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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Farewell

Well, this is the last post of the Coconut Grove Grapevine (here's our first post, a bit boring, but the first one of so many on May 8, 2005). And this is one of my favorite pictures, it is with Michelle Niemeyer from one of my favorite moments - when all my friends had a "Gripevine" group in the King Mango Strut in 2009.  There are so many wonderful memories, check out our archives if you get a chance - Coconut Grove for the last 15 years.

I'll still be around on social media and I would love for you to follow:
Facebook: facebook.com/coconutgrovegrapevine/
Twitter: twitter.com/grovegrapevine
Instagram: instagram.com/coconutgrovegrapevine/


A new Coconut Grove blog, now called the Coconut Grove Spotlight, should be starting up this week. I'll announce it on Facebook and Twitter when I know for sure. I will contribute to it, so you'll "hear" my voice over there at times.

I also do my Tomversation blog here about arts, culture, history, that is still being published.


Thanks for coming back here day after day to read my silly rants. It was a perfect weekend because I saw so many of you at the arts festivals the past few days. I heard nothing but nice things from everyone. The best part of the past 15 years were the people I met. So many of them are friends, friends for life. Thank you.

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It was a hot and sometimes rainy, but enjoyable weekend

It was a fun weekend, with and without the rain. As usual, the Grove came alive and people were out enjoying the art festivals. Here's Jamaican Paul, with Jamaican Paul.

People were all over the village, eating at local restaurants and drinking in the bars, I saw so many people buzzing around on scooters. I often wonder why it can't be like this all the time.



Arts Festival director Monty Trainer directing people to the special show entrance to Peacock Garden Bistro. He even matches the banner.











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Monday, February 17, 2020

She's searching for Fred Hunt related items

AnnaMaria Windisch-Hunt is archiving the works of Fred Hunt who graduated from the Ringling School of Art and gave up his advertising career, which included creating the Little Debbie logo, for the life of an artist here in Coconut Grove.  

He sold his work primarily in Coconut Grove, Coral Gables and and Woodstock, NY. AnnaMaria is looking for any antidote, pictures of the art, when and where purchased and collectors names, etc. for an upcoming book and museum retrospective. Fred was named a "Miami Master" by the Miami Herald and she would like to memorialize that.

Please contact AnnaMaria with any info you may have at: annamariahunt@icloud.com

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A small town conversation with the band

On Saturday, I did an interview with a reporter, David Zha, on NPR. It was regarding the Peacock issue. He contacted me and I told him I didn't have much to say, but I never liked when people turned me down for an interview, so I agreed. I was at the Arts Festival and it was loud. I manged to get to a quiet place and he called back and said he was ready. I didn't know if it was live or being taped, but I went ahead with the interview from inside the Woman's Club.

I had forgotten about it but the next day as I walked through St. Stephen's Art Show and Maker'sFest, the band up on stage called out to me. John Holcomb and Eric Wagner and their band, Invasive Species, were performing, and John mentioned from the stage that he heard me that morning on NPR! I started asking him about it - during their performance - how did it go? How long was the interview, I spoke with the guy a half hour, and John told me it was about four minutes on the radio, and things like that.

What I loved about it was the informality of the whole thing. The whole small town feel. The conversation, as they were performing on stage; the audience listening to the conversation . . . it was a real Grovey-type thing.


As for the peacocks, I told the reporter that I liked them only because I wasn't affected by them - I wasn't having my car pecked and my house wasn't inundated. 

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20th year for Young Artists Gallery at Woman's Club

The Young Artists' Gallery (YAG) is returning to the Woman's Club of Coconut Grove for its 20th year in March.

Works of art in a variety of media created by public high school students from Miami-Dade County will be featured on March 14 and 15 - open to the public on March 14 from 1 to 5 pm with an awards reception from 2 to 4 pm, and on March 15 from noon to 2 pm at the club.

The Art Education Office of Dade County pre-judged the artworks submitted to this scholarship program and selected the 119 finalists which will be showcased in the exhibit. A jury comprised of members of the art community, including members of the club, will designate the winners of several scholarships and honorable mention awards. The exhibiting artists will be able to offer their work for sale if they wish. Teachers will also be recognized during the awards ceremony. 

“We are excited to be celebrating the Young Artists’ Gallery program’s 20th anniversary of encouraging young local artists to pursue their creative dreams,” said Vicki Tencati, the club’s YAG Committee Chairwoman. Yudit Orlando, prior Chairwoman, said, "It’s so important to provide this type of opportunity and support to these young artists in our community.” The 20th anniversary is an occasion to celebrate the club and its commitment to cultivating an understanding and appreciation of art. 

“I received a scholarship from YAG last year that helped me start my career as an artist,” said Enya Fontanills, who earned 2nd Place at YAG 2019 and graduated from New World School of the Arts in the same year. “Thanks to this fundraiser I was able to afford joining the California College of the Arts community on a full ride scholarship. I am now making the best out of the Californian arts education system. I am still sticking to acrylics for the most part but experimenting with all types of new medias in one of the most inspiring environments for the arts. I couldn’t be more thankful.”

The Woman's Club is at 2985 South Bayshore Drive.


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Sunday, February 16, 2020

Tea, scones, rain and art

Part of the Coconut Grove Arts Festival and St. Stephen's Art Show were rained out on Saturday, but still it was a lot of fun. Hung out with friends and as we do every year, we visited the English Rose Tea Room at St. Stephens, but this year some friends who had not been in awhile joined us - it was just like old times.

The rain made it feel cooler than Friday's sauna weather.

The shows are on the rest of the weekend up until Monday at 6 pm. See you out there!



Nicola Brown who runs the tea room (standing), Sherri Rose, AnnaMaria Windisch-Hunt, Tom Falco, Gigi Leyva, Jerry Wade.




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Saturday, February 15, 2020

75 pieces of art on display at Grove Gallery

Grove Gallery & Interiors is celebrating the Coconut Grove Arts Festival this year with their own artist showcase. Stop by this weekend and see 75 pieces of art under one roof. And they have brunch, too Saturday and Sunday!

They are also offering 35% off all show poster framing and 15% off all custom framing.

The Gallery is at 2884 Bird Avenue.

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Grove Give Away game during Arts Festival

We were walking around the Arts Festivals Friday afternoon as people set-up their art and tents; getting ready for the big weekend.

The Coconut Grove Business Improvement District has a fun surprise this weekend.

They're doing a GROVE GIVE AWAY and if you're headed to the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, stop by the Coconut Grove BID tent in Peacock Park to pick up a special punch card. 

Take the card to local businesses, answer a unique question at each store, and return the completed card to be eligible to win a raffle with lots of super cool prizes. Its a holiday weekend scavenger hunt! 

They're giving away a Panama Beach cruiser bike, a staycation at the Mayfair Hotel and several other gift certificates for local restaurants and businesses. 

The Coconut Grove Arts Festival  and St. Stephen's Art Show is February 15-17, 2020. Admission to St. Stephen's is free. The Arts Festival is $15 per person, per day.  Children under the age of 12 are admitted free. Residents of Coconut Grove who live within the 33133 zip code can enjoy the Festival at a special reduced admission of $10 with proof of residency.


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Friday, February 14, 2020

Move over St. Valentine!

So this happened - February 14 is now Tom Falco Day in the City of Miami.  I received a proclamation that says so. It may be just today, but I am claiming it in perpetuity so every February 14 is Tom Falco Day!

On Friday afternoon at the Coconut Grove BID office, Commissioner Ken Russell (above right, I'm at left) along with Executive Director of the BID Abigael Mahony presented me with the honor. I'm flattered. There were many friends there and it was quite a surprise. I would especially like to thank Louis Del Borrello who put the whole thing together and Harry Gottlieb who wrote the text for the proclamation.


Here are AnnaMaria Windisch-Hunt, Louis Del Borrello, me and Harry Gottlieb, and I'd like to mention Rafael Gutierrez, who was not present, but who went out of his way on many occasions to help me cover events; my best friends, I could not have done it all these years without help from every single one of them.

The love and support is so nice. Friends, strangers in the street, and people literally are crying at the demise of the Grapevine. While I knew there were a lot of fans and readers, I didn't realize how much it meant to you. It's nice to know that you saw me as an integral part of the community and your lives. Thank you.



AnnaMaria is holding an old painting she did from 2008, which was part of the old Breakfast With the Artists program that we had back then. I'm here with AnnaMaria and Sandi Speier who came out with her son Ty to support me.

I had forgotten all about this great little painting. AnnaMaria had done paintings of all her friends at the time. Here is the story, The Christmas Gifts are Hanging on the Wall.


For me it's exciting to go back in time - a time before the daily Grapevine, when there was no need to eat, sleep and drink Coconut Grove. Waking up and doing other things, or doing nothing, sounds so appealing. Traveling more and spending a lot of time up north this summer is on the agenda. Next year it would be so nice to spend the whole summer in Italy.

I do work. I have a business that has been neglected for many years. And I am starting a comic strip. So that will keep me busy. For many years I went to the beach almost daily, sometimes for an hour, sometimes all day. Doing that again would be so great.


I live here, you'll see me out and about, I just won't be writing about it or taking pictures of everything. But today feels like it's the last day of school, forever!

Photos by Harry Gottlieb and Sandra Speier

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Peafowl population to be humanely thinned out

The proliferation of peacocks.

As all things in the Grove seem to be coming to an end (including us), the City Commission voted unanimously on Thursday that peafowl (peacocks) can be removed from the Grove neighborhoods - humanely, through a management plan also used by a town in California.

It's bittersweet as the peafowl are a part of Coconut Grove, yet they do lots of damage to property, they proliferate, obstruct traffic and they are quite loud when they shout out.

In Ranco Palos Verdes, California, they claim that having less peafowl works better for the area. They are not removing all of them, and they will not all be removed in the Grove either.

The plan still needs to be hatched (see how I did that?) but over time, you'll probably see (and hear) less of them as you make your way through the Grove.

Here are a bunch of past peacock stories - real peacocks and the fiberglass painted peacocks from our famous Coconut Grove Peacock Tour a decade ago.

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Jesse 'Jackson' Kunerth, this year's poster artist

I'm sure you've seen the Coconut Grove Arts Festival poster this year, it's by artist Jesse “Jackson" Kunerth, from Palm Bay, Florida.

The art is a bit different not like past years and so is the Coconut Grove skyline, I asked him about that.

"My work is very influenced by architecture and particularly skylines," said Jesse. "I want to incorporate the skyline as well as the boats and water that the Grove is known for." 

Also a little unique this year is Jesse's work, which  is all digital. "I combine my photography and graphic design background to create my pieces. It’s digital but I always strive for them to have respect for traditional techniques. A lot of digital art is flat and I want mine to have lots of layers and textures," he said.


Jesse loves the closeness to the water, which is one of his favorite things about Coconut Grove. "I love the mix of old and new architecture. I did the Coconut Grove Art Festival last year and that was the first time I really became aware of the area," he said.

And that is what prompted me to interview Jesse. He only knows the Grove for what it is today - the large buildings next to the water. I had wondered why he chose to use buildings in his work of Coconut Grove and that explains it.

Jesse does art festivals all around the country including Gasparilla in Tampa, and the Winter Park Art Fest in Orlando. His favorites out of state are Cherry Creek in Denver and Three Rivers Art Fest in Pittsburgh.

He is heavily influenced by music (especially Hip Hop and Indie rock), "My favorite visual artists are Basquiat, Frida Kahlo and David Carson," he said.

Jesse works out of a room in my house but since his art is digital art so he can create it on the go when traveling the country.

"I’ve always drawn and created art since I was little. It’s been a constant evolution.I started out doing pop art posters and photography. Out of college I got a job at an architectural firm in Melbourne, FL. I worked there for 12 years and photographed their projects on top of doing the graphic design work. One day I was like why don’t I combine the two things that I’ve been doing separately - my photography and graphic design to create my own art. It was my ah ha moment and it’s been full speed since then," said Jesse. 

Jesse's favorite award was first place for Digital Art at the River Arts Fest in Memphis.

Up next is Gasparilla Art Fest in Tampa and then Spring Fiesta in the Park in Orlando, then he goes on the road to Atlanta, OKC, and Dallas.

The Coconut Grove Arts Festival and the St. Stephen's Art Show are both this weekend - February 15-17.

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Thursday, February 13, 2020

Stepping in to fill the void

I'm excited that the Coconut Grove Village Council has decided to step up and be a voice for the Grove - not that they aren't already - but in the form of posting news and events.

The Coconut Grove Village Voice will start publishing next week.

They will:
- Begin by publishing a Coconut Grove community blog on a regular basis—at a minimum, once a week, preferably more frequently. Working title: Coconut Grove Village Voice.
- Use their current list and build it to be as inclusive of the Coconut Grove community as possible.
- Report on events, issues, and activities in Coconut Grove, given the limits of their own time and resources. Many of them regularly attend community events. They’ll take photos and report on what happened. They’ll follow up stories by interviewing community leaders and others in the Grove who are doing interesting things. To start, they’ll do this on a volunteer basis. 
- Invite contributions of reports and photos from members of the community.
- Stick to the facts. 
If you would like to submit items and photos, please send them to coconutgrovevc@gmail.com.

To receive the Village Voice, please subscribe here. If you already receive emails from the Village Council, then you are already on their mailing list.

The next Village Council meeting will be Friday, Feb. 21, at 6:30 in Miami City Hall, 3500 Pan American Drive, where I am sure this will be discussed as part of their agenda.

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Emily Estefan to headline Friday night concert

The Coconut Grove Arts Festival will be holding a live concert in Peacock Park, the night before the Arts Festival this weekend. On Friday, February 14, headlining this first-ever “Evening under the Stars” concert is Miami’s own Emily Estefan, a talented singer, songwriter and producer who has already earned international acclaim as a gifted musician.  

“I can’t think of a better performer to kick-off this year’s Festival and capture the magic of Coconut Grove,” said Monty Trainer, president of the Arts Festival. “Emily has quickly made a name for herself in the music industry and we are thrilled to have her grace our stage on Valentine’s Day.  This concert will set the tone for what we feel will be our finest festival ever.” 

Soon after graduating from the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, Emily was selected as Elvis Duran's Artist of the Month and performed her single "Reigns (Every Night)" on NBC's Today Show.  


Emily has continued writing and producing original music and performing at events and music festivals such as SXSW, Essence and GroundUp Music Fest. She has been lauded for her performances on nationally televised specials like “Q 85: A Musical Celebration for Quincy Jones” on BET and “Hocus Pocus 25th Anniversary Halloween Bash” on Freeform and the Library of Congress Gershwin Prize on PBS. 

The “Evening under the Stars” concert will feature an opening act expected to take the stage at 7 pm with Emily Estefan scheduled to perform at 8 pm.

Among the ticket packages available for the “Evening under the Stars” concert are a Valentine’s Day Couples Package offering two concert tickets for $50 and a Festival Combo Package which offers a concert ticket and one-day free admission to the Arts Festival for $30. To purchase tickets, visit cgaf.com/friday-night-concert.

Art aficionados will gather at the 57th edition of this signature event on Saturday morning and begin their stroll along the 1.2 mile stretch of Coconut Grove, one of South Florida’s most picturesque settings. Coconut Grove will again be transformed into a quaint artistic village where visitors are invited to meet many of the world’s most talented artists.  

The Coconut Grove Arts Festival will be held February 15-17, 2020. Admission is $15 per person, per day.  Children under the age of 12 are admitted free. Residents of Coconut Grove who live within the 33133 zip code can enjoy the Festival at a special reduced admission of $10 with proof of residency.

Bike Coconut Grove is having their free bike valet all three days of the festival and also during the concert on Friday night. They will be set up at a tent near the top of McFarlane Road, near the former Johnny Rockets building. 

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CocoWalk is trying for a summer opening

So it was a pleasure to see the sidewalk open at CocoWalk Wednesday morning. This is how it should have been during the whole construction project. 

The proposed plan is for a phased opening of CocoWalk starting this summer. The latest tenants to sign leases include Narbona Natural Foods & Farm Market, an epicurean specialty market and Bluemercury, a national beauty and spa retailer.


Narbona Natural Foods & Farm Market, originating in Uruguay in 1909 as a farmer’s market and purveyor of natural products, Narbona specializes in homemade, artisanal and farm-raised products and even plans to produce its own yogurt onsite. The specialty market will feature a butcher shop, fresh pastas, and a bakery along with a wide selection of gourmet cheeses, craft beers, wines, and coffees – all produced on the company’s farms in South America. A tasting room for wine and specialty products will be available. Inside the market’s café, patrons can sit and enjoy tapas and freshly prepared food items or order them to go. The ambiance will center around treating patrons like neighbors and providing them with superior customer service as they select and taste the market’s products.

“Bringing Narbona Natural Foods & Farm Market to the United States has been a goal of mine for years and I’m excited that this is finally coming to fruition,” says owner Eduardo ‘Pacha’ Cantón. “I chose Coconut Grove as one of two locations to open in Miami because it’s a well-established neighborhood that places great emphasis on a healthy and organic lifestyle. The freshly grown produce and high-quality, specialty foods we will serve will perfectly align with the wants and needs of locals and visitors to the Grove, making it the ideal destination for us.” 


Bluemercury, founded in 1999 by entrepreneur Marla Beck, set out with the game-changing premise - to take cosmetics out of department stores and into dedicated neighborhood beauty stores where clients could find high-quality, innovative beauty products and honest, expert advice. In addition to stocking skincare, makeup, hair care and fragrance products, Bluemercury locations also include spa services, offering results-oriented treatments such as oxygen facials, glycolic peels, waxing and microdermabrasion. Born in Georgetown, Washington D.C., today the brand has over 175 locations in the US.

“Our aim is to return CocoWalk to its former vitality by bringing in carefully curated tenants attuned to the wants and needs of the local community,” said Stuart Biel, senior vice president of regional leasing at Federal Realty Investment Trust. “Narbona and Bluemercury are two remarkable concepts that will not only enhance the center Grove’s retail and dining offerings but will bring the community together for unique experiences.” Of course Stuart means, whomever will pay our high rent is in. 

These new tenants will join Mister 01 Extraordinary Pizza one of Miami’s most popular pizzerias; Edward Beiner, the luxury eye wear boutique that will return to CocoWalk; School of Rock, a national concept that offers music lessons led by veteran composers for both children and adults; and The Spot Barbershop, which offers classic and contemporary haircuts along with grooming services for the gentlemen of Miami.

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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

A new mural going up on Engle Building

Creighton Tynes of Tynes Signs is in town from Alabama painting a mural on the Engle Building, right in the center of town. He's working fast and may have the mural done by tomorrow, just in time for the Arts Festivals.


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Jazz Brunch to benefit Florida Memorial University

Plymouth Congregational Church will be holding its 2020 Jazz Brunch on Sunday, March 15.  The annual event will feature jazz vocalist Brenda Alfred and saxophonist extraordinaire Jesse Jones, both award winning musicians and prominent members of the South Florida jazz scene.

The event will be held in Davis Hall at 11 am – right after 10 am worship.  All are invited to both the Jazz Brunch and worship.  

The Jazz Brunch is, in its ninth year celebrating Black History and Jazz, and this year donations will benefit Florida Memorial University’s Bahamian Relief Fund, a fund supporting students from the Bahamas in the wake of Hurricane Dorian.

In years past the event benefited the United Negro College Fund, but this year Plymouth chose to focus its fund-raising efforts on Florida Memorial University in Miami Gardens, an historically African-American university whose  Bahamian students have been hard hit by the effects of the hurricane.

Church member Henry Givens, who has been active in the Coconut Grove Community for over 40 years, and who has helped spearhead this event since its inception, says the Jazz Brunch is an important part of the fabric of our community. “It is such a great opportunity for the community to enjoy some amazing music and each other, all for a great cause," he said.

Plymouth Senior Pastor Al Bunis added, “Plymouth is honored to support Florida Memorial this year and we are grateful for all that the school is doing to help their students from the Bahamas in the wake of Dorian. Please join us for worship and the Jazz brunch.”  

Plymouth Congregational Church, which has been serving the Grove community since 1897, is located at 3400 Devon Road off of Main Highway.

More info is available at plymouthmiami.org.

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Who is willing to take up the mantle?

I see by all the comments here and on Facebook that so many of you are mourning the demise of the Grapevine. Wish I had known how you all felt before this.

But regarding the demise of the Grapevine, it's just time. I need to move on. I'm not leaving town, I'm just doing other things. I don't want to say I'm burned out, because I'm not. I just need a change.

This decision to end it all (the Grapevine, not my life) is not new, I've been considering this for quite a few years. I met with many people who wanted to take it on over the years, but when they saw the work entailed the shied away.

Many of you have ideas to keep it going. Some others reached out to me and asked to take it over, but let's be honest, if you were serious, you would have started another blog by now and I wish you would. It's easy to set up. It's the work that is the issue - covering meetings and events, endless emails and press releases coming at you  - sort of like Newman describes the mail to Seinfeld, "The mail never stops. It just keeps coming and coming and coming. There's never a letup, it's relentless. Every day it piles up more and more, and you gotta get it out, but the more you get out, the more keeps coming in!"


But it is rewarding and it is needed. We need a voice here in our community.

At one time we had the Grand Avenue News, the Coconut Grove Gazette, the Grapevine and I believe one other publication. Those four and the Miami Herald and Community Newspapers and the Grove was well covered. I remember so many times sitting at Village Council or Commission meetings and seeing all the various blogs and publications there covering the meetings, taking notes, writing stories. I loved that. I remember looking around the audience on many occasions thinking, "Look at all this media covering our little village."

I would love to see someone pick up the mantle. Maybe a few people can contribute. I am willing to contribute stories and photos. Maybe  it can be called the Coconut Grove Sun-Times or the Coconut Grove Dispatch or the Grove Morning News or something. I'll be more than happy to feed my readers over to you.


You can easily start a blog at blogger.com or wordpress.com. It's not that difficult. You start off slow and build as you go. The beauty of it is that it's a living thing. It's not printed, so you can change it daily or minute by minute if you like. Don't like the layout? Change it. Got a new email address? Change it. Made a typo? Change it. You can change typos, headlines, photos, do whatever you like, since it's not printed, you are always able to make changes. It's a very easy concept. All you need to to is provide the content. That's the challenging part, adding content daily.

Now here is another concept. There are many people in the community who work behind the scenes, they are constantly working to keep the Grove the Grove. Perhaps everyone can team up and do a blog. Many years ago I was part of Miami Metro Blog. Every major city had a Metro Blog. The Metro Blog had many contributors, sort of like the Huffington Post. In the Miami Metro Blog we posted whatever we wanted, about Miami of course, and the blog thrived on the constant updates from the various members. That could easily be done by a half dozen people in the Grove.

This could really be a great thing. I would love to be a part of that.

I have friends who helped me with the Grapevine over the years, they would ask me if I was going to an event - "You going to the chamber networker? No? Ok, I'll be there, I'll take pics." It got to the point where friends would just send me photos with people's names and captions, all ready to publish! So many great people were my eyes and ears. Even if I was at an event taking pictures myself, I'd get back and there in my inbox were more photos all ready to go. At times, people would hand me their camera memory cards after an event.

That can be coordinated with a shared blog so that a few people are not posting the same thing - pictures from the Strut or a write up on the Village Council meeting; things like that. 


But if you want to do your own thing and be the publisher and editor, start by registering a name, it's free. Start by setting up the look, that can easily be changed as you go along. Write your first article. If you need help, I'll help. Sign up and set up a name for the blog and send me the password. I'll help you from my end, you know, adding widgets (sidebars), titles, etc. I would suggest using wordpress rather than blogger. I think it's better and there are more options. But you have to be committed. The trick is to start it and not peter out after posting one article.

Think about it.

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Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Member of Grove pioneer family passes away

Dr. Dazelle Simpson
Dr. Dazelle Simpson, 95, passed away on Sunday. Dr. Simpson was a pioneering black doctor in Florida who practiced in Liberty City an Overtown. Her connection to the Grove is that she is Grove pioneer E.W.F. Stirrup's granddaughter. We spoke about the Stirrup house last week.

Dr. Simpson graduated as the valedictorian of George Washington Carver High School, here in the Grove and went on to graduate magna cum laude from Fisk College in Nashville, TN.

She and her husband, also a doctor, married in 1949 at the Grove's Christ Episcopal Church.

The obit is here, in the Herald
.

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The sidewalk at CocoWalk will finally open

The mess at CocoWalk

Commissioner Ken Russel had a live video today on Facebook, explaining MOT's (Maintenance of Traffic).

In particular he was across from the mess at CocoWalk. The sidewalk is finally opening up later this afternoon. No more walking in the street on Grand Avenue or trying to squeeze through that small walk through across the street at the former Johnny Rockets location.

Ken was giving CocoWalk credit for opening the sidewalk ahead of time. Ahead of time? Why was this sidewalk ever closed? I'm totally shocked that no one was hit by a car this past two years. And I can't understand how they were not forced to put scaffolding up, which is the first thing all construction sites have. But anyway, we can now reclaim our sidewalk.

Ken met with construction workers in November regarding this problem, in the future this will not be permitted by new construction projects.

I know it did affect business on Virginia Street and other areas. Just yesterday I was going to go to the Chinese restaurant, the First Hong Kong Express, for lunch, but didn't want to navigate walking across the street, squeezing through that small pass through at Johnny Rockets, then crossing the street again and so on. Too much trouble. I ended up somewhere else easier to get to for lunch.

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La Plume Young Writers’ Contest accepting applications

The La Plume Young Writers’ Contest, which started in the Grove in 2011, is now accepting applications from Miami Dade students in grades 3-12 for this year's annual contest. Writers may submit their typed story on a theme of their choice relevant to their age and grade level. The Grand Prize winners will have their story published and receive $150 to $350, depending on the level. All winners including 1st, 2nd & 3rd places will be awarded cash prizes, special gifts and creative writing workshops.

Students will write their stories during the summer to be submitted by August 17 for review by a panel of judges that include published writers, editors, actors, journalists, librarians, educators/professors, and other artists. Winners will be announced in October. The award ceremony and book signing will be held on Sunday, December 6th presided over by a guest speaker from the literary world. It is free and open to the public.

La Plume contest was created by Miami Conservatory of Music, MCA Academy, and the Bookstore in the Grove to encourage young writers to express themselves and to provide an opportunity for students to have their work evaluated professionally and published.

“La Plume has been so well received and all Miami Dade students are encouraged to participate,” says Brigitte Kishlar, founder and president of Miami Conservatory of Music, and founder of MCA academy. “Every year, students with different backgrounds and cultures submit very original and engaging compositions we are proud to publish. Plus we continue to nurture these young writers with Creative Writing Workshops we offer them along the year.”

Applications and rules are available online at laplumecontest.com or at Miami Conservatory of Music at 2911 Grand Avenue (end of the Mayfair Promenade). The deadline to register is May 31st, 2020, midnight, and there is a $10 application fee.

For more information, please call 305-442-2283 or visit laplumecontest.com

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The Phonecia is visiting Coconut Grove this week

The Phoenicia, a replica of a 600 BC Phoenician ship, arrived Monday afternoon at Shake-A-Leg Miami, the sailboat’s only Miami-Dade County port of call after a five month, 6,000 mile maiden voyage across the Atlantic Ocean. 

The nearly 67-foot wooden sailboat was greeted on Biscayne Bay by a flotilla escort and fireboat water salute as it traveled south past the Miami skyline.

During the week ahead, Shake-A-Leg will host educational events sponsored by the Anthony R. Abraham Foundation for area school children.

“Shake-A-Leg Miami is a relevant port of call for the history being created by the Phoenicians Before Columbus Expedition. The success of this voyage clearly proves it was possible for the ancient civilization to sail the Atlantic and reach the Americas 2,000 years before Columbus. The Phoenicians were known for their seamanship, which is among the skills taught at Shake-A-Leg to the underserved and the disabled in our community. I am proud as a Lebanese descendant to have a role in making this week of education and celebration happen for these amazing organizations,” said Thomas Abraham, chairman of the Anthony R. Abraham Foundation.

The Phoenicians, who occupied modern day Lebanon and the coastal areas of Syria and Northern Palestine, were recorded for their sailing abilities and credited with inventing the keel, the battering ram on a ship’s bow, and caulking between planks. The expedition is endorsed by the Ministries of Information and Tourism of the Republic of Lebanon. The project was designed with the help of the U.S.-based Phoenician International Research Center.

“We are pleased to provide a berth to the Phoenicia and look forward to the educational opportunities it will provide. Field trips from area schools are scheduled so children can learn the history of the Phoenicians and their seamanship and about the importance of caring for our oceans. It’s an exciting moment for all of us,” said Harry Horgan, founder and CEO of Shake-A-Leg Miami.

Duringtion members conducted research on plastic pollution levels in the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean Clean Seas Campaign. Crew members took daily water samples to measure micro plastic levels to raise awareness about plastic pollution in the ocean.

The expedition was launched in September from the Republic of Tunisia, where numerous organizations gave support, expedition supplies and services. The ship’s crew consists of 12-15 skilled, amateur and novice sailors for each leg of the trip. Before reaching the United States, the ship made port in the Dominican Republic. Built in 2008, the ship earlier completed a voyage around Africa under expedition leader Philip Beale and proved it was worthy of the Atlantic voyage.

Shake-A-Leg is at 2620 South Bayshore Drive.

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Monday, February 10, 2020

Free movies in the park

Bring your blankets and chairs for an evening of movie watching under the stars at the Barnacle Historic State Park, 3485 Main Highway. Movies in the Park are sponsored by the Coconut Grove Business Improvement District and admission is free! 

Walk or bike over or park nearby. Freebee shuttle service is available to and from neighboring parking lots and garages. The gate opens at 7 pm and movies begin at 7:30 pm. No pets, please.

The next movie is Friday, February 28 when Abominable will be shown. After discovering a Yeti on the roof of her apartment building, teenage Yi and her two friends embark on an epic quest to reunite the magical creature with his family. But to do so, they must stay one step ahead of a wealthy financier and a determined zoologist who want to capture the beast for their own gain. 

The Barnacle is at 3485 Main Highway.

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Where would you send a tourist in the Grove?

One of those Facebook pages where people ask for recommendations, one guy asked for suggestions on what he can do in Coconut Grove. He is new to the area and was wondering what he could do her for a day or a few hours or whatever. I think he was a sailor.

I wracked my brain and wondered, what could I suggest for the guy to do? A few people suggested he visit The Barnacle and felt that it would be interesting since the guy was a sailor, but no one seemed to come up with anything else. People ended up sending him to Brickell.


Almost daily I see people ask Louis, the Grove Ambassador for the entrance to the Cheesecake Factory or where the art galleries are. I cringe when that happens.

CocoWalk says they will be opening in the summer, so that will be big improvement for the tourists.

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Sunday, February 09, 2020

Well now it's time to say goodbye to Tom and all his friends; thanks folks, for kindly dropping in


So I've come to a decision. The Grapevine will be coming to an end soon. I think it's time. I hate that so much of the Grove is disappearing these days, and now we will be joining them, but it's time. I guess what I'm doing is closing one door to allow other doors to open.

Think of it as the ending of one of your favorite tv shows - Seinfeld, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones, Friends. We'll only be in reruns now, just like them.


The Grapevine will be 15 years old in May, and we've been publishing every day, showing up on your device and inboxes, but I think it has run its course. That's a long time to pump out daily articles and news stories. There are 15,000 posts, here, I guess that's an average of 1,000 stories a year! A few years back, we published 7 to 10 stories a day, 7 days a week! But people weren't seeing all of them, so I pared it down to a few.

The last day will be Tuesday, February 18 because I would like to publish photos and reports from the Coconut Grove Arts Festival and St. Stephen's Art Show which are the previous weekend.


If you fear you may get withdrawal symptoms, not to worry, I will keep the social media accounts going where I can post things like art festivals and restaurants, pictures and things like that, after all, aren't these social media platforms the blogs of today?

Instagram is here: instagram.com/coconutgrovegrapevine/
Facebook is here: facebook.com/coconutgrovegrapevine/
Twitter is here: twitter.com/grovegrapevine

All the archives are here from May 8, 2005 - a time capsule of the last 15 years in Coconut Grove. If you're on a tablet or computer, it's to the left, see that drop down menu? If you're on a cell phone reading this, I'm not sure if you can see the drop down menu.

I have another blog called Tomversation which I have been publishing for a few years now where I write about my travels, arts, culture, history, personal stuff, things like that.  I sometimes write about local events, like the Gifford Lane Art Stroll for instance, which is in March, I'll probably take pictures and post it on Tomversation.


You can read the Tomversation blog here: 
tomversation.com, if you subscribe, it will appear in your email just like the Grapevine does now. I don't usually publish daily, but maybe I will if I don't have the Grapevine deadlines weighting on me every day. 


I also had plans to restart my Tomversation comic panel, but now out of the blue, one of the  comic strip syndicates contacted me, they like another comic strip that I have been tinkering with and may want to publish that daily, so maybe I'll end up doing that. I'll post a link and updates at the Tomversation blog when the time comes if you're interested in that.

I'll be around in one form or another, you'll see me around town and published  in other places (Tomversation, Medium, the Huff Post, The Herald) or maybe any place you might invite me to publish a guest article or post). 


Thank you for dropping in daily.

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