Sunday, October 31, 2010

Local: Some of Them Stay: Interview with Miami Writer Jeremy Glazer

jeremy glazer miami writerOops! That aint Miami!

It was a breezy afternoon this past week when I sat down for coffee on Brickell with local writer Jeremy Glazer. Rush hour was upon us and suited executives were buzzing by on the sidewalk. But I was in no hurry; my eyes were rapt on Glazer, whose stories, recently published at WLRN's Under the Sun, prompted me to secure an interview. I just knew I had to meet the man who could write so beautifully about Miami experiences.

Glazer is one of those rare Miami natives who contradict every negative stereotype about Miami. He’s handsome, charming, intelligent, cares for the community and his heart seems to be in a really good place.

Born and raised here, Glazer set off for college in Massachusetts where he studied anthropology, lived for a spell in Guatemala and pursued grad school in Philadelphia where he earned his teaching certification. Had it not been for an unfortunate situation, this prodigal son may have never returned to the magic city. Sadly, Glazer’s father fell ill, forcing him to settle here.

Once back in Miami, Glazer worked as an English teacher in several high schools, including a rough one in Liberty City, but also elite schools in upper-crusty sections of Miami-Dade. He became involved in teaching as a result of his work in community development for Coconut Grove. Social service guided him into the role of a teacher. “I think education is so vital for our society,” he said. “The classroom is an important place to be. I fell in love with it. It’s as close as I’ve ever come to a calling. I’m my best self in the classroom. It's a real contrast to who I usually am.”

But the rigors of teaching also took their toll. “It’s a thankless profession,” he explained. “Teachers were not respected and I wore myself out. I admire anyone who can stay in the classroom.”

And Glazer wasn’t too happy with forced curriculum either. “There was too much test prep. It was all about FCAT.”

So Glazer’s career segued into local politics, where he’s been working as a legislative analyst for commissioner Katy Sorenson. After elections this month, Glazer will follow Sorenson to the University of Miami, where the Institute for Excellence in Public Service will help educate elected officials about the local community.

Well into the hour of our interview, I was eager, of course, to get the dirt on Glazer’s short stories about dating., a tale of online dating gone bad, is based on a true story. Bad, really bad -- as in getting his crotch grabbed at a Design District club by a woman he had only known for a few hours. The experience was a killjoy and spoiled online dating for him. “I only go for online dating about one month a year,” he joked. “It’s like childbirth. You easily forget how painful it is until it happens again.”

And as he’s already tried online dating in 2010, his quota has run out this year, leaving this bachelor to brave the thorny terrain of singledom in Miami without relying on a service.

Glazer has been doing the single thing for a few years now. In another life, he enjoyed a long-term relationship with a woman he met in the northeast. When I teased him about not finding love in Miami, he laughed: “Yes, I had to import that one from New York.”

Another short story, They Always Leave, is fictional but strikes a raw nerve for its realism. In a nutshell: the main character meets an interesting woman on a bus; has a four-month relationship with her; and it ends as she dashes off to to Chicago. There wasn’t enough in Miami to hold her interest here, not even the main character’s heart. The breakup happens on a bus in South Beach:

My boss wants me in Chicago. They’re scaling down in Miami. It’s just not ripe yet. And to be honest, I jumped at the chance. . . . I need to be back in a city with a real Chinatown. A city where the major cultural event of the season is not a dog Halloween parade.
On the subject of fiction versus non-fiction, Glazer noted: “emotional truth is more powerful than fact.” And it’s true – whether or not any of this actually happened to Glazer is irrelevant. I think it’s safe to say that the story resonates on an emotional level with anyone, male or female, who has dated in Miami.

Dating is challenging in any city, but Miami is particularly hard. “There are a lot of different Miamis in Miami,” Glazer observed. “It’s hard to find fellow residents. Gathering places tend to be clubs instead of open, public spaces. But what if that’s not your thing? There’s no Central Park or subway, where you are bound to see hundreds of people each day. Miami is not a participatory city in that sense. It separates people.”

No better proof of this was the condo canyon of Brickell where we were sitting – all buildings with interior lives and no pedestrian friendly plaza in sight.

Drawing from his background, Glazer looks at dating from an anthropological perspective. The process can be educational. “Dating is a window into cities,” he said. “It’s interesting to see how people feel and react.”

His favorite Miami-Dade city is Miami Beach, where he’s been living since 2002. “South Beach feels like a real city,” he explained. “All these different neighborhoods are crunched together. There’s the old Miami there, the tourists, and being able to go to the ocean in the evening helps me wash the day off after work.”

Although Glazer hasn’t had that much luck with love in recent years, he certainly has had a love affair with words. Writing wasn’t always in Glazer’s career, though he did start out young. “When I was a little kid, I liked to write anything creative,” he recalled. “My mom taught me how to type because I had terrible handwriting. My first typed story was about baseball because I was really into that at the time.”

As a teen, Glazer attended Coral Gables High School. Amy Scott, a teacher and mentor, inspired him to write. Though his career path would initially focus on teaching and public service, that inspiration evolved into the writer he is today. Glazer has written a novel called Catching Holden, which follows the lives of a high school student and teacher over a period of a week as each tries to figure out who they are while reading J.D. Salinger’s novel, The Catcher in the Rye. Currently, Glazer has an agent and is looking for a publisher.

“It’s a split narrative,” he explained. “I told myself I would write every day, and this is what came out of it. When writing is going well, it’s magic. Those are the best moments.”

Let’s hope Glazer has more of those moments. Miami deserves a great, fresh voice to document the contradictions of a city that confounds and fascinates people from all over the world. As he puts it in the short story Home: “A Fellini film of a city.”

Here's Glazer reading at Lip Service at Books and Books:

Note: Coincidentally, Glazer and I went to the same high school, knew the same English teachers and several people in common, but being a few years older, I never crossed paths with him, until now. Oh and Amy Scott was one of my best friends and colleagues in graduate school. Neither Glazer nor I were aware of this when I contacted him. Such a small world Miami is ... really.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Great Florida Beach Walk

florida beach walk

Save the date for this event! November 6 from sunrise to 11 AM EST -- walk a mile and take pictures of your walk. Did you know Florida has 825 miles of beaches?

Yes, this is a VISIT FLORIDA promotion to tell people it's ok to visit Florida, even after the horrible oil spill in the gulf. But hey, what a great excuse to get out there. The weather is perfect right now. Go ahead and register as a volunteer.

For more details, visit Beachwalk.

And speaking of beach photography, get your Fort Lauderdale beach fix every morning with Fort Lauderdale Sun on Twitter.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Travel: Romancing the Florida Keys: Dinner at Pierre's

Part 1 of a three-part series about romantic travel in the Florida Keys.

Pierre's in Islamorada
Pierre's is only an hour or so away from Miami, but a world apart.

As a native Miamian, I always ask myself why I don't spend more time in the Florida Keys. Once my tires hit the overseas highway, it's like I'm in another planet, leaving behind the crazed, sprawling metropolis I call home.

My new favorite and relaxing getaway is dinner at Pierre's, quite arguably the most romantic waterfront dining spot in all of South Florida. Pierre's certainly gets my vote as such and boy, I've been keeping tabs on waterfront dining for quite some time now.

Miami couples take note: it's well worth the drive for an extraordinary experience. Go on a lazy Sunday, when traffic won't be so bad on the Florida turnpike. From South Miami, it's only an hour away. I don't think twice about enduring traffic on I-95 to go to Fort Lauderdale, which is at least a 40-minute schlep. Why not go south and enjoy a mental vacation?

Pierre's also transports me back in time, if only for the decor. Located on a quiet beach facing Florida Bay, the path to Pierre's begins at a large bowl filled with colorful bougainvillea and hibiscus flowers. The exterior echoes a colonial style from a bygone era, with outdoor seating under a verandah that is simply lovely when kissed by bay breezes. The interior is cozy and elegant, with teak tables and artifacts from exotic destinations around the world. And the Green Flash Lounge, which welcomes thirsty travelers with plush leather sofas, potted palm trees and sandalwood incense, inspires me to order something sophisticated to drink.

Pierre's in Islamorada
Hues of red, magenta and pink foretell the richness of the meal to come.

Pierre's in Islamorada
The verandah offers a spectacular sunset view.
Pierre's in Islamorada
A monastery door from India frames the entry to the lounge.

Oh but the food, carefully crafted by chef Benjamin Loftus. As beautiful as this spot is, it's the food at Pierre's that will make you fall in love. Food with tantric attention to detail, much like the kind you should be giving your lover as you sit across from each other savoring each bite. No moment should be wasted in love, as should no bite in your meal. Every burst of flavor should be appreciated here.

As someone who eats out regularly and goes to foodie events, meals may come and go in and out of my memory. It's different at Pierre's; I will raise my glass and call it memorable. I'll let the pictures do the talking:

Pierre's in Islamorada
A feast for all the senses: tempura lobster tail with hearts of palm hash, soy glaze and wasabi creme fraiche. Rich textures and flavors make up this dish, which has been on the menu for 11 years. This one definitely gets a "sex on a plate" rating.

Pierre's in Islamorada
Delectable and tender: house made lamb ravioli, brunoise vegetables, wilted brussel leaves and creamy lamb jus.

If you're inclined to spend the night in Islamorada and not drive back (you may want to land in bed and in each other's arms after such a sensual meal), the Moorings on the property features 18 villas.

Pierre's is also part of Morada Bay Beach Café, another favorite spot of mine. This is a more casual option that's also worth a day trip for lunch or for popular full moon parties.

Bon appetit!

Why I Hate Miami Beach Clubs

miami beach

A recent discussion about club bashing at Miami Beach 411 has inspired the following rant. While club culture is fun for some and extremely important to tourism, you couldn't pay me enough to go to a local club and here's why:

Nostalgia ... as a Miami native, I miss the old days.
Back in the 1980s when most of today's club goers were still in diapers, you could get into a spot like the Cameo or the Kitchen Club, listen to great alternative music and not have to take on that extra job as a Publix cashier just to support your clubbing lifestyle. And the pickle bucket at Wolfie's was really good at 2 am. And Cactus Cantina ... oh, I'm gonna cry now!

I may not be rich, but I have class.
Clubbing attracts the wealthiest scumbags on planet. Money and class don't necessarily mix.

Clubs and assholes mix quite well, however.
A night at the club wouldn't be the same without some belligerent and dangerous thugs thumping their chests with their gorilla size egos. Sometimes people get shot and clobbered at clubs. You never hear about that kind of crime happening at the Van Dyke jazz lounge, do you?

What did you say? Whaaaa?
I don't want to start wearing hearing aids until I'm 80. My iPod causes enough hearing damage, thank you. Boom boom bass with no melody line blasting like a jumbo jet turbine doesn't do my ears good. Seriously, that powerful vibe should only be on my magic rabbit, if you know what I mean. When I go out, I want to talk to my friends and not end up with a case of laryngitis by the time the evening is over.

If you're at a club, you're indirectly supporting drug culture and some weird mafia scene.
I had enough of seeing friends of mine lose their careers and lives to cocaine in the 80s. Don't care for that shit. Over it. And it's there ... in the bathrooms and behind secret handshakes. No thanks. REALLY no thanks.

$20 well martinis served with a 30 minute wait from an arrogant bartender.
No additional comment here.

It's called dancing, not fornicating.
Everyone dances like a drug-crazed baboon. What happened to the art of dance? These days it's not Fox Trot but Hot Twat. Every woman dances like she's a hoe-bag stripper or pole dancer, and that's all good, except that she's not actually working a shift at Tootsies! Oh and the dry humping couples, that's just lovely. Look, if I wanted to see couples fucking, you know what kind of club I'd go to in Broward. If you want to bump uglies, get a freakin' room at El Nido on 8th street.

People stress out about clubs.
"zOMG what am I gonna wear? How am I gonna get in? OMG OMG OMG!!!" Listen people, there are children starving around the world, the cure for cancer still hasn't been found and homeless people are sleeping in their own vomit in the alley right behind Washington Avenue. Get a grip and sense of perspective.

You put yourself under unnecessary scrutiny to be judged.
It's a club, for pete's sake, not the gates of heaven! Listen, life is bad enough as it is to have some random doorman tell me my big fat Cuban ass isn't good enough to get past the velvet rope. Let me tell you something: Maria never waits in line for stupid shit like this. Love, career, prosperity, the first orgasm while making love to a man you love and a good movie with a tub of buttered popcorn ... those things are WORTH waiting and working hard for.

The dress code makes pasties look like convent wear.
In a city where even the mannequins are double D's, I wouldn't dress the part, even if I was back in my skinny bitch body. I mean even a Collins Avenue hooker looks more elegant with her tampon hanging out than the typical club chic skank. What ever happened to sensuality and leaving something to the imagination? Listen women, if I can see your nipples and your skirt is so short you're leaving your vaginal excretions all over the place when you sit down, then that's not a dress, but an over sized maxi pad you just paid good dollars for at Bebe on Lincoln Road.

Who are you kidding?
Clubs are all about SEX SELLS. You're paying for a mental vacation from your day job. Is your life that boring and is that the only culture you've ever been exposed to? It's a theatrical experience, for sure, but it's not the same as going to a great show at the Fillmore. Bring the sexy into other aspects of your life and maybe you won't feel like you have to mortgage your house to be cool. Clubs are elitist, exclusionary and overpriced by nature, so who wants to be part of that bullshit?

There's more to Miami than clubs.
With what you spend for cover and bottle service, you could probably grab a show at the Arsht Center, have a fabulous dinner at a gourmet restaurant, cocktails at a lounge and still have money to spare for the South Beach cab driver that's going to mistake you for a tourist and price gouge you.

Photo credit: The incredibly talented Miami Fever at Flickr. Wish he was still photographing Miami!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Underwear Is So Ugly ...

comic sans panties

My underwear is so ugly, my clitoris goes into hiding when I put it on. Heck, it's a good thing I have a muffin top, this way I don't have to see those fug bloomers. And my bra? Forget about it! It's so drab, even an Amish woman wouldn't wear it.

Mel Gibson won’t even scream at my underwear – yes, it’s THAT heinous. I mean when they say Victoria's Secret, they really mean "let's keep Maria's ugly ass underwear a secret." Even Walmart won't carry this shit. Even pubic lice won't come close to it! Even the face of Jesus won't make an appearance on my unholy undergarments!

My panties are so dreadful, Jack Sparrow used one as a flag on his pirate ship.

Yeah, my underwear is so embarrassing, British royalty wears it on its head.

Oh and you know when mama said to always wear nice underwear in case you got into an accident? Well the other day, I got into one and while I was bleeding to death the paramedic looked at me and said: "you didn't listen to your mama, did ya?"

But there's a silver lining to all this ...

Artists are inspired by my underwear. My panties sag so much, Cristo wants to hang them over the Sears tower.

And, of course, I can always go commando, although I would hate for my hot punani to contribute to global warming.

I tried entering the Kotex "Makeunder" Contest for a chance to be in a series of web videos with Kathy Griffin but the website was screwed up. I also think the submissions were curated and if so, I was doomed from the start because I wasn't writing some sob story about how I'm some pathetic housewife with an asshole husband and three kids bla bla bla ... But hey, how could raunchy, tasteless and non-pc humor be an issue? It's Kathy Griffin, for pete's sake! The PR folks I contacted never got back to me to answer my questions about the technical details. Oh well.

Anyway, this post may or may not reflect the current condition of my lingerie drawer, but it's classic Manola.

Photo credit: Iamagenious on Flickr

Monday, October 25, 2010

Team Sunshine

team sunshine ipanemic alec branch
Yesterday, I participated in the "Out of the Darkness" walk with Ipanemic and friends. As Team Sunshine, we came together in honor of Ipanemic's son, a beautiful, intelligent and talented 18 year-old who took his own life earlier this year. I met this young man and hung out with him a couple of times when visiting Ipanemic; the thought of his suicide is just as shocking today as it was when I first heard about it.

Just before the walk, we heard a speech about suicide statistics. It was chilling: there are more suicides than homicides in this country; 35,000 people take their own lives every year; it's the second leading cause of death among college-age students; and every 15 minutes, someone in America dies by suicide.

I'm guessing there were about two hundred or more people at this event. Everyone there was either affected by suicide directly or knew someone who was, which was sad. But all was not in vain. As one of the speakers said (I paraphrase): it's important to destigmatize the issue of suicide. Talking about depression, anxiety and other conditions that lead to suicide should no longer be taboo.

I'm very proud of my friend Ipanemic. He could've chosen to disconnect from the world and let his own life fall apart, but instead he's choosing to do good works.

Ipanemic called it a Bright, Bright Sunshiney Day and it certainly was as we walked the 5K route around the University of Miami's beautiful Coral Gables campus.

It's not too late to make a donation over at Team Sunshine on the donor page website. You can learn more about the issue and find resources at the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention's website.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Planet Manola: Love Lost, Love Gained

Random news, commentary and photographs. Updated at least once every menstrual cycle, if not less frequently.

beach couple kissing sunset
Dating should be really called carbon dating, because by the time it's over, it's ancient history.

The topic of dating has crept up back into my life again. No, not because I'm dating creeps, but because I've come across some good dating reads!


I learned about this brave and sassy chick while attending Blogalicious earlier this month. (Anyone who actively dates is brave in my book.) Busy Dating describes herself as a "thirty something single woman exploring the dating scene with an open mind and a fresh pair of eyes. Learning, laughing and chronicling along the way."

Yes, a girl after my heart! Every woman should read her dating horror stories section Don't Get Punched. Also, follow her twitter. She recently had me cracking up on when she announced that some jackass on an online dating site had asked her if "she could clap her hind parts."

(I'm wondering if he misquoted William Butler Yeats, "soul clap its hands and sing.")

In any case, while she was at the conference, Busy Dating had a far more pleasant and innocent enough encounter in South Beach that led to a phone call on her way back home. Could romance spring up between two out-of-towners on the sidewalk? Stranger things have happened on the island. No, I'm sorry. The strange thing would be romance. The normal thing on a South Beach sidewalk is a walk of shame before the hookers come out for coffee.

Could a South Beach flirtation find fertile ground elsewhere? We shall see ...


My sarcasm does a terrible injustice to Jeremy Glazer, a local writer whose prose I've recently discovered. He had me at the the first few sentences of a story published over at WLRN's blog, Under the Sun. Glazer's beautifully written fictional account of a local man who falls for a transplant explores the bane of every native Miamian's existence: the good ones always seem to be from elsewhere. From They Always Leave:
You want to say you and Tanya broke up because she smoked too much. Or because she was on facebook all night. Or because her apartment was a complete mess. But those are all excuses.

Just like every other relationship you’ve had in Miami, it ended because she moved away.
Glazer's poignant story about love lost begs a question about romance in a city of accidental residents. Yes, alas, the good ones leave, but why do all the damn psychos stay?!?


While love may last as long as the life cycle of a fruit fly in South Beach, a different story comes out of Old Cutler.

Last night I took the first Deering Estate ghost tour of the season, during which a staff member shared one of the best South Florida love stories I've ever heard.

You see, Mr. and Mrs. Charles Deering each had their own personal servants. But for some reason, these servants were not allowed to date each other, although they were madly in love. They kept their romance secret for many years until the Mr. and Mrs. passed away. The lovers eventually married -- she at the tender age of 61 on the day of her nuptials.

Oh, can you imagine the kisses they stole behind the Richmond Cottage? The furtive embraces in the dense foliage of the mangrove forest?

Speaking of romance, ghost tours are a great way to explore one of the most hauntingly romantic spots in Miami-Dade -- haunting as in "its beauty will haunt you." If you can't make the night tour, go during the day with a picnic basket for wooing under the royal palms or consider attending one of their moonlight concerts on the gorgeous bayside lawn. More information about it all here: Deering Estate at Cutler.

My story on last year's investigative ghost tour is over at Miami Beach 411.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Beautiful View of South Beach

sex and the beach
... and the subject in the photo is not bad, either.

I know, I know it's shameless narcissism but I couldn't resist posting this photo by my friend and photographer Liam Crotty, who regularly features interesting locals on his website and has taken portraits of many notables around the country. Liam isn't from Miami originally, so it's great to see the city through his eyes.

He hit it out of the ballpark with this photo; it truly captures the spirit of this blog, not to mention the glint of mischief in my eyes. That's the view from C-Lounge at The Clevelander, by the way, which we enjoyed during the Fifth Anniversary Bash last weekend.

I realize I don't write under the Manola Blablablanik nom de plume anymore, but if I had to give her a portrait, this would be it. Thanks, Liam!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

It's Sex AND the Beach, Not ON It

clevelander bikini punani south beachThe girl from Ipanema is always walking by and you know who has his shutter ready.

Well I'm sure everyone who didn't make it out this weekend was just scared of Miami Beach parking and who could blame you? But I know each and everyone one of you was there in spirits and boy, spirits we had, with $5 Punanitinis at C-Level at The Clevelander, which proved to be quite the classic South Beach party spot. No location would have been better for celebrating five years of Sex and the Beach; it was buzzing, electrified, non-stop with energy and gorgeous! Simply gorgeous! The whole of the island city laid out before us and no pun on the laid! For a second there, I almost thought I wasn't a Golden Girl candidate anymore.

(Oh but who am I kidding ... a few us were channeling Blanche Devereaux.)

clevelander south beach drink cocktailDrinks and good times with a stunning view at The Clevelander. Available every weekend, people. Always a good time to celebrate.

I can't thank The Clevelander enough for sponsoring Sex and the Beach's fifth anniversary bash and putting me up for the night. My room, which faced the back alley, was cool, quiet (thankfully!) and the beds plush and comfy. But enough of that (you really don't want to know what happened in my room, right? Let's just say that "dial zero for booty call" is not available from the The Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau).

We had such an incredible time celebrating with an ocean view, balmy breezes, great music, food and drink, hanging out with old friends and making new ones, that I swear I would consider going back to the Cleve regularly. Locals, take advantage of their Rockstar rewards -- worth crossing the causeway. I'll put my money where my mouth is on that one ... oh wait, that's incredibly inappropriate considering everything that did not happen in my room!

Soul of Miami
took some great pictures. These are my two favorites.

sex and the beach punanitinisThe Punanitini was good but could've been better. A little less triple sec and perhaps a splash of soda.

Now, I told you there would be punani at this party. The look on Annette's face is priceless.

clevelander punani cart wheels
My friend Carlos Miller shot a video, which features the cart wheeling babes. I swear, I didn't go to a Broward trailer trash flea market to hire this circus entertainment. It was a "normal" thing to do in South Beach. I don't know about you, but when I go to a fabulously chic, classy outdoor rooftop lounge and meet complete strangers, I strip down to a bikini, do cart wheels and flash my ass and pussy for the whole world to see.

Oh but forget about all that. There was the love, I tell you. The L - O - V- E. Friends far and wide, even those who couldn't make it in person, were in touch. I thank you from the bottom of my heart. Wait no, let's go deeper than that, I thank you from head to toe!

But now let's get to the moment we've all been waiting for. Here are the winners of the drawing! Due to technical difficulties, we didn't hold the drawing during the party. (How could I, with all that punani in the air?) I held the drawing last night during a super secret ceremonial ritual with my friend @miamishines.

Drum roll! And the winners are ...

from Dayngrous Discourse wins my beat-up and signed South Florida Firefighters Calendar.

Dori Zinn wins a Body System from Ardyss.

Anonymous (you know who you are) wins a facial from Body Care.

Karlene from The Cleve wins the Life Extension basket from kNOw-AGING.

Stephanie, aka Midtown Chica, wins a case of wine from Wine Sisterhood. I know she needs it because she's planning a wedding.

Jessie from Bites and Pieces wins a gift certificate to Journelle.

And last but not least, @pochaccoyoly wins the grand prize with a photo shoot by Ipanemic and hair and makeup by D & L Hair Studio!

I want to thank all of you for supporting and following this blog for the last five years. May there be many more years of good reads and fun around the corner.

But enough about me. Celebrate yourself and what you do everyday! Follow your passion.

And about the title of this post ... a friend of mine tweeted me just before the party:

My reply: if you don't want to get sand in your delicate parts, don't have sex on the beach. Have sex and the beach. Why not? A little preposition makes all the difference in the world!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Travel: Culinary Delights Await Foodies on St. Augustine’s Savory Faire Tour

The Tasting Room
Foodie heaven lurks behind many a quaint facade in St. Augustine.

Leave your diet at home and pack your appetite when you visit St. Augustine in northeast Florida. The oldest city in the United States is not only visually beautiful for its charming, quaint cobblestone streets and historic sites, it's also a feast for the palate.

“Where to eat?” can be an overwhelming question for first-time visitors. Step in Savory Faire, a two and half hour tour that introduces the city’s culinary heritage in an entertaining, educational and utterly lip-smacking way, while wandering through the Spanish historic quarter.

This tour serves up small plates with big history. Licensed guides shares facts and anecdotes from St. Augustine’s rich cultural trove as you walk from place to place, eating your way through traditions left by the Spanish, British, Minorcan and other cultures who called this area home during the colonial period.

Spanish Bakery - Saint George Street
The Spanish Bakery is behind the wall. Walk through that doorway on the right, which the bakery shares with other businesses.

Our tour started one rainy afternoon on gorgeous Saint George Street, where we sampled savory beef empanadas (pastries) and piccadillo (ground beef stew in tomato-base sauce) at the Spanish Bakery. The establishment has been serving up baked goods and traditional foods since 1975 -- a recent newcomer considering that St. Augustine was founded in 1565. But oh, old-fashioned and oh-so-good was in the air here. The heavenly scent of baking and cooking from this small bakery is so intoxicating, it should be packaged and sold as an air freshener. We enjoyed that scent while noshing in a humble garden courtyard on wooden picnic tables.

Vino Del Grotto - Orange Wine
Here at Sex and the Beach we wonder if Anita Bryant would've sponsored this good stuff.

After our first stop, we strolled over to Vino del Grotto for a tasting of Florida-made orange wine -- a traditional Minorcan beverage during Easter. The Minorcans were a group of poor Mediterranean souls who got scammed into a life of indentured servitude in New Smyrna, 70 miles south of St. Augustine. They eventually escaped and settled in St. Augustine around 1777. Their cultural heritage remains alive today.

Wine made from fruit other than grapes is common in Florida; this variety comes from citrus country in the center of the state. The wine is light and would make a great summer picnic drink. If you only bring a carry-on on your flight and want to take some home, don’t worry, shipping is available.

The Tasting Room
Although you'll find many small tapas plates at The Tasting Room, don't let the name mislead you. The restaurant is definitely more than just a "tasting room."

After the wine, we enjoyed grilled mint and lamb meatballs with a yogurt honey sauce at The Tasting Room. Yes, say that twice and roll it around on your tongue. It was that good. Chef Matthieu Landillon (a.k.a "Frenchy") personally brought out the savory morsels. The Tasting Room is an elegant contemporary Spanish restaurant specializing in tapas as well as adaptations of traditional dishes from the Iberian peninsula. Check your bag to see if you forgot your passport; you’d swear you were in Barcelona after setting foot inside here through a lovely courtyard.

The Gourmet Hut
The Gourmet Hut is tiny but what a charming and romantic little spot, even on this rainy day.

Our movable feast continued just a block or so down the street to The Gourmet Hut, where you know the British came and certainly stayed a little, at least with their delicious version of Constance Spry’s famous curry-based Coronation Chicken Salad, offered with a side of English Sausage Rolls made with a flaky, buttery crust. And in true St. Augustine multi-cultural spirit, the lovely owner, who is from South Africa, let us wash down the Britishness of it all with refreshing, fruity Spanish red wine sangria.

Feeling rather full at this point, we would still have three more stops to go.

Every decent city worth its weight in grog must have an Irish Pub. Meehans, an Irish Pub facing the Matanzas River, offered up rich Irish Clam Chowder, oysters on the half shell and half of a Reuben. What? A Reuben in an Irish restaurant you ask? Let’s take this one step further and go back to multi-cultural: the Reuben was served deep fried in a spring roll wrapper and a side of Gruyere fondue. While it may make any fan of a traditional Jewish deli cringe, this Reuben was undeniable and delicious proof that despite their military stronghold, the Spanish, who "owned" Florida for a better part of its history since Ponce de Leon's official discovery dated 1513, would never stand a chance against these great foreign invaders of the lunch platter.

The Hyppo Gourmet Popsicles
The owner of Hyppo Gourmet Popsicles, proud of his pop and rightly so.

After Meehan’s we surely had to lighten up a bit, so a palette cleanser was in order. Hyppo Gourmet Popsicles (so named because the storefront is on Hypolita Street), fit the bill. Hyppo’s popsicles aren’t just ice cream truck style treats for the kids; these are serious grownup sweets made fresh daily with local fruits. Try the strawberry and datil – a local spicy pepper that brings tongue-tickling heat to the flavor of the fruit.

The Spice and Tea Exchange
As a library to a book fiend, so this display to a foodie. Both shall swoon. Contain yourself from sniffing what's inside every jar.

Our last stop was one that no foodie should miss. (Please go there, even if you don’t take the tour.) The Spice and Tea Exchange, part of a national chain, sells a dizzying and delectable variety of salts, dried herbs and spices as well as teas and sugars. Your nose will thank you for stopping here, just like it would if you were to stop at the Spanish Bakery. Make room in your suitcase for the rubs, spices mixes and other pantry goodies you’ll surely want to take home to your kitchen. Go for the locally inspired St. Augustine mixes of spices and herbs.

Are you full yet just from reading this? We certainly were after the experience! The tour is a great deal at $45. The portions are generous -- Adam Richman from Man v. Food might even take this one as a challenge, so don’t eat before the tour. Don’t let that worry you, however; take a nap after and opt for a light supper later that evening.


During your stay, make room for more. Your tour guide will recommend other places to eat because obviously you can only eat so much in two and half hours.

I recommend you pay serious homage to the Spanish heritage in St. Augustine and go back to The Tasting Room for a full dinner accompanied by fine Spanish wines from their extensive collection. We sipped on white wines from Galicia and the Basque country recommended by owner Michael Lugo to pair with our courses, which included jamón serrano and manchego croquetas (béchamel sauce, serrano ham and manchego cheese croquettes), seafood paella and roasted duck with membrillo (quince). A solo acoustic guitarist set the mood for what was, again, “a pinch me and tell me I’m not in Spain” dinner.

The Tasting Room also recently opened a Spanish deli at 39.5 Cordova Street, near the beautiful Casa Monica hotel, serving artisan breads as well as fine meats and cheeses imported or U.S. made, inspired from the original mother country. Yes, you heard me right. I know I'm a sucker for Spain, but trust me U.S. citizens, you'll come to see Spain as the "original mother country" after you visit St. Augustine.

For details on the food tour, click on Savory Faire, run by St. Augustine City Walks, purveyor of additional fine tour experiences. Confirm your reservation for the tour before hand; it's limited to 12 people and you wouldn't want to miss out as a stand by.


It’s always foodie heaven in St. Augustine, but October brings Flavors of Florida’s Historic Coast, with prix fixe menus available at over a dozen restaurants in the Saint Augustine and Ponte Vedra area until the end of the month. If you can’t make it this year, keep an eye out for the next edition of the same program; if you love to eat well but are on a budget, consider visiting this destination during Flavors month for reasonably priced deals in the area's finest restaurants.

For more information about visiting Saint Augustine, check out Florida's Historic Coast.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Silicone Bitch: Is Blogging Really That Blogalicious?

News and notes about the South Florida social media and blogging scene, with a little tech thrown in for good measure. And maybe some other random events, too.

blogalicous weekend 2010 miami beach
Blogalicious 2010 in South Beach last weekend was incredibly inspiring. The conference had a friendly, fun and social atmosphere, but it was also dead serious on the the pros and cons of this thing we do called blogging. Panels, discussions and breakout sessions focused on myriad topics -- from all the technical details of blogging to the personal branding that comes along with the craft -- and everything in between.

(By the way, if you've been hanging around here, you know that I take exception to the word blogger and prefer to call it self-publishing, so bear with me while I still use the offensive term.)

Blogalicious was true to its mission of celebrating diversity in blogging and although some emphasis was placed on women of color and latinas, at the end of the day, we were all women of many colors, of many geographic origins, of many creeds and beliefs, of varying incomes, educations, sexual orientations and statuses; we were single women, married women, divorced women, childless women, mommy bloggers, fat, skinny, women ... but who cares what we looked like in the end and where we were from? And heck, there were even some men in the crowd!

What truly mattered is that we all had one thing in common: we were each of us a woman with a voice who has something to say and wasn't afraid to say it, empowered by the entrepreneurial lifestyle of self-publishing. Many of us had already taken the leap of faith; some of us were just mustering up the courage to press that "publish post" button.

And all of this got me thinking about the price we have to pay for this blogging thing we so stubbornly pursue. Being a self-publisher comes at a price. If you're a serious blogger who has thought about making a living at blogging, you know the practice comes with some sacrifice.

Here are some thoughts that have been swishing about in my brain since last weekend.

For me, having a blog has meant sacrificing energy and time, turning away crappy "paying" work only because I believe so much in this damn thing. Call me an idiot if you like, but I'd rather be writing for me than for some factory mill even if that means having to make certain choices about how I live my life -- choices that might be difficult for others to understand; choices that mean giving up certain securities and comforts. In other words, you need cojones and conviction to do it and to own it deep down inside, even if you have to give up many milestones a more traditional life path may have had in store for you. This isn't everyone woman's blogging story, but it's certainly mine and that of other single women I know.

Which begs the question, women bloggers out there: is their a gender role issue in blogging and the independent lifestyle you need to maintain a good blog? Can men handle the independence you need to go out and cover events? Are they jealous? And if you're a wife or mom, are you willing to take the time away from your spouse or children to self-publish? I realize this isn't just about women (men could face the same issues as well), but I've found some guys just can't deal with the commitment I have to my self-publishing lifestyle.

I'm more and more convinced each day that if you're not pitching to brands, you're not ready for a brand to support you. Take time to find those relationships that work for your blog. If your stuff is good, find something that's just as good to support your material and think of creative ways to incorporate it into your website.

But for pete's sake, don't be a shill. Don't do straight-out product reviews! Instead, do something really cool that provides great content; there's got to be something in it for you and your readers. Yes, we do have to make money, but there has to be a compromise -- aim for a relationship to a brand that provides elegant and quality support of your editorial.

Tell brands you're interested in advertising opportunities instead of product reviews. You seriously don't want to be all advertorial. Milk them ... what have you got to lose? Remember, they are sucking up to us because they know how powerful we can be as social media influencers.

On the other hand, and I really mean seriously on the other fucking hand, when you get to paid to blog, invariably, you might feel like you have to sell out a little. How much are you willing to sell out (if we must call it that) and for whom? South Florida Daily Blog recently discussed that in a post about the blogging scene regarding Carlos Miller's move to Pixiq. It's not fair for bloggers to have to starve forever. Cut us some slack. I don't think Miller is selling out. He's doing what he needs to do to keep doing what he's been doing and so good for him.

One of the most annoying things about a being a self-publisher is explaining your line of "work" to people who don't get it, especially those from older generations. Only other bloggers and a few digital savvy people get what I do. Everyone else thinks I'm a professional slacker or something, which of course, provides great fodder for humor. But seriously: it's not a hobby. It's hard work on top of the other work I already have to do. See section "sacrifice" above.

Is blogging really blogalicious? Why yes it is! But blogging comes at a price and one that is definitely worthwhile. I don't think any woman walked away from this weekend without questioning the concept of blogging; yet with that questioning came also came a strong desire to do her own creative thing in self-publishing.

When guest speaker Marc Morial, President and CEO of the National Urban League, brought up the invention of the Guttenberg Press in a general session on Sunday morning, he knew damn well what he was talking about. Voice and broadcast is a powerful.

And I think (I hope), I speak for all of us that we left the conference with a better understanding of a digital sisterhood. Let's not self-publish in a vacuum. Hopefully for some, a sisterhood will translate into real-life relationships of support and friendship as we grow collectively into a vanguard generation of self-publishers.

If you're interested in seeing where Blogalicious is headed next year, make sure to follow the conference on twitter @Beblogalicious. Kudos to the "Justices" for organizing it a second year in a row and thanks to all the sponsors. Miami Beach was lucky to have this conference!

An extra treat: see a video capture of CNN journalist Soledad O'Brien while she did a Skype conference from her home with Blogalicious. (Via @anandaleeke.)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Touched By Heart of Haiti

heart of haiti paintingSometimes you don't have to go far in life to feel grateful and humbled. That was my experience last week when I covered the Macy's Heart of Haiti launch in Dadeland as part of my blogger outreach work.

The event was great, with food, music and dancing (see tons of photos at Soul of Miami), but more importantly, I got to meet the artists who are spearheading the movement in Haiti as well as Willa Shalit, a brilliant woman who came up with such a great idea in Fair Winds Trading and was behind incredible sustainable projects like Path to Peace, which supports Rwandan women.

When you put heart and soul into a project, wonderful things happen. Wonderful things like people actually making a living doing what they love, which is what prosperity is all about. And wonderful things like "art for social change" (Willa's purpose), which quite honestly, we could even use more of even in this country, regardless of political or natural catastrophes. Working with Heart of Haiti last week was one of the most satisfying things I've ever done, because it felt good to help others who are making the world a little more beautiful and palatable for our eyes while keeping cultural traditions alive. For all of this I'm very grateful.

At Blogalicious over the weekend, I had a chance to sit down with Willa and two of the artists, Pascale and Satyr, who specialize in papier-mache art work, an artistic medium that's important to Haitian culture and the Caribbean in general, related to carnival and other cultural traditions. Below is the interview.

But it doesn't stop here. As Miamians, we have a very special opportunity to learn about and support Haitian culture right in our own backyards. This isn't just about the earthquake. This is about people who are here to stay and building lives. So yes, I'm going to encourage you to buy some beautiful art work at Macy's, but I'm also going to encourage you to get to know our island neighbors who have a well-established community here. This is what makes Miami unique. Love it or leave it ... I choose to love it.

Below are links to a few sites and resources. If I missed any, please leave a comment with additional information.
  • The Haitian Heritage Museum is open in the Design District and has a special music event every second Saturday until December of this year.
  • Talk about the Haitian community here over at Miami Beach 411 forums.
  • Take a cultural tour of Little Haiti with David Brown, author of The Story of Little Haiti.
  • Read a book by Edwidge Danticat, a Haitian-born author who lives in South Florida and has taught creative writing at the University of Miami. Breath, Eyes, Memory is a beautiful work of literature and it's not surprising it was featured in Oprah's Book Club.
  • Also a great read: In The Kingdom of This World by Cuban novelist Alejo Carpentier, who wrote about the Haitian revolution in the style of magical realism.
  • Next time you go to South Beach, catch live music, a poetry reading or just eat and enjoy a mojito at Tap-Tap.
  • Support the Little Haiti Cultural Center, which is underused, according to the Miami Herald.
  • Stop by MOCA Miami (Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami) to see Haiti photos by Bruce Weber starting November 19, 2010 as part of the Knight Exhibition Series.
  • Take a walk on the river side to see Haitian artist Edouard Duval-Carrie's sculpture "The Lady of Miami" at the beautiful mouth of the Miami river, just south of Bayfront Park in downtown Miami.
Again, I've only scratched the surface here. Feel free to leave comments about other Haiti related venues and activities in South Florida.

Video credit: many special thanks to my dear friend Blanca @miamishines for taping and sharing the interview.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sex and The Beach Contest Update [updated]

This contest is now officially closed. We'll be updating after the party. Thanks to all who left comments!

It seems like no one was into my video contest so you know what? If it's broke, fix it! Ladies, we are downgrading from a contest to a drawing. Seriously, you have to be in a coma to pass up these great prizes in celebration of Sex and the Beach's fifth anniversary party. I'm going to make it VERY easy for you! Like, totally painless. Like, it hurt you more to lose your virginity than to qualify for this awesome drawing.

Here's all you have to do: submit ONE comment on this post about something that you've done or experienced in the past five years that you're particularly proud of and are willing to share with others for inspiration. I will take down all names and do a drawing Sunday at the party.

That's it! How easy is that?


Win a photo session with photographer and blogger Scott Branch of in a local location of your choice (no studio). Scott will give you three of the best shots, non-watermarked, so if you've been looking to refresh your avatar or need a good publicity photo, here's your chance. Or maybe you want a tasteful sexy photo for your ball and chain; whatever -- it's up to you! I recommend you go for a natural, outdoors portrait but you can work out the details with Scott.

But what's a good photo if you're not sporting your best look? If you win the grand prize, you'll also benefit from fabulous hair and makeup services from D and L Hair Studio in South Miami. This isn't just a wash and blow! D and L will take care of you up to $300. Laila, the owner, is really good at figuring out what coloring and cut works best for you. Get to know her. She's an entrepreneur I highly admire and that's why I'm proud to have her as a sponsor of this blog. Plus her team is awesome and she has wi-fi and wine at the hair studio!


Lincoln Road's sexiest new store in South Beach is offering you a $250 gift certificate to buy pretty underthings for your bod. Visit Journelle online to see what they got ... this is dreamy lingerie, ladies!

Win a case of wine from Wine Sisterhood, a California-based wine company made for women by women! I had a chance to meet these fine ladies at Blogalicious this weekend and I also go to try the wine. You'll get to pick from the collection so you can try them all. I recommend the delicious and refreshing Middle Sister Sweet and Sassy Moscato or Middle Sister Drama Queen Pinot Grigio (my favorite). This gift is valued up to $150.

Win a Women's Health Gift Basket from Life Extension, a $275 value with vitamins, supplements and other goodies to keep that spring in your step and a healthy glow, as well as one-year membership to Life Extension! Gifts courtesy of the fabulous and gorgeous Tonya Scholz of kNOw-AGING and Social Chats, a woman who teaches us that real beauty comes from within and is never fake!

Does that mug need a little tune up? Win a microdermabrasion or chemical peel valued at $125 from BodyCare Center for Advanced Rejuvenation in Fort Lauderdale. Or opt for 15% off any liposculpture or smart lipo.

If surgical intervention is not for you, then maybe you'll opt for a chance to wine a Body Magic System from Ardyss valued at $170! They say you can drop 3 sizes in 10 minutes by wearing this medical grade reshaping undergarment. That's just a fancy way of saying that it flattens a muffin top and promotes correct posture, which is a huge plus! I'm all about the good posture; it's the best fashion accessory. This gift comes courtesy of Alma Herrera.

I will personally part ways with my signed copy of the South Florida Firefighters Calendar. Yes, that's how much I love you. And it's a little worn -- I carry it in my laptop bag, no joke. A $17 prize but the social and trivia value is priceless! And besides, every time you sigh, moan and groan looking at the guys I know you'll be thanking of Sex and the Beach.

Now what are you waiting for? Start commenting now!


Please submit all comments by Saturday, October 16 no later than 10 PM. One comment per person, please. Make sure your name is recognizable so that I'll be able to reach you. If you have a public Twitter handle and don't mind sharing, please include that in your comment. You don't have to be present at the party to win, but I do encourage you to attend! How else will you be able to try the exclusive $5 Punanitini cocktails?

You must be 21 or older to participate. I will help you coordinate with prize companies but I'm not responsible if anything happens to you as a result of winning. Also, you should probably live in South Florida because all the prize stuff, except the wine, is local. But if you visit here regularly or plan on coming here soon, that's cool too.

Special thanks to all who are sponsoring prizes!

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Stop Calling Me a Freakin' Blogger

angry school girl blogging versus writing
Do you remember my post about being an underpaid blogger, I Don't Give Blowjobs for Free? I'm sure you do, because that post seemed to touch a raw nerve and many of you left comments. Well, it's time to examine the issue once again.

In recent weeks, a certain major big-ass media corporation has been pitching local enthusiasts from a particular field for a "freelance editor" position in a new lifestyle section of its major big-ass media website. I won't mention the name, but suffice it to say that another local blogger, some award-winning dude who likes to take lots of photos, used to work for the same company. Emphasis on used to.

A friend of mine referred to me the position, for which I am grateful. The position seemed ideal regarding the topic I would cover, as I already have my feet quite soaked in the community as well as many connections with businesses and PR firms in that industry. A five-year track record of successful "blogging" for many outlets was a major plus.

The job would've also given me the opportunity to be an editor to other contributors and in short, be in charge of an entire section with a potential readership of hundreds of thousands, if not more. Attending and reporting at events, as well as taking pictures and video, would be required. In order to do the job right, factoring in drive time, I was looking at a minimum of 20 - 30 hours of work per week.

While this would have been a time suck on Sex and the Beach and my other freelance commitments, it sounded like a great opportunity to further my presence as a well-established online Miami "expert," something I've been cultivating for donkey's ages over at fabulous Miami Beach 411. And everybody knows I'm always out and about eating my way through the magic city anyway; if I were any more active, I'd be as awesome as Soul of Miami!

But here's the deal. What a fucking sham. The pay was so piss poor, it was downright insulting, not to mention laughable. And that's when I heard the words "it's really a blogger position," which made me cringe. Ugh.

I thought about it over the weekend and then decided to walk away from the application process, which required that I prove I could put together a blog ... imagine that!

I politely told big-ass major media corporation that I was better off putting great content on my own blog rather than giving it away for peanuts to a big-ass major media corporation. In other words, you can shove that job that comes down to less than a penny a word and less than a burger flipper at McDonald's by the hour. Oh and I forgot to mention: no benefits and no compensation for time off.

So, in short, they really wanted their cake and to eat it too. They wanted the experience, social media influence and depth of professional contacts of a 43 year-old professional writer, but only while paying measly college intern compensation, on which no adult could survive. Worse than that, at 20 posts were week, the position would become a freakin' boiler room word factory, leaving no energy and creative space for all the other writing projects I'd have to take on in order to make ends meet.

Listen, I don't give a shit about the economy or the recession. Big-ass major corporations, I'm not buying it that that's the reason you're willing to treat me like an indentured servant, because I do know that YOU are selling advertising in the millions and that my little handiwork in the feudal garden is going to rake in some big bucks for your deep overlord pocket.

"Bloggers" today are better off doing a side job and putting great content on their own sites until they can muster some quality advertising or some financially beneficial partnership. Again, why give blow jobs for free?

Seriously, people. On my press trip this weekend, a well-meaning but ignorant PR person actually had the nerve to ask me "so, your blog must have some credibility, then?" after I told him that "I wasn't a blogger, but a writer who happens to use the blog platform."

After this, I've decided I'm no longer a blogger, because if I say that, people think I am some floozy piece of shit whose writing experience of over 20 years isn't worth decent compensation. And this isn't just about me; it's about all the OTHER writers out there who could've been sucked into the "glamour" of working for a major media brand.

It's no coincidence that this big-ass major media corporation uses a peacock for its brand. Confucius say: "Walk under bird and bird will poop on you."

From now on it's this: "Hello, nice to meet you. I'm a writer who uses the blog platform, and you?" I know that sounds long-winded, but you bloggers out there, those of you in the same position as I, serious writers who just happen to use this means of broadcasting your words online, we need to educate people on the differences between a fluffy blog about furry kittens and an electronic publication produced by a professional writer.

Go out and educate! And don't whore yourself out, unless Richard Branson is hiring you!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Heart of Haiti Comes to Miami

Here in South Florida, we're used to the cadences of different voices coming from Latin America and the Caribbean, but rarely, in our daily lives -- at least many of us -- come in touch with the real artistic and cultural traditions of those south to us in this continent.

One particular community, Haiti, has an artistic expression so deeply colorful, so expressive in every range of human emotion -- from the plaintive to playful, from the spiritual to irreverent -- that it has made yours truly wish she'd be one of those ladies of leisure who could open art galleries just to support the amazing creativity that comes out of this island nation.

Well guess what? Fate has a way, because happily, a new project has fallen onto my lap that I'm very happy to share with all of you.

There are women out there who have a vision -- women like Willa Shalit of Fair Winds Trading, who really takes to heart the idea using art for social change, something that is also close to my heart and that I wish I could do more of ... well, I guess blogging and social media helps me do that indirectly, so I'm grateful.

Shalit's efforts have helped bring economic recovery to women in post-conflict zones, one example being Path to Peace baskets, made by survivors of the Rwandan genocide and sold in the United States by corporate giant retailers like Macy's. Trade, and not just aid, has helped these women in ravaged zones earn a dignified living by making handmade artisan goods.

The same philosophy has heralded a new project for our neighbors in Haiti, who suffered a devastating earthquake earlier this year. Heart of Haiti launches locally this Thursday, October 7, 2010, 6:00 PM at Macy's in Dadeland Mall. Three artists will showcase their works, which are already on sale online.

Remember what I said earlier about not coming across artistic traditions from other countries? It's certainly the last thing you'd expect to see at a retail mall with major brands. And yet, it's happening.

heart of haiti macy's necklace holder and pendantIs support for artists important in the aftermath? I think it is. Food, water and shelter was, of course, the first priority in helping Haiti after the earthquake. But art that is shared can do more than just bolster spirits -- it can define a community when everything seems to be falling apart. Art doesn't have to take a back seat now; it can also help recovery from disaster.

The Heart of Haiti collection at Macy's is just that -- a way to celebrate the creative expression of these artists and support them in a way that is lasting.

I encourage all of you South Florida bloggers out there to come see the outcome of this project for yourself this Thursday. It's a special opportunity to meet the artists and see the pendants and other decorative objects inspired by the courage and resiliency of Haiti.

Heart of Haiti artists will be at Dadeland Macy's Home Store starting at 6:00 PM on Thursday. If you can't make it, kindly spread the good word and share the love on Twitter (@heartofhaiti) and Facebook. The hashtag is #heartofhaiti.

Also, if you like, tune in Tuesday, October 5, 2010 at 1:00 PM EST on Social Chats. I'll be discussing the project with Heart of Haiti representatives and co-host Tonya Scholz. If you're busy during the day, you can listen to the show after it's broadcast.

What's not to love about this project? Like I said, it's a dream come true for me. Pinch me that I'm getting paid to share this with you. Hope to see you there.

Other coverage, to date: Miami Herald

PS ... if you doubt the power of artistic expression in the aftermath of catastrophe, or if you're simply having a bad day and need to smile, check out my friend Natasha Tsakos' heartwarming video, which she produced in collaboration with Ecoworks International: We Bring Joy in Haiti.

Friday, October 01, 2010

Silicone Bitch: Interview with Blogalicious Co-Founder

News and notes about the South Florida social media and blogging scene, with a little tech thrown in for good measure. And maybe some other random events, too.

blogalicous weekend 2010 miami beach
Silicone Bitch took the month of September off for a much needed break from the scene, but we're back in full swing now. Next weekend, about 250 bloggers and speakers from all over the country will flock to Miami Beach for the second annual Blogalicious conference, which celebrates diversity in social media.

Co-founder Nyasha Smith, a contributor at Mama Law Blog, shared a little background and information with SATB.

SATB: How long has Blogalicious been around, who founded it and why?

Smith: We are in our second year and it was founded by my two partners and I. We started the conference to fill the void in social media for women of color. We hope to educate marketers about how to reach us and educate and empower bloggers on how to better leverage their buying power and online presence.

SATB: Is there anything particular about doing this in Miami that you are excited about?

Smith: Aside from the sun and fun that South Beach brings, we chose Miami because it is a great representation of cultural diversity as we see it and a fantastic mirror image of our conference.

SATB: Any notable speakers to mention?

Marc Morial, CEO The National Urban League, Kety Esquivel from LatISM and Dr. Otis Brawley, Chief Medical Officer, American Cancer Society.

SATB: Has the community at large supported the Blogalicious effort?

Smith: We have received awesome sponsor support this year and I would be remiss if I didn't thank General Mills, McDonalds, Buick GMC Onstar, Sears, Kmart and the many more fantastic sponsors for supporting the conference and our online community.

Silicone Bitch would like to add that some fabulous former Miami gals will also be gracing the beach with their presence: Carrie from Bilingual in the Boonies and Afrobella. In addition, current Miamian Denise Jacobs will be speaking.

The conference is on Twitter @beblogalicious. Keep up with the conversation by following the #blogalicious2010 hashtag.