Thursday, July 21, 2016

Mano A Mano

Mano A Mano is a gay men's chorus in Cuba and said to be the first of its kind in the island country. The two-year-old group was launched by Fort Lauderdale filmmaker Fermin Rojas. Since June, the group has been on a US tour and performing with other gay choruses including the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles. The Cuban choir's last US stop is in Fort Lauderdale where they will perform with the Gay Men's Chorus of South Florida. I wrote a preview of that July 23 event for my paper the Sun Sentinel. The Cuban guy sing in English and Spanish and sometimes put a Latin twist on pop songs such as Culture Club's Karma Chameleon and Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody.

Monday, July 18, 2016

beer geeks

South Florida was late to the craft beer party but that hasn't stopped craft connoisseurs from getting all geeky about their brewskies. I recently wrote a story about South Florida's over-the-top love of  craft beer.

Below is a bottle of Lemon Merengue Pie Blonde Ale that Miami beer geek Will Freyre posted on his Instagram account:  @hopspost

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Five things I like about the Fiat 500

It's been almost a year since I bought my little Fiat 500 Pop. I thought I'd list some of the things that I enjoy about my Italian hatchback since people often ask me about it on my daily travels.

1. It's tiny:  Big things come in small Italian cars. This little bugger can pretty much squeeze into any parking space (especially in car-congested South Beach and downtown Miami.)

But when you fold the backseats forward, the car is surprisingly roomy. The car has about the same exterior dimensions as the first Honda Civic hatchback from 1973 but my Fiat feels spacious inside.

It's  big enough to fit my father's wheelchair in the back.  I'm five-feet-10-inches tall and weigh about 170 pounds and three of my guy friends who are more or less the same height (okay, maybe an inch taller and thinner that me) fit comfortably in the car with me in the driver's seat.  On date night, my boyfriend and I usually take my car because it really fits anywhere.  To me, FIAT stands for FITS IN ALL TINY spaces.

2. Headturner:  Several times a week, curious admirers ask me about my copper colored 500 when I pull into a parking space or pull up to the Dunkin' Donuts drive-thru in Fort Lauderdale.  The car literally turns heads.  "Beautiful little car,'' one woman said as I hopped into the car outside Publix. "How is your Fiat treating you? I had one in college," a business man asked me this past week as I parked at my work's parking garage in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

3. Gas-friendly:  I commute weekdays from Coral Gables to Fort Lauderdale, which is at least 70 miles a day, sometimes more depending on my assignments.  A full-tank costs me $21 and lasts me four and half days. I average almost 300 miles on a full-tank what has 10 gallons.

4. Design:  I like to joke to people that I feel like I'm inside a beautifully-detailed Italian purse on four wheels.  The dashboard has beige, brown and orange accents. The seats are sewn in espresso brown material.  The steering wheel is a cream-hued faux leather.  The head rests are perfectly-shaped ovals. With its egg (or coffee bean) shape, the car sits high, tall.

5. Peppy engine:  The car has a 1.4 litre engine that hums at 101 horsepower. That doesn't sound like much but the engine is zippy, peppy. I can easily maneuver inbetween cars on Interstate 95 when I switch lanes although I have to punch the pedal and give it gas.

(that's me below sitting in the backseat.)

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Shark talk

I appeared on the Fernand R. Amandi Show on WIOD 610 AM this morning to talk about some of my stories including how every week is shark week in South Florida, the art of eyegazing and whether Miami is really the worst place to live as one recent study reported this week.

On his show, Fernand playfully cues the Jaws theme in whenever the topic of Donald Trump comes up in conversation which is daily.

That Jaws association has led to some Internet memes and posters including this one below that Fernand's show Tweeted out this morning.

It was a fun 10 minutes of talk radio.

Click here to hear me talk (and giggle) on the broadcast.

And here's a recent feature I wrote about Fernand and how he took over the midmorning slot on WIOD from Rick Sanchez.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Shark invasion

When you live in South Florida, it's hard to escape sharks.

They're not just in the water prowling our shoreline. They're used as mascots for branding a school and radio station and as subjects for TV documentaries and news.

Tattoos too. (I've got one on my left shoulder.)

In light of Discovery's Channel Shark Week which launched this week,  I wrote a fun fin story about how sharks invade our culture all the time.

The design for the story literally jumps off the page.

And not part of the story but just as colorful is a picture of my fading shark tattoo on my left shoulder.  I got it in my 20s because growing up in South Florida, I've always been fascinated by sharks. I think they represent strength and mystery and there's still a lot we don't know about these creatures.

Monday, June 13, 2016

South Florida reacts to Orlando's mass shooting

South Florida's gay community had a mix of reactions to the Orlando mass shooting at a gay nightclub. A lot of the people I interviewed for this story said that it could have easily happened in South Florida, which has a large gay and Latino population.

I immediately thought of all the times my bestfriend Racso and I would dance at Boston's gay Latino night on Wednesdays because it was one of the few places where gays and Hispanics gathered to have fun and meet one another, where you can hear Shakira, Pitbull and Enrique Iglesia remixes. It reminded us of the Miami nightclubs where Latin pop music is a given.

We'd go out to Boston's Latino night to dance, drink, let loose and more importantly, feel safe in our little gay sanctuary.  (And of course, we went to check out the sexy Brazilian guys.) But I digress...

The photo to the left is of Michael Kareff, a young man I interviewed outside of Rosie's Bar and Grill, a popular gay brunch hangout in Wilton Manors.  He had been at The Manor the night before in Wilton Manors for their Latin night. The shooting dominated conversations Sunday as well as today.

Below are the front pages of The Orlando Sentinel and Sun Sentinel.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

The New Kids on the cruise

Talk about rocking the boat! The New Kids on the Block embark on a summer cruise each year with their biggest fans.  And last year, POP TV cameras came along and filmed a docuseries called Rock This Boat: New Kids on the Block. 

The guys are back on board for another season of the show which returns 8:30 p.m. June 1st on POP TV.

I wrote a story about the new season and interviewed Danny Wood who lives in North Miami.

What's not in the interview: I totally geeked out in learning that he grew up in Dorchester's Pope's Hill neighborhood which is not far from my old neighborhood of Lower Mills in Dorchester where I lived for 10 years.  I really think everyone has a connection to Dorchester, fondly called DOT among locals.

This isn't my first NKOTB story.

In 2008 when the band reunited, I wrote a feature for my old paper The Boston Globe on how fans (mostly women in their 30s and 40s) were increasingly showing up at the childhood home of Jordan and Jonathan Knight (also in Dorchester) to take photos and tours of their old bedrooms.

The family had sold the house at 10 Melville Ave. to the Salvation Army which gladly allowed the impromptu tours.

Here's a photo gallery that ran with that story. 

Photos above on the Carnival Victory ship from POP TV.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Catching up with Tangela

Fifteen years ago when I was a general assignment reporter at The Miami Herald, I wrote several stories about the death of Vera Lawrence, a Miami secretary who died while receiving silicone injections to her butt. During the reporting and followup court hearings, I connected with her daughter Tangela Sears.
I lost touch her as life took me to Boston for 10 years and then back to Miami.

Yet Tangela kept popping up on my radar whenever I read about another gun violence story or tuned into the local Sunday morning shows such as WPLG's This Week in South Florida where she advocated for safer streets and discussed issues in the community.

I'm glad she remembered me when I reached out to her a few weeks ago. I wanted to see how she was doing and I wanted to catch up with her to write a followup story on how she deals with the losses in her life. (Her son was fatally shot last year in Tallahassee.)   She also told me her about her new support group Parents of Murdered Kids that helps other moms navigate the legal system for their childrens' cases.