Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Dark & Sinful: Thanksgiving on the other side

Posted By on Wed, Nov 25, 2015 at 11:30 AM


We had Thanksgiving at Granddad and Mamacita’s house on the other side of town. Mamacita was light-skinned and from Chicago; she used a straightening comb and pin-curled her hair like Rita Moreno’s in West Side Story. She wasn’t remotely Hispanic or Latina.

Her dressing was too wet — something like the consistency of oatmeal. She said be mindful of the china, rather than be careful with the china. She was oddly Victorian. She cut her dinner roll in quarters, never pulling it apart with her hands. Her fingers were impossibly small. She wouldn’t rest her back against the back of her chair.

I wondered what was up with all the wicker, how they kept the black baby grand with the sticky keys free of fingerprints.
Granddad said grace. Bless us, Oh Lord, and these thy gifts which we are about to receive from thy bounty, through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Poet's Notebook: Elf-employment

Posted By on Tue, Nov 24, 2015 at 10:42 PM

  • jeanne meinke
Poems are, a little bit, like elves
Who peek-a-boo among your shelves
And make up rules to please themselves.

When I was a little boy, my German grandfather — usually after a Manhattan or two — would often lead me up the steps of his Brooklyn home to a large wall poster with colorful drawings, to give me a little German lesson. Ist das nicht eine schnitzelbank? he’d ask, pointing at a cobbler’s bench, or if it were Christmas, he’d point at a Christmas tree, saying Ist das nicht ein Tannenbaum? I’d answer faithfully, Ja das ist ein Tannenbaum, or whatever picture he’d point at. Sometimes we’d try to sing the chorus, O, Die Schoenheit an der Wand (O the beauty on the wall) — Ja das ist eine schnitzelbank.

It was fun, contributing to my early love of picture books and children’s poems (and maybe Manhattans). I particularly liked it when he’d point at the drawing of a schnickel fritz — a naughty boy — and say, giving me a poke in the ribs, “You are a schnickel fritz, Peter,” and I’d squeal in mock protest, "Nein, ich bin ein gutter junge!” He usually gave me a quarter, whether I was good or not. I certainly wasn’t a gutter singer.

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Saturday, November 14, 2015

The Weekend Shift: The C-word

Posted By on Sat, Nov 14, 2015 at 4:33 PM

  • wikimedia commons

In the latest study about how yummy and fun things we consume are going to end up killing us, we learned that processed meats, including bacon, ham, and sausage are the new culprits — but not for the usual reason.

For a long time, the powers that be told us that these foods are bad for our cardiovascular health. Then a couple of years ago they changed their tune. Saturated fats aren’t nearly as harmful as initially believed.

With a collective “Hell yeah!,” we promptly motor-boated big ol’ plate of crispy bacon. And we saw that it was good.

That is until recently, when some jokers, or the World Health Organization, whatever, told us that processed meats cause colorectal cancer; that if we consume 50 grams of processed meat a day we increase our risk of this deadly disease by 18 percent. They’re pretty sure red meat is linked to cancer too, and you can bet researchers are going to Mulder and Scully the hell out of that one. Also, and this is paraphrasing, but they essentially said grilling and pan frying meats will kill you dead, ‘cause of carcinogens created by cooking meat on high heat.

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Thursday, November 12, 2015

Dark & Sinful: Overshare overload

Posted By on Thu, Nov 12, 2015 at 10:29 AM

BRAVO! THAT'S TMI: Vivica A. Fox dishing on Watch What Happens Live. - YOUTUBE
  • youtube
  • BRAVO! THAT'S TMI: Vivica A. Fox dishing on Watch What Happens Live.

You’ve likely seen R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet, the 33-part rap opera opus with classic lines like, “Not only is there a man in his cabinet, but the man is a midget,” and “I’m sorry, girl, but that ho was me.”

You likely remember that Kelly married Aaliyah when she 15.

You’d like to forget his affinity for peeing on women.

You, however, may not know his hit, “Down Low (Nobody Has to Know).”

Consider this a public service announcement: we should all look it up, learn the hook, and, en masse, holler out, “Keep it on the down low…nobody has to know.”

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Poet's Notebook: Catholic interests

Posted By on Thu, Nov 12, 2015 at 9:23 AM

  • jeanne meinke
O goodum! Habemus Papam
who’ll soon intone
the usual crapum

and the poor poor will weepum

and the rich will yawn
and eatem
like pablum

This may astound you, but poets and their poems are sometimes just plain wrong, as when John Keats, in his sonnet, “On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer,” has “stout Cortez,” instead of Balboa, staring out at the Pacific; or Longfellow, in “The Landlord’s Tale,” has Paul Revere “a shape in the moonlight,” riding alone (there were three riders), etc.

My mistake in “Habemus Papam” (Latin for “We Have the Pope”) was one of prediction. I confess I was wrong about Francis; instead of preaching the “usual crapum,” he seems to be calling for a more inclusive Catholic Church. The new Pope’s demeanor has been thrown into relief by the noise around him; while he’s gently saying — even to John Boehner — “Pray for me,” Donald Trump is shouting to everyone, “Look at me!”

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Saturday, November 7, 2015

The Weekend Shift: Show us your tips

Posted By on Sat, Nov 7, 2015 at 9:48 PM

  • Nan Palmero via Wikimedia Commons

Earlier this year there was some crazy talk in the news about restaurants adopting no tipping policies, and this past October a Time Magazine article reported, a “small but prominent group of restaurants across the U.S.” is now testing out this blasphemous cultural change.

According to the article, participating restauranteurs, who are opting to pay their waitstaff whatever they deem a livable wage and do away with the nearly 150-year-old American custom, claim that they want more control over how much their staff makes. They say that tipped employees make a substantial amount more than back-of-the-house workers, i.e. cooks and dishwashers etc., and that’s unfair. To make it feasible, they’ll charge a built-in service fee and raise prices.

Basically, customers will spend the same amount of money, but establishment owners get to dole it out as they see fit, which will surely include into their own pockets.

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Thursday, October 29, 2015

Poet's Notebook: Bernie & Brooklyn

Posted By on Thu, Oct 29, 2015 at 3:27 PM

  • jeanne meinke
How many dawns, chill from his rippling rest
The seagull’s wings shall dip and pivot him,
Shedding white rings of tumult, building high
Over the chained bay waters Liberty— 

Confirmed escapists, Jeanne and I have always been movie lovers, so it’s normal for me, while waiting for small change from a $20 bill, to think like a curmudgeon: I remember when movies cost 11¢ for a double feature, with serials, cartoons, and news (The Eyes and Ears of the World) — without 20 minutes of deafening and mentally degrading previews.

This was at the Nostrand Avenue Theatre in Flatbush, so I got a pleasant jolt when I read that young Bernie Sanders spent his Saturdays in the same place at about the same time. He lived on 26th Street, not far from 32nd, where I grew up. We never met because the Meinkes moved to Noo Joisey in 1945 — unless that was Bernie handing out leaflets while pedaling his tricycle along the Brooklyn sidewalks. So I’m glad to read about Sanders, and if he were nominated we’d vote for him in a blink.

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Ask the Locals: Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos

Posted By on Thu, Oct 29, 2015 at 11:16 AM

The mayor in his office. - KEVIN TIGHE
  • Kevin Tighe
  • The mayor in his office.

Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos is the very definition of a local boy made good — and perhaps more to the point, a local boy with a penchant for doing good: He served as a missionary in Indonesia for the Greek Orthodox church, and has been a longtime courier in the National Marrow Transplant Program and a regular blood donor. But it’s his life in politics through which he’s made his most public mark. Born and raised in Tarpon Springs, with degrees in political science and public administration from Davidson College and the University of Pittsburgh, he was a longtime legislative aide to Congressman W.T. “Bill” Young before being elected to Clearwater City Council in 2007 and winning his bid to be mayor in 2012. Cretekos, 68, has lived on Sand Key with his wife, Carolyn, since 1976. This year has been a particularly eventful one for the mayor; 2015 is Clearwater’s centennial (for which he accepted a plaque at this year’s Best of the Bay anniversary celebration), and he has been instrumental in making sure the birthday party lasts all year long. 

On his dapper sartorial style: “I went to a fundraiser where you had to wear a bowtie, so I started wearing them here and there. My problem is mine always go crooked.”
What do people not know about Clearwater? “Everybody thinks of Clearwater as its beach, but we have little neighborhoods where people are involved in activities all year long. One of my favorite spots is an area called MOCCASIN LAKE NATURE PARK just off 19 — drive by it and you don’t even know that it’s there.”
His city is big, but not that big: “Clearwater Beach and Sand Key are all part of Clearwater, but it isn’t as big as Tampa or St. Petersburg. We don’t have a big business identity or company headquarters, but lots of small entrepreneurial companies that are just getting started, especially in downtown. We’re completing a plan for the US 19 corridor that we hope will encourage companies to locate in key intersections there.”
Tourism’s still the biggest deal: “In all honesty tourism is Clearwater’s #1 industry — we’re the largest provider of bed tax for the entire county.”

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Ask the Locals: Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn

Posted By on Thu, Oct 29, 2015 at 10:54 AM

The mayor at Water Works Park. - CHIP WEINER
  • Chip Weiner
  • The mayor at Water Works Park.

Though recent weeks have been less than smooth sailing for Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, there remains no more vocal or effective cheerleader for the city than the man who has what he calls “the best job in American politics.” During our interview with him at Ulele Restaurant and Water Works Park, two popular projects that came to fruition under his watch, he acknowledged that there have been rumors about him preparing for a possible gubernatorial run, but says he’s focused on his current job: “Every day that goes by is one less day that I have to be the mayor, and that doesn’t make me happy.” Until then, he’s focused on the details of projects like Jeff Vinik’s redevelopment-in-progress in Channelside — so much so that he once paced out the size of the sidewalks on St. Pete’s Beach Drive to get an idea of the optimal dimensions for a walkable streetscape. “I literally was doing this on the sidewalk,” he said, standing up to show his step-by-step measuring method, “and my kids were looking at me like, ‘Aw, Dad! Would you stop being the mayor?’” Buckhorn, 57, grew up outside of Washington, D.C., and came down to the Tampa area in his early twenties, becoming a top aide to Mayor Sandy Freedman and a city councilman before being elected mayor in 2011. He lives on Davis Islands with his wife, USF Health exec Dr. Cathy Lynch, and their two children, Colleen and Grace, who, he says, aren’t impressed with his office: “The 9-year-old couldn’t care less that I’m mayor, and the 14-year-old thinks I’m dumber than a bag of rocks.”

Splashing around at WATER WORKS PARK: “What really makes me happy is when I see 200 or 300 kids who’ve come across the river to the park, to see them here just having a blast.” He did the ice-bucket challenge at the park, enduring 60 gallons of icy water being dumped on him.
Where he and Cathy escape for dinner: “We like OSTERIA NATALINA — a very great small intimate Italian restaurant on MacDill. We know the chef very well, love the food. For me it’s nice to sort of be away from crowds and not have to be the mayor — though when you’re the mayor you’re never off.”
Especially at the grocery store: “My kids hate going to a Publix with me because they know they have to stop for about 20 pictures and listen to people ask me about potholes.”
His favorite Davis Islands hangout: “We like THAI ISLAND a lot. I can be there, put on a pair of shorts and a T-shirt and not worry about running into anybody but my neighbors. I like the spicy rice with chicken. I like heat in my food, which no one else in my family does. We’re all Irish and we’re used to bland food, but I’m the anomaly.”
Where else the spice is nice: INDIA's GRILL. “After Bollywood [the IIFA awards] and after spending time in Mumbai as part of that, I really developed an affinity for Indian food.”

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Ask the Locals: St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman

Posted By on Thu, Oct 29, 2015 at 4:14 AM

The mayor atop the Ceridian building in the Skyway Marina District. - TODD BATES
  • Todd Bates
  • The mayor atop the Ceridian building in the Skyway Marina District.

When Rick Kriseman was 9, his family moved (or, in his words, “escaped”) from Detroit to the west side of St. Pete. He attended the University of Florida and Stetson Law, went on to serve as a city councilman and a state legislator, and was elected mayor in 2014. The city in which he grew up is no longer the sleepy burg Kriseman, 53, remembers from when he was a kid. On the week we spoke, he had attended or was about to attend grand openings of a restaurant (Souzou), a college campus (SPC Midtown), an entertainment technology institute (Big Noise), and a climbing gym (Vertical Ventures, which he christened by scaling a wall). He’s faced his share of hurdles — the Pier debate, the will-they/won’t-they Rays, a controversy over the dumping of city sewage in next-door Gulfport — but as a pragmatic progressive he’s a good fit for the city’s current expansive mode, seeing the value of development but dedicated to being green, as in his own LEED-certified home in Lake Pasadena Estates, rebuilt after a devastating fire in 2008. He’s promoting the expansion of the urban core west to the Edge District and south to the Skyway Marina District; Jabil Circuit recently leased space in the latter’s Ceridian office complex, where the mayor asked to hold this interview. His wife, Kerry, works as an administrator at Creative Clay; daughter Jordan, 18, is an Irish dance champ, and son Samuel, 12, is in Sanderlin Elementary’s IB progam and an avid golfer. Together, they raise puppies for the Southeastern Guide Dogs program. He’s a man of many talents, among them singing and ventriloquism, and despite his amiable mien he’s a ruthless competitor on the Go-Kart track. 

Where he and his son like to golf: “Most of the time we go to city courses like MANGROVE BAY. We can’t wait till TWIN BROOKS reopens.”
Family life: “I tell new employees in the city, ‘Somebody did your job before you, somebody will do it after you, but you only have one family.’ I’ve got one year left with my daughter [before college], so every moment I have with her is precious to me. I’m going to be a mess when she leaves.”
Family pastimes: “We bowl together at TEN PIN LANES. I throw the ball hard… We were at the DALÌ MUSEUM just before the da Vinci exhibit left. It was packed.”
Favorite restaurants? “The number we have to choose from is staggering right now. It’s always dangerous to name favorites.”
But he names some anyway:BELLABRAVA has always been a favorite of mine. I love MOSCATO, too. It’s dangerous because it’s so close to City Hall. I can walk over there and get some of their homemade pasta and red sauces, which I love.”

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