stat counter

Monday, October 31, 2016


   Sometimes we get interrupted in the middle of a story. Last month I was in Louisiana writing about a cross-country trip when Hurricane Mathew threatened South Florida. I rushed home, put up the shutters, and resumed being a Grove guy. 
Now I'll finish.

     I left the Louisiana slave plantation I mentioned earlier and headed to New Orleans. I wanted to photograph its painted ladies and visit my nephew, Ben. 

  He lives in one of them.


                             Ben's Place

    Ben, a Ransom grad, teaches high school geometry. In his third year, he is committed to improving the lives of his low-income students.   He is also committed, like everyone else in the Big Easy, to Mardi Gras.
   Ben explained how the festival's roots go very deep.  During the big week, his kids march in parades almost every night.  One spent a year making this costume.
That's dedication.

      My nephew's house is decorated with parade trophies. There are the beads shading the windows.  Collected them during a parade, they can get piled so high around your neck they become heavy and make it difficult to see.  An even more desired reward are the crewe-painted coconut shells. At the top of the list is the sequined, decorated shoe. Ben got his for performing a ballet for members of a female group. 

    I love his funky neighborhood with its kind and colorful neighbors.  "Mr. Charles", an elderly man with few teeth, lives across the street. He and his dogs keep an eye on things. The Mississippi is a ten minutes walk away and Bourbon Street?  
My bike got me there in the same time.

     In Ben's 8th ward, all the basics are a block or two away. We had an excellent Haitian dinner at the St. Roch Market. We followed that up with  performance art on the next block.

    At the Art Garage a woman danced while suspended by a velvet rope.

   Next door was the Hi-Ho Lounge (a favorite of homegirl, Beyonce'), 
and next to that, punkers worshiped eardrum-splitting music at Siberia.

    In the morning I was photographing again.  As my Olympus captured a voodoo temple,

a man sitting nearby suggested that I look around the corner. When I did I encountered this 
street art by Banksy. 
      What a feeling, not knowing what's gonna pop up next in New Orleans.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

"HAND TO GOD" -Last Day to See a Wild Play-

       Years ago I was in a bad movie about a man whose hand was possessed by the Devil. Last night I saw "Hand to God", an exciting, over-the-top play about a teen whose had the same problem...with better costuming.
    The right hand of the play's main character, Jason, was covered by a sock puppet named "Tyrone"

     Those two get into much trouble as members of a Lutheran church's puppet theater.  Tyrone scorched our ears off with non-stop profanity as death, sex, and religions played into the mix.

     In this scene the play's characters are planning a puppet exorcism.

    "Hand To God" is directed by the theater's artistic director, Joe Adler. He will be Coconut Grove's hero when he leads the Grove's playhouse out of the wilderness. It's a challenging task that's gone on for years. 

      The hilarious play ends its successful run with performances at the GableStage at 2 and 7 p.m. today. Their intimate, 200-seat venue is located on the east end of the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables, 1200 Anastasia Avenue. For more information go to .

       Keep in mind the play is not for the faint-eared. It is packed with raunch, sex, and irreverence.  If that's sounds good, GO!
       It's the last production of the season.  GableStage begins its 2016-17 run next month. 

  We look forward to the time when Joe brings theatrical magic back to Coconut Grove.  

Saturday, October 29, 2016

PUMPKINS PUMMEL PARK- Another Park Torn Up in Coconut Grove

     Amusement parks are great fun, they bring out the kid in us. Unfortunately there is no room for them in Coconut Grove. This didn't stop the City of Miami from allowing one to plop down in Regatta Park last weekend. 
   When the the last "Pumpkin Patch" truck rolled out on Thursday it left our new bayside park damaged and strewn with garbage.


This "patch" should have never been allowed in Coconut Grove.

   The City almost figured this out a year ago when the beer-swilling "Grovetoberfest" invaded Peacock Park. The resulting damage was so great  our central park was shut down for three months so a new lawn could be installed.

     This month city park officials refused to allow the fenced-in, drink-'til-you- drop event to take place in the Grove. The promoters begrudgingly moved it to the marine stadium parking lot. They swear they'll be back, invading the Grove again next October.

    Last month it looked like we were getting a prison in the South Grove (despite numerous complaints, the razor-wire fence still stands).
Last weekend it seemed like the county's youth fair had taken over Regatta Park.

    It was the annual "Pumpkin Patch Festival" which is not really a "festival" but more like a crummy carnival, some promoter's quick get-rich scheme.

   He gave attendees a few kiddy rides and expensive pumpkins for sale. Many of them left feeling ripped-off.

   The carnival did give young parents a chance to bring their kids to the Grove to see scarecrows, sit on hay bales, and stare at a pile of 5000 pumpkins. For fifteen bucks you could decorate one and take it home. 
   I guess that's what parents suppose to do every fall now, that public "pumpkin thang". We used to buy ours at the Boys Club and decorated it in the kitchen

   There are many local fall festivals but unlike the others, this one is not aimed at raising money for charity. This "patch" makes big bucks for the promoter who pays the city large fees.
   The Grove's pumpkin patch encircled our public park with fencing and charged a family of four $60 to enter.  Once inside you could buy bright, orange gourds, bad food, and beer for high prices. Yes, there were also "free" kiddie rides  -once they pocketed your entry money-  but their lines were long.

   Almost everyone attending was not from the Grove and they created a traffic nightmare. Our boating friends told us the pumpkin fans took over their assigned Dinner Key parking spaces and caused general havoc. "Parking for boat owners only" signs meant nothing to attendees.  Some even double-parked.
   A live-aboard Groveite told me, "It was awful.  The police wouldn't help. They told us to call the parking authority".  One day he had to park four blocks away from his home, a boat on pier 4.

    With eight extra days of set up and take down the "festival" took over our newest park for eleven days. When the last truck pulled out on Thursday the patch promoter left our park looking like this.

 The rides had fencing held together with plastic tie straps. You can see where most of them ended up.

    The city should stop allowing this high-impact events to use our parks. Our public green spaces should be cared for, free to enter, and not fenced in. 
   This one would have been just as as successful in a large parking lot somewhere else. Trucks and asphalt go well together. Trucks and grass do not.

    Peacock and Regatta parks should not ever be fenced in but rather, open for all to enjoy. Occasional smaller, un-fenced events are more appropriate for these locales.

    Carnivals like this are not good for the Grove.  They take over and tear up our parks. The outsiders attending do not spend money at Grove businesses. The city is approving them to generate fees. That's not a bad idea but do it while keep these crowded, turf-crushing events out of Grove parks. There are better places to sell pumpkins, cotton candy, and beer.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

EVERYOBODY LOVES CHARLIE - Charlie Cinnamon, Coconut Grove legend

    I type this blog next to my front window. Several times a day I see my friend, Charlie Cinnamon, pass by walking his dog. Always impeccably dressed, he takes the quick steps of a young man (he's got two decades on me).

     Everyone loves Charlie. He is helpful and kind to every person crossing his path.

  The PR whiz is also a local legend who is known  -among a long list of accomplishments- for having started the Coconut Grove Art Festival 53 years ago. "Mr. C" is featured in a latest issue of the foodie mag, "Edible South Florida".



   Here he is walking his dog, "Coaly". They're standing next to the  shuttered Grove playhouse.  
    Charlie spent years there promoting its productions. We look forward to the time when our leaders figure out how to open the playhouse doors again. 
    It was -and still can be- the center of our artsy community.  When we have that grand re-opening, we want Charlie to cut the ribbon.

Note:  A couple of weeks ago I noticed Charlie wasn't walking by as usual. I went to his house (we live on the same block) and learned he was seriously ill. 

Please send love, prayers, and healing thoughts his way. 

Saturday, October 22, 2016


      Half of the people voting in November's election are voting early. In Florida, a million people have already cast their ballots by mail. 
 Two-weeks of early voting begins Oct. 24th.
    Some people have asked me who (and what) I am voting for. There's a lot to say and a lot on the line.  Here are my picks:


I'm with her.  

       Don't consider the  clown.

(Note: My wife, Francesca,  supports the same candidates mentioned here and the amendment issues as well.  I suppose that's one of the reasons we live in the same house)

    Francesca and I met Patrick Murphy at the inauguration four years ago. We liked him immediately.
    It would be a shame to be stuck with the Trump supporting, anti-choice, climate change-denying Marco Rubio again.

We -and the Miami Herald- support Patrick.


    We're crazy about Jose Javier Rodriguez. The Harvard grad, former Peace Corp volunteer and legal services attorney is exactly the type of person we need to keep in Tallahassee. Now he's moving up from the Florida House. Jose is one of the few legislators who have stood up against Big Sugar and FPL. Both of these giants are financing the campaign his opponent, Republican Miguel Diaz de la Portilla.  They are causing anti-Jose postcards to fill our mailboxes.  
Like the solar amendment, they are deceitful, don't believe them.

    Jose is endorsed by the Miami Herald, Ken Russell and yes, the President of the United States.

   Cast your vote for Jose Javier. We know him and, to know him is to love him. 


   I don't know much about the others. My wife and I support all of the candidates mentioned here and most of the amendments below. 
   We will be voting for "others" who are Democrats. The Democratic Party best reflects our values and hopes for the future.
   We try to consider Republican candidates but find most of them lost in Trump/NRA Land. 

    It is important for Jose Javier's seat in the in the state house be replaced with a good person.  That's the Nick Duran (Dem.) /Rosy Palamino (Rep.) race. Looking at the LWV site, Duran seems to have a decent stance on issues, like supporting gun control.  Ms. Palomino did not respond to the League of Women Voters inquiries.

    A friend has asked us to add to our list of recommendations the state house candidate for the Gables area, Daisy Baez (Dem.).  While her opponent, Republican John Couriel, seems like a good person (eagle scout, Harvard grad), we believe we need more women and Democrats in Florida's troubled state legislature. The LWV website (below)  has information on these two and most of the other people running.


ONE (201) 
     Amendment One is designed to deceive voters. Vote NO on this, the "solar amendment".  Do not be fooled by its wording, it is backed by FPL, the Koch brothers, and Florida's other utility companies. 
  The Miami Herald discovered one of FPL's operatives this week, bragging about how they had created tricky ballot wording in which you vote "Yes" when it is your intention to vote "No".  Here's something to explain the amendment further,

Remember: Like the Grove Guy and the Miam Herald recomend, vote"No" on One

TWO (202)
    This state amendment would allow marijuana to be prescribed to people who are seriously ill.  California has a more lenient version of this in which you can buy ganja to treat everything from a cold and cancer.
    Marijuana can ease pain, I'm voting "Yes".

THREE (203)
   This amendment will require governor Rick Scott to resign from office immediately, 

in my dreams.   Okay, what it actually does is exempt first responders from paying property taxes if they are disabled while working.  They are described as police, prison guards, firemen, and paramedics. Spouses of responders killed while working already get an exemption. I have no opinion on this. You can get more information below*.

FOUR (244)
   Vote YES.  This amendment will allow citizens to sue the City of Miami when it fails to follow its own rules (its "charter").  If we had this three years ago, city commissioner Marc Sarnoff would not have been allowed to give Scottys Landing to his developer friends. As it looks now, Scottys will be replaced by a Shula's Steakhouse next year.

   This one gives more property tax exemptions to old people with limited incomes. It's hard to argue with that. Again, you can find more information below.
    That's it from Palmetto Avenue. 

   Two weeks of early voting began on Monday, Oct. 24,  everyday for two weeks from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.  Francesca and I voted when they opened the gate on Monday.  It's easy and there is no line.

    The Grove is voting early in one of the old buildings across from Viscaya. Park in the science museum parking lot.  Easy top find, there are signs all over the place.

   Sadly, less than 2/3 of the registered votes cast ballots in presidential elections. Happily, most of them are women who have much more sense than their male counterparts. 
   Please vote and encourage your friends to do the same. 

* If you need more information on the candidates and the amendments, go to the League of Women Voters website, . 
They do a great job of explaining the ballot, the candidates, and both sides of issues.
The Democrats website has information as well,

To get s SAMPLE BALLOT click on:
For all 30 Early Voting locations click on:

If you need a "Vote Hillary" sign, contact me at

                      Okay, It's time to,

Tuesday, October 18, 2016


     It seems they're building a prison at the end of St. Gaudens Road. The short, South Grove street ends on Biscayne Bay. It's one of a few places where  residents can walk to feel a breeze or see the water.

   Now you can enjoy gentle waves while sitting next to a prison-style ten-foot razor wire fence. The  8-acre former Dupont Estate has a new owner, he erected the creepy fence last week. I guess they'll start on the cell blocks soon.
  The city code does not allow this level of ugly.
It states:
3.7.2 Prohibited on Fences and walls
  1. The use of broken glass, projecting nails, coiled razor wire, spikes or similar materials on walls and Fences is prohibited in all Transect Zones.
  2. Barbed wire Fences, or use of barbed wire along the top of a fence or wall, shall be permissible only in D1, D2 and D3, subject to approval by Waiver.      (I doubt he has a "waiver")

       The city apparently has no means to enforce the code. There's nothing I can do.  I have tried.
        For a week I have made over twenty phone calls to try and complain.  I attempted to communicate with the 311 people, the code compliance office, Ken Russell's office, and the NET office to try to get someone's attention.  No one has been responsive.
       Usually no one answers the phone. I leave messages that do not get returned. Twice I spoke with humans that told me to call someone else. 

        I feel like our local government is broken when I am unable to communicate with it.

        So, we're stuck with this slim piece of mismanaged public land on Biscayne Bay. It's the one where 

    -the City allowed its owner, back in the 60's, to extend his property fifty yards out beyond the shoreline (hence this wall jutting out, cutting off half of the bay view while adding two acres to the estate).

    -The property was used as a toxic dump fifty years ago, like Merrie Christmas and Douglas  Road Parks, and

    -Now, the new owner has erected a razor-wire fence to slice up anyone who tries to peer over his wall to see what his toxic dump looks like. 

        Funny place, this Miami.

    Note:  After I posted this blog I got one of my calls returned, from Ken Russell's office. His staff member, Anthony Balzebre, was very helpful.  He told me he would contact the head of code enforcement in the Grove. Let's hope this results in something good.

    (October 25th, A week later) Nothing has changed. 
    (Oct. 26th)  The building permit department reported that an inspector visited the site and "was opening a case for building a fence without permit and for using barbed wire and razor wire without a special permit".  That sounds like progress.  Let's see what happens next.

Monday, October 17, 2016


   This year's election ballot is long and often confusing. You might want to vote early, or, by mail.
    Early voting starts a week from now. The Coconut Grove site has changed, you can not vote at City Hall as we've done in the past.  Now we will be voting in one of the old buildings across from Viscaya.
    Park in the Science Museum parking lot then enter the Viscaya Village gate. Signs will lead you to what they call the "Historic Viscaya Garage".  Try not slipping on the historic grease spots as you enter (just kidding, it used to be a rich guy's car port and now it is a meeting room, no grease at all).

   Early voting begins on Monday, October 24 and ends on November 6. Hours are 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The Grove address is 3250 South Miami Avenue, Miami, 33129.  There are about 25 early voting sites in Dade County. The next closest ones are the Shenandoah and Coral Gables libraries.

   If you'd like to vote by mail you can do so by making a request online with the county's elections office.   You can also get information on that at the county's elections office or the new Democratic Campaign Office in Coconut Grove.


 The Grove's "Hillary" office is on Grand Avenue, a half block west of Douglas Road (SW 32 Ave). Parking is easy.  We found out when we went there to volunteer yesterday. Francesca and I were asked to go "canvassing".
                                    They gave us a list of wealthy voters that live on (or near) the bay south of Mercy Hospital. We found that the more money you have, the less likely you are to give strangers the time of day. 
     In most cases there was a TV camera and an intercom outside the fences, walls, and gates. We smiled our best but rarely could get anyone to acknowledge us. We weren't there to convince voters (our list was registered Democrats) but rather, to encourage them to vote and to answer questions.  
    Two people actually came to their doors, opened them, and joined us in humorous conversations. There is a lot to laugh about in this election (it helps keep us sane).
    We talked about the Hillary, Donald, and the very confusing solar amendment (Vote "No" on Amendment one, please). As we left both of them thanked us for volunteering. That felt good.
     The Hillary offices (there are several in Dade) need more volunteers.  If you'd like to canvas, make phone calls, or enter data, stop by and sign up.  You can also call the office manager, Amory.  His # is 1-802-999-7714.
   It's a fun crowd. You can join our volunteer group as well at the Debate Watching Party Wednesday night at the Grand Avenue office, 8:30 p.m.

Friday, October 14, 2016


     With four weeks to go in the presidential campaign my wife and I thought it was time we did a shout out for the only non-groper running, Hillary Clinton.
   It was a hassle trying to get a Hillary yard sign so I made one myself.
   A few people passing by asked where they could get their own. I told them to come back in a few days, that I'd paint a few more. Now I have a dozen in various colors and designs. They are 100% plastic, made from recycled signs. Priced from $10 to $25, All of the proceeds will go to Hillary's campaign fund.
    If you're interested, send me a FB message, write  ( ),  call 305-448-3775, or just come by our house in the South Grove.
23 Days to go!

if this one sells, the money  still goes to Hillary.