Bulldog Goes into Full Pout Mode Over the Central Florida Weather

Bulldog Goes into Full Pout Mode Over the Central Florida Weather

There’s no relief from near-constant rain and heat here. Yeah, that’s the name of the game here in the Sunshine State. Summers are brutal. I know that. But at this moment, I’m having more than the usual trouble accepting that and just carrying on with life.

I’m stuck. Frustrapated. At loose ends. NOT a happy camper! Yeah, you get the picture.

I’ll get over this, no doubt. And it’s possible that Mother Nature will change her ways before too much longer and smile on the frowny-faced denizens of Central Florida.

But at this moment, Bulldog is waaaaaaaaaaaaaay over this hellish Summer of ’17 thing and he needs to get an outdoor fix. Soon.

One parting thought as I try to work Mom Nature for a better deal: yeah, I did make up that marvelous third word in paragraph two. Blogging nature lovers with degrees in English are empowered to do such things. Well, that thought helps to ease my mood!


Trapped in the hellscape of steamy Central Florida, I am,


“Bulldog Ben” Basile


Mandatory Photo blurb: no, that awesome Featured Foto is not mine. I totally stole it.


The Recent Return to Moss Park Was a Success in Every Way

The Recent Return to Moss Park Was a Success in Every Way

No, it wasn’t just about lots of butterfly pix. That was a real treat, for sure. Even if I’m the only one who thinks those photos constitute some really awesome camera work.

It may well have been my coolest encampment yet. And the gang of raccoons that plundered my food store and invaded the sanctity of my precious PT Cruiser last time around did not inflict great trauma on me on this visit to their domain.

And I got to know the park better, beyond the camping part of it, that is. Huge park with so many cool things to do.

This featured image is from that great mix of stalwart pines and majestic oaks that are all around the main swimming beach.

This photo is from my camp site looking in the general direction of the lake, though it can’t been seen in the photo. My space was also right next to the main pier.IMG_3693

Loved my spot even though this time around it put me a bit too close to a large group of very, very rowdy campers. I think it was something like a family reunion. There’s a little more to that story, but I’m going to keep it happy and upbeat. Loved the getaway, loved my pictures.

It’s looking like I’m going to have to dial back on the frequent camping in the next few weeks or months to bump up my earnings just a bit. Life is filled with these trade offs, isn’t it? We do what we must, I suppose.

I’ll still be scratchin’ that major “outdoor itch” I get a lot. But I got to TCB, too! I most certainly be posting stuff right here on da Bulldog blog all along.

Best wishes to you as we go through this early spring time. May it be an excellent season for us. A good time to get out there — frequently — and enjoy the wonders of Nature.


“Bulldog Ben” Basile


Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile


J’ai seulement vu un papillon la première fois

J’ai seulement vu un papillon la première fois

When I saw this photo the first few times, I thought it was only one exquisitely beautiful papillon, but it’s two. Not sure why I didn’t see the second one for a while. She’s turned “on edge” so she seems one-dimensional. But there are two of them there. Working together. As butterflies should. Whatever that means!

Thinking today about how I often don’t “see” things accurately. About how it’s not unusual for me to need to take that second or third look. And about how flying solo is not necessarily the best way to go…

It’s my M.O. but not necessarily the best way to go.

I love to take pictures.



Still flying solo here in Central Florida, I am,


“Bulldog Ben” Basile


Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile


A Busy and Cold Weekend Here in Florida. Let’s Look at Moss Park Pix Again!

A Busy and Cold Weekend Here in Florida. Let’s Look at Moss Park Pix Again!

Lately I’ve been ready to head back out at each opp to see some new beautiful corner of Florida. Or revisit a familiar spot. Not happenin’ this weekend. It’s too cold and I’ve got too many tasks demanding attention. Way too many, truth be told.

But seeing as how I took about 80 or 90 photos at that awesome, serenity-promoting trip to Moss Park I just wrapped up 36 hours ago, why not post another pic or two from that excursion! I think I will…

Here’s another one I especially like. It came early in the shoot. Selecting your faves and getting them ready and all of that can be a bit time-consuming. Very rewarding but it can take a while. I have around a dozen or so I’d like to get up, so I’ll let this gem be next.

I hope life is treating you well where ever you may be as you read this. And I hope you’re getting a chance to delight in the wonders of this amazing planet that sustains us.


Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile


Fave Fotos: Places That Aren’t There Anymore

Fave Fotos: Places That Aren’t There Anymore

In a posting back on June 19th, I featured the well-known local spot Yellow Dog Eats in one of my reviews. I like the place. A lot. Unique Eatery in Gotha is how the header begins, if you’d like to check it out. And yes, YDE truly does feature Fine Food and a Funky Feel. God, I can sure come up with cool titles, n’est-ce pas?

I just realized that one of the photos I took before the recent renovation of the outside turned out well. It also occurred to me that this scene is gone forever now that the renovations are complete.

So here it is. There are so many things all around Central Florida that have gone away, or in this case, have changed so thoroughly that a photo from not-so-long ago can never be repeated. Of course, that could be said about any photo; every moment in time and the experience of being in this place are unique and unrepeatable.

But when a well-known, public place is significantly changed or “goes away”, it can be striking to think that recapturing it in your retina or as a photograph is not even possible.

So here’s a pic from approximately two years ago of the patio area at YDE that we’ll never see again. The way the place looks now, post-renovation, is just fine. It functions better. (Getting rained on is no fun, even if you’re digging the scene around you.) But the look before was very cool. And except for going through my photos, I’ll never “see” it again.

Bulldog Ben, remembering when

Photo credit: Benjamin Lawrence Basile

Fuel, the new barbecue joint next to The Alley in Sanford

Fuel-sanford-frnt-entrance-nite-97c Fuel-BBQ-sanford-patio-seating-7v

If you’re into bars in Sanford’s historic district and like live music, you probably know about The Alley. They’ve been around for about twelve years now and everyone who’s anyone has played there. In addition to the killer music, they’ve got cold beer, a full bar, good help and loyal customers. What more could you ask for? Yeah, you’ve got it: good chow.

Along came Fuel. This new barbecue joint is on the south side of The Alley, in the new addition that came from the major renovation and expansion completed about six months or so ago.

I had heard quite a lot about it from friends and had to go check it out. I’m glad I did. The design is suitable for any good barbecue joint, looking not too “uptown” but not looking like a dump either. Not always an easy balance to achieve, but they did well with this addition.  I imagine it took at least three expert carpenters with massive tool belts and beat up pick up trucks to pull it off! Seriously, the perfect “feel” for an eatery of its type.

And the food is quite good. My pulled pork dinner was tasty, the sides were filling and as good as any I’ve had. And I’ve had them all. There was gobs of pork in the baked beans–as there should be–and they were not too sweet. Sugar is a common ingredient in baked beans, but they didn’t get carried away with it at Fuel.

The green beans really got over with me. I honestly have never tasted better. Those alone would have me coming back! And I enjoyed the collard greens as well, could have eaten them all day.

Anyone who knows me knows that I really focus on side dishes in a barbecue joint. Theirs at Fuel are way better than most and are served in ample portions. Service is a really big deal, too and the crew at this new spot in downtown Sanford was friendly, helpful and efficient. What’s worse than a place with good chow, staffed by an indifferent, poorly-trained staff? Few things I know of!

The patio seating on the south side is so cool. A really nice ambiance, especially if you’re dining after dark. If you like blues music and good barbecue, Fuel at The Alley is heaven-on-earth! Park Ave between 1st and 2nd Streets. Hope to see your face in the place soon!


Photo credit Benjamin Lawrence Basile

A Dark Tale of 49 Murdered by Hate, revisited

The story of the slaughter of 49 partiers at Pulse has been told many times. By a thousand journos and bloggers. Orlando and her people are still coming to grips with what happened there in the early morning hours of June 12th; all the more so today as we’re exactly one month from this sad and shocking spectacle. The memorials still attract many people–from around Central Florida and all over the planet–on a daily basis.

Like so many of us with deep roots in this marvelous city, I’ve read a lot of the coverage. Every media outlet in the country has been all over this story, and they should. Because I worked part time in radio news way back in the day, I’ve always enjoyed critiquing the media and I must say that I think so many around here have done great work on this heart breakingly-awful story. WKMG, our local CBS affiliate is among them. I’ve been a loyal viewer for many years and think they’re showing the rest of us how it’s done.

The Orlando Sentinel has never shone more brightly. I say that as one who’s been reading their work for half a century; we go back to when The Sentinel landed in the driveway every morning and The Evening Sentinel-Star was tossed into the same spot mid-afternoon each week day. It was a welcome thing, back in the ’60s and ’70s, to have a paper to peruse after dinner.

Today’s article in The Sentinel about how our city and its people are doing a month after the tragedy is first-rate. To catch that, follow this link.

When I think about Pulse, I eschew thoughts of hate, trauma and death and instead focus the good times had with musical colleagues back in the ’90s when the club that would later become Pulse under the new owners was a well-known Italian eatery. Dante’s served up good Italian fare and liberal helpings of local music. Good times. If any of us could have had just a moment’s premonition of about what would one day happen in that place, it would have been world-altering.

In a previous blog posting here I said that if the shooter’s goal was to make our city cower in terror or turn on one another, he failed miserably. This community has never been more united. The messengers of hate who tried to kick Orlando when she was down have learned that this community thinks they’re really sick. Yeah, I’m speaking to you, Prosecutor Ken Lewis. Sorry, make that former-prosecutor Ken Lewis. Fits my concept of justice precisely.

We’re remembering and celebrating our brothers, sisters, children and friends who didn’t make it out alive. Praying for the survivors and doing what a community can do, in a material way, to help them move forward with their recoveries and their lives.

Watching that unfold is greatly consoling. Chronicling it for this community and the world is exemplary. As I take in the many stories carried by our local TV stations and The Sentinel 30 days down the road, I’m reminded of one more reason that Central Florida is an excellent place to live, thrive and survive, filled with many caring and generous people. The slogan #OrlandoStrong is not merely a feel-good phrase, it’s a statement that sums up well the true character of this community.


“Bulldog Ben” Basile



Love My Blues with a Little o’ This Mixed In

Love My Blues with a Little o’ This Mixed In

I love to talk about the blues and some of the other genres we often associate with it. I have a fascination with those “cross-over zones” where the blues “come together” with other great genres of American music.

Although I get that music transcends our labels, it’s also true that artists, critics and fans need to throw around some terms to help us make sense of it all.

For some reason this idea of “cross-over zones” has become a BIG deal for me. I think of the “blues-country zone”  and artists like the great Jimmy Rogers, Lee Roy Parnell, his harp-playin’ bro Rob Roy Parnell and others.

In that very cool “blues-jazz” fusion zone, you’ve got people like Joe Williams (not “BIG Joe”, the other guy) Count Basie, and modern ones like Jimmy Witherspoon and Robben Ford. And I must not leave out Billie Holiday or the late Eva Cassidy.

Speaking of modern artists, John Mayer is amazingly adept at fusing, Rock, Pop, Jazz and Blues; I’m not sure if anyone is as good at that as he is.

Mississippi blues man “Little Milton” Campbell was often described as a “soul-blues” fusionist and I’d put Bobby Rush and Bobby “Blue” Bland in that category as well. Seeing Bobby Bland live here in Barnett Park in Orlando was quite a thrill for me. That was back in ’97 if my memory is working.

Then there’s that whole “blues-rock” thing; that zone really sets me off! There are so many greats who have “hung out” in this awesome zone! I’ll name only a few here: Johnny Winter, Stevie Ray, Walter Trout, Joe Bonamassa, Jimmy Thackery, and of course, Jimi Hendrix! What a line-up that is! Stevie Ray also loved jazz, of course and was a BIG fan of jazz guitarist Kenny Burrell.

Having said all that, I probably hang out more in the “blues-folk” zone than any other one! I play acoustic a lot, partly because it’s so easy to do, what with the minimum of gear that’s needed, etc., and partially because here in Central Florida, the “Friends of Florida Folk” are so active and sponsor so many great shows, fests and activities.

Josh White might just be the “best of the bunch” when it comes to artists who had one foot in the folk world and the other one in the blues. Josh Sr., I mean.

His “set list” and mine would have a rather large overlap; he did a lot of spirituals and gospel as well! As many of my friends know, I got my start singing in our family gospel quartet at the age of six and sang in church choirs and youth chorales all the way up until college. (And that’s where the I got bit by the “blues bug”; more about that in a minute.)

Josh White was well-known as a New York folk-blues singer and guitarist who helped “get the blues over” with a fan base that was already “tuned-in” to folk music. Because his work featured liberal helpings of gospel, he was sometimes billed as “Joshua White, the Singing Christian”.

Josh died in New York in 1969 and his son, Josh White Jr., has followed in his father’s footsteps, performing originals and much of his father’s material as well.

In 1973 as was a 17 year old music-lovin’ frosh at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa when Josh Jr. came to campus to play as one of our Student Activity Concerts. My room mate had just begun to introduce me to Muddy Waters, harmonica wizard Little Walter and some of those cats; thanks again, Dr. Carver! I was already into Johnny Winter and had been introduced to the music of Willie Dixon in the same way as so many other white suburban kids, via Led Zep records. So you might say that I was really ready for a life-changing experience, and that’s the best way to describe what happened to me that night in the Dining Commons there in my freshman year! I’ve been a confirmed blues freak ever since and began performing the blues in the mid ’90s.

I do feel as though I owe a real debt of gratitude to Josh White Jr. for the show that night. No doubt I’m only one of many white middle-class kids who may never have “discovered” this most incredible genre of American music if Josh had not been booked to play at our schools. Josh spent years in the ’70s and ’80s playing hundreds of college campuses, a fact of which he is quite justifiably proud. And I and many others today love and support and play the blues because Josh booked so many of those college dates. Thank you, sir!

Josh’s home page has a fine bio, of course, and one on his Dad as well. His site is here.

To have a look at the site for the “Friends of Florida Folk”, the outstanding non-profit org here in the Sunshine State working tirelessly to promote and preserve folk music, click here.

At the end of the day, all authentic genres of music are merely branches off the same tree. These days, we often lump all of it together under the term Americana. I like the term. But until terms and labels which have been in use for a couple of centuries lose all meaning, it’s good-and useful-to break it down, take a closer look and remember why we love the music so well.