Imagine, if you would, that everything you were looking at has about 2000 years of history stemming from one of the greatest and most powerful civilizations that has ever existed. Yet despite buildings being built up on one another and hosting one of the most consistently used roads in history, pre-medieval/post ancient settlers had no idea an ancient civilization existed there at all.
Then, on top of all that, construct the origin of a religion at the center of western civilization and pour in an obscene amount of money and art like icing on a cake so dense that you can't cut it.
The end result is a city that you can't build a proper subway in because every time you dig you find history. You also get the European equivalent of Disneyworld: more weekend event than city, more teenage class trip than a place to raise a family.
Into this place throw two American twentysomethings, one has been here 5 times with his father (a professor in a study abroad program) and the other has never left the country before. Neither learns a lick of Italian, except for what they pick up from subway announcements.
They drink wine. They wander aimlessly. They embarrass themselves in front of shop keepers. They get blisters on their feet from walking upwards of 4 miles daily. They, by the end, never want to see a fresco or a marble bust ever again.
They see the Pope. Twice. The second time he's a white speck in a window no larger than a penciltip. They think he might be a puppet. Or a cardboard cutout.
They see a whole mess of other stuff, have a lot of fun, and (insert sappy stuff about friendship here).
On 16th Street on South Beach, tucked innocently between Lincoln Road and a tire place on Alton, lies a small watering hole called The Abbey.
Miami Beach has it's share of beer bars at this point. None are places I would take an out of towner, none are places I can go to with a book as easily as I can go with a group of friends looking for a good time.
The bartenders will let you enjoy yourself or become a part of your evening with equal ease. The beer selection exhibits an unparalleled sense of taste; the menu features no fillers or second rates and, perhaps most importantly for its sense of atmosphere, no food that can be considered a meal.
A few months ago every storefront adjacent to it had been gutted and I assumed the building was slated for demolition. Now each sports a new windows and doors and I assume rent has skyrocketed. In either event, the result is the same: another Miami institution is being threatened by the march of progress.
This is my Shake-a-leg hat. There are probably many like it, bleached from the sun and nearly unwearable, but this one is mine.
I wore this hat the first day I volunteered, kayaking with a group of kids from Miami Childrens Hospital. I wore it when I learned how to sail. I wore it around the office until someone complained. I still wear it kayaking because if I lose it, who cares?
It has sweatstains galore and I spilled windshield wiper fluid on it yesterday. Washing it is no longer of any help.
When I leave this place I intend to give it a Viking funeral. In the meantime it stays in my kitbag.
My mom made dolls when I was a kid and spent a lot of time on the road going to doll shows all over the country. She had a kit box she brought with her that contained more or less anything she might need for a quick fix.
The contents are basically the same as when I inherited it, to wit:
- small compass (without lead)
- tiny stapler
- rubber bands (these are actually too old and are turning to jelly)
- lighter (mom smoked a lot)
- 4 inch long bubble level (?!)
- xacto knife and blades
- drafting clips
- pushpins and paperclips
- hair clips (long metal kind usually used to hold fabric as Tacky Glue was setting)
- needles and thread
- rounded needle nose pliers
- eyeglass repair kit
- ribbon style tape measure
- krazy glue (long since dried out, replaced with some JB Weld)
- a couple of brushes
... all meticulously organized and put into small plastic cases. The only things I've added are things that needed replacing and my linoleum block cutters (seemed a good place for them). I am by nature not an organized person but have kept this box together for two reasons: one because it's an heirloom to me at this point and two because it's saved my ass many times.
Today I was putting together a little book of pictures of Biscayne Bay. I've never made a book and I've only recently started printing pictures again, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I was trying to figure out a way to hold the pages together while I punched holes for thread. I was pinching the book with one hand and digging through drawers with the other, looking for something I knew I wouldn't find when I thought to myself "I bet mom kept drafting clips in her kit."