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Friday, August 30, 2013


       Coconut Grove has suffered the wrath of feckless politicians for forty years.  That's one reason Miami keeps making the "worst cities" lists. 
   Let's use Peacock Park as an example.

     J.L. Plummer represented the Grove for nearly three decades.  Beginning in the 70's,  the city commissioner did all he could to suck the life out of the Grove's central park.  Its recreation center was closed ("The city has no money!")  Later, it was converted into office space.   Neglect gave bums every reason to move into the park and, the did.
       Still,  nothing blocked its dreamy view of Biscayne Bay except a few curving coconut trees. ..until the eighties.  That's when "JL" approved of a plan to plant mangrove trees along the shoreline.

Kennedy and Myers Parks got the same treatment.  Now, with the trees fully grown, the view of the bay is blocked.
      No other seaside parks suffer this.   It is beyond reason.
      Mangrove trees do make fish happy but we need a few windows to see the water as well.
      Once I tried to discuss these problems with our City Hall representative, Mr. Plumber.   His secretary refused to give me an appointment.  I was told, "If he wants to talk to you, he'll call you back" and of course, he never did.
     In 2002 we elected Johnny Winton.  He lost his touch with the Grove when tried to turn Peacock Park into a roller hockey stadium.  In 2006 he had a few too many and head-butted a cop.  So long Johnny.  
    The commissioner appointed to replaced him spent a lot of time in her office.  The city manager accused her of being impaired by a stash of vodka in her desk.  She was soon replaced when we elected our present Grove representative, Marc Sarnoff.
     Marc has never been drunk in public or on the job.  Perhaps he has never been drunk.  He's one up tight hep cat dude.  Mr. Sarnoff  has also done an poor job of turning Peacock Park into something good. 
     We've heard the his lines so many times, "There is no money to help the parks in Miami's wealthiest neighborhood" .  "We can not provide Grove park programs (although many other city parks have them)".  
    This has gone on forever but the neglect has gotten worse.   
      Last spring, Sarnoff leased much of Peacock Park to a private school.  It was his idea to finance "park improvements" with a park giveaway. 
St. Stephens school is spending a half-million dollars to build small, fenced, soccer fields, pathways, and a large, black play pit.
Try romping in that.  It is filled with tiny pieces of shredded rubber tires. 
 Go to Peacock to see what you're going to be fenced out of.  The private school in the background, who hold the keys, had a big dedication ceremony this week.  Were you invited?
There is a new circular bench (the one good thing) and
still much of the construction the mess.
Yes, this "mess" will be cleaned up next month but Peacock will still be a mess.  Our city commissioner has made sure of that.

We've given away a piece of a public park  again.  The City of Miami has done this for years.
What was a popular public basketball court is now being surrounded by a 12-foot fence.  
Who knows if any kid will be able to go there to shoot hoops again?

     As I mentioned earlier, the bay view of the Grove's central park has been blocked by trees.  Commissioner Sarnoff told us recently he spent four years trying to fix this but was unsuccessful.  Maybe his chain saw needed gas.
   The recreation building (we call it "The Glass House")  is no longer an office.  It sits empty.   
   This could be could be good news but in Miami, one never knows.  We can only hope that our city leaders reads its bronze plaque that says, "Built in 1972 to serve the public".
    In the mean time, if you need a place to sleep, the porch outside is available. 

    If Peacock Park is an example of how the Grove is treated by the City of Miami, maybe it is time to secede.   It did not work in '77 or '92 but there might be an alternative.  

      Maybe we should start a talent search nation-wide for our next Grove leader.  If they do that for hospital chairmen and school superintendents, why not for a city officials?      
   It is clear that everyone we elect is incompetent.
    Lets grab someone from Austin, Boulder or Minneapolis. They're well run cities because their leaders are better than ours. 
    In the mean time Miami will continue to fritter its parks away like so much shredded rubber. 


Thursday, August 29, 2013


 Man and woman with stern expession stand side-by-side. The man hold a pitch fork.     The Grove's city commissioner, Marc Sarnoff, wants us to shut up.   A resident recently e-mailed him with a complaint.  She pointed out that there may not be enough money to build a park once the Grove's  convention center, next to City Hall and Scotty's, is torn down this fall.

      For years Coconut Grove's parks have suffered.   Every Groveite knows this.
The commissioner  has consistently said, "There is no money", to improve our parks.   
He just leased part of Peacock Park to a private school, for instance, because  "there was no other way to pay for park improvements".

     When this woman wrote, worried that the Convention Center site may soon become a "mud pit", he told her to,

 " your e-mails (presumably from his office) and slowly put down your pitchfork..."

Marc Sarnoff  Sent: 8/12/2013 9:15:20 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time

       Grove resident/architect, Charles Corda, saw this and responded,   

Dear Commissioner Sarnoff;

I think you may be watching too many old horror movies on late night TV.

It is true this is matter of "grave" concern. However of even more concern to me, is that you envision those who oppose this project as "pitchfork" raising rabble.

Perhaps you would be more interested if we call this project Grove "Horror" (not "Grove Harbor") ?

Would you like to get yourself some popcorn before I continue..?

To employ the imagery you use in your email let me make this clear,

It is "a dark and stormy night".

The rabble are gathering en masse in the castle forecourt.
Barefoot,  worn clothing,  soiled faces, their torches alight ..countless "pitchforks" raised in untempered anger

and ...oh...........

the mournful chant,

"We want answers"...."We want answers"

"Why has the man, once a Prince, now a King, turned his back on those who trusted him...

Our Prince once promised... keep us safe.. protect our homes.. secure our tiny hamlet from marauding invaders....
and uncouth developers
        who care not for who we are , our history, or our future"

Where is our Prince?

"Why has the man we raised upon a throne abandoned us to stand squarely with those who would take our land and do us harm"?

"Wherefore art thou Dear King when our fragile hamlet is in grave peril?

Answer for us these questions so we may "put our pitchforks down", extinguish our torches, and return to our humble homes.

Answer for us these questions, Dear King,

     So we may know we did right to place you upon your throne.. 

       With all due respect Commissioner Sarnoff, In clear and unambiguous language, Why your ardent support for this ill conceived and unappreciated "development" of the Coconut Grove Bayfront?   To continue,

1.) Where exactly does the Sasaki Plan and Report call for over 100,000 square of retail/ restaurant use to be located on the Coconut Grove Bay front and /or this particular parcel of Bayfront land?.  Please site page number and paragraph so that we may be enlightened on this matter.

2.) In light of the Sasaki Plan "Market Analysis" that unequivocally states that any uses on the the Coconut Grove Waterfront should not compete with those same uses in the Center Grove, Why are you proposing over 100,000 SF of "competing" uses that may have the potential to destroy the economic basis of the Center Grove as it presently stands.

3.) Exactly how many parking spaces will be provided in the proposed Parking Structure? In an effort to avoid any further "mis-understanding" regarding this Garage on the Bay,  Please provide not just the anticipated height of this structure but also it's capacity, length and width.
4.) Why do you believe that the ballot wording for this item, which essentially gives the Developers carte blanche to build what they please, should be approved by the voters of our City?

5.) Do you believe the voters should be shown a final plan of this development that accurately depicts your intentions before being asked to cast their ballots?
I, and the "pitchfork" wielding rabble, await your response.


Charles Corda

Sent: 8/12/2013 9:15:20 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time

Who on Gods green earth told you there is no money for Regatta Park? Did you speak with someone or read it on the Internet? I am very curious so I would like a response.

There is approximately 2 Million Dollars to start Regatta Park...there is fear of a mud pit who would tell you such a thing?

Too many things are being said are not true.

At any rate read your emails carefully and slowly put down your pitch fork and the Sasaki plan think about all the meetings there will be 14 more acres of park not a mud field but maybe that does not suit or support the cause you may have.

At any rate you have your answer on the funding, can I have my answer on who told you that?


Sent from my iPhone

       If you love our bayside community,  keep your pitchfork in a handy place.  We may have to march on City Hall soon.

If you have not signed the MoveOn Grove Harbor Petition, please do it now.   The link is,

    Become a part of the "rabble" fighting for Coconut Grove.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013


     Last night I attended a small, North Grove meeting to figure out why the City is getting rid of Coconut Grove's coolest place, Scotty's Landing.  
A city official and a developer's attorney explained that Scotty's lease has ended and they plan to replaced it with a Shula's Steakhouse.  
    Voters will decide the issue in the November 5th election.  If the proposal wins, they will begin building new restaurants, shops and a parking garage on this public land. 
If the proposal is defeated, Scotty's Landing will stay as it is until the City can come up with a better plan.

   Last year Scott Wessel ("Scotty")  presented extensive plans to re-build and improve his restaurant. The City rejected them.   Last month, the city decided to let the Grove Bay Investment Group take over the site.
    Yes, I am simplifying the cordial, two-hour gathering, but that was basically it.   
   The developer's lawyer, Richard Perez, explained that his client, whose principals already have a Shula's Steakhouse and the Grove Harbor Marina, will be putting in about 100,000 sq. ft. of parking, restaurants, and retail shops on the seven-acre site.  
     I pointed out that we love Scotty's Landing, the Grove's only cheap, casual restaurant on the Biscayne Bay.
Yes, we want it upgraded  but don't want to lose it.   We love having a beer with a view like this. 
    Last night we were told the developers plan to build three restaurants: a steak house, a seafood place and a "casual" restaurant, one they call "Hanger 49".    The first two ("Shula's and "Oceano") are fairly high-end and will look out on the bay (Where Scotty's and the Charthouse are now).   
     And what about the casual place, the one they say will be for the people who love Scotty's?  They are sticking it out back, where the boats are stacked  now.  If you look over the "tourist dock'" and past the fueling station, you might see some water.
 Above are the three proposed restaurant sites.  "Hanger 49" is called "Hanger 42" above.
 The City does not get it.   
We love Scotty's. It's casual, funky charm represents what we love about Coconut Grove.   It sits on our village's best bay view.
Don't give it to Shula's Steakhouse.  Don't try "replacing Scotty's"  by giving us your boxy, fake hanger stuck in the boat parking lot (the rendering below). 
 It's an insult to all of us. 

    We need to organize.  We need to fight the City's proposal. 
   If you want to help, sign our group's MoveOn petition.  The link is 
If the link does not work for some reason, google "Moveon Stop Grove Harbor Petition" to find it.  

Please pass this around so others can sign the petition and help save Scotty's.
The Grove's coolest place doesn't have to disappear.

      I'm glad I attended the meeting.  It was hosted by friends.  I needed to hear their point-of-view. Unfortunately I did not agree with it.
I think they've been hanging out with jaded politicians and developers who don't care about the Grove, too long.
   Blinded by the light, they no longer see what could be.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Yesterday's blog on Scotty's Landing got a big response.  People are aghast at the City of Miami's plans for the Grove's waterfront.  Typical was this note from our friend, Greta, who now lives in Atlanta,

Oh, my dear.  You and everyone else is right;  Scotty's is a treasure.  it was always the first place I took people who wanted to see the 'real' Miami, or the old Key West.  I would tell people, " This is the closest you'll get to the Keys on the mainland.
Black Point Marina hold second place, but it's a long drive down there.
I hope you all can mobilize the voters to take down the folks who crony up to the power brokers/money movers.
I hope we can too, for Greta and everyone else.

Dawn Cope commented,
WHAT? are they totally stark raving mad? NO NO NO.
This family votes YES for Scotty's.   So does their overseas family who request a trip there every time they visit Miami.
     The ballot question goes way beyond replacing Scotty's Landing.  It is so vague, we really can't tell what the developer would be putting on our 7-acres of waterfront.  Grove activist, Nina West, sent city officials a way to clear the air.  She wrote,

 Change the ballot.  Put in the garage dimensions, square feet of retail, number of parking spaces in the garage and the overall dimensions. That will put an end to speculation.

This is a great idea.  Hopefully City Hall will follow Nina's suggestion.

Sunday, August 25, 2013


     When I told my neighbor Dave today, that the City of Miami was getting rid of Scotty's Landing, his reaction was quick and visceral, "What?  Are they crazy? It's the best damn thing in this town!"
    Almost everyone I speak with says the same thing.  Many of us were away for the summer and while we were gone, the City made plans to demolish two of our bayside restaurants, Scotty's Landing and the Charthouse (below). 
                                   Rendering of the proposed  replacement restaurants ( "Shula's" and "Oceana") below.                                                            
This rendering shows the Shula's Steak & Seafood restaurant proposed for the Coconut Grove waterfront. 
   Then, they will replace them with a Shula's Steakhouse and an up-scale seafood restaurant, "Oceana". 

  The City's proposal creates 400,000 sq. ft. of parking and 140,000 sq. ft. of retail/restaurant/commercial space, including another restaurant behind Scotty's.  A huge, $20-million dollar parking garage will be erected on Bayshore Drive.      
When I explained this to my neighbor he asked, "Who could support such a stupid proposal?"
    I replied that our city commission had. 

   In July they voted to give their developer friends a 80-year lease for these six acres on the bay.
     The good news is that it's not a done deal.  In fact,  because it's such an obviously inside deal, one in which only one party is being given the opportunity to make millions off our precious, public park land, we get to vote.
      On November 5, when we choose our next mayor, we will be asked to approve the City's plan.  If it passes they will begin tearing down the best thing in this town and replace it with "Oceana".  
If it fails, the guys that work for us in City Hall will have to come up with a better idea.

      I'm still gathering information, trying to keep an open mind about the whole affair.  This week I will be meeting with a local official to get the city's point-of-view.   

       I do know that Scotty's is one of the coolest place in town.  It's where I take out-of-town guests for a taste of Coconut Grove.    Yes, it is in need of an upgrade but we expected that to come after Scotty's current 35-year lease was renewed.  
    Tearing down Scotty's is like going to the dentist because you have a cavity and the dentist decides to rip all your teeth out. 
    It makes no sense but the dentist makes more money.
    On November 5th, tell the dentist "No!".  Vote against the City's proposal.

                    The view from Scotty's Landing this morning

Tuesday, August 20, 2013


    What would your restaurant be?  Burgers? Barbeque?  Our friends, Nadine and Slim, dreamt of serving island fare for years.  Now they have their their own eatery in Wynwood.
     This happy duo took over a place called "Palatino" and kept the name.  Located at 3004 N.W. 2nd Avenue, it's just two blocks from the art action but far enough away to have    Nadine and Francesca   good prices.                                 

     Open from 8am to 9 pm, you can start your day with eggs, akee, and salt fish and end it with curried goat.  Yes, they have everything in-between: jerk chicken,  blackened tilapia and a healthy array of salads. Montego Bay Shrimp 
For dessert, try their island-flavored ice cream.  Choices include coconut and rum raisin. 
     Friends went there last weekend and fell in love with the oxtail.  I fell in love with everything when we visited, even the placemats.
Each one, individually hand-painted, is a work of art. 
If I was less honest, I would have stuffed my shirt with them.

Palatino Jamaican Restaurant is open every day but Monday. 
   You'll love this place and even better, if you tell them the Grove Guy sent you, you'll get a free ice cream cone!

You can check out their Facebook page or their website, Give them a call at 786-360-5200. They also have pick up and delivery service.
Sample Prices:  Island Omelet $6, Irie Tuna Melt $5.50, Large Garden Salad $5.50, Jerk Chicken $8.50. 
    The street parking (like the ice cream cone) is free.

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Full Face Hoody
    Clumsy at best, I walk up  pretending I'm photographing something else.   Then, I lower the camera -as if pausing- and snap a few at hip level.  Every now and then one comes out okay.                     Michigan Man

Friends taking in all things natural.

If I were a serious photographer, I would shoot hundreds of pictures of people staring at their cell phones.  Sometimes I feel like the only one who isn't.

 Here are a few non-people shots,

  This gaggle of crutches festooned a pillar in St. Anne's Cathedral (Quebec).   They were no longer needed by those blessed by miracles.

Hay Rake,Harvard, Massachusetts

Co-op photo op, Belfast, Maine

Sunday, August 11, 2013


          We had not been to Second Saturday all summer.  The monthly  party in Wynwood's Art District had almost grown too large for oldies like us.  We figured, "It's free, it's fun, we'll go early and avoid the crowds". 
      When we got there at 7 pm the place was packed.  
  The free street parking had vanished and residents were hawking $10 slots in their yards.   We left the Honda in a dubious spot and hoped it would be there when we returned.
      We walked around in wonder.  Why can't the Grove have more of this?     

Good things continue to happen in this formerly forgotten collection of warehouses.  There are many colorful, new wall murals.  The crowds are bigger along with more street music, and better gallery art.   

One artists, Frederico Uribe, was exhibiting his sculptures made from colored pencils.


 This skeleton below was made by hanging buttons on thin strings.  Inside is a red button heart.

        A Venezuelan sculptor attracted many gringos and Caraquenos with his bronze body parts.

  He got caught painting graffiti on an abandoned building in Miami Beach.  When he  ran from the police he was shot in the chest with a taser gun.  The talented, high school art student fell down and died. 

A cloud of tears hangs over this town since Tuesday's death of 18-year old Israel Hernandez-Llach.

            Wynwood is best known for its  world-class street murals.  Most of their artists started out doing what Israel was doing when he was shot.
     His friends painted the murals above to honor him and his short life.   It was fitting to see him remembered amongst Second Saturday's frenetic commotion.



As we made our way home I too was moved by the creative spirit. 
In less than 30 seconds I created this work of art on the ceiling of our car.