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Monday, June 27, 2016

New updated Grove trolley system has been approved

Great news for our Coconut Grove trolley system. The BID's Executive Committee approved the proposed "Ultimate Alignment" Coconut Grove trolley route on Monday, June 27, 2016.

In January, the City approved the purchase of two City trolleys, subject to the City of Miami absorbing the operation and maintenance costs.

On June 22, the BID Board approved up to $300,000 for the purchase of two City of Miami trolleys as part of the expenditure plan. Currently the trial trolley is running.

Without the contribution of the BID this route would not be a possibility. "The City of Miami went out of their way to make this a reality and I think it’s a win for everyone," says Manny Gonzalez, Executive Director of the BID. 

Manny tells me that the board is thrilled and I am sure we all are. This has been a long time coming.

The potential trolley route will almost cover every important area of Coconut Grove, including the two Metrorail stations and even the small area round Shell Lumber near 28 Lane. It will connect with trolleys at Mercy Hospital which will allow access to Brickell Avenue and Downtown Miami; and at the Douglas Metrorail station, the Coral Gables trolley connects, so there is access to the Gables with a transfer. The Grove trolley will also stop at Merrick Park. 

All these trolleys are free of charge.

It will cover 10.76 miles and have four trolleys. The cost is $1.04 million a year. The County needs to provide final approval and then it's a go, which is a sure thing as the trolleys are being built now. No actual start date yet until the new trolleys are ready.

If you click on the image above, it will open a bit larger.

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Saturday, June 25, 2016

The teachings of Indra Devi with Dr. David Lifar

The Teachings of Indra Devi with Dr. David Lifar, Director of the Indra Devi Foundation, will take place at Dharma Studio on Wednesday, June 29 from 6:30 to 9 pm.

Program Facilitator is Dui Turner.

Indra Devi, "First Lady of Western Yoga" was one of the most influential early yoga teachers in the Western Hemisphere, and a pioneer of yoga the world over. Born in 1899 in Latvia, she was a pupil of Krishnamacharya (the Father of Modern Yoga) and was the first western woman to study with him. During her time in India, she taught yoga and became friends with Gandhi. She traveled extensively, spreading Yoga across Russia, China and the United States. In 1982, she fell in love with Argentina, and eventually made it her home. Mataji (Mother) Indra Devi spoke five languages, wrote numerous books, and lived to be 102 years old.

David Lifar, PhD and his wife Iana met Indra Devi in 1982 when she came to Argentina, and their lives were forever transformed by her teachings and loving light. Together in 1988, the three created the Indra Devi Foundation for the teaching and dissemination of Yoga. Today, Dr. Lifar continues to serve as a teacher and the Director of the Foundation, which is based in Argentina. He accompanied Indra Devi when she delivered a key speech at the United Nations, and was invited to participate with her at the International Congress of Yoga for Peace in Israel. He has written several books about his beloved teacher and has personally edited many of her works.

In this event, Dr. Lifar will focus on "Wisdom, Breathing and Meditation." 

Cost: $25 in advance, $30 at the door

Go here to register clients.mindbodyonline.com/classic/home?studioid=15725

Dharma Studio is at 3170 Commodore Plaza.

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Friday, June 24, 2016

Is it time for a Grove exit? A 'Grexit?'

World markets are collapsing now that Britain voted to leave the European Union. Some say it was a vote against globalization, things were moving too fast, people were feeling left out.

It sounds familiar as sometimes many of us feel that this is happening to Coconut Grove; too fast, too many changes. What if Coconut Grove had its own Brexit, a "Grexit" (Grove exit) which many people have discussed over the years? What if we left the City of Miami? The Grove of course would have to reorganize itself, but we would be seceding, unlike places like Pinecrest or Doral or Key Biscayne, which became cities, they didn't leave cities to become their own city, they were unincorporated areas of the county which became incorporated.

Prime Minister David Cameron resigned. Who would resign in the Grove to make way for new leadership? Mayor Regalado, Commissioner Ken Russell? And would we throw them out of City Hall on Pan American Drive? After all, that's on Coconut Grove property, so would our own Mayor and commissioners take over the space now? Interesting thought. 

It's an interesting concept. Of course if we left  the City of Miami it wouldn't make a blip on world markets or any markets, it would just be us reclaiming our freedom that was lost almost 100 years ago. It would make a blip on Miami's tax base.

I'm not in favor of Brexit, but I do like the idea of Grexit.

What would you like to see if Coconut Grove became it's own city/municipality, like it was way back in 1925?


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Women's Happy Hour Monday at the Mayfair

Jody Johnson is the guest speaker at this month's Women's Happy Hour, which is Monday, June 27 from 5:30 to 8 pm. It's like Mad Men Monday, only it's just women, and it doesn't have 1960s themed drinks and music and there is no 1960s atmosphere. Well, actually, the only thing common is that it's Mondays at the Mayfair bar. 

This happy hour is the last Monday of each month at the Mayfair Hotel. It's a great place for women professionals to meet, mix and mingle.

Jody is a certified business coach, a master coach and certified Gazelles coach. A Miami native, she is passionate about helping the owners of small businesses grow in Miami. She has been coaching business owners since 2006 wtih ActionCOACH. She'll be discussing strategies in each of five areas that women can use in their business right away.

Enjoy happy hour half priced drinks and complimentary hors d'oeuvres.

This event is free.

The Mayfair Hotel and Spa is at 3000 Florida Avenue.

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Panther Coffee named one of the best coffee shops

I saw a list of the Best Coffee Shops in America in Time Out, and as expected, Panther Coffee is on the list! Congrats Panther!

List is here.

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Lion Fish Bash weekend starts Friday

The Woody Foundation is holding the sixth edition of the Lionfish Bash on Saturday, June 25, one of four major events hosted by the Foundation each year. Lionfish Bash proceeds go to Jackson Rehabilitation Hospital and are used to purchase equipment and fund programs to help patients regain their independence. Patients use the equipment to recoup upper and lower body strength and in some cases, even learn to walk again.
Since The Woody Foundation’s conception in 2011, the charity has raised more than $1 million dollars to improve the lives of those living with paralysis.

The weekend starts with the Captain’s Meeting at Atchana's East West Kitchen located in The Mutiny Hotel at 6 pm on Friday, June 24 and is followed by a day on the water, weigh-in from 3 to 5 pm and dinner at Coral Reef Yacht Club at 7 pm on Saturday, June 25. 


“I spent three months in Jackson Rehabilitation Hospital following my injury and understand how important it is to have quality equipment and programs to help patients get back on track. The first few months during someone’s recovery are critical, proceeds from The Lionfish Bash changes people’s lives, I’ve seen it happen,” said James Woody Beckham, shown here with friends at last year's event.

The Lionfish Bash also helps to eliminate the invasive lionfish from local waters. Nonindigenous lionfish damage coral reef ecosystems in the Atlantic Ocean and throughout the Caribbean. Lionfish have venomous spines and should only be handled by an expert, however its firm white meat is delicious to eat. Prizes are awarded for largest lionfish, most caught and the most coveted award, smallest lionfish. Costs to participate in the 6th Annual Lionfish Bash are $500 per boat which includes entry for five divers and includes the awards dinner, $650 for eight at the awards dinner only or $85 per awards dinner guest. 

Cost: $500 per boat which includes entry for five divers and includes the awards dinner, $650 for eight at the awards dinner only or $85 per awards dinner guest

Tickets may be purchased here.

Info: woodyfoundation.orgfacebook.com/thewoodyfoundation 

The Woody Foundation, Inc. is a not for profit organization formed to raise funds to help improve the lives of those living with paralysis. The namesake of the foundation, James “Woody” Beckham suffered his spinal cord injury making a rugby tackle in January 2011. Since then, Woody, his family and friends have bonded together to raise funds for local charities, which help others with paralysis. The Woody Foundation also distributes Woody Packs for free – the Woody Pack is a backpack loaded with assistive devices to help those with limited hand functioning. 

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Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Bookstore introduces new wine bar

The Bookstore in the Grove is having a beer and wine bar soft opening on Thursday, June 23.

Buy one get one free from 5:00 - 7:00 pm on all beer, wine and meads. Sip and relax over new cheese and meat platters to accompany your drinks. Enjoy wines from all over the world.

Stay and enjoy Open Mic Night also, which is from 6 to 9 pm.


They are now open until 10:00 pm.

The Bookstore is located at Mary and Florida; at the Mayfair Atrium.

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The return of an old friend; Azul Boutique

There are so many new restaurants opening in Coconut Grove these days, that it's nice to see retail moving in, too. You may remember Azul Boutique, which used to be on Main Highway, when they left, The Sale Rack moved in and now is something else. Too much change. But it's nice to see that after being in Merrick Park since 2011, Azul is back. I ran into Craig Leitman, the owner of Azul, in Starbucks, and he walked me over and gave me a tour of the new store.

It's at the back of CocoWalk at #115. The store is beautiful, bright and full of quality merchandise that you remember from the original store.


There are two pop-up stores inside Azul, so you get three in one when you visit - Rich Girl on Vacation and Camillia are the two pop-ups inside Azul.
Azul has been part of the Grove for 25 years, so we're glad they are back home. "We've come back to be part of the 'new Grove," says Craig. "We have a great selection of women's and men's clothing."  

Camillia, Hudson, Robbins Jeans and Jet Set Diaries are part of the women's collection and the men's department has plenty of jeans in all colors, lots of shirts and t-shirts.

For more info, please call 305-446-9964, or just stop by daily from 10 am to 9 pm.

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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Pop-up Pulse, a party to remember

SapientNitro is taking action for the victims of Pulse in Orlando and will be hosting an event Wednesday, June 22 at The Grove Spot from 5-8 pm.

A portion of the sales will be donated to Equality Florida; if you can’t attend, you can show your support by donating to the movement at www.gofundme.com/popuppulse

The purpose of the event is to take a moment to remember, celebrate, and raise funds for the victims of the Pulse Nightclub Shooting. Admission is by donation only, on the #PopUpPulse GoFundMe page. After donating, just present your confirmation to gain entry.


The Grove Spot is located at 3324 Virginia Street.

I wasn't going to say anything about the gun issue, but I have been sick to my stomach for over a week. And after Monday's vote to do nothing thanks to the Republicans in the Senate, I am even  more sick to my stomach.

Here's hoping they are all voted out of office soon. They are in the pockets and controlled by the NRA and they use that money to be re-elected, but what do they do when elected and re-elected? NOTHING. Not a freaking thing. They are paid to do nothing and live a cushy life in that exclusive club. 

Vote them out. We need them out. They are heartless and only worship money and power.

I heard someone say on tv that a guy tries to get onto a plane with a shoe bomb and the whole airport system is changed, we all have to take off our shoes, unload our liquids and go through intense searches which were implemented fast. But people are shot up almost weekly and nothing is done. Kids are killed in their own school and life goes on as usual. People are at a church, a movie theater or a club, and just going about their business, and some nut with a semi-automatic rifle comes in and kills them all. 


To think, someone I know well has asked me to vote for Marco Rubio in the past, as if I ever would. Rubio is one of the pack who voted to do nothing and who is in the pocket of the NRA, ironically, not for much, according to a listing, he only received $4950.00; he isn't even worth their time or money, but still, he voted the NRA way. 

Senators like David Perdue of GA received almost $2 million and John McCain, everyone's hero, received $7.7 million.

Here is the list of what Senators received from the NRA. These are the people to be voted out in November. 

Comments are off.

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Say Cheese and Veggies!

Cheese and vegetables are the stars at two new cooking classes taught by Italian Chef Gaetano Ascione at Spasso Miami’s esteemed Culinary Academy starting Monday, June 27.  

On select weekdays, guests can delve into the basics of Italian cheeses by signing up for Get the Cheese On Cheese or learn how to enhance the flavors of various vegetables during Veggie Tales. 

Get behind the line with a master chef and learn hands-on tips and techniques to take your cooking to the next level. From basic knife skills to deboning a fish to choosing tomatoes for the best sauce to the secrets of amazing cacio e pepe, Chef Ascione breaks down techniques in an approachable way useful to both kitchen novices and experts. Participants also get to sample the food they make, share Italian wine and enjoy a convivial atmosphere. All Cooking Academy sessions are taught at the expansive open kitchen at Spasso.

Each class is $35 per person or can be purchased in a series of three for $90. Course descriptions are as follows:

Get the Cheese on Cheese

From 3 to 5 pm on Monday, June 27 and Wednesday, June 29

In this cheese course, Chef Gaetano will show you how to use various cheeses to enhance recipes made at home. You’ll learn key tasting skills that will enhance your appreciation of cheese.

Veggie Tales

From 3 to 5 pm on Wednesday, July 6 and Monday, July 11

Spice up your veggie knowledge! Learn to cook your vegetables in creative and delicious ways! Chef Gaetano will teach you how to properly garnish your veggies to get the most flavors out of them. Learn to make classics such as the Mediterranea - tomatoes, cucumber, gaeta olives, red bell peppers, parmigiano or the Parmigiana di Melanzane - Eggplant parmigiana, colorful and tasty vegetable-based dishes that you will love! 

Spaces are limited (2 to 5 people max) and reservations are required in advance. Spasso Miami also offers private classes. Register online at spassomiami.com/cook. Spasso Miami is located at 3540 Main Highway in Coconut Grove.

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Monday, June 20, 2016

101 Reasons to Go Vegan

James Wildman meets students after a recent class.
Choices Cafe is having a special presentation on Tuesday, June 21 called, "101 Reasons to Go Vegan," with James Wildman and the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, arff.org.

"Although I am still not an 'expert' in any field, nor will I ever be, I feel that humane education is not only valid in the classroom, but pivotal in creating a more humane world. And today I take that message into the classroom. As the Humane Educator for the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida, I talk to students about our perceptions of animals and how we can live more compassionately towards them, each other, and the earth. Had it not been for the Institute for Humane Education – and a social experiment gone wrong – I would not have had this wonderful opportunity," says James.

The event is at 7 pm, Choices is located at 2895 McFarlane Road.

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Trees

Doug Kelbaugh is Professor of Architecture and Urban Planning in Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

Maybe we should print out and post this on every property that is sold in Coconut Grove, the greed may get to the tree-killers/developers and might change their destructive minds.

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Saturday, June 18, 2016

It only takes one extra car

Went to the gym and breakfast this morning and even popped into Starbucks all before 8:30 am today and you know what? There were too many cars on the street. Usually there are none.

Little by little I am seeing what the overbuilding in the Grove is doing. We don't realize and we say the infrastructure can handle the extra people, but in all honesty, it just takes one extra car to ruin your day, this morning there was more than one, all at different times.

For instance, I was walking from Starbucks at CocoWalk to the Bookstore at 7:30 am and even then there was an altercation, as I was crossing Virginia Street, a lady almost drove into me with her car, ignoring the stop sign. When I knocked on her trunk (after the fact) to say "Hey! WTF are you doing." she stopped the car and sat on the horn, just sat on the horn for maybe 10 seconds. I walked up to her window and she sat on the horn again. Obnoxious bitch. I felt like kicking the car, but I didn't, I just walked away shaking my head. Welcome to the new Grove. In the past, I would have known her and I would have known every car and person that went by. And she would have stopped her car to say hello, or to just obey the law and be polite and let me walk by. Now it's not like that.

Another altercation was when a guy came out from Seminole Boat Ramp, ignoring the red light and almost hit me on South Bayhore Drive. Another was near Kennedy Park and another was in my own neighborhood where I had to wait quite awhile to exit the street onto South Bayshore Drive; this is at 7:30 am mind you. All of this happened before 8:30 am. This is not helping me with Progressive Insurance and that meter I have plugged into my car, they don't like short stops, they call it a Snapshot and "hard brakes" is not a good thing, but I don't think they realize that most if not all of the hard breaks is me trying to avoid an accident, not me causing one.


The other day there were long backups on Old Cutler and Main Highway due to construction workers with heavy machinery tearing up houses in order to add more houses. On South Bayshore Drive, early in the mornings, like even today, Saturday, there was a delay because those construction workers working on the new bank building feel that they own the streets and they can delay traffic, yes, even early weekend mornings, to allow for rows of cement trucks to enter and exit the area. And don't even try to use Tigertail near Mary Street most days, because the guys working on the bank lot have decided to make that there space and they control the traffic there. Be prepared to wait.

And when did 27th Avenue get so busy? I've almost been killed by speeding drivers more than once. That peanut circle is a nightmare and needs traffic lights. Imagine this when those new condos open up and the new mall on the water is built. Not good.

The Grove is not a small village anymore, all thanks to greed. I shudder to think what life will be like when all these new condos are done. More traffic and congestion and it only takes one extra car to do that.

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Friday, June 17, 2016

Chamber of Commerce Networker at Kroma Gallery

The Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce had a Steampunk type of night at KROMA Gallery on Wednesday night, although nobody dressed Steampunk-ish! But a large crowd came out to mix and mingle.

From left: Oscar J. Peguero Jr. DMD; Meredith Brown, JP Morgan;  Lina Carrera-Bryan, Carrera Consulting Group Inc.; James Bryan of Leon Cosgrove.


Elizabeth de Alfaraz, ANCONA Real Estate; Curits Crider, GM of Sonesta Hotel; Lisa Ostrenga, Coconut Grove BID; Jennifer Rosado, Sonesta Coconut Grove; Abigail Echeverria, Palmeiras Beach Club at Grove Isle.



Howard Kane, Chamber executive director; Rodney Jackson, curator of KROMA, JS Rashid, executive director of KROMA; Nadia Desjardin, artists, who donated a beautiful piece for the auction.



Lauren Struss  of the Coconut Grove Chamber of Commerce, Steve Karskib, South Beach Wine, Caroline Klosowski, Lisa Ostrenga  of Coconut Grove BID.

Steve Weiss, Coldwell Banker; Marsha; Fairy Goodmother; Rafael Gutierrez, My Miami Dream Home.


Lilliana Dones, president of the Chamber; her husband, Santiago Viegas realtor, Jacob Samandar of WAVETECHS; Sherry Friedman, artist.

Benedicte Blanc-Fontenille, Nadia Desjardins, Josepo, Sherry Friedman.
Marlene Erven, Carolyn Davis, Virginia Yermuli  of Coconut Grove Woman’s Club
Dr. Alma Kadragic, ALCAT Communications; Greg Herman-Giddens, Trust Counsel PA;  Liza Pizzaro, Miami Printing & Design

Kathy Kesler, Interspace Design Group, Don Kesler, president of Rotary Club of Coconut Grove;  James Bryan, Leon Cosgrove;  Lina Carrera-Bryan, Cabrera Consulting Group Inc.


Martine C. Paulin, Elaine Kauffmann, Jorge A. Fernandez, Yasser A. Ponce, all with Compass Realty.

Beautiful decor along with the Steampunk theme and lots of goodies to nosh on.

Michael Bryant, Agape 4 Orphans International and Daniel McCauley, New York Life.

Photos by Rafael 
Gutierrez

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Thursday, June 16, 2016

Gators

About 20 years ago, I was lying out near the lagoon in Matheson Hammock, on the grass. It was a weekday, I thought I was alone. A couple came up to me and said, "We don't want to bother you, but you're in his spot." I looked up and a 10 foot alligator was staring at me from the water, a few feet away. I was actually in a dug out sandy spot under a palm tree, among all the grass, which he must have dug out as his spot. I got up and ran. Luckily those people were there to warn me. There were signs that said, "Do not feed the alligators," but I thought it was a fun sign for tourists, didn't realize they were living in the main lagoon. So even if there were warning signs at Disney, I wonder if people would have thought it was a cute Disney sign warning them about alligators, just as a fun thing and not as a real danger.

I went back the next day with two friends to look for him, I was told his name was "Big Joe." He was there and one of my friends would go back often to feed him bread, which is a stupid thing to do because then they get used to humans and rely on them for food.

There are still gators in the lagoon.

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Recreating history

I mentioned Lucie and Desi Arnaz being in town in July 2010; they attended our July 4th celebration, but they were really here to recreate history. This story is from July 9, 2010, when Lucie and Desi, Jr. came to recreate a famous I Love Lucy photo. Lucie has a lot of history with the Grove, she used to live here and her play, "Sonia Flew" is the last play to be shown at the Coconut Grove Playhouse, still in production when the playhouse closed in April 2006.

lucie
Lucie Arnaz and Desi Arnaz, Jr. stopped by Coconut Grove again today, (here they are with Mayor Tomas Regalado and City Commissioner Frank Carollo) to recreate a famous photograph. This is how it all happened . . .

I-love-lucy
In January, my friend Harry (Emilio Gottlieb) and I were having lunch at Focaccia and he told me about a story he read in the NY Times about the Desi Arnaz Orchestra doing some shows in New York City, he said he would love to get them down here where they would have a huge audience. They have always had a history with Miami, even this old photo shows them at City Hall in Coconut Grove in 1954, with then mayor, Randy Christmas, giving the whole I Love Lucy cast the key to the city.

lucie1
Harry made a couple of calls and managed to track down someone with the New York show, they told him that they would have someone call Harry back to discuss his idea.

Within 20 minutes, Lucie Arnaz called Harry directly, from Connecticut, and therein started their friendship. Harry persuaded Lucie and Desi Jr. to come to Miami for what turned out to be their current performances at the Arsht Center, and he told me about the old photo. His idea was to get Lucie and Desi, Jr. to recreate it when in town. I held the photo and the idea until May, when I published it here, once I knew they were at least coming to town to perform, no one knew whether they would recreate the photo. But here it is above, recreated this afternoon, with the original above that.


lucie5
Today at 3 pm, Lucie and Desi, Jr. were great sports and they agreed to stand in the brutal summer sun to recreate the famous picture, bringing the whole Lucy/Lucie and Desi/Desi, Jr. image full circle. First there was a press conference inside the City Hall Chambers where they spoke of their history with Miami. Lucie and her husband, Larry Luckinbill's daughter graduated from UM and their grandfather lived in Coral Gables all the years after he arrived from Cuba. They posed for lots of photos with city officials in City Hall and did a bunch of tv interviews and then everyone headed outside to recreate the photo.

lucie6
Lucie has a great history with Coconut Grove, she actually lived right down the block from me for a bit and she has the dubious honor of performing in the last show at the Coconut Grove Playhouse before it shut down (Sonia Flew, in April 2006). It was having money problems and she put her own money into the show so that the show could go on. Her name was on the marquis for quite some time after the playhouse closed and people would read it daily for months as they drove by. Lucie talked about the playhouse and how sad it is that it closed, hoping that it will reopen soon.

lucie3
I was thrilled to meet Lucie and Desi, Jr. this Fourth of July at Peacock Park. To meet part of Hollywood royalty was quite an honor and thrill. I have been a Lucille Ball fan probably since the first day my mother sat me in front of the tv as a baby. Today, again, they were very sweet and patient with the crowd on hand and they remembered us and others from the other day.

lucie2
So here's today's recreation, Mayor Tomas Regalado is there, with the key to the city and Lucie is holding the gift basket and Desi, Jr. has the Diario De Las Americas, just like his father in the original. On the left is Cuban singer Lita Del Real and the older man in center is Horatio Aguirre, founder of El Diario. Commissioners Frank Carollo, to Desi's right, and Willie Gort, second from left, complete the recreation. Desi jokingly asked, "Who's playing Fred?"

Lucie and Desi were great sports and made a lot of people happy today. She told me that she liked the pair of maracas that were in the gift basket and may use them in their concert.

Lucie and Desi, Jr. opened last night, July 8 at the Arsht Center with their "Babalu" concert and will perform through the weekend. Tickets may be purchased here.

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