my fur angels.

Am I a crazy cat lady? You’re goddamn right I am. 



 

Friday, November 25, 2016

A THANKSGIVING TALE: IN A TIME WHEN WE NEED LOVE AND PEACE TO TRUMP BIGOTRY AND HATE

ESSAY OF HOPE PARTS 1 & 2 PUT TOGETHER FOR SHARING
(in response to popular demand)

What I am thankful for this year:

Friendship, kindness, understanding, compassion, making amends.

I have thought about sharing this story for ages.

But the time seems right.

Bear with me.

More than a quarter century ago, I made the leap from obscure editorial assistant, fresh out of journalism school kid, to full-time pop music critic at a major newspaper.

I replaced the friend of the paper's TV & radio critic.

I was talented, but was very young, not very confident, not from the city I was working in and maybe overly sensitive.

The TV-radio guy was very talented, darn near as young as me, very confident, from the city the major newspaper was located in and very brash at the time.

He threw me more than a few digs, even though I barely knew him...and ironically, had a working friendship with his new bride -- because we both toiled in the same suburban bureau for the big paper.

I ended up moving on from the pop music critic life and stuck with the paper in beats more suited for my ability and married life as a caregiver to a wonderful wife who uses a wheelchair for mobility.

The more polished TV-Radio critic moved to another City awhile after a very public and ugly incident involving crude radio personalities and out of bounds comments they made about his wife.

Fast forward 25 years and I'm in a blue period, getting over the death of my father - a 40-year newspaperman in the Ohio town I grew up in -- and feeling down over a bout of pain my wife was going through long after a major surgery.

I thought about my old paper and the grudge I held against the brash critic that threw his muttered digs at me in the newsroom hallways.

I found his contact info online and vented....and vented...and vented.

I told him how unkind his cuts were....and really went so far off the deep end that I said nasty things about him (only I was now around age 50 and should have been able to maturely share without stooping to that low level.)

I pushed the send button and felt there was a 99% chance that I had written the note only for my own therapeutic reasons. The person I emailed to would either never reply or zap back a terse "get over it, whiny jackass" email.

A couple days passed...I re-immersed in life and....and the phone rang while I was at a client’s office.

I almost ignored it, since it was an unfamiliar number on my cell -- most likely a telemarketer ignoring the do not call list.
Despite my trepidation, I answered the phone.
And it was my youthful big city journalism era nemesis -- the TV-radio critic.

And he wasn't snotty at all.

He was warm, kind, like a long lost brother...or college roommate to reconnect with.

We never were close at all, obviously.
But suddenly, two men in their 50s, still married to their wonderful wives, were bonded like we had been best friends for ages.

The critic was certainly apologetic, but the call wasn't about that at all.

It was about men, learning to care, learning to prioritize, learning to grow beyond youthful pettiness.

We ended up talking about wars and peace. Betrayals and redemption. Of triumphs and tragedies experienced by mutual friends from the newspaper we crossed paths at -- the Columbus Dispatch.

We are both busy people. He's a leading sports columnist, a brilliant and passionate writer.

I work in marketing communications for urban design and town planning -- an outgrowth of the beat I settled into after leaving the late night and work in a fishbowl life of an arts critic back.

But we talked for nearly an hour. I didn't want to hang up the phone.
Movies have been based on less heartwarming events, adapted from stories less ironic and amazing than the long and winding road that led to our mobile phone bonding session.
We became Facebook friends.  Maybe that's corny, but it is the format of modern communication.

I took great joy when he liked or commented on some aspect of my life.

I shared some of his insightful posts -- on sports and life -- with my friends.

We both weathered the 2016 presidential election (and were not happy with the results).

We shared stories of diversity, what both of us still believe is the backbone of America.

Now, bigotry, misogyny, race baiting, hatred, prejudice, anti-Semitism, outright attacks on peaceful practitioners of the Muslim faith and mockery dehumanizing people with disabilities is embraced by the elected leader of the free world.
It seems, in the same month as the election, very appropriate to give thanks for the opportunity to get to know...to really know...the true big heart and essence of my new friend.

I thought long and hard about keeping his identity anonymous in this essay.....at least to all but fellow alums of the Dispatch newspaper or those obsessed enough to look up who was the TV-Radio critic in the late 1980s there.

But I'm going to share the name, because I have great admiration, respect and yes, I'll say it, even love for the person who was big enough to read my email, take stock in what I said and reach out to me with a warmth and kindness that seems so rare in these days of anger, bile and bellicose online posts.

My "new" friend is David Jones.

He’s an acclaimed columnist for PennLive.com

He's married to the former Ana Al-Khouri.

They have a family.

David is one of the good guys.

Big hearted.

Honest and open.

For the bond we created about a year ago -- and the darn near Hollywood feel good story forged from the bizarre and initially rocky road that brought us together -- I am thankful for.

This is my Thanksgiving story.

Thank you David.

May you and your family feel the same warmth, love and joy that I am feeling as I share this story.

Happy Thanskgiving

Thursday, November 24, 2016

A TRUE THANKSGIVING STORY -- CONCLUSION

David

PART 2:



Despite my trepidation, I answered the phone.

And it was my youthful big city journalism era nemesis -- the TV-radio critic.

And he wasn't snotty at all.

He was warm, kind, like a long lost brother...or college roommate to reconnect with.

We never were close at all, obviously.

But suddenly, two men in their 50s, still married to their wonderful wives, were bonded like we had been best friends for ages.

The critic was certainly apologetic, but the call wasn't about that at all.

It was about men, learning to care, learning to prioritize, learning to grow beyond youthful pettiness.

We ended up talking about wars and peace. Betrayals and redemption. Of triumphs and tragedies experienced by mutual friends from the newspaper we crossed paths at -- the Columbus Dispatch.

We are both busy people. He's a leading sports columnist, a brilliant and passionate writer.

I work in marketing communications for urban design and town planning -- an outgrowth of the beat I settled into after leaving the late night and work in a fishbowl life of an arts critic back.

But we talked for nearly an hour. I didn't want to hang up the phone.

Movies have been based on less heartwarming events, adapted from stories less ironic and amazing than the long and winding road that led to our mobile phone bonding session.

We became Facebook friends.  Maybe that's corny, but it is the format of modern communication.

I took great joy when he liked or commented on some aspect of my life.

I shared some of his insightful posts -- on sports and life -- with my friends.

We both weathered the 2016 presidential election (and were not happy with the results).

We shared stories of diversity, what both of us still believe is the backbone of America.

Now, bigotry, misogyny, race baiting, hatred, prejudice, anti-Semitism, outright attacks on peaceful practitioners of the Muslim faith and mockery dehumanizing people with disabilities is embraced by the elected leader of the free world.

It seems, in the same month as the election, very appropriate to give thanks for the opportunity to get to know...to really know...the true big heart and essence of my new friend.

I thought long and hard about keeping his identity anonymous in this essay.....at least to all but fellow alums of the Dispatch newspaper or those obsessed enough to look up who was the TV-Radio critic in the late 1980s there.

But I'm going to share the name, because I have great admiration, respect and yes, I'll say it, even love for the person who was big enough to read my email, take stock in what I said and reach out to me with a warmth and kindness that seems so rare in these days of anger, bile and bellicose online posts.

My "new" friend is David Jones.

He’s an acclaimed columnist for PennLive.com

He's married to the former Ana Al-Khouri.

They have a family.

David is one of the good guys.

Big hearted.

Honest and open.

For the bond we created about a year ago -- and the darn near Hollywood feel good story forged from the bizarre and initially rocky road that brought us together -- I am thankful for.

This is my Thanksgiving story.

Thank you David.

May you and your family feel the same warmth, love and joy that I am feeling as I share this story.

Happy Thanskgiving

 me