Historic Kenwood District of Saint Petersburg, Florida and “Mustang Sally”!

Hey Everyone,

On Friday evening I attended a really cool party in the Historic Kenwood district of Saint Petersburg. The area is is well known for its craftsman style homes from the 1920’s with large front porches. The area is very artsy and has a really neat vibe.

My Italian friend Emilia from Naples has a beautiful historic home there.

Every month a “porch party” is held at one of the homes of a resident in this area. Each month a different resident hosts the monthly event and the attendance is usually over 150 people!

Emilia invited Rosaria, Marco and myself to the party last night and now I have an open invitation to attend these social events monthly from this point foreward!

Last night’s party was awesome. It was hosted by 4 professinal guys who share a house together. They completely gutted the interior of the home and turned it into a showpiece! They even have a recording studio in the home and their front and backyard has astro turf instead of grass (so no more mowing required). The food was out of this world and plentiful and there was a open bar and live entertainment! These guys went all out!

Cool recording studio in the house!

Love this hand-painted artistic cooler! One of a kind! Still kept the beer cold!

Marco…inspecting the quality of the wine. He approved!

Open Bar…Something for everyone! I as well as others brought bottles of wine to add to the stash! I brought a bottle of French and Italian wine, especially for my International friends!

Great food!

My contribution…I brought a dozen Canolli’s (wanted to impress my Italian women friends!)

DJ’s set up. He is one of the residents with the recording studio in the home.

Rosaria testing some of the food. Only she would know the quality, given her expertise!

EXTRA..EXTRA!

I met a woman there at the party in her mid 70’s named “Sally”, who was the actual woman that the classic R&B song “Mustang Sally” was originally written for and YES… Sally still drives a Mustang even at her age! Way too cool!

  • This song is about a girl who lives a wild life in her brand new Mustang car. The singer bought her the car, which transformed her into “Mustang Sally,” and now she’s running around town, paying little attention to her sugar daddy. Pickett warns her that she needs to slow it down with one of the great threats in Soul music history: “Guess I have to put your flat feet on the ground!”
  • This song was written by Bonny Rice, also known as Sir Mack Rice. Bonny started singing with a vocal group called the Five Scalders in 1955 and joined The Falcons in 1957. Eddie Floyd was also in The Falcons, and Mack later wrote songs for him when he went solo. In 1960, Wilson Pickett joined The Falcons and sang lead on their 1962 hit “I Found A Love,” and left the group for a solo career later that year.

    In 1963, The Falcons broke up, and in 1965, Rice wrote a song called “Mustang Mama” after visiting his friend, the actress/singer Della Reese, in New York City. Reese told him that she was thinking about buying her drummer Calvin Shields a new Lincoln for his birthday, which Rice, being from Detroit, thought was a great idea. When he mentioned this to Shields, the drummer replied, “I don’t want a Lincoln, I want a Mustang.”

    As Rice explained on the 2007 Rhythm & Blues Cruise, he had never heard of a Mustang before, but Shields filled him in. They went for a drive and saw a billboard for a Mustang – Rice couldn’t believe Shields wanted such a small car instead of a big ol’ Lincoln. When he returned to Detroit, Rice started writing the song as “Mustang Mama,” with the chorus “ride, Sally, ride.” His publisher knew Aretha Franklin well, and brought Rice by her house, and he sang some of the song for her. Aretha suggested he change the title to “Mustang Sally” to better suit the chorus.

    Have a great rest of your weekend!

I Made The Cut!

Hey blogger friends,

As you know I have become a special American friend to the French Coalition Group here on MacDill Air Force Base.

As a result of my close friendship with my French Officer Friend (Marco or Jean’-Marc as his wife calls him) I have received a special invitation to The Bastille Day Celebration that will be held on July 10th. (Actual Bastille Day is July 14th, but this event had to occur a few days earlier as the French Commanding General will be involved in Bastille Activities in Paris with the French President along with other senior French Officers).

The initial invite list had over 480 people that the French Coalition wanted to invite, but due to size and budgetary constraints the invite list had to be reduced to 200 max.

I made the cut and will be one of only very few Americans in attendance along with the Commanding 4 star General of Central Command (Centcom) and the Commanding General of the Southern Command (Centcom) and well as all the high ranking officers from all other countries within the Coalition Village.

Also in attendance with be high level dignataries from the French Embassy as well as other select politicians from within Florida, to include the Mayor of Tampa, Florida State Senators and Congressmen.

I am very much looking forward to attending this event and feel honored to be an American Friend to the French military!

Brigadier General (FR-A) Germain Barrau, Senior French Officer at US Central Command

and

The entire French Military Liaison Element in Tampa

Request the pleasure of your company

To celebrate the “Bastille Day”on 10 July 2019 (6:00 – 9:00PM)

At the Tampa Woman’s Club, 2901 Bayshore Blvd

Welcome address will start at 6:30PM

Followed by the Legion of Honor ceremony, recognizing WWII Veteran

Mr. Joseph Gallagher for his invaluable contribution to the Liberation of France

Ended by a standing French Buffet

Some Quick Information On Bastille Day:

Bastille Day is the common name given in English-speaking countries to the national day of France, which is celebrated on 14 July each year.
The French National Day is the anniversary of Storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789, a turning point of the French Revolution, as well as the Fête de la Fédération which celebrated the unity of the French people on 14 July 1790.
The French national holiday of Bastille Day—celebrated each year on July 14, or le quatorze juillet—may spell fireworks and and a large military parade for some, but for most, it still marks the anniversary of the storming of a grand fortress that was infamous for holding political prisoners, during the first moments .

Three Strikes and I’m Not Out (Yet!)

Hi fellow bloggers.

On this past Sunday after doing my mid morning workout at the gym’ I decided when I returned home to go ahead and get on my bike and to do my 25 mile bike ride along Bayshore Boulevard a little bit earlier than I normally would do.

The skies above MacDill AFB were a bit overcast, but it didn’t appear that any rain was imminent.

So off I went on my ride. The first 12 1/2 miles were uneventful. However, the second half for my return trip was a bit challenging to say the least!

The skies above Bayshore Avenue seemed fine as I was peddling along the Tampa Bay, although I did notice that the water on the Bay was beginning to get a bit choppy.

When I reach the destination of my 1st leg and was making my 180 degree turn to start my ride back to the base, I was shocked at how dark the sky above me had gotten! I did not see this inclement weather coming and I never carry my cell phone with me when biking. The winds in the next few moments really picked up and got progressively worse. I could feel the instability of my bike as I tried desperately to head towards home. The winds became so fierce (almost hurricaine intensity!) that big palm tree branches on the trees above me started to fall rapidly towards the ground with one large branch just missing my head! These palm tree branches can be pretty sharp and can really cause some bodily injury if you’re hit by them. Luckily I saw it coming towards me and was quick to duck! (Ok…Strike One!)

Since it was nearly impossible to safely peddle anymore I got off my bike and tried to quickly think about what to do next as I was definitely right in the center of a heavy storm. The thunder then began to roar and the rain began to quickly fall in massive amounts at great intensity and due to the heavy winds the rain was coming down at a 45 degree towards me! The impact of the rain hitting me actually hurt because of its intensity. I felt screwed! I had no place to hide! The street became flooded very quickly and it transformed into a rapidly flowing river. I was at a standstill for a moment as I collected my thoughts. I had to somehow get out of the open area that I was currently in and to find protective cover somewhere.

So I decided to take the plunge and to cross the street (or should I say rapidly flowing river!). The water was up to my knees. Since the winds were hitting me towards the left side of my body while the water in the street was rapidly rushing downstream toward the right side of my body, the force of each going in opposite directions allowed me to stay vertically stable while I crossed the street.

Once reaching the other side I quickly looked for cover and the only real possibility was near a home I saw off to the distance that appeared to be under interior renovation as I could see a large trash receptacle in front of it. My thought was that this house was temporarily vacant and hopefully I could find some overhang cover there. When within 50 feet of the trash receptical, suddenly I heard a quick boom and apparently lightening had just stuck the base of this receptacle. If I has been just 50 feet further along that road I would have been hit by that lightening! (OK ….Strike Two!).

After transferring along the side of that house, I found a corner where the side garage meet the corner of an extended part of that home with a small overhang. I figured staying in that corner would give me some protection from the rain and heavy winds. I stayed in place for about 30 minutes until the winds died down a bit and the rain lessened to a more tolerable level.

Ok at this point I started peddling down the side street and decided I would head back to the base via a different route. I couldn’t peddle on the side of the roadway as water was really gushing down the street from higher to lower levels.

About a mile away, I came upon a major one-way road way where traffic looked like it was coming to a stop as the light traffic light changed to red. As I began crossing the street passing one stopped car, in the other lane to the right of him…the driver in that second car was apparently not paying attention to the red light and as I was passing that second lane, I heard a load screach. That car came within an inch of hitting me! (Ok….Strike Three!)

At that point…I knew I had used up my 3 strikes. I think my ability and luck to not get hurt was becoming a bit limited. I would be glad when safely back to MacDill AFB, now about 8 miles away.

Ok, so as I continued to peddling towards home and was moving along the side of a fairy busy street, I looked to the left. I saw a large turtle at least 2 1/4 feet long beginning to cross the street. Surely if I didn’t do something quick that turtle would be hit! So I got off my bike and put up my hand in the holt position to stop traffic until I reached this poor turtle in the road. At that point I played traffic cop directing cars to the right and left of this turtle as I gently placed my foot to the rear of this turtle trying to prompt it towards the other side of the road towards an open field so it would be out of harm’s way. Finally it reached the other side of the road about 10 minutes later!! So I guess the answer for the old saying for why the turtle was crossing the road is actually correct….and the answer “to get to the other side!” is actually right!

So, all in all I managed to survive the palm tree branch, the lightening and the car nearly hitting me and also was able to save a large turtle from being hit along the way!

Three and one half hours later since starting out on my journey, I finally made it it home. Wouldn’t you know…not one drop of rain had fallen on MacDill AFB that entire time!

Have a great day!

Note: I included a video in this blog of an actual hurricaine, as the rain and winds your see in that video was very close to what I experienced during my bike ride! Unfortunately did not have my cell with me to capture actual pics of the bad weather.

Health Issues Update on Myself and Others I Know

Hi everyone,

As it gets closer to Father’s Day, I think back to two years ago and it makes me sad again. It was just around that time two years ago that Terry began to show significant signs of degraded health and he began to have difficulty in getting out and about. No longer was he able to take long walks or to go to the gym or to get out and about to do anything fun. It was also at that time that visits from his family would begin. The months of mid June thru end of August were some really tough times requiring Terry to be admitted into the hospital on a regular basis so his doctors could tackle each new health challenge that developed as his cancer kept invading his body and organs without showing any real signs of progress from his chemotherapy, radiation or immunotherapy treatments. Seemed that each time he was discharged another piece of supportive equipment would be added to his body and our RV such as a walker, potable toilet. pain pump, G-tube, oxygen, total parenteral nutrition IV’s, wrapping his legs with specialized bandages due to lymphedema, etc. Essentially our RV transitioned into an off-site mobile hospital.

Ironically, two other people I know are now also suffering from bladder cancer. One person which I briefly mentioned before is a friend of mine who recently found out he has bladder cancer that has begun to spread into his muscle. I have been keeping close tabs with him and his partner as they wait out what the doctors plan for trying to eradicate his cancer. He most likely will undergo the same operative procedure that Terry went thru to have his bladder removed and to live the rest of his life with a urostomy bag and to continue his challenge to hopefully stop the further spread of his cancer. His symptoms as so similar to what I had experienced with Terry and it opens up old wounds and emotions for me.

In addition, then there’s my brother Randy who was diagnosed with bladder cancer about a year ago. He had to undervo an initial operation to remove his cancer which luckily was contained within the inner walls of his bladder. Then as a preventative measure he has been undergoing several weekly immunotherapy treatments on a quarterly basis to hopefully stop the cancer from resurfacing. However recently as he was having his quarterly check up his urologist discovered that his bladder cancer has come back, although the doctor thinks it’s superficial. He is in the process of being scheduled for a second operation to remove this new growth. What scares me is that this is what Terry went thru in Dallas when his cancer was first discovered. He went thru one operation and then had to go thru a second one several months later when the cancer resurfaced only to find out that his cancer was more aggressive than his urologist had originally thought as the pathology report showed it had quickly spread into his bladder muscle. So now I am worried what will happen to my brother Randy. Will the pathology report show the cancer to be superficial once again or be more aggressive like Terry’s? It will be a wait and see situation.

Now…when it rains it pours. Seems that I continue to also have new health challenges. I noticed several days ago that my right leg was becoming inflamed, painful and red.

I finally decided to go to the emergency room and to have it checked out. Looks like I have an infection that developed under the skin of my right leg, so I have been put on a 10 day regime of antibiotics to hopefully stop the infection from spreading. The symptoms are so similar to what I had experienced on the right side of my face several months ago that resulted in the scars I got on the right side of my nose.

Concerning my nose…I was expecting to go thru revision surgery in the dermatology office yesterday by the plastic surgeon. When I got back to Tampa in March, I saw the surgeon then who told me he wanted to wait 3 months before doing the revision. Well the 3 months have passed and I was hoping that he would do something yesterday, but when he saw how my nose was progressing he decided to wait a few months longer and to do the nose revision in the operating room rather than in his office as more precise surgical manipulation will be required to remove some of the underlying fatty tissue and to try to reopen and re-stich the gap between the two layers of skin to hopefully fuse better this time. The operation should happen in early August. So in the interim, I must continueto wear bandages on my nose for the next several months. This whole process has really been aggravating and despite trying to get out and about, I really do not feel at my best and seem to do more things with people I know already rather than to want to get involved with too many new groups and to meet new people while in this condition.

It seems that June has opened up a lot of old wounds for me as I see so many similarities to Terry’s condition in others who now have bladder cancer, while still dealing with new and old issues concerning my own health.

I still try to remain optimistic although sometimes very hard to do.

Have a great day.

Four in One!

Hi everyone.

On this past Friday evening I attended four different social events. Marco’s wife “Rosaria” accompanied me. The plan was for Marco to eventually drive to St Pete to join us. Unfortunately, due to Marco’s work at the French Coalition, it is very hard for him to break away early from work (even on a Friday evening !)

The first place we went to was called “Jannus Live”. It is a open air roof top bar with live music and great drinks. This was the meeting place for the evening for members of my “Tampa Bay Adventures” group.

After “Jannus Live” many of the us from the group walked over to the lively and very popular “First Friday Fest” event in St Pete held on Central Ave , which was just a few blocks away.

It was now about 10:30 PM and Rosaria and I had enough fun at the fest so we decided to take a walk to another popular area in Saint Pete. At that time we had finally heard from Rosaria’s husband “Marco” (my French brother) who just left work but indicated that he was so tired and would just go home from work to rest up rather than to join us in Saint Pete. Totally understandable. Marco was grateful that I had picked up Rosaria earlier that evening and took her to St Pete as she is pretty much couped up at home during the week when Marco works (as Rosaria doesn’t drive)and he knows it’s good for her to get out once in awhile.

Now here’s where it gets a bit interesting…

So as we were walking we passed by a “gay” bar called “Enigma” and they had a sign indicating that they were having a Drag Queen Show at 11 PM. Rosaria wanted to go in and have a drink and see the show. So I said why not! I had only been in that place a couple of times and I knew a couple of my friends from my other meetup group were going to be there. So as we entered, got our drink, ran into my two friends Paul and Burr, and then the show was ready to begin. So out came a really tall drag queen who was at least 6 3/4 feet tall! So “she” announced that they were having a lip sing/dance contest and “she” went around selecting participants from the audience to come up on the stage and to compete. Oh course yours truly got selected! So the first thing the drag queen did was buy all the contestants a shot which we drank on the stage and then the contest began. I was the last contestant to sing and to do my dance. My act was to one on “Cheer’s” popular songs. These songs were chosen at random by the disc jockey. My friends went ahead and videoed my act which I’ve included below for your enjoyment. After we all competed then a vocal vote was taken by all the spectators in the bar to decide who won the contest. Now who do you think had the crowd going and who had the greatest yelling and screaming to win the coveted first place? Yours truly!! I was the BIG winner and as a result I had my bar tab covered for the rest of the night! Enjoy the brief video below!

Okay…Rosaria was also getting into the lively music at the bar and even this guy as shown in the video below came up to dance with her! Ok Marco…watch out…you’ve got completion! See…what happens when you decide to stay home and sleep instead of joining us!

Ok….once we had our fill at the “Enigma” Bar and having finished signing autographs for my fan club at the bar after my eventful dancing on the stage (LoL!), Rosaria and I decided to head out and walk back towards where I had parked my car, which was about 1/2 mile away. But wait….had to stop by just one more popular place called “Ringside” because one of my favorite local bands called “No Filter” was playing and I know that a bunch of my Tampa Bay Adventures meetup group friend would be there! The place was packed as usual, but well worth going in for a short while. Going to include a link to this wonderful band. They really get the crowd going!

Ok…It was now 1:30AM and time to finally head home! All in all a “four for one” fun night!

Have a great rest of your weekend!

They’re Back!

Remember the birds last spring that resided in my front hitch to my RV? One of the baby birds I named as little Terry and 2 of the others were named in the spirit of the mother and young child killed by a speeding car on Bayshore Boulevard just before Memorial Day last year.

I truly believe that 2 of these baby birds from last year have returned to their original birth place to start a new family of their own.

I can feel the renewed presence of Terry’s spirit and that of the mother killed on Bayshore Blvd back with me again!

Welcome home tenants!

Anxiously await the miracle of new baby birds soon being born to spread their wings and to enjoy their new life in this wonderful world of ours!

Free Tickets To Paradise

Hey everyone,

On this past Sunday I treated 3 of my friends from one of my meetup groups to Busch Gardens for a day of fun.

I noticed about a week ago that Busch Gardens was providing active duty and retired service members with 4 complimentary tickets to Busch Gardens in Tampa (one for the sevice member and 3 more for guests). The tickets had to be requested by June 6th and used by July 15th. So I asked a few of my friends to go and to enjoy the day with me.

Prior to going to Busch Gardens, I had the guys meet me at the front gate to MacDill AFB so that I could give them a quick personal tour of the airforce base and my RV prior to heading out to Busch Gardens.

We then arrived at Busch Gardens just as they opened at 10 Am and ended up staying there till almost 9 Pm when they closed. Time sure flies when you’re having fun!

What was good is that although it was quiet warm, there was an occasional breeze and on and off cloud cover and off course a lot of vegetation and trees in the park to block out some of the sun. Also, what was really great was that the crowds were not that bad, so we did not have to wait too long to get onto the rides.

Busch Gardens has a lot of roller coasters that are pretty massive. One goes up so high that when it reaches the top it then goes swiftly down at a 180 degree angle. Another one has 7 inverted loops. One roller coater goes backwards and there are so many others with unique features as well.

While at the park, we bought the all day meal package for $ 40 each. By doing this we were able to eat at any of the restaurants all day long for free. You could eat as often as once every hour if you wanted to and get a main dish, a side, a dessert and a drink with endless refills. We definitely got our money’s worth and it was much better than buying food “a la carte”.

Okay….so below are some of the Pics from our day in the park. Besides rides, there are a lot of shops, live entertainment, lush vegetation and zoo animals ( my favorite) to enjoy. The park is over 70 acres!

Two human apes above. They need a bit more hair on their bodies to really fit the part!

Ok… goofy me had to take some candid photos via snapchat modifying my facial features a bit, with the exception of course of my stupid nose that still needs revision work by the plastic surgeon scheduled for next Monday, June 10th.

Glad I have an appointment with the Dentist this Thursday!

Overall we had a fun day!

Hope the rest of your week goes well!

Around The World & Back To Tampa in 3 Hours!

Hey Everyone,

On this past Friday evening I attended a wonderful social with a new group that I just joined called “InterNations”. The group is open to all Internationals in the Tampa/Saint Pete area as well as to Americans that have lived abroad. I was informed about this fun social group from my new friend Emelia from Naples, Italy. The event on Friday was held at a place in Tampa called “Babbaluci Cucina and Lounge”

I thoroughly enjoyed this event and meet so many great people and established so many new contacts. As you know from my previous blogs, I really have a passion for meeting and making friends with Internationals. If I was to do my career all over again I would have been a foreign diplomat or an ambassador. Attending this event on Friday evening was the closest thing to being in that profession!

There were a total of 98 people in attendance from 32 countries as listed below:

Albania

Argentina

Barbados

Belgium

Belize

Brazil

Canada

Columbia

Costa Rica

Ecuador

Egypt

El Salvador

France

French Guiana

Germany

Guatemala

India

Italy

Kosovo

Lithuania

Peru

Poland

Puerto Rico

Russia

South Korea

Taiwan

Turkey

UK

USA

Venzuelia

Vietnam

Virgin Islands

So as you can see from the above, it felt like I traveled all around the world on Fridday evening in just 3 hours!

Really looking forward to the next event and being an active member within this fun group!

Have a great week!