Monday, August 6, 2007

The Happiest Place on Earth

Dale & Dawn at The Magic Kingdom
It has been a bit of a break since my last post, but i have been in Orlando. We left on Friday and returned late last night.
We started our theme park extravaganza at Islands of Adventure, which has some of the best rides and rollercoasters i have ever experienced. The Hulk and Duelling Dragons are amazing! Dawn and i have been before, but this time it was even better as we could enjoy the water rides on which we got completely drenched (the last time we were there it was January and it was too cold).
Seuss Landing at Islands of Adventure
me (Dale) with the Cat in the Hat
After that we went to Universal Studios, which i hadn't been to since i was little. The Jaws ride is still awesome and the new Mummy rollarcoaster is fantastic.
On Sunday we went to The Magic Kingdom (aka Disney World). It was amazing. I ran around like a kid, hopped up on sugar and glee. The Main Street USA section is incredible; it is an America that never was, where barbershop quartets sing and tapdance on the street corners, there are marching band parades and for no apparent reason men and women dressed in 1930's attire break into song and dance routines in the middle of the street. Included in their repertoire was a high-spirited rendition of the Trolley Song from "Meet me in St. Louis" (you know it: "clang clang clang went the trolley! ding ding ding went the bell..."). I was in heaven.
Main St. USA, Disneyworld
Adventureland was also a favorite. The Pirates of the Caribbean ride is every bit as awe inspiring as i remember and i loved the Jungle Cruise and the silly Tiki Room. We went on Splash Mountain and Thunder Mountain, during which i insisted on speaking in my best old west voice, saying things like "Dag nabbit, that there was the best 'coaster i've been on since them claim jumpers done stole my horse!" I'm sure people looked at Dawn with sympathy and thought "How nice of that girl to take her mentally retarded sister to Disney".
I was reluctant to go on It's a Small World, but Dawn insisted and it was great! It is so old, but in a completely charming way. We also watched this 3D movie which includes bits from Disney movies. It even did the Be Our Guest number from  Beauty and the Beast, but wait - it was more than 3D, my friends! When Lumiere presented delicious dishes, waves of aroma exploded in the audience. A 3D apply pie appeared, and you could smell it. During the Fantasia bit, when the buckets of water were overturned, we were splashed with water! It was magic, i'm telling you, pure magic.
Sadly, i didn't get any photos with any of the Disney characters. They were all there, but the lines to be photographed with them were super long and i was too overstimulated to stand and wait. I DID get to see Belle though. She did a story time thing for a small audience of children, their parents, and me. She retold the Beauty and the Beast story with volunteers from the audience playing the different parts. I waved my hand in their with great enthusiasm, but, sadly, she didn't pick me. Damn kids get to have all of the fun. Frankly i think the boy playing Gaston didn't really understand his character and wasn't really "in the moment", but perhaps i am being too critical.
Disney is also a great place to witness first hand the epidemic of obesity in America. Rotund children and their gargantuan parents waddled around the park, gasping for air and squeezing themselves into seats on rides built in an era when people came in smaller sizes. There were many people so huge that they opted to rent wheelchairs and motorized scooters to enable them to move about the park without suffering heart failure. It is so different to be back in South Beach where the only thing big about the people are their biceps and breast implants.
So now it is Monday and Dawn has dropped me in South Beach for a long day of sun, smoking, and wandering. It is hot. At 10 am it was already 89 degrees. I had some fruit and a cigar while reading the paper and i shall continue my wandering. I plan to go to the Wolfsonian, an excellent design and art museum, and i also will check out the World Erotic Art Museum, the largest of it's kind in the country.
So, in summary, here is my new life goal: i plan to move to Disney World and live on Main Street USA, land of genteel shop keepers and and balloon salesmen, where broadway shows erupt every 20 minutes. I shall practice law there, but it will be a quiet practice, as nothing bad ever happens. I will start a book club with Belle and take my vacations at the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. It will be grand.
Gio, Dawn & Dale

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Odds & Ends

A couple of things i forgot to mention in last night's long but hurried post:
The gun totin' turkey shootin' family from Ocala said Grace before dinner. They actually said Grace (Does one capitalize grace?) They held hands and everything. I don't know if i have ever seen that outside of church camping trips as a child.

In case i haven't been clear about this: South Beach (Lincoln Road in particular) is one of the greatest places in the world. I could honestly just sit and wander around all day looking at all of the beautiful, muscular, silicone-enhanced people rollerblading and walking impossibly tiny dogs. Then one can walk a few blocks over and hang out with thugged out guys in classic pimp attire - and some of them actually will be pimps! (Need i remind you that it was once on Washington Avenue here in South Beach that Dawn and i once met and "chilled" with the (in)famous pimp Bishop Magic Don Juan. I'm not sure that's really something to brag about, but i like saying his name.)

The weather: So great. It is stupidly hot and humid and i am loving every second of it. It is like walking around in a warm cotton-candy soup and it would be unbearable if it were not for the salvation of the ocean breezes which easily make their way inland over and around the 3 storey, pastel, deco buildings, sitting like little confections along the sea.
Today. Slept in. Dreamed that one of my law profs (i will not say which one) was exacting physical torture sessions on his (or her) students each night. Hung out with the sister, went to the gym, ran errands. Dawn is presently writing her final exam in Calculus or Algebra or one of those frightening classes. I am going to go hang out and smoke and read tonight while she teaches her class. It will be a low key evening, as tomorrow we head to....Orlando, where i plan to stalk and get my photo taken with Belle from Beauty and the Beast, which will undoubtedly result in me trying to impress her with my knowledge of all the songs in the entire show - until Dawn punches me in the mouth and asks with irritation, "Man, why you sweatin' Belle?!". I can't wait.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Final Destination: Florida

Greetings from South Florida!
After 12 hours of travel (3 flights + layovers) i arrived at the underwhelming Fort Lauderdale airport - underwhelming that is until i saw a blonde vision in active sportswear: my sister (and her faithful companion, Giovanni). My flights, while long, where supremely relaxing. I read, completed a sunday NY times crossword and listened to Company, Sweeney Todd and My Fair Lady on the ipod.
I got in late, so Dawn just drove me to her new residence in the schmancy gated community known simply as "The Resort", complete with 3 swimming pools, gym, hot tub, tennis courts and security guards (no need to pack heat here).
We watched "Final Destination 3" (creative, gory death scenes) and retired.
Today she was busy teaching classes, so i spent about ten hours on South Beach. "Bliss" would not be too strong a word to describe my mood as i strolled beneath the palms in the uber-humid Florida weather. I smoked three cigars over espresso and salad, went shopping and visit some old haunts, like the South Florida Art Gallery. Little changes here (I even saw some of the same colorful homeless people i recall from when i lived here - if you have to be homeless, this is the place to do it). My favorite cigar lounge has closed, but there are countless other satisfying venues in which to enjoy a double corona, so i am not too broken up about it.
South Beach deco
Lincoln Road
As i was on my own today, i had many interesting conversations with people. One fellow, at the Hustler store sighed fondly when i said i was from Canada. "I've never seen snow", he said. He told me he grew up in Fort Lauderdale and moved to Miami and has never been anywhere else. Ever.
At dinner, on Lincoln Road at World Resources (i had a fabulous Thai curry) i chatted for about an hour with a family and their friends who are 7th generation Floridians from Ocala - super rural Florida with horses and citrus farms. They had crazy fake-sounding southern drawls and told me all about how they love to go hunting for turkeys and hogs, except they pronounced it "howgs". It seems that it takes a surprising amount of cunning and ingenuity to outsmart a turkey. I also learned all about Florida gun laws and it seems that it is quite legal to carry a gun with you at all times (except in court, at football games and in clubs), provided that said gun is in plain sight. (You can carry a concealed weapon, but you have to take a four hour course to qualify.) So if you want to drive with your 45, you have leave it in your lap, not tucked under your shirt.
Anyway, i had a fantastic day. When i come here, i can't remember why i ever left. The beach, the weather, trees filled with coconuts and green parrots are so seductive. Like i said, it is bliss.
Now i am back at Dawn's place and we are going to watch a horror movie about a killer ventriloquist's dummy.
Enough rambling.
Pictures to come.
Good night.