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Saturday, February 27, 2016


       It took me thirty years but I finally got to see "Phantom of the Opera". He sang for us at the Arsht Center last night. 
     Dang it's entertaining. 
     The "Phantom" is like an opera without the boring stuff, a rock n'roller coaster through love, murder, and excellent pyrotechnics. At one point so much fire shot up from the stage we nearly got sunburned sitting sixty-feet.  
     That's entertainment!  
    It's a terrific show and it'll be running here for 8 more days. For more information go to .



      The first Okeechobee Music and Arts Festival comes to South Florida this Thursday. Set up your tent next to our own Great Lake for four days of fun.  
The lineup includes Kendrick Lamar, Robert Plant, and Skrillex.  If that's not enough, there are 24 more groups like Joe Badass, Hall and Oates,  and Fetty Wap. See the whole lineup (and all you need to know) at . 
   It sounds like it'll be well worth heading two hours north. Who knows, Okeechobee may become the next Wynwood!


     Our own Plymouth Congregational Church is  celebrating Black History Month with its "Jazz in the Garden" event manana, Sunday, February 28.  It begins at 11 a.m. Honored guests include three families ("The Stirrups, Reeves, and Andersons") with deep roots in the West Grove.
       It will be a "Jazz Brunch" featuring the excellent Brenda Alford Trio. Donations will be accepted. Proceeds will benefit the
United Negro College Fund.


    Lotus House (in NW Miami) shelters battered women.  They need to expand
to continue their important work.  You can help by coming to City Hall on Wednesday.  Here's a note below from LH director, Constance Collins: 
Dear Friends, You can help Lotus House make dreams come true with your presence at the Planning and Zoning Board hearing on Wednesday, March 2nd, 6pm (arrive early to get a seat), at City Hall, 3500 Pan American Drive in Coconut Grove, where our Lotus Village project is being considered for approval.


      Our city's waterfront is always in jeopardy.  Come discuss it with our city commissioner, Ken Russell, on Thursday, March 3.  The gathering will be held at the beautiful Perez Art Museum.  Parking is a breeze (as is the air wafting off the bay).  It's free.  Refreshment at 6:30.  They're free too.
The one-hour discussion begins at 7.

Saturday, February 20, 2016




    Most people don't even know about one of Miami's coolest parks, Matheson Hammock West.  It is dozens of hidden, green acres.  The road leading to it is hard to find.
   When people first see the wide open spaces and the ponds surrounded by forests, they say, "How did I not know about this?"  Many take their dogs there to romp around.
    Bowing to pressure from the surrounding Coral Gables homeowners (all members of the one percent), the county parks department is considering cutting off easy access to the park (closing the public road that leads
 to it). 
    It's a public park only easily accessible by a public road. That road must remain open. 
    Below is a five-minute video that explains...

Wednesday, February 17, 2016


    We went for a walk last Friday morning and were shocked to see a huge, 200-foot banner along Main Highway.

  It promotes a developer and the two houses he is building at the corner of Main and Plaza Street, just south of the historic Christian Science Church. 
    I'd like to write "What balls!", but I know it's not nice to express your anger and disbelief this way.
    It's certainly shows the developer's bad taste, gumption, and disregard for the law. Large signs are not allowed by the city's code.  I'd expect this sort of thing circling a Trump Tower but not along the Grove's scenic residential corridor. 
    We complained a week ago but nothing has happened. We called the Net office (they said they'd look into it) and our city commissioner (his assistant said he'd look into it too).
     Today, I called the developer, Douglas Cox (his phone number is all over the banner).  He thinks his sixty-yard billboard is a great way to sell houses adding, "My team of lawyers says its legal".  
   If he's right (I doubt it) we need to change the law.
    Does this sort of thing bother you?  If so, please call the folks below and complain.

1) Ken Russell, the Grove's commissioner,    305-250-5333. 
2)  The Grove's NET office,  305-960-4670
3)  The developer, Doug Cox,  305-905-9485
If enough of us call the banner may go to the landfill where it belongs.

   The Grove's commissioner drives by it everyday.  Wouldn't it be great if he could be the  leader we dream of, the one who just goes out and cuts the damn thing down?

      Chances are, Mr. Cox has enough money, lawyers, and influence to moon us with his  banner for some time.

 Sometimes You Win!
  Ten days after we reported the banner to city officials, a  code inspector visited the site (Monday, Feb. 22).  He determined that 200-foot advertisement was in violation of the code.  The next day it was removed.


      Who would think of the Grove as an athletic powerhouse?  We actually became one last week ago when Ransom Everglades' boys soccer team won the state's Class 3A championship. They beat Tampa Catholic in a close game, 3-2. It's the Main Highway school's first state soccer title.  
    We are proud of the Ransom boys led by their coach, Dave Villano. 
Maybe we should put up a 200-foot banner congratulating them.


       We have a terrific music festival every year on Virginia Key. "Grassroots" will feature over 40 world music groups on its four-day run.  For more information check out their website,
            Now come 2016MeetthePerfFINAL


      We hiked the Grove Art Festival last weekend.
After half a century it's become huge, a four-day pop-up city. Monty is the mayor.
     You can go there for dinner and a concert. The kid's can romp in the festival's four-day playground.
     Did I mention art?  If you had the time there were two thousand or so artists hawking their wares.

      The Grove's temp city was sponsored by the condo giant, "Terra". 

 Coincidentally, the festival's poster
featured the Grove condo's that Terra is now building.

Peacock Park got a new lawn last month. This week thousands of art festival fans tromped all over it.  After two days the grass looked beat up and dead.

Even pop-up cities should take care of their parks.

Saturday, February 6, 2016



   Looking for a fun time?  Get thee to the Arsht Center to see "Motown the Musical". It is a non-stop fun frenzy of all the songs that came out of Detroit in the 60's and 70's. It maybe the sound track of your early years. 
   The cast of 30 recreates snippets of over 50 hits by the Supremes,
Smoky Robinson, and Stevie Wonder.  Marvin Gaye and The Temptations sing their hits too.  The house went nuts the young Michael Jackson (and his brothers) belted out "I Want You Back".

   The show is woven around the life of Motown Records' founder, Berry Gordy.  He created hits and stars for decades. When the cast came together at the end they had us dancin' in the aisle.

    The show ends FEB. 7.  Tickets start at $29.  
Go to Arshtcenter. com  -and-   you should probably eat before you get there (see below),

   We thought we'd have dinner before Motown the Musical so we headed to the Books & Books Cafe (it is part of the Arsht Center).  It's had great reviews and we'd never been there before.
    It looked very nice and 120 people seated looked happy.  Unfortunately, getting there an hour and a half before showtime, we still couldn't get a seat.  Lacking reservations, we were put on a list and told to check back in 15 minutes. We spent that time strolling north on Biscayne Boulevard. 
Big mistake.

     The first block was dark, illuminated a bit by the bright windows of high-end furniture stores.  The wind pushed fat leaves followed by unusually long stems across the wide sidewalk.  Talk about wishful thinking.  We were watching rats.  Orlando's Mickey Mouse is a mere cartoon but we have the real thing.
     Yeah, among all this New Miami opulence were skittering  rodents. We scurried our way through Rat Row and passed the strangely placed Checkers and Burger King joints.  A few crackheads were shouting at each other as they munched  cheeseburgers outside. We were glad to get past them too but the next block was a challenge as well. We were tip toeing next to homeless sleepers. Downtown Miami has over 1000 people camping on its sidewalks every night.
    Some waved at us from their sleeping bags. What fun.  As we passed Publix we joked about having dinner inside. We began our dreaded route to the Arsht stepping past the sidewalk sleepers, the rowdy Checkers crowd, and Rat Row. 
    When we arrived the cafe's seating girl greeted us with a pert smile and said, "I'm so sorry. We're so busy, we can't seat anyone".  
     Francesca and I were very hungry now, so hungry we braved the rats, the burger bunch, and the sidewalk campsite a third time to grab sushi at the distant grocery store.  Heading back to the Arsht we were hoping the homeless, the crackheads, and the famished rats would not grab our dinner.
    With eight minutes to spare we sat on a comfortable Arsht Center bench and stuffed ourselves.  Publix sushi seemed like a luxury at this point. Stomachs filled, we stepped inside to take our seats.
We hope you can see the show too.  Just remember to eat before  "Motown".
     Avoid "RatTown" (downtown Miami at night) if you can.  It has been scary for forty years. Lets hope that changes someday.
     An 8-year-old carrying his mother's gun tried to rob a grocery store in West Palm Beach on Friday.  He wore a bike helmet and "sweater mask".
     Fortunately, an employee was able to wrestle the loaded pistol from the lad before he could stand his ground.



      Early voting starts yesterday in South Miami.  Tuesday is election day. Encourage all of your friends there to get out and vote -and- to vote for their outstanding mayor, Phil Stoddard.   He's a politician that we can be proud of.
      Mayor Stoddard done a great job for six years. Let's help him continue for two more.

    South Miami is the envy of Coconut Grove.  We both have lovely neighborhoods but they did their shopping district right and have a functional city hall.  South Miami also produces little events that -unlike the Grove's beer-swilling mobs in Peacock Park-  you'd actually like to go to.

Consider this'n a week from now,

    The Black History Family Festival will be fun, have great music, and it is free. The Grove's Goombay Festival should be more like this.

      The Grove does have an outstanding African-American art gallery, KROMA. It's on Grand Avenue, a half-block east of SW 37th Avenue (Douglas Road).
      We attended the opening of their new show Thursday night.

Here are a few pictures,

 Painting by Tavare Hill


It'll be up for a month and we hope you can see it.

       The City of Miami supports many cultural centers but not KROMA.  It should. Go there and see why. It has the potential to be an outstanding bridge between the Grove's diverse communities.