Hallandale Beach Blog -A common sense public policy overview offering a critical perspective on the current events, politics, govt., public policy, sports scene and pop culture of the U.S., South Florida, Europe and Sweden. In particular, Broward & Miami-Dade County, and the cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood & Aventura.
Trust me when I tell you, this part of Florida is NOT the Land of Lincoln. Pictured in upper-left is Hallandale Beach's iconic beachball-colored Water Tower on State Road A1A; September 2008 photo by me, South Beach Hoosier. © 2013 Hallandale Beach Blog, All Rights Reserved.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Happy 97th Birthday, Jackie!; Jackie Gleason was South Florida's best Ambassador of Goodwill just by being himself; "Melancholy Serenade" by Jackie Gleason & his concert orchestra


LittleMissLounge YouTube Channel video: Jackie Gleason - Melancholy Serenade Uploaded January 14, 2010. http://youtu.be/UOw0qDQLPn8

I'll never forget driving to Florida from Chicago in the summer of 1987, and just as I did while home in Evanston on Mutual's WCFL, flipping on Larry King's midnight radio show on Mutual somewhere north of Gainesville or so.
(I think it was 50,000-watt flamethrower WOAI-AM out of San Antoinio, my birthplace, that I listened to south of Orlando.)

By the time I got near Port Charlotte to visit my friend Robert for a few days, on my way back for a visit with my family down here, Larry broke the news to his coast-to-coast audience of news junkies, students and up-all-nighters that the sad news had just been confirmed -Jackie Gleason had died.

I was on some dark and lonely stretch of some Florida highway about 40 minutes away from where I was supposed to be, and many hours late because of bad weather driving down thru Tennessee and Georgia.
And I do mean as dark and empty as empty could be.
Twilight Zone dark.

Knowing Larry as well as I did from having watched and listened to him since I was a kid, when he was at Channel 4 and doing color commentary for the Dolphins, I knew the stories were going to start flowing, and from someone who knew them first-hand.
And then I pulled over to the side of the highway and started crying.

A man whose genius had brought me so much enjoyment since I was a kid -and been able to be an extra on his TV show in 1969 when it was still being broadcast from the Miami Beach Convention Center- and an iconic symbol of the South Florida I'd grown-up with, was gone for good.

ABC-TV 20/20 piece from 1981 on Jackie Gleason, narrated by host Hugh Downs

And I sat in that empty car along the side of the road for at least a good hour if not more, listening to Larry tell the stories he knew in that way that, of course, only Larry King could.

Most were stories and anecdotes that I'd heard before over the previous 18 years and laughed at, but whose retelling now only made me very sad, and only made more stark that an American original like him, who chose to live in South Florida, was something that would never happen again.

And then it dawned on me that if if wasn't for the bad weather that had made me late, I'd probably have been asleep by midnight on Robert's living room couch, crashed from all the driving, and would never have heard those great Jackie stories one last time by someone who knew how truly significant Jackie Gleason really was.
Bittersweet, indeed.

wolfsonarchive·YouTube Channel video: Happy Birthday, Jackie! 1965: How Sweet It Is! Uploaded February 26, 2013. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zuFbCTmeiIw

They're not Identified on video but you can clearly see actor/comedian Jimmy Durante and former Miami Beach and Dade County Mayor Chuck Hall in this video.

Four years later, at an American Cancer Society party fundraiser in Washington, D.C. one night at the Washington Hilton & Towers, when I found myself next to Larry because his wife and my date were talking to other people, I finally had the chance to tell him how much I appreciated not only hearing the sad news come from him, but also the wonderful stories, even the ones I'd heard him tell before because they were so deeply embedded in my memories.
We ended up talking for about 10 minutes, mostly reminiscing about Miami, local radio here in the '70's, sports and the way things had once been and now were in Miami, for better or worse.

Photo of taping of Jackie Gleason and his American Scene magazine show in 1966 at Gulfstream Park, Hallandale, Florida: http://www.floridamemory.com/items/show/58634
"And away we go..."

The Village at Gulfstream Park's website has the year wrong on their website.
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Hallandale Beach Blog is where I try to inject or superimpose a degree of accountability, transparency and insight onto Florida and local Broward County government and public policy issues, which I feel is sorely lacking in local media now. On this blog, locally, I concentrate my energy, enthusiasm, anger and laser-like attention on the coastal cities of Hallandale Beach, Hollywood and Aventura.

If you lived in this part of South Florida, you'd ALREADY be stuck in stultifying traffic, paying higher-than-necessary taxes and continually musing about the chronic lack of accountability among not only elected govt. officials, but also of city, county and state employees as well. Collectively, with a few rare exceptions, they couldn't be farther from the sort of strong results-oriented, eager work-ethic mentality that local residents deserve and expect. But seldom if ever see...

This is particularly true in the Broward County city I live in, the City of Hallandale Beach, north of Aventura and south of Hollywood and right on the Atlantic Ocean. Here, the "Perfect Storm" of years of apathy, incompetency and cronyism are all too readily apparent. Sadly for its beleaguered residents, HB is where even easily-solved, quality-of-life problems are left to fester for YEARS on end, because of myopia, lack of common sense and ineffective supervisory management. It's a city with tremendous potential because of its terrific location and well-educated populace, yet its citizens have almost become numb to HB City Hall's frequent outrages and screw-ups, the result of YEARS of the worst kind of mismanagement and lack of foresight. On a daily basis, residents and Small Business owners wake up and see the same old problems that have never being adequately resolved by the city in a logical and responsible fashion, merely kicked -once again- further down the road for others to solve in the future.

I used to ask myself, not always rhetorically, "Where are all the enterprising young reporters who want to show that through their own hard work and enterprise, what REAL investigative reporting can produce?" Hearing no response, I decided to start a blog of my own that could try to do some of these things, taking the p.o.v. of a reasonable-but-skeptical person seeing the situation for the first time with fresh eyes, and wanting questions answered in a honest and logical way that citizens have the right to expect.

Hallandale Beach Blog intends to be a catalyst for positive change in public policy and goivernment engagement. If there's one constant gripe in South Florida, regardless of your age, race, nationality or political persuasion, it's about the fundamental lack of PUBLIC ACCOUNTABILITY of Florida's state, regional and local govt./agency officials, elected and otherwise. Hallandale Beach Blog aims to be a small step towards regaining some of that needed accountability, whether it's thru shining some well-needed public scrutiny on the issue or pol, or requires a higher degree of follow-up investigation and public exposure of the incompetency, cronyism or negligence -South Florida's usual governing style.
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Singer/songwriter Full of Keys (Anni Bernhard)

Singer/songwriter Full of Keys (Anni Bernhard)
Singer/songwriter Full of Keys (Anni Bernhard) wearing the teal-colored Miami Dolphins cap I gave her in January 2013 (in Stockholm) while recording her 2nd album, "The Grazing Grounds" at Sandkvie Studios in Visby, Gotland, Sweden. Also pictured here are sound engineer and co-producer Linus Larsson and musician/DJ/co-producer Mats Jönsson, April 12, 2013.Click the photo to see her videos, read my blog posts and Tweets about her and learn more about this dynamic and original talent with personality to spare!

North Miami Beach Senior High School, the Home of the Chargers

North Miami Beach Senior High School, the Home of the Chargers
Before I was a Hoosier, I was an NMB Charger, Class of 1979.

In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation

In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation
"In the Heart of a Great Country, Beats the Soul of Hoosier Nation." -South Beach Hoosier, 2007.