Dazed and confused? Not me. I’m just Lost in the Cheese Aisle.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


The Deauville Beach Resort... a slice of the 1950’s.

After eleven sweaty hours of driving spread over two days, I have finally returned home from an epic week-long trip to Florida.

Marge + Pisco sour = trouble.
I had decided to drive because I wanted to stop enroute and visit with my Aunt Marge, who now resides in Tampa at an independent living facility. Marge is always a pleasure - she always has a few stories about my mother that I haven’t heard before, the kind of stories only a BFF from high school days would know. And she introduced me to a new tipple, the Pisco Sour, with which we both got pisco’ed.

The visit with Marge was a bonus, though. The main reason for my journey was to attend the biennial International FJMC Convention, a gathering of members of the Federation of Jewish Men’s Clubs. I’ve been going to these little affairs since 2007, and they’re always a pleasure - a chance to catch up with old friends and make new friends, to refresh and learn leadership skills, to exchange knowledge, and to enjoy a unique blend of spirits and spirituality. This one was no different... except for the venue, which was (to put it mildly) several notches below previous ones.

Now, the decision to have a convention in Miami Beach in July is not as insane as it may appear at first blush. Yes, it’s ridiculously hot. Blast furnace hot... almost (but not quite) as hot as Houston. But most activities are indoors, and you have a pool - not to mention the whole honkin’ Atlantic Ocean - where you can cool off and even catch some rays.

The choice of the Deauville Beach Resort... ahh, that’s where things went a bit pear-shaped.

When a hotel is described as “historic,” it generally means “in serious need of renovation.” And the Deauville is, indeed, historic. Its main claim to fame is that it was the venue for the Beatles’ second appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show, which was taped on February 16, 1964 in the Deauville’s Napoleon Ballroom. The hotel - fictionalized as the Miramar Hotel - also was used in location shots for the Starz television series “Magic City,” which ran for two seasons in 2012-13.

The Deauville pool, AKA “Beatle-Juice.”
As glitzy as the place may have been a half-century ago, though, it has not aged well: It has gotten a bit crumbly around the edges. Adjectives such as “well-worn,”  “shabby,” and “rumpled” come to mind. The pool looked nice enough from a distance, but a thin film of human grease and detritus floated on its surface. The Beatles swam in that pool fifty-one years ago, and it is entirely possible that some of their skin cells are still floating around in it.

To call it a “dump” would be praising it with faint damn... and yet it was not truly abysmal, not quite sinking to the levels of “toilet” or “shithouse.” Just worn out

It’s a little like a superannuated call girl. You look at the lobby and you think, “not bad.” but when you get under the covers, so to speak, you realize that your double sawbuck would have been better spent elsewhere.

The carpeting on the mezzanine level looked tired and sad, desperately in need of replacement... and the place had the aroma of your grandma’s house. Not your grandma that bakes chocolate-chip cookies, but the one that went to live in a nursing home and pees into a bag.

The staff was friendly and courteous - when you could find any of ’em - and a few even spoke passable English. Valet parking was nonexistent, bell staff vanishingly scarce. Thank Gawd I am capable of schlepping my own bags.

Extra entertainment was provided by the army of fifteen-year-old girls from Argentina, who were in Miami Beach enjoying their quinceñera vacation and helping to ensure that the one regularly functioning elevator (out of four) was constantly packed to Tokyo subway car capacity.

Genuine Art Drekko lobby furnishings.
If you wanted coffee, you could choose between the vile brew offered at mealtimes in the Richelieu dining room, AKA the Ricky Ricardo... or you could go to the little coffee shop adjacent to the hotel and get a café Cubano - a tooth-shatteringly sweet Cuban-style espresso that could wake you out of a coma. I had a couple of those and I’m still wired, five days later.

My room was nothing to write home about, but it really wasn't all that bad. The hot and cold water taps worked, the shower functioned properly, and the balcony faced eastward, providing me with spectacular sunrise views across the murmuring surf of the Atlantic. And yet, as I surveyed my little kingdom, I could not help but remember another trip a decade ago, one where my choice of lodging was, errr, ahhh... a bit disappointing. At least this time, I was not the one who selected the venue, and Dee was not present to give me The Look.

Ah, the Deauville, AKA the Deau-Vile, the D’oh! ville, the Doo-Dooville. Our Convention was a blast despite you, and you gave us so many stories to tell - not like one of those boring high-rent cribs. Seriously - how often do you get to live in an honest-to-goodness Time Crapsule?

Hey, the place wasn’t all that bad.

1 comment:

Kevin Kim said...

Well... better the Deauville you know, eh?