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Friday, September 19, 2014


       "For Sale: Edward Albee's non-slip, water-resistant shower stool".
  You won't be seeing that on Craigslist.  For now it sits forlorn, hidden in a far corner of our yard.

I knew America's greatest living playwright had a winter home somewhere in Coconut Grove.  When I stopped by a garage sale last fall I heard a man mention, "I built Albee's fence next door."  The conversation revealed that that the 86-year-old writer had sold the modest house and new owners were moving in.
     On a bike ride two days later Francesca and I happened to pass the Albee house.  Its trash pile included this sad piece of furniture we all hope we'll never need. I exclaimed, "It's Edward Albee's shower stool!" to which my wife added, "It's ugly, leave it alone".

   "It's his stool.  We just can't leave it there" I added. 
   We finally agreed that I would tote it home and store it where she'd never see it.
   I use it every now and then imagining that sitting where Albee sat might inspire me to be a better writer.  
   It hasn't happened and Francesca's right, it is is not an object of great beauty.
   I'll eventually do what the previous owner would probably want.  I'll give it to someone who'd enjoy a nice, warm shower sitting next to the spirit of Edward Albee.
    Could that be you?

Monday, September 15, 2014


      Sunday started out nice enough, a few South Grove citizens gathering to clean up our bike path, the one that runs south along Main Highway.
  Most homeowners do a good job of keeping their hedges from encroaching on the path.

    You can't say that for the residents of  "The Moorings", the gated community on Biscayne Bay.  For years they have let their massive ficus hedge grow into the asphalt trail. Two years ago their greenery nearly blocked the popular thoroughfare until government workers cut it back.

    Tired of this, several neighbors gathered with the necessary hardware for some hedge trimming.  Francesca and I came upon them while riding the path yesterday morning.

    Only minutes into the trim-athon, a swarm of police descended upon these do-gooders.  The cops had been told that strangers had invaded The Moorings intent on destroying private property.
The officers were surprised to find it was just a few locals trimming branches blocking the public path.  

The head officer told the group, "There's an angry man over there saying he represents the Moorings residents. He wants me to put the four of you in handcuffs.  I think you're doing a good thing but that guy is about to pop".

    I went over to speak with the angry man who was loudly lecturing another officer.  I said, "Don't you want the bike path to be safe? Couldn't you have your gardeners trim the hedge?"

   He refused to answer saying the Moorings residents owned everything out to the street -including the bike path- and they could do whatever they want.

    Someone suggested that he could try having the hundreds of people who enjoy the bike path arrested for trespassing. 
    The angry man did not respond.

     Realizing that the police were not going to arrest the hedge trimmers, he 
asked the officers to get their names, adding, "I'm going to sue them all for destruction of property!"
      Not wanting to hear his spiel any longer, we left.
      Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail and the Mooring residents will finally make the Grove's bike path safe. 
It's there for everyone to enjoy, even if they're "trespassing".

                               ("Trimcus interuptus", the Mooring's side of the path revealed)


Saturday, September 13, 2014


     Coconut Grove is severely lacking in events and public places that bring our community together.
     The Barnacle -and its moonlight concert series- is the rare exception.  Tomorrow join your friends and neighbors for an evening of music on the bay.  Enjoy North Florida favorite, "Passerine", and their bluegrass harmonies.Image result for passerine band 
    Bring a blanket, a picnic basket, and throw in a few friends too.  The concert begins at 6:30.
    Here's the scoop from the park's website:

The Barnacle Under Moonlight Concert
Bring a picnic, blanket and lawn chairs to The Barnacle for a memorable evening of folk music featuring Passerine-"Band of the Year" at the Deland Original Music Festival in 2012 and one of SRQ Magazine's "Best of the Local Bands."

Passerine's distinctive sound combines vocal harmonies, the crisp rhythms of an acoustic guitar, the haunting voices of the fiddle, dobro (resonator slide guitar), and the resonant lows of an acoustic bass.


For additional information, 
contact 305-442-6866

 The Barnacle Society, Inc. is a volunteer, non-profit, citizen-support organization created to generate public awareness, education, and financial support for the preservation and maintenance of The Barnacle Historic State Park.

Event: Evening Concert
Date: Sunday, September 14, 2014.
Time: Gates open 5:30.
Music starts at 6:30 PM. 
Admission: $10 Future Members. $8 Members. $3 Ages 6-9. Under 6 free.
Blankets, lawn chairs, and picnics are welcome during this event.
Flashlights recommended.
No pets, please.
Where: The Barnacle Historic State Park
3485 Main Highway Coconut Grove, FL
across the street from the Coconut Grove Playhouse.
Become a Member:
If not a member, join now! or contact us at 305.442.6866. Memberships Levels:
$20     Senior/Student
$30     Individual
$40     Dual
$50     Family
$100   Contributing
$500   Corporate/Fellow
$1000  Life
Help us preserve this treasured space for future generations to enjoy.

Thursday, September 4, 2014


      Do you know anyone that could jump on their bike, at the age of 81, and pedal it from Miami to Key West?  Our remarkable friend, travel writer Herb Hiller did just that two years ago.

    You may remember a piece I wrote about him in 2009.  Herb had left the Grove for North Florida.  We motor-boated through a passel of gators to visit his Lake George island home.  
     Last week Herb was visiting us.  He was here to do the groundwork for a major 2015 bicycling event, "WHEELS".  It was great to see him.

    Many people leave the Grove after they retire.  They'll say it's traffic, taxes, or the call of some retirement community (or island). 

     Charlie Cinnamon will have none of that.  Herb and I strolled down to his tree-draped cottage at the west end of the block. The two of them reminisced for a half-hour about  the half-century they've shared doing PR in South Florida.  

 Charlie noted, "Herb, you're always moving.  I suppose its the wanderlust in you" to which Herb replied thoughtfully, "Yes, I suppose it is".

      Mr. Cinnamon is busier than ever.  His projects include promoting the Arscht's Center's Broadway series and Cleveland Orchestra's performances in South Florida. I see his dog, Coalie, taking Charlie on walks several times a day.

    Francesca photographed us when we realized each of us Grove guys had started something. 

    Charlie invented the Coconut Grove Art Festival back in the early 60's.  Herb created the Grove's Goombay festival ('77) and I co-founded the King Mango Strut (1982).  We had some laughs about how our "babies" had grown up in surprising ways.

      The next day Herb jumped in his Toyota to head 700 miles north (his wanderlust telling him to  promote  bike trails in the Carolinas).   He left us a copy of his most recent book. If you want to wander up Florida's east coast, this is the one to read.

     I ran into another older friend a few days later after noticing a new wheel chair ramp leading up to Dave Garrett's door.  When I knocked on it Dave greeted me from his new wheelchair.  "My legs gave out",  explained my 91-year-old neighbor adding, "I'm doing okay but it makes it harder to sail and play the piano". 
     The WW II vet (Army Air Corps engineer) always has interesting stories.  We sat down and he told me another one.  
Dave visited Germany's Dachau concentration camp after it had been liberated in 1945.  "It was as horrible as you might expect", he recalled.   

    "I walked into the gas chamber that had been disguised as a large shower room.  Alone with thoughts of the thousands who had died there,  I looked up at one of the shower heads that had dispensed the lethal gas.  It could have fooled me too.
     I unscrewed it and shoved it in my pocket then thought, 'Do I really want do remember taking this for the rest of my  life?'   I returned it to its rightful place".

     It's good he can remember getting it right on that day 69 years in the past.  I stood there myself in '71 and my sons, two years ago.

    I thanked Dave for his service, his stories, and thought how nice it is that we still have a few elders enjoying the jungles of Coconut Grove.  


Sunday, August 24, 2014



     On Tuesday Miami voters will decide if developer Jeff Berkowitz will be allowed to display his grand erection in downtown Miami.   If approved, "Skyrise", a 1000-foot bobby pin-shaped tower, will mar our waterfront for years to come; the city's tallest building will also be its most ridiculous.

Image result for image skyrise miami

   It's the main part of Berkowitz's plan to rebuild  the unloved Bayside mall yet in selling it to voters, the tower isn't seen or mentioned.  As usual, the sell is about the developer offering to build a new mall "for free" on public land that will create thousands of crummy jobs.Image result for image skyrise miami
      If Berkowitz could have offered us something more Miami, say, a 1000-foot banana, his proposal would have been much more attractive, at least to the Banana Republicans in Coconut Grove.

      Let's not get stuck with Berky's big banana.
Vote "No" on Skyrise -referendum 134- Tuesday.

big banana : Ripe yellow banana isolated on a white background

Sunday, August 17, 2014


     He was the only friend I ever had who could easily operate an abacus, slide rule, and an algebraic calculator.  Ricky Rodgers was that smart.  I went to visit him in the hills of Oakland last month. The solar energy scientist told me about his latest invention, his son's amazing accomplishments, and  he took me on a garden tour where the weeds were winning.
                                                                            Rick and Ricky Jr., 1999
    Rick and I traded stories since we were fraternity brothers in Gainesville almost fifty years ago.  In the late 60's we were neighbors sharing the dawning of the Age of Aquarius.  For a while our version of a commune was awesome.   
   Over the years he'd show me his latest solar energy designs including a unique cooling system for a huge Buddhist temple, and his latest musical discoveries.  I noticed he entered the age of Facebook a little late. Hooking up last year he gathered 38 "friends" and recently responded to a post asking, "Could a paper clip traveling at 90% of the speed of light destroy an asteroid similar to the one that killed the dinosaurs?" .
My brilliant friend had answers to all things technical.  He responded, "I think so - easily. E=m*(.9*c*.9*c) ".  How Ricky.

     A few days ago I got a message that he had died.  I know a month ago he told he wasn't feeling well.  He said, "They must have spent $40,000 on tests but they still don't know what my problems are".  His Oakland memorial sevice starts in five-minutes and I guess, his problems are over.  
Peace be with you, brother Rick.

Friday, August 15, 2014


       This is my youngest son, Ian. 
 When I introduce him to friends they often say, "My, you're as tall as a tree!". 

 As you can see below, he clearly is not.

    Ian sitting in front of his Tallahassee apartment, the one that flooded this summer.

     When a rusting pipe "went geyser" his duplex was transformed into a fully-furnished swimming pool.  If you think that's funny wait 'til you hear what the landlord, "Tammy", told him.  She said it was partially Ian's fault because he'd come home for the summer, she might have to hold on to his damage deposit.  
    Had he been summering in Tallahassee, I guess he might have called Tammy to asked, "Am I dreaming or is my bed really floating in a fully-furnished swimming pool?".

   By the time we arrived last weekend the pool had been drained and somewhat dehumidified.  Mold was climbing the walls and the smell?   Cousin Benny, who'd been there a week before,  described as it as "rotten bodies".
    Ian and I tiptoed through the mildew and moved him out.  His new place smells much better and his bedroom, being on the second floor, will be much harder to flood.

     My son begins his junior year at FSU this fall.  He is studying computer science with a minor in Mexican wrestling (a/k/a "Lucha Libre").  This may be hard to believe
                      "El Diablo Rojo" 

because Ian is such a friendly, pacifistic young man.  He doesn't care if the Seminoles win or lose.
I find that refreshing. 

      I found the red mask during the move. It belongs to a friend and Ian was nice enough to model it.  That's it. No fighting future for him but  he should hold onto the mask for another month.

     Ian may need it when he asks Tammy to return his damage deposit.


 Glennito Gordito 
(a/k/a The Grove Guy)