“I will say that if you’re alive you’ve got to flap your arms and legs, you’ve got to jump around a lot, for life is the very opposite of death, and therefore you must at the very least think noisy and colorfully, or you’re not alive.” ~ Mel Brooks

The festive crowds arriving at Little Havana on Fat Tuesday for the Friday Night Bunch’s Mardi Gras party were festooned in colorful beads and masks, ready to enjoy the hurricane drinks specially created by owner, Marc Gentile and dance to the Zydeco music emanating throughout the restaurant. Little Havana, overlooking the harbor on Key Highway, is famous for their Cuban menu featuring pulled-pork nachos, crab dip, the Cuban sandwich, grilled wings, sweet potato fries and the best mojitos.

“Doing what you like is freedom. Liking what you do is happiness.” ~ Frank Tyger

“Oh when the saints go marching in,” “round midnight” the second line dance started as the revelers finished the last of their vices before the stroke of midnight; the beginning of Lenten season. The second line weaved throughout Little Havana swirling umbrellas, beads and scarves moving to the sounds of New Orleans.

Just before midnight, Marc Gentile surprised me with an eye-catching bowl of chocolate drizzled vanilla ice cream decorated with fresh mint leaves, dusted sugar and topped with a cherry, because at 11:30 that night I decided I would give up ice cream for Lent. It was a tough, last-minute decision between ice cream, Pepsi or Amstel. When I realized the Orioles’ opening day is during the Lenten season the decision was easy, who eats ice cream on opening day.

“All night long” bartender Mather had a huge doubloon around his neck that said “Captain of Mardi Gras.” At the end of the evening, he ceremoniously removed the doubloon and placed it around my neck saying, “You earned this; you’re the real captain of Mardi Gras.” I felt like I had been knighted. What an honor! “People get ready” for Mardi Gras 2012, Baltimore style, in Little Havana next year.

“Hail, hail, the gang’s all here.” “Happy people” partying Baltimore style were Marty and Karen Brown, Wanda Watts, Tom and Dawn Rini, Bill and Anne Ridenour, Larry and Cindy Czyzewski, former Mayor Sheila Dixon, Andy Freeman, Pierre Stewart, Pat Rossell, Carolyn Wainwright, Susan Parker, Juaquetta Cox, Monique Jones, Debbie Allen, Kelvin Boston, Beverly Williams, Jackie Brock, Yvonne West, Pamela Crockett, Karenthia Barber, Norman Glenn, Janet Johnson, Petey Edwards, Susan Elision, Brenda Baker, Dawn Milliner, Jackie Robinson, Marsha Jews, Jerome Fisher, Adrian Harpool and members of the Friday Night Bunch.

“The secret to the fountain of youth is to think youthful thoughts.” – Josephine Baker

“You can run with the big dogs or sit on the porch and bark.” – Wallace Arnold. What a grand celebration for Debbie Taylor’s birthday, Friday at Kappa Vegas and Saturday at Bare Bones in Ellicott City for ribs and blues with Big Daddy Stalling’s Blues band. On Sunday hubby Errol Taylor prepared a sit-down dinner at their lovely Madison Avenue brownstone for family and friends. On Monday [“just girlfriends”] entertained Debby at Maceo’s martini night with bartenders Missy and Simone and on Fat Tuesday Debbie ended the celebration at the Friday Night Bunch’s Mardi Gras party.

“Autumn arrives in early morning, but spring at the close of a winter day.” -Elizabeth Bowen

“It’s spring” time to make plans when you’ll “ease on down the road” with Stella & Everett Fullwood‘s travelling group. They have a list of exciting travel opportunities including, Las Vegas, Greece and New Orleans, go to www.fullwoodtravel.com. On the other hand, go “South of the Border” with “All for Fun” travelling group members, Darlene, Reggie, Florine, Joe and Tom on their annual trip. Call Reggie Gee at 410-383-2431 for more information. Happy trails.

“I believe in prayer. It’s the best way we have to draw strength from heaven.” – Josephine Baker

Prayers for Michele Daley on the death of her mother Bernice Daley; to Joe Turner on the death of his mother Mary Turner and Jackie Jackson on the death of her mom Shirley Walls.

I’m climbing up the rough side of the mountain” The last weeks were rough for the Social Security Administration family as we received word of the death of retirees Allan Lewis, Rhonda Lowery, Pamela Pollack and Frances Miller all dying within a one week span. Our heartfelt condolences to their families.

Happy birthday to you! Celebration time for my daddy Benjamin Scott Johnson, Dan Henson, Rita and Tim Johnson , DJ Tanz, jazz pianist Nevitta , Aaron Pighee’, Diane Hocker, Clayton Tucker, Roscoe Heigh, Lloyd Mitchner, Leon Hargrove, Burnell Hurt, Margaret Lee, Downtown Kevin Brown and the Queen Aretha Franklin.

“The greatest healing therapy is friendship and love.” – Hubert Humphrey

Sending bouquets of flowers to brighten the day of “Sophisticated Ladies” Edna Wright, mother of Willard and Ralph Wright and Only Grimes Carter, mother of Delle Henson both recuperating at home. “You are my sunshine” sending get-well wishes to Claude Parker and Reggie Pinder as they continue to mend.

“None of us will ever accomplish anything excellent or commanding except when he listens to this whisper which is heard by him alone.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Congratulations to Jeana Cox, a student at the Baltimore International Culinary school travelling to Ireland to study as a pastry chef.

Congratulations to Deonne McLaurin, a senior at Randallstown High School, on her participation in the Cultural Exchange program. Proud parents Valerie and Tyronn McLaurin are excited about her upcoming travel to Beijing to stay with a host family.

“I’ll be seeing you.”

– Valerie & the Friday Night Bunch