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Sunday, March 27, 2011


Barn dances are rare in Miami but we had one last night.

Coconut Grove's Shell Lumber & Hardware opened its warehouse so 400 folks could frolic inside.

It was the second annual "Big Howl in the Wood". For the first two hours people chatted over barbecue and beer surrounded by stacks of pine, oak, and mahogany.

On the outer edge. fifteen artists displayed their wares, from fine paintings to painted rocks.

Artists Dan Bondroff and Fred Hunt and on the right, Artist Uta with Teresa Rodriguez.

All the while our favorite band, "Men With Hats" (a/k/a "The Solar Dogs"), played. They call their music "half-ass blue grass" and it suited us fine. By 9:30 many of us were dancing. The others watching seemed to be having almost as much fun.

Life seems better when you get to move to music. Said one gleeful South Miami resident, "This is great! How often do you get a chance to dance?"


Earlier this month we attended an art performance that included lumber but it was not held in a lumberyard. It took place in an unusual part of town, Little River. The gallery owner , "Larry", set the tone for the event by wearing a small pistol on his hip.

Performance artists Meatball and Justin Long presented "That's Not a Knife", a display of home-grown firepower. The duo often performs in the King Mango Strut.

The two used their engineering skills to make creative cannons. It's every thing that a fire cracker-loving boy dreams of. The two made one that used compressed air to fire 8-foot fluorescent bulbs at a wall. The shattering glass was spectacular.

Young Justin carefully spooned gunpowder into a breach of his cannon. Seconds after he lit its fuse it fired a full can of Budweiser at a distant target. Boom! Splat! My wife muttered, "This is definitely a guy thing".

Meatball cranked back the metal cable attached to a huge metallic crossbow, its groove loaded with a long piece of 2x4 lumber. Only a taunt rope kept it from firing at the distant deer target. When the Meatball whacked the rope with his machete, "ZOOM!", the stick zapped though the deer's privates.

Meatball prepares his crossbow to fire another 2x4. On the right is the beer cannon.

You had to be there but my wife would differ.


Sometimes you'd like to be a kid again and sometimes you don't.

In two weeks kids in Florida public schools will be taking the annual FCAT and SAT tests. If our new governor has his way, much of teachers' salaries will be determined by their students' test scores. I teach art at a West Kendall K-8 school. All around me are students getting drilled for the upcoming tests.

Last Friday I was helping a teacher with a bulletin board in a first grade room. At the same time another teacher was giving eighteen 6-year old students a practice math test to prepare them. As she read each question I listened in amazement and then started writing a few of them down. Here are several:

A. How many vertices does an equilateral triangle have?

B. How many squares do you need to make a rectangle?

C. How many triangles make a rhombus? and

D. How many trapezoids can you make from a hexagon?

Two squares can make a rectangle but so can three. I left the room feeling thankful for being born long ago.

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