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.  This is a long way of saying that I wrote an article about the new show and how it's familiar and yet different.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016


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)

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Running in Havana

There's an annual marathon in Havana called the Havana Marathon or Marabana that draws about 2,500 international runners including Americans.  With the relaxing of relations between the US and Cuba and the introduction of a sports license that allows semi-professional and amateur athletes to compete in exhibitions and events on the island nation, more and more Americans are heading to Cuba to run.  I wrote a news feature on some South Florida runners who are training for the marathon which takes place Nov. 20.

(photo above by Jim Rassols of the Sun Sentinel)

Friday, September 30, 2016

Fighting HIV through social media

At the recent National Lesbian Gay Journalists Association conference in Miami, I heard Maria Mejia tell her story, how she uses her HIV positive diagnosis to raise awareness and share the realities of living with the virus.

"You get no breaks,'' she said. "It's not easy but it's not going to kill you if you do what you're supposed to do, which is take your medicine, live a healthy lifestyle, try to be a person that is productive, work out, drink lots of water and just live intensely one day at a time."

She had a tell-like-it-is manner that was raw and engaging. She stood out from the panel of doctors, researchers and advocates.

Maria is very open about her status. Using the handle @MariaHIVMejia, she records videos on Youtube, blogs, and posts updates on Facebook and Twitter to help lessen the stigma.

Her story stayed with me and I decided to follow up with a profile on her for the Sun Sentinel.

(Photo by Amy Beth Bennett/ Sun Sentinel)

Friday, September 23, 2016

C'mon Ride The (little) Train

Choo choo! For more than 25 years, volunteers have provided fun train rides at Tradewinds Park on little locomotives that are about an 1/8 of the size of their big counterparts.
The tradition was launched by the late Jon Hollahan and his fellow live steamers to share in their love of railroads. Now his son and others are helping keep the tradition on track. I wrote a news feature about the Hollahan's family love of trains and why volunteers and people love of these model trains.