Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Greetings from the North!

This is one of the reasons why I live in South Florida. Happy New Year from the North!!! I am so going to the beach when I get back!

Exploring Gainesville

The weekend before I left for North Carolina, El Hombre and I went to Gainesville to celebrate a friend's graduation. Except for driving through in the middle of the night on my way to karate events, I have not ever been to Gainesville. Years ago, when I was contemplating law school, UF was one of the schools I was most interested in. But alas, I didn't end up pursuing law school because I knew I would hate it, and I ended up in Miami instead.

The most immediate difference I noticed between the two areas was the hills. It sounds silly, but except for getting on and off the interstate, there are no hills in Miami. Anyway, to get back on track, our time in Gainesville was full of misadventures, from broken down cars to what I affectionately refer to as the "Alachua Ritz." But our time, though short, was fun.

We got to Gainesville on Saturday morning, after a brief stayover in Otown. Our hotel was basically off the interstate, and it was just a cheap stopover, nothing fancy. Now, I don't consider myself to be overly picky, but checking into a dirty room with the lights off was a little over the top. No big deal, we get another room.

After we settle in, we head over to the party, which was fun. Music and food and interesting people with fireworks is always a good combo. Just your typical house party, good times.

We get back to the "Alachua Ritz" and El Hombre and his friend crash out. I get in bed and find that sleeping on my pillow was the equivalent to sleeping on a sack of potatoes full of eyes. So needless to say I was a little delirious from lack of sleep the next day.

But Sunday was good. We ate at "the top" which was tasty, and wandered around the city:
I would totally have gone to this bar, simply because it is painted like a cow.

(dumb gator doesn't realize his sign is upside down... go 'canes)

you know I can't go places and not take pictures of wall murals. There were so many! But this was my favorite

This store front reminds me of Asheville or old-school Charleston somehow

This also reminds me of Charleston... loooooove Spanish Moss!

But don't get confused, we are still in South Florida

Even Gators want to be in Miami! (ok, I know it's so they can go to the Orange Bowl)

Walking around downtown Gainesville, it reminds me alot of Chapel Hill. I love that most of the stores and restaurants are locally owned. To me, locally-operated stores keeps the soul of the city intact. I know it sounds cheesy, but I'm not really sure how else to put it. Unfortunately alot of these places were closed down, due to the economy. As you get closer to campus, more things are open, but between the lack of students because of winter break and what's going on economically, its obvious that these places are struggling.

Gainesville also reminded me of downtown Charleston, when I first moved there. All the places were local boutiques, affordable to college kids. Now from what I hear, it's chain store after chain store. I saw it happening when I left, 5 years ago, and I have little interest in going back. I hope that doesn't happen to places like Gainesville or Chapel Hill....

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

New Years Eve?

How do you plan to spend your New Years Eve?

I'm thinking I will be found somewhere downtown listening to one of our awesome local bands.

USAir at MIA

I just have to say guys, that the new US Air wing at the Miami International Airport is PIMP. Since I most frequently fly to NC, USAir is usually the way I go since it is a hub. For years, the service has always been better than American going out of Miami, the lines are always shorter and as a result I generally am less stressed about the process.

But my biggest complaint has been that there's nothing to do at the terminal. To my pleasant surprise, that has been remedied. There is both a Starbucks and an Illy cafe (Illy being one of my favorite brands of coffee, BTW.) There is also a small food court, several stores and a place to get a quick manicure.

There are also the round docking stations for phones, laptops, etc and flat screen TVs.

Super awesome. Oh yeah, and did I mention that getting into the airport didn't make me want to tear my hair out? That the employees were actually nice? I could write for hours about how much I hate flying out of Miami through American Airlines because of their entire staff's total hatred for their jobs and customers, which would explain why so many people get bad impressions of the MIA Airport. But I won't.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Holiday lighting

Around South Miami, there are alot of people who like to decorate their houses for Christmas/Chanauka/Kwanza/Etcetera. Some of these lights are tastefully done, you see many people who wrap up the palms which I personally think is awesome.

Some people however, look like their houses were vomited upon by the Christmas fairy. And I think they do it on purpose. I have a friend who's family cannot stand their neighbors across the street. So every year they put their lights on badly, clash the colors and put obnoxious things in the windows.

I truly home the below two houses (which BTW, I couln't capture the whole house in all their festive glories, so these pics have to do)
This house also has a ton of lights in the trees, the bushes and all over the house. They have more stuff along the side, but it didn't all come out.

And this is one my roommate showed me. He laughs at the fact that there are twelve inflatable things in the yard and on the roof. We also were perplexed because they have a spotlight of snowflakes falling, but instead of falling down, they were falling up. Strange.

And normally I hate the inflatable santas because I think seeing them deflated during the day is disturbing. And call me elitist, I also think they are ugly. However, this is an exception because it is, in fact, awesome:
I know I said I was going out of town and that I wouldn't be updating, but this is an exception. On my way to work I often see alot of trucks - people headed down south, or headed to the suburbs.

This is an example of the ridiculous trucks that I often see:
To this day, I will never understand why people who own landscaping/upholstery/whatever else type of business insist on putting their religious views in the name or on the back of the truck instead of advertising their services.

And for the Gringos like me, this is just hilarious

Out of the office

Hello all. First of all, I want to proclaim that I am the grand master of packing my stuff into carry-on items. In order to prevent being in line for 3 hours at the MIA airport I am sacrificing makeup, shoes and bags. I am also sacrificing my laptop, so my blogging will be light for the next 6 days while I am in the mountains.

Happy holidays! I promise to post about Gainesville and NC when I am back, but no time now!

Monday, December 22, 2008

More Christmas Spirit

Another thing you can do down here but not up north - you can plant pointsettias in the ground and they will live through the holiday season! If you tried this up north, first you wouldn't be able to break ground because the dirt would be frozen and if you could plant them, they wouldn't last one freeze. The joys of living in the South and South Florida - pointsettias all year round:

The Biltmore

One of the best places to escape within Coral Gables without having to go too far is the Biltmore. You feel like you're on vacation and it's only minutes away from everything. The pool makes you wish you had your bathing suit and the food is fantastic. Definitely a great place to take visitors or to treat yourself for a nice peaceful lunch on the patio:

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Simpson Park Hammock

This overgrown oasis downtown is really turning into something. Simpson Park Hammock is home to raccoons and cats and who knows what else lives in there, but someone is really taking an effort to turn it into something. There's a nature trail walk that you can go on during the day and recently a group fixed up the corner hanging air plants and orchids and setting up benches of Broadway and South Miami Avenue:

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

An open letter

This is an open letter to the people who get a little too enthused with the holiday spirit while decorating the house (aka, corner of miller and 57th)

I have nothing against you personally, I am sure you are very nice people. But I feel somebody must tell you this..... Your holiday decor sort of makes me feel like I am going to have a seizure. Don't get me wrong, I am glad to see you are so enthusiastic with holiday spirit, especially during an economic recession, but perhaps you could lower the speed at which your lights blink and that would make everything better.

Thank you!

Christmas in Miami

Here are some more photos from Xmas displays. These were taken at Cocowalk (one of the mammoth tree and another of a beautiful snowflake). I've got more coming:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Post-Basel coverage

As you may know from El Capitan's post, we went wandering Wynwood (impressed by my alliteration there?) for Art Basel. And by wandering, I mean El Capitan and El Padrino dragged me off El Hombre's Peavy amp at ISM gallery.

I'm glad I went, because there were many new openings that I loved, most of which were on side streets.

Of course there was ISM. This is a family-managed gallery that has several different artists on display. The main display was the father's work, pictured below:
The boats are made from copies of the papers the US Coast Guard distributed during the Mariel Boat Lift in Miami.
I really liked these displays for a number of reasons. First, I love the contrast of the red against the white walls. It commands your attention. I also like that these are very symbolic of what many people experienced, coming to this country, without being overly political. It, to me, appeals more to the emotions.

The only other gallery where I took pictures was Animal Farm, mainly because my camera battery died. This gallery was like arts and crafts on steroids. It was absolutely awesome. I appreciate artists that have fun with what they do, and the artist definitely had a blast. The gallery was complete with hay, which made it seem more realistic, both in the crunch under foot, and the smell of it in the air.
Every part of each piece was made from things one would find around the house, pencils, shoes, golf balls, corks, etc. it was really fun to see the whole display, and then get close to each thing and see how it was constructed. I look forward to seeing more from this place, so hopefully the artist was local.

And what would one of my art entries be without pictures of street art? I know you've been waiting for it:
As Emeril would say... Bam! (I dunno, it's the medicine)

welcome welcome

Lets welcome SocialVox to the blogosphere. He's a South Floridian blogging about things around him, politics and whatever else he feels like.

Also, my roommate alerted me about The Pompomist I have seen this blog before, but since I stumbled back upon it, I thought I would link it.

(theme of this post borrowed from rick

Monday, December 15, 2008

Key West

I have been behind in posting, but I also have had another sinus infection, and honestly the last thing I have wanted to do when I get home is tackle the tons of photos in my camera.

Anyway, el hombre and I went to Key West for Thanksgiving, which despite the start of said sinus infection, was a much needed break. We stayed with friends in a pink shotgun house in the heart of Key West and were able to walk around and scope the weirdness of Key West.

We got there Thanksgiving Day, and after a short break at the house, we hit Fort Zachary Taylor State Park for dinner until sunset:
after eating like pigs, we decided to wander around. I have been to the park but never to the fort, so we wandered the path over and found these guys:
The random skelator statues=ultimate awesome. Of course I took cheesy photos, but will spare you all from that.
We all gathered around to watch the sunset before we got kicked out of the park:

Those of you who know Key West, know that it is home to all sorts of winged creatures:
(monkeys are my favorite, ok?)

The next day we wandered around and saw many awesome people dressed as pirates (I didn't take pictures because I didn't want to deal with them asking for money)
Pirates have a strong hold on Key West tourism, and nerds like me totally fall for it.

And of course we scoped another sunset, this time at Mallory Square:
Mallory Square hosts a sunset festival every night. People gather around to watch the sun sink into the water. Then people wander around because there are street performers everywhere, from bagpipes to animals, you see the full spectrum. These were some of the ones that stood out:
(I had to put two of this guy because he is an absolute wackjob. The Key West Cat Man has been around forever, and he trains/bribes his cats with ham. Cats will do anything for ham. He is also almost completely incomprehensible.
This dog is awesome.
As are these

On our last day we went to the Hemingway house. I have always been a big reader, and my mom introduced me to Hemingway when I was young, and I have always loved to read his stuff. I also like cats.
Our guide was much better than the first time I went, with NerdInChicago. There was also some slightly different details. I suspect some is lore.
Regardless, this is where much of the magic happened:

Key West is a great place. It's laid back and anything goes, and it has the best people watching anywhere. And it's full of randomness:
This guy claims he rode down from the Tampa area. I don't know that I believe him. Especially since he has 3 dogs on his bike.

And this guy told El Hombre that I was too pretty for him. He didn't get a dollar, but we (and by "we," I really mean "I") have had a few laughs over the comment since.

Overall, I couldn't have asked for a better trip. And if I haven't mentioned it yet, our hosts were fantastic, they fed us, educated us and threw down with us. What more can you ask for?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Art Basel - Animal Farm

Christina and I went to this awesome exhibit during Art Basel in Wynwood. It's called Animal Farm by Frederico Uribe and is the cutest gallery/exhibit I've ever seen. Some of the animals were made out of shoes while other were pieces of pencils and wine corks formed together to create these adorable little creatures. The hay on the ground added that extra touch. And there was a band with members of the Spam AllStars. Here are some photos: