Homeward Bound - Miami

It's almost the end of another year. Another trip around the sun for the planet earth if you happen to follow the gregorian calendar. This is what my City looks like today....

In the image below, is how my City looked like four years ago. Less cranes....

Tonight I'll sing my songs again, I'll play the game and pretend. But all my words come back to me in shades of mediocrity. Like emptiness in harmony I need someone to comfort me. Homeward bound, I wish I was, Homeward bound, Home where my thought's escaping, Home where my music's playing, Home where my love lies waiting Silently for me. Silently for me.


Son of a Sun of a Sunflower


Here Comes the Sunflower


James Brown - 1933 - 2006 -- Rest in Peace Godfather


Cooking the Lechon - My Way

Yes Infidels, there are those who need a caja china, I use an old trusty Weber. (granted, this only works when you're cooking 8-10 piece). This Lechon rocked. One of the best I ever had..... a cross between the Cuban Lechon and the Texas BBQ....I took the Lechon to notches unknown to human kind. I used a lot of hickory smoke chips to give the pig a nice smoky flavor to compliment my homemade mojo marinade.
Have a Merry Christmas Infidels!

Feliz Noche Buena


Buon Natale Agli Infideli

Have your marinated your lechon? Hurry up, time is running out and Santi Clo will soon be here.

Waiting for Santi Clo in Hialeah


The 1st Day of Winter and it's 78 Degrees in South Florida

Yes Infidels. It's 78 degrees here in South Florida on the first day of the Winter Solstice which passed about a few hours ago. Brrr, really chilly down here. Makes you want to drink an icde cold coke with the Polar Bears huh? Looks like heat and rain this weekend; what a great way to spend Noche Buena. With a poncho and rain boots. Santi clo will have to put the roof up on his sleigh or else all the toys will get soaked.

Ciao belli i brutti.

Take Me Away to Pepperland

Once upon a time…or maybe twice, there was an unearthly paradise called Pepperland – a place where happiness and music reigned supreme. But all that was threatened when the terrible Blue Meanies declared war and sent in their army led by a menacing Flying Glove to destroy all that was good. In the end, Pepperland was saved when John turned the Glove into Love and sang All You Need is Love.

To Boldly Go Where No Santi Clo Has Gone Before

Yes Infidels. Chrisma is only 9 days away. Folks wonder how Santi Clo manages to get presents to all the kids around the world in one night. The answer is easy folks. It's called "warp drive." Santi Clo has been known to have installed warp drive on his sleigh a long time ago which enables him to get the job done before he gets the job done. (Relativity theory folks). So aheah warp factor one Prancer, Dancer, Comit, Cupid, Zulu, Uhura, Donner, & Chekov. And again, he doesn't do the chiminey thing. That's old school. He uses transporters to beam the presents into people's houses. How else would he get the presents into condos? With a pass key? The Condo Commandos would have him arrested for Breaking and Entering. It's all computerized now a days for Santi Clo. In fact, he keeps busy with Ms. Santi Clo on his trip. Her name is Mari Clo, and her image is shown below.

Ciao folks and behave!
Happy Friday Infidels. I finish this hectic week with a photo of the sunrise over Florida Bay in the Florida Everglades. And to take this one step further into the world of "what if?", let us ponder "what if" William Blake had written his poetry in the Florida Everglades rather than in England. Pretty interesting concept huh? Well, away we go.... have a great weekend....

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!

I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In the Everglades’ pleasant land.


We Got Everything But Snow Here in Miami

© 2002 by Michael A. Pancier
This is a photo of Miami's Bayfront Park during Christmas time in 2002. I don't know why they stopped putting up this holiday village out there. My kid loved it and it provided nice photo ops along the bay. I've been trying to find some equally nice photo ops ever since but with no success. Maybe I'll take a photo of the inflatable Frosty along the Loop Road in the Everglades.
In the Meantime, I'll offer you some more Parrothead lyrics from the Jimmy Buffett collection:


Christmas in the Caribbean
Snowbirds fill the air
Christmas in the Caribbean
Lots of presents everywhere
We don't live in a hurry
Send away for mistletoe
Christmas in the Caribbean
We got everything but snow.

Lights are glowing in the palm trees
Stockings hanging from mast
Santa's riding on a dolphin
Don't you want to make it
Don't you want to make it last.

Sun-tanned children sleeping
Hoping Santa will come through
Christmas morning boy they're leaping
Oh, it's Bubba's Birthday
Mr Buffett's birthday too!

Christmas in the Caribbean
Snowbirds fill the air
Christmas in the Caribbean
Lots of presents everywhere
We don't live in a hurry
Send away for mistletoe
Christmas in the Caribbean
We got everything but snow.

La Descarga

Greetings infidels. Only 13 days until Christmas and 12 days until Santi Clo packs up his 1971 Oldsmobile Cutlass Convertible and goes around town delivering toys to all the good girls and boys. Good ole Santi Clo after his everning sojourn, then puts away the winter clothes, packs some swim trunks, and heads out to the Dominican Republic and the Carribean. Wouldn't you? Right now, it's minus twelve in the North Pole, and that's quite cold, especially for an old guy like Santi Clo.
My sources indicate that Santi Clo is planning to spend a few days on the beach in Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic. While there, he may see some local street musicians having a descarga (jam session) such as the one I documented here in the 1980's.
My sources also tell me that Santi Clo is packing with him a case of Bacardi's Havana Club Puerto Rican rum. So until next time, this is the parrothead photographer signing off.

Christmas Island

Happy Monday infidels....how about some Holiday music of a different genre....

Let's get away from sleigh bells,
let's get away from snow
Let's make a break some Christmas, Dear,
I know the place to go

How'd ya like to spend Christmas on Christmas Island?
How'd ya like to spend the holiday away across the sea?
How'd ya like to spend Christmas on Christmas Island?
How'd ya like to hang a stocking on a great big coconut tree?

How'd ya like to stay up late, like the islanders do?
Wait for Santa to sail in with your presents in a canoe.

If you ever spend Christmas on Christmas Island
You will never stray for everyday
Your Christmas dreams come true.

How'd ya like to stay up late like the islanders do?
Wait for Santa to sail in with your presents in a canoe

If you ever spend Christmas on Christmas Island
You will never stray, for everyday
Your Christmas dreams come true
On Christmas Island your dreams come true.

It was 26 Years Ago Today . . .

Time flies fellow infidels. It was 26 years ago today, a day that will live in the infamy of rock and roll. I was 15. It was a Monday night. I was in my bedroom at my parent's house listening to the Monday Night Football game between the Miami Dolphins and the New England Patriots. It was blacked out and we could not see the game on TV. Since Mondays were my mom's day off, it was the night she always had guests over and a dinner party of some sort. On many of those occasions, I would shut myself into my room and into my own little world. I was sitting on the floor and was reading some magazines while listening to the game.
A phone call arrives. It was my friend Kevin who called me and told me, "Dude, they shot Lennon." I was kind of confused there for a moment, and said, "What? Who got shot?" He then told me, "Someone shot John Lennon." I was in a state of disbelief and told my friend that I would talk to him later. I had to hear it for myself. Shortly thereafter, a break in comes in on the radio (WIOD 610) from the news service announcing that former Beatle John Lennon had been assassinated in New York City by some nut job. I changed the station to the rock station at the time, WSHE 103.5 FM and they were broadcasting news reports. I stormed into the middle of the dinner party and yelled "Somebody just fucking killed John Lennon" and I walked back into my room. Not even noticing the disruption to the dinner party of folks who really did not care that much. I was a huge Beatle fan you see and a big John Lennon fan too. I had started collecting Beatle records at that time since the sixth grade. I had them all. The albums, the 45's, magazines, posters, songbooks. I knew all the songs on the guitar and piano. I had always hoped for a reunion, but now that was history as was an incredible songwriter.
That night, they started playing Beatle songs 24/7. I slept with the radio on and heard Beatle songs in my dreams that night. The next morning, I pulled out an old t-shirt of time with the Sgt. Pepper cover on it. I wore it with a black arm band to school the next day.
Interesting that at 15, John seemed so old. Looking back in time now as a pirate at 41, I realize heck no, he was young, but what he accomplished in his 20's and 30's alone, is amazing to consider. Recording Sgt. Pepper at 27 years old. Writing Strawberry Fields at 27.
John was an idealist and clearly not meant for the times that he lived. He was living a utopian ideal which cannot exist in reality. But he did give people some great music and some great lyrics.
Everybody always raves about his song "Imagine" being his magnum opus. To me though, it was this little short song on his first solo album that I found to be one of his best works. It is simply entitiled "Love."

Love is real , real is love
Love is feeling , feeling love
Love is wanting to be loved
Love is touch, touch is love
Love is reaching, reaching love
Love is asking to be loved
Love is you
You and me
Love is knowing
we can be
Love is free, free is love
Love is living, living love
Love is needing to be loved.

Have a great weekend infidels.

The Weather is Here, I Wish you were Beautiful

Yes folks, you can't beat our weather here in South Florida this time of year, especially if you are a parrot or an Austrailian Lori. Well, if you are human, you probably like it too unless you're some sort of ingrate. However, most infidels dig it here. I dig it here. The Lori in this picture digs it here.
This Lori has holiday colors too. Isn't that something. Christmas in the South Florida sun. We have everything but snow.

Breasts and Butterflies

Happy Monday infidels. Rather than my essays on the degeneration of popular music, I offer you some light hearted fare. Breasts and Butterflies.

Spent a few hours at Butterfly World in Coconut Creek yesterday. Been a while since I've gone shooting. Interesting thing about butterflies, like humans, they are attracted to certain scents. In the butterfly, the scents mean flowers which to them mean food. Since many perfumes are created from various flowers and herbals, while attracting other humans, in this case, perhaps a human of the male species, the lady's perform also attracted this butterfly who somehow felt he would get a snack. Well as George Carlin once said, yeah, he did get a snack in this case. The lady kept walking around butterfly world with a butterfly on her chest. She was a young Russian girl it appeared. I had not noticed until an Orthodox Jewish man who was also enjoying Butterfly World came to me and told me that I had to take a picture of the butterfly on the woman's chest. I know some photographers have no shame and would have gone up to her and asked. But for me, I felt a little strange going up to a strange young woman and saying, "Excuse me Miss, but I can take a picture of your chest?" Somehow, I felt I'd get slapped or arrested. So rather than that, here I go with the big Canon telephoto zoom and pretend to shoot a hummingbird, but rather, I captured the image above. One shot only, it had to be perfect. No one noticed. I got the shot. And life goes on.

So ladies, if you ever do visit butterfly world, if you don't mind the butterflies sticking to you like glue, then back off on the perfume. Of course if you don't mind it, then pile it on, and make sure there's a camera handy.

That's all for now. Ciao from the Underworld!

Try to Remember the First of December

Greetings infidels. Today is the 1st day of December. The year is almost over and another trip around the sun begins. We will end the week with my last installments on the death of popular music in the 21st century. I will again show you via contrast, the lyrics of some contemporary songs with some from yesteryear. Again, in all other fields, be it science or medicine, as the years go by, there are advances in those areas. Progress is made. In our history, one saw the advances in literature, art, and music. Compare a Gregorian chant to a Beethoven Symphony. Compare a 12th century painting to one of the 18th and 19th century and then to the modernist paintings of the 20th century. While different, each period shows its genius. Now let's look at popular music in the 20th and 21st century. The popular song evolved into works of art in different genres: the great American Songbook (Gershwin, Porter, Arlen, Rodgers and Hart, etc.) and into Jazz, Blues, Country, Rock, and Pop. Being on the bottom of the artistic pyramid, popular music evolved from the 1950's through the 1970's. Melodies were important. And to some writers, the lyrics became important too. Some lyrics could be simple, such as a Hank Williams song, or deep such as a Hal David or Beatle or Paul Simon lyric. So with this as a base, one would think that here today in the 21st century, the art of composition would have evolved further. Sadly, it has not. It has degenerated into a filthy, abysmally ignorant cesspool of noise and tawdry vulgarities. While this is more prevalent in popular music, as compared to country music, but as you will see, country music has suffered too. It is not the country music of yesteryear. There is some great stuff out there, but it is being flooded with mediocrity.
Since I mentioned country, let's start with these 2 examples from Hank Williams. While some may think of him as some hillbilly, his lyrics were quite powerful, even in their simplicity. For example, in "I'm so Lonesome", these lyrics make you feel that loneliness and makes you want to down a few whiskeys. Pay close attention to the line about the robin. Pretty powerful stuff from a drinking cowboy:

Hear the lonesome whippoorwill
He sounds too blue to fly
The midnight train is whining low
I’m so lonesome I could cry

I’ve never seen a night so long
When time goes crawling by
The moon just went behind a cloud
To hide its face and cry

Did you ever see a robin weep
When leaves begin to die
That means he’s lost the will to live
I’m so lonesome I could cry

The silence of a falling star
Lights up a purple sky
And as I wonder where you are
I’m so lonesome I could cry

Now in "Your Cheating Heart", Hank lays it out on the line but never gets tawdry or outright lowlife. Check this out:



Now let's contrast the lyrics by Hank Williams with the lyrics of the number one country song this week "Before He Cheats" by Carrie "American Idol" Underwood. The Underwood song also talks about someone cheating (popular subject in country music), but in this song, there's a violent low-life twist which is being glorified:
"Right now he's probably slow dancing with a bleach blonde tramp,
and she's probably getting frisky...right now,
he's probably buying her some fruity little drink
cause she can't shoot whiskey...

Right now, he's probably up behind her with a pool-stick,
showing her how to shoot a combo...
And he don't know...

That I dug my key into the side of his pretty little suped up 4 wheel drive,
carved my name into his leather seats...
I took a Louisville slugger to both head lights, slashed a hole in all 4 tires...
Maybe next time he'll think before he cheats."
Really deep stuff no? This is what is glorified. Now, let's take a look at the number 2 pop song this week, which also deals with the same subject, Beyonce's "Irreplaceable". Frankly, this song is not only vulgar, it has racially derogatory words which emasculate proper English grammer:
"Everything you own in the box to the left
In the closet that's my stuff - Yes
If I bought it nigga please don't touch
And keep talking that mess, that's fine
But could you walk and talk at the same time
And It's my mine name that is on that Jag
So remove your bags let me call you a cab.
So go ahead and get gone
And call up on that chick and see if she is home
Oops, I bet ya thought that I didn't know
What did you think I was putting you out for?
Cause you was untrue
Rolling her around in the car that I bought you
Baby you dropped them keys hurry up before your taxi leaves
Standing in the front yard telling me
How I am such a fool - Talking about
How I'll never ever find a man like you
You got me twisted."
Now in contrast, let me show you an example of what well written lyrics when combined with well written music can produce. I present the song Alfie by Hal David and Burt Bacharach. The music is outstanding, and the lyrics make you think: something that the above contemporary examples do not:
What’s it all about, Alfie?
Is it just for the moment we live?
What’s it all about when you sort it out, Alfie?
Are we meant to take more than we give?
Or are we meant to be kind?
And if only fools are kind, Alfie,
Then I guess its wise to be cruel.
And if life belongs only to the strong, Alfie,
What will you lend on an old golden rule?
As sure as I believe there’s a heaven above, Alfie,
I know there’s something much more,
Something even non-believers can believe in.
I believe in love, Alfie.
Without true love we just exist, Alfie.
Until you find the love you’ve missed you’re nothing, Alfie.
When you walk let your heart lead the way
And you’ll find love any day, Alfie, Alfie.
Once again, today's contemporary society and its music thrives on the dumbing down of the culture. Rather than make people think, it glorifies stupidity, lousy English, violence, and the dehumanization of love and life.
In the meantime, have a great weekend folks. I'm signing off from the insomniac cafe.

Catch Me If You Can ...

Xmas time is approaching. Of course yesterday was the annual lighting ceremony on Main Street in Miami Lakes. Tried to get 2 1/2 year old Michelle to take her picture with Santa. It was not her bag. She would rather run around like a banshee so you can chase her. Her Thing 2 shirt is most appropriate.

See y'all real soon.

Have a Happy Holiday Infidels

Please allow these words from the great Bob Marley to give you something to ponder and think about during these times of Thanks:

Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery;
None but ourselves can free our minds.
Have no fear for atomic energy,
cause none of them can stop the time.
How long shall they kill our prophets,
While we stand aside and look?
ooh!Some say its just a part of it:
Weve got to fulfil de book.

Wont you help to sing
These songs of freedom?
cause all I ever have:
Redemption songs;
Redemption songs;
These songs of freedom.
Redemption songs.

Straight, No Chaser

All that you touch, All that you see, All that you taste, All you feel.

All that you love, All that you hate, All you distrust, All you save.

All that you give, All that you deal, All that you buy, beg, borrow or steal.

All you create, All you destroy, All that you do All that you say.

All that you eat, And everyone you meet, All that you slight, And everyone you fight.

All that is now. All that is gone. All that's to come and everything under the sun is in tune but the sun is eclipsed by the moon.

--- Eclipse, by Roger Waters, from the Pink Floyd album "Dark Side of the Moon"

Image of Anna Maria Island, © 2005 by Michael A. Pancier


The Early Bird Catches the Shot

Good morning infidels. It's a chilly day in South Florida. 58 degrees. Brrrr. Anyways, to start the week, I offer y'all a photo I took several years ago in St. Augustine, Florida. St. Augustine is one of the most photogenic cities in the State of Florida. Of course to get these kind of shots, you need to get to your destination early, while it is still dark, and you must get eaten alive by noiseums all for that one photo of our sun rising over the horizon. You snooze, you miss out on one of nature's best art shows. No two sunrises are alike, and they are free to watch and enjoy. You don't even need to pay royalties to photograph the sunrise. And...the taxman can't tax it either. So wake up and come out to play infidels.

It's Friday and 5:00p.m. Somewhere

Infidels, another week is passing. As usual, it's been a hectic week. I have been short with words, but do offer you some lyrics from the great American Poet, Jim Morrison. As I've stated before, before the music died, artists could and were encouraged to create art. The music was reborn in every decade. In the 60's, it was the Beatles. In the 70's, it was Pink Floyd and the Sex Pistols. In the 80's, it was the Post/Punk New Wave Movement. In the 90's, it was Nirvana. When Nirvana died, the music died with it. Nothing new or innovative. Nothing with depth or creativity. Everything now is more or less bunk. So here's a toast to the Age of Aquarius, the Soft Parade, by Jim Morrison of the Doors...........
The Soft Parade, By Jim Morrison

When I was back there in seminary school
There was a person there
Who put forth the proposition
That you can petition the Lord with prayer
Petition the lord with prayer
Petition the lord with prayer
You cannot petition the lord with prayer!

Can you give me sanctuary
I must find a place to hide
A place for me to hide

Can you find me soft asylum
I can't make it anymore
The Man is at the door

Peppermint miniskirts, chocolate candy
Champion sax and a girl named Sandy
There's only four ways to get unraveled
One is to sleep and the other is travel
One is a bandit up in the hills
One is to love your neighbor till
His wife gets home

Nursery bones
Winter women Growing stones
(Carrying babies to the river)

Streets and shoes, Avenues
Leather riders selling news
(The monk bought lunch)

Successful hills are here to stay
Everything must be this way
Gentle streets where people play
Welcome to the Soft Parade

All our lives we sweat and save
Building for a shallow grave
Must be something else we say
Somehow to defend this place
(Everything must be this way
Everything must be this way)

The Soft Parade has now begun
Listen to the engines hum
People out to have some fun
A cobra on my left
Leopard on my right, yeah

Deer woman in a silk dress
Girls with beads about their necks
Kiss the hunter of the green vest
Who has wrestled before
With lions in the night

Out of sight!
The lights are getting brighter
The radio is moaning
Calling to the dogs
There are still a few animals
Left out in the yard
But it's getting harder
To describe sailors
To the underfed

Tropic corridor
Tropic treasure
What got us this far
To this mild equator

We need someone or something new
Something else to get us through

Calling on the dogs
Calling on the dogs
Calling on the dogs
Calling on the dogs
Calling in the dogs
Calling all the dogs
Calling on the gods
Meet me at the crossroads
Meet me at the edge of town
Outskirts of the city
Just you and I
And the evening sky
You'd better come alone
You'd better bring your gun
We're gonna have some fun

When all else fails
We can whip the horses' eyes
And make them sleep
And cry....

How About a Birdgasm Baby?

(c) 2005 by Michael A. Pancier
Great Blue Herons at Wakodahatchee Wetlands, Delray Beach, Florida. Special Thanks to Manola for coming up with the term "birdgasm". No need to explain what's going on here, I would hope.

Photos from a Distant Land - Cuba

While my blog usually has images from yours truly, I will depart from the norm today to bring you some poignant images of Cuba by Jordi Miralles showing the real people rather than the images being catered to tourists. No commentary is necessary.

You can see the rest of his images here.

Monday Morning Blues - I'd Rather be On the River of Grass

(c) 2005 by Michael A. Pancier
"Well they call it stormy Monday, but Tuesday's just as bad." Well it's not stormy weather wise here in South Florida, but it's the start of another hectic week. It's even more hectic for us infidels who would rather be walking along the River of Grass that is known hereabouts as the Everglades. A fellow photographer took some shots of spoonbills there the other day. I need to get my boots ready cause it's time to traverse the Glades. In the interim, on my XM radio, I heard this song from Loggins and Messina which I had not heard in a long time. It blew me away, it was so awesome. A great tune for 2 part harmony. The lyrics were intense as well and I offer them to the infidels out there ... let's get this party started ...
Watching the River Run

If you've been thinking you're all that you've got,
Then don't feel alone anymore.
When we're together, then you've got alot,
'Cause I am the river and you are the shore.

And it goes on and on, oh, watching the river run,
Further and further from things that we've done,
Leaving them one by one.
And we have just begun watching the river run.
Listening and learning and yearning.
Run, river, run.

Winding and swirling and dancing along,
We pass by the old willow tree
Where lovers caress as we sing of our song,
Twisting together when we greet the sea.
And it goes on and on, watching the river run,
Further and further from things that we've done,
Leaving them one by one.
And we have just begun watching the river run.

Listening and learning and yearning.
Run, river, run.And it goes on and on, watching the river run,
Further and further from things that we've done,
Leaving them one by one.
And we have just begun watching the river run.
Listening and learning and yearning.
Run, river, run.

Time for Sushi

Osprey on Florida Bay
Copyright 2006 by Michael A. Pancier


Friday Orchids And the Wind Cries

It's Friday Infidels. Another week goes by. A hellish week it's been, but it's now a quiet Friday here in Downtown Fort Lauderdale.

There's been many changes this past week in the country. Who knows what the future will bring.

Despite all the changes that we encounter each and every day, the beauty of nature remains constant; an absolute. An orchid bloom will always be beautiful as will the sight of an eagle soaring in the wind. On this quiet Friday morning, a song by Jimi Hendrix rings in my head that I believe accompanies my image. Enjoy and have a great weekend.

After all the jacks are in their boxes;
And the clowns have all gone to bed;
You can hear happiness staggering on down the street;
Footsteps dressed in red.
And the wind whispers Mary.

A broom is drearily sweeping;
Up the broken pieces of yesterdays life;
Somewhere a queen is weeping;
Somewhere a king has no wife.
And the wind, it cries Mary

The traffic lights, they turn, blue tomorrow;
And shine their emptiness down on my bed;
The tiny island sags down stream;
cause the life that lived is dead.
And the wind screams Mary.

Will the wind ever remember?
The names it has blown in the past?
And with this crutch, its old age, and its wisdom;
It whispers no, this will be the last.
And the wind cries Mary.


Happy Birthday Cohiba Jr.

Today is Cohiba Jr.'s 8th birthday. Time flies folks. So in honor of his 8th trip around the sun, I post this image of him from Anna Maria Island, Florida.

One of Those Days You Feel Like Screaming


All Is quiet Here at the Polls

Been here in Miami Gardens precinct since 7:00 a.m. Turnout is low. All is quiet. Everyone has been doing their job according to the law; no funny business seen. Looks like rain this afternoon, so it may affect further turnout. Ho hum.

Thankfully they have a net access here.

That's the latest from the polls.

Signing off.

UPDATE: Well I spent the entire day at Precinct # 218 in Miami Gardens. Turnout was real low. Mainly a lot of seniors. All the elections staff followed the rules to the letter and no issues to report. Let's see what the final results are.


Rainy Days and Mondays in South Florida

Nothing like a rainy Monday in South Florida to bring out the best in drivers. You can almost guarantee that some idiot will have an accident and cause major backups. So it was quite fun being stuck on the Turnpike for almost 90 minutes (on a drive that sans traffic takes 30 minutes). Thank God for XM radio and cell phones.
Tommorrow is the mid term elections which should be interesting. I'll be poll watching and making sure the process is done according to the book. I had a great time doing it during the 2004 election. Met nice people from all parties and (some jerks as well), but overall, based on what I saw in 2004, everything in the polls I monitored were done according to the law. Let's hope 2006 goes smoothly and without any incidents. What will we end up with on Wednesday? It's anybody's guess, but something tells me I'd better hold on tight to my wallet.
On the home front, Ma is back in the hospital due to an intestinal infection. She was dehydrated pretty bad on Saturday so I got to spend hours and hours in the ER with her. After that, I'm determined to never get sick ever again. That's too much for anyone to have to handle.
Finally, I leave you with a photo of South Beach I took recently which has some photoshop work done to it. On Wednesday, I'll give you my report from the polls.
And to end this quote, since there is a strong possibility of a change in Congress, I leave you with these wise words from Dave Barry:
“The Democrats seem to be basically nicer people, but they have demonstrated time and again that they have the management skills of celery."
Ciao Infidels.

Good Times and Riches and Son-of-a-Bitches, I've Seen More than I can Recall

Another week has gone by infidels. Ma has been slowly acclimating herself to living at home again. I've been out of the loop with what's been going on the world, and that's probably a good thing. I got my new Jimmy Buffett album, "Take the Weather with You", which I will enjoy shortly as I sit here in my Tommy Bahama tropical shirt enjoying the fact that I live in the Sunshine State of Florida (although it's been raining this week). But hey, I can look and feel tropical and will most likely drink tropical come choir practice. Choir Practice is the term we use when it's time to enjoy the end of the week drink. Me thinks I will have a single malt to which I will say a prayer of thanks.
After my prayer is over, then I will make that famous toast slightly modified: "Whiskey for my friends, and beer for my horses."
Have a great weekend infidels.

Reflections on a Thursday Morning

The reflection of this snowy egret provides a great anchor to quote an excerpt from one of my favorite Stevie Nicks' songs...

I saw my reflection in the snow covered hills
Till the landslide brought me down.
Oh, mirror in the sky
What is love
Can the child within my heart rise above
Can I sail thru the changing ocean tides
Can I handle the seasons of my life.

What a songwriter Stevie was in the Fleetwood Mac days! Those were the days when songwriting was a real art. Where a song could also stand on its own as a poem, a work of art. What do they call art today? "Hips Don't Lie????" Oy vay! So have we evolved in 30 plus years? Sadly, no. As Devo aptly predicted the continuing de-evolution of popular culture...
We're pinheads now
We are not whole
We're pinheads all
Jocko homo
Are we not men?

The First Day of November

Hope all you infidels had a nice Halloween. Halloween is tops on the infidel calendar. But now it is the first of November. The year is nearly over. October was a terrible month. I'm optimistic that things will only get better.

The above image is of the Maine coast in fall. As the cold arrives, the chill in the wind picks up, and the waves crash even harder along the rocky cliffs. A sight to experience.

For some particular reason, these lyrics came to my brain this morning, and I will share them with you:

Theres a song that they sing when they take to the highway
A song that they sing when they take to the sea
A song that they sing of their home in the sky
Maybe you can believe it if it helps you to sleep
But singing works just fine for me
-- James Taylor

Happy Halloween

Greetings infidels. It's Halloween. Or as I call it, the night of the grackle. Tonight is the night that the grackles all join together and attack all unsuspecting trick-or-treaters by crapping on them in the middle of the night. A scary site being attacked by a swarm of grackles. Their yellow eyes glow and gleam in the moonlight as they give you the grackle equivalent of a rebel yell. Hence the reason it is advisable to carry an umbrella with you. Don't believe me? Well, you'll see. I'll be hanging out in the pumpkin patch with the gang and await the arrival of the Great Pumpkin. I missed him last year. Fell asleep. But this year, I will be there with my Canon EOS 5d and a fast Canon 50mm 1.4 lens and multiple flash strobes. I'm gonna get the shot. Of course, last year when I tried to get the shot of the Great Pumpkin, this little bugger (see image above) ended up in the image.

Have a safe and happy All Saint's Day infidels . . . and keep looking up!


Update on Pianist Olga Diaz - "Mom" - Welcome Home

Folks, after nearly one month in the hospital, and 11 days after open heart surgery, the reknown Cuban Pianist, Olga Diaz, better known to me as Mom, is home. I thank everyone for their prayers, phone calls, and support. God willing, in perhaps a few months, Mom will be back at the keys. October 2006 has been hell. I'm glad tommorrow is November.

And in the End...

"The Love you take, is Equal to the Love you make."
-- The Beatles, Abbey Road

Scotch Anyone?

You got to love how the liquor folks have booths of all their wares along the 18 holes of a golf tournament. It's no wonder why the players do pretty bad on the back 9.
In any event, everyday is a good day for some scotch. It's good for the health, if taken in moderation. I think I shall have one myself. See y'all on Monday.

No Time for Golf Today

Yesterday was a gorgeous day to be out on the Golf Course. Today it is rainy and bleak. Such is life.

A Friday Orchid

Another crazy week folks. Mom is getting better and is walking about in the halls. Hopefully she'll be well enough to go home. More than 3 weeks in the hospital can be trying on anyone. Thanks for all the comments and prayers. I leave you with an orchid and some words from the poet John Donne:

Let us love nobly, and live, and add again years and years unto years, till we attain to write threescore: this is the second of our reign. John Donne

Hillsboro Inlet Lighthouse and Goodyear Blimp

Greetings infidels. As I was near the Hillsboro Lighthouse yesterday while at a client's office, I decided to finally reshoot the lighthouse after all these years. I was presented with some nice clouds and lighting. And while framing my shot, the Goodyear Blimp comes into the image. So what the heck. Maybe from this point we can say that a good year will soon be on the horizon.

Latest Update on Olga Diaz -- aka "Ma"

Well today, Ma was finally moved into a room from ICU. She's doing well. Well wishers from around the Americas have called to see how she's been doing. Today I received a phone call from Buenos Aires from famed composer/artist Mario Clavell to wish Ma well. I've received calls from Puerto Rico, and all of Miami. (Ma gave my cell number to everyone).

Progress is steady. All the tubes have been removed and she's getting stronger every day. Today when I went to visit, she had a bunch of musicians with her (In the ICU) and they were watching on a portable DVD, a concert video of them in concert from a few months ago.

I figure I'll post here and maybe refer some of the calls to the blog for an update. ;-)

So keep praying!!! it works!!

BTW: the publicity shot of Ma was taken by renknown photojournalist Roberto Koltun. I did the B&W conversion.

Mondays, Dry Season, Photography & a Crazy October

It's Monday once more infidels. I'd say Rainy Days and Mondays always bring me down, but I don't mind rainy days in the Autumn (as long as there are no 75+ mph winds attached to them of course). It's dry season here in South Florida and it gets dusty and all that jazz which makes it murder on those with allergies. But the positive thing about dry season is that as water levels drop in the Glades, and the migrants head down here, it soon will be time to go out to take photos of the birds. Even now, in October, there have been reports of raptors, owls, and mating herons and other subjects in Delray Beach, Venice Rookery, Fort De Soto and Vierra. I may try to get an early drive in sometime soon to see if I can get some images of a Kestral over in Delray Beach.....my friend Fabiola has gotten some amazing shots of this interesting raptor. Need to get up there early to catch the bird.
But there's a change in the air. I'm seeing the cormorants perched on the light posts which is the 1st sign down here of the coming season. And we're supposed to get a cold front tommorrow, a whopping chilly 65 degrees expected, which I'm sure my northern friends will be laughing about.
From my earlier post, you'll see I've resorted to taking images of urban birds just to keep my skills honed. Got a killer one of a landing ibis which I'll post soon. In any event, ma is in day four post surgery. Triple bypass and valve repair and she's singing in ICU which is a feat considering she had a breathing tube on Thursday. What sucks about ICU is those damn visiting hours, 9-10, 1-2, 5-6, and 9-10 pm. Makes is rough to go down to Kendall to see her during the day, especially now that I am at work. So needless to say, things have been crazy this month now that this Thursday will be 3 weeks in the hospital for ma. The one thing it teaches me though is that everything we do early on will have its consequences later in life. In ma's case, I'm sure smoking for nearly 40 years was not good. Most folks think that smoking screws up the lungs. The reality is that it screws up the heart. Ma's lungs are in good shape. As for me, it's healthy living from now on.
In sum, I came across an interesting article in the WSJ regarding the five most important photography books. I will post it here in its entirety.
You Ought to Be in Pictures
Books that bring photography into focus.
Saturday, October 21, 2006
1. "Looking at Photographs" by John
(Museum of Modern Art, 1973).
Our best writer on photography and one of the nation's finest critics on any subject, John Szarkowski directed the photography department at the Museum of Modern Art in New York for 29 years. Read any of his dozens of essays elucidating the work of other photographers (he is a good one himself) and you will be rewarded. Free of academic jargon and avant-garde attitude, his artistic judgments reflect the character of the man, a stubborn American who prefers to figure things out on his own. His book "The Photographer's Eye" (1966) is better known, but this series of extended notations on 100 photographs from MoMA's collection is a distillation of his gifts for witty concision, plenitude of spirit and tact.

2. "Photography in Print" edited by Vicki Goldberg
(Simon & Schuster, 1981).
The "present" in the subtitle "Writings from 1816 to the Present" means 1978, the latest entry in this excellent collection. It still offers the widest compass of perspectives on a vast topic. Essays by Roland Barthes, Susan Sontag and A.D. Coleman should satisfy postmodernists. Interviews with Walker Evans and W. Eugene Smith, as well as statements of high artistic purpose by Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston and Ansel Adams, make the case for the purists. But some of the happiest surprises come from writings by tangential figures such as Oliver Wendell Holmes and George Santayana--and Charles Baudelaire, who loathed photography: "Our squalid society rushed, Narcissus to a man, to gaze on its trivial image on a scrap of metal."

3. "Before Photography" by Peter Galassi (Museum of Modern Art, 1981).
Peter Galassi, John Szarkowski's successor at MoMA, explores the origins of photography not as a scientific discovery but as a logical product of the Western artistic tradition. Early 19th-century painters, including Corot, Constable and the Danish realist Christen Kobke, depicted humble subjects and landscape views that seem "caught" by the eye, Mr. Galassi says, presaging a machine that would see everything in front of it indiscriminately. The "syntax of immediate, synoptic perceptions and discontinuous, unexpected forms" that we recognize as the language of photography would perhaps not have happened, in Mr. Galassi's judgment, if many artists had not already begun to picture the world in this revolutionary way.

4. "The Mind's Eye" by Henri Cartier-Bresson (Aperture, 1999).
The "surrealizing bourgeois," as Henri Cartier-Bresson called himself, was a mercurial figure who imparted rigor and grace to everything he touched, from a drawing pencil to his Leica. The fountain pen was no exception. This thin but charming collection is a canonical manifesto of 20th-century art. It includes tributes to fellow photographers ("for me, Robert Capa wore the dazzling matador's costume, but he never went in for the kill"), passing remarks on places he had worked (Russia, Cuba, China) and notes on his own remarkable philosophy of craft. "To take photographs is to hold one's breath when all faculties converge in the face of fleeting reality," he writes. "It is at that moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy."

5. "River of Shadows" by Rebecca Solnit (Viking, 2003).
The conquest of the American West in the 19th century and the growth of northern California as a 20th-century hub of technological creativity can both be traced back, says Rebecca Solnit, to the invention in the 1870s of a super-fast camera shutter and film by the English photographer Eadweard Muybridge. Her tour de force of imaginative scholarship connects railroads, telegraphy, American foreign policy, the multinational corporation and sublime Western landscapes with Muybridge's invention. "Time was at his command as it had never been at anyone's before," she writes. "A new world had opened up for science, for art, for entertainment, for consciousness, and an old world had retreated farther." Muybridge fired the starting gun that announced modernity.

Mr. Woodward is an arts critic, journalist and filmmaker in New York.
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