Wellness Reads

17 04 2016
Des Moines Microsoft

Des Moines Microsoft

It had been so long since a woman of striking beauty had spoken to me. The South Florida bubble I had been working in certainly skewed in another direction.

Ms. Svokos did not seem threatened or put off by my approach. We were sort of thrust together, taking the last two seats at the bar. Wellman’s Pub was packed that night, the New Jersey Governor scheduled to speak and his advance team was busy setting the stage. Ms. Svokos and I bonded immediately, journalism our common craft.

“What kind of books do you read?,” she asked. I was caught flat-footed, unprepared for such a question. I was so obsessed with following the election, there was no time to get lost in a work of fiction. No time to relax…and no vacation.

A young lady behind the bar took our orders. I had a burger. We both had beer. The pub was filling up fast, one of the television camera guys came up behind me and ordered an “Arnold Palmer” … I asked him what was in it, but he seemed annoyed by my question and never disclosed the ingredients.

Ms. Svokos described her beat as ‘millennials’ focused. Mine, I said, was more centered around retired ‘boca babes.’

She seemed to enjoy my company and I was thrilled to be chatting with such an intelligent writer from New York.

Ultimately, our conversation turned to business. I pitched a story idea, she signed me up for the Elite Daily snapchat feed and we went on our own merry ways right before the Governor came downstairs. It was my first time I had seen Christie in action. He was introduced by Iowa’s Governor and U.S. Senator. His wife, Mary Pat, ever smiling by his side.

“We are not electing an entertainer-in-chief,” Christie said that night.

My how times have changed.

The Iowa Caucus adventure had been a quest to see how the parts were assembled. Connecting with Ms. Svokos was one of the highlights. I left Wellman’s Pub in West Des Moines that night, surprised by what I had seen. Republicans seemed to perform better in suburban environments. The crowd was almost entirely white and preppy and dressed in business attire. That wasn’t so surprising. The fact that I enjoyed myself was.

I have corresponded with Ms. Svokos since returning to Florida. I’ve been texting Billy in Chicago too. Such a Bernie bro that one.

Christie has since dropped out of the race and backed Donald Trump. Florida went overwelmingly for Trump and Hillary Clinton. I caught a glimpse of Hillary and her husband, President 42, Bill Clinton, in Miami. Both events were in majority black, African American precincts. Both events much more rigid and cold than that night in West Des Moines. I covered the DNC debate in Miami too and there began to understand the influence of a large population of Hispanic and latina immigrants and its significant presence in Florida. Miami-Dade County might as well be its own nation.

I think about Ms. Svokos and her favorite books question and I wonder what the summer has in store.

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Spring Awakening at Christie’s

18 03 2016

There’s a spring awakening happening all across this land. Back in Fort Lauderdale there is plenty of water to go around for those content with retirement. Florida is great this time of year. Always was.

A month after Iowa and my strength has returned. Word to the wise, it is stupid to walk along the shores of Lake Michigan in freezing temperatures. Know your limits.

Billy was impressed. I drank straight whiskey that night. It unplugged my sinuses and allowed me to breathe again and offered just the slightest amount of resistence to Billy’s very vocal brand of democratic socialism.

Iowa had been a disaster. It was clear early on the mainstream media and various campaigns were in bed together. This level of collusion, however, was never before so apparant. A tiny older man from Springfield, Illnois was trying to pass himself off as Jewish in the lobby of the Marriott in downtown Des Moines.

The man was selling kippahs with the Presidential candidates’ name etched into suede fabric. I asked the man how much he was asking for one. He said, ’10 dollas.’

I replied, “Will you take five?”

“Sold,” he said, with a smile.

I chose the Bernie Sanders kippah. It was was gray, unlike the blue of Hillary Clinton or the red of Jeb Bush. I bought it for Jerry, my rabbi friend back in Pompano. It would be a nice souvenir and Jerry was a Bernie fan.

The salesman, whose name escapes me, had just returned from a function attended by Carly Fiorina, the ousted Hewlett-Packard CEO and lone female Republican Presidential candidate. I was intent on seeing both sides of the story in Iowa and the lobby of the Marriot is where I found a lot of GOP surrogates.

Interestingly enough they were not as scary as depicted in the media. Some where even friendly. I had a pleasant conversion with a middle-aged woman who was involved with the Chris Christie campaign. Christie, the Governor of New Jersey, was once considered a favorite for the nomination. That, of course, was before the Trumpnado twister hit the party. The woman informed me of Christie’s upcoming campaign stop and I gave her my card while expressing a desire to report on the event. It turned out to be a pretty fun outing at a pub on the westside of Des Moines. I got there early and shopped the nearby REI outdoors store. Great products at REI but way too expensive for me. This is what happens when the Chinese are not consulted, Donny, I thought.

One of the REI employees said she was a single working mother voting for Bernie Sanders and the other one who approached me declined to endorse a candidate. At the pub, I ordered some food at the bar while Christie’s advance team set the stage. That’s when I met Ms. Svokos, a Manhattan writer from an elite publication. Young and beautiful. We got the last two bar stools available. It would be a very interesting evening.

Wellman's Pub West Des Moines, IA

Wellman’s Pub West Des Moines, IA