Friday, June 17, 2022

BUILDING PARADISE

     The COVID lockdown of the past two years has actually proved quite productive for me. Unable to go carousing out on the town, I was forced to stay home and write. In addition to researching and writing A Dance to Lost Time, comparing the authors Marcel Proust and Anthony Powell, I have also written Building Paradise, a history of Miami, my hometown.

Less than one hundred and thirty years ago, Miami did not exist. Apart from a small, abandoned army post and some derelict slave quarters, the only sign of life was an orange grove planted by a middle-aged widow.  In less than a decade after Julia Tuttle cleared a space in the wilderness to plant her first orange tree, Miami sprang magically to life and today, that same humble orange grove has a glittering glass and steel skyline to rival Shanghai or Manhattan.

In the Florida Land Boom of the early twentieth century Miami became ‘Paradise Found’, the most exotic and sought-after city in North America. It was a tropical paradise filled with Hollywood celebrities, movie stars, European aristocracy, Washington big shots, Wall Street tycoons and all the leading mobsters between Las Vegas and New York. Miami was a developers’ paradise, new buildings and sub-divisions sprang up almost daily, to accommodate the endless stream of new arrivals lured by the Magic City’s reputation of sun, sand, sin, and sex. Miami had become a paradise for starting over, for creating a new life. Refugees from political oppression or economic despair and people escaping from past indiscretions or serious legal problems could all find a new beginning in this sunny paradise of optimism and endless opportunities.

But it all came crashing down in the late seventies, when Miami became synonymous with deadly race riots, civic corruption, violent drug warfare and political scandals. In November 1981, Time Magazine featured a cover headline describing South Florida as ‘Paradise Lost’. By the end of the century Miami was bankrupt and Wall Street rated its bonds as worthless junk.

But whether from hurricanes, police scandals, race riots or bankruptcy, the Magic City displays an endless ability to bounce back and reinvent itself.  As we enter the twenty-first century, Paradise has, once again, been restored. The city has a AAA bond rating from Wall Street, Miami neighborhoods from South Beach to Wynwood have become synonymous with all that is hip, cool, and fashionable, while property values are, once again, the highest in the nation. Whether it’s for the Ultra Music Festival, the Miami Book Fair or Art Basel Miami Beach – the Magic City continues to entice and attract visitors from all over the world.

In just one-hundred years, Miami has already had more history, more glamour, more stories, and more excitement than most other cities see in a thousand, and this new book ‘Building Paradise’ aims to tell those stories.

 

 

 

 

Friday, June 10, 2022

NEW BOOK

Forced into COVID lockdown in the Spring of 2020, I decided to re-read two of my favorite novels, Marcel Proust's 'In Search of Lost Time ' and Anthony Powell's 'A Dance to the Music of Time'. They are two of the longest novels ever written and share many similarities. Both are first person narratives covering about 50 years of the narrator's life, and include many real world events between the years of 1871 and 1971. Both novels contain a wide selection of unforgettable characters, examine profound philosophical themes and both are extraordinarily funny. Having read both novels several times over the past fifty years, I've been unable to decide which one I enjoyed most.

 But, despite the similarities, their popular reception has proved remarkably different. The seven volumes of In Search of Lost Time have been translated into more than a dozen languages, including several different English versions, but the twelve volumes of A Dance to the Music of Time have been translated into only three other languages. There have been more than three thousand books written about Proust but less than a dozen written about Powell.

 My new book, A Dance to Lost Time, seeks to examine the differences between the two books and, if not explain, at least explore the disparity in their reception. If my book can persuade a reader to subsequently read one, if not both, of these splendid novels - then all those months of lockdown will not have been in vain.


Friday, April 9, 2021

 ON-LINE WINE CLASSES 

Since March 2020, my various Wine Appreciation classes conducted at the Coral Gables Museum, have moved online and are currently offered through Zoom.

I have been offering a six-week, wide-ranging class covering all aspects of wine appreciation as well as a more focused three-week class.

The one-hour classes begin at 6:30PM on Wednesday evenings.

I also offer the occasional stand alone class. For example, I devoted one class to focus just on white wines. To celebrate Valentine's Day I offered a class where we examined a dozen famous lovers from Antony & Cleopatra to Napoleon and Josephine.

Our next class devoted to SHERRY (the wines of Jerez) will be held on Wednesday, April 28, 2021 to celebrate the year in 1587 when Sir Francis Drake stole two-million bottles of sherry from the King of Spain.


WINE IN A TIME OF CHOLERA

Wine in a Time of Cholera part 1:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i0dwvT4qq-0

Wine in a Time of Cholera part 2 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BXljNiJWdU4

Wine in a Time of Cholera part 3  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xax3IamFfJk

Wine in a Time of Cholera part 4  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wejIue2Eefc

Wine in a Time of Cholera part 5  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uw8pCFdi-MI

Wine in a Time of Cholera part 6  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-UDQPOcdzc

White Wine in a Time of Cholera  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bgPnqL6Q1L0

Valentine Special:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZeJPFZOluY8

Wine in a time of Cholera: Sherry https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9xPkD8d29kc