My whole attitude toward driving in South Florida has changed. Now, instead of cursing every red light, long train, and raised bridge, I welcome them, for they give me time to see what's playing on the Siriusly Sinatra station, the classic jazz station, the '40s Big Band station, the classic country station, the bluegrass station, the Canadian chansons station, the classical music station, the Beatles station, and the Elvis station. 

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans

Bach on wheels

11/01/17 09:38

I am not a car person, so I was a little surprised by the excitement I felt driving our new (leased) Honda home from the dealer last night. Part of it was simply relief that the dreaded transaction process was over. But I enjoyed the smoothness of the ride – going over bumps and not hearing any rattling (the last time I had a new car was 2003) – and the reach of the radio, which includes Sirius. After a certain age, and leaving the workforce, you don’t really expect your life to be dramatically improved, and yet now I can drive and listen to classical music (which I haven’t supplied) for the first time in about five years. My life has not only improved, it's entered the 21st century.

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans

bah humbug

10/31/17 08:16

Hania, waking me up before heading to the office:

"Can I put 'Halloween Holdout' on my door?"

Then, after I groggily nodded:

"Is 'holdout' one word or two?"

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans

weekend in Tampa

10/30/17 09:12

Arrived in Tampa shortly after noon and went straight to the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. After lunch (Spanish bean soup and the classic Columbia salad), we strolled 7th Avenue, where I bought a Rooster tie at La France, the best vintage clothing store in Florida. Then we drove across the river for delicious tea at the Oxford Exchange.

In the evening at the Tampa Club – on the top floor of the Bank of America building downtown – talked travel with the accomplished and witty members of the Young Presidents Organization.

Saturday morning Hyde Park Village was full of young couples, some with children, some with dogs, some with both. In a stationery store, eight young women sat hunched over papers in a calligraphy class.

We drove across the river to Ulele for lunch (an original and delicious take on shrimp and grits) and then checked out the new food hall on Franklin Street. Then back across the river to the University of Tampa and the Henry B. Plant museum in the building with the minarets. In one room the words “King of Florida” underscored a portrait of the railroad magnate.

“You’re from the Flagler part of Florida,” the man in the gift shop said after inquiring as to our hometown. “Flagler and Plant were friends. Flagler was a pallbearer at Plant’s funeral. People like to paint them as rivals, but they were friendly rivals.”

 We wanted to see the old ballroom but it was being used by campus sororities. Rush week. A sustained buzz emanated from behind the closed doors, conjuring images of evening gowns and military uniforms.   

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans

I arrived early to The Society of the Four Arts and climbed the stairs to the room – filled with empty chairs – in which I was to speak. By the time I took the lectern, the room was almost full. I thanked everyone for coming, noting that it’s much more enjoyable talking to people than to chairs.

And it’s an even greater pleasure when your listeners are not only interested but interesting. During the question-and-answer period, one man – a former airline pilot – read a quote from Boswell’s On the Grand Tour. Afterwards, a woman approached and said that she had played tennis for the U.S. in Turkey. (I had mentioned the country during my talk.) I told her that I sometimes write about tennis, and that I had known Bud Collins.

“He was my doubles partner at the Longwood Cricket Club!” she said. “I live in Boston part of the year.”

I told her that I had gone to the memorial service for Bud last summer at Trinity Church on Copley Square.

“I was there!” she said.

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans

the big three

10/25/17 08:24

Drove down to Coral Gables yesterday to have lunch with my friend David. Over salad and ceviche, we talked about writers, writing, and Greece (David’s work-in-progress is set in Patmos). Taking him back to his house, I got stuck in traffic. (The beautification of Miracle Mile is another work-in-progress.)

The conversation turned to cars, and how we don’t know anything about them. “In school,” David said, “they don’t teach about cars or money or health. And we spend most of our time sitting in our cars worrying about our money and our health.”

By Thomas Swick • Category: Americans