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Tuesday, October 30, 2012


Doesn't it feel like someone hijacked Halloween?   Years ago it was a simple holiday where kids like me would go out into the night to beg for candy.  Anyone accompanied by a parent was a wus.  Our bags, stuffed with candy by the end of the night (well, 8 pm), were a dentist's dream.
Things changed.  Maybe it was the bogus poison candy stories from the 70's or ramping up the gore in horror movies.   On October 31st, you couldn't trust strangers anymore.  Decades ago parents stopped letting their kids take candy from strangers.
Now it seems Halloween is more for grownups than kids.  It's a  mega-industry with people spending big bucks on parties and costumes. 
                             Last Friday you could have had a "wild evening" at Zoo Miami for $75. 

  I walked into a local pop-up Halloween store last week and saw six-foot zombie selling for $159.  Who'd buy such thing?  Perhaps a younger generation making up for lost time, the ones who were not allowed to trick or treat like we did years ago.  
  What do the Chinese factory workers who make them think of their distant customers...a month's wages for a full-size, plastic zombie?
I am inspired by people who are shun the Halloween industry, the ones making costumes and decorations from old stuff  and recycled materials.

These three were created by Bev Murphy and her posse at Fairchild Gardens.

  These creations, for instance, were made from the fronds that fall off our South Florida palm trees.   It's not too late to make some of your own.  We'll be doing just that in Mr. Terry's art class manana.
  Tomorrow night, Francesca and I will be doing what we always do, visiting the secret little Coconut Grove street that celebrates Halloween the old way, where kids still happily accept candy from strangers.  

Sunday, October 28, 2012


  The King Mango Strutters marched through Coconut Grove today to rally support for President Obama.  

The Mangoheads were joined by West Grove citizenry and campaign workers as they waltzed up Grand Avenue shouting "Four More Years!", "Do the Mangobama!" and "Save Big Bird".

 The 2012 parade Grand Marshall was Wonder Woman and the Token Celebrity, actor Hill Harper 
( CSI New York). 


About 100 people (including Aquaman and  the rare member of "The 1% for Obama") joined the procession to promote the President's re-election and the first day of early voting in Miami.  It ended a mile later at City Hall where hundreds were already standing in line to cast their ballots.
   As our parade eased to a stop a trio of West Grovers did a soulful rendition of "Ain't Gonna Let Nobody Steal My Vote".  I added a few words and Francesca beat a drum.
    Then two of us then joined the long line of voters and baked in a solar oven (high noon in Miami) for two hours.  Nearly delirious from the heat, we were finally were allowed to stumble into a small room crammed with voting booths and frustrated people. 

 The poll manager told me, "It's a little crazy.  There's never been a ballot this long".  The nine-pager took 15 minutes to fill out (and that was with speed-reading).  Many took longer.  What is it about Florida that makes it so hard to vote?
  We wondered why did Romney's name came before Obama's.  Was it Governor Scott's version of alphabetical order?  There were no chads to hang this time. Instead, we blackened in little ovals after, what seemed like, reading The U.S. Constitution ten times.   Hopefully, the big  machines that finally swallowed our ballots will remember us.
    As we were leaving a young oriental couple walked by.  The man asked in a British accent, "Why are those people waiting in line?"  I told them we were choosing our president.  The man said, "We are from China and we would never be allowed to do such a thing".  
    Hearing that made us feel better about the long wait.
Early voting will continue in Miami until November 3d.  After today, the lines will shorter and the weather, cooler.  

(Friends voted at City Hall on Sunday Oct. 28th.  The weather was cool and the line, five minutes long.  Vote Early)

Thursday, October 25, 2012


  There is one less adventuress in the world. Our neighbor, Gay Ingram, passed away this morning.     Last month she learned she had a rare form of cancer.  For seven weeks she fought it bravely.
  Francesca and I were lucky to live across the street from this remarkable woman and her musician husband, Bobby. 
  We spent many evenings drinking wine and sharing stories. When Gay told us one of hers we'd be thinking, "Whoa, this mild-mannered lady did THAT?"  So many adventures as a sailor, stunt woman, and world traveler, she could have been Amelia Earhart's sister.   I once wandered into a Tai Chi class and should not have been surprised to see my friend leading it.
  She was born in '42 with salt water in her veins.  She couldn't swim enough.  In in the early 60's our tall, leggy, friend found work training Flipper.  When the Seaquarium acquired a killer whale she figured out how to ride on its back.
A few years later she became a staunch advocate of these magnificent mammals and the need to set them free.  
 The Ingrams befriended the many artists who passed through Coconut Grove years ago.   Bobby had a nightly gig playing at Monty's back then.  You'd see Gay cheering him on in the audience and visitors like Neil Young quietly accompanying him on stage.  
   She told us about sailing to Mexico with Joni Mitchell and David Crosby, and booking Jimmy Buffet and Steve Martin for $25 a night in the Grove night club she managed. She and Bobby were very close to the reclusive singer, Fred Neil, who lived cati-corner to them.
  Every year Gay and Bobby would meet backstage with their old buddies, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, after their South Florida concerts.  These people were not stars to them, just friends.
  Quite distant from showbiz, Gay found the time to raise two fine children and mother many of their friends.  At their parties I'd see so many young folks look around. smile, and say,"I almost grew up here!".
  She had a big heart and it was always open to help others. When my first marriage was tanking Gay was there to say, "Our little cottage is vacant.  Why don't you come live with us until you figure things out?"  I did.
  Her quiet wisdom was balm to many. For the last twenty-five years she worked at the UM helping students make their way through marine science grad school.  After work of course, she'd step outside and swim laps off Bear Cut Beach.
  A few nights ago Graham Nash and David Crosby performed at the annual BMI Awards.  Before Nash sang "Our House", he dedicated it to Gay.  
  It got me thinking about how most of us aspire to live in the warm, loving home the song describes.   For 45 years, Gay and her husband did just that (with a little extra music and raucous laughter thrown in).  We should all be so lucky.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


  Last Saturday we went beach combing on Long Key.  Francesca, Pi and I searched the clear, shallow waters. 
 We walked along a beach strewn with mounds of seaweed, coral, and sponges.  These formerly living things had been coughed up on the beach to stink in the sun.  What I had hoped to find had eluded me for years, then there it was...
 a perfect mango sponge.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


Photo: Extremely special day, thank you for sharing!! And Congrats!
     On Sunday, our nephew, Francisco, was married to Deloria Many Grey Horses near Calgary.  She is a member of the Black Foot Nation and as part of the transition, her husband was inducted into the tribe and given a Native American name.  He is now (in English), "Point of the Rising Sun".

    I think you can see it, just to the left.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


Have you tried to get an Obama bumper sticker?  They're as rare as hen's teeth.
    I knew this when I walked into the President's Little Havana campaign office last week to turn in the money we'd made at our burning mango presidential fundraiser.   

I waved a wad of cash in the air and asked, "Can anyone sell me a bumper sticker for a thousand dollars?".  The office manager looked at me sheepishly and said, "Will a yard sign do?"

   Two friends ordered "OBAMA!" bumper stickers by mail but never received them.  When one of them asked, "Can you help?  My car feels naked",  I went into action.
I am painting Obama bumper stickers on paper. They can be attached inside or out with Scotch tape.  Mine went through yesterday's rain storm and it still looks pretty good.  

Cars need not be naked now.  You can get  stickers from me for free.

(Note:  The President is speaking at 3 pm manana, on the UM campus.  As of last night, there were still some free tickets available at the Bank Atlantic Center's box office).

Friday, October 5, 2012


  I could not have done it better.  Ellie Brecher's Miami Herald obituary for artist Leonard King, said it all.
Readers learned about the five decades he spent sailing, inventing, and making friends in Coconut Grove.  
  He made a lot of art and outstanding public events as well ( his blowgun competitions, brass ring toss, and the infamous toy robot races were the things of legend).  In the early 80's he waved from a convertible in the King Mango Strut alongside the parade's grand marshal, "Shep".  The stuffed collie was with him for decades. 
  When I met Lenny in the 70's he was living on a houseboat named "Ox".  He said it was the shortest name he could think of adding, "Easy to paint on the transom". 
  He had dreaded the years he had spent making art for department stores.  When he hit his 50's he began to make art for himself.   His buoyant optimism kept him working while waiting for the world to discover his amazing creations.   I remember the long plastic poles waving in the wind and later, the rotating fun house mirrors reflecting strips of colored paper.  
  Even in his 80's (he died just weeks short of his 85th birthday) Lennie was still working like an ox.  Three years ago he opened a gallery on Grand Avenue filled with his colorful, kinetic sculptures.  Like those toy robot clowns he raced, Leonard would bump against an obstacle, fight it a bit, then move off in a new direction.   
  If the "optic-kinetic reflections" of torn paper weren't selling, maybe weird mirrored distortions of a nude female  would.  When the gallery on Grand didn't work out, he moved it into cyber-space.  Like his sculptures, always moving.
    Lenny loved hanging out in Grove bars and he'd have loved attending yesterday's memorial service at Scotty's Landing.  A hundred and fifty of his friends gathered by the bay to drink beer in his memory.
One drove up in a blue van with a fluorescent red shark mounted on the roof.  Leonard would have loved it.
  When I saw him last a month ago, Lenny was drinking a beer at The Taurus.  He told me life was good and that he'd be joined any minute by his girlfriend, Mary.
    All Grove guys should be so lucky, spending their golden years surrounded by friends next to Biscayne Bay.   Last Friday they say he went to sleep for the last time.  Maybe, when he woke up Shep was there waiting for him with tail wagging.