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Sunday, February 26, 2012


Maybe you shouldn't come on the next
Critical Mass bike ride. So many enjoy this popular monthly event the bureaucrats may try to shut it down.
Over 1000 bike lovers now participate the wild ride that swoops and zooms all over Miami. They come in all shapes, sizes, on all kinds of bikes.
Very few are lycra-clad racers.
A remarkable number blast their own sound systems. We heard hip-hop, reggae, salsa, and son as we rolled on the evening's journey.
It begins, as always, at Government Center. The number of riders gathering there on the last Friday of the month have almost reached a "critical mass" (sometimes defined as "the minimal amount of fissionable material
that can sustain a nuclear reaction"). None of us wants this great event to explode, implode, or get regulated to death because it is too popular.
Friday night's affair was just right.
At 7 pm one of the organizers stood on top of a light post and asked us to ride safe. He reminded us of Aaron Cohen, last
week's fatality. The father of two was cycling with a friend on the Rickenbacker Causeway when he was cut down by a hit-and-run driver. Many of us wore white in his memory.
At 7:16 someone blew a whistle and the rolling mass slowly headed west.
The lights of downtown Miami were spectacular atop the Flagler Street Bridge. I would have taken a picture except for the ride's main rule, "Don't stop".
On 17th Ave. we headed north and passed the glistening new baseball stadium. I tried to appreciate it's amazingness despite it making our city so broke.
Turning east on 36th took us through Wynwood, the Design District, and Little Haiti. Ten miles into our trip it was time to head south down Biscayne Blvd. In the process we saw a slices of Miami you could only see on a CM ride.
I imagined it might be similar if we were riding on a magic bus a half-mile long. Our ride would have no roof, no walls and travel at just 12 m.p.h. We'd be enjoying the sights and sounds of our city plus the new friends around us. To keep our bus' momentum we would blow
through every stop sign and red light in sight (with friends temporarily blocking the traffic...a little like a presidential motorcade).
That's how it was, a wild, rolling party. It continued past the end when we gathered at The Filling Station to drink beer.
Riding in big groups like this feels too fun to be legal. Florida law actually allows bicycle groups to take up a full lane of traffic. "Share the road" and "Be considerate" are other important rules.
In a little over an hour we had plowed through pieces of Cuba, Nicaragua, Haiti, the Dominican Republic and a few other countries.

I had no idea so many barbershops were open for business in Friday night.
One customer ran out wearing his haircut gown to cheer us on. The Full Gospel Church was having a service right next to the Temptation Bar. Lit up past the glass you could see it all.
Only a handful of drivers cursed us, upset by blocked traffic, their lives put on hold for five minutes. When one man yelled, "Get the f--- out of the road!" hundreds laughed back.
99% of the people I saw cheered us on.
As we finally glided to a stop by the big blue bank my first-time friends smiled in disbelief. Who knew a bike could be this much fun?


It's a lot harder to eat at Bernice's since
they put a 6-foot fence around it. It'll be even harder tomorrow when they bulldoze the tiny West Grove cafe.
The City of Coral Gables bought the 20,000
sq. ft. property to build a warehouse to maintain its "trolleys" (actually motorhomes with a lot of seats and windows). The City of Miami wants it to also be a "trolley station" (actually a bus stop).
Either one would be a good thing for Coconut Grove which has not had a new commercial building erected in years.
If nothing else, it would bring some jobs to a neighborhood with high unemployment. Bernice's usually had just one employee and you can probably guess her name.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Fifty years have passed since astronaut John Glenn first circled the earth.
It's easy for me to remember as we share a name and he launched on my 15th birthday.
I even know the time (9:47) as it was almost my birth year (1947). When I got home from school my father told me he had seen the whole thing.
Captain Terry was flying south past Cape
Canaveral in an Eastern Airline 727. When his radio informed him of the impending launch, he asked for permission to stay in the area. He then banked right and flew in a circle around the rocket as it rose into space. The passengers must have been thrilled.

Friday, February 17, 2012


Suppose you plopped down a tent the size of a Walmart and invited the world's galleries to display their best contemporary art there?
You'd have Miami's latest Big Event, Art Wynwood.

It opened last night, for the first time, in Miami's Midtown art district.

When we walked in we encountered human giraffes, statuesque models dressed in recycled materials.
Who knew you could package yourself for a big night in bubble wrap?
We saw many of our friends from the Grove enjoying the new experience as well.

Check it out. Art Wynwood continues through February 20th at 3101 NE 1st Ave.

Thursday, February 16, 2012


I visited the Reno family on Tuesday. They live on a couple of wooded acres not far from my school.
Brother Mark is a frontiersman and when I gave him a big papaya he asked, "Do you eat pork?". When I said I did he pulled a package of wild boar out of the freezer. We had it for dinner last night and it was delicious.
We visited Sister Janet in the big house and I presented her with a valentine my students had made. She was nice enough to visit our school a couple of years ago. She seemed pleased.

Sunday, February 12, 2012


When we stumbled onto Butte's "Montana Folk Music Festival" last July, we became fans of roots music. The definition is hazy but it seems to be the music from the past on which most popular music is based. Some call it "world music".
Yesterday got a big helping of it at Miami's first "Grassroots Music & Dance Festival" on Virginia Key. Gospel, reggae, latin, bluegrass, and African groups played. We danced.

The night before Chaka Khan sang. We'd have gone just to the hear the always amazing Cajun group, Beausoliel.
Only 500 attended Saturday afternoon while there was room for 5000. It must have been the week's wind and rain. There were no lines for food, beer, or bathrooms. While I was there a guy chided us urinal users for "peeing too long". He must have been joking as he had to wait thirty seconds.

On Saturday afternoon the sun broke through grey clouds as a group of us put on a Love Parade. We strutted and smiled as fairies, love boats, pimps, love monkeys, and a
walking Shakespearean

In Miami it is sunny and dry so why not attend the festival today? It's just 30 bucks for twelve hours of music and fun. If enough of us go maybe they'll come back next year.

For more information go to