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Sunday, May 29, 2016

WHAT A PARTY!

- GREAT GROVE PARTIES, PART I -

     This morning the party was over. We woke up slowly, heads filled with happy memories of last night's "Performance".  It was a Great Grove Party and if you were there you're probably still smiling.
     Francesca and I tried a new recipe, "Invite thirty-five of your most unusual friends and require them to entertain each other by singing, dancing, or telling  jokes".   I got to emcee the twenty-five who jumped at the chance  to perform on our backyard stage.
 (Most photos by Erin Clancy, part of the show's Hot-to-Trot Trio)

     Federal magistrate, Zip Robertson was one of them. Yesterday he grabbed a harmonica, stepped off his boat and got on to his bike. Ten minutes later he was pedaling into our backyard ready to sing the blues. 


    The show kicked off with South Miami poet, Gray Read, reciting her epic,"Ode To a Plastic Bag".

Husband Phil told us of his recent visit to the White House to discuss sea-level rise. A Native American told him, "We no longer listen to the whales". I'm sure its true.

 
   I've known musician Bill Kunz since kindergarten.  Last night he played his  banjo beautifully.

  Allen "Jellyfish" Aunapu is a multi-talented musician, boat captain and Mango Strutter.  He crawled the entire route of the 2007 parade pretending to be a dog (and yes, he peed on many a leg).  Last night he played the haunting "They Love the Boogie".

    Gables orthopedist Manny Aran shared a story from his days as a roadie.  He worked for both Little Richard and Canned Heat.  
 
 North Grove chanteuse Marya Meyer, backed by Bobby Ingram, did a lovely version of "Teach Your Children Well".

Bobby was joined by the Solar Dog Band (and  his daughter, Bryn) to belt out  few more.   






  Dan Kavanaugh read a romantic poem written by his wife, Brigitte. It was a lovely story about how a foul-smelling Epoisses cheese had brought two lovers together.

  
Dan was followed by the comedy duo "Brent & Mike". They could have brought the house down had they'd had access to sledgehammers.

  Punk rocker, Dave Villano, slammed the audience with "I Hate People!".  My wife and I backed him on our ukes.
Francesca wore dark glasses so she could not be recognized.
     
The two of us went on the sing my song, "Green Parrot Blues.
I was off key but no one seemed to care.
   

      The show continued with a quiz show, satirical songs, ukulele band, and a spontaneous art demonstration.  I thank those artists (Don, Louie, Julie, Erin, Kay, Denise, Alan, Thorn, Phoebe, Martha, Terry and Cynthia), and the earlier performers, for sharing their talent last night.  When amateur hour ended the Dogs & friends cranked up and got us dancing.


    "Performance" was a success because everyone attending was willing to "entertain".  They made the night spectacular.
                    ______________________

   Below you can see Zip's performance! 




video














Friday, May 27, 2016

KROMA NAILS IT

    Check this out,









   We checked it out last night and we didn't have to go to New York or Wynwood to do it.

    This wonderful world of science fiction was on display in West Grove's art gallery, KROMA. Their latest show, "Tempus Fugit" opened last night.



 The place was filled with happy people.  With prices ranging from $60 to $6000, some even took home pieces of futuristic  art.


 
I enjoyed meeting  artist Mario Iglesias (left).  The IT techie is around computers all day often scrounging for parts to build his little robots. 














This one was composed by ripping apart and recomposing a model tank. 

   It's Mario's first show, an incredible start for the talented South Floridian. 



 Josepo's metal sculptures were all over the place.  The former construction worker spent years dreaming of building art instead of hi-rises (www.josepometalsculpture.com)

   The show is terrific and up for the next month (3670 Grand Avenue). Stop by when when you can. It's much closer than Manhatten
_______




Wednesday, May 25, 2016

DINOS IN D'HOOD

    It's  wonderful  having dinosaurs in the neighborhood. The golden beasts are just a block away from our house.  They're  perched on roadside rods so you can get a better look. The dinos have been a garden feature, at the corner of Hibiscus and Poinciana, for years.
  
     On a walk last month I got the story. I noticed a woman exiting the house behind them. I introduced myself and told her how I'd long admired her reptiles. "Katrina" told me, "They were my husband's idea.  When Hurricane Andrew blew through 25 years ago our yard was a rotting mess for weeks. Sid decided to make the best of it by decorating with these spray-painted creatures. We found them in a trash pile".  

    Sid and Nancy moved here 28 years ago because it reminded them of home, Papua, New Guinea.  
Katrina went on to say that along with admiring neighbors, tourist buses often stop.  

    The roadside garden has been going through tough times this year. It was dug up and tossed aside when a new sewage tank went in. Slowly it is growing back. Perched dinosaurs are overseeing the project.

    Inspired by my conversation with Katrina, I created my own dino garden at the school where I teach. Kids love them.
    
    I do my best to protect the South Grove creatures. Ten years ago I rounded Dino Corner to catch a plaid-skirted girl
stealing one. "Put It back!", I yelled.
The frightened student from Carrolton School of the Sacred Heart complied.

    
    While our children are grown, they still have fond memories of stopping to visit Sid and Katrina's fantasy gardenThe couple call their creation "Found Material Farm". It's great that they found a way to add another unique landmark to Coconut Grove.


 

                           __________

SEE YOU AT STEAMPUNK (the Grove's KROMA Gallery on Grand) Thursday, May 26th

Sunday, May 15, 2016

SANGRIA SUMMER

    We spent this beautiful day in Venice, Italy (or something close to it). 
      You know about
Viscaya Museum and Gardens, Coconut Grove's Italian villa on Biscayne Bay.

You may not know that they now have "Sangria Summer", a delightful weekend brunch event.

     
A delectable lunch is served in their Garden Cafe, on the east side of the mansion. 

 

   Joy Wallace, our local catering legend, runs the show with her helpful, talented staff.  I'm still savoring the Torte Espanola and the Truffled White Bean Soup.  And the sangria? Mm-mm, white or red with touch of Triple Sec and a spritz of mango champagne.
    The weekend deliciousness is available from 11:30 to 4:30 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday for the next four months. The cafe is open year-round.



    After the fig & almond torte, we slowly rose to tour the gardens and house. In sixty years of visits I'm still discovering new things. It's the villa's 100th birthday y'know.
     Be a part of this year's celebration by visiting Viscaya soon.  Become a member ($75 a year) and you can almost live there and get a 10% discount at the cafe. More information is available at Viscaya.org.  

   That said, Miami's heat is much more bearable if you're having a sangria summer.
       __________________________

Friday, May 13, 2016

MY NEW HOUSE EATER

       White boxes are spreading like a colorless cancer in Coconut Grove. We need to start the long process of creating historic districts to protect the old houses that they are replacing. In the mean time, let me suggest another solution, let's destroy these "houses" that look more like doctors offices on Coral Way.


     It can be done, I just purchased a machine that eats them.  It is a used Cederapids P-9 house-eater. 
I found it in West Hialeah and had it delivered yesterday.


     There's not much to it. 
I turned the key, put it in "drive" and lumbered off to the closest white box in my neighborhood. It was still under construction so I assumed it was unoccupied.  
   
    When I drove its huge, gaping maw into the front wall it not only began to eat the house but also excreted a neat line of concrete blocks out the back.
      
    When I was done, I left a note saying, "Your 'house' was ugly. Try again, maybe something like this". 
(I attached this photo)
 
      
    Hopefully the developer will do a better job next time.

                              __________

 PS:  If you have one of these charmless caja blancas in your neighborhood drop me a line (bettermiami1@yahoo.com) .  
I'll take care of it.
The Grove Guy


Sunday, May 8, 2016

TWENTY-ONE GROVE HOUSES ON DEATH ROW

     It's always distressing  to hear the sound of houses being torn down in Coconut Grove. It is loud and the backhoes claw for days.

     The demolitions are  a surprise as neighbors are usually given no notice (as is required but the City of Miami code).  If you are informed, you have 15-days to fight the "demo" permit. 
     The city does not publish the addresses of the houses that have received them. There is even more obfuscation as the city calls them "waivers" (what are they "waiving", the right of the neighborhood to remain intact?). 

      As you sink deeper in the bureaucratic muck you realize why we're surprised when the two-ton  house-rippers show up. We could not tell when the wrecking ball would fly next...until now.

     This month, Grove residents can receive some forewarning. I have a list of the next Grove houses scheduled to fall this month. A couple have been torn down already.

     I only have the list because Grove 2030's David Villano made a special request to the city's Department of Zoning. This list should be online, all the time.
   Thanks to Mr. Villano, this month we can see the the addresses of the,

   TWENTY-ONE GROVE HOUSES DOOMED
       FOR DESTRUCTION (May, 2016)


1. 3950 Leafy Way






 


2. 3945 Loquat Ave.

      This house had a permit but it has expired.
       It is safe for now.









3.  3147 Matilda St.
4. 4197 Braganza St.
5. 3828 Kumquat Ave. (partial demolition)
6. 3226 Elizabeth St.
7. 3966 Park Ave.
 
8. 3701 Park Ave.
 











9. 3150 Hibiscus St.
10. 3160 Shipping  Ave.

 

11. 3621 Noc-a-tee Dr. 
   







12. 3210 Calusa Ct.
 


13. 3145 Ohio Street








14. 1935 Secoffee St.
 
15. 3093 Emathla St. 
   The list address is probably a mistake. There is no "3093" and "3003" has a new construction posting on the front wall.




 

16. 2550 Overbrook St. 









17. 2050 Bay Heights Dr.




18. 3220 Day Ave.

   This looks like a simple
2/1 built in the 40's.
Unfortunately it will 
probably be replaced by a bulky four-plex like those surrounding it. There will be no room for anything but a driveway and a white box stretching the length of the property. 
  Is this the future of Coconut Grove? 

 
 


19. 3127 Matilda St.
20.  3220 Matilda St. (torn down last week)

      "3127" has a colorful
front wall but the aging
plain Jane behind it probably should have been flattened years ago.


And rounding out May's list, 
21. 3550 Curtis Lane

       That's how wrecking ball bounces this month. The Grove community and its leaders must decide how to respond to developers tearing down our houses with greater frequency. If they continue to fall, the Grove may have to adopt a more Princely name, 
               These bulky twins are  replacing a single residence on Lincoln Avenue in the North Grove.

"The Community Formerly Known as Coconut Grove".
                   _______________________