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Tuesday, March 29, 2016


         There's water all around us and Miami's new water celebration, Water, began tonight. The festival is thirty days of liquid magic presented by Mary Luft and Tigertail Productions. There will be water music, liquid dancing, and tsunami cinema.


  Art flotillas may do battle on the Miami River and the Miccosukee Embassy will officially open.

    Japanese performance artist, Eiko Otake, came to the Grove tonight.We followed her around Viscaya as "A Body in Places". It is her response to the Fukushima disaster.  
She'll be giving a free performance tomorrow night, 6:30 p.m. at the Perez Art Museum.

 The complete schedule is at
   It's going to be an outstanding water festival but it's not the first.

  That honor goes to the folks who once put on the Grove's King Mango Strut parade. In 2004 we staged the world's first festival with the liquid-themed, "WaterFest". It took place at Key Biscayne's Marjorie Stoneman Douglas Nature Center for three years. 

Most of those attending WaterFest were children and their parents. Here they're learning the hula.

 Holi man

   Like Mary and company, the Strut organizers came up with every water- related event they could think of. We had water music, water art and the frozen version, ice sculptures by Barry Massin. 
   Of course we had a wet t-shirt contest. In the King Mango version participants (men, women, and kids) were given old shirts. After dipping them in water they were thrown at a distant wall with gusto. The first person hitting the target won
   I exhibited my collection or antique sprinklers. Our mermaid contest was won by a man named "Jellyfish". Antoinette Baldwin ran the WaterFest Bar that served craft water. The melted glacier was superb.
    During its three-year run we ended each WaterFest with a Holi celebration.
 About to get soaked, WaterFest Holi, 2006.
 Soaked, 2005

 That's the Indian fiesta where people wearing white toss colored water at each other. Great fun!

    Tigertail's month-long event is WaterFest taken to its highest level. It is highly professional and has an impressive list of sponsors. 

King Mango's version? paled in comparison but got high marks for hard work, creativity, and weirdness. Our sponsor was the Miami-Dade Department of Water and Sewers.

     There are so many cool things on Tigertail's festival schedule.

  Many are on Miami Beach where they will soon have gondolas plying the waters that were once Lincoln Road.

Like we said twelve years ago,
"Relax. Enjoy the water. 
It's 72 % of you". 

Saturday, March 26, 2016


         It's hard to write this one. I can look at my computer screen, or, by tilting my head slightly up, see this,

a parade of clouds soaring over the back yard, Buck island, and the iridescent sea.
  Closing your eyes you're caressed by a constant, cool,  breeze. To my right, perky bananaquits peck at sugar in colorful calabash gourds.
On the left, thirty miles north, is the faint outline of St. Thomas.

      But I'll write a bit more. We're spending a week with friends living 1100 miles southeast of Miami. Peter and Martha left the Grove for this affordable view on the island of St. Croix.

It's a U.S. territory so the transition is easy, three hours by jet, no passport required. Both of our buddies are charter boat captains. Former attorneys, they decided they'd rather take people sailing rather than sue them. 

 Dinner might be the bull dolphin Peter speared in the deep water offshore. "Once you get below 40 feet", he told us yesterday, "you hear the whales. Their voices carry for miles".

     Last night we went to a nearby resort to play Disco Bingo. After every game, a DJ amped up the dance music and we took to the floor.  Yes, it was different but we were participating in something everyone on the island seemed to enjoy.  All ages and races were represented. Somebody won a thousand bucks.

     There's a lot of drinking going on in St. Croix, most of it is rain. The island's fresh water is collected by rooftops and is stored in cisterns below. Rain tastes delicious. Nearby distilleries mix it with molasses to make rum. That's good too.

    We could use more island friendliness in the States. Both friends and strangers greet you here with a wave and a smile. Drivers too. That's a habit I could live with.

Another one would be enjoying the outdoors more and staring at screens less. 
Unless of course, the screen is a door, beckoning you to step out for the next island adventure.




Hurricane Hugo tore this place apart in 1989. The island was whooped by 200 m.p.h. winds for five hours. Twenty-seven years later there are still many broken buildings.  Maybe this one deserved the pummeling, a former slave market.

A cock struts in front of the old customs house

A Palm Sunday church decoration
Calabash gourd

Cane Beach    "The Wall" , 200 feet offshore, drops suddenly from 12 feet to 1200.

Layla with her faux Rasta man, Chicago Dave,  Cane Beach
Some banyans are eating this buildings

Native Alexander Hamilton once slept here.

The boardwalk tarpon admire my wife almost as much as I do.

                     Sunset jazz concert, Christiansted Harbor

Above is Columbus Landing at the entry to the Salt River.  On his second voyage to the New World (1493) he tried to come ashore here.  Columbus and his men were met with a hail of arrows from the natives he wanted to enslave. He later returned with a full army and killed everyone.

In Miami unfinished houses sit unloved for years.  Here, people just move into the part that's dry.

Farmer's Market, Christiansted. Why can't the Grove have a permanent market?  This place was great.  We bought real food from real farmers and fishermen.

                                                                                   Walking  the labyrinth,
Mt. Washington Meditation Garden

 Bayfront Park, Fredricksted.  If they can see the water, why can't the folks in Coconut Grove?

Sugar plantation tower (and adjacent ruins) two blocks from our place on Green Cay. Two hundred of these former windmills crown the hills here.
    The blades atop were left to rot after slavery was abolished in 1803. 
A little splashing before our departure.                                                        Happy Easter.

Monday, March 21, 2016


     Last week, The Miami Herald reported that our historic landmark, the "Allen's Drugs" sign was missing.

After sixty years it vanished from the corner of Red and Sunset in South Miami.
  Just the outline of the missing neon letters can now be seen.

 Many suspected it was now adorning an alien mothership or some retired drug kingpin's living room.

     Now we know its neon glow is beaming again in Hialeah. The "D" is missing as it sits above a discount toupee store in the Flamingo Shopping Center. The store's owner, Abe Coangelo, told me, "I got no idea how it got here, kids I guess. But ya gotta admit, it looks pretty good".

Thursday, March 10, 2016


      The best Coconut Grove events are intimate affairs. You relax, chat with friends, and no one tries to sell you a Buick (which happened to me at last month's mega-art festival).  
    This week features three such events. We enjoyed the first last Sunday.

     The Gifford Lane Art Stroll is still one of the Grove's best kept secret. The people that know about it return every year. I see them at my corner art booth and we talk. South Miami mayor, Phil Stoddard, told me as he munched on hot ribs, "It's my favorite art festival".   
        Miami Herald writer, Andres Viglucci, asked. "What makes the Gifford different?"  I glanced at the passing people and said, "It's them, there are happy people all around us. They're connecting with friends, surrounded by live music and live oaks. I think they enjoy visiting with amateur artists like me". 

       Like the King Mango Strut, the Gifford is non-commercial. It is so small it can be pulled off without the sponsorship of banks, car dealerships, or developer     (above) Art fan , Myra Wexler 
Volunteers, most of whom live on the forty-house street, do the leg work.  It's just five-hours long but there's plenty to do. The residents also serve the cucumber punch that adds a little (some say a lot of) buzz to the air.
        I saw my friend there, Bonnie Fen. Later she wrote,

The Gifford event was  wonderful! It reminded me of the Grove Art Festival when I was a kid. You could go and see everyone you knew. Very REFRESHING and FUN. Thanks for encouraging me to go.

     My wife, Francesca, and I didn't stop moving  for twelve hours last Sunday. By 7 pm we were home, unpacked and pooped.  Maybe its a magical day that can only happen here, a place with people crazy enough to put on a street party like this.  It's one of the reasons we love living in Coconut Grove.
    If you weren't there, sorry, but you can join us next time.  Join the party when Gifford comes alive again on March 5, 2017.

North Grove's Rocky Lyons gets a new look.

I took a few photos of the folks who bought my creations, 

Grove attorney, Lee Marks, rockin' his new fish helmet.

 FIU professor, Gray Read, bought her husband a birthday present.



  We're having two more of these great little Grove events this coming weekend.  Unfortunately, the two Sunday concerts take place at the same time.

  The Barnacle State Park is presenting a couple of musicians you never heard of, "Danner and Bottari" who say they are "very much in touch with their country roots".  Who knows? They may be delightful.
As usual, its a picnic on the lawn beginning at 6:30.  Ten bucks gets you in.

    While we love the Barnacle concerts, we'll be going to The Alhambra Orchestra's event two blocks south, in the Ransom Everglades auditorium.
      Their annual event, "South Florida's Got Talent" features classical music played by fantastically talented teens (backed by the orchestra).  Every year we get blown away by these violin-wielding kids.  
      The concert (and parking) is free and it begins at 7:30 on Sunday, March 13.  The school auditorium is located at 3575 Main Highway, a block south of the formerly entertaining Coconut Grove Playhouse.