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Sunday, February 14, 2021

MISSING THE JELLYFISH

     I just heard my friend, Coconut Grove legend Allan "Jellyfish" Aunapu, has weighed anchor for the last time. What a warm, generous person he was, a tie-dyed sailor filled with child-like wonder.


    When I met Allan in 1974, he was charging down the Grove's Matilda Street on a 10-speed bike, his head held high by a neck brace. Stopping him I had to ask, "Did you break your neck riding this bike?". He proudly answered, "Uh huh!". 
     Finding it hard to slow down, he died in his final biking accident three days ago. I imagine, as usual, he had a smile on his face and and his next adventure on his mind (he was a planning to ride his bike to New York).
      Allan's life was filled with all sorts of high-speed escapades. When he passed last Thursday he was six-weeks short of his 80th birthday.
 
     The son of a motorcycle racer had a need for speed. He showed up at our place on his latest crotch rocket two years ago, in the rain. He assured me at the time, "I've only taken it up to 109 but I think it'll go faster". When I'd say, "Slow down, that's crazy, we want you here for a long time" he'd couldn't hear me. Crazy, dangerous thrills were essential to him.
    When we spoke two months ago he was recovering from his most recent accident. "I totaled my bike hitting a curb but the one I replaced it with is pretty quick too!", he bragged.
 
     Who do you know who wore the same clothes for fifty years?  Allan's choice was tie-dyed overalls. As I walked with him at the 2006 Oregon Country Fair he was mistaken for Wavy Gravy repeatedly.  When he laughed and said, "No, I'm Allan" they were sure it was another one of Wavy's jokes.
 
(At a reunion of the original King Mango Strutters two years ago)
 
  In the 80's he drove a tie-dyed dune buggy. He called the total effect, "Hippy camouflage", invisible to the police.
    Woodstock?  Of course he was there.  Allan, being part of the stage crew, became friends with many of the concert's performers.  He taught David Crosby to sail.

      "Jelly" was a joy to be around, ever-smiling, optimistic, with many sailing stories to share. His buddy, Bobby Ingram, swore Captain Allan could navigate a boat in his sleep, "I was at the helm, far from land, lost at sea in the early 70's. Aunapu woke up next to me, glanced at the stars and said, 'Head east now. We'll be in Miami tomorrow ".  "He was right!", Bobby added, "lost no more".
 
      Like Bobby, Allan was a talented musician.  He was the star of our parties every time he picked up a guitar and played "Zombie Jamboree". *
     Early on I asked my easy-going friend about his "Jellyfish" nick-name. He replied with a smile, "I've got no spine and go with the flow".
 
     As an attorney, I represented Mr. Aunapu in court several times. When he was busted for riding his bicycle on I-95 he explained it was the fastest way to get through Miami. When a cop ticketed him for driving an overloaded vehicle, he told the judge, "It's true we had ten people in a car built for five but we were having a party, it was fun, and I was driving safely". 
     Defendant Allan J. Aunapu was found not-guilty on both occasions. I got paid in mangoes. Judges love him because he was both entertaining and absurdly honest.

     When we started the King Mango Strut parade in 1982 Allan had to be in our silly procession.  I could always count on him to play a role that no one else wanted... like being Michael Vick's killer dog. In his late 60's, he crawled the entire parade route pretending to be an angry pit bull. He growled, barked and  "pissed" on the roadside audience who, of course, loved him.
     Jellyfish had been in dozens of our silly parades when he tried to participate in last December's Covid-induced virtual version. Unfortunately, tech problems got to him, "I can zoom on a motorcycle but not on a computer", he concluded.
 
      How lucky I am to have been his friend.  If you see a shooting star tonight, Captain Allan is probably at the helm, seeing how fast it will go.
              _____________________________ 
                           ________________

 Below, you can open the link to a short tribute to Allan, the first captain of Pete Seeger's sloop, "Clearwater".  Allan was so proud of the ship as well as his son, siblings, his extended family, and his many friends. "Jelly" was planning to drive his electric bike to the annual Clearwater reunion in New York when he left us.

 https://www.facebook.com/sloopclearwater/videos/465797014620075

*___________________ 

Hear Allan's version (2016) of "Zombie Jamboree",

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92oWyVgouNA

____________________

"Clearwater's First Skipper id Dead" article in the Times Union, 

  https://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Clearwater-Sloop-s-first-skipper-is-dead-at-79-15954751.php?fbclid=IwAR03rT_z7enblL9oxrJp34E_2asPxRv3jbZY_LNN8ztnzThb-VPzD_lJyK0

Friday, January 1, 2021

THE 2020 HOLIDAY AWARDS

    Our strangest holiday season is coming to an end. It's time to
take down the lights but before we do, I'm announcing my neighborhood's HOLIDAY DISPLAY AWARDS. 
 
    I did a survey of all the houses withing spitin' distance of our place ( It's one of the things I am good at, I can spit watermelon seeds over 100 yards). I thank everyone who took the time to light up the 'hood with a little holiday spirit.
The NW 12 Rd. Holiday Awards committee,
Glenn
__________________________
 
Okay, here they are...
-DA DA DAH!!!!  
 This year's GRAND PRIZE goes to Patsy West. She filled her front window with wonderful things like Macy's might have in 1962.
 
 
 
 
-BEST PSYCHEDELIC DISPLAY THAT COULD BE USED FOR THE COVER OF A RE-ISSUE OF IRON BUTTERFLY'S "INNAGADDADAVITA" ALBUM.
    Good Show! Geoff and Barbara's place at 12TH and 20TH.


-BEST WAY TO SAVE MONEY (and the Planet) -   Francesca's solar-powered bush. She and her husband (me) saved over 43 cents this season alone.

 
-BEST DISPLAY FOR AVOIDING COVID- This 11 Rd. family took their Christmas outside.  The carport display allowed them to enjoy their tree, assembled presents, and holiday meals without Mr. Pandemic bouncing off the walls.
 
 
 
BEST HOLIDAY WREATH-  The one Ward made for our Christmas show.





-DARKEST HOUSE AWARD- Of course, goes to the Trump House on 12th. No surprise there. Its been dark since they put up their "Trump 2020" banner a year ago.
 
 
 

Everything will get brighter after January 20th.  It's going to be a happier and -as soon as we
get vaccinated- a healthier new year.
 
                                Yippee!
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Wednesday, October 21, 2020

TWO MILES BELOW

      

       Imagine climbing into a six-foot sphere -already crowded with two others- then slowly sinking 12,000 feet into a black, frigid ocean. Does this sound like your idea of fun? That's what our friend, Mike Perfit, does for a living. He’s gone down over forty times in a small submarine to study underwater volcanoes.
     

Here you see how "three guys inside a ball" fits into the rest of the sub's non-pressurized framework.   

   We invited Dr. Mike, a UF Professor, to share his adventures (without sharing Covid) at a neighborhood gathering. We kept it small with everyone distanced in our front yard.             

       That’s what our parties looks like in this era of  Trumpus Pandemicus. Now we tap minds instead of kegs.
   
    
 

       His stories took us on his deep water studies aboard the submersible, Alvin.  The pilot has the best seat in front of two scientists like Mike.

    Mike riding shotgun behind the sub's pilot 

     After the sub cuts loose from the mothership it sinks three hours to rub noses with NW Pacific volcanoes. For the next three hours they explore, record data, and photograph mysteries of the deep. There’s a whole world down there living off the thermal energy pushed up from the earth’s molten core. You might see sharks, sea worms, or even a tripod fish.



       A Tripod Fish has fins so long it can stand on the ocean floor.  No eyes are necessary in its light-less world.

     Almost everything far below is black, white, or shades of grey.  “Occasionally you’ll see a speck of green in the distance. Moving closer you’ll probably discover a Heineken bottle, said Mike adding, “something red would probably be a Coke can”.  
      Someone asked it the ocean floor looked like a garbage dump and Dr. Perfit pointed out that most or our eternal discards are floating plastic. Sadly he noted that our oceans have vast floating “islands”, as big as countries, consisting of this oil-based trash. Think about that before your buy your next six-pack of water.


     The pressure is incredible so far below, two tons per square inch, like an elephant sitting on your finger.  For fun, the Alvin’s scientists write messages on styrofoam coffee cups then attach them, caged, to the sub’s exterior.  By the time returns to the surface they have shrunken to the size of a thimble.

Mike brought one of his souvenirs to show us.


    Farting is discouraged. The university’s distinguished geology professor told us, “You try to be mindful of what you eat the day before”.  Of course we wanted to know how you take a leak inside the titanium ball.
“Oh”, Dr. Mike pointed out with a smile, “you do your best to capture it in a bottle”. No diapers needed.
     The three aboard are entertained by music played on the captain’s CD player.  It’s important as most of the dive consists of traveling rising or sinking in the dark.
On one dive the sub’s pilot forget his discs. Fortunately, there was one still in the player so for eight hours, the crew listened to probably the most appropriate album, the Beatles “Magical Mystery Tour”.
     By the end of the talk we all felt fortunate to have briefly busted out of our houses for Mike’s underwater tour, and, to learn that Alvin was much more than a chipmunk.
_______________________________________

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As folks were leaving I showed Mike this rock I found in the surf on Maui. He quickly pointed out that it was a “volcano bomb”, created when liquid basalt rock shot up to solidify in an aerodynamic shape. He added, “That would might hurt if it came down on your head.”








Sunday, August 30, 2020

A WALKER NAMED ALICE

         Ten years ago I climbed the Eiffel Tower. Today our front steps seem daunting. I had foot surgery last week.

     When I woke up they gave me a walker, told me to skedaddle and admonished, "Don't put weight on that thing for two weeks!"


      Death scares he hell out of us and so do events leading up to it. Like needing a walker to get around. Joking about the reaper (and walkers) eases the inevitable.



      Once they were a source of dark humor.  I'd see them in Coconut Grove trash piles and wonder how they got there. When I brought one home in 1986 my wife complained. 

     I suggested, "Let's keep it for a week". Her ballet teacher, Tony, was turning forty which seemed old at the time. What better way to add laughter to his  party than giving him a ribbon-festooned

geezer aid.

     It was a fun-filled gathering. If he was embarrassed Tony didn't show it. The nimble Italian  begged it for a dance which ended with a handstand (note: don't try that at home or anywhere else). 

 After the applause subsided he never touched it again. He left his gag gift with us.

      I folded the frame and set it aside until the next 40th birthday. We laughed at the inevitable once more. When the last of our friends hit the big 4-0 we gave Alice to Goodwill. 

     We had no use for it. We'd never need it and old jokes at 50 aren't funny.  It is old, retirement is on the horizon and Metamucil's in the medicine cabinet.

     This morning Francesca and and I were discussing the odd metal frame next to the bed and the birthday joke from the 80's. She pointed out, "Maybe you should have kept it around. When people turn 60 or 70 the tide turns again. You might hear, "Thanks.  I'll be needing this soon!". 

     Mine?  It's taking me to dinner tonight, forty-feet away.

                           _______________

 

Saturday, August 29, 2020

WHATTA YA DO WITH THOSE CAMPAIGN SIGNS?

       Isn't it incredible how plastic signs pop up before every election?  Do the candidates with the most win? 

Even more amazing is how they fill up our land-fills afterwards, zillions of them, probably enough to cover the moon a thousand times.

        These days I recycle them for the campaigns that follow. Here are two recent examples,



 

                                        

Get some paint.  Maybe we can start a trend.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

"WHEN YOU READ THIS I'LL BE GONE"

           This week I received a short note from a suffering softball buddy, Roy Schwab.  He let me know he was ready to go. 

   Roy and I played on old-guys  teams in Miami and more recently, Gainesville. The West Miami native was always our best athlete.  Roy was fast as a gazelle, even at 75.  He once hit three homers in one game. Both humble and helpful, he never hesitated to give me much-needed playing tips. 

     The former college professor was loving his North Florida retirement. Last summer he moved up from Miami into the new house he helped design. Built on five-acres, it abounded with trees, fresh air, and stars above.  His two daughters came to visit along with his first grandchild, Elijah. Life was good. So were holidays, before the pain began.

      Six months ago he learned he had a deadly form of cancer. A week later the Coronavirus quarantine kept us from visiting him. Last month, knowing the end was near, he was able to fly to California to be with his kids. A few days ago his team mates got an email,

  I wanted to thank you and all the softballers for a wonderful experience with many fun times. Please remove me from your mailing lists. Today will be my last day on Planet Earth. I’m in California now where death with dignity is law. Take care, Roy.

It was a honor to be his friend.  I'm glad his suffering is over and he left on his own terms.  I hope somehow, some way, Roy and I can play catch again.

 

        Before yesterday's game we honored our departed team mate.

_________________________________________________________

 

       A similar thing happened years ago.

I met Bob Burns on the set of a cheap horror movie, "Demonoid", in 1980. While I was a gofer, he was was the film's art director, best known for his work on "Texas Chainsaw Massacre".  Bob also directed films and acted a bit. 

  

       In the early 80's his Santa Monica apartment was decorated from the props he created for the well-known slasher film. It was both creepy and cool.

 

     Years later (2004) I visited my semi-retired friend at his home in Seguin, Texas. This time, only a part of his house was a horror show. Much of it then was taken up by an impressive rock collection.  

   On my 2004 visit, with Bob, a neighbor, and the world's largest pecan.

 

    Bob demonstrated how he played spoons in a local band,"like a sonofabitch", he bragged. He seemed healthy enough but a few months later I got a  note from him saying,                                  

  "Thanks for being a friend....I'm with Elvis now".  

 

   Apparently after learning he had  terminal cancer, he went online to learn about a painless way to end his life. 

    

 

 

 

He mailed these notes to friends the day before died. 
Bob, the occasional actor, played his final scene flawlessly.

                  ________________________

 

 

 

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

EVERYONE NEEDS A FAUCI BOX

     The deadly virus is keeping us at home, often wishing we were somewhere else. Two of these wishful thinkers escaped from South Florida this week. Gray Read and her husband, Phil, stopped by for a
socially-distant visit. It wasn't to difficult as they carried their fabulous "Fauci Box" with them.
 Photos can be deceiving. Gray actually has two legs, a big help in keeping ahead of the Coronavirus.


     Asking, "What would a long-distanced driving Dr. Fauci do?", they are traveling with a food-filled ice chest and their own invention, a "Fauci Box".
     
    It contains nearly everything you need to stay free of the C-19, the plague that killed 256 Floridians today (Thanks Governor Desantis. We know it could have been worse).
    
    Our guests' cardboard container held many gloves, hand sanitizer, spray sanitizer, wipes, and extra masks.  The compass was optional.
    
   On his belt Phil wore another clever creation, a retractable rag for opening doors. The blue fabric holstered on his mid-section could be a new Corona fashion trend.

    Now, if they can figure out how to transform their ice chest into a toilet, they really can travel worry-free.  It's what we did in the good ol' days, six months ago.
                      __________________