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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

BAHIA HONDA HOLIDAY


Tuesday we headed south to Bahia Honda State Park. Yes, we had to camp next to motorhomes decorated it garish holiday lights but there was the beach.
At night it was covered with a blanket of bright stars and the next morning's sun was spectacular.







A man spent two hours
sculpting, "When I grow up I will not play in sand".

Two hours later the tide had washed it away.

Monday, December 26, 2011

RIC WINS BAMBI

We have our Oscars and Germany, its "Bambi Awards".
Every year folks gather in Wiesbaden to see who will be honored with a golden child of the forest.
They gave out a bunch last week. Lady Gaga got hers for music and our friend, Ric O'Barry, received his for outstanding environmental activism.
We saw Ric in the 'hood last night and he agreed to show us his trophy fawn. It came in a beautiful leather case and had the heft of a small watermelon.
You may know that Ric's movie, "The Cove", won an Oscar last year for "best documentary". He has been working tirelessly for forty years to free the captured dolphins of the world. In The Cove we saw how Japanese fishermen capture migrating dolphins.
The young healthy ones are sold world-wide for exhibition. When the the rest are slaughtered for food, the Japanese cove depicted
in the movie turns blood red.
Ten days ago, Ric was able to get the Empire State Building bathed in red light to draw attention to the cause. That, said Ric, was not so hard as the building's owner is a Deadhead. He is now trying to get the Eiffel Tower do do the same thing.
Here's to you, Ric, for your hard work and well-deserved award.




CHRISTMAS IN THE GROVE

We hope you are enjoying your holidays. We had the boys over for Christmas. They've been good so Santa brought them road bikes.
On a warm winter's day Dylan tried his hand at turkey slicing and Francesca prepared a
wonderful meal.





Happy Boxing Day.

We wish you the best in the coming year.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

TUESDAY'S CORAL GABLES STRUT




The Mangoheads had more flash mob fun this week.
As I was introducing a film at Books & Books last Tuesday, The Coral Gables King Mango Strut parade suddenly appeared.
As the audience clapped the Mango King, The World's Largest Gas Station Bathroom Key and all their friends went dancing around the store.
They left the west wing and headed east to thunderous applause. It was a hard act to follow but we settled down to watch a funny little film I made 30 years ago, "Glenn & Dave's Christmas Special". Like our zany parade, it seemed to put everyone in a happy holiday mood.

Friday, December 16, 2011

BUSTIN' A GUT

There's a first time for everything. Yesterday I fell asleep naked and woke up wearing a jock strap.
Blame it on heavy lifting.

Last month I was camping with friends on Key Biscayne. We were moving a heavy picnic table when something popped in my abdomen. After aching a few days I visited my doctor. He touched me down there, asked me to cough, then welcomed me to Hernia World. You gain entry when your intestine sneaks through a weak spot in your abdominal wall. I later read that it happens to 600,000 people every year and unfortunatly, surgery is the only cure.

It took three weeks to schedule mine. So there I was yesterday morning, disrobing in a Coral Gables hospital.
Dr. Edelman, who does these procedures every 90 minutes on Thursdays, came in to look at my lump once more. He whipped out a Sharpie and made a note, with arrow, at the top of my right leg (no, he did not write the "cut here". That was my own little joke).
Below is his note to himself).





An hour later I was knocked out and fixed up. The three holes they used to insert the light, camera, and tools are now three small slits closed with Super Glue.

When I woke up the doctor told me the hernia was big, about the size of an orange. I asked him if he had sewed the muscles back together. He replied, "We do not do that anymore. I stapled a teflon screen on the inside of the opening. That should take care of it".

After he left I pulled down the sheets. For some reason I was now wearing an athletic supporter. Peeling it back I could see that the painful lump was gone, replaced by the unseen teflon screen.
I suppose it will keep my guts in and the flies out. The wonders of modern medicine.

Monday, December 12, 2011

WYNWOOD'S STRUT A BIG SUCCESS


Eight beautiful young girls were crowned "Little Miss Mango" as the sun set in Wynwood last Saturday. As they climbed down a ladder I was left alone on the truck that had served as a stage. I wondered, "How did this come to be?"

(photo by Les Cizek)

Creating the 30th annual King Mango Strut Parade in a barren field wasn't the easiest thing I'd ever done. The food trucks we were supposed to march around had been banned by the Forces of Darkness (see entry below).

We decided to make it work by creating an imaginary street in the dirt. Our royal procession would head down that.

Using a can of white chalk paint, John Barimo and I created the boundaries of a huge, oval thoroughfare. We named it "King Mango Boulevard".

At least with a make-believe road we could separate the marchers from spectators. Looking out into the crowd I tried to figure out who was who. Most were costumed and it was clear many spectators were being recruited into groups.

One young man was forced by his friends to don a huge blue box, "The Walking Red Light Camera". By the end of the parade he looked like the happiest guy on the planet.

As I began to get the marchers organized, the song, "Thriller", shot through the air. With it came eight female zombies lurching from the crowd. Their heads twitched as they began to dance in the dirt below me.

The had great moves considering they were dead.

When the song ended I picked up my bullhorn and asked everyone to prepare for a parade. It seemed like herding cats but somehow the marchers gathered on one end of the boulevard and the spectators on the other. I thought, "This could work!"


King Mango himself, all 6'6" of him, towered in front of the 100+ procession. He slowly lowered a mango on a string as we counted down from ten.
At zero, parade captain Mike McFall shouted, "Let's move!" and the parade began to move.

Looking down from the truck bed I saw my dream parade passing by. The bevy of Little Miss Mangos followed the fruit king. Just behind them was the infamous police Lt. Pike pepper spraying a box-full of kittens.
School teachers complained about being overpaid and The Angry One Percenter's shouted, "Don't Tax Me, Bro" and "Wifi in all limos NOW!".


The rich folks got even more angry when military man,"General Disorder", clipped their heads with his flying Love Drone suspended from a bamboo stick. After that were marching slot machines, Lyin' Fish, and garbagemen collected anything signed by Romero Britto.

It was all that and more, over thirty colorful groups doing things you'd never expect to see in rocky mid-town parking lot. The procession made everyone in it, and everyone watching it, happy in some strange sort of way.
A friend later told me, "Your parade was fantastic, like watching a Fellini movie live.









Sunday, December 11, 2011

KING MANGO BATTLES THE FORCES OF DARKNESS

King Mango moved to the Wynwood Arts District last Saturday with a lot of help from his friends.
You may know that there was a power struggle two years ago for the right to stage the event in Coconut
Grove. Some wanted it to make it a bigger, more commercial parade (let's call them "The Forces of Darkness") while the others ("The Originals") wanted to keep it small, and simple.
Unfortunately, Darkness prevailed and the original mangoheads were forced to look for a new home. They strutted their stuff in South Miami last year then moved north to the Wynwood Arts District this time around.

They came up with a plan to
march on private property, to be a part Wynwood's Food Truck Festival. The event had been held in an empty lot on NW 2 Avenue for the last two years, a part of the district's monthly art walk.
The Forces of Darkness did their best to stop King Mango from marching a few days ago, on December 10th. Oddly, their constant complaining to City of Miami officials only resulted in shutting down the food truck festival, an event that thousands enjoy. They were unable to keep the Mango King from marching with his friends in the now-empty field.
Fruit fans began to gather there as the sun was setting. "More room to parade!" they said of the strange, surreal set-up. I watched them slowly
drift in, standing on the
back of a big yellow truck. As the parade's director, I had to figure out what do do next.

The Originals decided the 2011 King Mango Strut would began as it always has, with a beauty pageant.
Eight young girls took their places next to me on the Shell Lumber Truck. The "Little Miss Mango Contest" was about to begin for the 30th time.

Each of the contestants told the 200+ gathered why she wanted to win.
"They taste good!" was a popular response. As always, the judges deliberated and decided they all tied for first place. Each girl was crowned "Little Miss Mango" then given flowers and a glittering sash.
Everyone was a winner in this year's Original King Mango Strut.




SHAKIN' WYNWOOD'S WALLS







After King Mango led his procession around the barren field they headed up NW 2 Avenue sidewalk.

(Left) Emmett attempts to sell a mattress
(Right) A member of "The Angry One Percent"

A block later a City of Miami police officers stopped their progress. She told his highness, "Your permit does not allow you to parade on this sidewalk". The officer relented when,
1) King Mango agreed to take off his mask
so he looked less parade-like and,
2) It was explained to her that the parade was over and participants were only walking to their
post- parade party at Wynwood Walls.
(Right) Queen Regina






(above) The King with his dead friends.

Some party it was. We rocked to the Gold Dust Lounge,

pioneers of surf/space music.

Mangoheads laughed, surrounded by fantastic art and their costumed friends.
Everyone agreed that the Original King Mango Strut, now in Wynwood, was great fun and a big success.




We were fortunate to have the world's seven billionth person born in Miami. Pedro and his family proudly marched in the parade then
partied with us at the Walls. Here they are
in front of a Sheppard Fairey mural.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

KING MANGO COMING TO WYNWOOD



Next Saturday, The King Mango Strut Parade will march through the streets of Miami for the 30th time . Be there at 5 PM on December 10, to enjoy the fun.
It steps out in the Wynwood Arts District this time. Strut fans should gather at the Wynwood's food truck lot, 2250 NW 2 Ave., to witness the artful zaniness.
Free parking is everywhere.


The parade begins MIami's most popular monthly event, Wynwood's Second Saturday Art Walk.

The Strut got started in 1981 when I tried to enter The Mango Marching Band in the City of Miami's Orange Bowl Parade. For some reason, the Orange Bowl Committee would not let our Hawaiian-shirted , conch shell-blowing assemblage in their spiffy, televised event.

"What the heck", I thought, "I'll start my own".
In the fall of '82 I teamed up with my buddy, Bill Dobson, and we did just that. The first Strut went well and there's been an annual King Mango parade ever since.
At 5 pm we will have the Little Miss Mango Pageant on a flatbed truck in the food truck lot. Parade Queen, Adora, will cast a spell and a gaggle of dancing zombies appear.

When the zombie slow, King Mango will come forward to drop his magic mango. This makes the parade begin.

This year's entries include a school of "Lyin' Fish", "The Angry One Percent", and a group of school teachers that swear they're paid too much. A new group of women plan to come

forward to complain about former presidential candidate Herman Cain ("Harassed by Herman") and a tiger mother, with whip in hand, will show off her two studious daughters. Eighteen more groups round out the King's procession.


At sunset (5:20) the parade will begin marching from the west end of the food truck lot. They will strut in circles, around the rolling restaurants parked in the three-acre field, until the

they are dizzy, or, 5:40 pm. The pedestrian parade then disbands so participants can travel north three blocks.

The parade will re-group at Wynwood Walls (an outdoor art gallery located at 2550 NW 2 Avenue, next to Joey's Restaurant).

The King's Procession will march around the Walls complex until 6 pm. It will then gather in the Wall's central courtyard for the post-parade party.

Miami's premiere surf band, "Gold Dust Lounge", will play. As the party begins so does Wynwood's Art Walk. Over thirty art galleries, plus restaurants and retail shops will be open for business until 10 pm.
If you're in Miami next weekend we hope to see you at the parade. Help us celebrate the mango king's birthday and put a grin on your face.





Sunday, November 27, 2011

ART EXPLOSION


The Art People are descending on Miami. You know them by their dark apparel and weird glasses. Local artists have been up all night preparing for their arrival for Miami's Art Week.

First there's Design Miami, Art Miami, then the biggie, Art Basel. The Art Week menu is too long. Some run away because there's too much art. Francesca and I try sipping it in small doses.

-On Tuesday we'll be at the grand opening of Wynwood Walls (see previous blog). It's free and open to the public from 9 to 11.
-Design Miami opens on Wednesday in a giant tent on Miami Beach. $25 gets you in the door.
-Art Basel begins its four-day run in the Beach's Convention Center. It costs forty big ones but if your name is actually "Art Basel", you might get a discount.
There are a zillion galleries in the Design district, Wynwood, and on the
Beach showing their wares for free. Thy'll be open every day of the next week. Satellite fair art tents ("Art Miami", "Red Dot" and "Pulse"), dot the Wynwood landscape as well.

We wandered into the DotFiftyOne Gallery last week because we were lost.
The one person inside was so happy to see us we pretended we had come there on purpose. After taking a few token stares then notice the art on the walls was rather fantastic.
That one person in the red shoes was the artist
Gonzalo Fuenmayor. The Colombian had created this roomful of large drawings with just his eye, hand, and charcoal. He told us each takes a month to complete.
How rare it is to see the results of an artist's hand moving in such delicate ways.
We chatted with the young man for some time then promised we'd tell you about his show.
Gonzalo and his drawings are located at 51 NW 36 Street, blocks away from the craziness of Art Week.

For more information go to www.MiamiHerald.com/artbasel.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

URBAN COWBOYS




Francesca and I were on a Street Art Tour in Wynwood last Sunday. We were taken by a collection of murals where NW 23 Street meets Miami Avenue. The neighborhood has quite a variety of outdoor art but these really grabbed us.
I took pictures then headed back to the car.












As we turned on to North Miami Avenue I almost hit a shirtless, tattooed cowboy. Standing in the road, he barely noticed.
The hombre stood motionless, like he was ready to draw. But there was no gun in his holster. just a can of black spray paint.


I parked the car and introduced myself. Justin Vallee told me he was more than an urban artist,
"My buddy and I are renaissance gypsies. We travel all over". His friend, Jeremiah Taylor, came out to join us. The gleeful duo explained that they live in an ancient Shasta mobile home. They gave Francesca and I a tour. The boys were all grins until I pulled out my camera. They agreed
to be photographed if they did not have to smile. Cowboys (and gypsies) don't do that.

I asked them if they would like to star in the King Mango parade that we're having in Wynwood December 10th. That got them smiling again as Jeremiah asked "That's sounds great! What do you want us to do?"
Just be yourselves", I replied, "You're great the way you are".


WYNWOOD WALLS' GRAND OPENING



Are you one of the few who has not yet visited the Wynwood Art District? Just west of Midtown Miami, it has restaurants, bars, theaters, and over thirty exciting art galleries. The place has also become known for its "Second Saturday Art Walk". The next one is on Saturday, December 10, 5 to 11 pm. Save the date.

Wynwood has also gotten the world's attention for the 100+ huge murals painted on the walls of its buildings. They're in an area packed with warehouses, 4 blocks by 8. The blocks are l o n g
and it is best to see them walking or touring by bike during the day.

Topping them off is the magnificent Wynwood Walls complex. The outdoor art gallery is located on NW Second Avenue, between Joey's Italian Cafe (at 25th St.) and
the art-filled Wynwood Kitchen & Bar (26th St.). "Walls" is a collection of large murals painted by some of the greatest street artists on the planet.
Come see, you'll be amazed.

Two years ago I visited Walls as the painting was beginning. Artists from eight countries scurried about spraying paint here and there.

Shepard Fairey (famous for his Obama "Hope" poster) pasted his printed paper creations on an 80-foot section. The red band grabs you as you enter the private park.
Wynwood Walls is finally complete. On Tuesday, November 29, it will have its Grand Opening.
The man who made it happen, Tony Goldman, has invited the public to join him, from 9 to 11 pm, for this special affair.
I hope to see you there.

Friday, November 18, 2011

THE SMALL END OF NOTHING

If you're in South Florida this weekend, consider a visit to the Miami Book Fair. Dozens and dozens of authors will be there including our good friend, Norma Watkins. At 3:30 maƱana (Saturday) she'll share the stage with Bob Edwards (formerly of NPR). Her book, "The Last Resort" is doing well. Norma has agreed to do a book reading for the neighborhood on January 6.
But first consider going to the Fair. Stand in the midst of literary giants. It doesn't seem that long ago I heard Ken Kesey speak. He is gone but I continue to be in awe of his incredible talent.
I just re-read "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" and it is as fresh now as it was fifty years ago. At one point the main character, Randall P. McMurphy is describing the asylum's new staff member, "The nurse was little, the small end of nothing whittled to a fine point.
It doesn't get much better than that.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

THE SOUND OF TRUMPETS



Every Veterans Day I hear the drums and trumpets and think, "It sounds like parade!".
On Friday I jumped on my bike and peddled madly north to Grand Avenue.
The West Grove veterans were putting on their annual procession. There's less than two dozen of them now, most having served in the Korean and Viet Nam wars, but their flags and solemnity remind

you of why you're not at work on a Friday morning.
The vets were joined by kids waving from a fire truck and two cops on horses.
The local high school band couldn't make it. The "band " I heard turned out to be a car playing a very loud marching music CD.
You could say it was barely a parade but we enjoyed the four-minutes it took to pass by.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

SECOND SATURDAY IN WYNWOOD




If you're in Miami this Saturday night, Nov. 12, come to the Wynwood Art District (NW 2 Ave & NW 25 Street) for Second Saturday. It's one of our town's most exciting events now and unlike the Beach's "Sleepless Night" (see below), you can actually find a place to park.
Thousands of art lovers descend on the six-block area every month to explore over 30 art galleries, restaurants, and the amazing
outdoor graffiti gallery, Wynwood Walls.

Fifteen food trucks set up in the big lot at NW 2d & 22 Lane. The park has bands, DJs, and ping pong tables to boot. The trucks are serving by 5:30 (the sun sets at six now) and the galleries are open from
five to eleven.
There's plenty of free street parking if you get there by 8. It can get iffy after that. We go at six, enjoy food truck delicacies, then stroll the gallery areas for a couple of hours. With the glorious weather we've been having, it'll be a good place to be.

You can also consider going early (or later) so you can head over to the New World Center on Miami Beach. The New World Symphony will be having one of their free "Wallcast" Concerts at 7:30. Lay on the lawn and enjoy the show. If you are unable to park, circle the block and catch snips of it.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

SLEEPLESS SATURDAY



Every year South Beach pulls an all-nighter. The city hires hundreds of artists to entertain folks from sunset to sunrise for "Sleepless Night". The paper says over 100,000 of us went to the last night's event. From what I could see, only half of us were able to find places to park. By 7 pm, all the public parking lots were filled.

Francesca and I found ourselves cruising past beachside search lights, various groups in concert, and people that seemed to be having fun.

After eons we snagged a spot near Lincoln Road Mall. Finally on foot we we ran into a towering Scotsman with a frisky dog. He told jokes and played his bag pipes while the dog peed on everyone nearby. Yeah, I got hit but since there was a skinny guy inside the dog, it probably wasn't the real stuff.



The New World Symphony gave free mini-concerts inside their new hall. We watched one as it was projected live on a wall outside. Two hours later a group of gravity-defying artists were scheduled to dance suspended by ropes, on the same wall.

We couldn't stay for that. We wanted to drive to more Sleepless Night sites that, as it turned out, had no places to park.

We finally gave up on the whole sleepless bit. We found a great place to park right in front of our house.