Wednesday, March 29, 2017

APRIL2, 2017



Goldstein Library on Ringling Campus
 The Ringling Town Hall Lecture series has always been topical.  But with the announcement of next year's speakers and the presentation of this years final speaker;  they are over the top.  I think the inclusion of former Mexican President Felipe Calderon was a little bit of luck, since speakers are booked months in advance.  But his appearance last week came right from current headlines.

Leading  off the 2018 season is  former Obama CIA Director John Brennan, very much in the news of late.  He insists his former boss did not wire tap  then candidate Donald Trump.  Also scheduled John Meacham, Pulitzer Prize Winning author and frequent contributor to MSNBC Morning Joe.  And not to be missed,  best selling author Michael Lewis of Moneyball and The Big Short.

Members of RCLA have first crack on season ticket purchase before sale to general public.  To become a member and learn more about next season's list of speakers click here.

The Tenth annual RIAF  is scheduled October 18-21 on the campus of Ringling Museum.  Their program goal is it to generate thought and conversation.

This year's scheduled performers should do that and more.  As in most past years the list encompasses all forms of entertainment.  All performances will be on their campus, making it easier to see multiple shows on the same day.

For the first time there is even a tie to Sarasota.   Booker High graduate James McGinn will be performing as will Urbanite Theatre. Mc Ginn choreographs interpretations of life in the 21st century Ing or DieUrbanite is bringing a new play,"White Rabbit Red Rabbit,"which will move from RIAF to their theatre for a short run after these performances.  For more information on current and future events at Ringling Museum click here.

The grand opening of SPROUTS 8330 S. Tamiami Trail has received almost as many front page articles as UTC did a few years ago. 

A Natural and Organic market featuring healthy foods, vegetables, fruit and bulk items  In addition to these items, their meat and seafood department also comes highly recommended.   Opens for business Wednesday April 12.    

If you are driving South on the Trial and SPROUTS is your destination you will pass one of Sarasota's oldest  restaurants,   The Waterfront.  With a name like that, it has to be located along the water.   

A Waterfront Delicacy
Though clientele is mostly local, several from University, Lakewood Ranch, Longboat or city can be seen dining there.  The dress is bar casual.   The food,  some of it actually grilled at the bar,  is adventurous.  Greek salad, BBQ ribs, all sorts of fish, great fries, onion rings.

Open daily for food and drinks 4-10 pm.  They do take reservations for large parties, and have several side rooms for even larger parties.  Located 7600 Tamami Trail 941-921-1916.

Mark your calendar for next weekend when the 15th annual Downtown Sarasota Art & Craft Festival helps close out a very successful season of shows.  Held each year at Five  Points Park (Main St. and Central) it runs Saturday and Sunday 10am-5pm.  This one is usually crowded, so my advice is get there early.  

It's that time of year again in Sarasota. Warm, sunny, little rain, along with bugs, ants and all
varieties of insects.  Going out in the evening,  the no-see-em's are around.  You know what they are.  Small insects that prey primarily on your ankles and by the time you realize it, your scratching.   Long build up for an OUTSTANDING Pest Control Company.

We have been using HIRED GUN PEST CONTROL for several years and are totally satisfied.  Reliable, reasonable and available for fast call-back if problems persist.  Call Russ at either 941-747-2948 or 941-713-2511.

JIM'S RANT....The homeless problem in Sarasota is growing, and no one seems to know how to handle it.  Last week the owner of Tavern on Main took matters into his own PEN.  Fed up with the panhandlers in front of his store, he let his inner feelings be heard by posting "No one under 21, No dogs,  No hipsters, Nobody who lives in a cardboard box."  You can imagine the flack the bar continues to receive, even to this day; especially social media.  Though the sign was quickly removed, the damage was done.  Working together is the best  way to handle the issue.

As always I welcome your comments or restaurant reviews.  Thanks for reading.  Until next week..


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

MARCH 26, 2017


With its mission of using the transformative power of the Arts to "educate and inspire to create a better world," so begins their 14th annual Embracing our Differences art exhibit.  Located at the beautiful Island Park along Sarasota's Bay Front and showcasing  45 billboard size images.  Opens Saturday 4/1.

Created  by local, national and international artists, writers and students reflecting their interpretations of this year's Embracing  theme "everything lives through diversity."

With the Immigration debate raging throughout the world, this organization is at the forefront  stating "our goal is to ensure that everyone is respected, included and valued for their individuality."  What a timely exhibit.

There's a recently opened Sports Grill  in Sarasota at 3005 University Parkway.  I know we don't need another one of these, but when it's as good as it gets;  why not???  From the minute you walk into Duffy's you realize you are in a special place.  

Sure  the noise is hard to take at times, and dozens of television
sets playing different sporting events are a distraction, but the food is every bit as good as advertised.  Their menu is all encompassing.   For instance, how many competitors have mouth watering mussels or sesame-crushed ahi tuna in this setting?   And the ever popular burger in many variations, is one of the best in town.  Add nightly specials, 2-1 drinks,  reasonable prices, and it's easy to see why DUFFY's  is packed daily.

You can Call Ahead 941-777-2100.  Not advertised, but did this last week and with long line at door, we were seated in less than 10 minutes.  Their app is available, and with it you get cash back, free appetizers, and non-advertised specials.  Open 11am-11:00 with an additional hour on weekends. 

No sooner do we finish a Fall/Winter season, then the next one is being announced.  Such is the case with Asolo Rep.  After what has been a successful five year run of exploring The American Character, they are embarking on a new adventure for the 2017-18 season "Staging our World".  Defined as "looking at the world culturally, politically and economically."  

Asolo is  starting its new era in a big way with an Andrew Lloyd Webber/ Tim Rice classic Evita opening November 15 and playing  through December.  Winner of several Tonys, , including best musical, book, and revival, Evita is the pop opera telling the story of Eva Peron.  An actress and wife of President Juan Peron of Argentina,  Eva rose to power before suffering a tragic death.

Mounting this production is Josh Rhodes.   He was the force behind 2016-17 season's critically acclaimed and audience favorite, Guys and Dolls.  His work is cut out for him, as Evita has a cast of 29 along, with children and a bigger than normal orchestra.  

Among the other choices for next year are Shakespeare In Love and Ragtime.  More on the entire schedule in the coming months.  For information on the continuing season or 2017-18 click here.

David Ross and Lindsay Arnold
Resisted watching Dancing With The Stars for several years.  However, I was drawn  back Monday night by the appearance of CUBS retired catcher,  David Ross.  What a surprise.  He not only looked comfortable doing the quick step, but came away with  one of the highest scores of the night. 

 Dancing to "Go CUBS Go",  Ross became the first baseball player to compete.   What made  viewing more memorable, was the appearance from Mesa, Arizona via skype of  teammates Tony Rizzo and Jake Arrieta.

I'll be watching  until his inevitable elimination.  The competition if fierce.  You can catch Stars Monday at 8:00 pm on ABC.

Han-Na Chang
Nationally acclaimed conductor Han-Na Chang joins the Sarasota Orchestra next weekend for Masterworks: Magnificent Seven.  She is joined by pianist Bertrand Chanayau.

Chang's professional career started at the age of 11, when she won an International Competition.  She went on from there to perform with many of our great orchestras such as New York Philharmonic, London Symphony Orchestra and Philadelphia Orchestra. 

Featured will be Beethoven's Symphony Number 7,  used in movie, The King's Speech, and Mendolossohn's Piano concerto No.1. performed by Chamayu.  Sounds like an interesting evening or afternoon.  To purchase tickets for next weekend's concerts please click here.

If you're reading this over the weekend and are looking for an hour of entertainment on Monday March 27, you're in luck.  June Lebell and her Musical Mondays  is hosting The Calloway sisters.  Saw Liz with June a few years back at Holley Hall.  Quite a performer, who along with her sister is appearing in concert Sunday at Church of the Palms, where she'll be Monday.   Doors open at 9:50; interview/performance begins 10:30.  Tickets are $10 and can be purchased  at the door.  Self-parking available in  Church lot,  3224 Bee Ridge Rd.

JIM'S RANT...This week, I am in total agreement with Chris Anderson when he writes "Bradenton Has Become What it Feared" in Wednesday's Sarasota Herald Tribune.  Once a city with  mainly locals, zero hamburger chains, minimal shopping and few motels, Bradenton  now has them all, and is as populated as most Florida cities.  Lured by its proximity to Sarasota, easy access to Gulf Coast beaches, "Bradenton, at some point became Fort Lauderdale, the very thing it used to be afraid of."  




Saturday, March 18, 2017

MARCH 19, 2017


Number One Seed Villanova is gone.  Losing to Wisconsin in a thriller as I write this.  Who is next??? Kansas, North Carolina, Gonzaga?  By the time you finishing reading, one or more may follow.  Whoever you are rooting for enjoy yourself.  As a College Basketball fan, we wait all year for March Madness....

Just announced.......lineup for 19th annual Sarasota Film Festival. Running March 31-April 9, the festival will screen 79 films and 130 shorts at the Regal Hollywood 20 TheatreOpening night showcases a documentary Take Every Wave: The Life of Laird Hamilton, directed by Rory Kennedy who will he on hand for this screening.   Hamilton is a legendary surfer.

Alec Baldwin, Diane Lane, Arund Virad
 Closing night gets even more interesting as just released Paris Can Wait with star Diane Lane in attendance.  Also starring, but not announced as attending,  is Alec Baldwin, whose  career has seen a tremendous bounce from his frequent SNL appearances, where he "becomes"  President Trump.  Francis Ford Coppola's wife Elanor is director.

Beach Rats
One other movie of note, Beach Rats, a coming of age movie shot entirely in 16 millimeter on summer nights around Coney Island, Brooklyn.  This is a centerpiece film which is also showing in a current NY New Directors/New Films festival at the Museum of Modern Art. Click here for all the latest information on screenings and locations. A guide is also available at their box office in Hollywood 20.

A recent addition to our dinning choices has been earning good word of mouth  from several corners of  Sarasota. Friend Joe Marsh was a recent diner at  CAFE BARBOSSO, 5501 Palmer Crossing Circle off Clark Rd. 

Joe writes..."Martha and I went to dinner Wednesday evening with some friends to recently opened CAFE BARBOSSO.  The Manager/Chef is Joe DiMaggio, a relative of the "Yankee Clipper."  He grew up in Little Italy in NYC, and some of his recipes are his grandmothers from the old country.  The food was enjoyable, tasty and reasonably priced.

In  addition to his love for food, Joe DiMaggio's other love is painting in oils.  He has a number of them hanging on the restaurant walls; all of which are available for purchase.   Joe is always inviting aspiring young artists to paint while you dine.  It's truly worth a try."

Coincidentally, Joe Marsh and I were together last week when a woman walked up to us.  I knew the name, but not the face.  Helen Spindler, who helps with spelling and grammar of blog, mentioned the restaurant while introducing herself. 

Friend  Judy Cahn also had positive things to say; especially likes the pizza.  Seems like word is spreading.  For reservations for dinner Tuesday-Sunday 4pm-10pm call 941-922-7999.

 If you haven't been watching  FX's  FEUD Sunday 9pm-10pm you are missing one heck of a show.  Taking place in the early 60's; it sure feels like it!!!  One of the most creative and authentic looking shows about Hollywood with acting over the top.  Especially Susan Sarandon as Bette Davis and Jessica Lange as Joan Crawford..

The action takes place during the filming of their terrific 60's horror movie, Whatever Happened To Baby Jane.  The feud between these two stars really got going on the set once production began ; in part set up by the studio to create a better movie.  Also in the all-star cast are Kathy Bates, Stanley Tucci, Alfred Molina and many more.

Writer and director Ryan Murphy brings this one to us.  You may recognize the name.  He is the genius behind Nip Tuck, American Crime Story, as well as one of my favorites, American Horror Story.  

Tracy Michelle Arnold
The just opened Asolo Repertory Theatre production of The Little Foxes has received critical acclaim.  Starring Tracy Michelle Arnold, whose credits include 17 season s at American Players Theatre in Wisconsin.   The aforementioned Bette Davis starred in the 1941 film version.   Laura Linney and Cynthia Nixon star in NY prodcution of Foxes.  Over 80 years young, this one is timeless.

Frank Galati returns to direct Asolo's  newly mounted production.  He is a familiar name here, having directed  other Asolo productions including 1776 and Guess Who's Coming To Dinner.  Galati is a Broadway Tony winner for his 1998 adaptation of The Grapes of Wrath.   

Foxes  plays through April 15, and continues one of this theatre's most successful seasons ever.  Also continuing are Born Yesterday through April 15 and The Great Society through April 2.  Click here to order your seats on line. Box office number is 941-351-8000.

As   Spring Training comes to a close, I want to call your attention to Saturday March 25.  A 6:05pm start against The Minnesota Twins.  A special treat as this is Fireworks Night.  I've been to Ed Smith for this promotion in the past, and if you like your Fireworks up close and personal this is the spot to be.  Call 877-222-2808 or click here and purchase tickets on line. Several remain, but this one is sure to be a sellout.

JIM'S RANT......Chris Anderson  writing in Tuesday's Herald has nothing but complaints for Nathan Benderson Park.  His main gripe about the Park is lack of isolation from traffic as well as stores, power lines, water tower,  and  the many distractions caused by same. While walking there on Saturday didn't notice so called "distractions." Instead of embracing the Park's beauty and tranquility he turns the other cheek....get a life!!


Friday, March 10, 2017

MARCH 12, 2016


Friday, we all become IRISH for the day.  Say hello to the world of  Saint Patrick's Day.......


There are several Irish Pubs kicking off the day at 11:00 am, and going well past midnight.  One that comes to mind, Lynches Pub & Grub 19B North Blvd. of Presidents, St. Armands Circle 941-388-5568.  Their  festivities start early and go all day until close...real late!!!  Along with a plentiful supply of beer, alcohol , and wine, there is corned beef, cabbage and a whole slew of Irish themed dishes.  For a link to menu click here.

As I write this story an email dropped from one of our favorites, The Rosemary.  George Armstrong is preparing a special menu, including corned beef and cabbage.  He's accepting reservations at 941-955-7600.

Enjoy and watch your intake!!!

Cotton Candy?  Pop Corn?  The 81st Annual Sarasota County Fair takes place at their Fairgrounds Fruitville/Ringling  starting Friday through March 26.  If you're OK with big crowds, dig Midway rides, into all kinds of exhibits,  and yes good old fair food, then you're in luck.  A great place to take those grand kids on Spring Break for a fun afternoon or evening.

Better act fast if you want to participate in the 4th Annual PEDAL for PUPS.  Joined again this year by the very popular DOGGY BONES 5K and 10K runs.  The date is Sunday March 19 at beautiful Nathan Benderson Park.  That's where all the activities begin and end. 

Breakfast  lunch, beer and entertainment.  You can register on-site beginning at 7:00am and won't have to wait long for bike events that kick off at around 7:45, with run and walk following throughout the morning.  Or you can sign up now,  just click here. Search events in Sarasota. Pedal for Pups pops up and the rest is simple.

This event is in support of Nate's Honor Animal Rescue, a one of a kind rescue and adoption model.  Honor provides pets with a safe, happy and healthy place to live until they can find their home forever homes.  To date thousands have been saved and adopted.
A recent culinary discovery of mine was  KNICK'S, an  unpretentious bar/restaurant on Osprey in Southside Village.  I've passed by many times, and overlooked.  No More!!!   A few weeks ago, we had our own dinning experience and came away wanting more.

What  I never expected to find in a small and intimate location, was such an elaborate menu.  From appetizers, to soups salads, to sandwiches,  along with special entrees, I dare you to leave hungry or unsatisfied. 

Open for lunch and dinner Mon-Fri, dinner only on Saturday, and  closed Sunday.  They do take reservations  for either inside or outside dining at 941-955-7761.  For a look at their lunch and dinner menus click here

Alan Cumming put on quite a show at Van Wezel a week ago.  He was intimate, charming and very entertaining.  His performance had the feel of a cabaret act; which in essence it
Alan Cumming in Cabaret
was, since most of the songs came from several NY  performances at Cafe Carlye.

Maybe a few more songs to go along with his touch on life;  but he gave us 90 plus minutes of entertainment.   Cumming left the stage after an encore to standing cheers from the sold-out crowd.  Then, along with his musical group stopped at Growler's Pub North Tamiami Trail, where he spent time at the bar before catching a plane out of SRQ.

Caught up on OSCAR movie's yet?  They're joined  this weekend by the winner of Best Foreign film, The Salesman.  Playing exclusively at Burns Court Cinema, where it was featured in their Cine-World last November.  I saw it then, and thought it was just an OK movie. 

In reflection,  and with the benefit of time and discussion, it was and is a very thought provoking drama of conflicted marriage.  As with many Foreign films, the essence of movie takes time to digest.  I do recommend The Salesman.

Mail...I get mail...In response to last weeks rant about Longboat Key heavy traffic this season comes a dissent from good friend Merrill Wynne who writes..."Jim, so far this year traffic has been light from LBK.  Only once has traffic backed up.  Don't know how long it will last, but so far so good.  Friday into Van Wezel leaving 6:30 and arriving 15 minutes later.  Saturday leaving an hour early it too 17 minutes."  Agree???

JIM'S RANT....We have become a cell-phone society.  Seems like everyone has one; take it to movies, restaurants, supermarkets and more.  People are talking after parking their car, paying little or no attention to traffic or other walkers.  They aren't watching; BUT, you should be, or there will be a heavy price to pay.......

 Thanks for reading.  See  you again next week....JIM

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

MARCH 5, 2017


According to  U.S. News & World Report , in  its 100 best places to live in the USA, Sarasota is ranked #21.  Tampa is a distant #35.   "Warm-temperatures year round, award-winning beaches and a thriving arts and cultural scene have made Sarasota a go-to-place for retirees and families, not to mention a handful of celebrities, " the report says.  But we already knew this!!!

When  Piano Men closes April 15 it  will end a very successful 20 week run;  a  record for a show at FST's Winter Cabaret.   Starring two very talented singing musicians Brian Walters and John Grecco who work their way through the music of Billy Joel,  Elton John, Fats Waller and Stevie Wonder among others.

Doesn't get much better than this!!

I saw this a few weeks ago and was so entertained, I am going back this week.  The songs are memorable from Piano Man to Your Song to Tiny Dancer.  All arrangements are new and nostalgic.  I challenge you to go through the evening without memories of your youth.

For ticket information call 941-366-9900 or order tickets from the comfort of your home by clicking here.

Westcoast Black Theatre continues their season with an instant classic, "Girl Groups:The 60's Explosion"  Obviously, just the opposite of above, but every bit as good.  I've heard this from some who attended an early performance.

In the early years of contemporary music, girls were mostly backup for men's groups.  Once in front of the microphone they morphed into the Supremes, Martha and the Vandellas and The Marvellets among others.

Next weekend welcomes the 46th Annual Creators & Collectors Tour.  Benefiting the Fine Arts Society of Sarasota;  this event brings together several  of the artists thriving in our community. Dates are March 10-11.

This self-guided art studio tour provides experienced and novice art lovers with an insiders look at the six private work spaces of  some of Sarasota's top artists; each with their own expertise from art to craft to sculpture

After the studio tour,  visit with several artists at the Galleria on Ringling College of Art & Design Campus 2700 N. Tamiami Trail.  Both days the schedule is 10am-4pm.  For additional event information you can go to the site below.

  Click here to purchase advance tickets as well.  Tickets are also available at several of your favorite galleries around Sarasota. 

Academy  Awards Recap....I did have a smile on my face; then all hell broke loose.  So as you see from the graphic, it's egg I'm wearing  as I write this.  Saw the entire 10 hour telecast ( at least it felt that long) .  Thought Jimmy Kimmel was terrific as host; his  handling of the wrong envelope  was spontaneous and spot on.

The opening number set the tone for an upbeat evening ; the gowns were beautiful; the Awards predictable.  Moonlight was tough to watch, but in reflection, it was worthy of Best Picture.  At least La La has spurred a re-wind of the movie musical; and for that we call ALL be thankful.  

Marlene Meyer, along with a few other readers, has discovered a gem of a restaurant you would not normally frequent.   Located 4900 N. Tamiami Trail, Sunnyside Cafe is serving from a huge menu 7 days a week.  She writes..."13 of us went and each got something different from pancakes, eggs benedict, salads with fresh tuna, fish&chips, lox and bagels, and more!!! 

 Everyone loved it.   Went back the next day, and had a lamb burger; also delicious.  Cute atmosphere, breakfast all day, attentive-friendly staff, good prices."

Owners are Hungarian and specialize with  dinners on  Friday 5-9p.m.with Hungarian music, candles, and great food.  Reservations are a must.  Call 941-359-9500.  For a look at both menus click here.

Give it up for the Baltimore Orioles.  A recently released economic impact analysis commissioned by Sarasota County Government concludes close to $89 million is generated in the area by this organization.   This takes into account a wide range of advertising spread over seven Mid-Atlantic states along with management of youth sport tournaments and recreational programs at their complex.  

What with every game a sellout, in addition to other events around the ballpark, you would think an airline might show interest in a direct flight to and from Baltimore.

Maggie  Menderski had an interesting item  in Wednesday's paper.   Instacart, a  new online service that delivers  groceries from a variety of stores has launched in our area. Their roster includes  Publix Super Markets, Whole Foods Market, Costco, and ABC Fine Wine & Spirits. 

For much more information I suggest you click here. Once on their site, you can enroll for the service as well.

As an incentive to sign for the Instacart,  they are offering a year membership for $49.  In addition, there is a weekly program as well as a 14 day free trial period.  A wave of the future here now! 

JIM'S RANT....I've been stopped more than once at various venues with an old refrain..."Longboat  traffic  has never been worse.  More back-up than previous years.  More time to cross bridge."  After several years, I've stopped listening.  With more development on the way, I guess you'll have to put up with congestion. One solution, a water taxi shuttle from the north end of the island is not going to cut it.  

Until next week have a good one......JIM