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.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Remembering Pedro

Steve Rothaus, an old friend and a former colleague of mine at The Miami Herald, recently co-wrote a story about a scholarship fund named after the late Pedro Zamora.

He was a Cuban-born Miamian best known for his HIV advocacy and for appearing on MTV's The Real World in 1994 when he shared his own struggles with the disease.

I never met Pedro but he had an impact on me and so many of my fellow gay friends who also grew up in Miami during the 1990s.

In 2007 shortly after I started this Beantown Cuban blog/site, I wrote a little tribute about Pedro for World AIDS Day.

I am reposting it below to honor his spirit and his work which continues today through others as Steve's recent article points out.

from December 03, 2007

A psychic once proclaimed that Pedro Zamora was born to save lives. I know many who can attest to that.

Pedro died last month 13 years ago, the day after the final episode of The Real World: San Francisco aired. He died from complications from AIDS after a three-year crusade to educate folks, especially young people, about the illness.

You don't hear much about Pedro anymore. The years have passed. There was a street named after him in West Miami-Dade. A former clinic in Boston also carried his name. MTV no longer shows the reruns from his season.

Sometimes, I can't help but wonder what a positive role model Pedro would be today to a whole new generation of young people. He showed people that AIDS was everywhere. Young or old, gay or straight, it's there. And a few moments of pleasure could never be worth risking one's life. He also taught people how to avoid catching the virus - and how to deal with people who had it.

He made an impression on me right away when I was 20 because I saw a little of myself in him. We were both Miami Cubans, about the same age and gay and I was just beginning to embark on the real world of dating. (We also had the trademark thick dark eyebrows.)

When The Real World cameras highlighted his tight-knit and affectionate Cuban family, I saw some of my own family reflected in his. Pedro's thick Cuban accent was music to my ears, part of Miami's soundtrack. He was on The Real World when cast members had real stories to tell besides the I-got-drunk-and-hooked-up-with-so-and-so tales.

I always wished I could have met Pedro. If I had, I would have said "Gracias chico!" for educating me and so many of my fellow friends in Miami and beyond.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Playing with words

One of the joys of being a writer is making up new words. Yes, we have the creative license to invent words.

I've sprinkled some here and there in my fiction writing over the years. They are words that have jokingly sprung up in conversation with friends. Or words created when I can't think of a way to describe someone, some action or some place and I combine two parts of a word into one.

Part of the fun is mixing and matching various word stems. You never know what you might come up with.

Here are some examples of words/phrases that I've used in my novels that probably won't turn up in Webster's dictionary anytime soon.

Geeksome: When a guy is geeky and handsome. Used in my fourth novel, Take the Lead.

Slore: A super horny guy that always hangs out at Score, a South Beach gay bar. The word is combination of slut and Score.

Used a few times in my second novel, Miami Manhunt which takes place mostly at Score where friends Ray, Ted and Brian meet up each Friday and become slores.  It's also used in Take the Lead.

Hangear:  The act of hanging out. This is a Spanglish/Cuban slang. When two friends hang out by doing a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y nothing like washing clothes, drying those clothes, folding said clothes, walking one's dog, driving to Cambridgeside Galleria Mall just to walk and talk.

Used in my third novel, Beantown Cubans to describe what Cuban buddies Tommy and Carlos typically do in Cambridge and Boston as they talk about their life.

Beantown Cuban: What I used to be. A Cuban or Cuban-American who lives in greater Boston or is from Boston. (It's also the name of this blog/site.  Beantown Cuban, one of the few but proud.

OCD: Obsessive Cuban Disorder.  It's what Tommy Perez says he has in the first chapter of Boston Boys Club.

"But some say I have another kind of OCD: Obsessive Cuban Disorder, since I manage to lace my everyday conversations with Cuban references or inject them into my feature stories."

Cupido: A Spanglish term for Cupid.

Example: Oye Cupido, I'm standing right here, shoot me with your arrow already.

Chico lit:  Fun, lighthearted genre of contemporary fiction aimed at Hispanic gay guys and their friends. I tossed this term around a lot when I first published Boston Boys Club, as my version or answer to chica lit (Latina fiction.)

Mr. KY:  So this was a nickname I gave to Kyle, the former reality TV model character from my first novel, Boston Boys Club.

The KY is a play off his name but it was also used this way in the book: "Kyle (we call him KY for a sloppy KY Jelly incident inside a hot tub during a threesome on one of the most-talked-about Real Life ... MrKY spots us right away."

Do you have a made-up word or phrase that you and your friends use? Feel free to comment below