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Saturday, December 29, 2018


      Francesca retired from teaching pre-school last June. During her final year she would come home from work and say wistful things like, "Today I planted the school garden for the last time" or, "I'm gonna miss having Thanksgiving lunch with my students".
      Then there was the real weeper, her last Gingerbread Cookie Chase. 

      Last November she read the well-known children's book, "The Gingerbread Man" to her young students for the last time.
     Her latest batch of kids were once more enthralled by this small brown cookie running away from his baker. In the chase that follows, he is fooled (and eaten) by a fox.

      As it is with her yearly ritual, Francesca spent the night before making ginger cookie dough from scratch. The next morning at school, she rolled out sheets of it with her four-year-old students. Each child got to make and bake their own cookie.
     My wife had been doing this with her students for twenty-six years.
     Around 11 a.m. she pulled the kids' hot cookies out of the oven. After setting the pan out to cool Francesca led her students to the cafeteria for lunch.  

     When the class returned the gingerbread men were gone! The kids were shocked (as they had been for a quarter-century) shouting, "Our cookies have run away!".  Each began to scour the room for them. As it happens every year, one student noticed there was enough space under the door for a cookie to escape.
    The entire class took to the school hallway to search for their runaway cookies. The teacher from the next class said she had seen a group of small brown men rounding a distant corner. The kids ran to knock on another classroom's door asking that teacher, "Did any cookie men run into your room?". 
     As the first-grade teacher said, "I'm sorry, I haven't seen any, her students sniggered and showed broad smiles. Many of them -older and wiser now- had been on this chase two years before.
    After checking several more classrooms they visited a fourth-grade teacher who indeed, had witnessed small cookies slipping under his door.  He said they looked very tired so he gave them  trays to rest on.
    The panting kids reclaimed the trays of sleeping cookie men carefully carrying them back to their classroom so they would not wake them up. As it is with this annual rite, my wife then asked her students, "What shall we do now?  The kids agreed they must keep them from running away again by eating them.  
     Lucky kids.
    After hearing this story, as I did every year, I wanted to eat one too. My dear wife produced the her last cookie and offered it to me. Hungry as a fox I ate it before it could escape.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018


      I have seen the future of Coconut Grove and its name is Elizabeth Street. I took a short-cut up the West Grove thoroughfare today and was shocked by the distressing proliferation of huge white boxes.  
    Yes, we see them popping up in our South Grove neighborhood as well but on Elizabeth it's Developers Gone Wild. 

     Every now and then you see a few of the old Grove houses we know and love. No doubt their days are numbered too.


It seems like the developers won't stop until they've replaced all of  our distinctive older homes

with icky big boxes.

     Before they're big, white and ugly they're big, grey, and ugly

    I wouldn't care so much if real people were building their own homes but these are created by box-building businesses that care nothing about our community, our beloved trees, or how rampant construction affects the Grove's present and future.
It's all about money.

    The downtown Grove fares no better. It seems we always have huge cranes hovering in the sky
  helping super-sized white boxes pop up.

   It being Boxing Day, it seems appropriate that I got glimpse of our village's boxy future, the time when everyone here will be living inside the tree-less white confines of "luxury townhouse living".

    When that happens we'll call it "Townhouse Grove", "Albinoland" or "Coconut Concrete".

Wednesday, December 19, 2018


   I was saddened -but not surprised- to read about an old friend's plans to leave Coconut Grove. 
   Bill Kunz and I grew up together in Miami Springs. We lost touch in college years but soon after,  learned we were neighbors in the Grove.
                                                               The Old Grove 

     Here we discovered sailboats, grew gardens, raised kids, and boated in the Bahamas as we centered our lives in this amazing fisherman's village. 

    Of course, after a half century, things have drastically changed. Responding to an article on speeders on South Bayshore Drive, Bill wrote in our local blog, the Grove Grapevine,

    The crosswalks on Bayshore Drive are indeed a dangerous place. It's not just cars coming around the curve. I've watched cars southbound blow by  folks scrambling to get out of their way. 
    Coconut Grove is not the nice place it used to be in many respects.  The commuters speeding through don't give a rats a-- about people on foot. 
   It's gotten ugly here in so many ways. Politicians have turned our town into a developer's paradise. After 51 years of Grove living, my wife and I are leaving.     
    We're saddened by the butt fugly white boxes, the massive office/hotel/condo construction, and the lack of real art and music. The inflated prices for dinners and drinks force us to dine elsewhere. The stuff most stores sell are of no real value to anyone.        
    As singer John Prine wrote, It's time to "blow up the TV, move to the country, and try to find Jesus on your own". 
    JC, that threadbare hippie preacher, left the Grove long ago.
Bill Kunz 
Bill, a retired airline pilot, plays fiddle (real music) in our favorite local band, the Solar Dogs.

                 When Bill and I landed here in the early 70's  this was the view in Peacock Park.  You could actually see the water,


Saturday, December 15, 2018


        Yesterday, almost fifty wonderful people came to our nature park-in-the-making, "Charlie's Woods". It's next to the historic Charlie Cinnamon Cottage,
in the South Grove where Palmetto Avenue and Plaza Street meet.
 Part of our crew

We were there to toss out the bad plants and replace them with good. Dozens of tree-huggers dug out hundreds of snake plants ("sanseveira") then

gave them the heave-ho. 

   The resulting trash-pile was amazing, reminiscent of the ones we create after hurricanes.

    Soon we will replace the exotics with native plants that are good for the environment.  
This spot, which had been neglected for years, 

now looks like this.
 Inside the tangled jumble we discovered a gumbo limbo, an oak, and an orange tree.

    There were at least three generations pulling weeds.

    We so appreciate their hard work, and, Jennifer Possley's Connect-to-
Protect group for putting this event together. 
C2P's Jennifer

After two hours, with muscles rippling, 

we knocked off, happy to see

 our new park looking better than ever.  

Sobering thought of the day:

Would Human Extinction Be a Tragedy?

Our species possesses inherent value, but we are devastating the earth and causing unimaginable animal suffering. 

Ok, just a sobering thought.  We really have screwed things up but some people, like last Saturday's work day crew, give us hope.


Wednesday, December 12, 2018


       Oh I had plans. In the 1970's, bored in my law office above the Bird Bath Laundromat, I dreamed of having a fun business in Coconut Grove, something more rewarding than divorcing distraught couples.

    On a New England vacation, I came across two hippies selling hand-made ice cream. What fun they were having and their customers? They couldn't be happier.
    After seeing Ben & Jerry do their thing I decided to make ice cream in the Grove. I'd call it Glenn's Home-Grown Ice Cream. The logo would be a corn plant with cones where the cobs should be. The huge White ice cream maker would cost $3000 but so what? I'd be making people smile...and, umm, fat.  

    Being a health foodie, I decided it was best not to clog the arteries of my friends and neighbors.  
     Instead, I decided to write comedies for Hollywood. I moved there and asked George
Carlin to star in "The Bionic Hippie". He passed on that as did others who heard my brilliant ideas.  Twenty months later I was home again languishing in a Kendall law office.
    Getting the business bug again, a friend and I opened a PR agency on Commodore Plaza. We were clever but had no real experience in the business. Pretending we had got us through two years before "Images Advertising" closed its doors.
    Some of my friends had done well in the pizza biz.  I thought, "Why not join the craze with "healthy pizza"?   I'd name it after a boyhood nickname. "Pep's Pizza" could be huge.  I'd have lines of people waiting for my whole-wheat spinach pies on Commodore Plaza.
   My wife and I experimented in our kitchen every Sunday. We'd make a dozen or so and deliver
them -by bicycle- to the neighbors. My pizza future looked promising until I spent a week
apprenticing at my brother's Domino's store in California.
    I learned this food business keeps you up until two or three in the morning and when you go home, you smell like burnt tomato sauce. So much for that. I dusted off my suit and returned to the court room.

      I started my most successful venture then, the Grove's King Mango Strut parade.  Some encouraged me to make it a Big Deal and pay myself a salary. That didn't seem right so I put on an annual parade, for twenty-eight years, as one of many volunteers.

     In the early 90's I spotted a man flying hand-
made kites with kids in a school yard. In the conversation that ensued he told me he was the school's art teacher. My dad taught me how to make kites when I was twelve and I became very good at it. This seemed like the perfect job.

    The teacher was happy and so were his students. I shut down my law office and went back to school to become a certified art teacher. Six months later Sharing wisdom, "Yes, you can really hear the ocean inside a sea shell"      I was in a classroom five days a week. 
 Opening night of our musical, "Snow White and the Seven Robots"

 I finally had a job that fit me well. It made me and my "customers" happy.

     Still, the biz bug stayed in my head. While teaching (five years ago) I started an online business, "The Mango Republic". I sell mango-inspired t-shirts. Typically I send an extra-large to Montana once week.  That nets me a cool $250 a year.  Things heat up in the Republic now and then. Hunter Reno bought thirty for a family reunion and every March I sell a bunch at the Grove's Gifford Lane art show.

   The Mango  Republic is not a money-maker but I find it satisfying.  The shirts do not clog arteries, and in fact, they can cover them in style.

    After twenty-five years I retired from teaching.  In that time I got to share what I love with 3000 students. Not a bad way to spend a quarter- century.

    Now I look around the Grove to see concrete rising all around me. Huge sugar cubes keep sprouting up downtown and in my neighborhood. 

    The Grove's small businesses are fading as rents rise. Even Maya Hatcha (on Main Highway for fifty years) is being forced out.  Danny's days at Revolution (the Grove's best bike shop) are numbered.
     Grove store fronts are either empty or replace with hoity-toity fad stores that will not last. How long will people buy  $8 nitrogen-infused ice cream cones or $14 Hawaiian rice bowls at "Kale R Us"?
     Despite all that, maybe I should give my Coconut Grove business dreams one last shot, do something that fits in with the times. I am thinking of opening a small store that sells nothing but cashmere socks.  Prices will begin at $95 ( you can get two for $175).  I'll give it a rich man's name, "Palmer Norquist".
    I suspect I won't sell many but when I do I won't be clogging any arteries. I'll sleep well knowing I am warming feet. Coconut Grove dreams are made of this.

Monday, December 10, 2018


    Yesterday a hundred of our best friends came over for a fund-raiser.  We auctioned off donated art to support the Florida Health Justice Project. 


Admiring a Charles Corda sculpture

  A hundred people filled up our backyard.

       Miriam Harmatz, FHJP's chief legal counsel, shared her concerns about our country's broken healthcare system. 

Donators Two
The Grove Guy's Neighborhood Tour sold for $60.  Rocky Lyons donated two visits to his South Miami salon. Luis' Quirky Car Tour netted eighty bucks.

Francesca relaxing with Phil the mayor
We heard an rousing speech by one of our country's leaders in  public health, Miami Beach native Paul Nathanson.

     The Florida Health Justice Project promotes laws that provide accesa to quality health care for people in great need.  These are primarily immigrants, the elderly, and others who can not afford rising medical costs.

      Our generous friends made it possible to raise over $7000 for the FHJP.  We thank them and everyone else who pitched in to make last night's event a success. 
 For more FHJP information,

Saturday, December 8, 2018


       The world came to Miami this week for Art Basel and Friday, the art extravaganza paid a visit Coconut Grove. Our neighborhood's Kampong Botanical Garden hosted a multi-media event that left our heads spinning. 
      As soon as Francesca and I entered we were approached by a red-robed oracle who solemnly shared a bit of the future. (I'll be okay and my wife, the cards said, should not to make any important decisions for the next twelve hours).

      As we admired paper lawn sculptures white-clad couples began dancing all around. Being a former dancer, Francesca joined in.  (Choreography by the Grove's own Maya Billig)


From the Kampong's roof an opera singer belted out an aria. Several women on the lawn responded with lyrics of their own.
     Moving across a lawn strewn with fortune cookies we passed The Bride who wandered endlessly looking for her mate. She didn't find him where palm tree sculptures replicated 65 million year-old fossils we recently discovered on Mars,

 or in the tree festooned with chicken eggs,

or by the bay where I later sat on a rustic bench grateful to be spending a perfect day in this  magical place.  
          Two days earlier we were volunteers at the Margulies Collection, a mega-gallery in Wynwood. We helped collect the entry fees that are donated to Miami's women's shelter, Lotus House (they took in $8000 yesterday!).

     Being constantly hungry, I was
happy to see a diner in the distance. Turns out, everything was made of cardboard. Fortunately Zak's Bakery was two blocks away.

   Around a corner I discovered the nursing home for super heroes.

 I asked if I could take pictures but none of them could hear me,

 not even Superman,

or Wonder Woman.

   I love surprises. When I tried to use the gallery's elevator, the metal doors slid open to reveal a group people projected onto a screen as if to say "Gotcha!".   How clever. I later learned the Margulies has no second floor (or real elevator).

    There are many more marvelous things to explore this Art Basel weekend. I hope you get out to enjoy them too.