Summer 2011 | Update 3 | The Bicycle

Some shots from the adventures this Summer 2011 so far.     

Several articles ago, I wrote about how I used to think that taking pictures of events or times with friends or places you go was a girly thing. During middle and elementary school, it was always the girls posing for pictures or wanting to take pictures of each other or of themselves or of anything, never the boys, and if it was the boys, they kept their photo shoots to a single group shot wearing sterotypical smiles instead of wasting the whole roll of 24 exposures. But little did we, little did I know, that the girls were actually doing something pretty smart – documenting their lives! Who knew anyone would be interested in what was going on right now, however mundane? Bloggers certainly are, and now I’m one of them.

As you can tell, I’ve actually been taking pictures this summer, and I’m glad I have. A couple of nights ago began a revamped infatuation with my bicycle. I was at a friend’s house eating crap, and it was getting late. I was gonna take the bus back home, but instead of doing the usual, I got on my bike (which I’d brought with me) and ended up cycling the way back home. I was even able to stop and get some pizza along the way. That night – late night, actually; I didn’t get back until about 9:30p – marked the first self-sufficient trip I’d gone on so far. I rode all the way to my destination, and then I rode all the way back. A beautiful feeling of independence, liberty, peace. Sweat, too.

I also came to realize that night riders seem to share a subtle bond. Even though I kept my ears busy with the sounds of my MP3s – which I probably shouldn’t be listening to if I’m biking through the streets late at night – I managed to make friends with another guy on his bike, a young bespectacled fellow seemingly riding home from work, without saying a word and exchanging nothing but a passing glance when we crossed an intersection together. Yet we both participated in a feel-good friendship for a good twenty-five minutes thereafter as we both careened down Bird Road on a thinner-than-rails sidewalk, both recognizing the other’s struggle against a car-abundant society with sublime understanding.

Despite my ability to log lots of base miles on bike, my physical ability is otherwise quite lacking. I’m taking PE online at the moment – loving it? – and even the measly ten push ups exercise in the first module proved a challenge.

Work on the Journalism Year continues. At the moment I’m trying to reorganize my academic plans for the forthcoming year in order to make more time for the class. Also hoping to get some academic recognition for my efforts as well.

Saw Green Lantern  a couple of days ago with friends! Great film. Also, will start an internship at Miami Today, a community publication, this Friday. Will post again then.

Anybody wanna hang out meanwhile?


Summer 2011 | Update 2 | Boredom

My 100th post! How exciting. Here’s to summertime fun! 

Summertime limbo, when excessive, can have disastrous results. When moderated, it can actually help out a lot. So far, it’s helped out a lot.

I remember last summer, by around the fifth, sixth day (today, if I’m not mistaken; i started June 9th, last Thursday), I was bored and it was becoming a problem. I couldn’t live with myself at home. For one, I didn’t have Internet for about three weeks, which – “knock on wood”, as my friend Jackie taught me – is really a lifesaver. Not necessarily because I live off Facebook and Youtube but because … OK, maybe. Also, I had to take care of my sister at home, so I couldn’t bike out of my apartment, either.

But back to the Internet thing. Even if you’re not an avid Facebooker, the Internet lets you look stuff up and get ideas for projects, things you want to do, places you want to visit … and that’s exactly what it’s done over the past few days.

I’ve gotten very much into biking. I ride my road bike, my dad’s mountain bike or my mom’s mountain bike all around town. So, if I love it so much, I figured, why not compete? Not to win, but just for the thrill. So I looked up some races and, sure enough, there’s a BMX track down the street from my house (well, about an hour down the street from my house) as well as a mountain biking trail in both a state and local park a few miles from here. I plan on participating in La Roootaaa #5, a mountain biking challenge at Oleta State Park in North Miami Beach, Florida. I also found out about a communal biking event in Downtown Miami, called Critical Mass, and happening later this month ( Perhaps also one this Saturday (Jun. 18) in the Grove (

The cover for The Journalism Year, a handbook that’ll contain all course material and misc. writings. 

Of course, I’m still trying to keep myself academically tuned. I’m taking required physical education courses on Florida Virtual School, I’ve acknowledged the due dates for the summer assignments for my senior year classes, and I’m thinking, every other brain fart, about the ultimate project for this upcoming year – the journalism course. I’ll be drafting lesson plans and such throughout the summer.

Back to it!

Summer 2011 | Update 1 | Rocky Beginnings

 This post marks my hopefully successful attempt at keeping a little log of my adventures and thoughts as they occur throughout Summer 2011. I’ll try to be brief yet descriptive, although the briefer i am the more likely I am to keep this up. Enjoy!

So summer 2011 is here! The last four days of school started this past Monday, and for me it was one of the most frantic weeks in the school year, believe it or not! I was wrapping up editing on A Serpent’s Tale, my documentary work this year about my school’s Band, Color Guard and Orchestra; their performances, exploits and everything else in between (see the website at; the film is still being sold so it won’t be uploaded on for a while but you can see interviews, bonus features, etc.) 

The cover for A Serpent’s Tale, the 2011 Tomás at Large documentary.

By Thursday, however, I was free. Out and about with my two best friends, Mirald and Dr. Lopez, we delighted in some Chinese buffet before parting ways afterschool. Oh, and I also almost lost my bike to the public transportation system as I unwittingly left it on the front bike carrier while I calmly got off the train. Had it not been for Mr. Lopez’s incredibly amazing running speed – and a lucky red light – one of my favorite posessions would’ve been long gone.

Friday ensued with … damn it, I can’t remember.

See, that’s what really sours my soup. If you attempt to do as many things as possible every single day, and succeed, then you end up saying, “Hell, I’m so tired; I’ll just record what I did today tomorrow.” If only one would realize that this innocent postponing becomes a snowball that leaves you without a memory of a day’s exploits sooner than you think.

Saturday I went to take the ACT at Coral Gables Senior High in Coral Gables, Miami, FL (in case you’re not local). I rode my 1997 Schwinn Searcher Express over there; made it in less than 30 mins. from about six miles away. After the test, I rode to a friend’s house, then another friend’s house, then I got a flat. Ended up getting picked up by my parents, but it’s all right.

U.S. Route 1, the host of many of my bicycle adventures. 

Sunday I finished editing a video of a friend of mine’s party, set to Don Omar’s “Danza Kuduro” and replete with quick shots and a flashy slideshow while my parents went shopping for a new bicycle tube; not for my bicycle, but for my dad’s mountain bike.

Monday, a given degree of disaster struck. The hard drive on which the finished video still is had a transistor blown on the circuit board. I looked up remedies online and ended up riding about 30 miles around town on the mountain bike looking for some much needed tools. To no avail however. I also went to pick up my sister from the local park’s summer tennis camp.

Fast forward to today, Tuesday, and I’m stuck trying to find either a new circuit board or a tape deck to capture the party video again. I also had my welcome call today for one out of two physical education courses I’m taking on Florida Virtual School.

So far, it’s been a fun summer. Much lies ahead, however, and I haven’t even listed my thoughts yet! But to keep these short, I’ll mention those as well as any new summertime developments in other posts. 

A Personal Apology | A Serpent’s Tale, Debriefing I

The following is a personal apology following the premiere of the documentary I’ve been working on throughout the 2010-2011 school year, entitled A Serpent’s Tale. The film tracked the lives and times of the South Miami Senior High Cobra Band, from its beginnings in summertime Band Camp, to the rigors of competition throughout marching band season, to their trip to Atlanta and more. It also featured the Band’s Color Guard and their separate winter season, and also exhibited the Magnet Orchestra’s performances. A difficult, lengthy project whose very difficulty I underestimated, its premiere was much less than what I’d hoped for, and thus the following is a compilation of brief thoughts about the film, about the ride it was making it; above all however, it’s an apology to those I’ve disappointed. 
Band, Color Guard and Orchestra:
as you may or may not have noticed, the video shown today was not complete, nor wholly adequate, nor what I wanted to show. Titles were incorrect, some exiting seniors were not featured in the film as they should’ve been, editing was shaky and inefficient at several times throughout the film, etc. A laundry list of don’ts. The point is, it was not, for some more than others, the end of year band video you guys wanted to see. It needed improvement. Lots of it. 
I don’t like to give excuses (believe it or not) so I’ll just say that work, time and balancing the two caught up with me this year and as a result, the video was not done on time; I started the editing process too late. That’s why some sections were drawn out, some montages not in sync with the beats of the music, some interviews not in the film. 
And this frustrates me for several reasons. For one, as someone looking to enter the fast-paced world of journalism, film and broadcasting, it’s a technical/professional failure that not only demonstrates that I need to get my act together, but also shows others that I might not be ready or even capable of handling due dates, large projects, etc. 
Furthermore, it’s an emotional/ethical failure as well. I realized, afterwards, that the two hours spent in the chorus room, in the company of your life-long music pals, in the company of the freshmen that looked up to you; this is what you’re leaving with; this is the reminder of, at least, this year in the Music magnet. How can something like that be presented unfinished? How can such an important piece of media be rushed, left incomplete? 
I apologize for having been inefficient, the last several weeks, in delivering this project properly. From an empirical standpoint; you guys, the customer, are disappointed. From a more personal standpoint, you seniors, you Band people, you guys, are disappointed. I’m sorry I messed up. 
Now, for the DVD release, the video will of course be retouched, shortened in some portions, added to in others. All interviews will play a larger role in the film, more events will be included, others either shortened or removed completely. In any case, the DVD disc will contain not only the film, but the interviews in their entirety, all performances, all music, photos and outtakes. Well, if disc space allows of course. It’s a lot of stuff. 
Again, I apologize for having failed you in this defining moment. But do not let my lack of attention today underscore my experience working on this project. You guys let me in to your close-knit family, for no reason other than “oh, he’s filming”, and I appreciate that immensely. I am eternally grateful to you all for your friendship, for the opportunity to embark on such an adventure as this year was. 
Hope you enjoy the reworked version, 
Tomás Monzón