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Saturday, March 31, 2018


        This is what we wake up to every morning.  

This week we are perched on a hill in this sky-blue house. We're enjoying a visit with friends on the north shore of Saint Croix. Two miles out is Buck Island and 90 million miles beyond, the rising sun.


      Who doesn't dream of escaping to Paradise now and then?  For the price of a modest home in Coconut Grove you can buy this place, complete with a pool and the guest apartment below.     
        It belongs to former Groveites, Martha and Peter.
Their place has four bedrooms, four baths, and an endless stream of cool ocean air that makes air conditioning  unnecessary.


 A ten-minute walk  takes you to a pristine beach where people are rarely seen.

Every night the rhythmic surf lulls us to sleep. The hassles are few -it is a part of the United States- and, the rum is cheap.

 Walkin' the lizard


           Lunch at the Sandcastle

       St. Croix got rediscovered two years ago when one of its locals, Alexander Hamilton, became a Broadway star. Yesterday we walked down King Street's broken brick sidewalks as he did 250 years ago. As you may know, Alex's mother spent a few months imprisoned in the fort here for bearing her two sons out of wedlock.  The younger one became a founding father and James, a St. Croix carpenter.

    The Hamilton boys walked here.

         We've been to many Easter sunrise services. I expect tomorrow's will border on the spectacular. We'd expect nothing less from our windswept hill. 

Thursday, March 29, 2018


      We're visiting a Virgin Island this week, St. Croix, about 70 miles SE of Puerto Rico. Walking around the old part of Christiansted, we walked by a small park on Gallows Bay. 

    It was created by the neighbors, reminding us of the public place we are building in Coconut Grove, where four corners meet at Charlie's Woods.

   Like "the Woods", This spot is a little funky, rough around the edges. It is made from found materials on the cheap. If anything it makes this Caribbean mini-park more unique and enjoyable. 

  The neighbors welcomed us, very happy to share the gathering place they created.

       A hundred yards east of the park is the
city's fort.  It was built in 1749 for pirate protection and to house the soldiers necessary to prevent a slave rebellion. 


    In 1820 there were 80 militiamen residing inside the fort and beyond its walls, 1700 white residents and their 18,000 slaves.  The "bad ones" were kept in jail cells or the dungeon with a four-foot ceiling.  There were four  gallows just east, -where the park now stands- to help keep people in line. 

 Gallows Bay

     It's an American horror story but places like Miami, Atlanta, and Charleston had slaves, soldiers, and hangin' trees too.

        Much of the Americas were built on the backs of indentured servants.  In St. Croix they worked the sugar plantations for two hundred years.  In 1848 they rose up and demanded their freedom. The Danes in charge complied. The times they were a changin'.  Denmark sold this island -the largest of the Virgins- to the U.S. in 1917.

       This windmill, "Cecelia", was built in 1804.

   The remains of slavery are marked by stone windmills that still top 145 of the hills here. Two centuries ago they supplied free power to process sugar.  The free labor?  The enslaved Africans are long gone but yesterday some of their descendants were enjoying the park they built on Gallows Bay. Except for the occasional hurricane, they seem to enjoy the good life here.

Still standing after 200 years.

Sunday, March 25, 2018


      It was great to be at a political rally where you did not have to hear elected leaders. Politicians (or at least a majority of them) have failed us. We are living in fear. Our leaders have turned our country into a gun-crazed war zone. 

    At the March For Our Lives rally in Parkland, Florida, yesterday, we heard from the kids who are leading us out of this mess.

     I had never heard of Parkland until seventeen people were murdered at their high school last month. It's an affluent, Coral Gables-like community fifty miles north of us. It rose up out of what was a swamp (what place in South Florida didn't?) thirty years ago. I was glad to be in Parkland yesterday but I will probably never return to this bucolic piece of suburbia on the edge of the Everglades.

     We went there to honor the students, and their families, who went through Hell on Valentines Day.  At the rally they stood near a podium where some of the surviving students spoke. Several parents of the murdered children addressed the crowd as well. Alec Schacter's dad reminded us of how much his beautiful boy had loved his family, friends, and playing trombone in the MSD band. His sister later took the podium to say, "Today I'm marching for my little brother". 
    There were a few politicians in the crowd. They were there to listen. The Grove Guy with his friend, Emma Collum. The talented Women's March leader is running for our state's House of Representatives.


     Fifteen thousand of us listened to MSD students describe the safe world they want to live in. As the rally ended the Stoneman Douglas students filed out proudly holding signs they had made to lead the march. It felt good to cheer them on. It was hard to imagine the horror they had witnessed 39 days earlier.

  The procession took us a mile south, to the memorial-laced MSD high school, and back.

 We were protected by dozens of Broward county police officers and a good number of Guardian Angels.


  Students led the way with  constant chants, "Hey hey, ho ho, the NRA has got to go!" and "You're in Congress you know how, Ban assault weapons now!".  

                                                                                        It was a 
happy crowd despite the grim circumstances that had brought us together.  We were glad to be supporting the thousands of kids surrounding us. Many were wearing their burgundy and gold MSD STRONG t-shirts.

    When we got back to Coconut Grove eight hours after we left, we proudly watched the 800,000 that had rallied in our nation's capital, on TV.    Of course, this mega-protest was organized by MSD students. Two hundred of them were there while we kept the home fires burning for change.

All of their speakers were teenagers except for the amazing Naomi Wadler.

She is eleven.

    These kids give us hope, a determined voice we adults have been unable to muster. 
Perhaps what the Book of Isaiah says is true, "...And a little child shall lead them". 

Wednesday, March 21, 2018


     It was strange to walk into the HistoryMiami Museum and see myself. I was looking up at the character I invented 37 years ago, King Mango. He smiled down at me and I smiled back.
  But it was more than that; this manikin was dressed to to look like me when I pretend to be the fruit monarch.

    I been known to do that
for parades, bar mitzvahs, and the occasional wedding. He was even wearing my faded brown Crocs that connect him to the earth.                        
     Next to this guy was a telephone. When I picked it up I heard my monotonous voice explaining the origins of the King Mango Strut Parade. Strange.
     Francesca and I were attending the opening of the museum's new exhibit on local parades and street art. It started with a BOOM! Miami's Bahamian Junkanoo Band appeared from nowhere and started leading us like around like jubilant lemmings. Twenty guys on 6-foot bicycles jumped in and golly, we had a party kicking off the show.
    You can see it too through January of '19.  It includes  bit of Goombay, Gay Pride, and the tall bike parades.  Wynwood graffiti covers one wall. Grove celebrity, Allen "AC" Cohen was there too greeting visitors to his exhibit.
Grove guys, GT and AC

He's the food truck legend who's been selling lemon icees in Kennedy Park for forty years. 
    The museum is located at 101 West Flagler Street in beautiful downtown Miami. 
You can come see the King smile at any time. 

Saturday, March 17, 2018


      I wish the Venezuelan zillionaire who bought the 8-acre Dupont estate at the end of St Gaudens Road would leave us alone. The short street leading to the water is one of the few places where the public can see Biscayne Bay.

    For years we've walked there to stare out to sea. Years ago a neighbor built a bench to give us rest.
  When the developer bought the parcel next door, he built an illegal, un-permitted, 12-foot wall.


   He even added barbed wire to the top of it going up another three feet.

   I complained to the city. The tall wall still stands but at least the razor wire came down.

   A television camera was added so he could watch us stare at the stars or relax on the bench. 


    Last fall's hurricane destroyed our seat so last week, a friend and I re-built it.  




        I guess he was watching because
two hours later, before the concrete could set, his workmen tore it apart and tossed it into the bay.

   Our concrete block columns, smashed on the shoreline

The next day, we built another one and asked the developer's property manager to cut us some slack. He did. A week later our bench still stands.

    Why does enjoying a water view have to be so difficult in Coconut Grove?  Doesn't it seem easier everywhere else?
    For the moment you can still sit at the end of St. Gaudens Road. Wear something nice, the developer may be watching you.