Saturday, March 4, 2017

Six Neckties, a preview

Here's a little preview to my sixth novel Six Neckties which takes place in Ogunquit, Maine (with some Boston.)  The book should feel like one of those fun, light and sweet Saturday night Hallmark Channel movies (my favorite) but with gay men.

Now that gays are getting hitched, it seems that everyone is saying I Do. Except for Tommy Perez. 

He's always the best man or groomsman for his friends' nuptials. And with each occasion, Tommy goes home alone with another necktie. He's already on number four. But things seem to improve for the Maine magazine writer when he suddenly meets Danny, a confident freelance photographer who shoots a friend's wedding in Provincetown. Danny is cute enough that he should be in front of the camera rather than behind it. 

And complicating matters is the arrival of a sexy and slightly older guest house manager named Ignacio who begins to court Tommy's heart in their small town of Ogunquit. 

But is Tommy ready for love again? As he helps his best friends Rico and Carlos prepare for their weddings, Tommy must reexamine his past relationship with his ex Mikey who had issues with the bottle in Boston. 

And with two potential love interests on the horizon, will it finally be Tommy's turn to walk down the aisle in his own necktie?

To read the first chapter, visit this preview link.  The book should be released later this month.


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Home life in a box


Shipping containers are being recycled into homes in South Florida.  With their iron walls and boxy shapes, these mods are being repurposed as duplexes, Airbnb rentals and homes.

I wrote a story about these modular homes which have been popping up in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach county.

(Photos by Johnny Diaz)

The white home on the upper left was made from three shipping containers (one on top, two  at the bottom.)  It's used as an Airbnb rental in Jupiter (just north of West Palm Beach.)  The dog in the photo is not included with the rental.

The second photo is of a duplex currently being built near North Miami Beach.

And the third photo is of a home by Miami Shores built from three containers.



Thursday, January 26, 2017

Cuban rafts of the past

I remember in the mid-90s when Cuban rafts washed up on shore almost daily. Some were empty. Others ferried Cubans to the US. Once abandoned, the rafts became symbols of freedom, liberty and new beginnings. Some business owners proudly salvaged them and displayed them outside their property.

With the elimination of the so-called wetfoot, dryfoot policy this month, will we be seeing fewer of these homemade boats?   I wrote a Sun Sentinel story about that and how some local museums and gardens still have some of these rafts/vessels as relics of history.  The Spanish version of the article is here.

The photo above is a raft called the Tio B that was found just south of Miami Beach in 1994 during the rafter crisis.  The raft is on display at HistoryMiami Museum in downtown Miami. The photo below is of a Cuban boat (from the top) used by migrants in 1979 and one used by Haitians (below).  (Photos by Johnny Diaz)





Tuesday, January 10, 2017

One Day at a Time, 2017

Growing up in Miami Beach in the 1980s, I was a TV junkie. I remember sitting in front of our HUGE TV set that would require at least three people to move when it came to clean the floor.

Anyway, one of my go-to shows on CBS was One Day at a Time. I looked forward to the bubbly feel-good theme song This Is It and a look at the daily lives of a single mom and her teen daughters.

Usually, there was a happy ending. The show ran from 1975 to 1984.  I also remember it was losing creative steam when it married off Barbara (Valerie Bertinelli to a dentist).

So I was surprised to learn that Netflix was rebooting the show but with a Cuban-American family. And like the original, the theme song remains but it's been updated as well, thanks to Gloria Estefan who brings a fast Latin beat to the theme.  This is a long way of saying that I wrote an article about the new show and how it's familiar and yet different.

Todd Grinnell, who plays the new Schneider, with Rita Moreno who plays Lydia, the Cuban grandmother.

Both actors steal their scenes especially when Grinnell is shirtless.






















Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Cervivor

To South Florida radio listeners, she's the fast-talking friendly voice providing weather, traffic and news updates from Key West to Palm Beach county on WIOD 610 AM during the Jimmy Cefalo Show and Fernand R. Amandi Show.

But recently, Nathalie Rodriguez shared some news of her own - that she had battled cervical cancer and was recovering.  She's been sharing updates about the importance of PAP smear screenings and early detection.

  I wrote a profile on Nathalie and how she's become this accidental cancer awareness advocate.  (photo above by Taimy Alvarez, Sun Sentinel)

Monday, November 28, 2016

Castro and Cuba

South Florida flared with raw emotion, from anger to sadness, with the news of the death of Fidel Castro this weekend.

I helped with the Cuban and Cuban-American reaction story that was published Sunday in the Sun Sentinel's special section.

(photo on the left from Michael Laughlin of the Sun Sentinel in front of Cafe Versailles in Miami)

I also wrote a story for that section about a new Cuban museum focused on the exile experience.

Naturally, Fidel Castro's presence can be seen and felt at the American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora through the art work by Luis Cruz Azaceta currently on display throughout the center's two floors.

(art work by Luis Cruz Azaceta at the American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora)







And this was the front page of the special section the Sun Sentinel published Sunday.





Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Taking a bite out of the Burger Museum

McDonald's characters (Hamburglar, Grimace), the Burger King and all have a home at the Burger Beast Burger Museum, an ode to all things fast-food restaurants.

The museum, a 1,500-foot square space at Magic City Casino in Miami, features vintage glasses, mugs, notepads, napkins, name tags, wrappers - you name it! - from famous and former fast-food joints in South Florida and beyond.  I wrote a story about the museum for my paper the Sun Sentinel.

Walking through the museum was like taking a stroll through my childhood when my parents treated my sister and me to Sunday lunches at Burger King or a quick dinner at McDonald's on Thursdays. (I always ordered a cheeseburger and chocolate shake from both places. Come to think of it, I did the same at Cuban restaurants in Miami - Puerto Sagua, Versailles, etc.)

I also remember the BK cashiers wearing bright orange and brown uniforms at BK and using microphones to repeat orders. And those catchy Saturday morning McDonald's commercials where groups of friends (mostly elementary school-age girls) went to lunch at McDonald's on the weekends after a school event.






Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Emily Estefan turns the beat around (her way)

Emily Estefan is about to rehearse inside Crescent Moon Studios in Miami. But don't expect the cha-cha-cha, dance and Latin music that made her parents Emilio and Gloria Estefan megastars in the mid1980s.

Emily's sound has hints of funk, rhythm and blues and Neosoul. Her voice is more Amy Winehouse than mom Gloria.

 I got to interview Emily for a story about her upcoming album Take Whatever You Want which comes out Feb. 3.  She also talked about how she created her songs while a student at Berklee College of Music in Boston.  (In my book, that makes her a fellow Beantown Cuban).

(photo above by Taimy Alvarez / Sun Sentinel)