DAY . . . Whenever

It’s Sunday, I think. A perfect day to explore the city! And here comes the rain.

It was supposed to be blustery in the AM and then thunderstorms in the early afternoon; that didn’t happen. But there were fat portentous drops on the beach, which spoiled the whole “resort spa” groove. Note: there’s no such groove. The hotel’s spa and pool area is being renovated, something that was not apparent when I booked, but as one review said, who cares when the beach is steps away? True. The hotel set up beach chairs right across the street, and to make sure non-guests don’t use them, an employee comes over and checks your name and writes it down.

So I’m wondering about the guy who built a small shack with a half-dozen beach chairs. Walls and a roof, and rather ingeniously braced.

Perhaps he was across some sort of invisible property line, or had squatters rights, or the hotel employee figured it was above his pay grade. I don’t think anyone will complain. It’s not as if there were sounds or aromas emanating from the small construct. Never seen one of those before, though.

He was there every day.

In the evening I walked over the bridge, and you can too! If you'd like. Turn to the right and head forward.

There's an enormous mall. It's very 80s.


Why not "Seventies," you ask? Because it's white, not dark brick. For starters.




Monday I hopped on a Bird scooter and headed for the Art Museum. Yes, the Fort Lauderdale Art Museum. People turn up their noses at this town. I don’t know why. It’s not Miami, but on the other hand, it’s not Miami. It seems a lot more relaxed and less pretentious and glitzy and addled. It has its moments, its Florida moments, if you will; there are guys with motorcycles festooned with lights, lots of youts acting stupid on scooters (one passed me by tonight with two occupants, which is forbidden, and the driver said “I’m going to try to pop a wheelie.” It does not have all the skyscrapers and the tropical mood of money, corruption, glamor, and other things conducted by men in pastel suits wearing Ray-Bans. Etc. But it has an art museum, and I was going to go there.

Hadn’t ridden a Bird in a while, so I took the side street, Birch, to get to the bridge. By the time I got to the bridge it was up, admitting some boats, so I had to wait, with the meter running. Eventually the road was clear. I dropped back half a block and gunned it, inasmuch as one can gun these things, and made it up to the top of the bridge with the little Bird whining and draining its battery to get me up the grade.

Next phase: going through the archipelago. These are fascinating. Communities built on the water, with sea access. The map says it all:

I’d kill to look at every single home and interview the residents. Retired men of means in most instances? Nouveau riche? First wives long beloved, new wives acquired ten years past after the kids were gone and boredom sundered them both? Yesterday I saw a boat go under the bridge as I walked over, and I looked down to see an impossibly long-long-legged woman in a bikini reclining on the back of the vessel in the arms of some guy. No doubt a famous writer and the woman who loves him.

Or not.

Anyway. The next patch was downtown, which was quite lively - lots of shops and bars and restaurants, and lots of fun for someone trying not to be killed by traffic or be irritating on the sidewalk. You can ride the Birds on the sidewalk here, but you don’t want to be That Person who blithely knives through the knots of perambulators with hipster privilege. There are lots of people riding these things, and everyone seems to look like they think they’re doing something special and somehow virtuous. Confidence easily and quickly leads to arrogance.

I parked the Bird at the Museum:

And locked it, with the instructions to wait until I resumed. As for the museum, I can’t show you any works, because they forbid photography. People might post pictures on their social media feeds and encourage others to go there.

You can shoot the interior, which has the usual late 20th century style of Grand Absence.

It’s all modern. I liked it. Usually, I don’t. But they had a lot of Neoplasticism - that’s Mondrian-type stuff - and a fantastic big work that looked like something you’d find in a forest in a David Lynch movie. The main attraction was an exhibit that reminded me how much I don’t care for Renoir. It’s not that I don’t like him - I just don’t get any jolt out of the work. He was paired with Glackens, an artist the museum apparently has in excess, and since Glackens was called the American Renoir, well, there’s your exhibit. Very little of the Glockmeister hit me where I live, although a few pieces were interesting, a few had that ability to reach out over the decades and make you feel as if you were seeing it as they saw it then. Some works are like that - they’re portals, time-travel machines, and you don’t react to the work itself so much as you feel how it must have seemed at the time.

Everyone seemed to agree that Soda Fountain was his best, and I think that’s so.

Back on the Bird and back to the hotel. The rest of the day was walking and just being . . . here. In a nice state of disconnectedness. Now this is home, just as the ship was home. Tomorrow it will be the last, and I will prepare to go back to the cold and the drear . . . but Wife and Dog, which is better than any of this.

Oh: watched football at the pizza joint around the corner, sitting at the counter. Primanti’s. You order a slice, they add the toppings, and there’s your supper. I asked for sausage, and they piled about 37 nodules on the slice, and they all rolled off. No sauce. I ate here last time, because it’s close, and I had this idea in my head that it was good. It is! Everyone on staff seems to be from Philly, where the original location was started in 1934; the counter hails from the age of real counters. The staff shouts orders and there’s a line and the neon illuminates the sidewalk where people eat at wobbly tables.

I love it.

Really, really bad pizza.

One more building to show you. A reminder why it is unwise to romanticize the 70s.

Thank you. Thank you very much.












I should have gone home yesterday, but I’m in no hurry to get to back to snow. Wife and Dog, yes. Snow and cold, no. The worst will be the assumption of Christmas, a festival in which I have no desire to participate, as noted. Just got done chatting with Daughter in Brazil after I quoted her in a tweet; she demanded that I retweet her so everyone can see the witty father-daughter interaction. Obliged, of course.

Today? Walked, beached - a bit chilly, but relatively speaking - then took a Bird over the bridge to Starbucks to write a column. When I walked up to the scooter and unlocked it, hopped on and headed west it felt as if I had truly thrown off my old life, and this was the new way of living. I liked it. I didn’t even mind the fact that there might not be a Bird waiting when I was done with Starbucks. There’d be one around somewhere.

This is all completely contrary to my modus vivendi. Why, a guy could get used toBRRRRRAAAAAAAAAPPPPPPPPPPP


The bridge has a grate in the middle, the spot where it breaks and rises to admit boat traffic below.

For some reason it’s serrated, and I mean it’s really serrated. Every bone in my body shook and I had to grip the handles tight to keep the Bird straight. Jeezum Crow, and I’d have to do that again on the way back.

And so I did. Could have taken the sidewalk, but it’s narrow, and if there are people you have to slow, and that impedes your ability to crest the summit. After I got back I had a rare beer (rare not because I don’t like beer, I do, but because of all those bready carbs), using the free drink card you get when you check in to the Sonesta. It’s not for anything good. Lites and Bud. No quality. Had a Miller Lite. It’s like having the ghost of August Busch burp in your mouth. No thanks. Continued work on the column.

Napped, woke to sunset, made coffee, then walked for supper over the same bridge. Have to get the steps in. Got a roast beef sandwich at a rather crammed-up Publix, a chain I would patronize just for the typefaces. Walked home, thinking: that’s it. We’re done.


So: did I pack well? I did. I used everything, except for the cold meds and the Band-Aid Hell Blister salve, which I’ve taken ever since a Europe trip hike cut my Achilles-type-area to ribbons. I wore every shirt and tie. I used every cord I brought, and had no oh-crap moment when I realized that a certain device required a certain cord.

Look at this nonsense.

It’s all necessary. One for the good camera card reader - and by the way, this is the last trip for the Good Camera, since the phone takes better pictures now. One to charge the noise-cancelling headphones for the plane, and one to connect the portable hard drive on which I backup everything I do. Of course I have batteries; two small cylinders, and one big one that will power everything.

I keep forgetting that the plane has a USB plug, and there’s no chance I’ll run out of juice. And if the phone does die, I can read the Kindle. If it goes dead, I can read the Kindle app on the iPad. If that goes dead I can sleep - and wake when the plane shudders and the tires screech and the plane spools down, and I think: done. Home.

All in all, a great cruise. To tell the truth I could keep going. I could rent a car and head north up Florida and drive until I end in the tip of Maine. At a certain point gravity has no hold on you anymore. Anything’s possible. Everything should be.



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