Adios, Burn Notice


The last episode of Burn Notice airs tonight. After tonight there will be no new opportunities for Sam Axe to charm soulless psychopaths with his alter ego Chuck Finley. We will never again marvel anew at the ability of Fiona to blow up entire blocks of warehouses on the Miami River without anyone even batting an eye. Michael Westen, long-abandoned burned spy, won’t be there to save the little guy from the big bad wolf or break our hearts with his loneliness. He will exist only in reruns. There won’t be anything new under the clear, South Florida sun.

Miami was the one character on Burn Notice that I could always count on. Each episode was a glossy postcard from the city I call home, despite the fact that I haven’t lived there full-time for many years. Coconut Grove looked luxurious and exotic. The Keys held close to their wild mystery. The blue waters of Biscayne Bay rivaled those of any advertisement for a Caribbean getaway that might have played during a commercial break. The Marina at Dinner Key reminded me that the best boats are those owned by your friends who invite you to come along.

Where Miami Vice was dark and broody, Burn Notice, at its best, is bright and buoyant. Crockett and Tubbs lived in the shadows of after hours clubs and the glare of pink neon. Michael, Sam, Fiona, and Jesse operate in the crystal clear light of day. Burn Notice always felt like Robin Hood and his band of Merry Men. If, after robbing the rich to feed the poor, Robin Hood and the Merry Men had gone for tapas and mojitos.

Burn Notice wasn’t always perfect. The times when it lost its way were exactly those times when the mood got too dark, the setting too remote, the mosquitoes too nasty. Fortunately, they always found their way back to South Beach, Key Biscayne, and Coral Gables. Sam was there to mix a rum drink and Michael took the Charger out for a yogurt run. Through it all, Michael and the gang looked great, did good, and taught us all some useful tips on modern spy craft.

There’s another reason Burn Notice means so much to me. When I was traveling (a lot) for work, I read (a lot) of books that were readily available at the airport. Lucky for me, that included the Burn Notice serials by Tod Goldberg. Little did I realize that a few years later, I would get a call from that very same Tod Goldberg telling me I had been accepted into the MFA program he runs at UCR-Palm Desert. Being a part of this program has changed my life in all of the best ways. Burn Notice doesn’t get the credit for that—I do—but I’ll never forget the breadcrumbs on the trail that led me to where I am today.

I’ll watch the final episode tonight. I’m sure I’ll cry, because I always do. But anytime it’s snowing and I’m feeling homesick, I know exactly where to turn.

Ft Lauderdale Beach

My Big But.

I promised this blog would be about my experiences as I matriculate – see I’m so much more literary already!

So today I start my first residency period at Rancho Las Palmas in Rancho Mirage, California.  So for the next ten days or so I hope to post pictures and a funny story or two about my journey – both literal and figurative.

Yesterday I flew from Newark to Los Angeles.  Montel Williams was on my flight so I figured there was no way God would let him die so my fear of flying wasn’t too bad.  Good start to the trip.

Then I drove from LAX to Palm Desert/Palm Springs/Rancho Mirage.

I stopped at the gas station, in Cabazon across from the outlet mall and the Morongo tribal casino, to see giant dinosaurs.  This wasn’t my first time here, but I feel compelled to stop each time I drive by.  First, because I love a roadside attraction, and second, because I love Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.  “Everyone I know has a big but.  What is your big but?”  I wanted to be writer, but … I was scared, I went to law school, etc., etc., etc.  But, then Mom and Dad challenged me to go back to school and just do it.  So here I am, in the desert, about to start my first residency. (And if you haven’t seen Pee Wee – do.)

Enough deep thoughts, here are some things I know so far:

  1. Climate control in the desert (115 when I got here yesterday) consists of boiling lava hot on the outside and frozen ice-y cold inside.  (Tip of the hat to Jim Gaffigan.)
  2. It makes me happy to drive on Bob Hope Drive, Frank Sinatra Drive, and Dinah Shore Drive; even if half of the locals drive giant black cars like my Dad’s and take up 1.5 lanes on said streets.
  3. While I usually get over jet lag pretty quickly, I am tempted to make as much noise this morning when I am wide awake at 5:30 AM as the people outside my window did when they were wide awake at 11:30 PM. (Side note:  They are already playing Earth Wind & Fire by the pool.  The pool that doesn’t even open until 8 AM.  Weird.)
So enjoy the pictures, and please, for heaven’s sake, do something about your big but.

Welcome to LAX!

I did warn you there would be talk of cheeseburgers


“Everyone I know has a big but.”