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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

HIT BY A DRUNK, PART II


    
       You run into some of the nicest people in Coconut Grove and sometimes others run into you.        - Glenn Terry, 2016

   Six Months ago Francesca and I were in a car accident.  While waiting at the light in the middle of the Grove a drunk slammed into our car.  The driver, Daniel Recio, staggered out of his Prius, apologized and drove off before the cops could arrive.

    As he shuffled around I was able to take photos of him, his car, and his license plate.  When the police showed up I gave them all of my information and figured they had an air-tight case.

I was wrong.  Today I learned that although they did locate Mr. Recio and gave him a citation, it was later dismissed for being "defective".   If this is how the City of Miami Police and the State Attorney's office operate, God help us.
       __________________________________


Note:  Below is the article I wrote about the accident last fall.
 

HIT BY A DRUNK, PART I

      I drove 11,000 miles across the country this summer. I had no car problems until I returned to Miami.  On 10-15-16, at 9 pm, Francesca and I were waiting for the light at Grand and McFarlane. 
       In the middle of a quiet conversation,                                   
                      W H A M ! 
a drunk's car smashed into the back of ours.
    It happened in less than a second. Our heads slammed back into our head rests. My Honda was shoved ahead ten feet, just short of car ahead of us.


       We looked at each other dazed, and realized neither of us was seriously injured. I climbed out my car to see what had hit us. It was this guy, 
Danial M. Lopez-Recio driving a gold Prius.  




    He quickly asked me not to call the cops adding, "I'll give you $100 cash just to drive off".  I asked Francesca to call the police as I surveyed my car's damage (over $2000 worth).  I took pictures of our cars, of him, and his license plate.  There was a woman in his car. She seemed angry as she made phone calls then walked away.


    The guy got in my face and blabbered on. He tried to make me feel guilty because his car's dents
were bigger than mine. 
I pointed out that he had caused all of them.

      The lush went on to try to sweet talk me as drunks are wont to do. He offer went up to $500 payable the next day. He smiled and added "You look just like Robert Redford in that baseball movie!".  
    Then I knew he was wasted and told him so, "You're messed up, dude". He shrugged and admitted, "Yeah, I'm drunk". There wasn't much more to say.

     Francesca called out, "The police are on their way. They want us to move our cars out of the road."  I moved mine and asked the guy that if he could move his. The boozer said he would if I gave him back his keys. I had not taken them.  Really drunk.
    By then a friend of his showed up to locate the boozer's keys and to help him move his Toyota. I told him I would hold back traffic while they moved the dented Prius.
      I guess they moved it a very long way because when I turned back they were gone. I never saw him -or his car- again.

       A police officer arrived 45 minutes after the collision. He ran the kid's license number so I soon learned who he was, where he lived, and that his car was insured.
      I've long had a fear of driving on Saturday nights knowing something like this  might happen.
Defensive driving would not have helped, I guess our number was up.
     
   We got away with sore necks and a car that has been in the shop for weeks. The guys lousy insurance company (United Automobile Insurance Company) has refused, thus far, to pay for my car or anything else. The Miami City Police, six weeks later, have still not called me -or returned my calls- regarding whether they would bust the guy who took off.
   
   Of course, it could have been much worse. The drunk could have been driving fifty instead of fifteen. Our problems are small compared to what they could have been. Slowly we're dealing with them.
     When you think about all the drunks and distracted drivers it makes you think twice about traveling. Drunks are bad but cell phone drivers are just as big a problem these days. It's enough for make you think, "How crazy can it get?", "Are there any answers?" and "What will happen to "Dan the Drunk" when this case gets to court?"
                    ______________________
                 

Monday, April 17, 2017

BOBBY DOES A 360 IN SONG

     Grove legend, Bobby Ingram celebrated his 80th birthday singing from his South Grove rooftop ten days ago.


    See a bit of the backyard concert in Richard Fendleman's amazing 360-degree video (linked below). 
 Clicking on the "arrow heads" allows you to "turn you head" and see all over!
     Come to the show using this link:

 https://youtu.be/kVG3UhkWuTE

Thanks, Richard!
                 _________________________

Sunday, April 16, 2017

TROPICAL PARADISE IS TWO HOURS AWAY

     Spring break is ending. We spent most of ours camping on the ocean at Long Key State Park.
How lucky we are to live 85 miles and forty bucks a night from this.

   We brought Pi, our bikes and kayak with us.



    We spent one day in Key West. Our bicycles glided us past the marvelous old houses and landmarks that make the southernmost city unique. We had lunch at the dog-friendly Blue Heaven restaurant and steered clear of most of the touristy stuff.
 

 
 Our new son, Carlos, joined us the last two days. We took him to Marathon's Keys Fisheries restaurant for the freshest of stone crabs.   


    The next day we visited Robbie's in Islamorada watching folks feed bait fish to the hungry tarpon lurking under the dock.





                 Tarpon feeding on distant dock



Hiking through our park's mangrove forest we crossed a bridge and saw manatees slowly swimming in the clear green stream. The water looked so inviting I suggested to Carlos that we strip down and jump in.


 

    We did

 and the outgoing tide quickly swept us out to sea. The "sea"here is two feet deep so we easily swam along the shore until we came to an opening in the mangroves.


 As our adventurous day was ending

  we started a fire, plugged in the party lights,  


 

and prepared a feast on the grill.  




   

What fun we had renting our own piece of paradise for a few nights. Even the beach was smiling.




                                                    ________________________________







.

ROLAND THE GARDNER

      We live in a pretty ritzy neighborhood where few would ever consider doing their own yard work. That's why it was so refreshing to see our neighbor, Roland, happily pulling weeds yesterday.
     He and his wife live three doors down in this amazing house.



 All week long everyone else is visited by crews of Central Americans that mow, clip and blow (leaves) for hours. Their bulky trucks block our narrow streets.
      Leaf Blower Thursday is the worst.  That's when most of them descend to blast leaves from one yard to the next. Their two-cycle sound is deafening. I spend most of the day -when I'm home- wearing ear protectors.  Really.
    Roland rakes. When we pass by he stops to smile and wave.  He then resumes quietly stroking the ground. Our neighbor  told us, "It makes me happy".

____________________



                        

Note:  Francesca and I fall into a third "Let It Be" category.  While we do pick up the occasional fallen palm frond, we let our plants grow and our leaves lying where God intended them to rot.

Friday, April 14, 2017

FREE YOGA FOR SENIORS

    Coconut Grove's premiere yoga center, Dharma Yoga Studio, now has free classes for  older folks.  I've been going for a couple of months and enjoy it very much.




     We do it seated. "Chair Yoga" consists of a series of exercises that leaves you feeling exhilarated and relaxed. You don't need a yoga mat or towel, chairs are included. Just come and take a seat.
    The classes take place on Mondays and Thursdays, 2:15 to 3:15.  Dharma is located on Commodore just east of the Lokal burger joint, 3170 Commodore Plaza.

     Our teacher, Natalie, is inspiring and ever-smiling.  Spending an hour with her  brightens your day.

     The free series is sponsored by the Woody Foundation. "Senior" is not defined by the Dharma folks but it seems to be anyone over 60. 
Barbara Shale, who works the front desk told me, "I'm 71 but I'm no senior!". 
    I am.  
   The classes are not too serious and truth be told, a good bit of joking goes on within this bi-weekly circle of friends.

    Dharma offers a wide variety of classes seven days a week. Most costs between $10 and $15 (you get a discount by buying a series card). To see their many offerings go to dharmastudio.com or call, 305-461-1777.
                     _____________________
    

Sunday, April 9, 2017

BOBBY'S BACKYARD BASH

     Singing from a rooftop, Bobby Ingram & friends celebrated a big birthday last night. There was great food, cold beer, and another one of Francesca's magnificent cakes. 
  





Bobby has been sharing stories and songs with Coconut Grove for over six decades. Last night we thanked him while wishing him the best in the coming year.




   HAPPY BIRTHDAY, BOBBY!
_______

"HONEY, THERE"S A DOLPHIN IN THE POOL!"

         Coconut Grove has had some weird characters passing through ( Heartless Steve Bannon rented a home here recently) but few had a dolphin in their swimming pool.  Two houses east of us, Dr. John C. Lilly once kept Flipper in his concrete pond back in early 70's.
        The well-known neuroscientist wrote 19 books, invented the isolation tank and hung our with with Timothy Leary and Alan Ginsberg.                        


    His long exploration of the human consciousness included trying to communicate with porpoises. Besides Backyard Flipper, Lilly had tanks at his Coconut Grove lab, in the old Grove Bank building at Fuller St. and Main Highway. In the early 70's, almost anyone could walk in and share a few words -or a song- with them. The main idea was that if you took enough acid and gave our watery friends the same, you might have great conversations or, at least, imagine them.  I think about this every time I pass the historic Lilly House at the corner of Hibiscus and Palmetto Ave.

    



    This incredible residence was built in the mid- 20's.  Dr. Lilly, hailing from frigid St. Paul, Minnesota, bought it in1965 and it was a part of the family until it sold last week.



   



Despite apparently ingesting prodigious amounts of hallucinogenic drugs, the non-stop scientist/philosopher held on for 86 years, dying peacefully in 2001. 


      His not-too-friendly daughter, Leslie Lilly, inherited the Mediterranean jewel and visited once a year until the the deal closed a few days ago. A backyard dolphin is something but here's the  most amazing thing about the transfer:
The new owner will not be tearing the old house down to build a big white box! 


      He's English.  Steve and his partner enjoy aged wine, expensive, cheese, and historic houses. 

   Before the deal closed the Lillys had an unusual  garage sale. Leslie and her husband rolled out a lot of old junk and put high prices on everything.



      For half a century the Flipper family kept to themselves, the tall iron gates rarely opened.  I've always known it to be a little spooky, very elegant, well-kept, and quiet. With ten-foot walls surrounding it, I had never seen the fabled dolphin pool.  That changed when the gates rolled open for the expensive junk sale.

      I rushed in to see what I could not for years. There were  a pair of Leslie's baby shoes, no steal at $20.
When I started snapping pictures of the Byzantine entrance Leslie quickly approached to tell me there was a $5 photography fee. 
    So funny, that Leslie.  
 
She went on to tell me the life-size photo Marjory photo she's snagged at Marjory Stoneman Douglas' 100th birthday party could me mine for $75. I laughed and told her I'd be taking it from her trash pile the next day.


      Her grandparent's steamer trunks ($50 each)were in awful shape. I was told they'd crossed the Atlantic many times. "I guess I shouldn't have let them rot", said Leslie.  Still, their aging bones had a well-worn beauty, almost wabisabi.
     
 The house and the back yard were off limits. I snapped this photo of the Mystery Dolphin Pool -through a garage window- before Leslie could charge me for it. 



    "Where's all the dolphin memorabilia?" I asked her husband who said, as a lawyer, he once represented the Grateful Dead. He smiled and said, "Oh, there isn't any out here. We kept the good stuff inside!".  
    But they did sell the best thing and we will be enjoying this Lilly House for years to come.
                                
 
                                _____
                                   _____
     

Friday, April 7, 2017

SWINGIN' IN THE WIND

    Miami native, artist Ward Shelley, is featured in this month's Artforum magazine.   Ward left the Grove years ago to see what New York living could bring. He and fellow artist, Alex Schweder, teamed up to created a series of live-in sculptures that describe ways we balance our lives.
 

   Their architectural performances have led to latest creation, "ReActor". It sits atop a hill, three hours north of New York City.  The thin house, perched on a pedestal, tilts if those on-board are not "in balance". It also swings in the wind. 



If you ever imagined living on a carnival tilt-a-whirl, ReActor could be the house for you.
                    ______________________

Thursday, April 6, 2017

A GREAT MYSTERY: A SIGN OF GOD?

    A friend called last week complaining about the transformation of the tall Coconut Grove office building at the corner of  SW 22 Ave. and U.S. 1. "If it's what I think it is", he said, "watch out". 

   He was referring to the large sign going up out front.   
    What does it spell? 
Let's play Coconut Grove Wheel of Fortune. What do you think these draped letters will reveal when unveiled?

    Will Tom Cruise or John Travolta be here for the occasion?   Will the ghost of L. Ron Hubbard make a guest appearance?

    We've had quite a mix in the Grove for many years. A few Scientologists will only make it more interesting. They've had a spot on Giralda in the Gables for decades. Somehow the City Beautiful has survived.
                  _____________________
                     ____________________

Monday, April 3, 2017

LAST DANCE AT THE RENO RANCH


        Few have seen the former home of Janet Reno. It sits amidst one of the rare native forests remaining in the crowded Kendall suburbia, where Kendall drive and SW 112 Avenue intersect.
    
    You certainly can't see the former attorney general's home from the road. Vegetation so thick a wild hog could barely run through it blocks the view. A winding dirt path passes a no trespassing sign and leads to the Reno home. It is a simple structure built mostly by Janet's mother, Jane Wood Reno, in the late forties.

       It has been the scene of thousands of gatherings of the large family festooned with many tall, intelligent, rangy Renos. They either gathered outside (there's a lot of "outside" on its four acres) or on the wide front porch. There were many public gatherings there as well including Janet's memorial, last fall.  
   
    My first visit celebrated one of her election victory's when she ran for State Attorney in 1978. I've been to a few others since and they were always filled with down-home joy, adventurous family stories and cold beer. Poetry recitations and song were almost mandatory. 

       Every story has an ending and the last Reno Ranch family gathering took place last Saturday. The house is passing on to a new owner which, as it turns out, is not a bad thing. 


      Eighty-five people gathered in the yard where the four barefoot Reno kids, Janny, Maggy, Bobby, and Mark, once took turns riding Tony the pony. There was plenty of delicious food, libations, and time to share more stories. It was an opportunity to say goodbye to Janet once more and to seventy of years of festive, family gatherings.
    Maggy Hurchalla, Janet's little sister, besides being a political leader and esteemed environmentalist, proved herself to be an outstanding party planner as well.


 
 The guest house out back

       The historic Reno home will be donated to Miami-Dade College. The school's south campus is located just a half-mile away. The distinctive house that Jane built will be preserved. The Reno Ranch will become an extension of the school's environmental center.


      It is a fitting end and an exciting new beginning. Scores of young students will experience a bit of the wilderness that the Reno family has loved. They'll relax on the historic porch as President Clinton did just a few years ago. Like him, they'll marvel at the spacious yard where peacocks still roam. 
    Most things won't change. We're assured the tall Reno-like fowl will continue to all have the same name, "Horace".




                                          __________________________________________