I’m winging my way home from Gotham City after a quick trip up here for part of what’s turning out to be my “culture week.”
It began Sunday when I went to church. I was delighted to discover that the guest singer was the amazing Maryel Epps.
Maryel is one of my favorites, and I usually ask her to sing when I give the service. But I haven’t heard her for about two years, and she’s better than she’s ever been. She always had a voice. Now she shows a refined musicality that was magical.
Maryel is a true jazz, R&B, and gospel Diva who can command the stage as well as anyone. She’s sung with the likes of Patti Labelle, Chaka Khan, and Dizzy Gillespie. She toured through Miami some years back and fell in love with the city and stayed.
The feeling is mutual. If you would enjoy someone who has the attitude of Martha Walsh, can blow like Aretha, and can harmonize like Anita Baker, check her out.
Then Sunday night I went to see Former American Ballet Theatre star Julio Bocca in "Boccatango,” which is a sensual mélange of classical ballet fused with tango, and contemporary choreography that would do Debbie Allen proud.
Julio is now 40 and about to retire, but he sure doesn’t dance like it. But after 20 years atop the steep slope of the ballet world, he’s ready to move on. What a loss that will be, as he is one of the most dramatically refined virtuosos on the planet. But he’s had seven surgeries on his knees and feet, broken his ribs in a performance, and injured his shoulders. So who can blame him for wanting to hang up his slippers? But I’ll tell you what: He held his own with a cast of twenty-something dancers.
"Boccatango," is presented by Ballet Argentino, the company he founded in his native Buenos Aires. He is a stadium-filling rock star back home and the Miami event was packed with Argentine transplants.
The 80-minute show is not a big production number. There are no sets or flashy costumes, just 7 or 8 magnificent dancers, two singers, and a six-piece band that produces a sound like a 40 piece orchestra. If orchestras played salsa that is.
There is no intermission, just one fast-paced number after another, holding you enraptured and hoping it will never end.
The two vocalists, Gisela Sara and Esteban Riera, sing the most beautiful ballads you ever heard. Is there anything as romantic as love songs sung in Spanish?
Quite a few of the dances are very erotic, especially a duet with Bocca only in briefs, pairing with Cecilia Figaredo wearing nothing but panties. This is the kind of show you should take your wife, girlfriend, or boyfriend to. Or all three!
The band was led by Julian Vat, who also played flute and saxophone. When he picks up the sax, you could close your eyes and feel you were listening to another Argentine legend, Gato Barbieri.
But Bocca is the undisputed heart and soul of the show. His agility, rhythm, and presence are mesmerizing and his jackknife kicks and contractions are something to behold. For a 40-year-old to move like that certainly gives inspiration to a certain beat-up, 48 year-old softball player with a herniated disc I know! (More about my health later, which was the topic I promised you last time.)
Bocca does two solos: "Invierno Porteno,” in which he makes love to a table, and the showstopper: "Anos de Soledad,” where he dances on a tall ladder. This number is the most creative idea I’ve seen on a stage in years, and it showcases Bocca at his gymnastic, athletic, and quietly expressive best.
Drawing on his love of playing on the monkey bars as a kid, he slithers between the rungs, slides up and down the frame, strikes a pose like Jesus on the cross, and balances in a striking arabesque at the apex. The emotion was dripping from the rungs and the audience went berserk.
I believe December 22 is the date he is set to retire. If you don’t see him before he does, you will miss something extraordinary. It’s worth a trip from anywhere to hop on a plane and see one of his final performances. Find out where he will be for the final shows at: http://www.juliobocca.com/
Then Tuesday I flew up to NYC to see the opening of Cirque du Soleil’s first ever Christmas show, “Wintuk,” at Madison Square Garden.
It is a very quaint show, skewed a little more to kids than a traditional Cirque show, but enchanting nonetheless. It is the story of a little boy’s mythical search for snow. The show draws more on the troupe’s street performer roots. It doesn’t have the spectacular big stage acrobatics of ‘O’ and ‘Mystere,” but you do get a wonderful mix of X-games type skating, rollerblading and skateboards, along with some excellent juggling, Rola-Bola, and a balancing act that has to be the most difficult ever done since the earth’s crust cooled. There is also a great hoops set, a hypnotic aerial straps routine, some acrobatic Swiss balls, and a sensational Russian bars performance that is breathtaking.
Of course Cirque delivers their usual complement of incredible costumes, fantastic lighting and beautiful music. This show is a first in that it’s done with quite a bit of English, instead of the usual made up dialects. The young boy starring in the performance I saw was Noah Galvin and he was perfect in the role.
The show also features a great deal of puppetry. The animated lampposts were really clever, the shaggy dogs were adorable, and the ice monsters were positively arresting. Throw the kids on a plane and take them to a show they won’t forget:
I stayed at the ‘W’ hotel in Union Square, and it’s my new favorite haunt. If you’re going through Gotham, you’ve got to stay there. They took the Guardian Life Insurance building built in 1911, which is a granite and limestone beaux arts landmark, and transformed it into a way-cool, funky habitat for the terminally hip.
The guest rooms actually have space to breathe, and they’re elegantly appointed. The lobby bar is the perfect spot to play chess or people watch, and the restaurant is sensational. It’s called “Olives,” and it’s Todd English’s ode to spectacular Mediterranean cuisine. Even the hamburger I had for lunch was amazing.
I don’t usually get up North once the cold sets in. About the only things that can get me there are opening night at the Met, and Cirque. But every time I get there, I feel so alive. The city throbs with an energy I just feed off. South Beach will always draw me back for the ocean breeze, mango trees and Art Deco ambiance. But NYC in the fall or even winter is still electric. It really does never sleep.
I head back home today, and the Miami International Book Fair is going on, so this has to be one of the best weeks for the arts anyone could ever experience.
Speaking of books, my friend Paul Lemberg has a new one out you should check out. It’s titled, “Be Unreasonable,” so you know it’s right up my alley. I just don’t believe any great business success, or any great accomplishment even came from being reasonable. Ever.
Now obviously it would be difficult to write a reasonable book on being unreasonable. But if anyone should attempt it, it’s Paul. He's a very savvy business strategist and futurist, and most importantly, a critical thinker. So instead of writing some ridiculous “7 steps to being unreasonable” bullshit, he helps you cultivate the new thought processes that can take you where you want to go.
This escape from tactics and gearing more toward developing mindset and culture is a powerful approach that I have used for many years with great success. Get the book and see what kind of ideas it generates for you. You can find it on www.Amazon.com
OK, everyone’s been writing me, dying to hear about my “throw down the crutches and walk” miracle sinus cure I promised. So here’s the story:
My problem stemmed from a deviated septum. That kept my sinuses from draining properly and as a result of all the moldy, recycled airplane air I breathe, gave me about eight or 10 sinus infections a year. I would get fed up with them and go on antibiotics, which create lots of issues of their own. The surgery I was supposed to have a few months ago was to straighten out my septum.
Well I was discussing the surgery with my friend Jeannie Kidd, and she bounced it off of her husband Will. He suggested I should consider rolfing, which is a very deep tissue myofascial therapy pioneered by a lady named Ida Rolf.
Dr. Rolf discovered that she could achieve remarkable changes in posture and structure by manipulating the body's myofascial system and named her work Structural Integration. But everyone pretty much just calls it rolfing these days.
Rolfing can dramatically alter your posture and structure. It creates a more efficient use of the muscles, allows the body to conserve energy, and creates more economical and refined patterns of movement. There is offshoot discipline of this called Soma therapy.
The best way to explain it is that both rolfing and soma practitioners believe that when muscles and tendons face trauma, they sometimes bunch up, stick to the bones, or each other. Some therapists also believe they can hold negative energy or even emotions. I’ve heard many stories of people who went through the therapy and screamed, cried, or other things to release emotions. The other thing that happens is often a profound change in your body, when these muscles are released.
The friend who originally told me about it actually went up two notches in her bra size. Often people become taller. Or go to a bigger shoe size. (This cost me more than a hundred grand. But more about that in a minute.)
It’s not that your body actually grows; it just releases the tension that is holding and allows you to unlock and stretch out to your natural dimensions. You go through 10 or 12 treatments, and then the changes take place in your body sometimes for the next two years.
Well some time back, I heard about the offshoot Soma Therapy, and went through the entire series. I gained about an inch in height over time, but the fascinating (and expensive) change was in my feet! Over a couple year period, I went from a size 10 shoe to size 12.
Now long time readers know I have custom-made shoes from Lobb’s of London, croc, ostrich, lizard and enough Prada and Armani to stock a boutique. I ended up giving away over $100,000 worth of shoes. Which my friend Joshua Shafran is still laughing about, that evil bitch! But I was actually happy to have the therapy and felt much better.
Since then I have done a couple Rolfing sessions when traveling, but never did the whole series. So fast forward to the recent, and Will the Thrill suggesting I do Rolfing for my deviated septum. I thought he was crazy, because the septum is bone or cartilage. But he insisted, so I went online and found Jorge Gonzalez, a certified Rolfer in South Florida. I chatted with him and he indeed said he had helped at least ten people with a deviated septum. I scheduled a session right away. I have to say, the results have been totally amazing…
As I said, I’m 48. I’ve been through getting shot, a botched operation to take out the bullet, another one to actually remove it, a few serious car crashes, and a herniated disc. Over the last eight years I’ve played in at least 1,000 softball games, resulting in cracked ribs, broken fingers, dislocated fingers, countless hard slides into base, and more than a few collisions at the plate.
I do stretches and get regular massages, but my body is beat up!
But I had no idea how much tension I was holding until Jorge started the therapy. The very first session he attacked the septum problem. Now I must tell you, this is not for the faint of heart.
He dons rubber gloves and works on your gums, roof of your mouth, and the muscles surrounding your nose and sinuses. It is painful as hell, but I could actually feel my sinuses opening.
Then the real fun started. He put KY jelly on his glove and actually put his finger up through my nose into the sinus cavity. It is about as weird and uncomfortable as it sounds. But I’ll tell you what: I could actually hear and feel the septum open up and reset. I can look in the mirror and actually see the septum is straightened now.
I have woken up every morning with my left sinus passage clogged for at least ten years. The next day after my first session I woke up with it clear, and it has been ever since. I called and canceled the scheduled sinus surgery the same day. More importantly, I have taken at least 15 flights since then, and not had a sinus infection. That is unheard of for me.
I was even more impressed with the results on my herniated disc.
Jorge was able to get me running without pain for the first time in a few years. He got the muscles to loosen up and free some of the pressure on the disc, which had gotten to the point where it was often debilitating. Even with natural remedies and drugs I haven’t been pain free in a long time. Now I’m off the pain medication except for game time, and it’s getting better each week.
Now I have to tell you, the Rolfing (or Soma) is not fun. It is not a massage. It is DEEP tissue work and it can be quite painful. But at some point you can actually feel the muscles release and the pain stops instantly. Pretty amazing stuff. If you’re interested, go to: http://www.rolf.org and you can read more about it, and search for a therapist in your area.
I’m going to hang around Florida and enjoy the absolutely perfect weather. Then Monday I’m off for a tour in Australia and Asia. I’ll check in along the way. Until then, have a great week!