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Saturday, November 29, 2014


        Nothing says "Miami" like a fragrant, luscious mango. 

    Unfortunately, we never have any to share  during the holiday gift-giving season (forget the cardboard-tasting imports).  Fresh mangos are still  months away so why not give mangos-to-wear?

     The Mango Republic has many ultra cool, 100% cotton t-shirts featuring the Mango King.                Dylan & Natalia

     You can see our selection by visiting our online site,  
    They can be purchased online, or, by coming by The Mango Republic Store (our house) on Palmetto Avenue.

   Last year someone bought 36 of them, one for every lucky mango-loving person on her list!

    Mangos make everyone happy.  When people see you wearing one they smile.

            What could be better than that? 
                                   Adam of Santa Cruz



Thursday, November 27, 2014


      For fifty years the West Grove has been Coconut Grove's forgotten Bahamian village.
That's over. It ended at Kroma last Thursday night.

     "Kroma" is the new art gallery located at 3670 Grand Avenue, just west of the Ace Theater.
   Its grand opening represents the tipping point for a new West Grove. Standing there with dozens of gleeful art fans, I witnessed the future of Coconut Grove.
                                  Opening Night

    No longer are we a wealthy seaside village conjoined with a small, somewhat forsaken African-American community. That's changing  quickly.  We are becoming "One Grove".  Money, new construction and new people are pouring into what some call the "Village West". 

       I saw it all while standing in front of Kroma's large art space last Thursday evening. Just east of me loomed Gibson Plaza, the first new significant structure in the West Grove since 1975. It is near completion. It will have affordable housing (forty apartments) and an education center.  
    They're finishing up the "Cuisine Cafe" across the street.  It is specifically designed to provide job training for young people.
     Near Douglas on Grand Avenue I saw new people passing on foot, bicycles, and skateboards, folks who dared not to visit the West Grove a year ago.  I've seen nothing like this in my forty years here.

      For more than a century there have been two Coconut Groves, one black and the other white.  They have been slowly seeping into each other since the 70's in some residential areas. Business in the white part has prospered while many West Grove businesses failed or stagnated. Potential customers  have not felt safe there.
    Crime has long been a problem west of 32nd Avenue.  Now, with a West Grove police station, that unfortunate situation is improving. I've long said, "When the people who spend money feel safe shopping in the West Grove, the place will take off".

      It's taking off now.  I felt the plane accelerating on the runway last Thursday night and it was exciting to be on it. People of all shades were crowded happily in the new art space.
  Francesca with Homestead artist, Alan Laird No longer do you have to go to the Perez or Wynwood to have an outstanding art experience.  We've got it in the Grove on Grand Avenue.


     Why not join us at the gallery's next big gathering?  We won't miss it.  It's this Friday, November 28th. 

Kroma is hosting it's "Black Friday" event from 7 to 9 pm. 

  The Miami Herald's Carl Juste and Marie Vickles have curated the current photography exhibition that examines the lure of the urban landscape.  It is amazing and runs through January.

  In the back half of the mega-gallery are 12 mini-galleries featuring the works of individual artists.


  In one we discovered  South Florida's own R&B diva, Betty Wright.  While she just finished recording an album with Jimmy Fallon's house band, The Roots, she is a visual artist as well. Francesca has taught three of Betty's grandchildren at her North Miami school.
    The gallery is open from noon to 7, Tuesday through Saturday.         Center Grove's Edith Georgi
    We hope you can join us there tomorrow night to begin this coming week's Art Basil experience.

    The rebirth of the West Grove has started.  Miami's oldest African American community now faces the challenges of gentrification.  How do you keep the area's people and Bahamian charm in the west village?
     Jihad Rashid, president of the West Grove's Collaborative Development Corporation told me, "We're doing what we can to preserve a good part of Village West for our people.  Our group is  limiting the ill effects of gentrification by creating attainable housing and jobs." 
 The CDC is the prime mover behind Kroma.
     The Grove guy with the CDC's Jihad Rashid and Uta. 
Below, paper mache vessels buy Grove artist, Uta.


Looking at the happy faces enjoying last Thursday's art show, I'd say they're doing a good job.  West Grove leaders are working hard to create a new Village West that we all can be proud of.
                        See you at Kroma!

Reporting from West Grand,
The Grove Guy

PS:  Kroma will begin its Art Basel week with a party.  The public is invited. Come to the gallery on Tuesday, December 2, 7-10 pm.
   The gallery will also be open
at its usual hours, Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 7.


Sunday, November 23, 2014



Image result for image harry troeger cabin miami Today I am writing about two unique Miami houses that deserve to be enjoyed by future generations.Palmetto Bay's Harry Troeger built his simple cabin himself in 1949.  He lived there with no electricity, car, or running water.   He was happy enough with his movie theater doorman job, poetry books and Buddhist faith.    Fifty years later, after a neighborhood grew up around him, the county threatened to tear down his house deeming it "unsafe".   It didn't seem right for a person to live without electricity or a lawn mower.   Good people like Katie Sorensen and Thorn Grafton stepped in and were able to get Harry a reprieve.  He died there, at 92, in 2008.  A developer bought the property at a tax auction last July for $77,000 and announced plans to replace it with a MacMansion.     This made Harry's friends furious and they filed an appeal preserve it.  It was scheduled to be heard before the county's Historic Preservation Board on December 2. This had little effect on the laughing developer.Last Thursday he sent his demolition crew to Palmetto Bay.  Hours later Harry's historic hand-built house was reduced to rubble. .     

                              Rich man, poor man, both should be remembered.  That goes for their magnificent creations as well.

     December's hearing will now decide if the developer will be penalized for not following the preservation board's instructions.

     In a better world Harry's house would have been preserved. The county government and the City of Palmetto Bay would not have dropped the ball.  Future generations would be able to visit the Troeger Meditation Garden and marvel at how a simple man once lived. 
     A few miles north, the good people of Coconut Grove are fighting a similar battle. They hope to preserve this pristine residence built in the 1920's.  Set on two spacious lots, the original owners could have owned the chain of theaters that Harry worked for.

  Harry's house is headed for Mount Trashmore but you can help us keep this 90-year-old treasure, an example of what we love about Coconut Grove.  Do we need the two MacMansions slated to replace it?  This beauty is located in the South Grove,  at 3529 St. Gaudens Rd.


 Help preserve the historic 1920 home.
Help preserve what we love about Coconut Grove.

   Come to a hearing with the Historic Preservation Board at 3pm, December 2, at Miami City Hall.  We need people who care about their community.  You can work for a better future by preserving our past at that important gathering.

         For more information go to

Saturday, November 22, 2014


   We had a great time at the Miami Book Fair today. Filmmaker John Waters told us about his  hilarious cross country hitch-hike last year (promoting the resulting book, "Carsick"). 
   Answering questions he said he felt bad for Honey Boo Boo, "She's our generation's Shirley Temple".  
    He avoids reality shows,  "They're stupid and completely scripted. There's nothing real about them. 
The producers are making tons of money and the people who watch are wasting their time."

    He suggested that we watch TV less and hitchhike more, "It's green and great fun. You never know who is going to pick you up!".

    Dr. Cornel West was as serious as Waters was silly.  The provocative scholar used his latest book, "Black Prophetic Fire", to deliver a fiery sermon on the long history of racial injustice in our country. The 600 people in the room gave him a standing ovation.

    Tomorrow is the last day of our annual literary festival.  It closes with Monty Python's John Cleese on state.  He's on his "Come See Me Before I Die" book tour and we'll be there to see him.

Thursday, November 20, 2014


    Mark Wood Reno was The Adventurer of an adventurous family.
His parents, Jane and Henry Reno, came to Miami in the roaring twenties. They saw the awesome destruction of the great hurricanes of 1926, the 1928, and 1935 and still chose Florida. They both became reporters and raised four children out at the west end of North Kendall Drive when it was pine and palmetto and cow pasture
   No flowers. Instead, he would appreciate donations to the Florida Wildlife Corridor which is working to create a corridor of Florida working ranches and wilderness from the Okefenokee to the Everglades. That was the world Mark loved. Donations can also be made via check to: Florida Wildlife Corridor PO Box 1802 Tampa FL 33601. Or online at 

Monday, November 17, 2014


       Nevada may have its Burning Man but Miami isn't far behind. 

 In 2012 I lit up a Burning Mango,

and last fall, Dave Villano put a torch to his own "Burning Guy".  Of course, the women at the annual seaside retreat complained ("Why is it that a man gets all the attention?") so Dave began assembling sticks into a huge, handsome, female.

       Last Saturday night he presented "Burning Woman" at our annual primitive gathering in the woods of Key Biscayne.  It was another wonderful bohemian affair which featured thirty friends,

a pathway leading to the Atlantic ocean where,

four sea cows were lazily grazing in the grass off shore.

Hiking a half-mile can build up a big appetite so,we sat down for an exotic pot-luck dinner,

followed by Francesca leading a sing-a-long. 
Cole Porter's "Don't Fence Me" was a big hit as was Radiohead's "Creep".

Finally, Dave announced it was "torch time". After a rousing speech, the big girl was set on fire.

 All were amazed.

Sunday morning we enjoyed a fantastic acrobatic scooter show.  These two were able to scoot in circles clockwise and counter clockwise!

The other kids were impressed...but what was most impressive was Sunday's first performance, almost as good as Dave's,

                          "Burning Sun"

      I hope your Sunday morning was just as spectacular.   

     Getting primitive in the woods is great fun.  Grab some friends and try it next weekend.


Thursday, November 13, 2014


     What does Coconut Grove need more, another restaurant or an art/community center?   Our city fathers are voting "food!" as they prepare to give away another piece of Peacock Park. 
     Using the usual the lame excuse, "We lack the funds for park improvements", the City of Miami is planning to sign a lease with their buddies, the Grove Bay developers, a 25-year deal to put a restaurant in the Grove's central park.
     It would take over the east half of the Glass House, their plans rendered here,

      It is a pretty picture but what if we want something else ten years from now?  The developers will control it for the next quarter century.   
  What about a smaller cafe or a shorter lease?   
     Why not make the space a community/art  center?  The City's parks department does nearly nothing for the kids of Coconut Grove.  Wouldn't it be great to keep the entire the Glass House for youth programs, art classes, and samba lessons? 
There are two restaurants across the street.

     If you take notice of the bronze plaque on the north facing wall, you see that the building was dedicated to be community center in 1968. 
  Housing a future upscale restaurant is not mentioned.

     The big question is this 200-seat eatery best use for this public space?   The City of Miami Commission will make a decision at their November 20th meeting, a week from today.   
If you do not agree with their plans, voice your opposition now.

The City did the same thing a year ago.  It gave away the southwest corner of Peacock Park to the adjacent private school.  The school has surrounded their new soccer and basketball courts with a ten-foot fence. The gates are usually locked.  They were at 4:30 today.  The only kids inside using this facility were the private school students.


 Miami has so little park space now.  Why don't we acquire more of it rather that give what we have to private schools and businesses?

Tuesday, November 11, 2014


     Today the Miami Herald had a list of South Florida's Veterans Day events.  There weren't many; Coral Gables was going to have a ceremony honoring their three WW II vets and the Beach had a parade scheduled.
   I felt bad that my town, the City of Miami, wasn't on the list.  Today should be more than sun and fun.
Then I heard the rat-a-tat-tat of snare drums.

    I jumped on my bike and followed them north to Grand Avenue. The West Grove veterans association was having its own mini-parade. Smaller than a small town parade, it took five minutes to pass by.  
                 It consisted of a police honor guard,  


Two guys on horses,

sixteen West Grove vets, 

Six motorcyclists from Perrine,



The Richmond Heights Middle School Marching Band,

and three servicemen waving from an old fire truck.
    Its nice that some people cared enough "thanks" with their special smaller than a small town parade.
       Enjoy this beautiful South Florida day.