gone off

09/13/17 09:54

We're off to Portugal. Here's hoping the AC will be back when we return on the 27th.

By Thomas Swick • Category: Travel

"For many people, a visit to Key West is a trip to the fringe - a louche dead end filled with exotic slackers. ...

"Yet, if you live elsewhere in Florida - and happen to have grown up in another state - Key West provides a nostalgic return to normalcy.

"The first time I drove into town, from my new home in Fort Lauderdale, I was struck not by the alien but by the once-familiar: porches, alleys, chickens, white picket fences, people on bicycles. I had left the world of condos and gated communities and seemed to be on a childhood trip to grandmother's house, a house that - in a bewildering but beguiling twist - had been uprooted from central Pennsylvania and set down in a tropical garden."

- from "The Joys of Travel"

Here's to the city's swift return to normalcy.

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans

Hurricanes always remind me what a tree lover I am. Perhaps it’s because, since college, I’ve lived in cities, where they seem more precious because of their scarcity. In South Florida they’re not rare, but those that aren’t palms – which a Midwestern friend of mine could never accept as legitimate trees – are often imported. Even some of the fruit bearing ones we think of as indigenous.

I live on a man-made island on the New River that contains six condos of five stories each and an eclectic collection of trees, a few of them as tall as the buildings. These last few days I’ve looked at them with a kind of pre-wistfulness. The reason there are so few tall trees in this part of the country – apart from the flexible palms – is that they don’t survive hurricanes. And I’ve tried to console myself with the knowledge that they are not native, and that a post-Category 5 landscape would be, for all its bareness and brightness (the former Herald reporter Michael Browning, writing his first story after Andrew, began with the words: “There is too much sky.”) a more authentic South Florida landscape. But I would still dearly miss the trees.

By Thomas Swick • Category: hometown

One big difference between this year and 1992, when Hurricane Andrew struck, is the fact that 25 years ago South Florida had a classical music station. Its music was a balm to many people; the Kings Singers’ You Are the New Day, played in the immediate aftermath of the disaster, has been cited as an inspiration for the region’s recovery. Now it’s the jazz station WDNA’s moment to step up to the plate. Perhaps, when this is all over, with Joao Gilberto’s Desafinado.  

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans

before the storm

09/07/17 09:50

Yesterday I drove up to buy some kabanosy – garlic sausage that doesn’t need refrigeration – at the Old World Polish Deli in Pompano Beach. The woman behind the counter, here four years from Bialystok, seemed quite cheerful about the advancing hurricane. I also added a few Prince Polo bars (Polish KitKats) to cover my need for comfort food. Down the street I stopped at Big Apple Books and bought, fittingly, Ruth Reichl’s Comfort Me with Apples. The people there were also quite sanguine about the storm but, then, they have a lot to read.

 At Publix I bought arugula, carrots, lemons, grapefruits, peanuts and the largest red cabbage I had ever seen in the store. Then I drove to Bob’s News on Andrews Avenue to pick up The Spectator. Because it’s $8, I don’t often buy the jaunty, irreverent British weekly – which employs a High Life columnist and a Low Life columnist – but this is not a time to deprive oneself. Here’s hoping sausage, salads, and sparkling prose will see us through this thing.

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans

storm reading

09/06/17 08:20

As always, the lists of recommended hurricane supplies are omitting books to read when the power goes out. Yesterday I pulled down from my shelves John Updike's Memories of the Ford Administration.

By Thomas Swick • Category: books