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Friday, December 28, 2012


It's been a while since I've done my end-of-the-year Coconut Grove review.  Now, in words and pictures, I am catching up for the last couple of years.  Yesterday I published the first half (the previous entry) and the rest is just below. Hmm, let's start today's 2012 In Review rant with ugly, the useless edifice where Jim Morrison was once arrested for exposing himself...
2012's Most Deserving of Destruction-  The Grove's former convention center has been cluttering our waterfront for years.  Tear it down, now!

 Saddest Way to End a Story-  The Bookstore In The Grove is the only bookstore in the City of Miami.  Last month the landlord told the owners he would not be renewing their lease.
Yesterday co-owner Felice told me they have not been able to find a new home.  When they move out in two weeks once again Miami will not have a book store. Update:  Felice & Co. were able to lease another location on the east end of Mayfair.  They are open for business again.

The 2012 Hangin' In There Award goes to The Last Carrot, our village's oldest eatery.  Mike the healthy hippie started it forty years ago.  Now his daughter (Erin, also a healthy hippie) runs the joint.  She's great and so is her Grand Avenue restaurant.   Stop in for a hit of wheat grass, sprout sandwich, and a vibe that says, "This is what the Grove used to be".

   And now let me present the Coconut Grove building that makes us smile, even as creeps cover it with graffiti.  It is the Grove's most ancient barber shop sitting lonely and abandoned on the west end of Grand Avenue. The Grove Guy now proclaims it to be 2012's Building Most Deserving of Historical Preservation....

 2012's It's About Time Award goes to the Coconut Grove Bike Path.  For ten years its potholes, broken lights and overgrown shrubbery led to accidents and muggings. After promising for ten years the county finally fixed it up.
  Its one of the nicest things in Coconut Grove.

 The 2012 Greenest Building Award goes to 
the Zen Center on Main Highway.

The Best Restaurant Accessory Award goes to the scooter parked at Greenstreet's.   The place was a dump until Sylvano started parking his red Vespa out front.
He said that God told him, "Park it there and they will come".
They did. 
 Now he is the proud owner of the Grove's most popular restaurant (and Lulu's across the street!). 

 2012's Sometimes the Good Guys Win Award goes to the Coconut Grove Sailing Club.  For years the City of Miami threatened to end their lease.   Why they wanted to get rid of the club, despite its long, successful history -and being the only public "yacht club"- made no sense.  Sadly,  that's what we often expect from City Hall.
Happily, the club now has a new, long lease and a bright future.
Anyone can join.  Stop by and check it out.

City Hall's Saddest JokeFour years ago the City of Miami took the King Mango Strut Parade permit away from its originators .  The annual procession hasn't been the same since.

 2012's Coolest Cars-   Miami (and the Grove)
got a mini-fleet of mini-rental cars this year, "Car2Go".  Flash you credit card at one of these Smart Cars and you've got yourself some mini-wheels.
 Nicest Walk-  Along the bay from Peacock Park to Monty's.  Yes, it does take weird detours and you might have to dodge a 40-ton boat lift but, hey, between the yachts you can see
the sea that connects us all...and, you can pass by the,

 Best Place to Take Out of Towners- Scotty's Landing on beautiful Biscayne Bay.  Unfortunately, the restaurant's owner is getting the same treatment that the sailing club got.  The City is doing its best to end Scotty's lease so it can give the property to someone else.  How sad it would be to lose the Grove's Groveiest restaurant.
Let's Save Scotty's! 

The Coming Year's Most Anticipated Event-  The three seconds when  dynamite reduces the former the Grand Bay Hotel to rubble.
Where we see concrete we'll soon see sky again.
Make haste to enjoy it the view.  The space will soon be filled with two new twisting condos.

 2012's Best Kept Secret-  The Barnacle State Park.  Seven beautiful acres and one historic house on Biscayne Bay.  It's on Main Highway, across  from the red Vespa.

  That's my take on 2012 (again, the first half is just below).  Let's hope there's more good news than bad in the coming year. 
The Grove Guy, Glenn

Thursday, December 27, 2012


    It's been a while since I've done my end-of-the-year Coconut Grove review.  Now, in words and pictures, I'll catch up for the last couple of years.
  For starters, isn't it amazing that we now have to wear sunglasses at night?

 2012's Worst Choice of Streetlights-   Earlier this month the City of Miami ripped out the downtown Grove's signature gas streetlights and replaced them with eye-searing super-bright monsters.  
   There was no public discussion. It just happened.

Best New City Service -  The city's new big blue bin recycling program. We can now recycle everything.

 Best Public Outhouses- Several years ago the City of Miami erected these colorful bathrooms on downtown sidewalks.  Again, ther was no public discussion.  These too "popped up".  The City called them "information booths". 
The three useless structures cost $62,000 each and have been empty 99% of the time.  There are often puddles of urine behind this one.

2012's Best Way to Save Lives- Installing crosswalks, with signs, on Main Highway.  

 Best Example of Government Ineptitude-  The City, County, and State's failure to lead us out of the Coconut Grove Playhouse mess.  Closed for years, it was once our village's shining star.
  Fix it up, tear it down, who cares anymore?

 Good examples of outstanding Grove architecture that endure,

Plymouth Congregational Church

 Some of our fancier residences
 and the Grove-y simple cottages
 2012's Best Way to Cause an Accident-  Park your car in the middle of Main Highway.  Just before I took this, there were two police cruisers parked side-by-side.
Best Way to Screw Up  a Bayside Park-  Erect a wall of trees and bushes so you can't see Biscayne Bay.   
   They did to Peacock Park thirty years ago.  City officials admit it was a terrible mistake and and say there is nothing they can do about it.  
Miami is the only place I know,with parks on the water, that has managed to get this wrong.

 Somehow, next to Peacock Park, the Coconut Grove Sailing Club got it right. It has managed to balance their mangrove wall with a water view.

 Best Place to Walk Your Kids on a Leash-
Peacock Park.  If they should break free the Wall of Trees may keep them from the water's edge.

 Best Grove Gathering-  The Drum Circle that meets regularly.  Here they are beating the skins on Christmas Day.

Worst Use of a Public Building-  The Glass House was built 30 years ago to be a community center in Peacock Park.  We used to enjoy art and recreational programs.  Twenty years ago the City of Miami decided to convert it into offices for itself and a chamber of commerce.
Every year there are efforts to make the building, and the park, something we can all enjoy again.
All have failed.

 Stupidest Place to Put a Collection of Cheap Gym Equipment-  A few years ago the City was apparently given a truckload of metal that moves.
   In 2011 the City tried to put this junk in Merrie Christmas Park.  When irate neighbors roared in disapproval the City put it back in storage.

A year ago they snuck it into Ken Meyers Bayside Park.  There was no one around to fight it.  Most of the condo dwellers nearby were away for the season and sadly, Mr. Meyers is no longer with us.  A few years ago the former legislator died while reaching for a mango from his roof top.

I guess I should add that you can't see the bay from Ken's bayside park either...

Or, from Kennedy Park, on the bay, a half mile north. 
It is absolutely crazy to put a wall of anything between the public and the water in  bayside parks. 
 There are more 2012 superlatives. I will add the rest manana.
  The Grove Guy hopes there will be more "positives" in the coming year.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012


In 1960 I gave a friend this holiday hipster.  Ten Christmases later he gave him back.

 I have spent Decembers with Beatnik Santa ever since. 

 His faded sign reads, "Man, I dig this Xmas bit". 

Saturday, December 22, 2012


  My wife, Francesca, has a wonderful classroom holiday tradition.  Last Wednesday she read "The Gingerbread  Man"  to her 20 pre-K students.  On Thursday she baked gingerbread men with her kids. 
  As the cookies were cooling the class went to lunch.  When they returned from the cafeteria the little brown men were gone!
 It happens every year. 

Before they ran away

They search the room then figured they had probably slipped under the door.  The crack at the bottom is about as wide as a gingerbread man. The whole class then searched the school for the runaway cookies. 
   Stopping at several classrooms they ask the students, "Our gingerbread men ran away.  Have you seen them?"   They always get, "Sorry, we haven't been here" or "Yes.  They went that-away!", from students who participated in these desperate hunts when they were younger.
   The four-year-olds finally get to the front office where the scent of fresh ginger cookies hangs in the air. 
   The kids were happy to find their little men resting in a tray on a small table.  The students gobbled them up before they can run off again. 
   Wouldn't it be nice to end every desperate search with success and warm cookies?

Monday, December 17, 2012


    This morning I stood before 25 first-grade children.  I was there to teach them a few things about art.  For a moment I tried to imagine someone bursting through the door with guns a'blazin' to kill us all.
   I could not.  It didn't seem possible.
   Reflecting on last Friday's tragedy, it's almost as hard to imagine what a gun-happy country we've become.  Why have we chosen spineless leaders who have helped make this long series of shootings possible?
   Make some noise.  Sign the petitions.  Call your congressman for the first time.  
    Get as angry as you should be.  The smiling children I faced today -and every kid in this country- deserve better.

Sunday, December 9, 2012


  Four hundred of us did some Art Basel biking yesterday.  Critical Mass organized the excursion which took us past the dozens of outdoor murals displayed in Wynwood and Midtown.

 Francesca admiring the giant manatee that you see above.
 We  stopped at Art Miami so we could stare into the void and use their bathrooms.
 Every now and then we'd come across a painted piano and some would stop to play it.
 We saw our artist friend, Anouka, who had just finished this mural on NW 25 Street.
   Others are still painting on this, the last day of the annual mega-show. 
 Their work, like all of the street art, is on display 24/7.



     It hasn't happened in the longest time, a new church building is rising in Coconut Grove.  Plymouth Congregational Church is creating a chapel in the northwest corner of its property on Devon Road. It will be used for its smaller services and ceremonies.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012



 It's usually depressing to see the "grand opening" of another gun shop.  But this one in Wynwood is different.   

The guns they sell aren't going to hurt anyone. They're made of paper.  

  Asif's Guns opened last night on NW 25 Street.  Like the rest of Art Basel-Miami, it closes on Sunday. 
    I asked the owner/artist, Asif, if he sold paper ammumnition as well.   He said, "No" but added that he is creating a new, working weapon.  Powered by rubber bands, it will shoot confetti. 




  Wynwood Walls has a lot of new street art including these Shepard Fairey murals.  

Touring Kenny Sharf's Airstream

 This remarkable portrait was created by chipping away at a concrete wall.
 In the Art Miami mega-tent we saw a painting by North Grove artist, Norman Leathers.  
 No gallery would show his work so he wore this one on his back.  When I asked its price he replied, "If you have to ask, you probably can't afford it". 
 Norman was probably right.