Saturday, January 28, 2012
Friday night we went on a bike ride with 600 friends.
It was another two-wheeled adventure sponsored by the cycling advocate group, Critical Mass Miami.
They call it "a celebration of cycling". Every month they invite bikers to join them for a mad dash about town. Above you see us gathering in beautiful downtown Miami.
It begins at 7 pm on the last Friday of the month at Government Center.
It's always a friendly bunch,
most between the ages of 20 and 40. Two carried babies and one girl, astride a Barbie Bike, was six.
Our friend Gina was easy to spot in her signature dolphin helmet. Her left arm is still in a cast from a cycling accident two months ago.
At 7:30 someone gave a shout and we slowly began to roll. For ten miles we zipped along happily running red lights and stop signs. Helpers blocked the intersections as they do in funeral processions. They call their procedure "corking". Said one rowdy rider, "We don't block traffic, we are traffic!".
Somewhere 17th Avenue I lost Francesca in the fast-paced crowd. Zipping along at 12 m.p.h. it's not easy to stop.
When I did a stranger lent me his cellphone so I could find her. My two sons were somewhere in the pack as well though I never saw them (and they never saw each other). Its a long procession that stretches out for blocks.
There are Critical Mass rides all over the world. Consider being part of the fun. Join us downtown next month (February 24th), or in another city (listed at www.critical-mass.info) or start one of your own (same website). The local group is on Facebook (CriticalMassMiami) or can be found at www.themiamibikescene.com .
The legality of the rides continues to be questioned. Organizers feel they are within the law. They do not seek permits saying, "If cars don't need them why should we?"
Legal or not, it's a fun affair. Friday's tour took us over the Miami River, through Little Havana, past the new baseball stadium, and back though the glittering condo canyons where it all began.
It reminded me of Pamplona except instead of bulls chasing us, we chased each other.
Saturday, January 21, 2012
On the second Saturday night of every month galleries in Wynwood and the Design District are open for business. On our way home from last week's art walk we passed a new one for us. A bright neon sign on Biscayne Boulevard invited us to see "Art by God".
Intrigued by the large skeleton in the
front window, we pulled over. Stepping inside
we learned that the artist (God) had made indicate sea shells,
luminescent rocks, stuffed animals, and even penis bones. Francesca refused to go near the dead critters, which took up half of the store, but I pressed on. There was something transfixing about high level of taxidermic art displayed.
Many of the animals seemed to be caught mid-stride, like one moment they were prowling the veldt and -ZAP- they were suddenly some fat cat's hat rack.
Who buys this stuff?
A puma was climbing down the wall ($6000) and the front half of a bull elephant ($19,900) was coming through it. The least expensive dead mammal was a ratty, old possum. It could be had for $165.
I began thinking how odd it was, this house of corpses, then I remembered the Dead Chinese on Tour.
Six years ago locals were lining up at Sunset Place to see the stuffed people from Shanghai. I was not one of them but the demand is there. They'll probably have one standing next to Mr.Baboon soon.
35th 52 TOUR
The B-52s are very much alive and are presently on their 35th anniversary tour. The world's greatest party band will play the Arsht Center on February 12th.
I will be celebrating the 33d anniversary of the day I went to the beach with them.
Audrey, a friend of mine, was a friend of theirs so in '78 we frolicked in the surf at Crandon Park. We didn't drink tequila, dive for rock lobster or retreat to my love shack. They seemed to enjoy just sitting in the sun. Maybe it was me but that day they were quiet, nice, and normal.
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
University of Miami
Just west of us is Coral Gables, the last place you'd expect to see an avantgarde art performance. But there she was selling her postcard.
We love the Beaux Art Show. Unlike the the Grove's mega-art festival, it is small enough to see, free and it even welcomes dogs. The two-day event stretches across the University of Miami campus.
Last Saturday under a crisp, 70-degree sun, no one seemed to be in a hurry. As ibis probed the grass for insectswe watched artist Leslie Peebles deftly apply Japanese watercolors to her woodcuts
We wandered to the far end of the festival. There, a woman sat alone in one a white-tent booth. As there was no art, I assumed it to be some sort of rest area.
But how could it have just a chair and a table? On it
rested the woman's arm, her coffee, and a postcard.
On the card was a painting of an old house. Obviously this artist had come to the show to make some sort of minimalist statement. She and her six-inch print beckoned me on.
When the woman looked up I pointed to the card and asked, "Is that yours?".
She smiled, nodded and handed
it to me. On the back was her name and website, www.marguerite-defrance.com.
She told me I could keep it and put another several more on the table.
"Is the original for sale?" I asked. "Yes, of course.", Marguerite answered and adding, "It's in my car with dozens of others. This is my first show and I did not know that one had to bring partitions to hang paintings. I thought they came with the tent".
She wasn't the performance artist I had imagined but perhaps one just the same. When I saw her she was alone in her booth with her coffee, her purse, and postcard.
ONE MAN'S TRASH
My neighbor has one of the largest bougainvillea trees I have ever seen. It snakes up through the limbs of an oak and spreads over much of the canopy. Every January its flowers fall creating a lush carpet you'd think anyone would enjoy.
But not my neighbor. He instructs his
yard man to rake and bag them.
As soon as they hit the roadside trash pile I drag them into our yard.
I rake them smooth. They rest again on the ground as nature intended them to be.
Sunday, January 8, 2012
Today Francesca and I hung out with Patti Smith.
The poet/rocker/writer is in town so we thought we'd say hello.
She's got a new book, "Woolgathering", and we hooked up at Books and Books. She was gracious but acted as if she'd never seen us before.
She smiled, we smiled. Patti read my King Mango sweatshirt and seemed amused. I explained that's how it was when God gave the fruit king the gift of life. She said, "Cool", signed our books, and move on to the next fan waiting in line.
Sure, it was at best a minute but it was a very good minute.
Stay away from the beaches on the west coast of Florida.
We tried a few last week and they were no fun. Someone has piled trillions of seashells all along the shores. No one swims or stares longingly at the sea. Everyone we saw was bent over, trudging along, looking for the perfect shell.
It looked like a holiday for hunchbacks but when we examined the exoskeletons ourselves, we caught the disease. The two of us started moving slowly. As we did we scanned the ground ignoring each other,the spectacular sea and a perfect December day.
After walking a mile south on Manisota Key our pockets bulged with long dead mollusks. Finally a stench of rotting fish broke the spell. I began photographing what the Red Tide had killed and noticed again the endless line of shell searchers.
I asked Francesca if she wouldn't mind a few fish skeletons in our back yard. She reminded me of the bone pile I already had, the fading pieces of future projects that will probably never be.
As I admitted her point I noticed the Gulf of Mexico behind her. We remembered why we were there and jumped into it.