Sunday, March 20, 2016

MARCH 27, 2016


To the many of you who are celebrating this day with church services, brunch and dinner may it be a festive one.  Hopefully our politicians will remember the significance of this day and tone down their rhetoric and act like ADULTS!!!

2015 April Fool Edition
Unlike the OBSERVER GROUP, this will not be an APRIL FOOL'S edition.  No one can top the creativity when it comes to their annual special issue.  Starting Thursday, you can pick up a copy at the ususal  locations in the Sarasota/Bradenton area including Publix.

Now on to the business of JIM KNOWS SARASOTA........

Many of you who read weekly have already left by car or plane to return to your permanent homes up north.  Most fly out of Tampa with travel time up to two hours if you leave from Longboat or Siesta.

Our under-used SRQ for years had service to Baltimore and Atlanta provided by Air Tran.  Gobbled up by Southwest, Atlanta was left to a few Delta flights and Baltimore was not adopted by any of the other carriers flying in and out of SARASOTA.

For weeks now Stan Rodbell, who commutes between here and Baltimore, is responsible for a petition now circulating on-line to get Southwest back, not only for Baltimore, but possibly other east coast cities as well.  If you are interested in flying in and out of SRQ and not TPA  then I urge you sign  NOW to join those who have already signed the petition to bring Southwest back to SRQ! 

If you did not read last Sunday's edition of SARASOTA's Herald Tribune, you missed an insert announcing this year's Sarasota Film Festival.  That same insert is available all over town or at their box office in the Hollywood 20 lobby 12-7pm daily.  The Festival runs over ten days beginning Friday April 1.  

  With over 174 movies to choose from, it is impossible to make my own suggestions.  So, I am relying a few of the Festival's recommendations..... Other People 4/1 opens the Festival; A New Color 4/3,4; Nari 4/9,10; The Seeker 4/3,5 Breaking Fast at Ina's 4/2,4; In the Pursuit of Sikrit 4/8,10 and closing night feature The Congressman.

In addition to the screenings there are several parties including opening and closing nights.  And Hollywood guests galore;  among them,  Sophia Loren, Olympia Dukakis, George Hamilton, Rosie Perez and Treat Williams.  Many more show up unexpectedly at screenings and parties so always be on the lookout.  For a complete schedule of films, parties, luncheons, and all the information you could ever want click here. You can even download the entire 90 page guide!!!

THE WOMAN'S EXCHANGE on 539 S. Orange is always looking for donations of jewelry, clothing, china---fine or not so fine---silver, paintings, furniture and dollar contributions. And if your furniture is too heavy to bring to them, they will send a truck to you for free pick-up.  Either on consignment, which we've done on numerous occasions or as a donation, a tax receipt is always available.   If you haven't done so, a visit might find you a treasure or an easy way to spend an hour or two if you're looking for something to do on a free day.  Open daily 9am-4pm and 10am-4pm Saturday, The Exchange is a great place to VOLUNTEER.  Call 941-955-7859. 

The Exchange supports the arts in Sarasota and Bradenton.  Among those receiving annual contributions of $25,000  are Sarasota Opera, Sarasota Symphony, FST, Perlman Music Program, Asolo, and both Sarasota and Manatee Players.

Empire, one of last year's best new programs returns to FOX this week for the remainder of their season. Before entering the summer of re-runs and limited series a few other gems remain from this season.

Two more episodes  before OJ's acquittal, Dancing With The Stars has an interesting cast this year including Marla Maples and Geraldo Rivera, and in two weeks, American Idol will be history after 10 years.
Over the years IDOL has produced several talented winners who have gone on to careers in recording,  television and theatre. Their finale is a three night swan song with the last program  April 7 featuring past winners and judges...hello Simon??

Tonight , the fourth and final season of Mr. Selfridge returns to PBS at 10pm.  If you are not a fan of Selfridge, you should be. Jeremy Piven is excellent in the title role and he is ably assisted by some very fine English and American actors.  The first three seasons are ON DEMAND, and with no commercial interruption can be easily watched before catching  the final episodes.

Next weekend marks the end to a very successful season of Masterworks.  Anu Tali's program Legends, is a musical trip to Scandinavia.  Rising star, Antti Siiarla is guest pianist.  Everywhere he's appeared  this winter he has been given rave reviews.  Tickets available for April 1 at Neel or the 2nd and 3rd at Van Wezel.  To purchase tickets on line click here. Tickets start from $30.  

Debbie Yonker suggests those of you who have not been to PATRICK'S new location on Main St. should go for lunch or dinner.  You will  come away pleasantly surprised.

Moving up Main St. brought lots of changes, but a recent visit shows they're "cooking" again as one of our best downtown restaurants.  AND their $5.00 burger is still available on Monday.

With ample sidewalk seating away from the street you can enjoy the remaining weeks of spring with what most of you like to do best....EAT OUTSIDE!! 

JIM'S RANT.....Hopefully, this past week will put to rest Herald Tribune's coverage of the Main St. Deli wars.  Enough already.  Sol's NYC Deli has been left standing, and rightfully so.  Though not perfect, at least it is making strides in the right direction.  I pledge this is the last you'll read about these restaurants here as many new additions will be getting my attention in the coming weeks......

Tracy and Jim are looking forward to our annual hiatus. We'll let you know sooner than later.  Until next week....have a great one...JIM 

Friday, March 18, 2016

MARCH 20, 2016


After weeks of HYPE and promise, DOC  has closed its doors for good!!!  And, the Herald Tribune continues to defend their coverage with the following statement......"recent visits by this reporter and other Ticket staff members have found Sol's thriving."  In their dreams!!!!!


This week will mark an historic moment in baseball's history, as our Tampa Bay Rays play an exhibition game in CUBA highlighting President's Obama visit.  Nothing like this has happened since 1999.  Should be interesting to watch and read about.  With travel to CUBA by air and cruise ship on the horizon,  ESPN is hoping to bring us the sights and sounds of this country before, during and after its 1:30 gamecast.

Today, the Sunday before EASTER, is PALM SUNDAY.   In many Christian denominations, worship services will include a procession of the faithful carrying palms, representing the palm branches the crowd scattered in front of Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem.  It is the end of lent and beginning of holy week culminating next Sunday EASTER.  After church services that day many of you will be heading to breakfast or brunch.

One of the most interesting brunch menus is served at THE ROSEMARY.   Sunday marks their first EASTER, and they intend to make it meaningful. No buffet or jacked-up pricing, just their breakfast and lunch menu along with a few chef specials served from 8:00am-3:00pm.   There will be limited reservations so if you want one call 941-955-7600.  Click here for a view of The Rosemary menu.

With more spring breaker's on the way, one of the area's better attractions is not in Sarasota, but Bradenton.  The SOUTH FLORIDA MUSEUM 201 10th Street.  It is the largest Natural and Cultural history museum on Florida's Gulf Coast. 

 Planetarium shows run daily Mon-Sun.  In addtion, Wednesday-Saturday there is a live star talk on This Month's Skies at 12:30 and a Tour of the Universe at 2:15.  Whoopi Goldberg narrates a new film Journey to the Stars Mon-Sat 11:45 and 2:15 on Sundays.   For directions, pricing and additional information click here.

The summer-like weather of the first week of spring in SARASOTA signals an end to our seasonal calendar of events. In fact several venues are in the midst of announcing their 2016-17 schedules and in the coming weeks; especially for those of you who are already north and missed the announcements, I will post them for you.

Tuesday morning, marked the end of another highly successful Ringling College Library Association TOWN HALL program. General David H. Petraeus (U.S. Army, Ret.) closed the series.  As is the case each year, the next year's Chairman, Patrick Duncan announced the 2017 program....AND it is a powerful one with some very familiar names.  V.P. Dick Cheney is mentioned first since his appearance comes three days after the Presidential Inauguration January 23, 2017.  Some of the other names are Geena Davis, Kofi Annan and James Balog. To become a member click here.

New Library under construction opening 2016
 Those of you with subscription for the morning and evening lectures are given the first opportunity to purchase tickets for the sold-out series.  However, not everyone re- subscribes so I urge you to join the Library now to be eligible for tickets if available. 

Asolo Repertory Theatre is in the last few months of their 2015-16 season.  Recently opened, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner has garnered rave reviews from critics and those who have already seen the Frank Galati production. 

  Most of us are old enough to remember the wonderful movie  featuring Spencer Tracy, Katherine  Hepburn and Sidney Potier in the story of an interracial relationship in the 60's.  Tracy died 17 days after the film was finished, and 6 months before the film was released the Supreme Court struck down the anti-miscegenation laws.

This production is timely today as we continue to deal with bigotry throughout the country.  You have until April 17 to see this powerful presentation. For a schedule of performances and buy tickets click here.

The date is March 30!!!!
There are just a few days left to help a worthwhile cause and have a great sandwich all for charity.  JERSEY MIKE'S and their 6 area locations have designated The Alzheimer's Association-Florida Gulf Coast Chapter this month's charity. 

 They are encouraging you to make a contribution to the organization and on March 30, 100% of  JERSEY MIKE'S sales will go directly to the Association.  The locations: 3820 Tuttle Ave,  5367 Frutville Rd, 2031 Bahia Vista St, 8210 Tourist Center Drive, 5820 Ranch Lake Blvd and 4020 4th St.

JIM'S RANT....Once again Sarasota County is beginning a road project during the season.  Claiming "safety issues", repairs to Coon Key Bridge will begin April 4.  Just east of St. Armands Circle.  Construction was delayed from September until now.  I guess those "safety issues" got worse??  I can name numerous road projects (Bee Ridge...Orange/Main Turnabout) started in season.  Bad idea to inconvenience our tourists with congested roads under construction....other than that,  this is still a great place to live and visit......

As always a big hug to Tracy for her editing.....see you next week....JIM

Friday, March 11, 2016

MARCH 13, 2016


Not only did we set our clocks ahead in anticipation of SPRINGS arrival next week , but we are also embarking on a very interesting week in this year's calendar.  

If you've been living in a cage, then you don't have a clue to Tuesday's big event.  Turn on your television or radio almost anytime of day and watch as the candidates from both parties skewer each other in the ugliest Presidential campaign I can remember.  Some of you have already voted in your Party's primary; others have not; and still others are going to sit this one out.  NO NO.  Too much at stake here....Vote Tuesday....then watch the pundits that night on many TV channels find a way to either vilify or congratulate FLORIDA.

And if turning the clocks ahead and getting to the polls on Tuesday is not enough for you, look what awaits on Thursday.  There can't be that many persons of IRISH descent living in SARASOTA, yet so most of you are planning to take advantage of the early drinking and lunch and dinner specials available that day.  Corned beef and cabbage along with lots of beer makes for a happy day for many.  If you drink too much....DON'T DRIVE....even sober this is a scary place to be on major roads.  Have fun, but don't make a FOOL of yourself....that comes in 2 weeks!!! 

Thanks to all of you who came out last Sunday to make 2016's PEDAL FOR PUPS our best attended and prosperous one ever.  We had ideal weather, though for us bikers, we would have preferred less wind. The food provided by FIRST WATCH and POLO GRILL was over the top.  And the beer never stopped flowing thanks to GOLD COAST, distributors of Budweiser.  As this goes to press I don't have final totals for bikers, runners and walkers as well as money raised.  Look for that information in a future blog.  And look below rant for the famous University Park Bike Group.
Many of you saw several "wonderful" movies at the recent JEWISH FILM FESTIVAL. It has been my experience that most if not any will make it to a theater in Sarasota.  The shame is that the Academy Award for best foreign film went to Son Of Saul, now showing at Burns Court Cinemas.  It is a drama about the Holocaust from Hungary.  It is dark, slow, and not worthy of your time let alone an Oscar.  I say that not having seen any of the other nominees, but one surely had to be better than the winner.

There is however, a play that never grows old playing now at FST/Keating Theatre.  My Name is Asher Lev, written in 1972, it  is as fresh today as it was then.  By acclaimed author Chiam Potak, the novel was a best seller, and has been adapted for stage by Aaron Posner.

Lev tells the story of an Hassidic boy growing up in post-war Brooklyn as an artist who is ridiculed by family and neighbor alike.  Defying all, including tradition, he succeeds where others fail.   Add this one to your list of things to do this month.  The play exits on March 29. 

Most of my readers are in bed before late night television shows begin following  the 11:00 pm newscast.  The battle among Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon is fierce.   Though Fallon leads,  I personally find his show the more immature of the three.  Constantly laughing and doing stupid tricks with guests is not my cup of tea.  Maybe when I was in college.....boy was that a long time ago!!!
You get much more "meat" from Kimmel and Colbert.  Recently Kimmel has added produced video to his show.  One recently, a Producers spoof of Donald Trump with Nathan Lane, Mathew Broderick and Cloris Leachman was brilliant.  And just last Monday, John Legend put lyrics to the theme song of Downton Abbey, and sang it live!!  Kimmel is ABC/ Colbert is CBS and Fallon NBC.

This season's final National Theatre Live performance is March 18 at 1 pm and 6:30 pm at The Historic Asolo inside the Ringling Museum. As You Like It written many years ago by W. Shakespeare and performed and taped a few years ago by the above company.  If you've never seen a movie production in this venue then you are in for a treat.  Quality picture and sound make this a worthwhile experience.  To order tickets for either performance click here.

JIM'S RANT.....will not surprise you this week.  I'll be so happy to see the parade of donkeys  and elephants take their circus to their next primary victim.  It's almost over as both parties seem pretty settled on their candidate for the fall, but soon after the conventions end watch for those ceaseless negative ads to rear their ugly heads again...... 

Editing by Tracy, Writing by Jim, Reading by you........JIM

Saturday, March 5, 2016

MARCH 6, 2016


SPOILER ALERT....This finale aired CHRISTMAS in the UK, so reviews and commentary are readily available on the Internet.  As with most endings, some will be satisfied while others will not!

As for me, I will wait until Tuesday when one of the best shows of this season,  The People Vs. O.J airs at 10 pm on FX. Last week's episode, "The race card" was brilliant.  This week's, which tackles Marcia Clark, promises to be as good if not better.  We are at the half-point of this series.  ON-DEMAND has the first episodes.

The discovery of possible murder weapon (knife) this week brought the case  front and center again.  Amazing, how many still remember where they were when the verdict was rendered.  Though in jail for another crime, O.J. cannot be tried a second time for his wife's murder, even if the prints prove to be his. BUT, due for parole next year, if for some miracle his DNA is found on presumed murder knife, it may effect the judge's decision.

What a weekend  last week for  SARASOTA and our Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall.  Two brilliant performers took the stage for  sold out performances.  Saturday it was Kristin Chenoweth, a Broadway Tony Winner  for her performance in You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown and an Emmy for her role in Pushing Daises on ABC.  She sang her heart out for 90 plus minutes which included local talent and an audience member whose number with her that must have been rehearsed, not spontaneous as suggested.

The following night, Josh Groban headlined the Van Wezel Foundation Gala.  Singing mostly hits from his smash CD, Stages, Groban also performed many more of his classic hits, and had the crowd on their feet several times, as did Chenoweth.   Landing stars of this magnitude speaks volumes for the building as well as Sarasota. 

Due to the wonderful  Temple Emanu-EL gala we were unable to see Groban, but did see Chenoweth.  More stars to come and with eight sold out performances of  The Book of Mormon setting gross revenue records, the future looks bright for this venue; even though  discussions are underway for a bigger-better sounding auditorium.

Don't throw the dirt on Sol Meyer Deli's grave just yet.

In order to move as far away from former partner Sol Shenker and his new venture down the street at Sol's NYC Delicatessen a name change and revised menu was introduced last week.

Along with removing Sol and renaming itself DOC SAM'S New York Deli & Gourmet Eatery, on Wednesday, they held an elaborate ribbon cutting ceremony to commemorate the change.

The new menu offers several size sandwiches along with chopped liver made with tomato and onion marmalade and kasha varniskes with a "tweak" of gravy of refined demiglace, and of course potato latkes topped with smoked salmon.  Anyone with the courage and stomach to try this place please let me have your review at  I am not going until I hear positive feedback.

It's been way too long for a visit to one of our favorite SARASOTA restaurants, but with their pending arrival to The Plazas at UTC, we thought it was time to revisit JPAN

Ecstatic can best describe my groups reaction to our meal.  From Jpan's all too filling UDON SOUP served with thick noodles to shrimp tempura, Sashimi, to the best sushi roll in town Soul Good Roll, (my opinion), and tempura banana with coconut ice cream for dessert, we were in heaven. 

JPAN opens in a few months across from Rusty Bucket.  I am very happy to know the owner!!! I say that because I predict big crowds for this unique Benderson Plaza restaurant.

We do eat out allot; especially in season when so many friends from around the country spend most of their winter months in PARADISE.  And sometimes it is difficult to find a restaurant.  I was recently sent a publication Larry Hoffman's, The Little Sarasota DINNING book   Featuring Sarasota's top restaurants, it is the best most complete book of its kind.    You can read all about the book and search for restaurants by clicking here.  You can also purchase the book on line as well or at several local bookstores. 

Tired of seeing second run movies at Parkway Cinemas.  Sick of the smell, filth, smokey screen and outdated sound system?  And are willing to pay a few dollars more for an up to date movie experience at a top rate theater?  Then head to HOLLYWOOD 20 where their new pricing policy is now in effect.  Anytime of day (with the exception of 3-D) you can see first run movies for $6.42 including tax.  My guess,  facing stiff competition form Cine-Bistro, and the fact that streaming is becoming a more popular form of entertainment, prices were lowered to remain a relevant option.   I don't know how long this will last, so take advantage while you can.

COMING THIS WEEKEND, March 11th and 12th, The Fine Arts Society of Sarasota presents their 45TH Annual Creators & Collectors Tour. While there,  visit friend Lori Simon's display at the Galleria/Ringling College of Art & Design in the Roskamp Exhibition Hall.  Her art can be seen on the second floor of Saks at UTC.

JIM'S RANT....So much to rant about today....the Donald Trump mess...the never-ending debates....the crazy drivers....but I am going to make it simple.....our cheap gas fill-up days are coming to an end.  Prices are now going the other way, and with summer fast approaching along with the way gas is processed, it won't be too long before we are back to $2.00 PLUS!!  So fill-up today while the prices are still under $2.....

As always Thank you to Tracy for making some sense of this week's blog and a big thank you for reading!!!!......JIM