Tuesday, June 18, 2013

BREAKING NEWS! Hurricane Season Boyfriend 2013 Revealed!

No, it's not a giant continental dildo; it was the predicted path of Tropical Storm Andrea, 2013.

It's that time of the year again, oh my!

June 1st marks the beginning of Hurricane Season and as of today, we've been visited by Tropical Storm Andrea and are witnessing a Tropical Depression Number Two near Belize.

So, single ladies out there who don't have boyfriends or husbands to take care of shit around the house -- you need to include an ideal boyfriend in your preparedness kit, along with batteries, flashlights, bottled water, cans of Spam and tranquilizers.  We need to figure out whom we'd want to have around during the next grueling, impossibly humid months in South Florida, where even venturing outside for a few minutes requires wiping one's sweat with a maxi pad.

A hurricane season boyfriend is someone creative who can deal with all the technical preparations before the storm and all the hassles after its aftermath.  More importantly, he can deal with our moods after spending days without a/c, drinking hot beer and eating Velveeta spread on stale bread -- you Hurricane Andrew veterans know what I'm talking about!

Past luminaries in this pantheon include Harry Connick, Jr. -- the crooner showed off his pecs in as he carried victims out of harm's way after Hurricane Katrina.  As well, Chef Robert Irvine comforted us one summer as we knew that he could create a meal out of nothing in the most rustic of settings -- the ultimate boy scout -- and especially if that meal had been caught by fisherman Jeremy Wade, one of our most famous boyfriends of all time.  I'd love to see those two in an arm wrestling match!

This year, instead of focusing on food, we are focusing on structure.  Yes, structure. Because hurricanes suck and Miami is full of abodes that won't stand up to 200 MPH winds during a hurricane's fury.

See, I'm an architect's daughter. And my dad, who came up with a great system of attaching roof tiles together so they wouldn't fly off under 200 MPH winds, taught me two great things in life: "Always put sugar in your coffee and hurricane 'glass' only works in theory, in the laboratory."

Now think about it -- at least in terms of engineering and physics. We're in a hurricane zone and we live in glass towers. WTF? See? This is really important -- because we want to have our cake and eat it too in South Florida. We want to enjoy our views yet still be protected when the shit hits the fan during a cataclysmic storm.

So this got me thinking:  if my house and/or apartment windows get blown away, who would build me a new hovel? Or who could build a structure that wouldn't blow away? And who could that? Is there a  super cute guy who is not a member of AARP whose diapers I have to change?

Ladies, please meet our 2013 Hurricane Season Boyfriend ... drum roll ... none other than Danish architect Bjarke Ingels!

Even his hair is wind-swept!

Bjarke Ingels gives whole new meaning to the idea of a Danish pastry, because seriously, he should really be called a stud muffin.  This innovative, 38-year old architect has a firm whose URL is www.big.dk.

Now please take a moment away from your coffee cup and pronounce that in English. BIG DK.

You see where I'm going, right?

Mr. Ingels is known for the shape of his buildings, some of which are very tall, erect, yet curvy and twisty, which makes us wonder if he'd know how to caress a woman's body under distress, especially after a week of not being able to watch Lifetime movies on TV because the power is out.

He has also built green roofs, and you know, whatever is left of vegetation after a hurricane, it's all going to be green, anyway, because after a few harrowing hours of wondering whether you'll live through the low barometer pressure and shaking walls, your surroundings will look like a botanic garden that just had a wild seizure, with electrical wires and debris thrown all over the place, to boot. If you're a tidy gal, you aint gonna like hurricane aftermath.

Oh yeah, also, you're going to be living au naturel with green everywhere, even up where the sun don't shine, until civilization returns.

So speaking of green ...

We are impressed by Mr. Ingels large scale, eco-friendly works, some of which include pools and terraces that allow you to sunbathe in the nude without showing your naughty bits to neighbors.  Now wouldn't that be a great Miami real estate feature or what? Not that I like tanning.

Also, he uses words like "hedonistic" and "pragmatic" and "sustainability" in the same sentence.  (Although we know that during and after a hurricane, we also use words like "we're screwed" and "who told you to leave that 500 pound stag horn fern hanging from the tree that just blasted through our living room window?")

Now who doesn't love a guy who says "hedonism" in a sentence who has smart brains like this? I swear, I have searched local match.com to no end an haven't found one.  I mean this Danish could definitely trump any Miami pastelito, if you know scholarly girls know what I mean.

It's an extremely sexy use of the word hedonism: well, in his words, he doesn't agree that "it has to hurt in order to be good."  And we love that translated into the bedroom!

We have no doubt that he could build us an amazing hurricane season shelter during the aftermath, made of all the trees that have fallen over and that he'd probably an electrical saw around plus nuts, bolts, hammers and a drill in his hurricane preparedness kit to accomplish this very purpose. You always need a backup just in case your camping tent blows away, right?

And he knows how to manage heat -- not the Miami Heat, but architecture that is heat-friendly. We like that!

In fact, I'd encourage him to design a hurricane-proof room in the middle of any glass, concrete and steel encased condo, with a community generator able to power-up, just in case that next Category 5 should blow through Miami's skyscrapers.  We need them in South Florida ... just like folks who have basement shelters to escape from tornadoes in the mid-west.

And speaking of poolboys, how the fuck is anyone going to walk up and down their 40 story or more condo without Spiderman to the rescue?

In fact, Mr. Ingels, if you ever read this ... could you design a portable aftermath shelter for us tropical mavens? That'd be brilliant! These are real problems for South Florida structures. And please figure out how to keep us cool with chilled servings of Moet.  You know, I'm not asking the architect to BE the poolboy, but just to make it comfortable to hire the poolboy after the fact. And I have faith you could do it with your amazing imagination!

Congratulations to starchitect Bjarke Ingels for earning this most honored accolade!

PS Mr. Ingels is in fact, leaving some kind of footprint in Southeast Florida.  He's up for the new Miami Beach Convention Center project, as well as Grove at Grand Bay in Coconut Grove and Marina Lofts, although I'm not sure they should move that rain tree.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Book Review: Thumbs Up for Hitchhiking with Larry David


I rarely do book reviews, but I couldn't pass up on this one. And besides, it has been a long time since I had something nice and hard in my hands that was so intellectually stimulating! Good lord, I spend so much time wrangling words, I rarely have time to tune out the world and read a BOOK, an actual book! 

So here goes ...

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of spending an extraordinary hour on the phone with an extraordinary man, Paul Samuel Dolman, author of Hitchhiking with Larry David, which recently came out in hardcover by Gotham Books.  Dolman had originally self-published in soft cover and the publishing house picked up the book.  That's a great story on its own.  If you are in the world of publishing, you know that's like a fragile soft shell crab becoming a long-lived hard knocks tortoise.

But I digress.

First, the book.

The memoir tells the tale of a former music industry executive who ditches corporate life after experience heartbreak with a woman who left him when things got rocky. He really couldn't commit or put his full heart in it, let alone put a ring on it. He heads to Martha’s Vineyard -- where his Florida family owns a summer home -- for a summer of self-discovery.

Now ladies, before you cry “asshole,” Dolman doesn't come across that way. This is totally a chick book.

An avid cyclist, Dolman sometimes opts for hitchhiking when his legs get tired (imagine those legs!) and meets many interesting folks along the way.

The narrative is chock full of endearing anecdotes and flashbacks that make the reader an “accidental tourist” in Dolman’s mind. Think of it as a portal into someone else’s memories, like Being John Malkovich, only this time it’s Being Paul Dolman.

Larry David, the sardonic humorist and creator of Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm is one of the famous guys who picks him up on the winding roads of the island.

Paul Samuel Dolman (left) and Larry David. 

But it's not just about hitching rides.  Dolman also bumps into Ted Danson and Meg Ryan throughout the summer at the various coffee and pizza shops he frequents.  He’s got a penchant for pizza and when you ride a bike for miles on end, you can get away with it.

Enter stage left, some oddballs: for example, a laid-off homeless woman and a Wall Street guy who drives a vintage Mercedes.

And then meet Dolman’s parents: a mom who suffers from dementia -- boy, I can relate to that -- and a sometimes reticent father.  Dolman's way of describing the relationship with his parents is witty, but also poignant.  Anyone who has visited a parental household full of tchotchkes and eccentric but somehow endearing dysfunctional behaviors will appreciate his way of describing home life.

Yes, this middle-aged guy found himself living with his folks for a while, down in the dumps, but high on spiritual ground. The book begins with rather mundane but entertaining details and then builds up to a crescendo of spiritual insights -- all this without getting too granola and farting rainbows, if you know what I mean.  Dolman keeps it real.

The book is also a travelogue of sorts. I went to Martha’s Vineyard many moons ago to go sea bass fishing and it was an experience I’ll never forget. This book brought the island’s beauty back to life for me.

The fact-checking Nazi in me wanted to know about the transparency of this memoir.

“I didn’t embellish because I felt like I was dealing with live humans,” said Dolman. “But through editing there was a tightness that normal life doesn’t have. A lot more crazy stuff happened that didn’t make it into the book.”

Although the book’s title includes the name of a Hollywood celebrity, it really isn’t all about that.

“We place a strange value on celebrity and fame,” Dolman continued. “But things happen in our lives that are really cool and it just seems more cool if it simply involves a famous person.”

Putting star-struck surreal encounters aside, Dolman writes about focusing on the present, being in the now and enjoying random interactions with people from all walks of life. Or eschewing sitcom reruns in lieu of a simple sunset, which really isn’t so simple, if you stop to think of the amazingness of it all.

How does that magic happen?

“If you tune in, are quiet and aren’t texting, you create space and pay attention to extraordinary things unfolding before you. You start listening to things,” he said.

“Oh,” I replied. “You mean like the Little Prince? Just a simple boabob tree and an elephant?”

“Yes,” Dolman confirmed. “Well said!”

And you do get that sense of wonderment and simplicity in this book, even as he humbly shares his raw and complicated feelings about his parents, his career and his heartbreak, which – I don’t want to spoil it for you – may or may not have taken a turn. In spite of my Mata Hari bat-my-eyelashes ability to poke and prod, he wouldn't budge. “Let's leave that for the sequel,” he replied.

Speaking of heart, this is a great read for anyone interested in honoring that organ that beats inside our bodies. 

A trained musician, Dolman played piano at bars in his earlier years.  The musical metaphor still resonates. “Listen to your heart, your song, not Larry David’s or anyone else’s,” he said. “Only you can find that.”

The book also touches upon the subject of career choices. Dolman had it all and gave it up because he felt like he was missing something – probably himself. (That's me talking, not the author.)

“It was hard to walk away from it because I had achieved so much,” he pondered. “Having a lot of money let me be generous with a lot of people. But there was a certain illusion of money, a sense of safety a security that wasn’t entirely fulfilling.”

Generosity seems to be what turns Dolman on.

There’s an episode in the book about a homeless woman that focuses on the pay it forward message.

“Giving is the best thing in the world,” he said. “Anyone can give, be loving and kind. Even mere eye contact is good.”

In a world of so much attention deficit disorder, Dolman seems to be practicing a kind of yoga of living.

At this point, I was simply rapt in conversation and forgot that I was interviewing, but I did get a few more nuggets.

“Some people have that frozen face, but you have to make the effort to weave through the rocks and get to the gold,” he said.

Nothing frozen about this face. The author, looking rather Hare Krishna like in golden light. I hope he put sunscreen on his noggin'.

It was starting to get too deep. So naturally, I turned to the topic of sex. Because, after all, this is Sex and the Beach, and we love beaches, islands and any romping that takes place near, on or in any body of water. Well, not just any body of water. Sewers and cisterns don't really count.

In Dolman’s book, there's one entire chapter dedicated to how he lost his virginity on Martha’s Vineyard. Imagine that -- the surf roaring nearby, the stars ablaze in the night sky and a soon to become legendary sleeping bag the only thing separating the couple’s naughty bits from the abrasive sand.

Ironically, the beach where the aforementioned epic copulation took place was called South Beach. Now you know, if this had happened in Miami, his wallet would have been stolen by the regular pickpockets (trust me, I know) and there would have been danger of infection from tossed heroine addict needles and plain old cigarette butts. In this case, the surroundings were apparently pristine -- not a bad place to pop a cherry or burst your nut for the first time.

But Dolman has also had some soul-searching encounters on beaches. One summer, with great hubris, Dolman dared to defy mother ocean. He almost brought it by going for a swim, in spite of rip tide warnings.

“I think that anyone who has ever felt the power of the ocean can relate,” he said.

I interjected his comments about nearly losing his life when this thought occurred to me. “You know, Paul, your book is like Eat Pray Love, written by a dude.”

He laughed.  “Yes, you're right! I hadn't thought of that.”

And it’s true. It’s a spiritual quest, dotted by carbs in the form of pizza and doughnuts, intense self-reflection, random teachers (read: people you meet just walking out the door), smelly skunks, and even memories of growing up in South Florida.

“Miami has changed a lot over the years,” I said. “What do you remember best?”

“Whenever I think about Miami, I light up inside,” he said. “When I grew up there, my best friend was a Cuban refugee. I watched the Dolphins at the old Orange Bowl. I loved Biscayne Bay, its green water. I used to fish in the Everglades.”

Of course, my heart skipped a beat when I heard fishing and Everglades in the same sentence.

Dolman continued.

“I loved Little Havana and the Cuban bakeries,” too.

So there you go, ladies: a charming, funny part-Jew, with a pleasant, deep voice, who appreciates life and all its wonders, who can bike for miles but still has a sensitive side, likes Cuban food and has a way with words. Pick up this book.

Of course, I would never recommend hitchhiking for women, especially in Florida. You know, we have some crazy drivers down here: i.e., that woman who got into an accident trying to shave her crotch with her spare hand on the steering wheel. I think Governor Scott should ban more than just texting and driving!

But think about ways we hitchhike every day -- in a spiritual way -- taking on random encounters with people, learning and observing, navigating energies, finding love and solace in even the simplest things.  Maybe it's just the scent of coffee. Or a luscious, juicy pepperoni pizza just dripping at the mouth.

I’ll end this interview with a quote from Derek Walcott and the inspired wish to return to Martha’s Vineyard, not to mention travel to many other islands. Sex and the Beach, after all, isn’t just about sex.
 And sex, as we know in tantric world, is just a means to an end.

Merely to name them is the prose
Of diarists, to make you a name
For readers who like travellers praise

Their beds and beaches as the same;
But islands can only exist

If we have loved in them.

Dolman has definitely loved on Martha’s Vineyard.  And if you love islands, you'll love this book.  Learn more about it here.


I got a free review copy of this book ... bla bla bla ... all opinions my own, of course, you damn big brother shits, whatever, all opinions are always my own! That's why they're called opinions!

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Manola Blablablanik: Familiarity Breeds Gas

Remember the original nom de plume that started this blog? Well, she's back! All posts under the Manola Blablablanik series are semi-fictional.

Last night, my ex-boyfriend -- who can’t seem to let go of me and I’ll admit, I’m still holding on to a string or two -- came over for a late supper.

During the otherwise pleasant evening, he kept farting in a seemingly involuntary manner. He apologized with each burst of air from his anus and said he didn’t know why he was having digestive trouble. Certainly, it wasn’t my delicious beef and peppercorn stew, served with jasmine rice. He was farting before he even walked through the door. In fact, he probably deployed gaseous emissions to fuel his SUV on the way to my pad.

You’ve heard the old saying: “familiarity breeds contempt,” which means you’ve let go of boundaries and courtesies to the point of disrespecting someone you know very well, romantically or otherwise.

Now, let me coin the phrase “familiarity breeds gas,” which means you don’t care anymore about breaking wind within earshot of your beloved.

Well, he didn't do it on purpose like a drunk, sophomoric frat boy.  He's usually a polite, classy guy. And mustering up my deepest compassion, I reflected upon the fact that sometimes our bodies get the best of us, no matter what our best intentions. I had to set my ego aside and accept that the man in front of me was simply farting. I couldn't take it personally. I couldn't equate him with the stream of wind parting from his rectal orifice.


And this got me thinking. He’s over 50 and still a spring chicken by today’s baby boomer standards.

I’m 45. And like many woman my age, I take care of two elderly parents, who thank God are still stable enough to live in their own apartment. But there’s a reason we call them “old farts,” because old people just fart all the time. In fact, you could be having a conversation with an old fart and it's like a machine gun crescendo in between every two sentences, punctuated by coughs that are trying to mask farts, which is a very ineffective form of subterfuge a sotto voce.   Look, your farts will always be louder than your cough. That technique just doesn't work!

So if you must fart, at least do it honestly.

This geriatric flatulence is cute and causes numerous giggles, just like it’s so adorable to wipe a baby’s butt when it’s slathered with stinky green poo.

But babies are different. They wear ribbons on their heads and simply don’t know better. Sphincter control comes later in life.

“Lord have mercy, what do I have to look forward to?” I thought this morning. “Old guys who fart, burp and then on top of that, add the indignity of snoring in bed without being able to get it up other than that rare morning woody?”

When we’re younger, we dream of co-habitation in the prince and princess castle. No woman in her twenties falls in love and thinks: “Oh, I can’t wait to go buy cheap IKEA furniture with you, honey! And how I’ll savor the first time you fart and I queef under the plush down comforter!”

But by the time you hit 40 and are either divorced, widowed or a bonafide spinster, it’s a whole different story. Maybe it’s just better to be in a relationship that preserves two separate households. He can have his man cave and fart, burp, snore to his heart’s content. And she can keep her girly, candle-scented apartment intact – save for the occasional fart invasion when he tries to mark his territory.

Actually, the fart symphony didn’t bother me so much. I was more worried the fumes would kill my houseplants.

And truth be told though, the way to a woman’s heart is not through farts, but if that’s all that’s wrong with him, you might want to compromise and turn his prodigious talent into a helium balloon business.


When I lived on Miami Beach, my then neighbor Helen – a 92 year-old Jewish widow with much chutzpah to spare – once told me: “I don’t like to date old men. I changed enough diapers already raising my kids. I won’t even look at a guy unless he’s under 70.”

What a cougar she was.

So yeah, then there’s that. Maybe there’s a good reason to date younger men. I mean changing diapers isn’t a chapter in the Kama Sutra. And don’t let me get into weak bladders and pee smell. Not particularly sexy.

But see, it's all about unconditional love, when you can accept poo, farts, burps, snores and sneezes as part of intimacy. And when you get married at a young age “for better or worse,” you are signing up for that.

Sigh. This is the irony of romance over 40. Just as you are growing wiser and more in control of your life, you start losing control of your sphincters.

So wherever you are over 40, have faith that love is still very possible. And you might just accept and love someone with great passion, not warts, but farts and all.

Be prepared, however, to wear a Hazmat-grade gas mask well into your mid-life and old age. I wonder if they come in pretty pastel colors and with sparkly bling? Maybe spunky 70-something Betsey Johnson should rethink her designs!