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Monday, November 27, 2017


    The Bahama's Goombay Festival spilled into Coconut Grove forty years ago. For two days every fall we'd have a Nassau parade on Grand Avenue surrounded by delightful island music and food.
The West Grove tradition has had its ups and downs but it last Saturday it was rockin'!
   The Grove's new pop-up celebration "Market Place on Goombay Plaza" was finally open for business.

    For a year our neighbors will be on this corner sharing their music,


and conch salad with us.

     The forlorn lot in the center of the Grove's Bahamian village has been dead since 1989. That's when an old man, Howard Johnson, set up
a little golf course.  He planted tin cups in the ground to enjoy playing the game there daily.
Between rounds he'd sit under these palms and tell people like me how much he loved sinking putts.

Now, Howard's mini-golf course is a vibrant  
mini-festival site for all to enjoy. It was funded by a grant from the Knight Foundation and produced by the City of Miami, the "U", and  West Grove citizenry. 

   These two smiling ladies were selling delicious conch fritters and bread pudding. 

   I drove by Saturday night and folks were still dancin' in the grass under sparkling holiday lights.  
   It doesn't get any Grove-ier is that.


   Saturday we had a workshop to teach people how to weave a stick sculpture, something like the one just created at Pinecrest Gardens.
   Among those attending were our city commissioner, Ken Russell and his family.
Here you see Ken and his son, August, learning the ins and outs of stick weaving.  We are a creating an 8-foot tall work of art that looks something like a modernist teepee.  It is located in the SW corner of our new people's park.  This public place is at the corner of Plaza St. and Palmetto Ave. in the
South Grove.
    Afterwards I gave the Russells a tour of Charlie's Woods on the NE corner of the four-part park.
   Stop by anytime and check out our creation.  There's work to be done and a pile of saplings next to our art work. Feel free to weave in a few sticks yourself. It's a "people's sculpture" in a people's park.

              Eva Russell (left) and her sister, Julia, with the park's historical marker.


    Our friend, Mitchell Kaplan keeps giving us  things we love, good books, great food, and now, a holiday movie.  The Books & Books owner teamed up with local writer, Les Standiford, to get this one in theaters.  It opened last Friday to good reviews.  
      The Miami author wrote "The Man Who Invented Christmas" nine years ago. It's about the difficulties Charles Dickens had getting someone to publish his holiday classic "A Christmas Carol".
Scrooge (played by Christopher Plummer) and all other Carol characters appear in this heart-warming mix of fact and fiction.

   Support your local artists and see "The Man Who Invented Christmas" soon.  It's a feel good movie that will make you forget The Orange Grinch Who Stole the County for a few hours. It's now playing at theaters everywhere.


Friday, November 24, 2017



Patrick Dougherty is a North Carolina artist who weaves tree saplings into fantastic sculptures. He just completed his latest one in Pinecrest Gardens. It will be a prominent part of next month's Art Basel. Forty of us have been helping him these last three weeks.

Patrick at work
    As we wove willow branches into winding  shapes Patrick told me about his past. Now a youthful 72, he  enjoyed playing with sticks as a kid. Later his interest in art, carpentry and nature inspired him to experiment with tree saplings and learn ancient stick building techniques. In 1982, he created his first work and over the last 35 years, has created over 250 “stick works” worldwide.

    For the Pinecrest Gardens sculpture (it will get an official name at a grand opening ceremony Thursday night) they imported three truckloads of young willows from New York.  I learned they grow there on "willow farms" as they do Christmas trees.
                                    Volunteer artist, landscape architect Sefora Chavarria 


                                   One of my jobs was to lop off ends.

   Patrick and his son, Sam, spend three out of four weeks on the road building these things. For
$35,000 (plus expenses) the Doughertys will create one for you. They move on to Austin, Texas, to begin their next piece in January. The will build it in the park where General Custer gathered his troops for their final trek.
                  Sam has gotten very good at this.
     These sculptures have their last stand after two years exposed to the elements. They begin to fall apart and often get recycled into tree mulch. I am going try to give one of the older ones "new life" by transporting it to Burning Man. 
     It would be a welcome addition to the other 300 art pieces that are exhibited at the annual desert festival. And when the big event ends, we wouldn't have to truck it home, we'd give it a Viking funeral!

    Patrick's South Florida stick sculpture, to which I have given the temporary name, "King Mango on Mushrooms", can be seen at Pinecrest Gardens until we set it on fire at Burning Man two years from now.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017



COME TO OUR PROGRESSIVE MIAMI MEETING on Thursday, Nov. 30th, 7 p.m. and learn what you can do to reduce gun violence in our bullet-riddled country.

Our guest speakers will be Miami residents, Maria and Fred Wright. Their son, Jerry, was one of the 49 killed in the Pulse Nightclub massacre on June 12, 2016. He was 31-years-old and a Disney World employee when this terrible tragedy occurred.

Maria Wright with her two sons, Joseph (l) and Jerry (r).  
The Wrights now spend much of their time on the road speaking out on this important issue. As they do they honor their son and all victims of gun violence.
Our meeting will take place at Coral Gables Congregational Church, 3010 De Soto Drive, in Coral Gables, FL 33134. We will be in Fellowship Hall, on the west side of the facility. Parking is easy and free.
We are partnering with two other groups for this meeting, Womens March-Miami and Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. We are proud to have them joining us.
We will begin serving refreshments at 6:45 and will begin the program at seven.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving. I am thankful for everyone who is taking action to end gun violence to make the world a safer place.


    Our History Miami Museum will open a new exhibit in three months, "Street Miami".  It will tell the colorful story of Miami's street culture which includes dozens of parades. One of them is the one I co-founded, The King Mango Strut.
    The Strut has been making fun of all things Miami for 36 years. I was asked to contribute a few items. Six days ago a museum representative came by the house to pick up the King's artifacts.      
   She told me she will bring them back a in a year. It's nice to know the King will be spending that time smiling in our county's repository of cultural history.

Sunday, November 19, 2017


     SORRY FPL, we have solar panels on our roof now. 


Our monthly bill from Big Power will be dropping to  $9 next month.

It took our friends at Cutler Bay Solar Solutions three days to install our system.  We purchased it through a co-op which saved us 10% (Solar United Neighbors co-op.. Joining the co-op is easy and free )

    It is guaranteed for ten years, built in the USA, and will withstand a cat five hurricane (winds up to 159 m.p.h.).

Two years ago we added a small solar hot water system to our rooftop.  The two panels heat the water and little blue one provides the electricity to run the water pump.

If we ever get a Tesla (it is on my Christmas list) we can power that with our new solar panels too!


  We've got two things happening on Thursday, Nov. 30th, at 7 p.m.

   There will be another meeting at Miami's City Hall to  discuss the future of the Coconut Grove Playhouse. Come join the discussion of what becomes of the Grove's Big Blue Elephant. 

ENDING GUN VIOLENCE-  Fred and Maria Wright lost their son, Jerry, in Orlando's Pulse Nightclub massacre in June, 2016.  They will speak on what we can do to help end violence at 7p.m.   Coral Gables Congregational Church (across from the Biltmore).


    We can walk fifteen minutes -to the end of St. Gauden's Road - to stare out on Biscayne Bay.  It's always exhilarating to gaze at a blue horizon and the pelicans gliding over it.  Hurricane Irma made it a little less so as it downed nearby trees and washed away the grass and our meditation bench.  
Walking there yesterday I found someone's  story in the rocky rubble remaining, dozens of scattered photographs which I assumed were souvenirs from the 16-year-old war in Iraq.

    They were all taken from or near large trucks. I got the the impression that they were shot by a U.S. civilian there to support the war.  You can make  $100,000 a year dodging land-mines in an 18-wheeler.
Solorized photo of a truck convoy

   These ideas were running through my head as I looked at the images of trucks, children, bleak landscapes and imagined the war that goes on and on.


Thoughts merged with remnants of last week's Veteran's Day parade and the incredible PBS show we saw this week, "Almost Sunrise".  It told the story of young men and women using new techniques to overcome the psychological damage caused by war  (you can see it too online).
    I'll never know why these photographs were scattered there.  Maybe they were one person's way of leaving bad memories behind.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017


Sometimes people ask me what I love about Coconut Grove. One thing that comes to mind is that we don't have lawns, we have jungles! The noisy, polluting grass cutting chore is replaced by picking up the occasional fallen palm frond.

I enjoyed seeing this illustrated in the magazine I picked up at the Fairchild Ramble last weekend.

On the left you see neighbors not having fun.  They mow, water, and spray their lawns with pesticides. 
On the Grove side the yards are planted with native trees, bushes, and ground cover plants which attract birds, butterflies and bees. Kids are planting an edible garden while mom and dad enjoy their natural habitat with Margaritas in hand.  
That's the Grove style and one more reason to love this bayside village.

PS:  Of course anyone with a lawn -anywhere- can do the same thing.

Friday, November 10, 2017


     King Mango made one of his rare appearances today. He rode his Ruckus in  Coconut Grove's Veteran's Day Parade. 

 It was great little paseo that included politicians, beauty queens, and a good number of former members of our armed services.  They were carried along in 22 vintage Corvettes and a few rugged Jeeps. 
    Some people actually walked the mile in the sun. These hardy groups including the Coral Gables High School Band of Distinction, the Grove's Village Council and energetic booty-shakin' dancers.
                      BAND OF DISTINCTION

    In King Mango Strut Parades past I have performed as Sylvester Stallone, OJ Simpson's manager, and Anderson Cooper reporting from the middle of a hurricane. On Veterans Day I had it easy, just a happy mango king saluting our veterans from the seat of my scooter. 

     And what a strange snappy salute it was. It wasn't until after the parade -when I saw someone's photo- that I realized I had done it  wrong.  
    When I was saluting with my hand over my right eye, it looked like King Mango was placing his hand under his nose.  Let's hope this new gesture wasn't taken the wrong way.  It may mean
"screw you" in Bezoania.
      The Grove's American Legion post, along with City Commissioner Ken Russell and his staff, did a fine job of putting this event together. While there may have been more people in it than watching it, everyone had a good time honoring those who served.


Friday, November 3, 2017


    It was quite a scene on the 3600 block of Loquat Avenue yesterday. There were five police cars with lights flashing and several neighbors smiling as an old house was torn down. 

    This one had to go as its owner, a feisty old hippie, had refused to be nice to his neighbors.  For years he collected junk and down-and-out roommates. 

    The yard looked like it had been designed by rats. The owner created an eyesore that drove his neighbors nuts.

  The former library

    Finally, his house was officially declared a nuisance last week, unfit for habitation. The police officer in charge told me the owner had been given a 48-hour notice of the tear down.

    Apparently his five roommates were not made aware of this.  The officer added, "His house was so filled with crap you could barely walk through it, a hoarder's dream". 

   Yesterday morning tenants woke up to a loud knock on the door. A police officer announced they had fifteen minutes to vacate the place before a huge steel claw would to tear it to shreds. 
 An older musician, "Ivan", pleaded for more time to retrieve his belongings. When the police refused he ran back in followed by the boys in blue.  They took him away in handcuffs. 

   In jail he might have been the only roommate that had a place to stay last night. 

 A lone pea-fowl (who some like the former house, also consider a nuisance) watched from across the street.

    When I was there the other roommates were camped across the street amidst piles of their possessions. The cops assured me they were doing their best to find them shelter. "Melanie" pleaded for a place that allowed pets. Fittingly, her dog "Charlie" sat in a trash basket.  He seemed to be wondering where he'd be spending the night.