Friday, June 5, 2020

Unrest in the Land of Opportunity

COVID-19, Protests, Unemployment, Violence & Hurricane Cristobal.  What’s next?  Where is the Love?  What do we do?  How do we survive?  Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” has a principle: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood”.  Well, some things I just don’t understand.  It reminds me of an old song “Ball of Confusion” by the Temptations, just change some of the words.  We need God now more than ever.

I was 14 when I saw a riot while living in Philadelphia; and it wasn’t pretty.  I went to an all-black Catholic Elementary school and wasn’t allowed out at night.  I remember that the 2 grocery stores (Fagan’s & Barney’s) were burned down and other businesses on Ridge Avenue.  There was nothing wrong with the white people who owned the stores; as a matter of fact, they extended “credit” to those who didn’t have any money until their next government check was in the mail.  These store owners kept food on many a table.  I never thought that I would experience such looting and building burning nonsense again in my lifetime until now.  I am saddened.

White people are more apprehensive now than ever before (To To Where Are We?).  Some are afraid of retaliation or being seen as the enemy.  This situation is like “wearing a mask”.  Do we think of how wearing a mask is helping ourselves, or does wearing one help others around us?  What will I gain verses what someone else is dealing with?  How can I make this world a better place, is the question that we would be asking ourselves?  I’m tying to understand – are you?  How does the song, “We Are The World” come into play today?

Businesses have been looted and that causes more increase on unemployment, nevertheless, looting was not done by protestors, but by greedy, lawless, immature people who wanted to obtain something from nothing.  Because of their acts of violence, we have to earn the right to be respected.  Once again, all protestors are not rioters!

The “Pledge of Allegiance” still does not give equality for all.  Blacks have recited this poem for decades and it never pertained to black people.  We have tried to obtain liberty and justice for all, yet we haven’t started to get justice until these recent days.

Colin Kaepernick (and now, many others) are taking a knee.  It’s not about putting our hands over our heart and standing up tall.  We need to respect the American Flag for what it stood for.  The flag represents the lives that were lost during wartimes and the colonies that were set free, but are we all free?  Now we are fighting another war; a war of hatred that exists in the minds and hearts of some people.  If “taking a knee” during the playing of the National Anthem is wrong, consider it part of the “New Normal” instead of a sign of disrespect.  We are NOT disrespecting the American Flag, yet America is NOT being “Great Again”.  We are living in a time of change, and it’s time to SEE a difference made in our lifetime.  It would be lovely to exist in a land where you’re not judged by the color of your skin, but by the content of your character.

My heart aches for those biracial couples and their children who may experience racial slurs, criticism, or bullying.  This hatred has got to stop being spread from generations to generations.  Hatred seems to be another form of virus that is spreading throughout the land.

We live in a cul-de-sac and are the only blacks in the neighborhood.  Just like a place where we lived in New Mexico, we didn’t realize that we were the only blacks until we relocated to a city in the south.  I was respected more in Europe and Asia than I am living here in the US.  And it’s a shame that I am reminded of words spoken in the past, “If you don’t like it here, go back to Africa where you belong.”  Yes, I remember those thoughtless words and a tear comes to my eye.

The other day I was in Walmart getting supplies to make masks.  As I walked down the aisle (in the correct direction) a white man stared at me directly into my eyes.  He was unmasked and I could see the distain in his eyes.  I checked myself and made sure that my hair wasn’t making me look crazy √.  It happened again with another man standing in line.  I had to check√ again, I was standing 6 feet from him √, wearing my mask √, my deodorant hadn’t failed √.  You want to talk about “a new normal”, we are living in a “new abnormal”.  Things will never be the same again, and some things we hope will change for the better.  Nonetheless, I continue to smile beneath my  mask in hopes that they see the love of Christ through my eyes.

If any of my friends feel uncomfortable about what’s happening today, please listen to “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man” - former NFL player Emmanuel Acho, as he tries to explain some of the issues that black men go through.  It has been awhile since I’ve had to think about inequality (2007), nevertheless, I will continue to pray and make changes whenever and wherever I can.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

ABBA MANIA return to the Florida Theatre

As Governor DeSantis reopens concert halls in the state of Florida, the Florida Theatre is among the establishments that will comply to government guidelines.  The Florida Theatre is pleased to announce the return of the world’s number one touring ABBA tribute concert, “ABBA MANIA”, on Thursday, February 25, 2021.

ABBA MANIA returns to perform the group’s biggest hits: "Dancing Queen," "Waterloo," "Mamma Mia,” "The Winner Takes it All," "Super Trouper,” “Fernando,” ‘‘Take A Chance On Me” and many more in this special live concert.

ABBA MANIA formed in 1999 and the show has been selling out theatres and concert halls internationally ever since.  This show has toured the world in its quest to bring the music of the Swedish supergroup to their millions of fans, old and new.

ABBA’s timeless songs were written to be enjoyed live and ABBA MANIA gives you exactly that.  Two hours of uplifting, dance inducing and sometimes heart-breaking songs, fully live with fantastic staging, lighting and effects.  ABBA MANIA is the perfect concert for lifelong, die-hard ABBA fans as well as the new generation of fans who never had the opportunity to see ABBA live.

Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Anni-Frid, collectively known as ABBA, dominated the charts for nearly ten years and enjoyed nine UK number 1 hits.  At their height they became Sweden’s highest export earners, amazingly, outselling Volvo cars.  ABBA Gold was continuously in the album Charts throughout the nineties and is one of the biggest selling albums ever.

“Beware of imitations…this is the real musical tribute!” – Polly Graham, Sunday Mirror

The historic, nonprofit Florida Theatre is sponsored by Community First Credit Union.  For a complete list of upcoming events or to buy tickets visit the Theatre’s official website,

ABBA Mania
Thurs. Feb. 25, 2021
TIME: 8 p.m.
TICKETS:  $29 - $50

LOCATION:The Florida Theatre
      128 East Forsyth Street.
      Jacksonville, FL 32202
      (904) 355-2787

At home with the Cummer Museum

The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens is working hard on reopening plans to welcome you back soon. Our goal is to create the safest and best visitor experience that is centered around the highest quality works of art and historic gardens that are accessible and fun for everyone.  Their reopening phases will include the Gardens, followed by a full campus reopening.  As they continue to work toward finalizing a timeline for when they can safely reopen their doors, please be assured that they have been developing an extensive plan which implements the highest-level health and safety protocols to greet you.  To learn more, click here.

Florida conjures visions of a lush tropical paradise, with vast natural resources and endless opportunities for those most daring to try.  The cultural landscape, however, is a combination of nature and humanity; the landscape, from white sand beaches to murky swamps, provides the backbone; the inhabitants provide the culture.  Florida’s cultural landscape is light, bright, expansive, and ripe with potential, but also wild, untamed, ambiguous, and obscure.  Tour the exhibition here.

STAY SAFE, STAY SHOPPING: Discover unique gifts, including puzzles, books, jewelry, apparel, children's items, and more.  Now you can shop online anytime at the Cummer Shop Online Store.  The Cummer Shop is filled with items that are educational, inspirational, and fun.  The selections reflect the quality of the Museum’s Permanent Collection, Gardens, and Exhibitions.  Discount code for you as a member to receive the member 10% off is Member10.  You support our mission - proceeds from the Cummer Shop support exciting and diverse exhibitions and programs for our community.

ENGAGE WITH THEM: The Cummer Museum continues to provide comfort, wisdom, and the means for self-expression and connection through our virtual presence.  Visit here for innovative solutions to experience the Museum and its benefits from home.

‘Cinderella’ - first show since Feb.20th

The Alhambra Theatre & Dining announced it will open its doors on June 11 with Rogers & Hammerstein’s classic, “Cinderella.” With social distancing guidelines strictly enforced and capacity restricted to 50% occupancy, the Alhambra will continue its run as America’s longest-running dinner theater.  The re-opening plan took some juggling of seating charts and schedules, not to mention the patience of more than 10,000 guests who already had tickets for the remainder of the year, but the curtain will rise on June 11, the originally-scheduled dates for the Alhambra’s run of “Cinderella.“ The show is scheduled to close on July 26.  Patrons are asked to wear a mask except during mealtime.

Because of the social distancing guidelines related to COVID-19, the Alhambra will only be able to sell limited number of additional tickets.  The show was already 70% sold out when it suspended sales in late April.  Following the math of only allowing 50% capacity, the Alhambra actually added several matinee dates to accommodate the overage.

“We are thrilled to roll with whatever punches we need to open for our family of guests and staff,” said Alhambra Managing Partner Craig Smith.  He continued, “Our job is to provide the community a break from the day-to-day and give folks a place to go to make some memories. We’re grateful we get to do our job again and that our guests and staff are so accommodating.”

Adding the additional dates not allow the Alhambra to sell more tickets.  It simply gave them the opportunity to seat existing ticket holders, some who were asked to switch dates and tables.  “Our guests were ready, willing and able to work with us.  Our staff was willing to switch from days to nights when called upon.  Our kitchen staff was happy to add day time hours to an already-busy schedule.  It was really a great demonstration of being in this thing together,” said Smith.

Smith recounted that the most challenging part was figuring out what to do with the remaining shows on the calendar, including the nearly-sold out, “Grease.”  To do that, the Alhambra is moving its run of The Music Man to 2021 and replacing it with “Grease” from July 30 to September 20.  This adds two weeks to the original run of “Grease,” allowing for the Alhambra to accommodate its current ticket holders as-well-as take more reservations.

Said Smith, “We knew when we scheduled it that “Grease” would be a big seller for us.  We had the opportunity to accommodate the 12,000 “Grease” ticket holders and honoring our commitment to “The Music Man” by simply moving it to next season.”  The Alhambra will allow anyone unable to use their current tickets in their new seats and date as a credit for a future show.  “Love, Sex and IRS,” will run as planned in late September, and with matinees added to create more seating for what Smith expects to be a strong seller.

In compliance with local, state and federal guidelines for COVID-19, the Alhambra will heighten its usual high safety standards.  Staff will undergo training in safe service practices as well as what to look for regarding symptoms.  All staff will be wearing masks and gloves.  They have also been instructed to stay home if there is even a hint of a related symptom.  In an email to ticket holders, the Alhambra has asked customers to take the same precautions, and has offered to waive the “day of” transfer fee to those needing to change dates at the last minute.

In addition, the Alhambra will suspend for “Cinderella” and “Grease” its Opening Night Gala pre- and post-show celebrations in the lobby of the Theatre.  “We take for granted our usual processes because we’ve been at this for so long, so we’re having to review and change every contact point from food delivery to pens our guests use to sign their credit card receipt.  It’s been a good exercise for us in terms of efficiency.” Said Smith.  Complimentary Champagne and Hors d'oeuvres served at your table before dinner, on Gala evening.

Reconfiguring process is not new to the Alhambra, which had successfully pivoted at the beginning of the business closing period by switching from seated dining for 375 people to take-away and curbside delivery.  They later added dine-in options once the options were allowed.  The Alhambra will continue its curbside to-go dining program.


DATES: June 11 through July 20, 2020

SHOW TIMES: Please note, to accommodate the many young families attending this show, doors will open at 5:30 p.m. for evening shows and dinner will start at 6 p.m.  Adult and Children’s Menu can be viewed HERE.

TICKETS: Prices range from $40 – $68.  Children 12 and under are $38 + tax.  Ticket prices include: a plated three-course meal that changes for each show, and is served directly to your table; a Broadway-style performance and complimentary parking.  Tickets may be purchases by calling (904) 641-1212.
     **Prices do NOT include gratuity, professional photos, or orders from the bar**

LOCATION: Alhambra Theater & Dining
       12000 Beach Blvd.
       Jacksonville, Florida 32246
       (904) 641-1212

The Florida Theatre update during COVID-19

The next scheduled Florida Theatre show is The Orchestra: An Evening of ELO’s Greatest Hits, on July 11.  If that changes, it will be announced directly to the audience in a timely manner.  Their guiding principle is that the Florida Theatre will be open again when it is safe for the artists and audiences to do so.  They’re paying close attention to the best thinking in the sports, arts and entertainment industries on how to do this, and following guidance from the Centers for Disease control, the State of Florida, and the City of Jacksonville.  They are specifically working closely with the City of Jacksonville, who understand the importance of returning the arts and entertainment to the life of our city, but our mutual goal is to do it safely.  When they have more information about when, and any new protocols that the audiences should expect, we will share it publicly.

Due to the current global health crisis, these events have been rescheduled and current purchased tickets will be honored on the new show dates.

*The Florida Theatre will continue to update their website and social media platforms (Around Town With Ms. “V”) as new information becomes available.

LOCATION:The Florida Theatre
      128 East Forsyth Street.
      Jacksonville, FL 32202
      (904) 355-2787

One more takeout week at the Alhambra

Stay tuned for the next exciting post from the Alhambra Theatre & Dining here at “Around Town With Ms. “V”.  You won't want to miss it!

Take a look at the takeout menu options for Friday, June 5 – Sunday, June 7, 2020.  Takeout Hours: Fri. - Sun.: 3:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m.

Family-Style Meal: Fri., June 5 - Sun., June 7 (4 servings).  Chef DeJuan's Famous Shrimp & Grits served with caesar salad, and dessert of Chef's kitchen sink cookies.  $55

Entrée Options for Fri., June 5 (1 serving/each) Herb & Crumb Crusted Cod with lemon beurre blanc, rice casserole, zucchini and squash medley, and dessert of chocolate peanut butter pie. OR Braised Pork Cheeks with natural pork jus, buttermilk mashed potatoes, squash medley, fried onions, and dessert of chocolate peanut butter pie.  $20 each.

Entrée Options for Sat., June 6 (1 serving/each) Aunt Mae's Fried Chicken with country chicken gravy, white rice, creamed peas, and dessert of blueberry crème brûlée with sugar cookies.  OR Spaghetti with Housemade Giant Meatballs, garlic bread, green beans, and dessert of blueberry crème brûlée with sugar cookies.  $20 each.

Entrée Options for Sun., June 7 (1 serving/each) Creamy Chicken Pasta with angel hair, artichokes, mushrooms, peas, tomatoes and pesto cream sauce, and dessert of white chocolate bread pudding.  OR Smothered Pork Chops with gravy, yellow rice, succotash, and dessert of white chocolate bread pudding.  $20 each.

Price includes tax. Gratuity not included - but much appreciated.  Orders may be placed until 12 p.m. on day of pick-up. Quantities are limited.  Available while supplies last.

To place your order, CLICK HERE or call the Box Office at (904) 641–1212 to order.

Separate orders required for each day. Menu subject to change, based on availability.  Photos are not exact representation of meal.  Question?  Please give them a call! They are there to help.

LOCATION: Alhambra Theater & Dining
       12000 Beach Blvd.
       Jacksonville, Florida 32246
       (904) 641-1212

‘Solidarity Day of Action for George Floyd’

The City of Jacksonville community will come together to remember George Floyd, and Victims of Police Violence and to call for the: Release JSO Body Cam videos, FDLE investigation of all JSO Officer involved shootings, a Citizens Review Board and increased Police Accountability.

As part of a community wide Solidarity Day of Action for George Floyd, Thursday, June 4, 2020, Women’s March Florida Jacksonville Chapter in partnership with 11 local organizations: Northside Coalition of Jacksonville, League of Women Voters, NAACP, NOW, New Florida Majority, National Organization for Women, Sister Hermana, ACLU, Bring It Home Florida, Jacksonville Black Commission, Clergy, Community Leaders will host a peaceful solidarity remembrance and press conference.

Women’s March is calling for the community to take positive, peaceful action on that day to express their sorrow, anguish, and disgust over the wounds of racial division in this country and to remember those who have suffered, and continue to suffer at the hands of rogue police officers.  Supporters have been asked to wear black in support of black lives, place signs in their cars with supportive verbiage, donate to local charities that support racial justice, and attend the Remembrance event in front of JSO.

Women’s March Florida, Jacksonville Chapter, in partnership with community organizations, and clergy
WHAT: Solidarity Day of Action for George Floyd, “In Remembrance”
WHEN: Thurs., June 4, 2020 @ 6:30 p.m.
WHERE: Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office (JSO) 501 E Bay St, Jacksonville, FL 32202
WHY: “In Remembrance” George Floyd
HOW: Peaceful Gathering