Tag Archives: Zoya

Commencement to Be

Robby HS Graduation

It seems like just yesterday that the above photo was taken… me watching 18-year-old Robby graduate from High School. 

And then just two weeks ago…

Robby Graduation Okie 2

…Robby graduated from college and moved to Fort Liquordale!  Huh?  WTF?!  Where the @#$% is time going?!

Robby officially became a USF Alumni, and relocated down south with A.J.  To celebrate this achievement, he hosted a nearly 8-hour bar crawl that terrorized my liver and checking account sauntered through the hot spots of Ybor City.  And to celebrate this very same achievement my way, I will post 5 of My Favorite Things about Robby.  Let’s begin:

#1:  Paula Deen… I mean, Robby introduced me to his famous McDonalds Apple Pie & Chocolate Ice Cream Sundae concoction-in-a-bowl dessert.

#2:  Robby forced me to watch the Game of Thrones Series Recap.  After I stopped watching the show during its snoozefest second season, he promised that the current Season 3 was worth watching the show again.  A mere 10 minutes of my life and I am officially all caught up on Game of Thrones.  Bring on the damn dragons!

#3:  Robby watched Madonna’s Truth or Dare documentary and afterwards, remarked that he totally understood why my friends and I act the way we do.  (Now that I think about it… was that even a compliment??!)

#4:  Robby’s random insightful but hilarious text messages like the one he sent when describing his first impressions of being a new resident to the Fort Lauderdale area.  See below:

Robby Text Message

and last but not least…

As two gigantic music fanatics, Robby and I are constantly trying to introduce new and great songs to one another.  The “oh I’ve already heard this before” and the “I’m not really feeling this one” do often pop-up in our conversation.  So when a great song is truly introduced to one of us by the other, it becomes a mini-event.  When Robby first played “Blood” by The Middle East, I instantly fell head over heels for that song and had to immediately add it to my Current Favorites Playlist on Spotify.  To my surprise, the song was already on there.  So Robby playing “Blood” wasn’t my virgin time hearing it.  I still don’t remember ever adding that song to my playlist.  Nor did I ever figure out when exactly I first heard it either.  But just like mine and Robby’s close friendship, there really is no explanation for something that was meant to be.  Oh and #5: Robby has great taste in music.

Congratulations again to my old soul friend for graduating!

Robby Graduation ZOYA

Photo by Branden Hollywood

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The JOKIE 7th Avenue Strut 2013

Jokie 2013

Jocelyn and I are no strangers to the historic entertainment district of Tampa, Florida known as Ybor City.  If Jocelyn and I were pugs, all of Ybor City would be our marked territory: We have eaten here.  We have drank there.  We have partied here and there to the front, to the back, to the right, to the left, to the left – everything you own in a box to the left, sideways, diagonally, zigzag and back.  So when the opportunity arose, and after heavy suggestion for both J and I to officially show our backyard to our friends that were strangers to Ybor City, we immediately devised a plan.  Born was The JOKIE 7th Avenue Strut.

Here’s how it worked:

The Hosts:  JOKIE…  and for those readers lacking any common sense: just as Brad + Angelina = Brangelina and Ben + Jennifer = Bennifer before them, Jocelyn + Okie = JOKIE!

The Players:  John Fontana (Jocelyn’s leading man, Material Boy and Italian stallion), Kali (Jocelyn’s work baby and Hyde Park Village heir-apparent), Andy (Kali’s main squeeze and boo) and Lorena (no stranger to Ybor City, but a friend in need of an Ybor City refresher after her recent two-month stint in Los Angeles)

The Plan:  The Hosts must show the Players key Ybor City destinations, with stops at JOKIE’s signature hang-out locations.  May the odds be in their favor!

Jokie 2013 Gaybor

The Details:  We began the evening with ear candling (yes, ear candling!… don’t ask) at mi casa and then strutted on over to The Columbia for a pitcher of their famous Spanish sangria, James Joyce for a Framboise, Bernini for 1/2-priced dinner entrees and $2 mango martinis, Tampa Bay Brewing Company for the sampler beer tray, The Bricks for an art show and Pisco Sours, Liquid Tampa for a twirl, Bradley’s on Seventh for a whirl, Reservoir Bar for second-hand smoke inhalation and a beer, Hamburger Mary’s for the 10pm Drag Show, Hurricane pitchers and a photo with Mark & Carrie (above), The Castle for dungeon photo-ops and a vodka cranberry minus the cranberry, MC Film Fest for a lil’ shopping, The Honey Pot for shots of Patron and dancing and G.Bar for more dancing but this time with blurry vision and slurred speech.

It was indeed a long night, but the Players threw their hands up in exhausted and inebriated defeat and called it a night.  The JOKIE 7th Avenue Strut failed to reach the final three destinations: an ice shot at CZAR, a hookah at Zoya and a slice of pizza at New York, New York Pizza / Shepherd’s pie at The Dog’s Bollocks.

The Players (minus a few still recovering from the night before) reconvened the next morning at Gaspar’s Grotto for the Booze Cruise Brunch and to officially conclude the inaugural JOKIE 7th Avenue Strut 2013.

Conclusion:  While the Players showed bravery, dedication and very admiral attempts at hanging with the Hosts, and as much fun was had by all…  another JOKIE Strut must and will be planned at a later date and time.

Special Thanks:  Jocelyn and I would like THANK all of our friends who we texted, messaged & called for any special favors, along with their wonderful staff for showing our Players true Ybor City hospitality at its very finest!

Who run this mutha?  For all-intended purposes of this blog post, please press play and replace the words “WORLD” with “YBOR” and “GIRLS” with “JOKIE”…  “Run The World (Girls)” by Beyonce

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Make It Last Forever

What a fun-filled seven days that I’ve just lived through.  Let’s face it, yours truly is an old man!  My definition of “fun” is what the majority would consider lowkey, but I had the great fortune to spend time one-on-one with some very dear friends.

The past Fourth of July holidays, I was either lying on my mother’s couch pregnant with a food baby named Gluttony Tilo or lying on my couch watching a “Real Housewives of (insert city here)” marathon despite the fact that I’ve already watched each episode to the point of memorizing the cast’s dialogue word-for-word.  This year, I had zero plans.  Mom was working.  Brother Ricky was out of town.  And sister Trina was in Orlando.  My plan this year was to sit on my couch watching a “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” marathon an educational documentary while allowing my stomach to growl at all of the Instagram filtered photos of everyone’s plates full of BBQ.

Luckily and thankfully, Robby called me and invited me over to his parents house in St. Pete for dinner, and then Fireworks-viewing at his friend Kelly’s pad downtown.  Upon entering Robby’s parental units’ house, it was clear that I would instantly have a connection with Mr. & Mrs. Nichols given the “Springsteen Country” sign in honor of my idol Bruce that greeted me at their doorway.  Robby is nearly 12 years younger than me.  I met him when he was a High School senior at my very first Square One event called “GO!” and instantly clicked with him.  Despite the more-than-a-decade age difference, I told Robby’s parents at dinner that he is an “old soul.”  I’ve had more intellectual and intelligent conversations with this 21-year-old than I’ve ever had with people my own age.  A HUGE Thank You to Robby for being my personal Will Smith and saving my 2012 Independence Day from being invaded by boredom!

This past Saturday, I had 2nd Row tickets with Jess to the Fresh Music Festival at the newly $35M renovated USF Sun Dome.  (Thank You Sara Webster!)  The Fresh Music Festival was a concert featuring old school R&B acts and legends Keith Sweat, Guy, SWV and K-Ci & JoJo.

Back in the day, prehistoric times if you will, I listened to nothing but R&B and hip-hop music.  It wasn’t until my Freshmen year of High School when my friend Beth Shaw lent me the “Little Earthquakes” album by Tori Amos that I began to broaden my taste in music.  Seeing these R&B acts perform such classics as “Weak” and “Make It Last Forever” and “Let’s Chill” right dead smack in front of me was a glorious reliving of my elementary and middle school days growing up.  Thank You Jess Hille for the photos below!

Robby’s friend A.J. was in town from Fort Laudy, and we decided to have a weekend of zen staring with Saturday morning Yoga in the Park, smoking shisha at Zoya and opting to skip watermelon mimosas and Mexican brunch at Miguel’s on Kennedy to dine at the Wat Mongkolrata Thai Temple on Sunday.

I ended my weekend of zen with one of my favorite people, Dawn.  She took me to see Moonrise Kingdom, the latest film by writer-director Wes Anderson.  I am fully aware that it’s virtually uncool not to love anything that Wes Anderson touches.  He’s always had a hit-or-miss track record with me, but I can attest that Moonrise Kingdom is hands-down my favorite and most enjoyable film in his filmography.  Go see it!

Since music is a huge part of my life, I decided to conclude each and every posting with a song that I am loving at the moment.  However, since the past 7 days were near-perfect, I will end this posting with two songs.

First up: “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings” comes from Father John Misty, former Fleet Foxes drummer Joshua Tillman’s new solo project, and is a repeat staple on my Spotify playlist.



Lastly but not least-ly, I just had to post one of the greatest R&B songs of all-time… “Twisted” by Keith Sweat (with Kut Klose).  Only fitting since I’ve been singing the song since seeing him perform it live a few days ago.



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