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Friday, April 24, 2015

DOES MIAMI NEED A 600-FOOT JUMBOTRON?

      On Monday, bad taste may reach new heights in the City of Miami, 633- feet, to be exact.
That's how tall "Innovation Tower" will be, the proposed skyscraper/billboard for downtown Miami near I-95 and NW 10th Street.
On Monday the city commission will be casting their votes for this towering television disguised as a building.
      The entire structure will function as a billboard covered with 85,000 bright, little lights to create animated ads.  It will be a 600-foot, 24/7 Jumbotron.  
 Simkin's tower, sans Jumbotron, looks like a paintbrush.

Imagine watching an  Depends commercial from twenty miles away. 

   I wish I was making this up.

    But we saw the tower  thrusting up from Friday's Miami Herald. This was the first time the public learned of this hair-brained idea. The article had its developer, Michael Simkins touting, "it will elevate the city's brand on a global scale". 
   If our brand is "Greedy, Ugly, and Stupid" he's right. Global too, the whole world will be laughing at us (again). 
   Miami had class when it banned billboards a few years ago. Aesthetics began to rule the roads. Then the billboards and banners slowly started rising as Miami's commissioners lowered their standards.

   The Herald pointed out that Simkins has been quietly pushing this project for over a year.  He's hired one commissioner's aunt to lobby for the project and has stuffed $5000 into the pockets of another commissioner's wife (this being Teresa, wife of Marc Sarnoff, who's "pocket" holds her city commission campaign fund).  I'm pretty sure how she'd vote on this one.

    When I told a female friend of Simkin's proposal she grew irate saying, "I'm so sick of men running this town with their concrete erections."  Maybe she's right, perhaps we need a commissioner of the fairer sex. Four are running for Sarnoff's seat, along with five men.

    Two-acres of television in the sky will give Miami another black eye.  Anyone with half-a-brain knows that. But what of our city commissioners who have less than half-a-brain? 
Call them.  Send them e-mails today.  Let them know you don't want Miami's skyline mucked-up by a 600-foot Jumbotron.  
  
   Miami can do better than "greedy, ugly, and stupid".
                                 ______________________________________________

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

MARJORY'S HOUSE, Our New National Landmark in Coconut Grove!


         Sometimes you win and today, we won one for Coconut Grove legend, Marjory Stoneman Douglas.Marjory Stoneman Douglas's Home

     Six hours ago, President Obama visited South Florida's Everglades National Park. In his Earth Day speech he announced that the Park Service will designate Ms. Douglas' South Grove cottage as a national historic landmark. 
     
    This is great news. Her former Coconut Grove home (3744 Stewart Avenue) has been ignored for years.The feisty writer led the Save the Everglades movement during her long lifetime. The President's speech delighted everyone who cares about the South Florida's environment, historic preservation and Ms. Douglas' legacy.  

    
A color photograph of Marjory Stoneman Douglas late in her life. She is shown in profile, seated, with a cat on her lap. She is white-haired tanned and wrinkled. She wears a lapelled jacket and low-brimmed straw hat. She and the cat gaze at each other lovingly.    The journalist/ environmentalist/ feminist died in 1998 at the age of 109. She left her house to the State of Florida so it could be used to carry on her work. Unfortunately, our Tallahassee leaders did nothing, leaving it unmarked and unloved. Eight years ago they began allowing a park ranger to live there. 
    Marjory's friends have spent almost two decades trying to preserve the house and open it to the public. Ten years ago the state and some angry neighbors tried to have it cut up and moved south to Fairchild Gardens. 
    What an awful idea that was.
We stopped it with vigorous protests led by the "Marching Marjorys". 25 of us, dressed as our big-hatted environmental saint, raised hell in that year's King Mango Strut parade.

    Then there was nothing...one long dreary decade until today. I am thrilled and hope you are too. Marjory deserves this and much more.

     Thank you Mr. President, for coming to South Florida. Your visit shines much-needed light on the world's environmental issues, our depleted Everglades, and the Grove's forgotten treasure on Stewart Avenue.
I just contacted all of the Marching Marjory's (including our three sons) to share the good news. 
We're ready to  march for you anytime.  
                _____________

Monday, April 20, 2015

DOCTOR ROGER- TRIAL BY FIRE

    Who can forget the image of the burning girl? In this June 8, 1972 photo, crying children, including Kim Phuc, center, run from a burning Vietnamese village after a napalm attack.She runs from her Vietnamese village after a 1972 napalm attack. Screaming, "Too hot, too hot!", her clothes and skin have been torn away by fire.  

     New York firemen couldn't forget it either.  They wanted to fly her here for help.  Unfortunately there was no place in New York City to properly treat her third-degree burns.
    The girl, Phan Kim Phuc, survived receiving treatment in Viet Nam from local and American physicians. The New York Firefighters Foundation began raising funds to created a local burn unit, a specialized facility to treat burn victims like nine-year-old Kim. They succeeded and it opened in 1977.
     Three weeks ago we were touring the facility at New York Presbyterian Hospital, the biggest and possibly the best in the country.  It is located on the upper-east side of Manhattan. Our guide was the unit's director and chief surgeon, Dr. Roger Yurt. He's been treating patients there since 1983.

    Dr. Yurt married my sister, Joan, many years ago and has put up with me ever since. I ask a lot of questions and after an hour with him I was ready to do a little surgery myself.                     Roger, Francesca, Joan and The Grove Guy

    Fortunately, that didn't happen.  I did learn that
the hospital's burn center treats over a thousand patients a year.  On our tour we visited the submarine-like hyperbaric chamber  (for treating smoke inhalation), saw many bandaged patients, and visited the debriding room. That's where new burn patients have their wounds washed and dead and contaminated skin is cut away.


     Brother Roger will retire in June.  Last fall he was feted at the Plaza as the hospital's "Doctor of the Year".  He is a hero to many, especially "the burned". He is praised in the several books written by his patients about their trials by fire. In the late 90's Time magazine featured Roger and his surgical team. 

   
 In my brother-in-law's office I saw a fireman's hat.  The burn surgeon told me it had been given to him by the Firemen's Foundation in appreciation for his helping survivors of the 9-11 tragedy. 

   9-11 letter of appreciation. One of many in the unit's hallway.  

    When the planes hit the World Trade Center a few miles south, Roger's 40-bed unit was expected to overflow with new patients.  On that horrific day only received 22 people were brought to the burn center.  One person told me,  "While there were thousands killed, there were a relatively low number of injuries. If you were in the towers you most likely escaped unscathed or did not survive".
    Dr. Yurt's hat bears the number "343", the number of firemen killed that day. 
  
     Kim Phuc, now 52, survived her injuries.  She is now a U.N. goodwill ambassador helping victims of war.  In 2009 she attended the World Burn Congress in New York City, speaking up for  people injured by fire.  While there, she took the time to thank Dr. Yurt and his unit for their important work.   

      The Terry clan thanks him as well.  Good luck,  Joan and Roger, in the golden years ahead.  
                   
                       _________________



More about burns,

       In New York learned that most burns are seasonal, caused by heaters in the winter and barbeques in the summer.  
       It doesn't take much. You will receive a third-degree burn if your skin is exposed to 155 degree heat for one second (your water heater is probably set at 140.  A couple of seconds of 140 degree heat will destroy your skin as well).

        The treatment of burns has greatly improved in the last forty years mainly due to improved early surgical procedures. In 1975 your chances of surviving third-degree burns were roughly calculated by adding your age to the percentage of your skin loss (a twenty-year-old with fifty-percent of his exterior receiving third-degree burns would have a 30 percent chance of surviving).  Now, it would be twice that, 60%.
    The biggest challenge is to prevent burns in the first place.  That can be done with improved parenting, fewer drunks falling into their grills and educating the public. Roger's burn unit has an extensive educational outreach program to help with that.
     We brought a few Don't Get Burned brochures home.

That's it from the Grove Guy.  Have a safe summer.
                                   ___________________



Wednesday, April 15, 2015

ROCKSTAR ASTRONAUT


    

     Living two miles from Books and Books, we can saunter over regularly to be in the presence of greatness.  Last month it was author Thomas McGuane and last night, astronaut Chris Hadfield.  The video of him singing "Space Oddity", inside the International Space Station, just got its 25 millionth hit.  The guy is a rock star.
     
   And we got to be in the same room with him last night.  This morning he's waking up in New York City for his appearance on The Today Show.  Col. Chris is pushing his new bestseller, "An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth". 
    
     Col. Hadfield first explained, in ten-minute detail, what it is like to ride a rocket into space.  I learned that the latest Jaguar has 526 horsepower while his rocket had 80 million.  It burned 12 tons of fuel a second to boost the space shuttle into  orbit.
 

   It's a great read and if you hustle over to B&B soon you can get an autographed copy for $17 (paperback).

     When a young man name Juan asked "How can I become an astronaut", he learned that he has to be healthy, get an advanced technical degree and do things like learn to fly or scuba dive. 
    Heck, all I need is the degree (law won't do) and I'll be ready to blast off. 
    
He then summed up his years of training and space exploration and how it possible to do almost anything we set our minds too...even to become a successful musician. 
    We learned the space explorer loves music and has fronted bands for 25 years.  In his last 5-month stint aboard the space station, he didn't just have his fellow astronauts shoot videos of him singing one song, but many.


Astronaut Chris Hadfield lands a book deal about space life The resulting album -which will be the first art created in space- will be out at the end of the summer.  Proceeds will go to charity.  
      Amazing.  Read the book.
                         _________________

Sunday, April 5, 2015

BUILDING LATIN-STYLE




   Miami can boast that many of its outstanding buildings were designed by Latin American architects.  Hilario Candela, Jorge Arango, and Enrique Gutierrez  (he created Biscayne Boulevard's Bacardi Building, below, in 1963) are part of a    
long tradition that led us to New York City last week.

   The Museum of Modern Art opened their new show, "Latin American Architecture, 1955-1980.  
       Proposed hotel for Peru's Machu Picchu, Miguel Rodrigo Mazure, 1969

       We attended as my wife's uncle, "Tio Tomas", was one of the architects honored.  Tom├ís Sanabria 1922 – 2008  Tomas Jose Sanabria practiced his craft in Caracas for many years before he died in 2008.  Francesca's "tio" was a warm and creative artist who enjoyed his occasional visits to Coconut Grove.

This was some of his work displayed at MoMA.  

Drawing of the funicular station taking passengers up to Tio Tomas' mountaintop hotel, along with photographs, and sketches.


    One of his best known designs was the Humboldt Hotel.  It has been sitting atop La Avila, the mountain looming over Caracas, for sixty years.

  Hotel Humboldt picture



  The exhibit was filled with drawings, models, and photographs of a dozen Latin American architects. The show's co-organizer, Barry Bergdohl,  called their work "one of the great powerhouses of 20th century architectural design".  
    
 My wife's family was there in great numbers,
many making the long trek from Venezuela.

   After the reunion we wandered downstairs to see paintings we has only previously viewed in books.

The first one I encountered was  "Glenn", by the Haitian -American artist, Jean Michael Basquiat.

___________



There was so much to see in El Apple Grande. Wandering around I photographed some of the city's signs.







  On the subway ride back to our hotel I was considering pole dancing. 
I thought better of it when I saw this,

 Oh well.
                              _______________

           The Grove Guy in NYC- To Be Continued



Friday, April 3, 2015

SCAREY FACE FASHION SHOW

    It's not the easiest thing,  playing dead for a half-hour while you face is covered with plaster. But that's how we make these creepy masks. 





 


 
 

My middle school students love them.  I love having them quiet for a half-hour.
                                   
                                    _____________________________________________

Monday, March 23, 2015

SURROUNDED BY SNAKES

     We spent last weekend camping in the Florida Everglades. It was beautiful but we didn't see any of the marsh rabbits we enjoyed there years ago. Twenty-six of them were recently released in the national park fitted with radio tracking devices. 
    When scientists began hunting them down they found 17 of the devices beep-beeping inside Burmese pythons. The huge snakes have taken over Everglades National Park with a population exceeding 10,000.  

Burmese Python and Other Invasive Species Wrecking the Ecosystem
                                                                           It's a sobering thought, 95% of the small mammals have disappeared since people started setting their pet pythons free in  South Florida years ago.  We never see raccoons, possums, or rabbits  when we go there now.  
   We don't see snakes either. Last year the park superintendent told us, "They're all over but they know how to hide. Holding a tracking device, I can be standing four-feet from one and still not see it in the brush".   
    2014's much publicized  python hunt only yielded fifty.  Unfortunately there is no remedy in sight.
 
    Last Saturday we hiked through a dense hammock keeping the kids close. A 65-pound deer was found inside an 18-footer two years ago. The slithering creatures are ripping up the park's food chain and will soon head north. 
   What's next on python menu? Maybe Mickey Mouse.