863 Magazine is the brainchild of a husband and wife team who have, if nothing else, a deep and abiding love of their community. And by community I don’t mean their immediate neighborhood. They view the world through a different prism. A good prism that gathers all the quirky, interesting, casual, comforting, and unexpected bits of life from this corner of the world. They gather these details and share them in print and on line. They’re the good guys. To their credit, they’re doing something about their dreams. Specifically, they’re living them. And thanks to their generous spirit of sharing, you get to life them too. At least you can live them vicariously through the pages of the magazine. Why not? I do.
The plot of land 863 Magazine represents is probably different than the one you live on. For one thing, it doesn’t snow here, there are no mountains, and white water is only seen coming directly from the tap. 863 is an area code in central Florida, where the sun is strong, the sand is plentiful, and the landscape is as flat as a pancake. Well, a lumpy pancake, but still, pretty darned flat.
Sergio and Andrea are the captains of the ship. As they guide their readers through voyage after voyage through the area, they grow even as they help their readers grow. I like this magazine. I like writing for it. I enjoy the other writers I find there, too. Most of them are people I have shared a cup of coffee or a glass of wine with. But not all. I have something to learn about the world around me, and 863 Magazine helps fill in a few of those gaps with each new issue. So grab a copy, flip through the pages, see if there isn’t something in the 863 area code that grabs your attention. And if there is, why not plan on stopping by to see whatever that is for yourself?
We love company.
Here in my home neighborhood of Polk County, Florida (and yes, it was named after the 11th President of the United States, James K. Polk, just like you thought it was) there’s a new magazine on the stands that’s devoted to the local population. That doesn’t mean the native population. We get plenty of visitors from out of state. Heck, we get plenty of visitors from other continents. They wing their way from where ever they call home to the place that I call home, because the place I call home is so stunningly beautiful, affordable, dynamic, awe-inspiring, and maybe even a little relaxing. Whatever the reason, they come. And now that 863 Magazine is on the stands as a freebie, those visitors from far off places can be just as in the loop as any of the long-timers in town are.
The title, 863 Magazine, refers to the area code in these parts. 863 is the prefix assigned to Polk County, a plot of land that’s considerably larger than the state of Rhode Island, yet without all the snooty seaside mansions and old world stuffiness you might find in other parts of the world. Nope, here in Polk you can check out an art museum or go fishing. You can attend the theater, or get sweaty on the bike trails that weave through the Green Swamp or surround Lake Hollingsworth. Polk is a collection of 17 separate and unique municipalities that each have a charm and an identity that’s worth getting to know. There’s no better place to start that research project than in the pages of 863 Magazine.
Check it out. Plan a vacation with it. Walk the streets of any town in Polk and see if you can pick out people who have been featured in the magazine. Go shopping at one of the merchants who advertise in its pages. You just might have fun. Truth be told, there’s at least an outside chance you’ll have so much fun that you’ll feel compelled to shop for a house and move in – at least for part of the year.
Yeah. Polk County is really that cool. Really!
This song is called, Give Up Your Heart. The place is a long gone club that was located across the street from the train station in Hartford, Connecticut. It was Murphy’s Pub, where we had quite a following.
Enjoy, dance, sing, live!
It was the mid 1980s when the Broken Hearts came to public notice. With a growing following in the northeastern US and a newly released album, they moved to New York City to pursue fame and fortune. Like so many bands, that is where it all fell apart. The four members of the Broken Hearts went their separate ways, all going on to successful lives. But they all continued to dabble in music. Some more than others. Michael Mazzarella led the Rooks for years, building a respectable following and a library of tunes that continues to expand. Today he is a member of Sonic Blue Sound Revue and continues to play in and around NYC and the world. Tom Bittel took over guitar duties in a surf band known as The Aquatudes. Drummer Patrick Yourell played with fellow Broken Heart Mazzarella in the Rooks for several years. Today he’s in Canada, but not by force. He says he likes it there. Bassist Jamie Beckett went the other way, disappearing into the swampy sandbar known as Florida where he claims to be at home and loving it. He still plays often, but rarely in public. His last gig was with a pick up band in Winter Haven, Florida’s Central Park, led by Nat West, and including Squire Smith on bass and the inimitable Jim Stafford on guitar. Let me tell you, that boy can play!
Here’s a sample of what the Broken Hearts were all about. Live, at Mad Murphy’s Pub in Hartford, Connecticut – sometime in 1985 – it’s The Broken Hearts!
Writing a Sci Fi series has turned out to be one of the most interesting and engaging writing projects I’ve ever engaged in. The Lifeboat Augusta series opens with To the Lifeboats, a novella that establishes the basis for the larger story. Just About Armageddon, is novella number 2, where the plot thickens and the suspense deepens. Novella number 3 is in process now. Carrying the title, Isle of Safety, novella 3 is where the story takes an interesting turn or two, surprising readers who thought they had a handle on where the arc of the story was headed.
Because the blog allows the opportunity to provide sneak peeks and insights into what’s coming up next, I’ll make sure I post some details now and then to keep faithful readers up to date. Perhaps more than anything else I enjoy the e-mails readers send with their predictions (or suggestions) for what should happen next. So far nobody has nailed it, but I’m glad they’re reading, writing, and sharing their imaginings so freely.
Read on, dream on, and work hard to make the world you live in the one you want to live in.
I told you there would be a follow-up and here it is. If you ever thought your local airport was a rich man’s playground, or a waste of space, or a waste of money – prepare to be surprised. The truth is you truly depend on that fantastic piece of land. In fact, it just might be the most important resource in the area when the chips are down and you’re really in need of help.
Check the story out online, or look for the print version at an FBO near you.
Last week I wrote a piece for General Aviation News that has gotten some interesting comments. It focuses on Santa Monica, California – a wealthy coastal community with a fine little airport that gets little if any respect from the administration that oversees it. In fact, as seen from a distance it would appear the fine folks at Santa Monica City Hall would like to shut their airport down if they could.
Odd, isn’t it?
In all of American history has any community ever celebrated the highway passing them by? Or the railroad going around the other side of the mountain? Or filling in the port so all those pesky ships stop sailing in and blowing their horns at all hours of the night? No, that seems to be a rarity. But killing off a functional airport appears to strike some as a perfectly reasonable thing to do.
Check out last week’s story, then take a look at GeneralAviationNews.com later this week if I have anything to say as a follow-up. I can’t promise, but I get the distinct impression there will be an argument for the average person with no interest in aviation getting up and doing what they can to preserve the viability of their local airport. After all, it’s in their best interest to have one as close as they can get it.
Comment at will, y’all.
Like a lot of people, I have a bicycle. Actually, I have two bicycles. My wife has two bicycles as well, and one of my daughters has one too. You can’t really call us a bicycle family, however, because I am the only member of the family who rides often. And even then there are restrictions. I do not often ride my 29” aluminum diamond frame beach bike, because it is…shall we say, uncomfortable? Yes, I think that’s the word. It’s uncomfortable. I would be happy to never ride it again. It’s barely used. The little rubber nubby bits are still on the tires for goodness sake and I’ve had the bike for well over a year now.
That’s got to say something about my lack of affection for the thing.
My other bike gets a fair amount of use. Thousands of miles so far, in fact. It’s a RANS Rocket, a short wheel base recumbent with 20” tires and more gears than I care to use. Although to be honest I have used them all at one point or another on the road. Continue reading
There are many women who would be flattered, maybe even enthralled to see a star with the talent and sophisticated good looks of Ralph Fiennes playing their father. Monica Hertwig is not among them. Monica, a stay-at-home caregiver who dotes on her young grandson and goes about her prosaic teutonic existence in a way that makes her appear not unlike any one of a hundred other women-next-door at the supermarket where you do your shopping. The difference is Monika has seen Ralph Fiennes dressed in the uniform her father wore, living in the house her father lived in, and indiscriminately exterminating his fellow humans with no more emotion than a man crushing an insect into the sidewalk.
Monika’s father was Amon Goeth, the SS Commandant of the Plaszow concentration camp in Krakow, Poland. You know him as the sadistic killer in Steven Spielberg’s heart-wrenching docudrama, Schindler’s List. Continue reading
It’s official. JamieBeckett.com is getting a facelift. Not Jamie himself mind you. He’s going to continue to age, get wrinkly, lose what’s left of his hair and possibly even become a bit less warm and fuzzy in his old age. The site though, that’s a different story altogether. We’re dressing up a bit, taking a new look at ourselves, and considering how we might make a visit to the site a more enjoyable, enriching, life-affirming experience. Okay, we might be going a little overboard on that last bit – but you have to aim high, right?
So check back often, let us know what you think, and we’ll keep banging away at making JamieBeckett.com a place where you are happy to hang out.