Friday, April 17, 2015

It's Herbie

Herbie The Love Bug rolled into West Palm Beach this week for the annual Barrett-Jackson car auction at the South Florida Fairgrounds.

This version of Herbie was used in two movies, Herbie Goes To Monte Carlo and Herbie Goes Bananas.

Folks snapped selfies with the car at CityPlace in West Palm Beach Wednesday afternoon. I got to take a fun (and bouncy ride) in the little Beetlem which can still squirt oil (or now water) from its rear right wheel.

Here's my Sun Sentinel article on Herbie.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

So Kraven

A big thank you to Terrence Moss and Kraven, a San Francisco-based magazine, for the article on how I became "the accidental novelist."  The story is in the March/April issue.  (Click on the images to ENLARGE)

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Urban villages

They're like urban villages, new residential complexes that have restaurants and retail shops downstairs and within or near the downtown metros. I wrote a story on how these city developments are popping up in Fort Lauderdale, Miami and Boca Raton city centers. The idea is you don't have to drive to eat or shop, something that has been the standard in the Northeast.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Oh Ogunquit

Folks have been asking me, "Johnny, what are you working on?" So I thought I'd post a little teaser about where the book will be set. 

Unlike my previous novels that were set in Boston, Providence and Miami, I'm shifting the story just a little north to Ogunquit.

Ogunquit? Maine? Oui, Ogunquit! When I lived in Boston for 10 years, I enjoyed embarking on day trips and the small artsy town of Ogunquit was one of my favorite destinations. Whether it was walking along the cliff walk where the Atlantic beach breezes greeted visitors or passing by the shoulder-to-shoulder small Victorian inns flanked by crushes of pansies, mums and other flowers, this small town was a New England post card come to life.

That's me on the right with my wingman in Ogunquit 
Even munching on a haddock fish sandwich was relaxing in Perkins Cove, the small harbor of lobster shacks, cedar-shingled shops and art stores. I enjoyed leaning against the dock's wood railing to watch the small collection of bobbing sailboats, fishing vessels and row boats. I always imagined, what would it be like to live here so I am setting a fictional story there. 

This book centers around Tommy (yes, that Tommy Perez from Boston Boys Club and Beantown Cubans) who is always the best man but never the groom. He lives in Ogunquit where he's a New England-based correspondent for a national magazine. (Hey, it can happen.)  His assignments dispatch him to cover celebrity weddings and writing profiles of ordinary folks doing amazing things. On his down time, he winds up being the best man or giving the toast at his friends' weddings who all seem to be getting hitched since same sex marriage is legal in most states (including Florida!)  The book follows Tommy's search for his own groom.

I was up in Ogunquit recently snapping photos and doing research. I wanted to see how the town compared from my earlier trips in the summer. Two words: BRRRR and BRRRR!  It was a bone-rattling 30 degrees so the town was empty and everything was closed like something out of The Walking Dead but thankfully, no zombies.  As I wandered about, I felt like I had the whole place to myself which was cool and eerie at the same time. For my Dunkin' Donuts fix, I had to head over to the neighboring town of Wells.

Anyway, here are some photos from that trip.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Raising the bar on bar mitzvahs, South Florida-style

Bar and bat mitzvah celebrations in South Florida go all out with fairy-tale (or board game) themed parties or bashes that could be straight out of an MTV video or reality show.  I wrote a story for my paper Sun Sentinel on how families and their decorates are raising the bar on their child's bar and bat mitzvah celebrations and how technology is helping them push the envelope with set pieces and video mapping. It makes you want to be a kid all over again just to be a guest at these fetes.  (To the left, Andie Galpern's family gave her a Candy-land themed party, or 'Andieland' in Weston.)

Monday, March 9, 2015

Where the boys are

Fort Lauderdale became a spring break hot spot after the 1960 movie Where the Boys Are was released. The city is still popular with college students looking to thaw out from the cold. I wrote a story on how some people remember the movie (not the raunchier 1984 update with Lisa Hartman) and why the city attracts those crazy college kids to Broward county.

Friday, March 6, 2015

WSVN goes for bigger, bolder set

For viewers of Channel 7 in Miami and Boston, watching those in-your-face-graphics and listening to those this-just-in news alerts are trademarks of the station.

Now the Miami station is going for a more dramatic look, with more screens, a digital news banner and refreshed fiery graphics. The new new set debuts March 8 and I wrote a story about the new look.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Shades of Beetle

50 Shades of Grey had two beautiful actors, lots of grey ties, rope, handcuffs and a lot of huffing and puffing.

But that's not what revved up my engine after catching a screening last Saturday afternoon.

There was a small uncredited role and it belonged to Wanda, Anastasia Steele's light blue classic Volkswagen Beetle.

Yes, I loved the car in the movie. To me, it was a scene stealer, diverting my eyes to its Lady Bug body in the few scenes it appeared.

In one early scene as Anastasia and longtime buddy Jose talk in the parking lot at their university, they do so in front of this little bug before she climbs in. When she cranks it up, the Beetle carried its traditional rear-engine puttering sound.

In another scene after she sees Christians' lavish sports and luxury car collection,  she tells him something along the lines, "What, you didn't know I was a collector of classic cars?" referring to her VW.

When Anastasia renegotiates Christen's S&M contract at his office, she decides to leave and head back home and she does all this in front of her VW as if making a statement - you can't change me, I'm an original.

I think the car says a lot about Anastasia.  Both are independent, reliable, determined, down-to-earth and of course, curvy. (They're also loud in their own way but I won't get into that here. Go see the movie or check out the book at your local library.)

Although there are newer car models out there, she prefers this little tough Beetle to dart around to and from school, her hardware store job and the so-called "Grey House." After he has her car sold (without her permission) to surprise her with a red Audi, she later demands Wanda back (which his driver sold.)

Perhaps I'm reading way too much into this fictional story but you don't see many of these old Beetles on the roads these days, at least not in Miami.  So while moviegoers gushed and giggled about the sex scenes and this sex toy thing called flogger, I sat in my seat and smiled whenever Wanda the Beetle rolled on the screen.