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Thursday, June 18, 2015


         Kids do crazy things. When I was in high school the ultimate insult was to drive past someone with your bare butt protruding from a car window. 

We called it "mooning" and  developer Michael Simkins is about to "moon" everyone in Miami.

The Miami Beach resident is asking the City of Miami's permission to build a 633-foot tower in downtown Miami. It will have two-acres of LED panels that will blast TV ads in every direction for 25 miles.  It will be ugly, horribly distasteful, the ultimate statement in greedy commercialism. 

   Simkins will be making tens of millions of dollars every year beaming ads from his perch in the sky.  He will be mooning Miami 24-hours a day.
   It's the craziest thing I ever heard of but it just may happen.  If it does we'll have to look at Simkin's daunting derrierre for decades.

    On June 25th and 28th,  the City of Miami commissioners will vote to allow it or not.  It could be a whole new take on the old song, 
"Moon Over Miami".
You can help stop this from happening.  Call or e-mail city and county commissioners now.  Don't let them tell you, "It's not in my district so it's not my problem". 

 If Simkin's tower is allowed, it will be everyone's problem.

For information on contacting City of Miami officials, scroll below and look at my June 7th entry,"Innovation Tower, Let's Stop it!".

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


   Three weeks ago I wrote about how most of the Grove's new houses look like doctor's offices.  Some of you commented on the white boxes while others sent me photos of
bad versions of "Miami Modern" invading your neighborhoods.

This cold-looking warehouse replaced three cottages -S. Rose
In the late 70's I lived in one of them.
The "warehouse", at the corner of Coacoochee and Chucunantah, just went on the market for $2.8 million.
It's best feature is the mango tree to the left.  It was the star of my 1978 film, "Mango Madness".

Some idiot built a McBox across the street from me.  This is what I see out my front window now
 - G.  Thorn

They torn down my mother's house on Aviation Avenue.  It was a wonderful place and now its going to be some big white thing - G. McDanial
The house on Aviation as depicted in this painting by Grove artist, Lynn Fecteau.


These houses remind me of military fortifications, a good place to park a Hummer  - H. Pancoast


We need more physicians working in Coconut Grove.  Let's pass a law saying that these "doctors' offices" can only be used to practice medicine-  A. Neale
 This house, just east of Burger King, has a novel carport, one with  no roof -  V. David


Saving the best for last, a huge, white box on Kumquat has a toilet that backs up to a street window.  No one has occupied the house so fortunately we've never seen this privy in action.

We've got such unique, beautiful houses in Coconut Grove. We need to beef up our historic preservation laws to protect them- C. Ferrer


 I couldn't agree more. 

     Things change but we've got to hold on to our past too.  I can't imagine our colorful village morphing into what looks like a kingdom of cardiologists.


Tuesday, June 16, 2015


      Know any good ones?  We're looking for a few to include in our 2015 Great Grove Tree Tour. In a few months we are going to ride bikes to see the trees that made the Grove 

    Your nominations could be large, small, or in between. "Distinctive" is the quality we're looking for.  Maybe yours has a story, like the one your great grandfather lashed himself to to ride out the Great Storm of '26.  

      Each tree must be  accessible to the public and located in Miami's garden, Coconut Grove. Flowering trees are okay but we prefer the ones that enchant year round.

     Things will be looking up on our tree tours this fall, especially with your help.
We'll be having two, one for the south Grove and another for the north.  If you're aware of a special tree let us know about it. 

 "Tree Tour Central" at .

Bougainvillea vines taking over the canopy of an oak in the south Grove.

Sunday, June 14, 2015


   After twenty years of promises, activists created a
new park yesterday. Dan Paul Park now sits proudly on Biscayne Bay, just east of the American Airlines Arena.  More than two hundred people showed up for the event including three  commissioners. All expressed their support to do more than dedicate this forgotten land to the departed park advocate. They said, "Let's make Dan Paul Park permanent!"
    We applauded and when we were there yesterday, it really seemed more like a park than a parking lot.

  Dozens of us marveled at the light sparkling on Biscayne Bay.  Many had
come on bicycles,


kids played,

and one young woman led a yoga class.

If you went today, it might be look like it has for twenty years, a locked up parking lot. But eighteen hours ago it was a vision of what it should be.
   We had a great time. It was an exciting park on the water, the one we were promised two decades ago.

        After county commissioner Xavier Suarez expressed his support for Dan Paul Park, he reminded us that it was next to our fantastic new art museum.  "Today is Second Saturday and it is free to everyone!"  .

We took his advice and enjoyed the luscious walk north to "PAMM".  

We had lunch on the bay and enjoyed a brief tour of the current exhibit.

It's always a thrill to be there.
       I got a kick out of seeing this island version of a Mercury space capsule.  Inside was a lawn chair for the astronaut and a styrofoam cooler for beer.

It was a busy day but it didn't stop there.  A few hours later Wynwood was having its Second Saturday Artwalk celebration. Yeah, it was an exciting street party for thousands but for if you wanted to see great art, the Perez Museum was the place to be.  

It's easy to find, just north of Dan Paul Park.



My wife, Francesca, had the final word in Sunday's Miami Herald article on our "takeover",


Friday, June 12, 2015


      Want more park space in Miami?  Help us turn a bayside, 3-acre parking lot into a park, the one we were promised 20 years ago. Gather with us at "Parcel B"  the vacant land between the Arena and Biscayne Bay today at 11 a.m.  Sadly, it is now a paved lot and county may put it a museum there if we don't act.

       When the public voted to allow Miami Heat built their arena on this public land, we told Parcel B area would become a  park. The county and our city governements never followed through. 
       Parcel B is now a paved parking lot, just east of the arena. This is what the view should be.
  After waiting two decades the people will dedicate this land to departed activist, Dan Paul. There is also a bike ride rally leaving for the gathering from the Viscaya Metrorail Station at 10.
      This morning at 11:30 a.m., citizens, tired of being screwed over by government officials, will turn "Parcel B" into Dan Paul Park.  It will be an outstanding Miami moment. 
      Bring your dog, frisbee, a picnic lunch, and help us give the people what they were promised.
     We hope to see you there.

Sunday, June 7, 2015


     Miami is in trouble. Developer Michael Simkins may build a two-acre television in the sky, one we will be forced to look at for the rest of our lives.  He calls it "Innovation Tower" but the only thing innovative about it is how it rises to an extreme level of bad taste.

    Broadcasting commercials 24/7 from a 600-foot tower in downtown Miami, it will make tens of millions of dollars a year for Simkins.

     It will make Miami look stupid for the rest of the century.

It will make people like me want to puke.
It's that bad.

   We've heard awful proposals before... the giant Columbus and the football field-size flag but this one is much worse. The 60-storys tall LED billboard will look like this as you cruise up I-95,

 You'll be able to see the damn thing glowing 25 miles away.
Imagine that, then, 
do something to stop it. 

On June 25th and June 29th, there will be two meetings in which our city commissioners will decide if this travesty gets built or not. Call or e-mail the mayor and everyone sitting on the Miami city commission.

Commissioner Tomas P. Regalado
Mayor Tomas P. Regalado
(305) 250-5300 VOICE
(305) 858-5332 TTY
(305) 854-4001 FAX

Office of the Mayor

Commissioner Wifredo Gort
Commissioner Wifredo (Willy) Gort
District 1
(305) 250-5430  VOICE
(305) 250-5456 FAX
Office of Commissioner Wifredo (Willy) Gort
Commissioner Marc Sarnoff
Commissioner Marc Sarnoff
District 2
(305) 250-5333  VOICE
(305) 858-5329 TTY
(305) 579-3334 FAX
Office of Commissioner Marc Sarnoff
Commissioner Frank  Carollo

 District 3
(305) 250-5380 VOICE
(305) 858-5336 TTY
(305) 250-5836 FAX
Office of Commissioner Frank Carollo
Commissioner Francis Suarez

 District 4
(305) 250-5420 VOICE
(305) 858-5305 TTY
(305) 856-5230 FAX
Office of Commissioner Francis Suarez
Commissioner Hardemon
Commissioner Keon Hardemon
(Vice Chairman)
District 5
(305) 250-5390 VOICE
(305) 250-5399 FAX
Office of Commissioner Keon Hardemon
Also, you should consider sending an e-mail to Mr. Clarence Woods ( ).
It is hard to believe but the developer is of the opinion that this only Mr. Woods' signature is needed to build his tower.  Woods works for one of the city's development agencies.

    Tell them, "Please stop Innovation Tower".
We elected them and they should listen.
Hopefully they will have the courage to say "No" to Simkins' proposal.  It is one of the worst
ideas ever foisted on the City of Miami.

                                 Renderings graciously provided by Grove artist, Terry Ferrer.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


        Dave Stewart left this world on Monday morning holding tight to his sister's hand.  She was one of the few friends he had.  Before he lost consciousness in a Ocala hospice, Francesca and I got to tell him goodbye. Both of these things were small miracles as Dave, being a lifelong loner, could have easily slipped away far from anyone.
     Dave was only comfortable when he kept some distance. We never knew exactly why. He loved being independent, free of any encumbrances. A rolled-up piece of foam rubber in his rusting vehicle meant he could live anywhere. In a pinch he could bed down for the night in the back of his truck. 

    When he began his descent last week he was typically staying in a friend's vacant house in North Florida. After a massive stroke, it took three days for someone to discover his still-breathing body.                                    
                                                            Dave with his niece, 1980

      The hobo handyman lived life on terms which would have sent most of us to the nut house. He could fix or paint anything. He charged half of what everyone else did but only showed up when he felt like it. Many found this to be a less-than-endearing quality.  We called it "being Dave".
      He spoke his mind to the point of often getting in arguments. If you asked him to paint your house "Key West Pink" he might have said, "I won't paint your house that color. It's ugly and you'd soon regret it". Things like that did not make his life easy.
      In the thirty years I knew him he never lived anywhere for long. Always on the cheap, he'd house-sit,  camp, or rent small rooms. For a year he lived in a house for sale on the edge of the Everglades where, he said, the mosquitoes were too thick for any sane person to live.

     He spent much of his life living and working in Coconut Grove. With his weird ways he fit right in.  He once lived near Burger King in a cottage that had no electricity. He was fine with that. Selling organic socks at the Grand Avenue farmers market helped pay the next-to-nothing rent.
    Dave chose to be dirt-poor but was smart, talented, and trustworthy. After our house fixer finished a day's work we'd invite him to dinner and we'd laugh for an hour.  He house-sat for us as well.
    We loved his stories and great sense of humor.  He could do a decent Katherine Hepburn impersonation. When we called him, often "Katherine" would answer.  Did your handyman ever do that?

      His occasional health problems would often become serious. He refused to go to doctors and dentists because "they cost too much" and the lines for the free ones were too long.  He usually looked healthy, a handsome guy with strong mid-west features and a thick, cowboy mustache that hid his extensive dental problems.

     He hid why he developed his unusual lifestyle as well. We know he grew up in Ohio, attended college, and came south in his mid-twenties.  I never knew him to be on speaking terms with his mother.  He said, "She was never nice to me".  When I asked about his dad he would change the subject. I assumed there was some unsavory story reflected in his sad blue eyes.
      Dave Stewart loved his friends, his sister and his nieces but had no desire for romantic relationships.  If he had ever had one, he never mentioned it.  He was happy enough being Dave, a free-spirited Coconut Grove character. 
    Some got to know him fourteen years ago when he worked at Shell Lumber and Hardware. His boss told me he was a good worker but eventually found the eight-to-five life too restrictive.
      Four years ago "being Dave" got more difficult.  "Rents are getting crazy here," he said,  "Even rooming houses are charging over than $100 a week".  He was about to go north when he woke up one morning feeling dizzy.  He drove himself to Jackson hospital and headed for the emergency room. When they released him two months later -after extensive by-pass surgery- he marveled that his dusty truck was still where he'd left it and that the engine started.
     He nearly died then but he seemed okay with that. The experience got him off cigarettes and into alternative medicine. It worked for a while but Miami got too expensive. A friend of a friend offered him a place to stay by a lake in North Florida.  In exchange for chores, he could live in one of her vacation houses.
      When he moved north three years ago he stopped by to ask if we could store his furniture. We were happy to help.  He had only a stool and it sits in our attic.

     He took his bed roll with him.

    Dave returned to Miami occasionally to visit his doctor. He was told he needed more bypass surgery, and that he could get it for free, but Dave would have none of it.  He told us last year, "My bag is packed and I'm ready to go". We asked him not to leave too soon.

      An e-mail last Saturday told me he had left us.  A massive stroke had left him brain dead and he would soon be taken off life-support. The news left me limp. Why had I put off calling him these last few months? There were things I needed to tell say.
     I called his cell phone number for no rational reason.  Maybe, in some unexplainable way, he would know I was trying to reach him. I left a message saying the things I had wanted to say before he died.  It was the best I could do. I took great comfort in hearing Dave's deep voice once more. For the briefest of moments it seemed like he was still with us.

      When I heard his relatives could not be found I located his sister's phone number. I called her Sunday night expecting to have to tell her that her brother was dead or close to it.  When Susan Berge answered I learned she had gotten the news that morning and flown south from Minnesota to be with her brother that afternoon.  Dave's nieces bought the plane ticket she could not afford.

    She told me, "I'm so glad I'm here. He's in bad shape but occasionally conscious. He can hear me. He talks by squeezing my hand. Would you like to talk to him too?"
    Sister Sue put her phone by her brother's ear.  Francesca and I took turns telling him how much we loved him and appreciated his long friendship. We also put in a good word for our dog.  Pi loved Dave as well. Afterwards Sue told us he seemed to perk up a bit from our call.
   We were hoping we might go north to visit him when I called the next day, Monday.  Dave's sister told us he had died.  She went on to say her brother had gotten a few calls from friends and after the last one, around eleven Sunday night, he lost consciousness for good.
    "I held his hand all night", she told me, "Around five I woke up and his hand was real cold. He was barely breathing and each breath seemed like the last. At six a.m. he left us."
     Hopefully he took his bed roll with him.  Dave never needed much to get by.