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Friday, January 13, 2017

TRUMP RESISTANCE GROUPS MEET SUNDAY

         Have you heard who America chose to be it's next President? It's like letting Pee Wee Herman run the country, only worse. Pee Wee would make a much better President than he whose name is best unspoken.

        Fear, lies, and Russian spies have put a orange-headed buffoon in the driver's seat and we have to deal with it.


    Coconut Grove has risen to the occasion with two Trump resistance groups meeting on Sunday, January 15th.
         Both are sponsored by MoveOn, one of our nation's largest, progressive, political groups. They are two of 400 MoveOn meetings taking place across the country on Sunday. 

    Each will focus on immediate threats to the Affordable Care Act, Immigration, and the Trump's deplorable cabinet choices. Most important, they will teach us how we can work together to resist all of the bad things that the next President represents.

Here are your choices,

A)  A picnic meeting on the lawn at the Barnacle.  Steve, its host, encourages people to come, share food and ideas. The Barnacle State Park is across from the Playhouse Parking lot (where you can park for $5).  Park admission is $2.  It begins at 2 pm.

B)  A more traditional meeting will be held at St. Stevens Church, 2750 MacFarlane Road (next to Peacock Park). It will be held in the "Great Hall" room on the south end of the church campus.  
   I'm hosting this one along with the Grove's "Progressive Miami" group.  Guest speakers include our city commissioner, Ken Russell, and Legal Services attorney Miriam Harmantz.  
   It begins at 6 pm. There is free parking in the church lot (on MacFarlane, until it fills up) as well as a $5 lot next door.
___________________

If You Live Outside of Miami and you want to attend a Sunday meeting, go to Moveon.org to find the one closest to you.
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WOMEN'S MARCH ON WASHINGTON (And Miami!)


    
      I hope you're making plans to resist Trump, nine days from now, by participating
in the Women's Marches. The big one is in
our nation's capitol on Saturday, January 21st.  Francesca and I will be there along with a lot of other Groveites.

     There will be one in Miami too, on the same day, in downtown Miami. The "South Florida Women's Rally" will take place at the Bayfront Park Amphitheater from 1 to 5 pm.
     Make plans to attend one of them. Each is important, each has its Facebook page (for information). Make your voice heard at these huge, historical events.
_____________________

PASTOR LAURIE GOES RAPUNZEL

     Having enough to eat is as important as having trustworthy political leaders. Miami has more poverty that most large US cities. The Coral Gables Congregational Church is doing something about it with its Bell Tower Food Drive this weekend.

     Tomorrow morning its pastor, Laurie Hafner, will be climbing up into the church's bell tower. She will remain in the small, hot room until people like us bring her 10,000 pounds of food. It will be donated to the Feeding South Florida charity.
     You can help the hunger problem and get Pastor Laurie out of the tower tomorrow. Bring food to the church on Saturday, June 14th. It's the one across from the Biltmore Hotel.

   One More Thing,

The same church is having a free, one-hour jazz concert tonight (Friday) honoring Dr. Martin Luthor King, Jr.  The Zach Bartholomew Trio's repertoire will include Oscar Peterson's "Hymn to Freedom". It begins in the sanctuary at 7 p.m., 3010 De Soto Blvd., Coral Gables, 33134. 
______________________


 AS NASTY AS SHE WANTED TO BE


   Two weeks ago the Grove had its 35th King Mango Strut parade and a friend led the "Nasty Women's Marching Band". Just before the event she was admonished by a parade official. She told Gina she could not use one of her signs, "Keep Your hands off My Pu-sy", because it was a "family parade".
      Just ahead of her group was the parade's grand marshal, Luke "As Nasty As I Wanna Be" Campbell. The former rapper made history by going all the way to the Supreme Court  to make talking dirty a national pastime.  
    If it really was a family parade they should have had the bell tower's Pastor Laurie serving as grand marshal.
       
       My friend added that after the official walked away she made four more pussy signs (Whoops, there I go, being as nasty as I wanna be).
__________________ 


         
PS:  He really would make a better President.
 

Friday, January 6, 2017

ISLAND HOPPING

        Lucky us. South Floridians need only jump into their cars to visit exotic islands. Our state is surrounded by hundreds of them. Some are still free of condominiums. We visited one last weekend.
   Bahia Honda is a hundred miles southwest of Miami but, in many ways, is closer to Jamaica.
Its got coconut palms and a sugar sand beach that you can camp on.  For forty bucks a night we had our own piece of oceanfront.  Francesca and I were lulled to sleep by lapping waves. The next morning we were greeted by Mr. Sun peeking over a tranquil blue horizon.

     Key West is less than an hour away.  We love lunching under the banyan trees at My Blue Heaven. Chickens peck at you feet as you peck at shrimp and grits. It's wonderful but still a bit unsettling for me because of The Other Glenn.
     Fourteen years ago I was single and looking for love in the southernmost city. At the Blue Heaven's bar
I noticed a man who looked like me passing by. It was very strange and I followed him as he
headed for the restroom.   
     Its one thing to see yourself in a mirror but this was no reflection. Except for being an inch shorter, this guy was me.  Thoughts of "The Invasion of the Body Snatchers" ran through my head.  "Is this guy going to kill me and take over my life?" I thought.  Hiding behind a tree I saw him emerge from the men's room and return to the dining area.
     Mr. Lonely continued thinking, "Is he now returning to his wife...my wife?"  This clone thing, after only half a beer, was way too freaky. Of course, I followed the other Glenn from a safe distance until he sat down next to a woman who was not my type at all. I know appearances aren't everything but she looked like the last person I would want to be wedded to. How could my clone have chosen her?
    I turned and left quickly, before Glenn #2 caught on to what I was up to. I have not seen him since but I did run into  Glenn #3 (Ed Wujciak) a couple of years ago. I'm okay with Ed. He only almost looks like me and has no intention of taking my life.

    Thoughts of evil clones faded once lunch was served. Afterwards we dropped in on our friends ,Hugh and Yadira.
    They have two old houses on the ocean just next to the Southernmost Point. While Key West has changed drastically these last four decades the Morgans have managed to keep things simple. They drive old cars and prefer talking over texting.

   Our southernmost friends use rotting seaweed and dead fish to fertilized their bulging red tomatoes. Catching dinner is as simple as casting a line off the seawall.



     Good fortune has allowed the Key West couple to keep it real despite the growing glitz around them. While we don't live on the ocean, our Bahia Honda campsite allowed us to imagine being real Caribbean  castaways.

   It's not that hard to do, there are islands all around us. Make plans to visit one and plant yourself in the sand. You can do what others only dream of.
           ___________________________ 
   

Friday, December 30, 2016

TELLING BOB GOODBYE

      WE TOLD BOB BRENNAN GOODBYE yesterday as we gathered under the trees he loved at Fairchild Gardens.  He passed, at the age of 63, on Christmas Eve.
    Hundreds of friends and neighbors listened to his three children recount why their father was admired by so many. 


 "Our dad had an endless love for our mom, for us, and the rest of our extended family", said daughter Talia who added, "but it didn't end there.  He loved all of our neighbors and our friends. But it continued as he loved our friends' parents, their friends, and all of their dogs."  Her brother, Louis, added that his father remembered their names too and had bear-like "Bob hugs" for everyone.


     Endless love and a willingness to help, that's how all of the speakers described our departed friend.  And as they did, Florida snow  (falling leaves) sparkled in streaks of sunlight.  At one point, a flock of white ibis took off behind the speaker, their wings taking them up to a place where we imagine Bob might be.
                  ________________________

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

AN AMERICAN IN PARIS

        Paris is so special. It's rich with art and history, part of its recent history being me, taking a knee, to propose to my wife on the Eiffel Tower. When we learned the new musical, "An American in Paris" was opening at the Arsht Center last night, we had to be there.

      The show has early origins. In 1928 George Gershwin wrote the original "An American in Paris" orchestral piece which reflected the images he saw and heard strolling about the city. He even brought back French taxi horns to be used by his musicians.
     Adding a few more popular Gershwin tunes, this became the classic 1951 musical starring Gene Kelly and Leslie Caron. In 2005 the music inspired a popular "An American in Paris" ballet. All three versions are incorporated in the latest incarnation which made its debut on Broadway recently.




An American in Paris Tickets - Broadway Shows - NewYork.com
      
   I expected the City of Light to be the star but it was just a beautiful backdrop for the story and its song and dance performances.  "Song & dance" is putting it lightly.  The music was, of course, the Gershwin brothers at their best but the dancing was even better. 
  
    Even the dance-jaded Grove Guy was mesmerized by seeing incredible ballet incorporated into this high-powered production. The main characters were highly-trained dancers who could also sing and act. 
     The show's story begins with a soldier with artist dreams, lingering in Paris after WWII. The city is still is shell-shocked by four years of Nazi occupation. The young American soon falls in love with an unattainable French girl as the plot unfolds. The show was nearly 3-hours long but its ending seemed too soon. We had a great time,

and so will you.
  "An America in Paris" plays through January 1st.  For tickets (prices start at just $19) contact arshtcenter.org .
  

Saturday, December 24, 2016

TREES IN HEAVEN

      AND ON THE THIRD DAY, God said, "Let the Earth bring forth grass, plants and trees of each kind, And so it was". The Bible doesn't mention there being trees in Heaven but if there are, Bob Brennan is taking care of them now.
     Coconut Grove's favorite arborist left us on Christmas Eve after a five-month bout with cancer. 
  Every time I stopped by his North Grove house last week Bob was surrounded by an glowing aura of love. It was continuously being fed by his wife, Eileen, their three kids, and the other visiting friends. 

    Two days ago our tree guru was rolled out to enjoy a perfect afternoon in his verdant back yard. Bob couldn't speak so he gestured to a friend to move a bit so he could admire a thriving beehive. He marveled at all things natural and the mounds of love heaped upon him by visiting friends and family these last few months.

      December was always special. With his bushy white beard, Mr. B charmed thousands as Santa every Christmas. 
    He left last night so he could help St. Nick with his annual rounds. When the last gift was delivered, Bob went straight to Heaven.  God's trees need him, just like the Grove's always did.


     Keeping Coconut Grove green and his family and friends happy were huge priorities in Bob's life. He did both exceptionally well.  Yesterday the love was flowing like the tide into Sailboat Bay as he bid farewell to his family, the bees, and the trees with his final breath.  
   Now, when you want to find Bob just look up. He'll always be smiling in the trees he so loved.
              ___________________________ 

A public memorial service will be held in Fairchild Garden's arboretum on Thursday at 1 pm.  Free admission.
                _________________________

Thursday, December 22, 2016

SIGNS OF THE TIMES, Our March on Washington next month.

    The words, "President Trump", continue to horrify most Americans. As the election's shock slacks off we make plans to resist almost everything that he represents.  You can be a part of that resistance. Our first mass protest, "The Women's March on Washington", will occur on January 21st ( DJT's first full-day in office).  
    Are you going?  We're expecting over 200,000 to gather in our nation's capital. If you can't be there, come to one of the rallies taking place in over forty other cities at the same time.  There's a place for everyone at the Trump Resistance Table.

    Every state's action group has a Facebook page.  Florida’s group has a more than 25,000 active page users. Each major county has its own leader and subgroup under the state organizer. We are using our county FB page to organize our Washington effort.
     A separate group is producing our local solidarity march, the "South Florida Women's Rally". It has a FB page using that name and a website, the South Florida march . It is set to take place at the Bayfront Park Amphitheater from 1 to 5 p.m.   
     Of course, you don't have to be a woman to resist Trump's dark plans.  We are an equal opportunity Trump tumping team. Twenty of us gathered last weekend to make signs and banners for the Women's March.



We had a good time painting as well as expression post-election dismay along with hopes for the future. 

    If you want to do more that march resistance groups have formed all over South Florida. Coral Gables has its "Rise Up Florida" and the Grove, "Progressive Miami" groups. All offer ways to stand together to support women's rights, civil liberties, and to find a little shelter from the storm.

         Norma and Les, preparing to march
 
  Our huge gathering in Washington is just thirty-days away. There's still room on two of the local sleeper-buses. You can go north, see snow, and raise hell for 200 bucks. How could you not go?
Francesca and I look forward to seeing you there.
           _____________________  
  

Saturday, December 17, 2016

THE NEW JESUS

     I was speaking with a minister last Monday night. We were discussing the election when she pointed out that the President-elect is the antithesis of Jesus Christ and everything he represents. I had to agree but it seemed odd.
    Our country is called a "Christian nation" as it was created by men whose religion is reflected in its institutions. While the Constitution gave us freedom to worship anything- or nothing at all-  the Bible has been a guiding force in our country.
     
    Much of the Bible is about the life of Jesus, a man who preached love, peace, and compassion for his fellow man. Speaking truth to power got him killed.


   We're getting a President with none of those traits. He lies to his constituents and they love it. His followers equate truth with bad news which they don't want to hear.  
   Trump charms his audiences by ridiculing others, by being hateful and mean. The guy brings out the worst in us, the pre-human instinct to find an enemy and beat him down.
    It got me thinking, "Maybe it's time for a new religion led by a new Jesus, someone that fits the new mood of the electorate".  
    If so, who should that person be be?

     The obvious choice would be the President elect himself...or maybe his good friend Kanye West (or even South Florida nut-case, Alan West). All of them fit the same self-absorbed, power-hungry, loud-mouth bill that forty-eight million people voted for last month. Of course only one of them is a white male and those 48 mil don't want anything but.

    Trump would be a tremendous Jesus. For the last year he's sold himself as being our country's savior. The guy also loves to be worshiped, the center of attention, and having people chant his name. He certainly pulled off a miracle when won despite getting 3 million fewer votes than his opponent.

     
   Filled with religious fervor, 86% of the evangelicals voted for the guy. They're more-than-ready for a new Jesus. His ecstatic followers are already having rallies where they hail his name with stiff-arm salutes. They've found their new savior.


    The first new churches are already in place, huge crystal cathedrals. New Jesus' name is
already emblazoned on them in huge, golden letters. 


 Most other churches have a cross out front. By cutting off the top, they could could easily be converted into "T's", the symbol for The New Jesus.





    Should our future savior adopt a holy name?  He's already got a great, kick ass surname. The  middle one starts with a "J".  Just change Joe (or whatever it is) to "Jesus". Of course the new guy will need a gang, tough hombres to back him up.  
    A guy at my church scolded me two months ago for supporting Hillary. "What we need", he said emphatically, "is a warrior with balls".  I chalked him off for being crazy but two weeks later Crazy won the election.  While the president-elect is no guerrero con cojones, he's filled half of his cabinet with former Marine generals with names like "Mad Dog". The other half are corporate billionaires. Together they represent a love of guns and money that has no equal on the planet. 
   These will be The New Disciples. Soon "Mathew, Mark, and John" will be replaced by "Reince, Ric, and Mad Dog". We're getting a new Bible too.
Here are a few samples comparing the old with the new,








   Things are different now. We are scared and want to be protected from the truth. We chose a candidate who cares less for objective facts and more for emotional appeals, even if ignoring those facts hurt our nation. As our country's ideals have shifted so have its religious values. The South has risen again and with it, a New Jesus. He will lead a religion that reflects the mood of the electorate.  
    It's going to be quite a ride. The post-truth voters have spoken and their New Jesus transition team is ready to take over. They won't even have to burn crosses this time. They'll just cut off the tops.
                       
                  ________________________ 


     THE WORD OF THE DAY

"DEMAGOGUE" 
Websters New World Dictionary:
  "A person who stirs up feelings and prejudices of people to win them over quickly and use them to get power".

They exploit a fundamental weakness in democracy: because ultimate power is held by the people, nothing stops the people from giving that power to someone who appeals to the lowest common denominator of a large segment of the population.


 Demagogues have been around since ancient Greece. In 1838 writer James Fenimore Cooper wrote a definition that still holds today. He identified four fundamental characteristics of a demagogue,
  1. They fashion themselves as a member of the common people, opposed to the elites.
  2. Their politics depends on a visceral connection with the people which greatly exceeds ordinary political popularity.
  3. They manipulate this connection, and the raging popularity it affords, for their own benefit and ambition.
  4. They threaten to break established rules of conduct, institutions, and even the law, to reach their own ends.
Wikipedia examples: Hitler, Mussolini, Huey Long,  and Joseph McCarthy (none of whom ever rose to become a US President-elect).