stat counter

Sunday, September 17, 2017

A STORM TOO LONG

     My sons and I spent a week camping in the Nevada desert two weeks ago.


   
     We were attending the Burning Man Festival which requires attendees to practice “radical self reliance”. You must provide your own food, water, and electricity. There is nothing for sale but ice and coffee.
    When we returned to Miami -and Hurricane Irma- our lives got even more “radical”.  After the storm we were without the basics and for days, there was nothing for sale. I can do without coffee but iced drinks?  They comfort me so through sweltering days.


     As I write this our part of Coconut Grove has been without power for ten days.  At night I dream of ice. During the day Francesca and I camp on our back porch. 

 

    These no-breeze 92 degree days suck but we know that some day we’ll look back on this lingering sweat storm and think, “Yeah, except for breakfasts on the porch, that really did suck”.

    No doubt hundreds of years ago the Calusa Indians said the same thing. Nobody really loves the heat, or hurricanes, not even a little category one 'cane like Irma.

    The worse part was waiting, watching the TV meteorologists us, “A class five hurricane is heading directly for Miami. In three says you are going to be so screwed!”.

   We worked non-stop screwing on shutters and
waited for our own version of Wizard of Oz, which really could have happened. 
 
    Hurricanes spawn occasional tornadoes. One lifted my mother’s house in Miami’s Hurricane of 1926. Her family was still hiding in a hole when it landed two blocks away. While it was ripped apart, my mother’s sister (my Aunt Dorothy) remembered finding, in the ruins, a bowl of pears miraculously left intact.



DAY MINUS ONE
    On Saturday, the day before Irma hit us, it seemed half the town had evacuated. Five millions Floridians had headed north.  At least two-thirds of my street fled succumbing to 140  mph wind warnings.  But then we learned it was edging to the west and our city would be spared the worst.  Hurricanes are like that, unpredictable. 


 
 Around five p.m. Dylan and I rode our bikes down to the bay to see the waves whip up.
 
The day before it arrived a banyan tree fell in a 45 m.p.h. gust.  It blocked Douglas Road for the next six days. 


After six p.m. the wind was such that you did not want to venture outside. Tree limbs were beginning to fall and electricity failed.

   DAY ONE
    We were hit by the western edge of Irma for twelve hours on Sunday, from dawn to dusk.  While winds were thrashing the trees above our back yard it was almost calm at ground level. The huge houses around us but they offered  protection. We were able to watch the show sitting on our back porch which became,




    I watched the show from my camping chair.  When the winds topped ninety I’d run inside where more than a sheet of plywood overhead would protect me.
Big wind continued on through the night and into into the next day.

DAY TWO

 We woke up on Monday to see streets looking like this,


     Avocado Avenue at Plaza Street, looking west. It is still blocked a twelve days after the storm.

 
A walk down to Coconut Grove’s bay shore revealed scenes like this,

Scotty's Landing. It used to be our favorite hang out.   

 
 Scotty's patio




  

     The storm  scared us and it’s aftermath is a mega-mess but in Miami, it seems like 98% of the houses were spared.  If you parked your car under a tree (bad idea!) it probably got crunched.
 
 Rick's car (insured)

No one was hurt except for the Grove sailor who decided to ride it out in his boat.  Irma relocated it to the Mutiny Hotel parking lot on Bayshore Drive. They found his body in the pile of seaweed nearby, another nominee for a Darwin Award.
      Most streets were blocked by fallen trees. It was kind of cool to climb through them to check on the neighbors who stayed.

DAY THREE
    By now most streets were cleared and there were huge piles of tree debris lining the road.  I enjoy pulling it back onto my street again. 
In my own version of “traffic calming” Range Rovers are forced to zig-zag slowly through Glenn’s Rotting Limb Gauntlet. I'd like to slow the morning traffic in front of my house like this everyday.


DAY FOUR THROUGH ELEVEN
    These sweltering days are all the same.  We are hot and at times, grouchy.  We pretend that cold showers aren't that bad. We are fortunate in many ways, we have been through storms that took our water as well.
     The power company tells us we’ll get juice on day eleven,  manana.  Most grocery stores are open again, powered by generators, but still they can't suppy ice for us un-connected.

     Some of our neighbors have annoying generators of their own. Nights are hot and all of our windows, open.  Sleeping near a neighbor’s  chugging generator is like trying to nap in your  yard while a lawn man cuts the grass.

    
 
   We have no electricity, cell phone, or internet service. Thankfully I found a hotel lobby three miles away with “everything”.  I spend afternoons there posing as a guest as I breathe in the AC, enjoy iced drinks, and communicate with friends.  I still lack the nerve to use their pool. 

    Hopefully I can go home for good soon. Radical reliance is getting old. I look forward to the day when I can radically rely on my Kenmore to fill my glass with ice again.
         _________________________________

      

Saturday, September 9, 2017

WAITING FOR IRMA


       SATURDAY, SEPT. 9, 5 P.M. 
SUCH A CRAZY TWO WEEKS it's been.  My sons and I went to Burning Man twelve days ago.  
The annual gathering in the Nevada desert was fantastic.






  
    I'd be writing about it now but something came up, a huge storm from the Caribbean. We had no idea spending a week in the desert heat was preparing us for Hurricane Irma. We can hear her howling outside our Coconut Grove home now.
     As she lingers off Cuba, just hours away from the US mainland, we know things are going to get weird -and primitive- soon.  Any minute the electricity will go out for a week or more (the lights are flickering now).  The lack of AC will make some delirious but me and the boys? We just spent a week in tents and 100+ degree heat.  There were no showers but here? Refreshing cold ones for a while!
        We're ready for Irma and most South Floridians have been though this many times. 
You hear about an approaching storm and hope it doesn't hit you. You prepare,
you party, 
 




then wait.

      The day before is strange and quiet. You know nothing will happen soon yet stores are closed and streets are barren.
   As the winds slowly rise (it's gusting over 50 m.p.h. now) the power goes out.  When things get bad we'll watch through one-inch peep holes I drilled in the shutters.


  Five of us will gather around candles, flashlights, and radios like people from the 40's listening to the latest news.
 The news now is good for us and bad for others.
    We just learned that the Howling Woman is swinging her hips to the west and we're elated. Miami probably won't get the worst of it but those on Florida's west coast will.  It's always a trade-off. We're hoping Irma will dance around the Gulf of Mexico entertaining the shrimp until her mojo runs out.
   But for now, we wait, hoping for the best. Chances are we'll still have a roof in the morning.
               __________________________

Monday, August 28, 2017

BERKELEY IS SUCH A RIOT

     I'm in Berkeley, California, with my two sons, Dylan and Ian. We are preparing to travel tomorrow to Nevada's  desert for the Burning Man Festival.  
     
 
This city is known for its enthusiastic political gatherings and yesterday, Berkeley did not disappoint.  On a brief trip downtown we encountered blocked streets and hundreds of police in riot gear. This morning's Chronicle reports what followed better than I ever could.
 


     We slid past the police with sign-carrying protestors.  They were  heading west to a rally at the Martin Luther King Jr. Civic Center. 
   Heading the other way I saw a startled


bridesmaid who had just stepped out of a church.







This man had his sign, along with most of his belongings, inside a shopping cart. 
He was nice enough to take it out so I could get a better shot.

   Most of the two thousand gathered came to peaceable protest the President's embrace of the alternate right. 




   
Others came to  juggle and to

to serenade.

   








   But there were also  the Ninja Boys, rabble rousers clad in black and looking for a trouble. 
 

    Some call them  "anarchists" or the "anti-fascists" but who knows who they were?  Their faces were covered despite the police's "no mask" rule. 
    If they were anti-fascists, why did they later act like fascists who put the brakes on free speech?  On Sunday I could tell the Masked Ones enjoyed wearing black, raising hell and the prospect of kicking butt. 
   Unfortunately they were the tiny minority who made front-page news.



    Most attendees had come on Sunday to protest a right-wing  "No to Marxism" rally.  When the Trumpsters cancelled their event  last Friday ("Berkeley's too dangerous!"), liberals like us came anyway to support each other and "the cause".


    95% of the people we saw -the rally was spread out over several blocks- were behaving themselves, holding signs, and chanting things like, "Hey hey ho ho, Nazi fascists have to go".
     The Terry boys fit right in.

    A half-hour into it my sons and I followed one of several roving groups. They walked past a plastic barricade towards a large assemblage of  police officers.  Suddenly there was an deafening explosion and billowing smoke. The  crowd screamed, turned, and ran our way. 
We ran too.  
Moments later it felt less dangerous as we realized we had not been trampled or tear-gassed.
It had been a smoke bomb intended to turn us back (very effective!).
 
 Only smoke

     By then we'd had enough and decided to make our way back to the car. We passed many peaceful people and their clever signs.
 
 
 
   We were happy to support the democratic cause and see a bit of Berkeley's street politics. 

     
 


    Hours later learned a few Trump supporters had shown up on the rally's fringes. Their red garb made it easy for the Ninja Boys to spot and wail on them.  
 It's so unfortunate, another black eye for the liberals. The antifas raise hell but do nothing to promote justice, peace, and 45's imminent impeachment.  

      The Terry boys had passed safely through this spectacle of free speech and it was time go. The desert was calling and we still need a few more things from Trader Joe's.
                             ___________

 
 

     

Saturday, August 19, 2017

SOUTHERN STATUARY

                                                      TRYING TO FIND THE WORDS

Sometimes you read something that describes what you were thinking but could not quite put into words.  Here's self-described "southern white male" Rhett Mclaughlin writing about the current Confederate statuary controversy:


Revisionist and racist mindset fueled the erecting of Confederate memorials throughout the South. The vast majority of them were built between 1895 and World War I, a time of violent persecution of black people as well as the systemic and government-sanctioned oppression of Jim Crow laws. Some statues were put up during the civil rights movement. Their message was clear: the South belongs to whites.

In light of today’s controversy over these Confederate memorials, I keep hearing people say that their removal is an attempt to erase history. This misses the point entirely. The memorials themselves were an attempt to erase history. If these monuments were about history, we would see statues of slaves being whipped by their owners, black families being torn apart as they were sold to different places, and plantation owners with their black slave mistresses and children. If this was about history and not white supremacy, we’d see a statue of an innocent black man hanging from a tree and a group of happy white people posing for a picture with his lifeless body. This isn’t about history. This is about whitewashing history.

-An excerpt from his article in "Medium" .

And here's one more, from Frank Bruni's NYT column, 8-18-17:

 
Trump’s perverse response to a question that it’s hard to imagine another president being asked: 

Did he place the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville, Va., on the same “moral plane” as those who showed up to push back at them?

“I’m not putting anybody on a moral plane,” Trump answered.

Indeed he wasn’t. And if you can’t put anybody on a moral plane, you can’t put yourself on Air Force One.

Friday, August 18, 2017

ROYAL ROAD, TRASH PILE WITH A VIEW

        Coconut Grove residents live on a beautiful bay that is difficult to see it. Poor city planning has allowed trees, boats, and buildings to block the view. Fortunately, a few streets still end on the Biscayne Bay.
Each culminates in an incredible display of water,  distant buildings, and boats.


     One of them is Royal Road, two blocks south of the Grove Playhouse. Most of these bay view streets end in park-like settings. They are tidy, tranquil places reflecting the expensive housing nearby.


    Royal is unique in that it is unloved and uncared for.  The end of Royal Road is a dump, it's been that way since I arrived forty years ago. Back then there were eight houses and a huge estate lining the two-block street.  The road's residents made sure their vista point was taken care of.
    Now, because there is  just one house, a Ransom School parking lot, and a long line of trees, there is little life left on Royal Road. It has the feel of a lonely back ally that  leads to a magnificent bay view.



   I enjoy glancing at it as I ride my bike up Main Highway. Royal's trees form a dark tunnel and at its end, you can see a tiny blue window, the size of your smallest fingernail. I feel lucky when, in rare brief moments, I see a white triangle on that blue, a distant sailboat passing by. I'm reminded that I live in a special place.


    A walk down Royal Road takes you past fenced buildings and parking lots.  One residence remains on the north side, an iconic Alfred Browning Parker design. The entire south side is taken up by a line of tall pines that hide a huge estate. 

    Where Royal ends on Biscayne Bay is most remarkable.  It looks like a dump, uncared for by the city that owns it. Where asphalt ends, dirt begins and the dusty ground is strewn with trash.


    Sometime someone ties trash bags to the rusting 8-foot fences on each side. They quickly fill then overflow. 





 


Small smaller piles of consumer litter lie here and there as if to gather them will make they go away. 
    It is such a mess, it's as if the city is, through neglect, trying to keep people from visiting.  

      There are unreadable "no parking" signs

 and graffiti covering every surface.

     
 

 
 I like this one as it depicts my angelic birth year and King Mango after he died 8 years ago.
 

    Despite all this and the City of Miami's apparent effort to turn people away, they still ever day. 

   "Park Trashmore" is not for everyone. Most visitors are  a lower income  mix of Miami. The Grove Guy fits right in.

     It is also the West Grove's connection to the bay. Visitors come for sunrise, sunset, and lunch in between. Chicken bones and beer cans often litter the ground.  



     They come to this trash pile with a view because they have few options. Here they can still look at a far blue horizon and imagine what lies beyond.  The hill leading to it is boy-on-a-bike's thrill.
And, it's probably the only place in Coconut Grove where fishing is still allowed.

   This poor person's park is creepy and dark at night.  Few people venture into the dead-end ally

after sunset.  If you yelled for help only the manatee would hear.



      Since the 1980's I have asked City of Miami officials to clean the place up.
They've done nothing. 
      Six months ago I had a meeting with the city's parks and public works directors. They liked my clean-it-up proposal, mentioned budget restrictions and it remains a dump. 
   The parks director added he use to enjoy going there as a teenager. 


    Teens still go and it's a wonder they don't get sliced by broken glass. Last Tuesday evening I stopped by to take a head count. 
I saw,

   -A skateboarder tracing curves down the hill,
    - two joggers.
    -A romantic young couple staring at each other more than the bay,

    - two laughing twelve-year-olds arriving on their bikes.
    
- Three friends fishing (they caught enough for dinner!) and,
    
 
 

-Five teens lost in conversation.


   All this in a park the size of a house. 


  The east end of Royal Road is a public place on the water enjoyed by many. It's time we cleaned it up.

   It may finally happen as a group of Grovites are applying for a grant with the Miami Foundation
to do just that.

 
 Grove 2030's proposal -a finalist in a public space improvement competition- says they want to,

"beautify and strengthen the 30-by-60-foot plot so it can adapt to the sea-level rise changes of the future.  Further, developed a plan to convert the neglected hangout into a mini-park with a bench, picnic table, bike rack, kayak launch, dock and garbage cans. The landscape design would include rain gardens to filter the stormwater that runs down the sloping road into the bay and salt-tolerant plants and trees that could survive flooding."

In short, they want to make it nice. 

If the $21,000 grant comes through, the city says it is willing to assist. The county may help as well.  
The Miami Herald is coming out with an article on 2030's Royal Road proposal.  Here is the link,

Dead end in Coconut Grove could be a park rather than a magnet for cans and condoms

Let's hope forty years of neglect ends this year and
we finally get the little park we deserve at end of Royal  Road. 
                     

                      _______________