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Saturday, January 29, 2011


King Mango got a new home on Sunday,


when he and his friends marched through the streets of South Miami.
Almost a hundred happy souls in twelve units strutted their stuff on Sunset Drive.

The King Mango Strut parade's original group from 1982, the Mango Marching Band, was there, sponsored by Shell Lumber.

They played buckets, kazoos, and didgeridoos.

They serenaded Little Miss Mango and her court.

The Miami Heat's new superstar, LeBron James, could not attend so he sent his cousin, DJ Kool.

South Miami's new red light camera gave out over 400 tickets to people who had run lights on their way to the parade.
Frowns turned to grins when violators discovered their citations were good for half-priced beer at the Sunset Tavern.

BP's Next Oil Slick oozed its way down the road. The kids swimming in it seemed to be having a delightful time.

The Green Man stopped to give advice to one of his young admirers.

Then, he spotted,

The Redwing Blackbird of the Apocalypse!

The big bird should have known better than to tangle with the Green Man.

He told the winged warrior, "Hit the road or I'll bean you with this mango!"

The Messenger of Doom knew better than to argue with a 16-year-old dressed in lime green spandex. He let out one more "Caw!" then took to the sky.

(I thank my sons, Ian and Dylan, for doing this in Sunday's show).

While others watched the altercation
Josh and Michelle Billig reminded us that bananas have feeling too.

At the end of the parade the young Rose Cope confessed,

What a prankster that Rose.

The true Strut lives on as living theater in the streets.
It was a spontaneous combustion of fun.
-Pierre Blanchet, Gainesville

This was a great idea.
Something different! I thought it was grand. I like a freak show. -Mississippi John
-Lucy Boszko, Perrine
I thought it distracted from the VW show. I liked the element of spontinaity, like
-Hershel Burden guerilla theater. - Deborah Starbuck

Monday, January 17, 2011


We were standing where a man named Mudd had been locked up for life, imprisoned for treating the broken leg of John Wilkes Booth. The doctor was Fort Jefferson's most famous resident when it was built and occupied in the mid-1800's. It is a part of a group of islands 70 miles west of Key West,
"The Dry Tortugas".

My wife and I were there last Saturday to help celebrate the 75th anniversary of Dry Tortugas National Park. Our tour was arranged by the director of the South Florida National Park Trust, Don Finefrock. The organization supports South Florida's four national parks.

Don is a neighbor of ours.

Arriving by boat, we were greeted by the park's superintendent, Dan Kimball. He and his wife, artist Kit Kimball, live on Grove Isle.

After he introduced us to the park the rangers led tours where we learned about,

the fort's history,

the islands nearby,

creatures of the sea,

the sky,

and the 50,000 pound cannon that had just been refurbished.

We were told it could place a 400 pound exploding cannonball on a ship three miles away. Despite its amazing firepower, Francesca agreed to pose for this picture.

Fort Jefferson was built to protect us from anyone invading the Gulf of Mexico. It is composed of sixteen million bricks artfully arranged to house soldiers and 400 cannons.

Every day a few tired worn bricks fall into the sea.

On one tour we watched craftsmen mortaring the missing parts back into place.

A dozen or so people call the fort home. Seventy miles separate them from everyone else. Some say they like it that way. This ranger, holding a jar filled with lionfish, says she has the perfect job.

A day earlier we had seen a sign at a Key West Marina that said, "Eat more lionfish! There is no catch limit in this invading species, they are killing all the fish, and they taste great!"

As the last tour ended,

we wound our way down

and headed


Monday, January 10, 2011


South Miami's 74 Street got a new name Saturday, "Ric O'Barry Drive". The City honored its resident, Ric O'Barry, for his forty years as a dolphin activist. He was Flipper's trainer in his early years and starred in a major motion picture , "The Cove". Ric's movie won an Academy Award for "Best Documentary" in 2010. The film is about the senseless slaughter of dolphins in
Japan. If you haven't seen it, do.

I should point out that Ric also has the dubious honor of being "The Token Celebrity" in the first King Mango Strut, 29 years ago, for his underwater stunt work in "Thunderball".

Ric is a humble, hard-working man whom I've known for years. After living in the Grove for decades he headed to the city two miles south which he says, "is great, like Coconut Grove used to be".

Here he is with his son Lincoln, producer of television's Blood Dolphin series (on Animal Planet).

Like his ever-travelling dad, he is heading to Java next week to film the plight of more captive dolphins. That's Lincoln's mother, the beautiful Martha Kent between them. She is a botanist at Fairchild Gardens.

South Miami City Commissioner Walter Harris ended Saturday's ceremony saying, "Ric has spent the last forty years fighting for dolphins surrounded by people who hate him (the people who capture dolphins).
He could have stayed at home with the people who love him. Today Ric, you are home.
We honor you, and, we love you."


Sure, Elvis turned 76 last week but the big news was Luis Hernandez's 60th birthday.

In a unique twist he invited all of his friends to join him to refurbish a local a day care center.

A party it was. Saturday morning fifty of his friends gathered at Kidco Child Care Center in Miami's Allapatah neighborhood. It's been there since 1977 taking care of young kids while their parents work. The non-profit -funded primarily by county agencies- cares for 430 children, ages zero through five. Most of them come from low-income families.

So there we were, bright and early to honor Lou,
a talented early childhood educator.

Coconut Grove artist George Rodez created a small mural design which he then mapped out with chalk.

The rest of us grabbed paintbrushes and began filling it in.

Others (the "Red Team" and "Blue Team") rolled fresh paint over a fading playground.

Lots of fun for a good cause.

Said one participant, "This was the Jimmy Carter of all birthdays".

Thursday, January 6, 2011


Most of us have seen the pretty, petite woman swinging on the vines over Main Highway. I figured Jungle Woman to be just another Grove character. I'd smile, wave, and keep my distance.

I'd do the same thing when I'd see her dancing in front of Plymouth Congregational Church.

Who does things like that?

I found out a few years ago when I started attending the Grove historic landmark. I'd see the ever-smiling vine swinger, Angela Miller, volunteering at every church function. At the time I did not know that she was an angel.

Later I learned her addiction to alcohol had nearly killed her in 2000. Her near-death experience transformed her life in unique ways. She got healthy, sober, and started swinging from trees. She told folks God had saved her so she could become one of his angels on Earth. Angela was constantly doing good deeds and even wrote a book about her transformative experience.

Last Christmas Eve Angela served as a deacon for all three services. Its a lot of work and our church cheerleader seemed fine to me. A week later (New Years Day) breast cancer took her from us at the age of 59.

Hundreds of people attended her funeral today. Reverend Tom told us about the first time she announced her angelic transformantion. When he asked, "Don't you have to die first?" she enthusiastically replied, "I've already done that!"

Now, dying twice, she has really earned her wings.

Monday, January 3, 2011


After Christmas we headed to Manisota Key (on Florida's west
coast) to visit friends. It was 40 degrees so surfing was out.

Dead squid were washing in.

We trekked through the woods to see a sunset,

and look for a flash of green.

A few days later we visited the Ringling Museum in Sarasota,

and saw this young girl starring at us.

In Lake Wales we visited "Pinewood",
a historic house next to Bok Tower.

The halls were decked with boughs of holly.

T'was the season to be jolly
Fala lala la la la la la