"the" Mrs. Astor

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Pondering about things like Egyptian tunnels full of statues and busts and thinking about Octavius--later Augustus--made me photograph our household gods, which were part of every day life for regal and everyday beings back then. Even now, many people I know of a "lucky" piece of china, an important photo, or a hat rack to insure good fortune, prosperity.

Our guardians of the door are some small, minor pieces picked up in Bali and Dubai, but the main gods are an elephant god from Indian, a magnificent bronze statue purchased in Egypt, and--of course-the only true god, Mothra. I don't know what deity the Egyptian depicts. He has the head of a horse (or unicorn if you want to take that horn into consideration) and holds a basin with a key that is the symbol of Ankh, the sign for life. He is obviously very important and powerful.

But, Mothra is the defender of civilization and contacts humans through telepathy when needed, like when we close our eyes and say, "Mothra (pronounced Mosura), please help; Godzilla coming." (For some reason I don't know why I never said, "Mothra; destroy the Bush administration" a long, long time ago.) And, quite frankly, her entry onto Wikipedia is larger than most kings or presidents and all the facts are listed devotedly here.

So, our household is protected by representatives from the corners of the Earth, except for one: the Western hemisphere. Oh, but silly me; that's the '45 in the drawer. (You don't keep that out.)

Thursday, May 29, 2008

The head of the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt announced this past weekend that archeologists believe they have found the tomb of Cleopatra. In tunnels leading up to the still-unopened crypt, statues and coins of the last Pharoah were found as well as a bust of her lover, Mark Antony. If true, it would tend to suggest that not only were there still faithful followers of Cleopatra, but that Octavius might not have been the heartless politician so often painted and that he pitied her enough to allow that tomb (and that bust) to honor her royal heritage.

I never read of what Octavius did with Mark Antony's body, but if it happens to be found next to her's my faith in everlasting love will be fulfilled. There is reference to Octavius allowing them to be buried together; they will have been together since 31 B.C.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Planeta Macho

It was Latino night at Score and Leopoldo MADE me go out, but not before he donned a pair of the Papi underwear collection I gave him for our anniversary last month. It's sort of "the gift that keeps on giving" and--although I should be ashamed of thinking like that--I'm not.
There were hot girls at Score...

...and there were boys.

Who was she? Mr. Astor is such a chick magnet.

My little friend, Jonathan was feeling it, too.

The Planeta Macho crowd is simply a happy mix of gay and straight Latinos, Latinas, and those who love them. At the end of the evening I got to play the Coppertone dog with my Latino and his Papi underwear.
I should be ashamed of being like that, but I'm not.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Yes, the photo tells all; I was not making up stories of how Mrs. Stuyvesant-Fish engages every technique possible to cop a feel of Mr. Astor in one of her booze hazes. What ever happened to her handlers? They used to be very good at keeping her locked up. Sure, she would gnaw through her restraints every now and then and lower herself out the window with a triple strand of pearls, but these were rare. Now, every time the door of Twist opens the threat of Mamie's entrance is clear.
This is a small town, though, and Society can't be at each other's throats, so we made up with a kiss. (The only difference is that I managed to do what the legendary Tina Paul of The Fifibears and I used to call "The Chin Maneuver" before the flash went off. Mamie did not, poor soul.)

Decent people still abound here, though, and Edison Farrow --with his boyfriend, Nestor--has taken over Halo's Friday happy hours of 4 to 9. If there ever was a town that was made for "happy hours", it is Miami Beach; everyone loves to be happy here. In fact, there is only one or two establishments that do not have happy hours. Every time there is a report of some well-intentioned city or state outlawing drink specials, we cringe and think, "It can't happen here". But, it can; and, I warn everyone that the City Commission is moving in that direction. A more backward-thinking group of inbred, corrupt creeps couldn't be found than those holding the power throughout Miami and the rest of Florida. If we don't take back some of that power by flexing our moneyed muscles and voting, all the rights we received will disappear one by one.
You will only pry those drink tickets out of my cold, dead fingers.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Oh, Honey...

...do you think you can wear an outfit like that and NOT want to be fucked by history?
President Jemmeh of Gambia--a country that is shaped like a crooked, black cock--this weekend announced that he would institute laws more strict than Iran concerning homosexuality and begin beheading gays as found. Of course, when you can't feed your people because of rampant corruption and have to do something to point a finger, why not don a gold-encrusted outfit, throw a few diamond rings on, and go after a minority. Hey, it's always worked for a time. Maybe Miss Jemmeh can hold on long enough to power to empty the treasury to join the Duvaliers in the south of France.
Look at her... Now, there is the neck waiting for a necktie.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

A Work of Art

That's what everyone calls Mr. Astor, and I couldn't agree more. Sweet, sexy, amusing, and more, Leopoldo has brightened the lives of many since bursting on the beach scene. He also is not shy and approved this little snapshot I took during a recent nap. I can't express how much love there is for him, but others can. Like that old octopus, Mrs. Stuyvesant-Fish! She couldn't keep her tentacles off of him Friday night, finding every excuse under the Florida sun to rub up against Leopoldo; I swear to get a restraining order if she doesn't leave him alone. You'd think that all her charity work in the reading rooms would wear out that social tsunami.
Memorial Day Weekend is not the nightmare it used to be, but a decent person can't walk on the ocean side of the island after dusk. So far, the only shootings have been of two young men right in front of police headquarters, which is just about the safest place to commit a crime in this town. Since most of the police are on Lincoln Rd. having coffee at David's, there is usually just one, sleepy officer behind the information desk at headquarters.
Jeremy returned from his three week assignment in Chile, reporting that Santiago is not the hot spot Bogota is. Soon he's going to Paraguay and Uruguay and will update us on what's going on there. The Baroness Seitzinger is in Denver and must be as bored as I am this weekend as she keeps sending me snapshots of tree-lined roads and scenic alleys. (As if she isn't aware of my total dread of nature.) Mark 1 is in Trannsychusetts most likely getting liquored up with those two society booze-hounds, Countesses Bedelia and du Barry (who, contrary to reports of her demise, is still knocking them back.) I'm just bored and caught in the middle of a weekend in which the town has been taken over by Visigoths, waiting for my baby to come home. Leopoldo has three days off and we will start a rampage of our own to reclaim this town beginning tomorrow.
Look out.

Friday, May 23, 2008

On Your Mark, Get Ready...

GO!!! The flight has begun for the residents of South Beach. The Urban Beach Party has begun with nearly 300,000 young hip-hoppers expected to descend upon a city of about 90,000. The carriages of the town's elite have been rumbling west since yesterday as most here have bitter memories of past Memorial Day weekends. Personally, I witnessed a man lose his right arm in 2003 when he tried to show what a tough guy he was and punched the plate glass window of Level Nightclub. A guillotine couldn't have done a cleaner job. The Sun Post here wrote: "If you’ve never been, just picture South Beach transformed into a rap video world, with pimped-out rides, “grillz” flashing in the sun, girls in skimpy bikinis and high heels shaking it to the latest beats." It will cost over $650,000 to police the event, a dozen cities and counties providing help to the rather small Miami Beach force. Last year 60 hand guns were confiscated, which is about 20 more than City police own.

But, I've never left town and preferred to be cautious and enjoy the quiet of a usually warm and sunny weekend. The real problem is, as always, in the evening and--for local businesses--the restaurants. There is a well-known game played by the crowd to eat and run, not tip, and consume 90% of the plate and return it as "bad". Many restaurants close entirely for the weekend. At first, black promoters threatened to sue any establishment which closed; the businesses countered by "renovating" for the weekend. After that charade, I attended one of the Tuesday morning breakfast club meetings of local business leaders and when the topic came up reminded the group that you don't need a reason to close; just close and see what they can do (which was nothing, of course). There's no reason to be intimidated by mob mentality.

We'll see what happens, but with the price of gas (many drive from points like Atlanta) and the cheapest hotel rooms going for $269 (and they are the dumpy ones), much of the riff-raff will probably and hopefully stay away. The big-spenders of the hip-hop world are already emptying Saks, Neimans, and the other high-end stores and the hotels totally booked. So, there is a lot of money flowing around this weekend; you just have to be good at taking it.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Politics brings out the worst in people, especially when they are your friends. Some time back, I offhandedly remarked that Obama may be the nominee of the Democrats, but that I doubted his national electability. This wasn't because I didn't like him--I had constantly reminded all those friends who originally liked the other candidates (yes, you Jeremy) that the tremendous growth in Obama's supporters could be tied to one, overwhelming fact: Obama alone among the major players was saying the war in Iraq had to end. The others were playing the middle road (as most Democrats have for years) and were so afraid of appearing weak.

Well, I've been watching his stand and listening to his speeches and I still think he is the only one saying what the people want to hear. Can he be elected? Who knows. The vast sea of the stupid middle class have for eight years let their sons and daughters be killed in The Endless War, they have allowed the gangster Bush administration of outsource their jobs and even the supplying of the army. One can only imagine that now that their homes are being taken away that something might sink into their hollow heads, so--yes--it is quite probable now, I think.

But that's not my real problem; except when the ugly head of stupidity rises, I seldom waste my time with politics. When I had too with the mayor's race here, I jumped into the mess with glee.

The real problem is Riley. He is a sharp knife in my drawer of friends, a legal pit bull, and has a long history of campaign work. He also claims that I said I'd buy him a drink if Obama was ever elected president. Riley--who only ever drinks domestic beer--has informed me that he is going premium liquor on Nov. 5, even perhaps in a high-end hotel bar (the most pricey here). I find this very opportunistic, and--although there are no witnesses to my supposed bet--it obviously is a case I will lose. He even sarcastically suggested I start putting the money I save by using Publix coupons in a cookie jar. I guess he thinks "a drink" means a case of champagne now.

That is the ugly world of politics we live in.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

I Survived

Actually, when you give yourself over to the vibrant Latin crowd of Miami you live. Nothing makes me happier than watching hot Latinos execute The Merengue or two ravishing Latinas circling in step with The Salsa. A great DJ accompanied by a great drummer turned the dance floor of Score into a writhing, sexy people; strippers were upstairs, but the fun was on the dance floor. Surprisingly, there was a group I knew from the men's department of my favorite store, Blaks. I looked at their happy faces and counted up the sea of discounts they represented. When one of them asked if I could merengue, I laughed and told him that I had often joined in with the crazy dance crowd of New York's "L' Esquelita". Unfortunately, that was when I was asked to dance by every one's favorite Mexican-movie-star- type and, it didn't stop there. My final presentation of what a New England matron can do was performed to Shakira.

The pain I felt was similar to a five-mile run this morning. Latins are born with an extra ball bearing in their hips, New England matrons not. Anyway, Riley sarcastically called today to say he had notified Interpol of my kidnapping, but he really needed to send medics--Latino ones to implant that ball bearing in me for next week.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Sending Out an S.O.S....

...or a C.Q.D.; whatever works. Once again I'm being kidnapped and forced to go to "Cha-Cha-Land"; Latinos are not supposed to want their boyfriends to even look into a Latino party palace. But Leopoldo and his co-worker, cohort, and co-conspirator are bringing me screaming and kicking to Planeta Macho tonight. (Fortunately, it is two blocks away and not two hours away; I could conceivably light my clothes on fire and still make it home before the flames burned down to my petticoats.) If you send a helicopter out over club Score, that will be my signal on the roof, spelled in sea shells, "S.O.S." The things you do for love...

Monday, May 19, 2008

This was The Baroness Seitzinger's table for Saturday's dinner; it was a pleasent setting, a friendly group of guests, and the view from her balconey a stunning visual of the smoke-filled skies of a state slowly burning from top to bottom. Earlier in the day Mrs. Stuyvesant-Fish rang us up asking for company as she started an early cocktail hour. "She's got to go to Las Vegas tomorrow," I warned Mr. Astor, "and, she's probably frisky." So off to Tommy Decker's arms we went to comfort Mrs. S-F and enjoy Tommy's collection of I Love Lucy shows. Frisky was not the way to put it--at least in polite society--and she just couldn't keep her gloved hands off of Mr. A. (I've just learned to live with this.)

Hours later (and to a point where spending more time most likely would have had Mrs. S-F stripping) we came home and made a decision that would haunt me later. Would we eat or nap? So far we had consumed only some chips at Twist, but the knowledge of Seitzinger's pending dinner and all the preparations that had gone into it, seemed to make the nap make sense. We arrived promptly at 8 and by 8:01 had cocktails in hand. There was a delay in the cooking of a roast that was either 7 lbs. or 7 feet (I can't remember; it could have been a whole cow). As my stomach begged for food, cocktail after cocktail tried to soothe it; I hovered near the kitchen hoping to catch the food planner basting the beast. (I was ready to chew off a corner of anything baking in that stove, but no luck.) "Have another cocktail, Alexis." Over and over we toasted our gracious host until I felt the inevitable: I was going to sink through the floorboards or collapse on the bed. Being married gives you a guardian of sorts and Leopoldo wisely took me home. No din-din for me that night.

The next day we prepared for Pimpernel's "Daiquiri Brunch", but he is so well-known for his lavish lunches that I had waved off the possibility of going hungry for long. As soon as we arrived a daiquiri was thrust in our hands. Fresh strawberries and peaches were in abundance, but that was the only food I could see; the horror was real: we were meeting to test all the daiquiris he was planning for a new bar. (Within a hour I was ready to eat Mr. Astor's Prada shoes if only he would take them off.) We survived on some wild berries until we made it to Twist's Sunday.

I've taken to my bed today, fending off the first signs of malnutrition and my head feels like a Panzer tank ran over it. I'm also dusting off an old idea I once had of making an outfit of edible buttons; of course, if pagoda sleeves would just come back I could hide a mini-bagel in each one.

Friday, May 16, 2008

RuPaul's Drag Race

To the best of my recollection, this was the first photo of RuPaul I ever took. I remember to this day (we are talking 20 years ago), how amazed I was by this Amazon with the Confederate flag mini-skirt. We became fast friends as only myself and famed night life photographer, Tina Paul of the Fifibears, were allowed to take photos in this four-story, seedy, fabulous, drag-ridden club in the meat packing district of Fourteenth and the West Side Highway name Mars. I usually had three cameras: the 35mm, the brand new Sony hand cam video, and the Nimslo 3-D with me; I could have gotten into so much fun/trouble had I not been encumbered by all this equipment. Still, we all had fun as much as three Extacy's might have been expected to produce. Ah, the memories.

Today Edison Farrow informed me of a new reality show that, for the first time, will glue me to the TV. RuPaul is hosting a show named RuPaul's Drag Race which will showcase drag talent in competition for titles. (Maybe I'm crazy, but David Archuleta should have saved himself; Leo and I would love to see him as Pia Zadora.)

In those glory days of New York during which I roamed the gutters in search of every imaginable creature with a dress and a wig, Ru was the only one at the time who had a vision. She had cleaned up her act (no more drunken stage shows at La Palace de Beaute') and focused on a highway ahead that had no exits but that which she envisioned. She's been a great model for drag queens in the wings. RuPaul's Drag Race. The time has come.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Baroness Seitzinger's dinner party may be taking on a life of it's own. Tonight, Mr. Astor and I ran into her dinner planner, Mark 2, who assured us that not only was every thing under control, but that he was confident enough to enjoy numerous cocktails with us. The Baroness, herself, was busy ironing linens, polishing silver, and mending some forlorn wallpaper and couldn't join us. Tomorrow being Friday, I will expect her carriage to pull up in front of the house and a card delivered by her liveried footman announcing the formal event.

Surprisingly (not), I received a telephone call from Mrs. Stuyvesant-Fish commenting on our exciting trip to the Latino club, Azuca. She fondly remembered the night she spent there where, in her own words, "...I think I was asked to leave." How very, very unsurprising; yet, that is what we live for here: being asked to leave the most exhilarating club while maintaining unassailable social status; the two are such a turn-on.
Mr. Astor assured her that she would be the first invited on the next excursion to Cha-cha-land. My mother didn't send me to dancing school for three years not to WANT to Cha-cha. (Oh, well; now we know who to blame.)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Thank God...

...the sun never sets on dinner parties. How else would we eat, pose, and gossip at the same time? Special note should be taken of The Baroness Seitzinger's Saturday gathering; it's just the type of event that warms your heart. Every night this week The Baroness has held meetings in preparation of this dinner. The first was about the music installation as her system had gone on the blink and she wasn't about to let that hinder her social aspirations; leaked correspondence revealed that there was a general meeting with her sound engineer, Mark 1, with a bottle of scotch utilized to wax the minds. On Tuesday, the sound system was installed while she met with her meal planner, Mark 2. Word was sent early today that the china to be used was of national importance (and, I've seen it; it is fierce). No word yet on what meeting will be held tomorrow, but I did get a smuggled photo out of the dinner napkins she was having ironed (I and SO glad I am not the only one who irons their dinner napkins. I mean, I'm not so crazy as to iron underwear, but napkins...it's part of the show.) I have planted spies outside her gracious apartment to keep us up on the latest plans.

Then, on Sunday, Pimpernel will host one of his renowned lunches. We all know no one leaves his home unsatisfied but, this one is billed as "The Daiquiri Brunch". That sounds dangerous and, that is what makes this town tick.

Then--as if it is a thumbing at the nose of the end of season--a whirlwind of club parties begins to sweep up your time like a broom to cookie crumbs under the table. Thomas Barker, Twist, Andres from Gem, Dustin Refka, and many others are about to do what they do best: Make People Happy.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Girlie Brunch

Again, if you get there to early you are likely to catch the girlies just getting out of bed.
And, some of them quite frankly have an attitude and should have stayed in bed.

It is still attracting much of the club world, so there is never a dull moment. And, this is at Gem every Sunday 11 AM to 4 PM.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Dawn to Dusk Drag

It never seemed to end. I was surrounded, immersed, and totally thrilled that my Sunday began and ended with drag queens around me. Most of the afternoon was taken up with The Girly Brunch in attendance with the newly returned, Pimpernel; there will never be a clear count of just how many bottles of bubbly we plowed through.

Then there was the abduction to Azuca, a place of great entertainment. Hispanic drag queens put their soul into their work; I learned this at L'Esquelita (literally "the Little School House) in Manhattan. Once you got by the goons who patted you down, the drag world was open and I had several romantic interludes (these were my wild days) on the dance floor. Last night's memory will always be the drag fight on the dance floor.

I saw it coming. We had noticed a rather tragic queen prancing around early in the evening with a vase of equally tragic flowers. One glamorous drag queen performing in a lemon yellow gown refused the tragic one's dollar tip; my alarm started to go off. Lemon Yellow waved off the dollar and The Tragic One became furious and wrestled her to the floor, pulling down her yellow panty hose. Security quickly jumped in but not before a lemon yellow, glitter pump went missing (later found under a table). I love stuff like this. That's Entertainment. Of course, it wasn't long after that I wanted to leave (being satiated and all) and it took a half hour to get a cab to come; still it was amazing and I was with one of the tallest, most handsome Latins in the crowd. Next time we will hire a car.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

I absolutely adored this clutch on the table next to us the other night at Da Leo. It must have been noted that I was agog because when I asked to take a picture of it, the woman then asked, "Don't you want you photo taken with it?" Oh, how very right she was. You won't get to see that gem, but let me tell you: I felt so fabulous.

I'm being kidnapped tonight and taken to Miami against my wishes, knowledge, and better judgement. Leopoldo and his friends are taking me to Azuca, a Latino hideout. Now, anyone with the slightest perception of me knows my total worship of all things Latin, but I already have the best and biggest lollipop, so why take me to the candy store? It's all wrong, but Leo insists and they have a bizarre interest in seeing me there. "You are going to Cha-Cha-Land whether you like it or not!"

I'm already suffering from Nervous Bowel Syndrome.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

The life of Alexis A.P. isn’t so bad after all. As soon as it became known that I was in the market to open or take over a new place the checkbooks started to open; it’s funny how many people still have oodles of money left and want a piece of the action. The main problem in this town is that although there is no shortage of money or talent, everything depends upon permits and licenses (and the accompanying influence needed to secure them).
The weekly get-togethers at Twist are coming along well. Actually, it was time to award something; you know, a title here or a sash there never hurts an evening out. So, Mr. Astor and I presented The Baroness Seitzinger with a little bauble from the house of Oleg Cassini. She exclaimed, "Oh, what a magnificent diamond" and I corrected her with, "We prefer not to think of it so much as just a diamond than as The Star of Constantinpol." I don't know where that came from, but it was one of those things that just rolls off your lips when they are lubed up with so much Stoli.
It didn't take much to coax The Baroness's Star of the Sea to come out either, although Mark Squared was as good a reason as any.

Dr. George and Dr. Brad showed up too and lent a professional dignity to the evening. Well, that was until George started talking about high heels and we fell into the gutter of "high-heel talk". Not far into that, Leopoldo lovingly mentioned that the first time he danced with me was the afternoon of Oct. 29 and that I was wearing five-inch, white stilettos and a nurse's uniform. (Actually, I had adopted the character of Sheila, Head Nurse of Boca for the event. Ah, the memories.)

Super heros are the rage this season and DJ Leo couldn't help posing as Iron Man; I, of course, couldn't help but pose as Wonder Woman.

The Star has found a wonderful and loving home in front of The Baroness's mother now, and that makes us very, very happy, indeed.

Friday, May 09, 2008

The long-anticipated opening of Vlada Lounge is being held hostage by the most unlikely of creatures: The Miami Commission. The elegant, Russian-inspired gay bar has incongruously been labeled a "bad element" in a neighborhood fighting for years to get itself just referred to in polite society as anything but a "ghetto". First, The Commission turned block after block over to the nightlife big-spenders just to get some blood into the wasteland that was The Design District and then they double-dipped and sold the rest to developers eager to erect now-vacant towers in a wasteland that no one ever wanted to be in in the first place. A lot of money passed hands.

When the words, Miami Commission, rolls across your lips, you might as well add a guttural "corruption" to it; Miami proper is the closest thing to Chicago in The Thirties you will ever find. Graft, payoffs, diamond Rolex's, and much more are on the daily table for anyone lucky enough to be on "The Commission". So, it is astounding to many of us that Vlada would be "bad" unless, of course, they didn't do their homework. It will be an interesting commission meeting. Bring your gift boxes.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Cinquo de Mayo 2008

We left for the Cinquo de Mayo celebration shortly after eleven PM last night (I was being a bit of a stickler about wanting to actually arrive on the day). Sure enough Pennsylvania Avenue was packed, and why wouldn't be. Three shot strong margaritas were being sold for five dollars.
El Rancho Grande--arguably the most popular Mexican restaurant on The Beach--closes the avenue, sets up food and beverage tents and lets what comes natural happen when lots and lots of tequila is consumed.

In true Miami Beach fashion many children were still celebrating at 1 AM when we left and, although most of the town's Mexican community was in attendance, many other Latin communities joined in. Two glasses (six shots) of Tequila was enough to send me home, but not before yet another public confrontation about that former place I worked for. Get it through your thick heads; I am never coming back, ever. It's just one of those stubborn New England things deeply embedded in me; oh, yeah, and another thing I'm stubborn about: Keep Your Word. The old owner and the new failed to do that, so old and new, just go away and save your pride.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Before being kidnapped and tortured by the evil Countess Bedelia, my talented sister used to "wow" Newport society with glamourous, interpretive dances. Caroline Astor's ballroom in Beechwood would often be the springboard of her magnificent talents, and money would pour into the coffers of charities as a result. Alas, with no word coming from the mountains of Transylchusetts, one can only expect the worse: du Barry, formerly Countess of Newport, has either died or become a fixture at The EconoLodge bar in the Berkshires. In either case, her spirit is celebrated and her demise mourned. I will light a candle tonight as I don a sombrero and celebrate everthing that is Mexican, and I mean everthing.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

I am being assaulted on all sides. Holding Court-in-Exile seems to be more burdensome and perilous than I thought. Holding on to power is relatively easy; guarding the realm a bit uneasy. The past week has seen emissaries from all sides, and new sides, prancing around like a bunch of nervous courtiers not quite sure of their steps. For anyone who is actually interested, I will never, ever back down; it is not my style. And--quite frankly--public displays of feigned honor simply won't make me come back.

But--more importantly--there is a situation I can not help but action. My sister, The Countess du Barry is in danger. Reports of her death are simply fodder for the press; she is under much, more danger: The Countess Bedelia. Yes, the very same Bedelia of lore, the lore of moving in on my territory and spreading a charm more virulent than the plague. Today I received a coded cable from du Barry which couldn't have been more frightening. She was being held captive by Bedeilia at an EconoLodge in the Berkshires. Yes, and EconoLodge, or more accurately noted, the bar of an EconoLodge. I could not stop the tears from falling down my cheeks as I remembered du Barry's elegant dinners, the polo parties, and the fancy-dress balls. All this to end up at an EconoLodge.

It is a tough time. Jeremy is in Chile for three weeks and Riley too busy tracking down criminal records, but I summon the few remaining followers for a New Crusade to march on Transylchusetts and rescue du Barry from the clutches of evil more sinister than any infidel. But before they leave in the morning, I have hand-sewn their banner; it reads in magnificent red letters against a lemon-yellow field, "Non Vacuus Meus Sanctimonialis", which loosely translated means, "Not Without My Sister".

Friday, May 02, 2008

Please Address It To Marie.....

Leopoldo has asked several times why mail to the house is delivered to someone titled, "Marie, Queen of Roumania". It always brings a smile to my face. Marie was one of these quirky characters in history, born into the highest of highest royal familes. Her father was Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh and her mother, The Grand Duchess Marie of Russia, daughter of Tsar Alexander II of Russia. Marie married, most likely, not of her desire, not an uncommon situation of the time-- to Prince Ferdinand of Roumania. She produce an heir, and five more offspring, although her loveless marriage seemed to assure the later children were from lovers. Ah, the glamour.

This has always been my favorite photograph of Queen Marie; over-the-top, elegant, and with a taste of Victorian adventurism, any of us could see us there. But, she was a complicated woman, a patriot of Roumania who embraced everything from its language to its place in history. After Roumania fought on the Allied side in WWI, suffered horrendous losses, and was being given the bum's rush by the victors, she appeared in Paris and America to argue the cause of her adopted country. Her elegance and eloquence secured loans to fight to the end of the war, at which Roumania was finally accorded all the land of the Roumanian-speaking people.

Her son, Carol II, was a weak, dissolute being, who vexed his mother. Fortunately, Marie died in 1938, just before her son and her country would be swept up by Hitler.

Every time I'm asked to give my name and address for a guest list, a museum mailing, or a politcal fete, I always sign, "Marie, Queen of Roumania" and I often adapt this look at South Beach teas.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Don't Go In The Water

This is a photo of the last time I went to the beach. This seems incredulous to many, living on the "American Riviera" and all, but--except for special events or visits--you are not likely to see me in my squashed-heeled shoes on the beach, much less in the water.

Firstly, there is the sand; it gets everywhere and travels with you to the car, the home, or the bar, as is most likely to be the case. Jeremy holds this same aversion for beach sand. We came up with what we thought was the perfect solution: a giant Rubbermaid mat with a path leading to it and then one to the ocean. We know it would get hot, but we had a type of water slide device in mind for that and, anyway, none of us would be caught dead barefoot. This great leap forward in resort thinking went nowhere with the City Commission.

And, secondly, there is the ocean water. For as long as anyone would listen, I have maintained that water off a big city could never be clean, or at least as clean as the water in the pool. I might as well been screaming "The sky is falling". Every time I hear about the increase in ear infections I shake my head with dismay; don't these parents think? Even IF there was no discharge of sewerage (treated or not, I don't care), there is run-off from storm drains. But, it gets better.

Yesterday the Florida Legislature unanimously voted that the three southern counties here cease the discharge of sewerage three miles out to sea. Oceanographic scientist, Dr. John Proni testified that an increase bacteria levels in the ocean was being detected. (Here's another genius who should get a prize). When asked if he would go in the water by the state senators, Proni replied that he "would prefer not to.'' All of this has caused a sea of protest from the local counties involved as it will cost 3 billion dollars to correct (not counting the 1 billions that will line pockets everywhere).

KiKi doesn't like the beach, either; he won't even walk through a puddle. but, he doesn't mind lounging on a deck chair, sipping a drink by the pool; that's my boy.