November 28, 2016
Dakota, Kathy and Andy
Nadene and Meredith
The Thanksgiving holiday always starts for us the weekend prior to Thanksgiving when the annual Miami Book Fair is held on the campus of Miami Dade College in downtown Miami. We have been going for years and this year was probably around my 20th visit to the amazing event. This year, I again had to fly directly from Las Vegas where I had been attending the DEMA (Dive Equipment Manufacturer’s Association) annual conference for work. I flew on an early morning flight out of Vegas to Atlanta where I met my sister Michele who was coming to Miami for the weekend to attend her very first Miami Book Fair. Kathy drove up from Key West that day and met us at the Holiday Inn Bayfront where we always book a suite due to its proximity to the fair.
Michele and Michael
Having not seen Michele since May, it was great to be able to spend some time with her and to introduce her into what is generally regarded as the best book fair in the country. The fair features literally hundreds of authors who make presentations in about a dozen different locations around the MDC campus. The campus streets are filled with a huge collection of vendors including book sellers, periodicals, non-profit organizations, local produce, numerous food vendors and more. There is a huge area for kids and a stage which feature live entertainment and music.
The highlight is of course the many writers who attend and this year was no exception. We started our morning Saturday attending a session that featured Pamela Paul of the “New York Times” interviewing four successful writers including Jay McInerney, Dave Barry, Terry McMillan and Maria Semple about what literature they read and what influenced them to become writers. It was pretty fascinating to hear them share both their current selections as well as those that really helped forge their interest in the written word. After we all attended the initial session, we split up to enjoy our individual author sessions, crossing paths occasionally in the room set aside for donors where food and drinks were available.
Bernie and Mitch Kaplan
Michele and Jane Alexander
The Property Brothers
National Book Award Finalists for Poetry
To pinpoint the highlights of an amazing two day at the Book Fair would be next to impossible. The appearance by Senator Bernie Sanders was the hottest ticket and most anticipated presentation of the weekend and he did not disappoint with his talk about the recent Presidential election in which he stressed that, “Despair is Not an Option”. Aside from Bernie there were countless fantastic sessions including the likes of Actress, Author and Environmentalist Jane Alexander, writers such as Dave Barry, Brad Meltzer, Canmpbell McGrath, Joyce Carol Oates, Padma Lakshmi, Dana Perino, Janna Levin, Nathan Hill, Joyce Maynard, Jane Hamilton, T.C. Boyle, Irvine Welsh, Tommy Hilfiger, Kevin Young, Rita Dove, Robert Pinsky and many, many more.
Of course no book fair would be complete without seeing a couple of personal friends who were presenting authors, this year both Diana Abu-Jaber and Jim Gleick were featured presenters and Jim even packed the largest room (Chapman) in the place. Kudos to both of them and all of the authors who were there this year. Perhaps my favorite was NY based author Colson Whitehead, fresh off winning the National Book Award for Fiction. I am so happy for him and have been a fan since his very first novel, going so far as to actively promote him to be invited to the Key West Literary Seminar a few year ago when most of the committee members had never heard of him.
Michele and Kathy
Bonnie and Mike
Michele flew back to Indianapolis early Monday morning from Miami and by that time Kathy and I were back in Key West and preparing for a busy Thanksgiving week. Our friend Dakota, whose wedding we recently attended in Vermont arrived on Monday to spend Thanksgiving with us, her husband Andy arrived on Wednesday evening for his first ever visit to Key West. It was so great to be able to spend some quality time with them, the wedding was great, but far too hectic for them and this visit allowed us all time to hang out and relax.
Thanksgiving was a fun day of spending time with good friends. We started the day going to the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Brunch at our friend’s Nadene and Trevor. They hosted a number of people to watch the annual parade and enjoy a huge spread of food. It was especially fun to see so many young kids running around, while the parade was shown. The Macy’s parade has always been on our wish list to actually attend one day, but watching it this way surrounded by good friends was a fine substitute.
Effie, Tom, Caitlin and Greta
Trevor and Meredith
In the afternoon, we headed over to our friends, The Fords for Thanksgiving dinner. I have known and been friends with members of the Ford family since I first moved here in 1991 and have had the pleasure to call three generations of the family my friends. Tom and Greta hosted the dinner at their home and we joined their family and friends for yet another Thanksgiving feast. It was so nice to be invited to their family celebration and we all had a great time enjoying the wonderful food and hospitality. If that wasn’t enough fun for the week, on Black Friday evening, Kathy and I hosted a Black Friday Craft Beer Happy Hour. Our beer fridge was literally packed completely full and we needed to create some space by inviting about 30 friends to the house for a small party. It was a great evening/night with great friends and great beer and was a perfect way to wrap up the Holiday week.
Dakota and Andy
On the weekend after Thanksgiving, Kathy and I played tourist a little with Dakota and Andy, heading over to the Casa Marina resort for the annual Sand Art Competition. Six sand artists from around the world were on hand to create beautiful works of art using only sand and water and the results were impressive. These temporary yet beautiful sculptures were carefully crafted and created over the week with great care by skilled artisans for judging on Sunday afternoon before being left to fade away in the elements.