No Pinot for me thanks….

Posted in 'MURCA!, Makin' moves, NYC State of mind I be with tags , on July 28, 2014 by robdc

Have I mentioned that I love New York? If not, then, I’m sure that I’ll get around to it eventually.  I’ve been back in the Big Apple for a number of reasons but as always, cultural progression appears to be the most pressing matter. As the mood has continued, we have managed to get a great deal accomplished while never being in a hurry. Beyond hitting absolutely every eatery we had set out for ourselves this trip had 2 particular highlights. Other than the fantastic company…

M worked her magic and we managed to get our hands on tickets to Shakespeare in the park without spending a single second in line. This years show had John Lithgow and Annette Bening in the production and they did a truly awe inspiring job. As a second super luck out moment we got to see The Book of Mormon which, until now, was prohibitively priced.

IMG_4843[1]The show caught us almost completely off guard. Not that I know what the hell we were really expecting, but it wasn’t that. The musical numbers were perfectly choreographed and the acting was spot on. All in all the show was hilarious, I laughed to tears on at least 3 occasions.  That being said, if you lack thick skin or are particularly sensitive to the concepts of the Mormon faith, African American heritage or, shit anything else, bad language also included, you really shouldn’t watch this show. It amazed us both that it has been so popular with how positively insulting the nature of the whole performance is. That being said, everyone on earth should watch this and stop taking themselves so seriously.

The MET also had some particularly alluring exhibits that we were dying to check out but, personally, the Edo period exhibit was the star for me. I got to see, with mine on eyes, the single wood block painting that had occupied more desktop backgrounds on more computers for more time in my life than any other. Here is the masterpiece:

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There were also some very interesting exhibits on calligraphy and early Asian character composition.

IMG_4829[1]Of course no trip to NY would be complete without crossing the paths of some of my favorite people and oldest friends. Over the years, for some reasons I will never quite comprehend, a handful of my best friends have independently migrated to NY and I have had the pleasure of seeing them when I run through town. 

On the first night of ruckus I was looking to hang out with Sergio (http://latintafresca.wordpress.com) but when I met up with him in Park Slope, Brooklyn I had no way of knowing that Marco (http://marcovergel.wordpress.com) and Fabien, also from Miami, would be here to get down with the get down. We wandered around the local cocktail lounges for a few hours and rode a place or two till last call then in the end had a fantastic time, as far as I can remember.

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Then, round two was to meet up with Dee and Rich, some other Miami ex-pats who I can’t normally spend more than a few minutes around without expelling a drink or two through my nostrils. We did a similar set of rounds, running around Brooklyn taking shots and splitting bills until I had to leave, an action that I have little recollection of. One thing I can assure you of is that was spent %90 of the time laughing, that remaining %10 completely filled with attempts at straight faced set ups to some high impact punch lines, so basically all laughing.

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Great friends and amazing times but in the end I owe this great feeling I have while leaving NY to M, she made it all worth doing and I might owe her a bit for that.

Cojelo!

Robo

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A Harlem (visiting) Globetrotter

Posted in Makin' moves, NYC State of mind I be with tags , on July 9, 2014 by robdc

This trip to NY was unlike any before it. I was able to see some things that had been eluding me in my past visits, and as always the food was a main attraction. Unfortunately this style of visit didn’t really allow for much photography but I would like to write down the places we went so that I don’t forget.

My initial spot on the lower west side was positively spacious by Manhattan standards with a nice skylight and a little yard which we did get to enjoy on one of the more pleasant evenings.

IMG_4758[1]Although the early restaurants were delicious like UVA, I have to focus on the highlights. We found a reverse gentrified steak house in Harlem where we were definitely the minority and were sat in the back but that didn’t at all hinder the quality of the food. The place is called Ricardo’s steak house and it was the stuff of dreams, try the beef stroganoff.

We managed to see (some of) the fireworks off the Brooklyn bridge where I managed to meet up with Dee and by complete coincidence Lazer was in town so we partied a bit.

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After a nice conveyor belt sushi meal at EAST, we went directly across the street to Grace where the music was on point and the lack of other patrons put smiles on our faces. Also, they had a pretty damn good cocktail menu.

IMG_4778[1]The next night was probably one of the high points of the trip for me, personally, as we discovered a new place and it immediately opened it’s arms and welcomed us in. We arrived at Bondurants and found the ambiance exactly what we were looking for. There were high seats against the wide open doors, the whole street facing side of the establishment was open which made for a very pleasant breeze flowing through the front of the house. After midnight some of the bar staff from surrounding establishments started to roll in (a good sign) and we all struck up conversations about all sorts of garbage. As last call drew closer it became apparent that our bartender was more than just a bartender and as the shots and conversation poured on, my suspicions were confirmed, she was the owner.  After lots more jokes and laughs she introduced me to their house shot, an interesting mix of flavors, almost like Jäger but more mild and with a citrus note. I was instantly hooked.

IMG_4783[1]The mandatory stop at Go! Go! Curry! and here I sit at the Newark airport waiting for my flight to Miami. This trip certainly had its fair share of surprises and I have to say that I’m beyond happy I came. Here is a closing shot of the Empire state building from the Monarch rooftop bar taken after a few hours of karaoke.

IMG_4786[1]Thanks for everything M, I had a great time and I’ll be back soon.

Cojelo,

Robbie

Cougar machine…

Posted in 'MURCA!, Makin' moves with tags , , , on July 2, 2014 by robdc

The plan was, go to Denver to see a show. Then I figured; “Why just go to Denver? If you’re already going to be hitting the road, might as well see some of the people you love on the way.” So I took off a bit early and headed to DC. Then I found out that the band playing in Denver was of no interest to me, so I canceled that part of the trip and decided to head back to NY, but first thing’s first… DC and the awesomeness that ensued there.

Brando had organized a tubing trip in Shenandoah and this was way more thorough than anything we ever did back in the Ville. There were busses and the organizers gave you different tubes to fit your needs. You got a cooler? They have cooler tubes for you. Need some string? They got you covered. It was very well done and Brando, Natalia, Claudia and I were pumped to hit the river. 

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The float down took about 3 hours and the water temperature was perfect. When we got to the bottom there was a bus waiting to take us back to our car. The drive from Shenandoah was pleasantly American, hills and farm houses and such, and on the way home we hit some local BBQ spot where I had the most heavenly biscuits with sausage gravy.

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The next day we had a 4 or 5 hour dim sum and bottomless cocktail brunch at Zengo in Chinatown then headed to the National Portrait Gallery.

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The portraits were great and there were some very interesting pop art and modern performer sections but the crown jewels (mostly because they were totally unexpected) were the Nam June Paik installations. Paik was introduced to me as a teenager by my Father and on one of my birthdays he gave me “the worlds of Nam June Paik” a book which I treasure to this very day.

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(as always, my watermark does not imply that I created or have any rights pertaining to these works of art, just the pictures of them)

The next day Brando and I set out to try and get some things accomplished, but those plans were dashed so we wound up at a quaint Irish pub called “Shenanigans” to watch the Germany world cup game. We tried to pace ourselves at the beginning, but considering that we were 2 of the 5 patrons in the bar, we quickly built a rapport with the bartenders. After several rounds of shots and swapping bar stories, one of the bartenders asked “Have you ever been Iced?” To which I replied “no” because in several years of bartending and skillful Icing nonsense, I had actually managed to evade being a victim of the foolish act… He responded by slamming a Smirnoff Ice on the bar………

IMG_4747He got me.

The next day Brando had arranged for us to get some behind the scenes access to the US Capitol building which I was pretty excited about. His cousin is an agent with the Capitol police department and was able to get us into some spots that transients aren’t usually allowed to see. It did not disappoint and I think we owe them a pretty big debt for allowing us to move around such an important space so freely.

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These are the old Congress chambers, notice the polite placement of the spittoons.

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These are the original Chambers of the Supreme Court Judges.

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Then we went out to the balcony outside of the present Congressional meeting room, they took our phones and cameras away in the actual room where the president gives the state of the union addresses and stuff, but it was pretty insane being in there. Apparently some Puerto Rican activists shot the place up a few years back and some of the furniture still has bullet holes which was interesting. But check out the view from where our laws get made:

IMG_0196_tonemappedNot too shabby.

Our last stop on the Capitol tour was the underground train system, there are several automated trains but what really astounded me was this archaic mode of transportation that required an attendant and moved all of 200 feet. A sidewalk would have been much better suited for the task.

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We got to ride the little guy to both of it’s destinations which took all of 2.7 minutes.

We then moved on to watch America’s first world cup match of the quarter finals vs. Belgium, there was a damn serious turn out and I was feeling the patriotism here in our nations Capitol.

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Unfortunately we lost but the Segermeisters and I did manage to pull a 2nd place finish at Wonderland trivia so I leave DC with a smile on my face.

Once again, another successful visit to DC, thanks entirely to Brando and Natalia. Thanks guys, can’t wait to party with you again in a couple of months for your “wedding.”

Cojelo!

Robo

Back into the swing of things

Posted in Makin' moves, Waxing Idiotic with tags , , , , , on June 30, 2014 by robdc

It’s been a couple of months since I took the time to sit down and record anything that’s been going on so before getting into where I happen to be situated at the moment, lets have a quick recap.

After NY I had lots of stuff to do in Florida, family issues had accumulated and I had some reality to return to. The up side, of course, is that I got to spend some time with my friends and family all over the state. First Miami of course:

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Then Ft. Myers and Sanibel for Eric and Rachel’s wedding:

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Then, back to my half life home of Gainesville:

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Then, I finally organized the trip to spread my Dad’s ashes. After a long series of careful considerations I decided on St. Thomas. His instructions were that if Cuba was no longer communist to Spread his ashes there but since that’s not the case his instructions said the “Caribbean sea” was the next best location.

My Mom and Cousin Lolo came with me to handle my Dad’s last wishes. The trip came together better than anything I could have imagined and all the aspects of the trip were perfect. I found a very nice spot to spend our time in the American Virgin Islands and I really felt like if my Dad had been able to see it we would have really made him proud. We lucked out and found a charter even at the end of the season. Lolo had a Pandora station he had made just for when he hung out with my Dad which played Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie and Dave Brubeck as we said our last goodbyes to Roberto de Cespedes into the sunset.

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When I got back to Miami my buddy Ralph suggested that we take his boat out. I, stupidly, thought he would have his boat kept in the city he lived in but we found ourselves in key largo where I was pleasantly surprised to be swimming in John Pennekamp national park, a place I hadn’t been since my childhood.

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I think that catches everything up, next time I write anything down I should be in DC visiting the Segermeisters.

Cojelo,

Rob

Insomnia, a curse but it sure gives you time to do useless stuff.

Posted in Makin' moves, Waxing Idiotic with tags , , , , on April 10, 2014 by robdc

Life is a funny thing. When you’re young you are completely self involved. You only understand the world as it relates to you. Every mishap, every toy you don’t get is a fucking tragedy. I remember being a kid and praying (yes that’s how twisted years of catholic school were that I thought god might help me get a toy I wanted. He was a magical man in the sky, after all, if he couldn’t get the boss toys, what hope was there?!) for a nerf gun. That may sound dumb and it absolutely was but it’s what tiny me wanted.

Over time, you live your single scratch off ticket of a life and hopefully you grow a bit. In that growing, if you’ve got a combo of decent people giving you good advise and a royal shitload of luck, you start to realize that the world as we know it and the “people” living on it are a mathematical one in a novemoctogingillion shot, and you start becoming better at living in it. When you take into consideration the age of this rock, then the universe, things like how humans can really  only exist in a very specific range of atmospheric conditions and temperatures, then you consider the teeny amount of other giant space rocks hurtling through our known universe that we could possibly survive on, it starts to set in. Then you realize that you don’t get to come back if an anvil falls on you or a coyote with skates on and a rocket strapped to it’s back mistakes you for a roadrunner.

That all being said, I’ve come to love a much larger number of people than I ever thought possible on this wet spaceship of solar traverse that we’re all riding and that brings a special warmth to my heart. In my reflections, I realized that my attempts at moving around have been almost feeble if my goal is to truly get to know our shared home. This map made me proud when I first set eyes on it.

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It covers most of the cities I’ve been to, from what I can remember at the moment. But, once I did the math, if you add up the areas of the cities I visited (I am hardly claiming that I’ve seen even large portions of the cities I’ve been to but it’s the only stat that’s easily uncovered and compiled at this mental state and impending exhaustion) it only adds up to %10 of the non liquid or iced over surface of our great planet.

Challenge accepted.

Time to go do more stuff and see more junk, and especially to meet and interact with some more amazing people.

Bed Stuyvesant, the livest one, my borough is thorough

Posted in Makin' moves, NYC State of mind I be with tags , , , on March 20, 2014 by robdc

After a reflective few months on the road, it was time to return to the states. As luck would have it some of my oldest and best friends happen to have migrated to New York in the past few years, so I could think of no better gateway home than that.

Serge met up with me in Bed Stuy and we headed to the Brooklyn bridge. I had never crossed any of NYs bridges by foot and this seemed to be the most picturesque (and close) one, so why not.

The walk over is rather pleasant, even if the wind over the river was sub arctic. The views of the sunset over Manhattan to the west and the Williamsburg bridge to the east were awe inspiring. 

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Brandon and Natalia headed up from DC and of course we had to get our grub on at some serious places. GO GO Curry, as always, was a must but we added a new badass eatery to the list called Traif.

Although NY provided a fantastic backdrop, the highlight of this trip was the people. Life being the way it is, I normally only get to see Rich and Marcella on holidays back home but being able to go to dinner with everyone was a damn treat. After Dave headed out to meet us and we did our usual at ‘No Name’ among other places.

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Brando, Dave and I headed out the next day for the St. Paddies day parade in Manhattan which is the oldest, and LONGEST on earth. You read that right, the oldest. Meaning that this was being done here before it was in Ireland, not sure what that means but I found it interesting.

IMG_4126 On one of the days where all the locals had to work, Brando, Natalia and I headed out to Coney Island. It was still very cold here but none of us had ever been so we decided to head out. Due to the weather almost everything was closed on the boardwalk but we did manage to find a bar. We must have a gift or something. Also, the original Nathans!!

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A very forward French fellow who introduced himself as Arno, then Andrew started chatting us up about all sorts of nonsense. Including but not limited to:

  • His wife cheating on him with tall good looking men.
  • His hatred of tall good looking men.
  • Am I Brandon’s father?
  • He’s lived in Brooklyn for 6 years.
  • American beer is the best (he was drinking a Budweiser).
  • Would we look after his beer while he went to the bathroom?
  • Don’t piss in his beer while he’s in the bathroom.

We continued talking to Arno and awkwardly laughing at the batshit insane stuff that he yelled with a smile, then hastily got the hell out of there. It did feel good telling a Frenchman that I didn’t like Paris though, I feel like it usually falls on deaf ears and I wanted to see his reaction. His reaction, much to my surprise was: “fuck Paris, Parisians are dicks.” His words, not mine.

NY continues to be speckled with some of the most entertaining places and people per capita and I could come back every week for the rest of my life and never see, do and taste all that there is to be had here which makes it one of my favorite destinations on earth. Today I head back to Miami for a bit but I’ll come knocking again soon NY.

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Cojelo,

Robo

My Father.

Posted in Waxing Idiotic on March 14, 2014 by robdc

One is not defined by a single aspect of their life. Sure there are insanely important moments, bombastic events, but no one makes a man (or woman). I owe who I am and the way I do things to many people and things throughout the years. A couple of near death experiences, some heart shaping (and shredding) relationships, hurricane Andrew, skydiving, all these things provided years of personality in a single moment but none of them had the impact of my parents.

5 months ago, I lost my father. Our relationship was complicated but I think I’m finally getting a grasp on why it was the way it was.

Much to the surprise of anyone who knows me now, I was a rather pleasant child. My parents would tell you that I wasn’t much of a crier and as I developed, one of the bigger problems they faced was me interacting with random people all the time. I would often wander off and quiz total strangers on ridiculous things just to see what they were about. I was personable, as a complete contrast to my adult self.

I was active in sports and so was my Dad. He never liked sitting on the sidelines idly, so whatever sport I was playing, you could bet he was the coach of the team. I took well to American football, although I was the smallest person on the team, I somehow wound up playing center. According to my father that was because of my energy and presence. He also coined the nick name “Mighty Mite” for me.  I’ll go with the fact that it was flag football and I couldn’t get leveled by any of the bigger kids but why split hairs at this point.

He was an athlete to the core. There are scores of medals and plaques sitting in boxes of his various achievements in sport. In his younger years he was a swimmer but as the years went on he found his passion in running.

I used to think that I was a result of my surroundings. Key Biscayne was a very strange place to grow up. There was an odd juxtaposition of social orders which led to a wide variety of mentalities interacting which wouldn’t normally do so. Mainly those who sought to have and those who had too much. The mixing of those two groups ended up creating what I consider some of the closest things to criminal masterminds that my generation will get to deal with and incarcerate, or elect senator. I now know that my surroundings were only so effective in shaping me and could only do so within the boundaries set by my parents. Those boundaries were set very clearly and let me expand without destroying myself, sure I tested the limits every now and then but I was quickly brought back down to earth every time.

When I was younger I’d mention a place on earth and he’d say “oh yea, I had an apartment there” or “I was on business there for a few months” and I would remark “you haven’t lived long enough to have done all that stuff Dad!” Now, I hear myself talk shit at bars and realize, not only, that he could have, but that he did.

I recently had the good fortune of meeting up with my cousin Adolfo, who was just 10 years younger than my father and grew up seeing him as an older brother in Chattahoochee when the family came over from Cuba. There was one very humorous moment when he started to say “your Granddad always said ‘a real man is measured from here up’” while pointing to right between the eyebrows and then up. “The motto of a clan of short men who have no recourse but to rely on their intellects” I thought. But all three de Cespedes men at the table, Adolfo, his son and I, pointed to our foreheads then up at the same time as to say, pretty definitely, that his is a thing we’ve all heard for our entire lives. Passed down by generations, the motto of not too tall men who have needed to use their brains to survive. 

Something happened in my adolescence where I didn’t look up to my father as an idol anymore, I saw him as a rival. I wanted to beat him in everything and that probably led to our issues over the years. I didn’t just want to be good at something, I wanted to be better, faster, stronger than him and to anyone who knew my father, that’s a pretty high bar for some things.

My cousin told me of a time when he lived with my Grandparents and my father would come to visit. He said my Dad was the fun one who always brought a good time but inevitably he’d get into an argument with my Granddad about his hair or the clothes he wore (my Dad was big in the anti war movement when he got back from Vietnam) and would storm off. This hit so close to home considering that the greatest battles I ever had with my Dad were over my tattoos and how I chose to look. The fact that this man could endure years of warfare with his father over this subject then continue the cycle with his own son for years says a lot to the stubbornness of this family.

I left in January, not really too sure of where I was going but knowing that I needed to move to clear my head. The way things happened I wasn’t granted the peace or solitude to mourn and take in all that was going on around me. This trip was mainly to deflate, to do away with the day to day and reflect, consider and absorb. I’ve done a great deal of thinking while on the road and have come to some conclusions.

My father was not an easy man. He was one of the greatest people I’ve had the good fortune of knowing. Thanks to him I am who I am. I owe my wanderlust to him as he always spoke of distant places and the life treasures that they held. I know now that he sacrificed our friendship to be a disciplinarian because anyone can be a  friend, but it takes real strength to tell someone you love when they’re fucking up.

I love you dad, rest in power.

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