Saturday, March 11, 2017

closed another one

We always know when acquaintances are destined to become friends - just have dinner with them and see how long it lasts - how easy the conversation flows and never ends and before you know it you are closing down the place...

We used to laugh about this back when Laure and Arno lived in Chicago- we WERE all relative night owls with work at home schedules that gave us the flexibility to talk into the night as the bus boys were mopping up or putting chairs on the table... but we found it takes a combination of elements to create this level of comfort with another couple - along the way we are lucky to have found it more than once... Tonight was one of those nights.

It was only about a year ago now that we met Gene and Mary Ann at an afternoon snack at a bar next to the cinemas where the Sarasota Film Festival is held... we hit it off immediately on so many levels (all lawyers/all winos/all travel addicts) Our subsequent meetings have been dictated by travel schedules in the intervening months and we even found out after nearly a year that we have both traveled with the same company a number of times....

We joined a wine group that they put together for collectors they knew and we have had a couple of blind tastings which were interesting but really we like seeing them- the time goes by so quickly and we find ourselves laughing at how can finish sentences the other starts....that kind of stuff.

They live in Venice (roughly an hour away) and so we frequently have met in neutral territory of Sarasota... so tonight they came 35 minutes north and we went 40 minutes south and we had dinner at Mattison's 41... now I don't have a ton of photos because it was too distracting catching up on the latest travel (they just returned from Antarctica- where they sailed on the very same ship we took last August around the Baltic Sea - even had the very same handsome captain- not a scintillating conversationalist but certainly worth looking at LOL- not that I am objectifying him LOL)

We brought Champagne a favorite and ChateauY'quem for dessert and they brought two 2007 Cabs from vineyards in California (where they lived for many years until relocating to Florida) L'aventure and Navarro- all wines showed well and we spent a good deal of time discussing various tastes in wine and how collections of the wine group varied greatly...

We had a terrific waiter named Bill and a fab meal - the winners were the Beef Tartare starter and the wedge salad (split) and the rack of lamb (Phil's entree) but everything we each ordered was well prepared and we had fun tasting and talking to Bill (who was able to join in the tasting a bit)

so as we left the place (no one else but the two last waiters and the bar tender- hanging out at the bar) we said our farewells and planned for the next time - during the Film Fest - to get together - since I am traveling from this coming Wednesday through the end of the month basically...

so how about a few pictures -

I had the Skate with some yummy asparagus and a squash based "latke"

so we have the Jewish Film Festival coming up and I have to finish packing - meanwhile we are juggling the appliance repair guy for the ice maker and getting our SFF tickets lined up so all is ready upon my return which will be the night before a wine dinner at Michael's Wine Cellar and then later in the week The Wine Walk to Ca d'Zan with CBGB and John and Barb!

And OMG then it's April and time for this year's DART (Disappearing America Road Trip) #timeflies #lifeisgood... stay tuned!

Thursday, March 9, 2017

our bay

this afternoon we went to hear a lecture on the effect of Climate Change on Sarasota Bay.  After that we went to grab a quick meal at Nancy's BBQ and then had a drink at Muse before joining John, Barb, Barbara and Joanne at Asolo for the play "The Great Society" (reviewed in the What If post)

And because we live by MFK Fisher's words around here "first we eat..." we will start with photos of the BBQ place we had our grab a bite meal here-

I had the brisket and pulled pork combo with beans and cole slaw- and Phil got ribs and pulled pork with beans and brunswick stew- all good but the brisket won IMO-

and amazingly it was the lecture that got us here- LOL- the slides shown to the attendees had one of this very intersection and it reminded me that we had been wanting to try this place for a really long time..... so off we went from the lecture to explore the traffic circle from the slides- LOL

so back to the lecture itself-

check out this info - there are many great tidbits in here-

here are some eye popping stats about the economic effect the bay has on the area via tourism to jobs to activities and even specifics about property values as you get closer to the waterfront property -

much less diurnal divergence in heat island areas

after more than 700 heat related deaths in that horrible Chicago summer of 1995... more than half of July over 100* (we remember it clearly) the city started a green roof program and has had great success with it-

for those who live around here this is a waaaay cool website about climate for our own backyards - and you can see how micro climates can vary dramatically -

more eye popping stats on who uses fresh water and it isn't you in the shower!

here it is on a global basis - with the winter (and less leaf cover hence less use of CO2) you can see how much more CO2 is produced in the photos from NASA of the atmosphere - the summer when we have full leaf cover shows a vastly different picture! (the whole year can be watched on the Internet)

so an informative lecture (and Jeff Rodgers is coming up with more fun and games during his lecture on 3/22 which Phil will attend when I am elsewhere LOL) and a good bite pre-theater

A winning day all around! Stay tuned for more!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

what if....

well I almost don't know where to start.... my youth and its turmoil (mine and the country's) came roaring back to life tonight.  Memories fade of course but tonight incidents seared into my memory were given new meanings and nuances that only four plus decades can allow.  Things we could not see in the immediacy of events, take on a different slant with the long lens of both history and life experience.

In 1968 the devil had a name- he was named Lyndon Baines Johnson and he made the calls that sent many of our generation and even more of our older brothers to death a half a world away.  We were angry. Angry about the war, angry about the racism, angry about the poverty that was creating dead end lives for the poor... all the ills of society - in the opinion of those of us who fancied ourselves politically savvy lay on the door step of the administration escalating the war.

It didn't end in 1968 though when we went from the frying pan into the fire (yes it was possible to do that even then LOL) and by 1970 they were literally killing us.  May 4th 1970 the National Guard of Ohio killed four students at Kent State University and about ten days later the FBI showed up at the door of my parents house looking for a friend of the family.  My father, a staunch Republican and I went head to head many times but in the end he was a thinking man and he said to my mother one night at dinner. "If this GD war is still going on when my son is a teenager, we are moving to Canada."

but why am I telling you this? Tonight we saw the second play about the LBJ years - called The Great Society (you may recall we saw All the Way last year on the night of one of the primaries and were totally blown away)

here was the first paragraph of my post from March 15, 2016:
So WOW what a night! Yes it was election night - not only in real life but also tonight at the Asolo - where the incredible Tony award winning play "All the Way" is being magnificently staged.  The crisp and snappy dialogue and the fast pace of the events surrounding the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and the Freedom Summer, and the 1964 Johnson/Goldwater election made the story virtually breathtaking.  This is a magnificent and timely play with amazing dialogue - some of which couldn't be more timely if it tried!

and here we sit having completed the 2016 election cycle and this one was just a timely and had equally amazing dialogue - this time surrounding the events of the Vietnam War escalation and the 1968 election..."I will not seek, nor will I accept" Words I think many of my generation could recite verbatim - I know both Phil and I can.

And despite all of the opposition to the war - from a broad spectrum of the populace I know - because it is also a time specific memory - it wasn't until the end of 1972 that we heard Nixon's address on the withdrawal from Vietnam.  I remember crying that night in my college dorm room. It was unbelievable that after watching the war every night on the news for so many years and watching the numbers of dead and wounded mount seemingly endlessly that our national nightmare could actually be ending.

Tonight we got to relive the nightmare. The nightmare in Vietnam and in Selma and in Watts and in Chicago (who doesn't remember Old Man Daley screaming during the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago?)

So your brother's bound and gagged
And they've chained him to a chair
Won't you please come to chicago just to sing
In a land that's known as freedom how can such a thing be fair
Won't you please come to chicago for the help that we can bring
We can change the world rearrange the world
It's dying - to get better- 

So I suppose you are thinking- yes but what about the play? So I won't go down this path any longer (it was long ago and far away but it is the present- HERE AND NOW)

The play- gets the highest recommendation- especially for the script (which is so often the weakest link) first rate!  As we left the theater - we couldn't stop ourselves from asking "what if?"  What if Bobby hadn't been killed? What if MLK hadn't been assainated? What if LBJ or Humphrey had revealed Nixon's disruption of the Paris peace process? What if Johnson had been smart enough to call our MacNamara and his cronies in the war machine?  I know you can't live your life asking what if about it all but what could our country have accomplished with all the money the US has spent in my lifetime on war? We could feed, cloth, educate and provide health care for probably every citizen and offer help to those in need abroad as well.... novel concept to a whole segment of Americans---

I don't profess to know a thing about Christianity and am not a Christian despite being spiritual but I was doing some reading about charity came across this from an article about Christianity and Charity by Linda Jones  ( :
"Christians believe that anything that we have is a gift from God and does not belong exclusively to us. It must be shared if there is someone who needs it more.  Later church teaching expresses this love towards others as ‘solidarity’ with those in need. If we live by this principle, when we act out of charity or love we do not do it out of patronizing pity, but out of commitment to the common good, so that every human being can reach their full potential."

What if this was the guiding principle of everyone who declared themselves a Christian? Where would our country be today?

 The time line of the events during the period of the play -

If you are interested in the first part of the saga - you can revisit the post by copying this into your browser-

Up next on the arts calendar are the three films at the Jewish Film Festival and then we get to spend a hectic few hours before I leave for Uzbekistan pouring over the offerings for the ten day Sarasota Film Festival and ordering tickets before I leave town... oh and I will need to find some time to pack along the way...

Sunday, March 5, 2017

been and going

Our friend Jean arrived last week on Thursday night and we had a whirlwind Friday together before she headed south in the exploratory quest for a location to move to next September when she retires from her long time job in Portland Maine... we had a late breakfast on AMI and then an early dinner before a concert on Friday night at Fogartyville.  The weekend has been quiet with trip planning and prep for Uzbekistan (making up packing list) and Ireland (running through the logistics and what we have left to do) and Republic of Georgia (background reading) --- so this afternoon we found out that we had nearly missed the Jewish Film Festival and spent some time going through how to fit a few movies into our already full schedule....LOL - we can sleep when we're dead I guess LOL

so Monday we have the wine group with MaryAnn and Gene and the Venice folks and Tuesday Jean returns for the night after we meet the Salzburg group for dinner down south a bit and then Wednesday we have the Climate Change lecture at Temple Sholom and then dinner before the theater (The Great Society) - so yeah why not add three films on the last two days I am in town before leaving for the Caucuses LOL?

I thought the logo was funny because it looks like a Trivial Pursuit disc to me with all the pie pieces filled.... 

but oh yes - back to the concert from Friday - an enjoyable evening with a group called Outside Track which consisted of four women and one man who played  Irish and Scottish and Maritime Canadian music (one of who we had seen before with another group last year in March called Full Set) Nothing amazing but a nice way to pass an evening in good company (Jean, our friends Barb and John and their friends Joanne and Kathy) Here are a few photos -

and who knew Sarasota was developed by  Scottish man? 

so off we go to another busy week and leading up to my big spring adventure - so stay tuned.... always more fun...