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Monday, May 30, 2011


Today we remember our country's soldiers. I'm reminded of them every time I talk with Jack Phillips. Its there on his collar, the gold pin saying the most memorable days of his life were spent fighting in the Battle of Iwo Jima.

Jack grew up on Mary Street in Coconut Grove. He was in his second year of college when our country entered World War II. "Pearl Harbor? I'd never heard of the place," he said yesterday with a laugh. He quickly enlisted in the Marines where he learned to shoot a rifle and defuse land mines.

Jack went ashore with his platoon on the Island of Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945, and was wounded three days later. ""I caught a piece of shrapnel just above my right eye. It took over a year to heal but I was one of the lucky ones. A third of our boys didn't make it and the rest of us had to be carried out on stretchers."

He added, "I guess it all happened 68 years ago but I still think about it every day".

Saturday, May 21, 2011


Other than having Luke "As Nasty As I Wanna Be" Campbell running for mayor in next Tuesday's election, how often does Miami have something that it can really be proud of?

Francesca and I have been gleeful ever since we visited Miami Beach's recently completed New World Center. The $160 million edifice, designed by architect Frank Gehry, does amaze.

It is primarily a teaching facility, the "orchestral academy" for Michael Tilson Thomas's New World Symphony. It is where wunderkinds in their mid-20's hone their chops. Unlike Gehry's Getty Museum (Bilbao, Spain) or the Disney Music Hall in L.A., Gehry has put most of his swirling, off-balances designs inside of the squared-off structure.

The building includes an intimate, 300-seat symphony hall that we visited twice last week. We enjoyed the orchestra's final seasonal performance and a Seraphic Fire concert. Sitting in both the cheap seats and down front, we are convinced that every seat is a good one.

Anyone can enjoy this place. Some performances cost as little as five bucks and sitting outside is free. That's where many of the nighttime concerts are beamed onto a huge 7000 sq. ft. "screen", the east wall of the concert hall.

You sit on lush grass surrounded by hidden high-tech speakers. These live "wallcasts" are wonderful, we've been to two of them. We met one couple that that had turned down tickets to sit outside with us on blankets with their picnic dinner. One evening I noticed Thomas, the symphony's director, outside as well. He seemed to be enjoying the wallcast before he ducked back insie for the real thing.

How did we lure the famed architect to South Florida? A recent New Yorker article gave us a clue. It noted that when he was growing up in Santa Monica, California, Gehry would sometimes serve as Michael Tilson Thomas' babysitter.

Free movies are featured on the green as well. Next Wednesday they'll show "The Sound of Music and on June 1, "Fantasia". All films begin at 8 p.m. Bring a pillow as most folks end up laying down to watch the elevated screen.


California minister Harold Camping has gotten a lot of publicity this week by predicting that the world will end at today ( 6 p.m. local time -wherever you happen to live- the mega-deaths will come in waves he says).

Its a beautiful day in Miami and if The Rapture comes three hours from now, The Grove Guy wishes you a quick and safe trip to the Great Beyond.

If the world does not end today consider coming to Coconut Grove next week. On Sunday, May 29, you can enjoy this season's final performance of The Grove-based Alhambra Orchestra. "Piano Pyrotechics" will feature soloist Mia Vassilev at the Steinway. The free concert will take place in the Ransom Everglades auditorium at 7 pm ( a block aouth of the CG Playhouse). There will be no wallcast in the Ransom parking lot. You must sit inside.

Saturday, May 14, 2011


Bob Marley used to own a home in our neighborhood. That's where he spent his final days. Wednesday marked the thirtieth anniversary of his death.

Why did he have to leave us so soon, in his 36th year?

I just read that he injured a toe playing soccer. When it it became cancerous he refused to have it amputated. His religion would not allow it. The melanoma spread to the rest of his body and eventually killed him.
This made me think of the King Mango Strut's resident teddy bear, Peer Everett. My 6'4" friend was Cosmic Claus in Strut '83, a tie-dyed peacock in '09 and many strange characters in between.

He injured a toe last year probably playing rugby, his favorite game. When I visited him in a hospital last week he explained, "It got real funky so the doc cut it off". Peer, having no religious inhibitions, was okay with that. He is now home and doing well.

I just wish Mr. Marley had followed Peer's example.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Four year we chatted with her in a neighbor's living room. We talked about about parenthood, dogs, and the need to elect a President who could speak in complete sentences. Yesterday Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Shultz became the new leader of our country's Democratic Party.

We are thrilled. We were so impressed with Ms. Wasserman-Shultz on that rainy night back in 2007. We are fortunate to have her representing not only South Florida but our country as well.

Sunday, May 1, 2011


Yesterday Francesca and I were out on the bay with with friends.

It seemed like a perfect day until we found ourselves downwind from the Turkey Point Nuclear Generation Facility.

Something in the air apparently turned my wife into a sign- waving fish.

Everyone started shouting, "No more Nukes!".

I found out later that the facility is trying to expand.

The Sierra Club people told us this when we joined their protest nearby.

A moment later the head of Florida Power & Light stopped by to see what the fuss was about. When the club president explained the many dangers associated with facilities like Turkey Point he told us he would not only,

1) Cancel plans for the facility's expansion but

2) De-nuke the whole place and turn it into a nature preserve.

It was at this point that I woke up. Now it is Sunday morning, time to sell cocofish at the art show.