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Sunday, October 23, 2011


I've been exploring Wynwood, Miami's newest art district, lately. It's east of I-95, two miles NW of downtown. Yesterday Francesca and I enjoyed this weekend's Wynwood Art Fair.
It is different from the rest. You become a part of the art.
One artist offered us gum, took back the wrappers, and began using them to weave a purse. She then suggested we spit out our chewed Chiclets so we could add them to the art work growing on the roaring highway's fence behind her. We did.
Multi-talented Ruben Millares let us paint on giant lotus petals and Sleeper had us jumping over his colorful speed bumps. And speaking of sleepers, visual artist Edward Rossell de Jongh is painting 1044 faces of sleeping people. The talented young man took our pictures and said we will be include in his eventual compilation. As we opened our eyes another artist came along.
Crusty WIlliam Keddel asked us to donate our eyes to the needy, now. "Consider three. You two can do with one. Give the gift of sight!", said the eye-patched jokester. We declined.
We did have a great time and the show continues today (Sunday) until 6 pm. Friends With You will put on a colorful parade at 2:30. Bring your camera but unlike me, make sure your battery is charged.
This extremely creative event runs along NW 6 Avenue, from 29 Street south. Admission is $10 and all proceeds go to the Lotus House, a center for abused women.

Saturday, October 22, 2011


The performing arts and Mary Luft are almost synonymous in South Florida. That's why she's receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award tonight at the Miami Beach Arts Trust Gala.
As founder and executive director of Tigertail Productions (named after her former street in Coconut Grove) she has brought innovative art to us since 1979.
Tigertail began its 32d season earlier this month with a magical party at Wynwood Walls. "Walls" is a Tony Goldman creation, an outdoor art museum featuring some of the world's most outstanding street art). It is located next to Joey's Restaurant, between NW 25th and 26th street on NW 2d Avenue. Go if you haven't already.
Being outside, it's open most of the time.
The party, like most of Mary's productions, was wonderfully eclectic. While young women challenged us with a spoken word performance, New York's Pat Oleszko gave tours of her giant, headless, naked woman.
Don't ask what
we had to zip open to peer inside.
Pat was hard to miss. She was the only the one wearing 39 inflatable breasts. As musicians started to play, a lady wearing a plastic fish net sashayed by. All this while surrounded by day-glo,
eye-popping graffiti.
Obviously, Tigertail's 32d season is off to a good start. Last Monday they premiered their latest poetry publication at Books and Books. Two weeks from now they will present, "The Cabinet of Dr. Strange", a free performance during Miami Beach's Sleepless Night.
You can learn more about Tigertail and their upcoming events by going to their website,

Sunday, October 16, 2011


Yesterday there were "occupy" protests all over the planet. We joined the thousand people who had gathered in downtown Miami's Bayfront Park. People held signs and chanted things like, "We're the 99%!" Francesca and I wore fish masks to keep from losing each other in the crowd.
After an hour someone yelled, "Let's march on Government Center!" and 500 of us did. It felt good to be among this
youthful gathering intent on changing the world.

We'll see what happens next.


It was Free for Teachers Day at the local aquarium so I drove over to see the captive fish.
As I was leaving, I saw the most amazing things.

As you enter smiling employees invite you to pose with parrots. Your picture is taken and you are given a card that allows you to later download it for
a fee.

Half of the people began their visit smiling at a camera with a parrot on their arm.
I watched another employee walked up and remind the photographer that it was time to switch the parrots. As he walked off with the tired birds the photographer said to the next family waiting, "It's okay, just stand there with your arm out and we can photoshop the parrots in later. We do it all the time".
The family then posed for their picture with outstretched arms holding imaginary birds. It didn't seem strange to them but is sure did to me.
Things got stranger still
when I turned around and saw Salma Hayek standing in line with her daughter. The 45-year-old actress is attractive but no more so than the trophy wives I see at PTA meetings.
Star struck I tried not to stare. I learned she is town for the premiere of her new flick, "Puss'n Boots".
She is not actually in the movie but her voice is (is she Puss or Boots?).
I can't imagine going to a movie to hear anybody's voice, Even Salma's.

It took forever for her bodyguard to get the necessary tickets.

During this time I snuck the paparazzi photos required of all bloggers.
When she and her entourage finally entered they walked right past the parrot pictures even though by then they had real birds.
I thought of asking her to pause so her guard could to take a picture us.
Then, I had a better idea, "Why bother? I can photoshop her in later".

Sunday, October 9, 2011


The Occupy Wall Street protest reached Miami yesterday when a group of students gathered downtown. They could not have chosen worse weather as it rained all day. Still, Francesca and I found 300 committed students huddled under a college covered patio.

One after another took turns at the microphone to speak out against social injustice, war, poverty, and the vulgaries of Wall Street.

After the first speech my wife and I clapped and yelled approvingly.
We were the only ones.

Others raised their arms and fluttered their fingers as if they were tickling the air. The guy next to us explained that this was the new way to applaud, one that did not interfere with spoken words or hinder the passage of time.

I thought it was silly. Clapping is good, yelling is fun. Do these kids watch football games in silence? What's next, saying nothing and texting the guy next to you?
Yes, I know, young people already do this, anything but a real conversation.

Its a new game and I am learning its rules.

I was proud of these youngins', forty-five years my junior, coming out in bad weather to raise hell. It reminded me of the protests I attended in the 60's.

Their initial meeting was disorganized but that's how things usually start. Miami is
often the last to catch on to national trends.

At the same time hundreds of young Atlantans were actually occupying more than a patio. "Occupy Atlanta" took over a part of Woodruff Park and is still there. They formed a "General Assembly" which created a manifesto stating,

We hold this truth to be self-evident that the 99% deserve equal rights, equal protections, equal access and equal opportunity as the 1% who benefit disproportionately from the current system. We therefore freely assemble to assert our rights and demands: 1. We demand greater democratic control in all spheres of life, from the home to the government, from the economy to the workplace. It is a moral, logical and political imperative that people should be in control of their own lives to the greatest extent possible. 2. We deserve an economic system that meets human needs, reduces economic inequality, shrinks the income gap, and doesn't reward decisions that have a negative impact on society. 3. We recognize that the market will not regulate itself. What is good for profit is not always good for people or the environment. 4. We assert the right of every human being to adequate shelter, food, clothing, hygiene and other basic necessities. 5. We assert the right of every individual to adequate protection from the economic uncertainties of old age, accident, unemployment and other hardship. 6. We denounce all predatory lending and fraudulent banking practices and demand accountability. 7. We recognize that no society should allocate more resources to warfare than to the public good. 8. We demand a more democratic, publicly representative and accountable media. 9. We insist that the internet is a basic human right and as such should remain absolutely free and neutral. 10. We assert our right to public spaces and our right to freely inhabit them because they are essential to democracy and our right to assemble. 11. We denounce a criminal justice and for-profit prison system that relies on mass incarceration, especially when it reinforces the marginalization and disenfranchisement of people.

(the blog continues below)

There is more information at . Information on the Miami movement is at .

I see images of the Wall Street occupiers chanting, "Were the 99" (percent) and their leaders shouting sentences that are then repeated loudly by the people surrounding him(or her).

Listening to NPR today I learned that this is the new "human microphone" technique.

The police have outlawed microphones and bullhorns at these rallies. To get past this the crowd repeats each phrase uttered by the speaker to amplify the sound and to make sure that the message is being heard by everyone.

The Occupy Movement THE OCCUPY MOVEMENT gives new hope GIVES NEW HOPE to the people TO THE PEOPLE who are not being heard.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


Spilling a grain of salt is no big deal. Drop one every 20 seconds and you'll soon be in the salt business.

That's how it was with termites eating our house. Bit by bit they were reducing our home to termite shit (called "dust" in the trade).

Seven years ago, little brown piles were sprouting up all over.

Francesca called the Terminix Fumigation Company who told us what we already knew, "You have a termite problem".

We gave them a thousand bucks. They put a tent over our house and filled it with poisonous gas. For $215 dollars a year, we bought an insurance policy that promised they would gas 'em again should they ever return.

It sounded simple, complete, like matters taken care of.

Five years ago it began raining "termite dust" on a bathroom window sill.

We called our friends at Terminix.

An inspector came by and confirmed that our home was on the menu again. A week later a termite terminator stopped by with a can of Raid. He located the tiny hole in the window trim from whence the brown little poops were being expelled. He gave it a spray and reassuringly told us, "He's dead".

He may have killed one of the ant-size creatures but it's sister and brothers were also sitting down for dinner. Each month we'd find another pile, complain, and another guy would come by in a week -or a month- and make his spray can hiss. We were soon saying, "You're trying to put out a fire with spit. You've got to tent our house again". The spray can man would smile and say, "That's an inspector's decision" then the promised inspector would never show up.

The runaround went on for two years.

Terminix never said,"We won't re-tent your house", they just never answered their phone. On rare occasions the messages we left were answered by their "national desk" in Ohio who said "They'd look into it".

We felt like we'd made a bad decision having given them, over the years, $1500 in bug insurance money. They must have taken us, like they probably do with thousands of others, for idiots, the fools born every minute.

I decided to try one more thing, something tat I rarely do, something that I hate to do.

I went lawyer ugly on them.

What the heck, I am a member of the Florida Bar. When I could finally get a warm body to answer my calls (after being put on call waiting for what seemed like forever) I tore into the lady answering the phone in Ohio. I told this sweet farmer's wife in my rare angry voice, "I'm a lawyer and I'm sick of being ripped off by your company! When I file my lawsuit it will cost Terminix a heck of a lot more than the cost of throwing a tent over my house!"

Sometimes it takes a village but this time it took just one crazy man. My amped up outburst did the trick. The company agreed to honor their contract but even then there were multiple delays, no-shows, and screw-ups.

Today, as the sun was setting, the Terminix truck finally came to our house. Of course, they were four-hours late.

A half-dozen smiling Dominicans stepped out. The actually whistled while they worked, Ox-like men hefted 100-pound tarps, like brick-carriers of old, up onto our roof. They clipped the striped sheets together to make our house look like a bad circus. After a hose filled our house with nasty gas, they headed home.

Tomorrow we will get our house back. We will also know that we'll never deal with the unscrupulous fools that call themselves Terminix again.

Better to buy a can of Raid.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


What is it about selling cars that brings out the sleaze in people?

Francesca needed wheels so we started searching the Internet for a good, used car. The ‘net sites divide sellers into two groups, “dealers” and “private owners”. We prefer the latter because the cars are cheaper and more important, you can explore the soul of the person who cared for the car.
Rotten souls were everywhere. Most of the “private owners” turned out to be dealers pretending to be private owners. You’d find out quickly by asking, “I’m calling about the car for sale?” and their responding with, “Which one?”.
To these charlatans, “low miles” means under 200,000. They are unable to come up with “vin numbers” that allow you to learn the car’s history on the Internet. The car wheels are painted with shiny black paint that is supposed to make them look new.
These jerks made us so angry.
The worst was a Broward County guy who was said he was selling a little Honda from his home. His residence turned out to be what looked like a crowded bookie joint located in a warehouse.
There were no cars for sale in sight. To see the car you came for you had to pay a $25 per person shopper's fee. We were told if we didn’t like the first car we could bid on one of thousands being sold at auctions all over the country. They would do out bidding for us for an additional $500 fee. You could see pictures of a zillion cars, impossible to touch, smell, or see if there were cigarette burns in the upholstery.
Young men wearing thick, gold jewelry were anxious to assist us. We suspected they were packing heat so we politely made our way to the door.
A miracle happened a few days later. I called “Eric” in Fort Lauderdale. When I asked the magic question, (“I’m calling about your car for sale”) he replied, “Yes, we still have it”.
It blew my mind.
After suffering so many used car salesmen I was almost speechless. I nearly said, “Fine, we’ll take it!”. Then, I realized we’d better visit his Toyota Prius first. When we got there we learned the car belonged to Eric's
89-year-old dad. He had barely driven it. We cut a deal and headed home,
We’ve never had a car with a TV in the instrument panel before. This one told us we were getting 52 m.p.g. as we headed south.
That was great but saying "so long" to the used car scene was even better. We have one for sale in our driveway now (a '99 Subaru!). Feel free to pay it a visit. We'll even waive the usual $25 fee.

West Texas Alien Landing along with a few other summer shots...