Thursday, May 29, 2008

Gators and Chicks

One last post on Florida. Incredible that these two things can co-exist in the same cheezy theme park - unbelievable delicate nesting birds inches from the camera, and huge fat sleepy overfed gators teased into tearing up raw chicken carcasses...

Monday, May 26, 2008

on the way

and a final highway shot ... ah the glorious tackiness of my home country... I'm gonna miss it... 'cause you know, you just can't beat a big plastic lizard..

the South

so everywhere we go they tell us that Florida is not the south... even though it is south of the south, its still the north! OK....whatever.. but its not till we drive five hours north to visit a friend in Savannah Georgia, that I realize that they were right... north of florida is actually the south. The accents change, everything gets slower and older and suddenly you're in Savannah, where a series of garden squares defines the whole of the old town and moss drips off the Live Oak trees that loom over the ornate buildings. Its just gorgeous... and after the sprawling modern city of Orlando, where you can't get anywhere without a car, it was a pleasure to just walk and walk and walk. Our friend Christian took us out to great jazz bars and restaurants and sent us on our way the next morning filled with a fab breakfast of fried peanut butter and honey sandwiches... now that's the south...

Over and Out

So the Orlando Fringe is over. We rushed out of there and were on the road 30 minutes after the last performance, hightailing it for Sarasota to meet up with Lisa's Parents.... ok, ok... we stopped briefly to get some Krispy Kreme donuts... it only seemed right after weeks of dieting to be able to do this damn show in my underwear... It was great to be back on stage with this show. I miss this goofy and angst ridden character. Its interesting to do the show again and again over the course of several years and see how he and I are evolving. Its harder to get the mix of total confusion he had 7 years ago when I wrote this piece, but I think that he has more conviction on stage. I'll be doing a presentation of it as a fund raiser in Toronto at the end of June... and, for what it's worth, here is what one reviewer thought of it in Orlando... I think he captures the show pretty well..

Whiskey Bars, A Kabarette with the Songs of Kurt Weill
May 17th, 2008 by carl-gauze

Whiskey Bars, A Kabarette with the Songs of Kurt Weill
By Bremner Duthie
Big Empty Barn Productions
Yellow Venue
Orlando International Theater Fringe Festival, Orlando, FL

The whole point of cabaret is that seedy decline into nothingness. But just as a drowning man rises 3 times before the end, the true cabaret singer occasional returns to his former glory and produces one heroic heart rendering performance. Bremner Duthie's "Performer" is on that journey, preparing for a self-financed comeback show that feels doomed from the start. We meet him back stage as an unseen theater critic attempts to fill a few column inches with a readable story, and the Performer makes an attempt to win a new and seducible friend for the evening.

Punctuation this bitter sweet story are the songs of Kurt Weill, sung to a recorded accompaniment from an impossibly large boom box. You know some of them, "Mack The Knife", perhaps "Bilboa Song", "You Gentlemen Who Think You Have A Mission" and a few more obscure ones, including two with lyrics by Ogden Nash, the king of 1950's doggerel verse. By the time he reaches "Speak Low", he has complete stolen your soul, and you wouldn't dream of asking for it back.

Duthie dresses as we watch, building his persona on a base of white face, black tuxedo, and a Soviet-sized glass of cheap vodka. His nearly flat but vaguely European accent gives the songs depth, and a happy set of available lighting makes the show incredibly theatrical. All that's missing is a haze of cigarette smoke and our own glassfuls of cheap liquor.


Thursday, May 22, 2008

A Cracker Bird Lover's Paradise

So the oldest theme park in Orlando is not Disney's Magic Kingdom - it's Gatorland! When we told our friends we were heading there they called it 'Crackerville' (Cracker of course being slang for poor white trash in Florida). And it lived up to its name - alligator wrestling, alligator jumping competitions (upcoming video on that), alligator tidbits at the greasy cafe... But weirdly enough, it also turned out to be a nesting paradise for all these super delicate beautiful Florida storks and wading birds. And it was breeding season so we got up close and personal with some very new birds.... but first we visited the Gators...

But round the edges of the swamp where they have the very very fat and very very sleepy alligators (spoiled things get fed tons of Turkey hot dogs by the tourists... ok, ok... I admit it... I fed them turkey hot dogs as well... ) there are the nesting places of marsh birds, which nest naturally over alligators and crocodiles: thus avoiding the possibility of being raided by Racoons or other rodents... smart little birds... They were amazing. Innumerable nests filled with tiny just hatched storks and ducks and herons... and some very protective mama birds.

Flotilla at Sunset on Key West

Sat on the dock and watched the sun go down, then unexpectedly a whole string of spectacular sailing ships went by right in front of us... a great end to the trip to Key West...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pelican's on Bahia Honda

I had just swum through an immense school of flashing silver fish... felt like a million fish all around me... and then these guys appeared to appreciate the little fish in a different kind of way...

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

houses and stripes

a few more pics of the amazing houses in Key West...and one of Lisa looking tropical....

Sunday, May 11, 2008

the keys

So in my last post (from a month or two ago) I had to force my way through a mountain of snow to take the snap of that car submerged by a blizzard. And now I'm sitting under a fan in Key West watching the palms blow in the sun. Sometimes procrastination works well ... We're taking time between Lisa's research on her Home book and my show in Orlando to visit the Keys. I haven't been down here for oh... since I was seven... I remember beaches and heat and limes and it seems things haven't changed that much... The picture above is from the veranda of Hemingway's house in Key West with a view of the lighthouse that dominates that part of the Island. Below is Bahia Honda national park, where I spent much of my time as a tiny tanned child... absolutely stunning beach...

The architecture in Key West is amazing... the old Conch houses were built by Shipwrights and have stood up to 150 years of hurricanes. The island was spared any wave of renovation in the mid-20th century because the depression apparently hit it quite hard and it stayed depressed until the 60's when people actually began to pay attention to all the historic houses. Now its a bit touristy and bit overdeveloped around the edges, but the historic centre is just stunning with enourmous Key Lime trees hanging over the houses and gardens filled with Palms. We had a great time just walking around and around the island.

One of the surprisingly non-cheesy highlights of Key West is the Pirate museum. We went expecting a good dose of fake and kitchy pirate themed rooms, but it turns out to be the private collection of a billionaire who has been collecting pirate paraphernalia for years and has put it all on public display. Real gold from Blackbeard's sunken ship. Guns and knives that belonged to Pirate kings, maps pulled from pirate ships and (one of the highlights) an actual treasure chest that belonged to a Pirate that was left behind when he left for his final journey, and never made it back... steel plate inside, a huge locking system inside the lid and a secret lock makes it all look very useful for holding pirate treasure...