No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Book Fair 35

November 17, 2018


Suzannah and Billy

Book Fair 35

Since 1984, the campus of Miami Dade College in downtown Miami has been home to one of the biggest and in many people’s opinion including my own, best book events in the country. From its humble beginnings it has grown into a literary behemoth that each year brings some 500 or so of the best and brightest writers and authors to Miami to present about their work over the course of a week in November culminating in the massive and wonderful street fair, which talks place the weekend prior to Thanksgiving.


It is one of my favorite events of the year, of any type and for most of the 27 years that I have lived in South Florida, I have attended missing only a couple of random years. This year, I once again flew directly from Las Vegas in to Miami on the Friday of the street fair and checked in to the Miami Bayfront Holiday Inn located on the downtown campus of MDC and right on the street fair location.

Stephanie and Kathy 

Kathy drove up and met me on Saturday morning before the start of the book fair activities. On Friday night, she had attended the first sold out concert at the Key West Amphitheatre, the first of a two night set from the Avett Brothers. Kathy and our friend Darci attended the show and really enjoyed their performance. We had seen them earlier this past spring at the Innings Festival and had loved them then and will be seeing them again next March at the Gasparilla Music Festival in Tampa. 

The Avett Brothers 

Jamie and her daughter with Carl Hiaasen

The Miami Book fair is more to us than just another book festival, it is always a gathering of friends as there are always a number of people who drive up from Key West like we do and this year proved no exception as our friends Andy and Stephanie came up along with friends Jamie and Andy and their entire family. We also run in to many other friends on sight as some are working for the fair such as our friends Mitchell, Raquel and Laura from Books and Books. There are also invariably friends and authors who we have met through our association with the Key West Literary Seminar.


Michael Ondaatje

Poet Billy Collins and his lovely partner Suzannah fall in to that category as Billy was on hand for a presentation with fellow Poet Laureate of the United States, Juan Felipe Herrera on Sunday afternoon. It was great running in to them as always. 


The Book Fair is a massive undertaking with presentations going on all day in multiple venues making difficult choices the rule of the day as we each decided which authors we would go and see. We both started out at the reading by 80s actress and star of the famed 80s sitcom “Family Ties”, Justine Bateman who has just completed a book that looks at the nature of Fame. 

Michael and Justine Bateman 

Kwame Alexander, Clydette DeGroot and Jacqueline Woodson

After that, we split up with Kathy and I attending different sessions but between us we saw presentations from a diverse selection of writers including Michael Ondaatje, Carl Hiaassen, Charles Frazier, Peter Sagal, Adam Gopnik, John Grisham, Brad Meltzer, Jonathan Ames, Kwame Alexander and Jacqueline Woodson. Perhaps the most anticipated and highlight of the day was the appearance of US Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayer who gave a rousing performance in the main Chapman Hall and then stayed around afterwards to sign every single book that the massive crowd wanted signed, much to the chagrin of the Secret Service agents who flittered around nervously through the entire thing.

Sonia Sotomayer 

Ron Stallworth

I caught a great reading from author Ron Stallworth, whose book “Black Klansman” was recently made into a movie by filmmaker Spike Lee, I also caught an interesting panel about the future of the NFL featuring former NFL star and now activist author, Etan Thomas that was fascinating. 

Eton Thomas


In addition to the author sessions, there is continuous entertainment on hand including many of Miami’s favorite local bands, this year I caught sets from the Remyz, Jahfe, the Combat Hippies and even Key West’s own favorites Patrick and the Swayzees, who performed a rocking and well received set to close out the day on the Porch stage.

Les from Patrick and the Swayzees


Kwame Alexander

There is also an amazing children’s area that has continuous entertainment, readings, games, activities and food for all the kids who attend and there are always a ton of them. It is a great event to bring kids of all ages and it is never too early to introduce young people to the power and importance of reading, something that seems to be going by the wayside these days. 


Tuesday, November 27, 2018


November 15, 2018

Michael, Howard and Derek 



The Dive Equipment Manufacturer’s Association (DEMA) show in Las Vegas once again drew participation from RPM Nautical Foundation, this time in the form of myself, and my colleagues Howard and Derek as we took the opportunity to once again meet with our current sponsors in the Dive industry, make new connections as well as take in the latest updates and improvements on scuba gear as well as attend courses and presentations about the latest in dive technology.

Howard and Michael 

It is a massive undertaking and we had to squeeze it in to basically two full days at the convention itself as our trip to the conference was limited in scope this year. As always the Las Vegas location also makes the visit in to a mini-vacation boy’s getaway and once again this year, we found plenty to see and do in Sin City. And even though what happens in Vegas is supposed to stay there, our activities were overall fairly unexciting and can be reported here.


The main event of our second evening out was attending what was my first ever NHL hockey game between the Las Vegas Golden Knights and the Anaheim Ducks at the new T-Mobile Arena that is located right on the strip in Vegas. Since the team is only in their second season, it is a new opportunity that was not available when we were in town for the conference last two years ago.

Vegas has been enthralled in hockey mania since the arrival of the team last year and their amazing run last season to the Stanley Cup finals as an expansion team only magnified the excitement that everyone in town seems to share. The game was crazy, packed with loud, excited, daresay I hysterical Vegas fans who were on their feet and going crazy through the entire three periods of play, which were dominated by the hometown Knights who destroyed Anaheim 5-0.


The hockey game was amazing, we had great seats about 7 rows up from the ice and the amount of energy that the players expend is so obvious when you are actually there, it is so much more exciting than watching on television, which I rarely do anyway. It was also military appreciation night and they had one of the oldest living survivors of the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 on hand to help drop the puck at the start of the game, which was also really cool. All in all it was a pretty spectacular evening.


After the game, we all headed over to Nine Fine Irishmen, the cool Irish bar inside the NY NY casino and listened to the house band playing traditional Irish songs over a few beers. It was a ton of fun as the band, fellow patrons and company were damn fine in their own right.

We were only in Vegas for a couple of days, but I still managed to get around and check out a few of my favorite spots, including the Beatles shop at the Mirage next to the theatre where their fantastic “Love” show is playing. I also walked around a bit on the strip, taking in the crazy scene that is always happening there. There were not huge crowds in town and it seemed most of the resorts and casinos were gearing up for the holiday onslaught.


It was a quick, but successful and fun trip to Las Vegas and Howard and I caught a 6 AM flight back to Miami on Friday morning, Howard going home and myself heading to meet Kathy at the Miami Book Fair for the weekend, another of my most favorite annual events.