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Saturday, February 6, 2016

YOU'LL BE DANCIN' IN THE AISLE !

   MOTOWN THE MUSICAL

   Looking for a fun time?  Get thee to the Arsht Center to see "Motown the Musical". It is a non-stop fun frenzy of all the songs that came out of Detroit in the 60's and 70's. It maybe the sound track of your early years. 
   The cast of 30 recreates snippets of over 50 hits by the Supremes,
Smoky Robinson, and Stevie Wonder.  Marvin Gaye and The Temptations sing their hits too.  The house went nuts the young Michael Jackson (and his brothers) belted out "I Want You Back".


   The show is woven around the life of Motown Records' founder, Berry Gordy.  He created hits and stars for decades. When the cast came together at the end they had us dancin' in the aisle.

    The show ends FEB. 7.  Tickets start at $29.  
Go to Arshtcenter. com  -and-   you should probably eat before you get there (see below),
______
BEWARE OF MICKY RAT

   We thought we'd have dinner before Motown the Musical so we headed to the Books & Books Cafe (it is part of the Arsht Center).  It's had great reviews and we'd never been there before.
    It looked very nice and 120 people seated looked happy.  Unfortunately, getting there an hour and a half before showtime, we still couldn't get a seat.  Lacking reservations, we were put on a list and told to check back in 15 minutes. We spent that time strolling north on Biscayne Boulevard. 
Big mistake.

     The first block was dark, illuminated a bit by the bright windows of high-end furniture stores.  The wind pushed fat leaves followed by unusually long stems across the wide sidewalk.  Talk about wishful thinking.  We were watching rats.  Orlando's Mickey Mouse is a mere cartoon but we have the real thing.
     Yeah, among all this New Miami opulence were skittering  rodents. We scurried our way through Rat Row and passed the strangely placed Checkers and Burger King joints.  A few crackheads were shouting at each other as they munched  cheeseburgers outside. We were glad to get past them too but the next block was a challenge as well. We were tip toeing next to homeless sleepers. Downtown Miami has over 1000 people camping on its sidewalks every night.
    Some waved at us from their sleeping bags. What fun.  As we passed Publix we joked about having dinner inside. We began our dreaded route to the Arsht stepping past the sidewalk sleepers, the rowdy Checkers crowd, and Rat Row. 
    When we arrived the cafe's seating girl greeted us with a pert smile and said, "I'm so sorry. We're so busy, we can't seat anyone".  
     Francesca and I were very hungry now, so hungry we braved the rats, the burger bunch, and the sidewalk campsite a third time to grab sushi at the distant grocery store.  Heading back to the Arsht we were hoping the homeless, the crackheads, and the famished rats would not grab our dinner.
    With eight minutes to spare we sat on a comfortable Arsht Center bench and stuffed ourselves.  Publix sushi seemed like a luxury at this point. Stomachs filled, we stepped inside to take our seats.
We hope you can see the show too.  Just remember to eat before  "Motown".
     Avoid "RatTown" (downtown Miami at night) if you can.  It has been scary for forty years. Lets hope that changes someday.
__________
ONLY IN FLORIDA 
     An 8-year-old carrying his mother's gun tried to rob a grocery store in West Palm Beach on Friday.  He wore a bike helmet and "sweater mask".
     Fortunately, an employee was able to wrestle the loaded pistol from the lad before he could stand his ground.
   

________________________



VOTE FOR PHIL!

      Early voting starts yesterday in South Miami.  Tuesday is election day. Encourage all of your friends there to get out and vote -and- to vote for their outstanding mayor, Phil Stoddard.   He's a politician that we can be proud of.
      Mayor Stoddard done a great job for six years. Let's help him continue for two more.
___________

    South Miami is the envy of Coconut Grove.  We both have lovely neighborhoods but they did their shopping district right and have a functional city hall.  South Miami also produces little events that -unlike the Grove's beer-swilling mobs in Peacock Park-  you'd actually like to go to.

Consider this'n a week from now,

    The Black History Family Festival will be fun, have great music, and it is free. The Grove's Goombay Festival should be more like this.
_____________
KROMA

      The Grove does have an outstanding African-American art gallery, KROMA. It's on Grand Avenue, a half-block east of SW 37th Avenue (Douglas Road).
      We attended the opening of their new show Thursday night.

Here are a few pictures,




 Painting by Tavare Hill









 



It'll be up for a month and we hope you can see it.

       The City of Miami supports many cultural centers but not KROMA.  It should. Go there and see why. It has the potential to be an outstanding bridge between the Grove's diverse communities.
                   ____________________________________




 

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

DUTCH TREAT

         Francesca and I went rowing along Coconut Grove's shoreline last weekend. It is littered thousands of pieces of plastic. As we continue to toss the world's garbage into the sea, our oceans are becoming "plastic soup".
 
    We saw something new in Peacock Park last Saturday, a festival that was good for the planet and Coconut Grove.  It was fun, friendly, and even had a noble purpose, saving our oceans. 
 
Unlike the last fall's Peacock events it did not churn the park's grass into mud.  It took place just west of the new grass field.
      The Save Our Oceans event  was sponsored by the Netherlands. Dutch representatives came here to help us become more aware of the proliferation of plastic that is slowly destroying our seas.

 There were booths promoting environmental awareness, recycling and good reasons to visit Holland (cheese, cookies, beer). 

Some kids worked at creating the world's 
longest plastic bag rope 

while others played skittles (a Dutch game) 


or enjoyed sliding down an inflatable shark. 

  It wasn't perfect. After the Dutch ambassador gave a short speech a DJ made the gathering almost unbearable with his loud music. When did causing ear pain become public art?

  But mostly it was a  fun, free, and non-commercial.  The low-impact event even pushed good cause, one that all of us should be supporting.
  Hooray for Holland and Coconut Grove.  It was great to see someone putting a small, simple event that was matched out village's size and charm.
 
                         _________________

   Afterwards we escaped to the Everglades to see the full moon rise.
 
       Thankfully, the people there aren't throwing their trash into the water.
                  _______________________ TICKETS FOR LEGOS

      A BMW is parked in front of the Perez Art Museum. It allows you to get (nearly) free admission.  It is an art piece by Chinese artist, Ai Weiwei. He is collecting Lego blocks to make Lego portraits of human rights activisits.
   Denmark's Lego, Inc.  has refused to sell him their product because of the art works that could result. Weiwei has been critical of the immigration policies of Denmark (as well as other countries).   
    To get the Legos he needs, Weiwei has set up donation sites throughout the world like the one we now have at the Perez. If you show the Perez admission desk a few of them -and promise to toss them through the car's open sunroof- you will get in for free.




                                                 Francesca tosses her Legos


                         _________________________________________________________

Saturday, January 9, 2016

A YOUNG SON'S QUESTIONS

    Anyone who has spent time with children has heard a lot of weird questions. In 1993 I went to Europe with my seven-year-old son, Dylan. As we backpacked through England, France, and Holland he asked many.
   I wrote down some of of them in a diary I had not seen for twenty years. Dylan found it recently and passed it along.  Here are a few samples,
  
   Dad, which one would you want to be stung by, a bee, a wasp, or a hornet?

   

No stings for me, thanks. In Haarlem we bought a used Dutch bike, no questions asked. I rode it to yoga this morning.


Would you like to be shot in the leg with a mini-ball or in the arm with a bullet? 
         Would you like to live in a hot shower? (Asked while enjoying one after a long, wet, hike) 

   
What's your favorite cereal character, Snap, Crackle, or Pop?  (In the diary I noted that I went for "Snap" while he chose Pop).    
                                                                Dylan displays the switch-blade comb that he had to have.
  
   What do you think Jesus' body looked like after he was crucified and entombed?  (in the diary I described how my son then laid down on the sidewalk in Chedder, England, suggesting different tangled positions)

A few hours after this photo was taken in Bath, England, we retired to our room at the local youth hostel. I was reading in the lower bunk when I saw the blur of a son falling from the top bunk.  He survived to ask more questions.


    

 

Did Jesus wear underwear?

(He asked the next one after we purchased and lit prayer candles in the Notre Dame Cathedral)   If God doesn't answer our prayers can we get our money back?

   


    After we find The Holy Grail (digging at England's Glastonbury Tor) how much can we sell it for?
 Running down Glastonbury Tor.

 (And on the flight home,)
 If our plane crashes into the ocean and the emergency slides pop out, which emergency slide will be the most fun to ride?
                     ______________ 

  Note:  As a teacher of young children, I still get great questions like,  "Who'd win a fight between Batman and Superman?",  "Are rice and maggot eggs the same thing?"  and the annual,  "Santa Claus is real, right?"
    My oh my I love kid questions and yes, there is a Santa Claus.










Twenty three years later. well past the weird question stage.

Sunday, January 3, 2016

BLOWING UP POGO


   We blew up Pogo on New Year's Eve. Did you see the bright red explosion on Biscayne Bay 'roun 7:30?  



 That was us, led by "Mr. Fun Time", Justin Long. 


Justin is the Miami-based performance artist known for burying limousines, giving shopping cart thrill rides, and shooting big timber with a ten-foot crossbow.  When we went out to Stiltsville Thursday night, he carried a small boat he had made. He told me "We are giving Pogo a viking funeral".  When I replied, "Lucky dog", Justin corrected me. Pogo was a human.

    Richard "Pogo" Evans was a family friend who died four years ago after a long illness.  The  builder of motorcycles and boats and avid ocean racer wanted to go out with a bang, hence the boat under Justin's arm.
Being dead, Pogo wasn't in a hurry to return to the ocean he had loved.
     Surrounded by the curious, Mr. Fun Time opened his boat's hatch and stuffed half of the hull with Pogo's ashes.  In the other half was a package of gunpowder from which emerged a nine-foot fuse.
     Justin's brother set it in the water, lit the cord, and we watched it drift off on the outgoing tide.
The fuse instructions had read, "burns at one-foot per minute" so we counted down until someone said, "This is taking too long. Can someone just tell us when there's ten seconds left".
       Three minutes later Pogo's ashes -and his boat- were blasted into oblivion. 
It was dark. Presumably Pogo either rose to heaven or returned to the salty waters that had loved. I like to think he did both.
                                                         ___________________________

Thursday, December 31, 2015

So Long Mr. Hudson

     Bob Hudson and I hit it off when we met fifty years ago; maybe it was the edgy humor thing that we both enjoyed.  The two of us were heading to the University of Florida and he wanted me to join his fraternity. While I did not (I thought the ATO's had better parties), our friendship endured until his death last Monday.

     During a 1970 law school break we headed to London. Bob met his future wife, Edith, while we were choosing food in a university cafeteria. I'd often tell him that "I would have married her" had I been ahead of him in line.  
  It was a joke of course, the two of them were meant for each other.  They married in Coconut Grove's Plymouth Church.  Afterwards  we had a funky reception in one of the long-gone picnic shelters in Peacock Park.                               (above, Bob and Edith sailing out of Dinner Key Marina, 1978)


      We headed in very different directions as Bob became an expert in international tax law.  His downtown office -with the big bay view- gave me vertigo.  
   From my 1970's law office, above the Grove's Bird Bath Laundry, I could see tired people carrying dirty clothes. 
    Bob and Edith had a great life together.  They raised two fine sons (Patrick and Daniel) and a played leading roles in local charitable organizations. Bob headed the Concert Association of Florida for many years. He wasn't much of an artist but was a huge supporter of the arts.
   The Hudsons loved to entertain in their spacious, South Grove home on Biscayne Bay. Wine was always a big deal. At formal dinners they'd serve a different one with each course. I'd be tanked after two.
   Were you at our backyard wedding reception when Francesca and I got married?  Bob and Edith tended the bar. Much of the wine came from their well-stocked cellar.
    When we invited the Hudsons to a Christmas gathering three weeks ago Bob replied with a short note, "I'm sorry we can't make it.  We'll be spending the holidays in Europe".
    He spent his last days there too. He had a heart attack while strolling in Paris with his wife.  Not a bad way to go, in the City of Love with the woman he adored. All around him was the art and culture that filled his glass and dazzled his life. 
    I'm gonna miss you, Bob. You were a great husband, father, and friend.
                          ________________



    

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

GOOD NEWS FOR DIRT LOVERS

       Local merchants association will do anything to draw warm bodies to Coconut Grove.  Last October they gave us three festivals that churned Peacock Park into a field of dead grass and mud. 

      Taking advantage of this unfortunate situation, 
  
we will have the Grove's first dirt festival, "DirtFest" this weekend. 
    City workers have bulldozed the dead grass into four-acres of pillowy, black soil. 
        
     Like October's Pumpkin Festival, it will bring out the kids (and the "kid" in the rest of us).  What youngin' isn't happy playing King of the Dirt Pile?


  
Small orange flags have been placed strategically to encourage Capture the Flag competitions.
    
  Thanks to yesterday's rain, there is also an amazing mud pit.  Splash through it or stare at your reflection. Wallowing in it could be a Woodstock experience.

         
    Unlike other festivals,  the "Dirt Fest" is un-fenced and free.  It is brought to us by feckless promoters and poor park management.  They turned grass into dirt. We're turning lemons into lemonade.
    There will be no live music or food for sale.  Bring a picnic basket, kazoo, and a very old blanket. It will probably get dirty.

    There are acres of rich soil for you to enjoy. Tons of it to climb, toss, and and make festive dirt angels in.


   Dig it while you can.
   Peacock Park's dirt festival will continue until next month. That's when the city is planning to cover it with fresh squares of grass. 
    Once the new sod takes hold, the Grove art festival will come in with tents and trucks to tear it up once more.  
   That's when DirtFest II begins.


                                 _________


 MORE ON PEACOCK PARK

      Three years ago our former city commissioner, Mark Sarnoff, gave the southwest corner of Peacock Park to the private school next door.  The school fenced off the basketball and soccer courts for their exclusive use. I'm happy to report that when I visited last weekend the gates were unlocked, open to the public.

      The City of Miami closed down the Park's community center, the "Glass House" four years ago. 


  Earlier this year it started showing signs of life when the western half opened as a gathering space.  There is an after-school program and rec room. 
  On a Sunday afternoon it was empty, waiting for you to enjoy a game of Ping Pong, air hockey, or Foosball.
      The other half of the Glass House faces the bay.  S l o w l y  it is being 
turned into a restaurant, the "Glass & Vine". 
   It's taken years for this transition.  Why they gave the job to snails in hard hats I'll never know.
     Being snails, they'll  love DirtFest.
                   ______________________

                    M e r r y   C h r i s t m a s
                  _______________________ 

Sunday, December 20, 2015

BOBBY INGRAM ARTICLE, Today's Miami Herald

   Our neighbor, Bobby Ingram, is profiled in the Miami Herald today. 


 









It's two  pages but not quite enough to cover all of his long,
illustrious life.


Read the Andres Viglucci's article (with photos by the Grove's Pat Farrell) here,
It includes links to some of the songs on his new CD "Postcards from Coconut Grove". 
 It's terrific. If you'd like one Francesca and I are a part of the distribution network.

                   
Three of Bobby's biggest fans, 
Francesca, Glenn, and Pi