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Saturday, March 11, 2017

TOMB OF THE UNKNOWN WELDER

       I have visited most of the little-known, kitschy tourist attractions in the book "Weird Florida".  I've witnessed the dancing mermaids of Weekee-Wachee Springs, The Singing Tower, and Miami's own Coral Castle. What I never expected was to discover a "new" off-beat landmark myself.
 



    




 Last Tuesday I joined the picket line outside Senator Marco Rubio's Miami office.  I met a woman there who asked, "Our group is going inside to meet with the senator's assistant. Would you like to join us?" I eagerly accepted and headed there at the appointed time.

      Rubio's office is inside a big blue building on NW 36th Street, a half-block from 45's golf course. Signs clearly state that it is the world headquarters of the American Welding Society. I was impressed to walk in and see a wall filled with 95 portraits of the society's past presidents. 


They were etched on metal plates, possibly with tiny welding torches.


       In the middle of the grand entrance to our senator's office was an impressive brown statue of a goggled man about to join two pieces of metal together. This, I later learned, was the Tomb of the Unknown Welder.



The glass doors on the right lead to Senator Rubio's office.



 A security guard filled me in,
 
  In 1986 a building under construction collapsed in Sarasota, Florida. Many people were injured and unfortunately, one was killed. It turned out that he was an undocumented immigrant, highly skilled in the welding trade. He had been working using an alias so his true identity could never be verified.  

   He now kneels for eternity just outside Senator Rubio's office. While the senator supports kicking people like him out of the country, The Unknown Welder isn't going anywhere.
_______________________________________


Note:  a few alternative facts may have been used to create  this story.  I could not verify the security guard's identity either.  
    This fake news thing can be lots of fun but surprisingly, the story below is real. 
_____________________________________________________



LIAR, LIAR,  
STRANGER THAN FICTION, WEIRD MIAMI

    On Tuesday, -while I was picketing- a Miami defense attorney's pants burst into flames. Steven Gutierrez, 28, was defending an accused arsonist. As he  was making his final argument before a jury alleging "spontaneous combustion", the lawyer's right pant pocket caught on fire. The attorney survived but his client did not. He was was found guilty of intentionally setting his car ablaze. 
   Gutierrez blamed the incident on a faulty e-cigarette. 
They don't call us Flori-duh for nothin'.  
________________________________________________________ 
     

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

THE ART OF GIFFORD LANE

    Sunday's art show is what  every community should have, small events that get us out of the house, places to enjoy our friends, music, and the sun peeking through the oaks. Yes, there was a good bit of art on Gifford Lane too but that's what it took to make it happen.
                                          Uta with egg carton



My softball buddy, Hank, wore his 21-year old KMStrut t-shirt.  It praised the City of Miami 's 1996 Telethon, "Give So Others Can Take".  Note: I am pointing at the shirt (not giving it "the finger".


     It's the Grove's greatest party filled with creativity and color. And the cucumber punch?  Thirty-five bottles of gin were drained in four hours. Few drank too much and the proceeds went to charity.
I sold six fish, some Mango Republic t-shirts, and Dave Villano actually walked away with that crazy cat sculpture. 

 

I retired last June and miss my 

 
      



The beautiful Toledo sisters      former students.  Some came to visit and it was a joy to see them again.
           
  Maanas Daswani will be my primary care physician someday

  The five-hour festival made thousands of people happy in Coconut Grove last Sunday. We need 
more creative, non-commercial, punch-filled events like this. Life is too dull without them.


Friday, March 3, 2017

GIFFORD ART SHOW SUNDAY

     People talk about "The Old Grove" and how great it used to be here. They refer to the slow-paced village of the past where people paid more attention to each other than they do to their cell phones now. 
   There were many more artists in Coconut Grove then. Some would painting plein-air in the shade of ancient oaks that Grove developers now cut down daily
      
    You can find this  magic again on Sunday. It  happens once a year on an oak-shaded block in the Center Grove.  It's the Gifford Lane Art Stroll and it will take place on March 5th (Sunday) from noon to five p.m.
    Why not come and see what all the fuss is about?
    There will be sixty artist selling their wares plus four live bands, and some serious hula-hooping. This is the 19th year for one of the Grove's best kept secrets.  I've been in the show since '2002

   This time I'll be selling my usual fish,


Tattooed Wahoo



 Uta gave me a gourd six months ago and said, "This seems right up your ally".


and this amazing new sculpture, "The Screaming Skeletal Cat From Hell".  He screams, chatters his jaws nervously and everyone spending $25 or more (for the cat and anything else) will get a free beer. 

    I will also draw portraits badly for anyone who will fork over a dollar.  Sharpee tattoos? $2.  Four designs, no waiting (unless I happen to be drawing on someone else's arm when you ask).


    You probably know that I left the country after November's election.  I now reside in The Mango Republic. It's leader is a mango (not a bozo) and at Sunday's stroll I will be selling my new nation's t-shirts. 
 

      Francesca will be there too selling her scrumptious banana bread. Sales benefit St. Albans Day Care Center.  

    It's all good fun and I hope you can join us as we party in the Old Grove on Gifford Lane this Sunday afternoon. We'll be in booth #1 across from the tennis courts.
         ________________________________
Location:  Gifford Lane is just east of SW 32 Ave. and parallel to it (running north and south).  It is two blocks north of Grand Ave.
Ride a bike, walk, or park where ever you can.
 

Monday, February 27, 2017

BACK IN THE GAME WITH THE YOUNG VIEJOS

     I had heard of the softball team for years, Coral Gables' Young Viejos (which translates, "young old men"). I went to one of their games in 2010 and asked one of the players if I could join. He told me I was too young (you have to be at least 65). I went home and thought about it for six years.

     Last fall I ventured to the Gables Youth Center ball park and asked again. The Viejos told me I could  participate in pre-game practices until a spot on their 40-man roster opened up. The practice-after-practice experience was like pledging a fraternity.
     My big break happened last Thursday. I was voted in, officially introduced to the team, and played in my first game. 
   After a five-decade hiatus I'm playing ball once more. Who knew growing old could be this much fun?


Friday, February 24, 2017

COME SEE THE LUDLAM LIGHTS SATURDAY EVENING!

     Our friends on the west side have spent years working to create a magnificent linear park, "The Ludlam Trail". The 6-mile chunk of land used to be a train route. The Trail is 2/3 of the way to becoming a reality but additional funding is needed.
 Six miles of real estate doesn't come cheap.

     Here's where you come in. 
You've invited to trod the trail (still owned by the train company) this Saturday, February 25th. 
   Come, enjoy a walk on the Trail that will soon be a park.

   Every year the good people working to create this new park stage a wonderful event, "Ludlam Lights".  It enables you to visit the proposed park at twilight (5-7 pm), when it is aglow with hundreds of small lanterns. It even starts with a parade this year!
  It's a lovely event where you get some exercise, see your friends, and enjoy the hundreds of luminaries lighting the trail. There will be a lantern contest and free beer as well.  
    This year, participants will help set out the lanterns to light things up.  That, and the event itself, begin at 5 pm.  There will be bands along the trail as well.  Last year over 600 participants enjoying this family-friendly event and this year promises to be bigger.
    The weather forecast for Saturday is good.   There will be plenty of parking in the South Miami High School parking lot, 6856 SW 53 St.
  Francesca and I are going when the sun sets. We hope to see you when the luminaries begin to glow. 
                       ________________
 

Monday, February 20, 2017

IT BEGINS WITH A "7 " TODAY

    It's my birthday. I tried to make the beginning of my 7Oth year special. Our family went on a camping expedition that extended into to the far reaches of the Florida Everglades.  We found the
perfect spot to dwell by a lake and discovered it was site # "70"!

     






Yes, the  mosquitoes
were huge but that made them easier to swat.
                                                                              
 



Dylan entertained me with the yoga  I remembered from my youth. I go to "Yoga for Seniors" now where we stand on our feet (not  heads).




 Later, sitting around  the campfire, the gang sang a spirited version of the Beatles' "Birthday" complete with the lines, "I would like you to dance, Take a cha-cha-cha chance...".  It was incredible!

     This morning the rising sun told the birds to begin their birthday songs. I don't believe there could have been a better way to start this special day. 
            ___________________ 



This is a birthday card from the very talented Carlos who will soon be my son-in-law. That's me riding my birthday present to myself, a hot Honda Ruckus. Pi and Kerry are the two critters riding on the back. Here are two more original cards that came my way today,


                          ____

Monday, February 13, 2017

RESISTING TRUMP IN COCONUT GROVE

       Last month's WOMEN'S MARCH ON WASHINGTON was five times bigger than anyone imagined it would be. 


    1.2 million women, children (and yes, a few thousand men) stood up to the evil machine that occupies the White House.  Twenty-seven thousand of them were from Florida.




   The march's huge numbers and unstoppable energy is being channeled into state groups like "Women's March Florida" and our local "March" group led by Coral Gables attorney, Carrie Feit.  People who attended the Washington March (and the rally in downtown Miami on the same day) were invited to the march's first "mobilization meeting" in the Grove yesterday.  

 

     Over 300 people packed St. Stephens Episcopal Church for the marathon 3-hour event.  We heard from the state chairman, Emma Collum, Carrie, and Tallahassee's Lakey Love.  Coconut Grove's Ava Seymour had a few words too.  (right)  Lakey introduces Ava  

  

  At one point we broke out into smaller groups so we could have discussions on threats to civil rights, gun control, immigration and eight other big issues.

    The women attending (and the eighteen men) were encouraged to keep working with the Miami-Dade chapter of Women's March Florida as they continue with monthly meetings. Attendees were also asked to join one of the other local groups formed to resist Trump's agenda.  Here are four nearby,
1) Progressive Miami-  Grove-based, monthly meeting usually at St. Stephens Church (see their FB page).  I started this one with a couple of friends and we now have 200 members.
2) Rise Up, Florida!  Based in Coral Gables, they meet at Gables UCC monthly.  They'll be picketing Rubio's office this week.
3) Downtown Dems,  an off-shoot of the local Democratic Party, "the Dems" have their meetings in the Brickell area and sometimes at the Grove Spot restaurant.
4) Indivisible Miami, Meets monthly on the Grove Bookstore patio.
      You can get information on any of these resistance groups (including Women's March Miami) by checking their Facebook pages.  If you need more information drop me a line, bettermiami1@yahoo.com .  I'll be happy to help.

   As if a three-hour meeting wasn't enough, eight of us followed up the March gathering by going to another meeting. We learned Indivisible Miami was having its third meeting two blocks away, a few minutes after ours ended. This group is new but their enthusiasm is strong and contagious. 

    Are you unhappy with our country's new direction?  You can help stem the tide by joining  one of the groups listed above. 


 The March on Washington is long and
the campaign to "bring back the flame" will continue for years. 

  Resist!