Friday, February 3, 2012

February 2, 2012 - The Telephone Hour

Jason: Hawker, Waiter, Barback Extraordinaire

If you need to be reminded what life was like before cell phones, check out this video taken from the 1963 movie musical, Bye Bye Birdie.

After the exhausting bus ride back from Key West, I slept well for a change. When I did get up, I really didn't feel like doing much other than getting some writing done. Kevin and I stopped at Jerry's Diner for breakfast, then headed on up Collins so he could get to the Convention Center for his conference while I stopped at Walgreen's to pick up some supplies. Alas, I had forgotten to take my ID and credit cards out of my backpack when I got in the night before, and found myself completely strapped for cash. No purchases at Walgreen's this trip.

Heading back to the hotel, I passed a motel called Aqua which had a young man out on the sidewalk hawking a restaurant named Tapas Del Mundo. He was cute, and very friendly, so I told him that I'd already eaten breakfast, but would be needing lunch soon. Then I continued on back to the Island House.

Once I finished writing up Tuesday's events, I found I was, indeed, ready for lunch, so making sure I had money in my pocket, I walked back to Tapas where Jason (the young man) seated me at an upstairs balcony table. Scanning the menu, I chose a salade niçoise (listed on the menu as a Nicoise salad) and asked Jason to bring me a "knee-swahze salad." He looked at me in confusion, consulted the menu, and when I pointed my choice out to him, he said, "Oh, I call that the 'Nigh-koyze' salad." I explained the origin of the name (a salad originating in the French city of Nice) and he explained that he'd only heard the Spanish speaking chef talk about it. Whatever you want to call it, it was delicious and as part of the lunch special, it came with a bowl of butternut squash soup and a glass of juice--in my case, pineapple juice.

Salade Niçoise and Butternut Squash Soup

Sitting above the street, I felt somewhat akin to a spy or private dick, taking pictures of people walking by below without their awareness. I grabbed a couple of shots of Jason on the street, but when he delivered my lunch, I asked if I could take his picture and saying "sure," he immediately struck a pose. I wish he hadn't. He's quite cute enough to carry off any random shot, and the pose looked a bit forced, don't you think. Still, he was gracious enough to get in front of my camera, and I didn't want to direct him at all. My friend, Richard Rothman, a New York City based photographer whom I met when he was in Crescent City working on his Redwood Saw collection, always told his subjects not to smile. I'm not sure if any of them ever actually struck a pose. At least none did when I accompanied Richard around the area in 2007. There's a discussion currently on-going among the deviantArtists (a web-based gallery where I post many of my photos) as to the honesty and artistic value of a posed portrait as opposed to a spontaneous street photo. I don't care to get into that particular argument. I will say that it's a bit easier for me to take street shots here in Miami Beach than at home in Missoula. Or maybe I'm just getting bolder.

I'm not sure what it was that moved me to check into the possibility of having an app for my iPhone, but I did, and sure enough, three different apps showed up. I actually purchased one (something I'm loathe to do) and decided to see what caches there might be in my area. In so doing, I started exploring parts of the city I had hitherto avoided. Walgreen's, for instance, is on the corner of Lincoln Road and Collins Avenue, but if you head west on Lincoln, when you cross Washington, the next street west and parallel to Collins, Lincoln becomes a five-block long pedestrian mall full of boutique-type shops and outdoor restaurants. I know this because according to the app on my phone, the nearest cache to me was at the corner of Lincoln and Alton, where the pedestrian mall ends. When I reached the western end of the mall, I remembered what I do not like about urban geocaching--especially in these post 9/11 days. When I'm lurking around, checking my phone (or GPS unit) every few seconds, and stooping to look under benches, around telephone poles or fire hydrants, I always wonder if those passing by figure I'm some sort of terrorist. In this case, the GPS unit in my phone directed me first to a garbage can, then to the middle of a reflecting pool, and finally to a concrete bench next to the pool. As there were people all around, many just sitting and observing the passing crowd, I gave up and moved on to my next target.

There is a geocache hidden on this corner

The second cache was 3/10 of a mile away, and on the corner of two side-streets. By waiting long enough for the mailman to move on, I was able to sit down on the sidewalk and easily find the cache without making anyone suspicious. That simple act earned me a Florida souvenir badge from Now I'm assuming that anyone who has been reading my blog for any length of time knows what geocaching is. But in case you're a newby, the best description I've read of geocaching is "I use multi-million dollar US government equipment to find tupperware containers in the woods. What do you do for fun?" In other words, someone hides something, posts the GPS co-ordinates on line, and I go out looking to find the hidden object. Think of it as a high-tech version of hide and seek, except that you're seeking an inanimate object rather than a person. The best part of the game for me is that it gives me a chance to check out places I might not otherwise visit--like the Lincoln Road Mall, for instance. All my previous walks had been toward the beach, and Lincoln Road is in the opposite direction. Since my friend Carl and I found our first cache in O'Brien, Oregon on July 10, 2006, I've logged some 170 caches in sixteen states. That's nothing compared to the fellow who hid the cache at the Lincoln Road Mall. HurricaneJuan (his screen name) has found 1146 caches since he began in March, 2010. His goal is to reach 1500 by the end of this year (2012). The game can be addicting, believe me.

Fresh from my success, I headed back to the Lincoln Road Mall, and this time I noticed something I hadn't see up close and personal. There was a seven-story parking garage right at the edge of the mall. Now people who hide the caches sometimes (not always) give you a coded hint. Juan had done that, saying that the cache was at the "SW corner...magnificent 7." I had an AHA moment, and decided to find a way into that parking garage. In his write up of the cache, Juan had mentioned watching both sunrises and sunsets from the location, and that would be much easier from the 7th floor than from ground level. Alas, even at a higher elevation I could find no cache, and reluctantly called it a day.

View from the seventh floor

Back on the ground, I started walking back to the Island House, passing this magnificent hibiscus along the way. It turned out to be my favorite photo of the day.

Kevin and I arrived back at the hotel within minutes of each other, and he informed me that we would be going out to dinner with some representatives of Nokia later on. That meant that I had to change clothes, as I'd been wearing a tank top and shorts. Jeans and a polo shirt just felt too dressy. We met the guys (Mark and Frank) at a Cuban restaurant on Ocean Drive. I didn't bring my camera along as it was now after dark, and I felt there wouldn't be much opportunity. Once again, I had to learn the lesson--always carry your camera. On the way home after dinner, we passed a beautiful '59 pink Cadillac and an equally gorgeous maroon '54 Ford. Oh well.

My Favorite Shot Taken Today (2/2/12)

So between using my cell phone for geocaching, and having dinner with the Nokia guys, it was definitely a telephone day. That's what made me think of Bye Bye Birdie in the first place, but when I did a Google search for a telephone song, I found a truly bizarre video by Lady Gaga. Not at all what I had in mind.

No comments: