Sashimi at Toni’s Sushi Bar in Miami Beach

While in Miami for New Year’s Eve, I went to Toni’s Sushi Bar in Miami Beach for some Sashimi. As a party of two we went there with no reservation on December 31 2015 and got some nice seats at the sushi bar. It is a small restaurant with 50 seats at the most, centrally located. Operating since 1987, they claim to be the first sushi restaurant in Miami Beach. High Zagat ratings underline the ongoing success of the restaurant.

Toni's Sushi Bar

Sashimi & more

I started out with a grilled salmon skin handroll and opted for a deluxe sashimi platter and worked my way through the menu. I was really amazed by the quality and variety of the fish and the specials they seem to change on a daily basis. The platter came with maguro, hamachi, sake, cobia (which I never had before) and kanpachi. Since they had toro on the specials menu, I couldn’t resist and added some aji and tai. To finish things off, I enjoyed both an unagi and anago as nigiri.

I really enjoyed everything we had and can attest that Toni’s Sushi Bar is indeed great. The veggie tempura, gioza and miso soup was also very good. We enjoyed it so much, that we went a second time on the last day of our trip.

Kodak launches a new Super 8 8mm film camera

Kodak Super 8

Kodak Super 8

In January 2016 Kodak announced a new Super 8 8mm film camera at CES in Las Vegas. To say the least, this is a surprise and I am enthusiastic about it. They say there’s kind of an analog film renaissance and that’s why there is a market for it. As you may know, I spent quite some time over the past few years to revive a Leicina 8mm film camera.

“On the heels of celebrating 50 years of manufacturing Super 8 film, Kodak is launching an initiative aimed at putting Super 8 cameras into the hands of a new generation of filmmakers as well as meeting the needs of top directors, indie filmmakers and others who appreciate the art and craft of filmmaking.”

Source: “Kodak Launches Super 8 Filmmaking Revival Initiative at CES 2016” kodak.com

The company is citing prominent filmmakers and Hollywood professionals as supporters of theirs efforts, such as Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino (who filmed his last movie “The Hateful Eight” in glorious 70mm), Christopher Nolan, J.J. Abrams, Robert Richardson, Patty Jenkins, Shannon McIntosh, Jem Cohen and many others.

Although there’s not much to show yet as the camera will be released in late 2016, some facts are quite interesting. It will be an all analog film camera with an electronic viewfinder and an additional mic input for digital audio recording. That’s quite an upgrade from recording audio on cassette tapes.

The product website shows off the specs, naming a fixed 6mm 1:1.2 Ricoh c-mount lens and an optional 8-38 mm lens. The camera presented at CES 2016 looks far more edgy than the animations on the website, but I am sure everything will work out. The Super 8 camera is expected to be priced between $ 400 – 800.

 

8mm film development & scanning

In addition Kodak will provide 8mm film cartridges and offer development and scanning as a service. Considering the effort and costs to develop and digitise 8mm film theses days, this is quite a promise and I can’t wait for more details on the program. Apparently the development and scanning service will also be available to anyone buying 8mm catridges from Kodak in the future.

For some brief summary of the specs and features, take a look at this video recorded at CES 2016.

Wynwood Walls in Miami

While in Miami during December 2015, I visited the city’s business improvement district Wynwood. It is an old industrial and warehouse district that was transformed over the past years into a colorful and vibrant neighborhood just north of downtown Miami. The walls in the area have been designed with huge graffiti paintings by artists from all over the world, making it a truly unique place to visit with lots of hipster bars and coffee shops, serving cold drip and the like.

“The Wynwood Walls was conceived by the renowned community revitalizer and placemaker, the late Tony Goldman in 2009. He was looking for something big to transform the warehouse district of Wynwood, and he arrived at a simple idea: “Wynwood’s large stock of warehouse buildings, all with no windows, would be my giant canvases to bring to them the greatest street art ever seen in one place.” Starting with the 25th–26th Street complex of six separate buildings, his goal was to create a center where people could gravitate to and explore, and to develop the area’s pedestrian potential.”

Source: The Wynwood Walls

Vultures will damage your vehicle

everglades national park

Ever been to the Everglades National Park? Well, it is an interesting place where you can learn about current threats by python snakes and how Florida is doomed since it is basically sitting on a huge sponge to be flooded by the rising global water level. Many birds can be watched while walking the trails and although it is kind of boring if no Alligator shows up, it still is worth a visit. On another note though, you might be wondering what vultures are up to. It turns out, they love rubber-joints of basically any make there is… So your car is in trouble. Why? Research suggest, because they are bored.

So every visitor interested in the Anhinga or Gumbo Limbo Trail at the Royal Palm Visitor Center has to cover his car with tarps or it will be seriously damaged. But even with the tarps in place, the car might still fall victim to the birds’ boredom. Apparently most other destinations in the Park are not so bad, but if you want to see Alligators, Royal Palm is one of the spots to visit.

Street Music in New Orleans

Among many other things I especially enjoyed the variety of street music in New Orleans during my recent trip. There are many bands playing day and night on almost every corner in the French Quarter, offering anything from traditional Blues and New Orleans Jazz to modern interpretations of pop music. The street bands seem to move around, sometimes joining each other and supporting local businesses e.g. by supporting them in fashion shows etc.

 


Second Hand Street Band

One band stood out in particular, the Second Hand Street Band. I liked them a lot, since they really motivated the crowd to stay, dance and sing along. The band is very versatile, offering classic tunes and modern pop songs with a comic twist. There are many videos on Youtube, so check them out.

Second Hand Street Band
Second Hand Street Band

 


Preservation Hall

If you are more interested in the roots of Jazz, check out the Preservation Hall. They are dedicated to preserving the original artform of New Orleans Jazz, offering 3-4 shows per day with changing lineup. Also they have a Preservation Hall Jazz Band, kind of the venue’s house band.

“New Orleans’ Preservation Hall was established in 1961 to honor one of America’s truest art forms – Traditional New Orleans Jazz. Operating as a music venue, a touring band, and a non-profit organization, Preservation Hall continues its mission today as a cornerstone of New Orleans music and culture.”

Although kind of a tourist trap, the Preservation Hall provides a unique experience. A 45 minute show costs around $ 20 and is well worth the money. The hall is pretty basic. There are just very few chairs, no bar, no restroom, to lighting or sound equipment. It’s all acoustic since it is meant to be as it once was in the old days. I went there on December 25 2015 and saw “The Joint Chiefs of Jazz” with Frank Oxley.

Preservation Hall in New Orleans
Preservation Hall in New Orleans

 

The Hateful Eight – 70mm Special Roadshow Engagement

The Hateful Eight Roadshow Engagement

Quentin Tarantino’s latest movie came out a few weeks back in December 2015, The Hateful Eight. Luckily, I was in Florida at the time and had the opportunity to be part of the Special Roadshow Engagement presented in 70mm… that was so awesome and soooo wide.

“The exclusive 70mm Roadshow engagement of The Hateful Eight pays homage to and recreates the grand film exhibition style popularized 1950s and ‘60s and that brought audiences to theaters with the promise of a special event. Taking place in the nation’s largest cities and grandest theaters, Roadshows presented a longer version of the film than would be shown in the films subsequent wider release, included a musical overture to start the show, an intermission between acts and a souvenir program. (Limited supply, first come, first serve at 70mm locations only.)

Ultra Panavision 70 refers to the very rare and exceptional format that Quentin Tarantino and his team used to shoot The Hateful Eight. Panavision’s unique anamorphic camera lenses capture images on 70mm film in an incredible aspect ratio of 2.76:1. Almost all films you see today are shot in ratios of either 1.85:1 or 2.39:1. So, to put it simply, Ultra Panavision 70 provides an amazingly wider and more detailed image.”

Source: The Hateful Eight

 

Impressions from New Orleans

I spent a few days in New Orleans over Christmas in 2015 and explored the Birthplace of Jazz. Even though December seems to be the coolest month of the year, it was extremely sticky and humid at 26°C (78°F). During the time there it was cloudy every day and at some times you couldn’t see more than 50m due to the thick fog hanging over the city. I might have enjoyed the city more with a few sunny days, although it might have been even more sticky that way.

Staying at a hotel in the French Quarter allowed for a quick dive into the city’s music and party scene with most of the major attractions close by. There is live jazz and blues music on the street and in almost every club and an abundance of decent restaurants offering mainly creole cuisine.

Here are some impressions from the trip, hopefully catching the mood.