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Sunday, March 30, 2014


      We reluctantly flew home from St. Croix to get back to our jobs and last night's Flick Reunion.Carol Foster's photo. The Coral Gables coffeehouse -which closed forty years ago- re-opened for a three-day stand this weekend.
   Neighbor Bobby Ingram led the cast of folk music legends that got their start in this room on Ponce (now, The Titanic Pub).  Any of them, who played for 15 minutes each, could have  carried the evening by themselves. They've been at this for half a century.      Homer
  It was a reunion of friends, too, as we saw many of ours in the audience and on stage. Homer Wills and I used to cut up together in high school and last night he was performing with his amazing harmonica. He flew in from California for the show.

The event was organized by comedian Gabe Kaplan ("Welcome Back Kotter").  He mc'd  the show and was as funny as ever. The last two are today.  If you miss them you may have to wait another fifty years.  
What: The Flick Coffeehouse 50th Birthday Celebration with Gabe Kaplan, Chuck Mitchell, Vince Martin, Bobby Ingram, Estrella Berosini and others, in a benefit for The Dolphin Project
When: (last day)  2 and 6:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Titanic Pub and Brewery, 5813 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Coral Gables
Tickets: $40, $25 at the bar
Information: www/



 getting back to  ST. CROIX
        For the next few days I'll be writing more about the amazing island we visited last week. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014


Seen in St. Croix....
 Peeking through at Pull Point

 Seaweed slowly sweeping 

 It is rare to find pieces of brain coral or sea fans on South Florida beaches.  In St. Croix, they're everywhere and when you dip your head in the water you see why.  The coral heads sit rock solid while the pliable fans move rhythmically, dancing with the waves.

A salt pond in dry season

 The island's biggest employer, a oil refinery, closed down a couple of years ago.
Brick sidewalk in Christiansted 

and finally, a sea grape leaf singing the colors of autumn.

Friday, March 28, 2014


    Last Friday Francesca and I climbed inside a huge metal tube -a rocket with wings really- and blasted off for the Virgin Islands.   We zipped through the sky staring at blue water, sugary sand and shadows.

Two hours later we rolled to a stop on the island of St. Croix.

    I didn't know quite where we were.  An airport map said we had landed on a piece of land sixty miles southeast of Puerto Rico.  The former Danish colony is the most southernmost place in the United States.
We were there to visit Peter, Martha, their dog, Calypso, and an amazing farmer's market.  It had real farmers and fishermen.                                            Admiring our squash

Chopping steaks

Three years ago our island hosts were Coconut Grove neighbors with a bad case of Island Fever. To seek a cure they purchased a Hanse 40, raised its sails, and let the wind carry them south.  

  Eventually they picked the place they liked best (St. Croix) and bought a house with this great view for shaking  sheets.
                  Martha and Buck Island, a national park two miles offshore

     Martha and Peter were kind enough to invite us to shake sheets with them.


We did that and more.

Thursday, March 20, 2014



  Last month my middle school students made African masks.  This is what they created with newspaper, cardboard, glue, and paint.

Coincidentally, I learned that the oldest known masks that just went on display at a museum in Israel, look a lot like ours.  They are 9000 years-old and are made of stone.


Monday, March 17, 2014


    "That's not how you play castanets!" the 90-year-old woman snapped at a dinner party last night.  She added, "I should know, in the 40's I was a Spanish dancer at the Latin Quarter".   Claire Holloway then proceeded to show us how to strap them tightly onto our thumbs.  Thanks to her we were able to drive everyone batty with our clacking.
  Here, I'm holding a 1943 photo. Claire smiles with a pet raccoon in front of Piper Cub she learned to fly in.

Thursday, March 13, 2014


     I stopped by to visit a country couple that lives in the Grove today.   They were busy plucking feathers off of a dead peacock, preparing it for dinner.  They'd found it next to SW 17th Avenue -barely alive- this morning.
   They assumed it had been hit by a car.  After it took its last breath the couple figured, "If we can't save it, we'll just have to eat it".   Neither had done this before but they knew they are considered a delicacy in some parts of the world.

    The showed me all of the fowl's parts which were carefully separated.  Being artists, I think they might use everything but its "caw".
   When I took my leave they were searching for a baking pan.


     I'm an art teacher.  I keep hundreds of objects in my room for students to draw, from Pee Wee Herman dolls to this purple pirate pistol.  
 The toy pistol had to come home after a parent complained.
Now, the Florida legislature wants me to bring a real gun to school.
  The NRA puppets that run our state's lawmaking body have a plan to allow people like me to pack heat.  It is opposed by everyone in education, the state's school boards, the teacher unions, PTAs, and the police officers who protect our schools.
    For starters, we are trained to be teachers, not security guards.   
    I have worked at schools where kids can -and will- steal anything.   I have had art fee money stolen from my desk two minutes after collecting it  (like magicians, they distracted me.  I learned this when I make a secret video do see how they did it).  Like magic, the teachers guns will disappear as well. 

   Stating the obvious, it is a horrible idea.  We need to reduce the number of weapons in our country and continue to keep them out of schools.
      Still, the gun nuts press on.  Let's hope sanity prevails and I do not have to see Mrs. Bloodworth with a Beretta hanging from her hip.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014



   The Secret Park is just three miles from Coconut Grove.  There are no signs directing you there.  You stumble upon it or are told by a friend.   It's about 20-acres of spacious wonder, open land surrounded by trees.
    In years past you had to walk, bike, or park blocks away.  You jumped a gate warily passing "no trespassing" signs.   You basked in this country setting while hoping no one threatened arrest.   

Two years ago a small miracle happened.  The gate was opened with signs adding, "Keeps Dogs Leashed" and "Closed At Sunset".   

    Now we were not only allowed but welcomed.  Friendly people brought friendly dogs. It became the greatest dog park ever.  It even has two ponds for dogs aquatic.


The only thing that could destroy this bucolic meadow was success,  becoming known to many. 

Most folks kept the secret.



Two months ago Francesca, Pi, and I saw changes beginning to happen.   On a Sunday evening there were not the usual dozen cars but five times that.   While most of the dogs and their owners were well-behaved, one canine was a bit aggressive. 
  I saw very few on leashes. We let Pi run free when she had two acres to herself.  this makes for a very happy dog!

  Last week someone put up a hand-lettered sign that said, "You can no longer bring dogs here. Take them to Chapman Field Dog Park (a small spot by the bay where a friend said he saw a dog-loving crocodile).   The sign was removed a few days later.

The Secret Park is very special.  I hope we have the good sense to keep this bucolic treasure.  If you've been there, you know it's too good to lose.
The solution could be as simple as enforcing a few necessary rules,
"Twenty cars max", "Keep your dog under control", and "Leave by sunset".  
That could work.  We could keep the Secret Park for years to come.



Saturday, March 8, 2014


     Artists want to show their work.  Last Sunday several hundred people stopped by my booth at the art show. 
This week the work of former Grove artist, Ward Shelley, was seen by millions all over the world.  He hit the publicity jackpot when the Associated Press did a story on his latest performance and sent it out to the entire planet.  The piece begins like this,


Ever feel like you're on a big hamster wheel and you can't get off?
Ward Shelley and Alex Schweder know that feeling all too well. The two performance artists are spending 10 days living, eating and sleeping on a giant hamster wheel to make a larger point: We all have to work together to get through the daily grind.

   That's pretty much it.  Alex lives on the inside and Ward, on the outside.  Yesterday the CBS Morning News showed up to film them (and they were in the Miami Herald as well).

   Today I called him and asked, "Is it lonely at the top?".   He said it was, even though there were 150
onlookers in the gallery below. Ward Shelley's photo. Every ten minutes they walk a bit, in opposite directions, to make the wheel turn.  "I think that's what they came here to see", added Ward.  
   Alex and him have done these things before.  They two have lived on a seesaw, inside an "ant farm" (a house 3-feet wide), and in small tunnels.    This is the first time the world took notice.


Last summer we visited our friend in New York.  He didn't say anything about his plans to take up the hamster life. 

He took us to Grand Central Station's 100th birthday.


     Ward has spent most of his life in Miami and, for many years, was my South Grove neighbor.   We wish him and Alex the very best when they descend from orbit and encounter their new-found fame.