the story of…

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 Grimacing at the Contorsionist

Then the Japanese girls, all four, twisted and pulled on each other and themselves around and on top of each other and themselves. Arched in positions that begged for mercy. Smiling and giving glamorous bats of the eyes. Presenting their best imitation of human pretzels, amazing the crowd, and then closing the act with a pyramid of a fancy game of vertical twist. I was not impressed. I was filled with empathy. Empathy, not it’s easier to blame brother, sympathy.  I wonder if the show they perform nightly is enough to satisfy the dreams they held when they were much younger. When they dreamed of the fame and freedom of being a “Star” in America.
Musicians that just cannot get another top ten hit. Strippers that dance for less than hundreds, when their old reasons for dancing for my children and to finish school has long become null. Waiters that have used that line of being famous one day, collecting check after check weekly, and cashing that same check at the bar, drowning in their own aspirations nightly. The lounge singer for the 100th time modulating , New York, New York, then taking the last sip of his Amaretto Sour, folding up the piano, and reaching for a fistful of bills,some abes, mostly georges.
Do these people all feel the same when they are in the dark? Safe from being humbled by egos, and criticized by the constant lives of judgement and greed. When the moon lingers behind the clouds, for even his brightness intimidates the possibilities. So hard is the shell, so vast is the future, so endless the spinning, so fruitless the reward. Gone are the chances, asleep is the dream. Whispers of hope, fires a-flame.
Torches from distant shores, leave drumbeats of communication, echoing endlessly. Natives to native lands feel like tourists, and women fall from grace,only to rise up as angels on the other side. There are no lives ended on earth. (men or other) Only flesh and blood remain. The leftovers are the ones burdened to pass this puzzling earth on to wondering innocent minds.
We are the elders of this land. We are the protectors of this earth.
We are the elders of this land. Protectors of home, elders that roam.
Keepers of dreams, standing on this shore, all alone.

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1993 : All that is not given, is lost.

 

Blame me not for what you haven’t seen.
I’m riding a rainbow in the sky.
Got to leave the place I’ve been yet,
I still don’t have the wings to fly…

My greatest escape all my life has been writing.Then I escaped to bars,drinking way too much,and dancing to the rhythm of the night.Delusions of grandeur would overcome me,and life seemed okay for a while.Not focusing on any one thing, I soon found my life becoming very thin. I built walls around me that no one could knock down, or help me get out of, for no one knew that I was even there. I would drink beer after beer, with each disappearing into a cushioned, always-happy world of smiling people,reassuring hugs and kisses, non-hostile faces, new feelings inside my head and body that I had never noticed. I felt that as long as I was out, I could escape to my private hideaway to build a secret creation.One that looked like me, only on those times that I would be in the bathroom alone, get very close into the mirror, look into and behind very bright, bloodshot eyes, usually say something like, “Hey! Are you still in there?” My reply would always be “Yes,”so I felt that I was still fine. I knew, thought,that I wasn’t. Moving to Orlando in 1989, I felt very disoriented, and my world seemed to be upside down.  Even the water wasn’t the same.You know when a bath even feels different you are not near familiar surroundings. Orlando was a beautiful city, very new and changing. I saw a chance to make a change in myself I first needed to see who this person whom I was smothering with so much work and stress was.I needed to look at myself again. Just as I had done many times before.I felt that this would be the last.

Caged Bird 

So you treated me a flake of your life,

Just when we met, you turned away,walked with a remorse,

told yet more lies, laid with more shadows, and justified yourself into a box.

Running to catch your breath, you fell, your tripped on a memory.

One that grows like grass on empty seas.

The one thing with dust gathered in the corners, held the prize, the model, the man.

Frazzled on first sight,polished with time, ripping and tearing away at it’s sides,like a frightened caged bird.

Longing for freedom, eyes of black, internal injuries, pounding of a heart with no one holding it.
No one taking notice of the times a beat is skipped.

Waiting for a shake, a stare, an attempt to mimic.

What a wonderful release it is to be noticed.

When the box opened, so did, my world.

Working 14-hour days in a restaurant and trying to have a social life is a very hard thing to do.I felt in Orlando, I had fallen again. I got laid off of my job because of payroll cuts, and this seemed like a good thing to me. Soon after that, I was in a major car accident,and came out purely by fate. I felt I had been given a chance now to realize just how lucky I was just to be alive. I needed to make a change once and for all.No more lying,no more deceiving, and no more procrastination.During my layoff and recovery from my wreck, I began writing more, making art pieces, and setting goals again.I felt that with every new poem,or every new piece I had begun the long process of finding myself.Not being afraid to be myself. Come what may.I could feel whole and finish something.Had I finally achieved something substantial?Yes.

So you want to label me?

Labels are for those who want an end to the fight.

The struggle between yes or no, sliver or gold, black or white, flee or fight.

Labels are for insecurity,curiosity, and greed.

Labels are for love, or free love.

Labels make me mad, labels limit yourself,labels limit.

Once assigned, growth potential is over.

Potential for positive growth,friendship, and love.

So Narrow the view if you must.

Take the photograph, only if you must freeze the moment.

If you want to tie me down,

Capture my spirit, clip my wings,then do it.

Label me.

Financial problems mounted as I was waiting to become full time at Disney.I moved from an apartment with a roommate, and I found a small garage apartment that was very much in need of work.Yet,I needed a place to stay, and the price was incredible $240/month. I had been on unemployment, had a car that ran seldom.  My will to go on was on a downswing again. I had very little self-esteem, and the only place that I depended on was that little bar around the corner (escaping again). Things continued downward in this little apartment.There were a lot of problems that I had not planned on. I thought that the newly painted white walls would give that “new start” feeling. I always say, “when in doubt, paint it white or black.” The floor was so many different tile combinations, I felt that one color was good for it, too. I liked red. A red floor it was. I didn’t keep up with the bills at all. I totally went to the extreme,and wanted to become more non-materialistic.Normal conveniences didn’t matter any more. No phone,no cable,and yes,finally the electricity was shut off. I was forced to hook up to my neighbor at Apartment B, with his permission, by way of five white extension cords. I say now that this is when I lived life by a thread (cord, as it was). I took showers at friend’s homes. I let myself fall so far down, one night, I let the cord stay unplugged, and in the darkness that night, I wrote this poem and at that moment I felt then that it was the end of the life I had been struggling with,and the life that I have now.

Note from Curly Dark

March 4th, 1993

You choose your own destiny.

Tonight I sit by candle light for the last time. A single flame burning solo lights the room with a lonely thick of heavy air. My face muscles pull downward, as tears soak the sides of my lulling neck.

No sound in the house.In the distance I hear interstate 4’s roar of it’s takeover of the city.

A siren vanishes as soon as it appears.

A cool breeze passes through,and on on it’s pathway,my feelings for you are being carried away.

Go away you thief!, Haven’t you caused enough pain?

Leave me bare, hurt, and alone.

I was ignored tonight, and the knife was twisted again, but this time not in the way that I thought  it would be.

I love you with more force than I’ve ever felt. We met on a cloud, now it seems we are under it.

I’m lost for direction. Are my feelings not enough for you? My passion for you has not died.

My love for myself has not died either.

It’s a mean thing, wrong love can be.

It takes control, and leaves you as a mannequin. Manipulated, captured, and always in service to someone else.

Watch me go up, watch me go down. Release the strings, and watch me fall to the ground.

Laying lifeless on this stage. My heart pounds, and pounds, and pounds.

Asking for help to get back on my feet is a sign of weakness.

I’m weak then. When I’m in love like this, I find strength in my weakness.

You’ll find strength in my weakness no more.

We choose our own destiny.

 

Soon after this night, I took charge. I quit drinking so much.Got the electricity turned back on again. I cared about myself again, and life turned around for the better. It can be done! I can only hope to be an example for others who think that they are not in charge of what happens to them.The strength is inside of you!

 

There is a feeling in my soul that better days are ahead. Once you’ve reached bottom,there’s only one place to go, UP! Yet, that’s when life’s circles start repeating themselves.Just as the brass ring keeps staying out of reach with each turn of the merry-go-round, so does my idea of a perfect life for myself. Surely it’s not what I have now.  I’ve had to start over,,I had to.The life that I built for myself was not a solid one. I sped so fast that I missed some important lessons along the way. The true meaning of love,the correct way to appreciate friends,and how to love yourself. By giving so much away,my life became very thin with no weight to it.In this realization, I looked at my shallow, weary self in the mirror. With one great effort,I threw my image,this person called Frankie, completely out of sight.Now. Instead of running with this person so fast,and not stopping to enjoy the quality of life.I can watch this faint dot of a man running back toward me.With each step, nearing myself,the distant figure – in a sense – has a protector. A guardian angel of sorts. The person is me! I will this time not let any harm come to Frankie, and in turn he will not hurt anyone or anything.The closer he gets, the stronger I become. Joining at the end of this journey, I will be invincible! Now life can continue at it’s best ever. That time is now! No more regrets, no more apologies, no more lonely mornings. I’ll look in the mirror, and see beyond the reflection. There will be a very thick life, padded with love, pride and respect. I will finally love myself. Which opens up myself to love others, and let them love me back. That’s the most difficult part to do for unselfish people.To take from life, without feeling guilty. It’s fine to give to others,but not so much that it harms you,and makes your life paper thin. Be your own best friend and live each day happier.

So, I called my closest friends together on June 3rd, 1993. Fifteen people toasted to the beginning of something that I decided to call APARTMENT E. I wanted this name to be a reminder always of the place in my life physically, mentally and emotionally that I found myself. An Apartment E party is a forum of good feelings and warmth. If nothing was to ever happen on the stage, in the room, or during an event. The night would still be a great success, because all people there are showing the belief in themselves, others.and the community.
Welcome to a new way of life in Orlando! On this journey called life, only fools never stop to enjoy the people around them everyday, and to rejoice in the fact of just being alive. Many talented souls that didn’t get to finish their lives on earth have a way of becoming part of the living. I have a new sense of accomplishment that I didn’t have before,and this same will power that I’m holding is the passion that burns in me called Apartment E.  I believe psychologists call is closure.Meaning in order to open up new feelings and emotions,one must complete or close situations that were either good or bad, and move on. On to a spot in life where happiness or more learning experiences await. Destiny is not determined. I will never believe it is. I’ll  live with this passion for as long as it takes for me to reach my goals.Thanks for coming along for the ride so far. Please spread the word.   Word of mouth only has nurtured my baby, and we have a long way to go! As a child,I used to find great joy in acceptance. I was always striving for it. I discovered that I internalized anger,and held it inside until I couldn’t see any way out of the circle of fire that I had lit in hopes of making a statement.That would be my ultimate prize, acceptance. It’s so hard to be heard when you are wearing a mask. Was my face not true enough? Did my state of nothingness not cause you to wonder? Did that little boy lying so still under the covers, hiding from those cruel things that seemed to disappear within his own blanket barricade, not spark a thought or a question of why I was there at all. I stuttered for God sake!  I always built up pedestals for people. I lifted my eyes to look up at you. Surely my eyes reflect my soul. I feel its presence whenever I look at you. No love could be greater. If so,then angels already know your name. The breeze from their wings spell it out,my mind recites it over and over. Strength and sensitivity leave their marks. Rolled into it all,lies the child resting in your loving hand.

As you watch the second hand of time, is it being pushed into the future or pushed into the past? Our time on earth is precious. As a baby, we come into this world, innocent, searching for knowledge,needing love. When a mother holds her baby,isn’t it the same love,no matter what country she lives in?  When love is shared,is it not universal? When you look in the mirror,don’t you see the person you have created? Why escape from yourself?  Stand and fight! We are the living! So many souls have gone from our conscious existence. They are no longer with us. That person standing beside you IS HERE!  When all the arguing,fighting,and hurting is over,that person you see is the living. Don’t pass up the chance to make a positive mark. Let down the walls that are preventing you from being what you need to be. No more restrictions!  Love unconditionally! Look forward to what a new day will bring!  Make it happen. Just drop the box! One voice can be heard. One thought can be shared. You count!  We are the living!

The message was simple. Survival. I had been through a lot in my lifetime. I didn’t know to what depths I had fallen to.Then one, dark lonely night, I was given an ultimatum by that one person, myself.  All the time it was only me that kept my innermost dreams, wishes, and fears locked up inside this 5-foot, 8-inch frame for “safekeeping.”  “They” were not to be unlocked until the time was right ……… it’s time!
Blame me for what you see.
I’m riding a rainbow into the sky.
I’ve left the place I’ve been,
and I now have the wings to fly.

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1997 :He who gives to me, teaches me to give.

In this world of selfishness and a constant desire for more of life’s material possessions, I often wonder if everyone thinks of the things that I do.  Not to say that I’m ever guilty of wanting more material things and luxury conveniences.   Designer clothes, a more respectable job.  I’ve been taught, though, to always count my blessings. They are numerous, and I feel that my mission or agenda for this expression called Apartment E is, in my small way, a vehicle that others can see the beauty in life itself.  To look at not only the outside, but to turn the importance to what’s on the inside, and to see what others are really made of.  More importantly, to see what they themselves are made of.  To answer to this call of action as I feel that I am, I held on to Apartment E.  Whether it was outside forces that made me literally stop the downward circle of destruction that I was headed for, or just that little voice inside my head that kept saying, “This ain’t it.”  I stand by the fact that I took a strong look at myself, didn’t like what I saw, and made a change. “BLOOM WHERE YOU ARE PLANTED.” There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think that I’m too grown to learn.  Everything I experience, everyone I meet.  I see it or them as an opportunity to be taught.  If someone comes in contact with me, and looks at life a little differently, or looks to me for advice or encouragement, then I am thankful to God for allowing me to be a carrier of His blessings.  On the other hand, if others are disappointed by my words or my actions, I believe that is when the biggest lessons are taught.  Deep down, everyone knows right from wrong.  Not everyone looks at life the same, though.  To think that my ideas are always right is wrong (and downright ridiculous!).  Yet, to feel that this idea APARTMENT E is a very positive influence on a lot of people, then I am proud to be called the founder.  I am interested in stirring people’s lives up – not getting involved with their lives.  They can then hopefully find their center, then their own individual style will guide them, and give them the insight into their role in this life.
My biggest hope is that no one will remain passive or indifferent.   That’s not my job.  It’s up to the individual.  There is no underlying event or reason for Apartment E’s creation.  It’s just something I wanted to do.   I have this saying that I’m always working toward simplicity.  When I began promoting the parties, I had to overcome a lot of labels and ideas about what I was doing. People could not just accept the fact that I only wanted to provide an open arena of cultural exchange, unlike any other that I’d experienced before.   I had gotten so tired of meeting talented individuals and seeing them not be true to themselves.  I’ve known talented people all of my life.  I’ve never felt the need to give then that little encouragement, as they’ve usually possessed it already.   They had a drive that fueled their passion, and I would only stand by as an attentive fan, honored just to be involved with their “art.”  Now, I feel that if I meet someone without that core belief in themselves, to them I can be of help.  I feel that I now have a credibility, a foundation that I can introduce them to.  It’s still completely up to them to find their own strengths and weaknesses.   Isn’t it nice, though, to have the support of others in this sometimes cold world of greed and uncaring? To accept the differences that we all have is a major goal of Apartment E.  Accepting the differences and celebrating what we have in common.  Aren’t we all made of the same things?  We are all the same race … the human race.  So much can be learned, so much can be taught.  An open mind is what I’m most thankful for.  The diverse crowds that the parties draw.  The excitement of not knowing who will walk in the door next has fueled the events to incredible proportions.  I will now share some of my past influences on what I consider some of the most talented people I have been blessed to be around.
  Small town Louisiana provided many colorful characters because they believed in what they were about.  More importantly (whatever they did), they entertained me and made a difference in my life.  My daddy, Frank J. Messina, Sr., was and still is the best dancer I’ve ever known.  He, to this day, will challenge anyone to “outdo” him on the dance floor.  I’m talking the Jitterbug, and if anyone does not know what the Jitterbug is, then I dare say you have not seen real dancing!  Every age has its own dance style.  Daddy is the “king” of this one.  With his commanding way of taking over a dance floor, capturing that moment of excitement with a partner in full jitterbug swing.  You just have to understand the utter awe that I hold for my flesh-and-blood father entertaining the crowd, working them into a frenzy, and making them momentarily forget their troubles.  This is where you can begin to see the origin of my sense of joy, and where my true love comes from when I see true talent.  True talent indeed!  That which comes from the heart, that which is passionate, meaningful to the performer.  Able to be shared to another person and truly accepted by the audience, not particularly for the act itself, yet for the expedition of the conviction of the ‘passion’ given.  I thank my dad for giving me this strong memory to always judge all acts and people with an open mind and a welcome embrace. My grandfather played the piano.  That was my first experience with this grand instrument.  Grand-paw would play “old ragtime and blues.”  I would sit in amazement, my feet not touching the floor and swinging wildly, as Grandpaw’s fingers would do a dance on the keys.  What magic they possessed I only hoped to gain one day.  He taught me “Heart and Soul,”   I can still feel his presence on that bench every time I play that song.  What a fitting name for a song shared by so many people.  Simple little song?  I think not!  I did not know my grandmother on my mom’s side. They say that she played the piano for the silent movies in New Orleans. She loved the song “Silent Night.”  When she died, she seemed to be relieved from her pain, and it was said that she was singing “Silent Night” with the angels. My brother Joe was given an acoustic 6-string guitar at a very young age.  As we got older, his self-taught talent made us take notice. The bathroom became his private studio – he said the acoustics were better. True enough, I guess, but more importantly it gave Joe the privacy he needed to be alone in his own world.   One that no one was allowed to enter unless he invited you in.  Oh – what a wonderful visit that would be, too! Dan Fogelberg, Jim Croce, and James Taylor never sounded better.  Magic coming from Joe’s soul, and his guitar’s heart.  I claim to be his biggest fan. Joe has written numerous original songs. He has many more years to give his passion to us.  If there ever comes a time when Joe decides not to play, there will be an eagle somewhere with a broken wing and a lonely wolf pup will lose his way.  I hope that day will not be one of my own to see. I dated a girl named Nan Waldrop. We were high school sweethearts. She was beautiful and her singing was incredible.   Nan would sing to me always. It didn’t matter what song. Her singing accapella to me were my favorite times I would lay my head in her lap, and she would gently rub my hair until I dozed off to sleep. What a sweet memory that is. In my adult college years I seemed to start surrounding myself with many talented people. One individual that stands out from the rest is my friend Brian Blair. I am proud to say that we’ve remained the best of friends for many years now. Brian is an incomparable piano player. Playing the piano is his talent, but it’s deeper than that.  It’s his life’s passion.  Studying that piano all of his life has not always been easy. He has expressed to me that the stigma of this young kid being so engrossed with the instrument was a problem. He was expected to be interested in other more common hobbies, like cars, sports, and the like. I personally have never heard a piano played with so much power as Brian exerts.  We are friends for far more reasons than that he is talented and well-known. Brian has taught me the most important lesson about performing and entertaining, and that is … to follow the crowd is not a good idea. To sell out and be common is not healthy. To believe in yourself, your credibility in life, and your own self-worth to society, is all that matters.  What other people think about you does not matter when your passion is at stake! Basically, if you believe in what you are, and you believe in what you do, then others will believe in you, too.  I found myself being passive and drawn toward this talented, positive person.  I realized that I had to find my own way.  It was hard, but that is when I moved to Orlando. Thank you, Brian, for giving me the strength to search for my purpose. Of course, when I kicked off the Apartment E parties, I just had to have Brian there He showed up! Brian became the first performer of a long tradition, and he tore the house down! He matched up with a new friend, Suzanne (a great singer whom I’d met at a few local music scenes), and gave a small group of 15 people a night to remember. They gave me an incredible gift called APARTMENT E.
There was a small English pub that I liked a lot in Orlando called the “Bull and Bush.”  One night, I had spotted a piano there, and I “just” happened to know a great piano player (Brian), and I saw a party!   I sent out invitations to 30 of my closest friends.  I told them that it was a formal event, and to trust me.  I didn’t quite know what was happening until there we were, toasting with wine to the beginning of a gathering of good feelings and friends that would continue until today.  That Monday night we had truly invaded this small, unsuspecting bar in a big way.  I felt it was a good night of the week.  I like Mondays, because I don’t want anyone to ever consider that I’m competing for any bar’s business.  Most of the friends that I had then worked weekends.  Also – a favorite past hangout of mine, “Below Zero,” was held on Mondays.  I had always liked the feeling that I had found something a “little to the left,” and something “not so common” to do for entertainment.  Below Zero was an open art party, and I had always felt that the music was missing – LIVE music.  Thus, the original thought that became Apartment E was born.  Persistence always pays off. After that first night of Apartment E at the pub, I knew that something wonderful had happened.  Brian and I went to Key West the next morning.   Driving down to the end of Florida, I felt that I was being treated to a private experience.  A new door was opening in my life.  Having these two enormous bodies of water on each side of you, but not threatening, you keep driving, pushing forward.  This seemed symbolic of my emotional journey through time.Trying to reach a destination always, at times being nearly smothered by outside forces so great trying to keep you from your goal.  Then, with a smooth glide over the next hill, our journey seemed to be ending.  Key West. No not-ending.  Just like my personal journey to reach Apartment E’s success.  I consider it a new beginning.   One of the purest kind because it’s origin and history are pure and simple.   Right down to the name itself.  The simple name allows Apartment E to remain humble.  Which is the way I like it.  I never want one of my parties to be threatening in any way. I want that little guy with a song in his head that he’s never shared NOT to be afraid to get on stage, and give it his all.  That artist, with the unframed, rolled-up drawing under his arm, not to be hesitant to “show” it for the first time.  More importantly, I want that first-timer at an Apartment E party to be able to walk into the room and instantly feel the warm security of our caring, nurturing atmosphere. My wish is for everyone to enter with something to give and to leave satisfied knowing that they have given.

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2003 : Tell me your story

Holding on to a dream is really not the difficult part! I’ve been holding on to this dream now for 10 years. As sure as this pen has ink, so does my soul still contain the full strength of my passion for something that I can only explain and call APARTMENT E. So Frankie? “Tell them what you do.” “Tell them about Apartment E!”

This statement seems to come up always when I am least expecting it to. My answer- well, (after giving a quick glance down at the floor, a recently-adopted reaction), is pretty unclear to others. To me, this displays humbleness, to others I believe it displays low confidence and a hesitation to share my greatest achievement in life so far. Before I can open up and share all my thoughts and knowledge of all that Apartment E has become to me and the impact that it has had on me and my every move in life … before I attempt to explain what Apartment E means to me … I first listen to what the person with me describes. What a huge thrill! Basically to have another person describe “your” dream, tailored to “their” perception. I’m always honored and usually relieved when the description is short and to the point.My close friends have been near me since the beginning of this sometimes wild ride. They’ve watched it grow. They can recall the numerous parties and events. The varied locations around town that have allowed creativity to stretch its arms into their spaces, the nights were sometimes experimental and pretty normal, other times bordering on greatness. The actual events pale in comparison to the great array of individuals whom have given to the energy of each night, and those same individuals are solely responsible for that little proud smirk I get when I sit alone and remember  that special moment when, for no better term, “magic happened.” Sure, there have been guitars, keyboards, microphones (along with the static), huge canvases of artwork, turntables, body paint, beer, wine, glitter, and grunge. A by-product of all the years spent birthing, planning, hosting, and recovering from some incredible events, all the while obtaining the reward of building a respectable reputation in Orlando.

Dream realized – period.

Yet, to be quite honest – which I feel is my strong point in all this – I have not always been very good to myself along the way (not always). I could give out excuses for my behavior. I could try to justify it to have everyone proud of me. Yet Apartment E is not only my story now. I would love to be able to share this continuation of “my story of myself and my dream” without a mention of my disappointments in myself. Yet, I feel that for my own self worth, I must remain honest. My main problem was that I feared success, and I reacted negatively to it. I have felt accomplishments beyond words for Apartment E’s success. I believe so much so that I have personally ignored the main themes of Apartment E. My own themes and encouraging words have fallen out of my own sight at times. “Practice what you preach” comes to mind, or “You Frankie? Not you?  How could that happen? You were the one who sat  in that empty apartment and envisioned a better life for yourself and your friends, and then went out and actually did it! “You pushed people to pursue their hopes and dreams, created a vehicle that individuals could attach to and then give them the confidence to get the job done.” I occasionally walk in a room and receive positive nods and friendly waves from people who possibly have one memory of one party somewhere, yet they remember it fondly. This makes me proud and grateful, and hard work is appreciated. Yet the fact still remains, there is a piece missing. The success of Apartment E as a business is off to an incredible beginning. The future is bright, “no doubt.” So allow me to leave myself out of the picture here. The bigger issue at hand is what has been created here. The state of Apartment E, and your involvement in it. If we continue to present positive events and collaborate and involve others to create an open forum of good feelings and positive actions, opposed to events that are no less than egotistical gatherings of self-proclaimed masters of culture, and people who think that culture begins with them. Those that don’t understand that communication and networking are the key to a city’s success, then we and Apartment E cannot lose. Everyone wins and everyone benefits. For there is strength in numbers, and Apartment – E if not anything else – has touched many lives in many different ways.

I’m proud of how far we have come. Really, I achieved what I wanted to do. We gave Orlando an alternative place to express themselves, and a starting point to learn about myself. My true self.

That process is always in constant turmoil. It’s been said that “when you think you know all the answers, then you are finished.” And “Life is a constant learning ground.” Good times, bad times, times when decisions are crystal-clear, and times when indecisiveness and doubt creeps in and overwhelms you. The stance that you take in life is ultimately in your hands, as it is mine. I choose to remain patient, still, and open to what lies ahead. You may choose to be pro-active. Pushing seems to work for many. Apartment E’s future and my personal goals have run parallel, yet slightly different courses. Sure, Apartment E is very special to me, and I will always be it’s originator and father. Yet, I am moving it toward a larger “playground” now. Personally, the garden needs to be turned. I am offering now an invitation to anyone and everyone that has a relation to Apartment E (my baby). Treat it as your own! Give it some new life, nurture it as I do, teach it anew. Sleep with it, wake it from its dormant cycle, and sometimes-disillusioned dreams. Go ahead – I have faith I you. For I have faith in it, and faith in the future. A dream that has grown so bold that it has turned on its father and seeks other caretakers, is not one to be handled gently or with weak intentions. Give it your love and guidance, but also let it feel your sternness and power.We are kicking off many new projects now. Apartment E is always going to be around. Planted into our city’s history as an entity that contributes positively to its cultural growth. It also has allowed me to “tell my story.” Now it’s time to tell “your” story. Join us on this journey of discovery. Tell others about this “vehicle” that accepts all passengers. By understanding the past, we more clearly can navigate the future. What’s holding you back from your passion? Grab that paintbrush, pick up that guitar, write those words down, and share them with another. Get busy! Get real.Only you can hide your power from the world, and only you can “give” it. Which brings us back to where it all began – just a few short cold nights ago, in that small 2-room, low-rent, cold apartment. Where one man, one thought, and one dream became one reality.

“All that is not given, is lost”……

Wow! what a neat saying!

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2005 : Stuff

So here I am . Been a while since I decided to write with the intent of continuing “The Story of Apartment E”- which basically you all know by now, is really a story about what has happened to me and my ideas, the people that have come in and out of my life, and my burning desire and dreams about opening a real location ,to be able to convey new ideas and build new memories for Orlando, and then the world. I so far have “given” it away. By “It” I mean the idea of Apartment E.
I expressed for others to take care of it as if it were your own. I explained that I would be moving to bigger playgrounds. That life had made a turn for me and the future would be bigger and more focused than ever before.  In many ways all the fore-mentioned happened. In other ways there have been great learning experiences. I hope I can stay awake to write of these things. I have a million things to express here.. I moved once again to a location that I feel has given me more focus than ever before. A building came up for sale. My old friend Glenn Dobkin asked me to come take a look at it one day. Driving up I noticed  an “A” frame little office building. Glenn had desires to buy it. Turning the back yard into his “Working” studio, and the front structure  could be rented to a business of some kind.
I instantly liked the place. It did not occur to me that later Glenn figured all along that it would be good for me and my idea of opening a “Real” location for APARTMENT E.. I moved in the next month. It took an entire month to paint  and prepare it for what I imagined it to be. I pulled up the carpet, painted the walls a vibrant Jamaican Yellow. Hard ,hard, work. I even refinished the wood floors. Moved all my things in . In boxes piled up to the ceiling. I had no bed, no couch, no “normal” furniture. My collected chairs and unfinished projects (tables, art pieces, etc.) loaded the small place up totally. There was literally one walking trail from the front door , to the bathroom, and to the back door. an act of either love or insanity pushed me headfirst into months of disorganized living. I had really confused all my friends about me now.  Debbie gets special thanks for letting me take showers at her house for about 11 months. I have since made a make-shift shower on the back deck. It’s nice though. I worked really hard at this. Most nights I would come home, turn up my new found music obsession, “Bright Eyes”., and just go through boxes and boxes of what I know contains a fully stocked artshouse. Creating each wall and room, as it’s own separate art piece. The most impressive part is the front room. The entire ceiling is covered with pages from old textbooks, and 40’s sheet music.
I started going out only once a week to a poetry night called “Speakeasy” at the local bar, Will’s Pub. I felt for the first time that I could concentrate on my writings and possibly get the confidence to get on the stage and share them in public. Since I have gotten on that stage ,and actually read a lot from this very story. In the beginning I started  just telling stories, my real life is pretty goofy. You know what? People seemed to enjoy that side of me more than the writings and poems. I run into a lot of folks that have heard of APARTMENT E. They may not know what the heck it is, but they have heard of it. This feels me with pride beyond belief. I feel that through all these years, I am finally at the point  I am satisfied with the starting of my dream.. I’m at the strongest I’ve ever been, and It’s time to “open” for business. But Whoa! Wait a minute Frankie! (I hear you , okay), What about you? What about Frankie’s problems?  That drinking problem that you so well have not been able to stop at any one long time in the last few years.. Sure you are productive, and you like to partake sometimes a little too much of the crazy water. What about that inability to take the risk of meeting someone new for a lasting relationship. Well… maybe my personal problems are still there, but there is a difference now.. My ability to talk about them and ACCEPT my faults has also survived the years. I have become more conscience of my actions. I take the blame too.
I am careful not to harm anyone’s feelings, and I am known as a true friend to many. I am constantly meeting new people that seem to “get it”. My idea of believing in yourself, living your true life, and treating yourself with kindness and love. Doing what you can everyday to better those around you, and to continue to be self-conscience of the goodness of the world. I was asked to write a few words to describe myself in an online profile. This is what I wrote. Sometimes a teacher, always a student. Most times a mirror, sometimes a door. Sometimes a port, always a vessel. Never a stranger, always a friend. I think that says it all. If I have the ability to continue to the next phase of my personal and business life at this positive pace. Then I am thankful and blessed!
If at this moment my life is cut short, taken from me, then I am content in knowing that these words that I have written will inspire or push even one person to improve the world, then I am happy, and my job is done. I am not through though . I am moving forward with this history behind me. I am 44 now- wow where have the years gone? No one believes me when I say how old I am. I will have a real physical place for APARTMENT E one day, and I will continue to write about it. The place I am in now, I call “Poets- Acoustic Artshouse.” There are at least 4 definite venues in my mind that need to be opened. I have complete confidence that the time is very near. The separation between my personal life “stuff”, and the physical things for an actual business (whatever that may be) is in the staging area. I have incorporated the name “APARTMENT E”, I am happy with the progress of things. Someone special is around the corner too. I am flying home now to a family funeral. The worst disaster to ever hit U.S. shores happened 4 days ago. Hurricane Katrina. Sure does put yourself into “check”. “All that is not given, is lost” rings true once again in my life.
I am wondering about all this stuff around me. All the pictures, artwork, boxes, furniture, all the things I’m so carefully choosing to go into my future business. Well,  it could all be gone tomorrow. I say, “get your stuff away from you, and see what you are really made of sometime. “God bless the ones who have lost it all, and God help the ones who have not yet”   Love every minute. I’ll end with a saying that I am borrowing from a new creative person in town. Holly Riggs. “Do what you love to do-Right now!”. Good luck with your decisions!, Thanks for reading..
The plane is landing. –
Put the seats in an upright position, put all personal things away. Yea right!, just try to take my personal things from me. I have worked too hard to know what they are. My passions, my love, my integrity, my dreams, my desires, my truthfulness, my mistakes, ( yea- I have earned them the most).
No one will take these from me, and no one has the right to take them from “you” either.
It is now safe to walk around the cabin.. Thank you for flying with me.

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2012 : Why we Walk

I have a friend that’s being used,and I need to go help him.
It’s all about the things we do.The giving,the gratitude,the handshakes,the sacrifices,the graces. It’s all about who we effect.The beggar, the banker, the sculptor,the subject, the musician, the guitar, the writer,the paper, the artist, the painter.
Why we walk?
It’s all about these things. Not “Who we are”, or even- our- names. Names are forgotten. Titles are tainted. Actions speak volumes,movements last forever. Changing lives, and their children’s lives. Us.
Clouds roll from white to black. Mother rolls through space in directions there and back again, and not in unison with “my” legs. Rather in –
Waves of north,holding echos of south.
Eastern homes giving hearth to Western wanderers. On the brink of giving back to our
containers of safe.
Leading us all back to her, holding me,Back to you, holding hope,searching still, trying to “Feel” love.
Then dying only to awaken to a love again.
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2016: Still here.

hurtful knee brings quick healing

thank  you all again for all the concern and love. All the paperwork, meds,  and by all accounts I should be sleeping. Not a wink. 5:26 am Reading  all the love makes one really appreciate those that touch your life. I  am not different than anyone else, yet  man am I fine-tuned everyday that I am allowed to share this crazy  sometimes harsh world with such beautiful and caring people. My grateful  thanks is once again given to you all.. I sure hope that I can show my  care for each and everyone of you as repayment,even if it is in small  ways. So you know that I do not take this love lightly. I am not afraid  to show my feelings. You all know that, and you all also know that I  think it is a gift we are given just to have the opportunity to love one  another as much as we can. It seems like everyone knows this in their  own lives, some just seem to forget it at times.. I am a dreamer of us  all making life easier for each other through kindness and love.. I see  life through rose colored glasses, I see the glass as always full. ( if  by water or air) both are gifts.. I believe that good attracts good, I  believe WE all are the same. I trust that when all of our lives on this  earth are ended. That we all will have a safe reunion with all our loved  ones, and that eternity gives us the peace we helped create in our  small times here on this fertile ground. We all are beautiful creations  (like no other). To not live and use that beauty for good to me is not a  waste like you would think, rather it’s an opportunity for those that  don’t feel that way to work harder in filling the hurts of others with  their “extra love weaponry” tarnished, yet still “attached” …. This  fight we all win together, when we share our souls completely..We rise  together through personal hardships, and in society’s difference in man  made battles, when we see our similarities far outweigh our differences.  what we live together daily, and what is portrayed on larger stages of  communications are far different when we stop and see,support,and pass  on the truth.

 

I think everyone must have a hidden trash can inside of them that disposes of bad things before they cripple us beyond repair… f.messina 9.30.16

 

Do all you can to keep real history alive. Embrace new history, be a part of it, plant it solid,help not harm when you can. It’s the thing you can do today as a good citizen. Negative competition,chatter,and small town politics,is for small towns,small people. We are not that Orlando! We prove our support for each other everyday. “that Orlando” that we know. That we love,that we water with new ideas everyday. It’s about community and love. All else can be tossed out to the universe, or taken out by a big ole locomotive. Bad Egos will find no solace here…

Is your creativity / talent /education: a career, a hobby, a passion, a diversion, a dream, a goal, or a combination of any or all of these? Do you have to name it to claim it? How hard is it to answer this question? It may not need an answer, just something to think about. Integrity of your work, and a strong belief in yourself is key in my life.What is important in yours?

just had an epiphany somewhere in-between and around listening to Eturn Azar Javaheri, S.K.I.P., Terri Binion, Holly Riggs Caangay, Jeff January ( all the incarnations of music groups), Kaleigh Baker, and Alexandra Love Sarton local disks, reading through some older Curtis X Meyer, Stephen Ag Rawko,and my deceased friend Evan ‘s poetry, delving my eyes on to my walls that are packed with local artwork( much of what is just on loan from artists( such as Justin Barrows, Danny Rock,Halsi Halsi Halsi, Nick Seyler,Jason Littlefield), not picking up their works. so I get to enjoy them a little longer), and my mind went to a very peaceful place. With my knee healing, looking forward to this week’s events…I thought this. Look at all this beauty I have surrounded myself with. Then I thought of what negativity the world is throwing out right now.. Much more than that, the un-kindness……… ( are we this shallow and weak and mean. really.. ?) I for one.. am not… I will not allow myself to follow suit….. ( down to wherever.)….. thank you to all the creatives that have packed “love” in my direction, through their artistic endeavors… to form me, to prepare me, to teach me always… there is more to celebrate when self is shared. Love a local and their creations when at all possible!. These are your angels set here to nurture your spirit..(We have so many here) . it’s not just another CD,or some paint on a canvas or words in a row . .. it is someone’s heart digitized, soaked in, pushed across.. … and this is something to be celebrated not be-rated…

there’s an old mattress, some boards of all kinds, some door screens, a few pieces of furniture, old paint cans, a lot of cardboard, twinkly lights, old burned out bulbs, a lot of tape, old tools, torn paper, knobs, nails, kadiddidleboppers…. and watusha whats..some of this some of that.,(what is that?)’s . and I am not afraid to use and touch any of it, and move it around.. you say recycling, reuse, repurpose…, I say woohoo!!! ART!!!

up early, Inspired from all the beautiful people that rallied around this idea “Blanket Orlando” the last week. I am so grateful for all of you.WE can help so many people and be a positive thing in this crazy world by first remembering that YOU have the power inside of you that was given only to you. To let that special mixture go unused is an injustice to yourself. We all have jobs to do in this small time on earth. To learn love, feel love, share love, ( for ourselves, then we can give it others), Apartment E has been about directing that love in positive directions always. My brain is on fire with new ideas for the new year! Thank you for sticking with me. I finally have the confidence to push my personal goals larger.. Come with me! We have some flying to do…I love you.

thank you for giving to Blanket Orlando this year! Hard to remember all your names to thank for all the support and love. I can only hope you feel my heart beating with happiness and pride in an idea that has touched so many people. Many ripples of love from this. In all directions. My prayer, and yes it is a prayer that I hold inside is an intention that kindness can win over hatred of others in these trying times. No matter our differences, no matter our financial setbacks. This debacle of an election year and mudslinging, lack of professional candidate dedication to the real issues plaguing our country, and world problems that are harming others in their evident pursuit of money,power, and greed.The constant natural disasters, and all the man-made “love they neighbor” setbacks..We must remember to help at all costs, not harm. We all bleed and bruise in the same way. We have been torn apart in many ways,but I believe in LOVE. I believe it is Kindness in the world I know we can champion! We are just a small group of friends, helping a small group of those homeless compared to this immense tragedy on our planet. I truly believe that this example will send a wave of love out like a Tsunami…. I love you all. What can YOU do to make the world better? Teach the children, live your life happy, know that with every new day that you see the sun come up is another day full of promise and love, and there are others out there (even your closest family and friends), that you have the chance to fill with your good. Thanks for reading all this. thank you for being a part of my world.

Give yourself something this year for Christmas, give yourself the permission to do that one idea that you know is in your heart that you feel will make a difference. Lighten your mind, and enlighten the heart of someone else. This is what Christmas is to me. A time to renew my faith in my purpose, and my faith in the goodness of our lives together. Be kind to yourself, know that you have a special mixture inside of you that only you can give. Peace to all of you… Blanket Orlando is only an idea that is still growing each year, because of so many of you. This is what living in grace and gratitude feels like to me. This is a gift that I am sharing. Share yours. Someone out there needs it more than you know.

“let there be Peace on Earth, and let it begin with me”.. and you, and her, and him, and them, and us. We need each other. Grow ways in 2017 to instill peace in your community. That small spark can brighten the world. The World shines brighter,and shadows fall. Days breeze into the nights, hearts are fine tuned to instruments that create love masterpieces that angels will learn with tone and grace. I often hear my mom singing along with me as I hum this little hymn of peace. “let there be peace on earth………..the ..way…it’s.. supposed.. to .. be”.

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“to me the challenge is to make something that is relevant, that contributes something to the conversation of what art is, and what being a human being in this moment of time is like.” – Paloma Muñoz

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We must spread love for life and protect it’s precious space that we cradle it in. If you embrace disdain for life,then that life will most certainly find a way to leave. All lives that depart from our world,leave us “less”. Showcase the “more” in yourself,your community,your circle,your sight and love for life! Support each other as much as possible. you never know the impact you may have on another’s life. Be grateful, smile,push forward,perpetuate good. Send evil,in all sizes to the ether… out and away!

what do you have going on? I am the fan,I am the audience,I am the buyer,I am the admirer, I am the student,I am in line,on hold,outside looking in. I am applauding you, and I have a hunger for what you are cooking. I want to play in your playground for a while.This is how a community grows in healthy ways.Side stepping spotlights is an art within itself. Unhealthy egos die alone. All the chiefs win wars quicker, if they follow the same path to the battle. Together, victims we are not, together, victors we will be. If your heart is cold, our fire can’t warm you.

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never doubt the persistence of an artist on a mission..

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2017

To be my authentic self, in times of high creativity, in times of solo reflection, in love, in misunderstandings of intentions, out of mind with more, in living with less, in moments when anxiety numbs normal movement, when you are understood without words, while avoiding the truth to protect others, when telling the truth will send others away, when I sit in solitude, or alone in a crowd. When authenticity is being played on a single scale, a one note metronome, this is the true path. That moment when all the world falls away, and caring for yourself gets it’s time. treasure that, for no man knows your song, your way of living. shaking the needle from it’s grooving trench plays someone else’s song. with accepted skips. Authentic self is a color that only you rejoice in. you know it when you stray from it.

All that is not Given, is Lost

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