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.

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.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Famous South Florida homes

From the UFO-shaped house just outside Fort Lauderdale to the waterfront two-story house used for MTV's The Real World: Miami season, there are a lot of residential properties that became newsworthy and part of pop culture in South Florida and beyond.

That includes Madonna's former home in Miami's Coconut Grove where she shot several photos for her 1992 Sex book and Gianni Versace's former estate in Miami Beach where he was fatally shot in 1997.

I produced a photo gallery and shot some photos of the more infamous homes in the tropics.  At the top left is the spaceship house in Davie.  It was owned by the 

See if you recognize any of these spots.

A screen grab from The MTV Real World House on Rivo Alto Island in Miami Beach where Flora, Mike, Joe, Sarah, Cynthia and ahem Dan lived for six months in 1996.

The Elian Gonzalez house in Miami's Little Havana. If you look closely on the right side of the gate, there's a framed photo of Elian's mother Elizabeth Broton who drowned in trying to make the voyage from Cuba to Florida in 1999.

Friday, May 6, 2016

A Providence Throwback

It's hard to believe that it's been two years since I published my fifth novel Looking for Providence.

While I currently edit/revise my sixth novel to be called Six Neckties (an updated blog post to come soon), I thought it would be a fun flashback to post this video of me chatting about the Providence book at Boston's Channel 7, WHDH.  I was giddy (I think I was blushing throughout the interview) at the NBC affiliate that afternoon in downtown Boston.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

The Voice

Scott Chapin likes to work in his wife's closet. It's the most audio-friendly place in his Fort Lauderdale beach condo to do his job - voicing news promos and teases for WSVN Channel 7 in Miami and sister station WHDH in Boston (and other Fox affiliates.)

I hung out with Scott in his closet/work space for a profile I wrote about him for the Sun Sentinel.

He started at WSVN in 1989 and had a short retirement in 2010.

Here is one of his older news promos from 1993 and a more recent one.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Art of Listening

Univision's Sunday evening news program Aqui y Ahora (Here and Now) which is like a Spanish version of 60 Minutes recently profiled Dr. Isabel Gomez-Bassols who is best known as la doctora of Spanish radio. The story was called The Art of Listening because that's what she's been doing for decades.

I've listened to Isabel over the years on the radio and online as she doled out advice to anyone willing to call her and reach out with their problems. And I've written about her over the years in The Boston Globe and at the Sun Sentinel. because it's obvious I follow her show.

So it was nice to see her on Univision telling her own story and talking about her own recent challenges:  She lost her national radio job and discovered a tumor in her kidney.  Still, she overcame them with her sunny optimism and grace.

You can see her tell her own story here from the Univision broadcast.

On a side note, doesn't she look like Julie Andrews? I always thought she looked like a Cuban version of her.

Below is a screen grab from when she played herself on CBS' The Bold and The Beautiful in 2002.