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Sunday, April 28, 2013


   Francesca and I went on two new Miami adventures this weekend.  Last night we joined 200 happy, costumed people to see the Front Yard Theater Collective's production of "Alice in Wynwoodland".  
 This play was a little different as it was set in the Wynwood art district and the audience travelled from scene-to-scene on bicycles. 
  It began as we gathered next to the soon-to-be-demolished Miami Herald building.

  Suddenly The White Rabbit appeared shouting, "I'm late, I'm late!". 

When she jumped on her bike we followed.  Soon the silly wabbit  had us riding in a circle.  We figured we were figuratively going down The Rabbit Hole.  Ol' Floppy Ears then led us to a bay side park to see the first act of the play.
    Tweedledum and Tweedledee were now Wynwood artists.  They were not able to help Alice find the elusive rabbit.  The Cheshire Cat befuddled her as well.  


He had this amazing grin painted on his face. 

 When the first act ended we pedaled up streets, down alleyways, and pushed our way through an opening in a fence.  This was an incredible eight mile ride took us to acts 2, 3, and things we had never seen in Miami before.
   Who knew the "Something About Mary" house had been replaced by an ugly condo?  That's so Miami...  and so was the next day's adventure...


     Today we crossed Biscayne Bay for the first "Poetry Is Dead Parade" on South Beach.   
      It was created by our friends that produced this month's O, Miami Poetry Festival.  How lucky we were to see so many dead poets in one place! They included Sylvia Plath, Jose Marti (actually two of them!) and Gil Scott Heron.  

We marched south in Lummus park fervently channeling the spirits of all expired rhymesters.  It did not take long for us to make this under-appreciated art form rise from the grave.   Spirits were high as this youthful group strutted its stuff. 

  King Mango even joined in even though he is neither a poet or dead.  


    The Grand Marshall was the sparkling Cuci Amador who sings for the popular band, Afrobeta.   She was so enamored by the king's royal presence she burst into song.  Of course it was one of her bouncy creations, "The Mango Song".
                                                                                                    Cuci leads with a song

   If it sounds like fun, it was.  We look forward to both of these  processions next year!

Monday, April 22, 2013


    Richie Havens passed away today.  The Brooklyn native hung out in the Grove in the 1970's. 
   Our friend, Martha, told us about the time she was sitting in traffic in her green convertable.  Havens walked up and asked for directions to a music store (he needed an E-string).  She happily gave him a ride.  Neighbor Bobby went on a concert tour with him and said, "Richie was great, a fine old soul".
    In the mid-70's, we created little concerts by the bay on Sunday afternoons.  Fifty of us would gather on the lawn at Captain Dick's (now Scotty's Landing).  The musicians would play guitars and we'd sing along. 
    One day someone brought Richie Havens as her guest.  It didn't take long for us to ask him to sing.  He was happy to borrow a guitar, sit on a box, and play the songs he'd entertained millions with at Woodstock.  
        Richie charmed us with his raspy voice and toothless smile.   We felt so fortunate to be sharing that hour with that dear, magical man.  It was a magical moment in Coconut Grove.

Monday, April 15, 2013


      As soon as we stepped off the water taxi, I notice her climbing the bridge.  The tiny beggar covered in sack cloth was so bent over her cane was just a foot long.  Each step posed a challenge, like you or I advancing up a field of boulders. 
  One hand still managed to hold a little white cup, open to gifts from strangers.  I'd never seen begging like this. It was old world, world-class, the fakirs of days gone by.  
Set amongst the opulence of Venice, the city's beggars stood out and fit in at the same time. New places can be that way.

   Coming from Miami, I'm used to haggard bums at intersections.  Their signs remind us that they could use a beer and that we should have a nice day.  One rolls past me in his wheelchair every time I head home from work.  
    Once, after a late day,  I saw him pack up his chair and walk off.  For years we have eased past each other, me  waiting for the light he slowly rolls by.  We have seen the creases grow on each others faces (I think the sun makes his grow faster).
   I'm okay with these guys as long as they don't try to clean my windshield.  I am glad we have government agencies and charities to offer them  help. Sometimes  I think about parking my car so I can hear their stories.
     The beggars on the Mediterranean coast must have their stories too from the other end of the panhandling world.  These Venice people were different, suppliants to the extreme... quiet, prayerful and low. It seemed the closer they got to the ground the more successful they were.
    I explained this phenomena to my students last fall.

I told them, "I can stand here and hold out a cup, or,

I can get on my knees, or,

bow all the way down to the ground.  
 Do you feel the difference?",
 I asked.

Apparently one student did. He got up and put a pencil in my cup.

  Begging is not allowed in Italy's island cityThis woman  was arrested just after I took her picture. 

 The officer led her away and for a day -or maybe an hour- there was one less beggar on the streets of Venice.


Sunday, April 7, 2013


Okay.  Seeing the rear end of an armored rodent was a very small part of this spring's Florida Tour but it probably got your attention.   Moving on, 

Getting away from busy Miami is always a treat.
This time we headed to Florida's west coast to camp on a barrier island.  The cold weather was a blessing as the pristine beach was deserted.

  The millions of seashells coughed up by the Gulf always amaze.  So do the occasional

treasures like this fossilized bone fragment.

 I had time to practice on our host's Cheez-it guitar.  Unfortunately there were no crackers inside.
 Next we headed north to our state's capitol.  There we found
our son, Ian, studiously preparing for his future.

  The next morning we headed to one of our favorite spots, Manatee Springs.  There were nearly two dozen of the corpulent beauties lounging in the clear, cool water.     Rapture of the deep gets me every time. I donned my trunks and joined them. 

 The 72 degree water spills over into the adjoining swamp and the Suwanee River a quarter mile away.

Next, we saw the blue trees outside the Harn Museum in Gainesville...and these fantastic Japanese eroded rocks inside.  


 Francesca and I had our first armadillo experience on Paines Prairie.  This little guy was sliding his little snout through the leaves oblivious to us and our cameras.
   Overhead Spanish Moss danced in the wind.

 I've been marveling at the Wonders of Florida for six decades.   Here's a picture of my big brother, Clay, wrangling a snake at Silver Springs in 1950.   That's our mother looking on.


 Back then it was our state's Disney World, the most popular of attractions.
This year, when the park was about to expire and the developers ready to jump in, our Sunshine State came to the rescue. 
   Silver Springs will now be a permanent part of our park system! 
 We'll save that for next year's tour.


  Last Thursday the two  gnarly gnomes that live under our front steps staged "Ukulele Night" at Books & Books. 
  34 people showed up to learn, play, and sing-a-long. 

We marveled at the talents of our leaders,

 Bobby Ingram


and Sam Sims.  

After renditions of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow", "This Land is Your Land" and other favorites, I led the group in singing one that I wrote, "Green Parrot Blues".
You'd think I'd know the words by now but I proved otherwise.