Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day 2012

It's Memorial Day in the United States, where we remember those soldiers who have fallen protecting our country.                                                              

Things have changed since Vietnam. Soldiers still fall, but the reasons why have become murkier.


As Muhammad Ali once said, "I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong ..." Years later, it's hard to imagine poor people, however well-intentioned, enlisting in the Armed Forces in order to protect us from some Iraqi invaders. Maybe terrorism poses a sort of threat, but really, most are signing on just to get a job.

Memorial Day also lets the Indianapolis 500 provide an opportunity for Honda, Izod, Cottonelle, Champion, Sherwin Williams, Gillette, Brita, TomTom, Energizer, GE, Vaseline, Oreo, AirWick, Bosch, Reese's, and other important patriots to emblazon their logos on a fast driver dressed like a 6 foot tall Target shopping bag.

Last night, PBS was supposed to broadcast a concert from Washington D.C. which featured dignitaries temporarily united in their superficial support for the country, but it was cancelled because President Obama was unable to prevent thunderstorms from occurring. 

Throughout the country, good loyal Americans were awakened to a serenade of string trimmers played by mariachis with lawnmowers who do not get the day off. 

After the noise dies down, many of us will reconvene at the Home Depot for hot dogs and Cokes as we all remember the fallen victims who sacrificed themselves for our freedom.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Critical Mass Miami May 2012

It must have been a year ago when I went on Miami Bike Scene's site and learned a bit about Critical Mass after Teo Castellanos told me about it. They were having something called a bike prom, and a few hundred people got dressed up in "prom clothing" and pedaled around Miami through Brickell with a sound system pumping out the finest 80's music.

Last month, on the final Friday of April, nearly 2000 people rode through Little Havana, Coral Gables, Brickell, and downtown on Critical Mass's latest ride. Tonight, weather permitting, the freaks will come out again, and ride through Little Havana, Allapattah, Wynwood, Midtown, Design District, Buena Vista, Little Haiti, Upper East Side, Edgewater, Omni, and Downtown.

Mostly everyone loves Critical Mass, despite a few outliers who can't control their testosterone -- usually males between 15-40. They unconsciously ride against the grain, hop curbs, seek confrontations, and find one every so often. The other 98% just ride, hoot, holler, and laugh. Drivers of the cars inconvenienced by this monthly event generally suck it up, with a few -- usually males between 15-50 -- attempting to bulldoze whatever is in their way. One against a hundred, even with superior weaponry like a car, is against all odds.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Goombay Miami

Judging from our recent rainy weekends, if no one has yet made it official, now is the time to admit to yourself that the season has changed. We are all slow to come to grips with a number of our shortcomings; we may need to exercise more, to eat differently, and to complain less,  but realizing these things and making the changes are two different things. Despite our desire to hold on to our glorious, dry, humid-free springtime, summer has awakened and you’d better find some shelter. However, before you lament the end of paradise, Coconut Grove will hold its 36th annual Goombay Festival on June 1-June 3, I suppose rain or shine.

The Goombay Festival pays respect to the first black Bahamians to arrive in South Florida. Originally craftsmen and laborers, they rooted themselves to an area near Douglas and Grand Avenue; perhaps you’ve seen the long, straight and narrow shotgun houses. 35 years ago, someone decided to propose passing along a bit of the culture, and here we are today giving some proper love to nearby islander history. Goombay celebrations are held throughout a number of places in the Caribbean; ours fills the Grove, makin’ lots of dancin,’ prancin’, and romancin’. It’s a slice of Mardi Gras, a piece of Mummers Parade, and a miniature Carnival, meaning sequined costumes, strutting marching bands, fancy floats, and curbside culinary opportunities. Oh yeah – if it’s not raining, there will be bicycles everywhere, too. There are always bikes in the Grove.

We all know, though it sometimes fails to register, that there is a different world near our shores, and it is not necessarily Atlantis. The beats of the islands, the simmering stews, the local crafts – all are so close but so far away. For a weekend in June, we can reacquaint ourselves. A colorful parade awaits all who partake. Percussion, whistles, bells, and beats will be rolling down the avenue Saturday and Sunday, warm vibes wafting through the community. Other events – a kickoff set, historical brunch, and gospel service are spelled out on the website. Like always, Junkanoo music – the above-mentioned instruments plus horns and scrapers – will be the festival’s constant chaperon, there whenever you need it. Over the years, appearances have been made by R&B acts like the Temptations, rappers, and NBA ballers, so if you are star-struck, you might want to make an appearance. Since it is June and the rainy season, just grab an umbrella and join in the festivities.

For more information, check