Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Grand Avenue 2002 Vision Plan ► Unpacking Grand Avenue

This 1885 watercolour by Winslow Homer is called "A
Garden in Nassau". Ironically it was used 14 years ago for
this Grand Avenue Vision Plan. Read more about it below.
This is the start of an extensive series on Grand Avenue in Coconut Grove. 

There is a humanitarian crisis currently happening on Grand Avenue. 

Yesterday a number of residents in a blighted building along Grand received eviction notices. The biggest problem they have is that there is no place to go. One couple I've spoken to, with several children, has been looking for a new place for months in order to escape their moldy and bug infested apartment. There is absolutely nothing available in their budget and they feel as if they are being gentrified out of the neighbourhood.

The truth of the matter is they are.

At one time the western end of Grand Avenue was the bustling Black business district of West Grove. Today it is one of the worst slums in Miami. The reason West Grove remained a cohesive Black neighbourhood has to do with the efforts of one man who made a difference: E.W.F. Stirrup. And, just like the Stirrup House, which anchors the opposite end of the historic Black neighbourhood, it has undergone a campaign of Demolition by Neglect. [Read: Who Is To Blame For the Destruction of the E.W.F. Stirrup House?]

Ironically, the west end of Grand, blighted as it is, has become some of the most valuable real estate in Miami, having been bought and flipped so many times over the last few decades by speculators looking to gentrify an entrenched Black neighbourhood. Now nothing less than a concrete canyon from Margaret Street west will allow the land to pay for itself. Furthermore, due to Demolition by Neglect, there's almost nothing left along that stretch worth renovating and saving.

Click to enlarge
This map demonstrates how close Grand Avenue is to
the E.W.F. Stirrup House. Identified on this map are
many stories covered in the Not Now Silly Newsroom.


MacFarlane Homestead Subdivision Historical District
Armbrister Field
Coconut Grove Playhouse
The Colour Line
Coral Gables
A quick Grand Ave history lesson: The street always suffered from institutional racism, because that's what always happened in this country. However, it started its slide into irrelevance after segregation was outlawed. Once the folk in West Grove could shop anywhere, the businesses along Grand Avenue no longer had a captive clientele.

Over the next several decades systemic racism kept this end of Coconut Grove in near poverty, even as the other end -- the White end -- of the 33133 zip code became one of the most exclusive neighbourhoods in the entire country.

Last month the rapacious developers, hoping to gentrify these people out of existence could hide their slum no longer. Local NBC 6 did an exposé, and interviewed District 2 Commissioner Ken Russell in the process. [Read Residents of Derelict Coconut Grove Building Facing Homelessness. I was unable to embed the video, but it's not for the squeamish.] The issue of Grand Avenue was suddenly in the news, especially after Miami Sues Coconut Grove Landlords for Renting Moldy, Sewage-Filled Apartments, Jessica Lipscomb writes:
Parts of the roof have caved in, creating a breeding ground for mold. Raw sewage, including pieces of toilet paper and human waste, sometimes flow in front of the tenants' front doors. Recently, the landlord cut the power to the outdoor lights, cloaking the building in dangerous darkness after sunset.

But rent is only $400 a month, an almost unheard-of bargain in Miami, where residents in nearly every stretch of the city are being squeezed by rising housing costs. It's about all Coats, who is unemployed, can afford to pay each month. "The rent is just getting ridiculous," she says.

Now the City of Miami is taking legal action against the owners, who — under five corporation names — have 12 properties in Coconut Grove, all of which, the city says, are in various states of disrepair and code violation. The city is fighting to force the owners to pay to relocate all of the tenants to clean and safe apartments they can afford — and many fear they could become homeless if no alternative is provided.
There was a stay of execution on last month's evictions after Commissioner Russell filed his lawsuit. Until yesterday, that is. Many have already left, but the remaining residents have all been told they have to be out by November.

LET'S BE CLEAR: While these rich, White, deveopers have been buying and selling these properties -- and now suing each other -- the pawns that have been allowed to live in their fiefdom are suffering. Little money, if any, has been spent on these buildings. Or, on this entire stretch of Grand Avenue, for that matter. This is another clear case of Demolition by Neglect. Unlike the Stirrup House, which was empty, real people are being affected by these deplorable conditions.

Read more in A History of West Coconut Grove from 1925: Slum Clearance, Concrete Monsters, and the Dicotomy of East and West Coconut Grove, by Alex Plasencia, for their Clemson University thesis.

That's why it's more than a little ironic that the 2002 Grand Avenue Vision Plan used "A Garden in Nassau" for its cover. The implication of using Homer's painting would have been crystal clear to those who chose it. The biography Winslow Homer, by Nicolai Cikovsky and Franklin Kelly, describes Homer's first time in the Bahamas, where he completed some 30 paintings:
Rest by Winslow Homer
Homer's purpose was clearly to gather as many pictures representative of the scenery of the island and the lives of its citizens as possible, for his watercolors embrace a wide variety of subjects. However, he seems to have been particularly interested in the day-to-day activities of the black inhabitants. There was a substantial African population on Nassau, because English planters had brought slaves to the island to work their plantations. Slavery was abolished in 1834, but the economic conditions of former slaves and their descendants remained extremely difficult. Several of Homer's watercolors, such as "Rest" and "A Garden in Nassau", hint at the lingering effects of slavery by showing black figures standing outside the coral limestone walls that typically surrounded white homes, suggesting that they were excluded from the world within.
Nothing depicts the dichotomy between East Grove and the historic Bahamian neighbourhood of West Grove more than the Nassau paintings by Winslow Homer. What the committee that chose his painting for the 2002 Vision Plan could not have known is how little would get done in the intervening 14 years. Presenting this optimistic plan to the City of Miami, there was no way they could have known that the metaphorical wall between the two ends of Coconut Grove would get ever higher.

I'll be sharing more of the 2002 Grand Avenue Vision Plan -- along with the very human stories of people living in this section of town -- in the coming weeks. However, I just wanted to provide some historical context before I get too deep into this series.

Here's some more context from 2009 by filmmaker Ellie Tinto-Poitier, narrated by Jeffrey Poitier:

If anyone knows where I can find a completed
version of this documentary, please contact me.

If you've liked anything you've read at the Not Now Silly Newsroom,  please consider donating to my Go Fund Me campaign to Support Investigative Journalism. My Freedom of Information requests from the City of Miami are beginning to add up, not to mention all the other costs of researching systemic racism and corruption in Coconut Grove.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Hair ► Monday Musical Appreciation

Forty-nine years ago today Hair; The American Tribal Love Rock Musical debuted at the Shakespearean Festival in New York City and nothing was ever the same again.

Hair was the first Rock musical. I'll let the Official Hair website pick up the story:
HAIR's world debut was in New York City in October 1967, off-Broadway, on the heels of the Summer of Love. Jerry and I had written HAIR for the uptown big theatre audiences. It was designed to invade Broadway territory, but we couldn't get a tumble from any of the Broadway producers. "Not our cup of tea," they would say. We retreated from our firm intention, in response to an offer of a 6-week run for HAIR as the opening attraction at a new theater. The old Astor Library, gutted and under fresh construction, became The New York Shakespeare Festival Public Theater, and the producer Joseph Papp chose HAIR to be the premiere presentation in his experimental space, the Anspacher Theater. (Papp had produced free Shakespeare in Central Park for years, but was now branching out, to embrace the excitement of the avant garde theater movement.) Quite a wonderful opportunity, we thought; if we couldn't get HAIR on-Broadway, at least we could jump-start it downtown in the Joseph Papp spotlight of a new New York theater, in the East Village at that, where the play itself was set. As directed by Gerald Freedman, with choreography by Anna Sokolow, the "Public" proved to be a perfect "out-of-town tryout."
Hair eventually moved to Broadway where it ran for over 1700 performances.

Many of the men of my generation were fighting the Hair Wars with our parents. Those who were just a few years older than me were already fighting in Vietnam, the draft being a subtext of the musical.

I didn't get to see the play until it opened as a quintessential 'Merkin movie musical directed by Czechoslovakia immigrant Miloš Forman a decade later. However, the soundtrack was everywhere by 1968 and I could sing this song by heart.

Several of the tunes in Hair later became hits for others, most notably the 5th Dimension:

Crank it up and LET THE SUNSHINE IN!!!

If you've liked anything you've read at the Not Now Silly Newsroom,  please consider donating to my Go Fund Me campaign to Support Investigative Journalism. My Freedom of Information requests from the City of Miami are beginning to add up, not to mention all the other costs of researching systemic racism and corruption in Coconut Grove.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Beany and Cecil ► Saturday Morning Cartoons

When I was growing up in the '50s and '60s every tee vee station -- all 3 of 'em -- played cartoons on Saturday mornings. The Not Now Silly Newsroom launches a new regular feature: Saturday Morning Cartoons.

True story: I got my love of punning from Beany and Cecil. I can remember the exact moment that switch was turned on: When they traveled to the No Bikini Atoll. Prior to that revelation, I missed many puns on the show. But, from that moment on I watched for them. Whenever I saw one, I'd think I was especially clever because I was probably the only one who got it.

Beany and Cecil was the first cartoon I can remember -- other than Disney -- where you knew the name of the cartoonist. It was in the opening theme, fer crise sake, and every kid at home sang along. You can, too:

Who was Bob Clampett? Born in 1913 near Hollywood, he demonstrated an early talent for entertaining. As the story goes on the official website:
At aged 12 years Bob Clampett saw the 1925 silent film “The Lost World.” As a boy full of imagination, sitting in the audience for that film was a life altering experience for Clampett.. Special effects supervisor Willis O’Brien brought alive the creatures with his stop motion wizardry. Wallace Beery cut a larger than life figure as Professor Challenger.
Puns like these were hidden all over Beany and Cecil
At the end of the film a brontosaurus jumps off of the London Bridge into the Thames River and as he swims away only his neck is visible from out of the water. Clampett immediately saw an interesting character in the action from that final scene.

Clampett came home and set about with his mother’s help to sew a sock puppet of this character. He then performed puppet shows in front of the neighborhood kids delighting them with the antics of his sea serpent character who bested the professor in the pith helmet.

For years after that Clampett frequently entertained with this sock puppet serpent character and in fact kept it nearby in a handy place. 
Eventually, in an early example of merchandising and marketing, toy departments all across the country were selling green Cecil the Sea serpent hand puppets.But I'm getting ahead of myself.

However, speaking of merchandising: While still a teenager he came close to being sued by the Disney company when he tried to mass produce a Mickey Mouse doll. Luckily he got to show it to Walt himself, who not only liked it, but helped Bob and his father set up on the studio lot to mass produce the doll.

Having always demonstrated a facility for drawing, Clampett dropped out of high school to go to work as an "inbetweener" for Harmon-Ising, which eventually became Warner Bros. Cartoons. However, he never lost his interest in puppetry. As his website tells it:

In 1935 Clampett attended the California Pacific International Exposition in San Diego.

At this show he saw a demonstration of television for the very first time. He ran to his car and pulled his sea serpent hand puppet out of the glove compartment. Clampett was able to test for the first time what a puppet might look like on live television and recognized the power of this brand new medium.

In 1937 while at Warner cartoon studio, Clampett built a puppet studio directly across the street. He worked there primarily on nights and weekends with his friend Al Kendig to develop 3D stop motion puppetry.


In the early 1940’s Clampett pitched his idea for filmed puppet shorts about a sea serpent and sea captain to Warner Cartoon studio head Leon Schlesinger. However, Schlesinger turned the project down by saying, “A shoemaker sticks to his last.” This was what Clampett later referred to as a critical moment in his career because Clampett was then able to retain the rights to his most important original 3D creation.
You can read more about how Bob Clampett continued to develop his television puppet show and how that eventually led him back to his original vocation of animation HERE. However, I'm as bored as a 5-year old waiting for the cartoons to start. Pass the popcorn.

If you've liked anything you've read at the Not Now Silly Newsroom,  please consider donating to my Go Fund Me campaign to Support Investigative Journalism. My Freedom of Information requests from the City of Miami are beginning to add up, not to mention all the other costs of researching systemic racism and corruption in Coconut Grove.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

After I Left College ► Throwback Thursday

At different times I worked for both companies named
on this plaque: Record Week and Island Records Canada.
"Some people say" if you haven't unpacked a box in a few years, you should give it away. If I did I would have lost stuff like this. These two plaques, newly rediscovered, tell the backstory of my life.

While I was going to Sheridan College of Applied Arts and Technology in Oakville, Ontario, Canada, the two things I played with most, when I wasn't finding new ways to hoodwink my instructors:
  • Station Manager at Radio Sheridan;
  • Editor of A Student Magazine.

At the latter I wotked with artist Matthew Rust (who I've reconnected with recently on the facebookery) and Martin Herzog. Soon afterwards Marty and I started Zoundz Magazine, a little giveaway found next to the cash registers at Toronto area record stores. Soon we were taking advertising from the majors and adding pages to what had been a one-sheet folded cleverly. I was writer and editor and Marty had the business plan. However, in the end the business plan was that Marty would keep moving up, partnerships be damned.

He came to me one day and said that he was approached by Concert Productions International to take over Cheap Thrills, the house organ for members of the Cheap Thrills Club, in which membership had its privileges. Among them was to be first in line for concerts before tickets went on sale to the general public along with other perks. I followed Marty over to Cheap Thrills as Editor, but we were never partners after that.

Marty had his eyes on even bigger game than that.

One day he came to me, handed me a small pile of records, and told me that he had promised positive capsule reviews on them all. I argued that that's not how record reviews work. I was young and dumb and had journalistic integrity. [I am no longer young.] Eventually, he told me that either I would write them or he'd find someone who would from the stable of writers we had started building. I told him that I would write the reviews, but to not put me in that position again.

No one ever noticed, but those 3 record reviews never once mentioned the music. I reviewed the covers, the producer, session musicians, whatever I could get away with. In one I actually reviewed the quality of the vinyl, wondering where it was pressed.

The next month Marty did the same thing and I quit on the spot. Yes, I walked away from a company owned by the man who went on to mount Rolling Stone tours, Broadway shows, and personally kick Donald Trump out of his own buildings. It's a great story that ends thusly:

But, anyway, the bottom line is I look at Donald and said, “You and Marla (Maples) have to go.

You’re fired.” He looks at me and goes berserk.

“You don’t know anything! Your guys suck! I promote Mike Tyson! I promote heavyweight fights!”

And I notice the three shtarkers he’s with, in trench coats, two of them are putting on gloves and the other one is putting on brass knuckles. I go on the walkie-talkie and I call for Jim Callahan, who was head of our security, and I go, “Jim, I think I’m in a bit of trouble.” And he says, “Just turn around.”

I turn around. He’s got 40 of the crew with tire irons and hockey sticks and screwdrivers.

“And now, are you gonna go, Donald?”

And off he went.

And that was the night I fired Donald Trump.
I don't know who Marty promised positive reviews to and I never asked. However, all 3 records were from CBS, where Marty later found a job. Isn't that convenient? Bygones be bygones, once he landed at CBS, he'd hire me to write the salesmen one-sheets, the occasional band biography, and the words to populate entire promotional campaigns.

After all, freelance writing work is freelance writing work.

Other related stories:

The Officials' Story
The Day I Met Bob Marley
Me and Pink Floyd and
Ivor Wynne Stadium
When I left Cheap Thrills I immediately landed at Record Week, a Canadian music industry trade publications that not only went out to every radio station, record store, and player in the business in Canada, but was also subscribed to by movers and shakers in the U.S. and around the world. My masthead title read Concert and Gig Guide Editor.

To be honest, I wasn't at Record Week very long when I got a great offer to become part time Campus Record Promoter for Island Records Canada. This happened right about the same time I finished my 3rd year at Sheridan College (all of the above was extracurricular). I moved to Toronto, to live in the basement of the house on Bedford Road where Island Records had its Canadian Headquarters (and the only office in the country).

To be honest, I wasn't at Island Records very long when I got a better offer from United Artists Records Canada to replace Pete Taylor, a legend in Canadian record promo. The pay was stunning to me, having just left school, where I had been surviving on student loans and a part-time McDonald's job. [There's a story I should tell one day.]

To be honest, I wasn't at United Artists very long. I had climbed too high, too fast. I wasn't ready for Big Time Record Promo™. On my 89th day I was called into the Vice President's office and fired on the spot. Had they waited another 2 days, after my 90 day probationary period, they would have had to pay severance.

I went back to Island Records with my tail between my legs and I was taken back with open arms. There I finally learned the music promotion business.

Here's the punchline: In the period between working for Island Records and returning to Island Records, Record Week decided to surprise me with that year's Taking Care of Business Award. Apparently I had worked for Record Week for so short a time that they misspelled my name on the award.

I eventually went on to manage bands, write for a variety of publications (mostly non-music related) and spent a decade as a News Writer at Citytv. I have also had a lifelong love affair with music. This Throwback Thursday is dedicated to the time in my life when I couldn't decide what I wanted to be when I grew up, so I chose ALL OF THE ABOVE.

Crank it up and D A N C E ! ! !

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Where Does The Magic Go When The Magic Goes Away? ► A Pastoral Letter

Dear Pastor Kenny: 

SPOILER ALERT: I firmly believe that due to the immutable laws of physics and the Laws of the Universe, the magic never really goes away. Here's why:

If you recall, in my last Pastoral Letter I had just been Pastorized after visiting you in Ann Arbor on this year's version of my yearly road trip.

[For readers just tuning in: Pastor Ken Wilson is my oldest friend on the planet. A capsule chronology: When I moved into my house on Gilchrist Street at the age of 5, Kenneth John Wilson was the first kid I met. He lived catercorner across the street and we grew up together. We lost touch after he visited me in Canada at the age of 18-19 when he tried to sell me on Jesus. Over the years (especially after Al Gore invented the internet /snark) I tried to find him. Do you know how many Ken Wilsons there are in the world? Adding his middle name didn't help much.

Until I located him a few years back, I didn't know he became Pastor of the church he started in his living room in Ann Arbor. Nor did I know that after 45 years he wrote a book called A Letter To My Congregation, which argues for the full acceptance and loving embrace of LGBTQ communities into the life of the church. I consider it a very important book, which is why I provide the Amazon link. Buy it and read it.

I began writing these Pastoral Letters after we found each other again.]

Coincidentally, Connections is one of
my favourite Tee Vee documentaries,
finding synchronicity in the universe.
Ken, when I visited in August, I asked you the question that had been on my mind during all those miles on the road. What is the answer when Jesus is not the answer? Your reply was a single word: Connections.

I've been thinking about that a lot ever since.

How is it that you chose the one thing I seem to be the worst at? Maintaining connections has been a struggle for me since -- well, since you and I lost touch in 1972. Time and time again I've lost friends as I have moved through ome phase of my life after another. Not just lost friends, but have jettisoned entire groups of friends all at once, as I burned bridges behind me.

Once, a couple of decades back, there was a group of us that always got together on the weekend. We had done so through the years as we all acquired spouses and moved to new houses. We'd meet at one house, or another, and each week I'd always call around to find out where.

One week I decided not to call to see if anyone called me. I'm still waiting. There is an entire clique I stopped connecting with overnight. I have other stories like that.

I'm rambling, Ken, because I know what I want to say, but I'm not sure of the exact words that will get me there. Rather than continue to spin off on tangents and tell you in all the ways I'm bad at keeping connections, let's just stipulate I am.

I've been thinking about CONNECTIONS ever since we spoke. It occurred to me recently (because there are times my brain is very slow to make even the simplest of connections) that connections could also mean synchronicity, which I've written about. The interconnectivity of the Universe.

Late last year, after an adulthood of being an atheist, I started believing in something bigger than myself: MAGIC. And then I didn't anymore.

Where does the magic go when the magic goes away?

Recently I had a conversation with the magical person in my life where we decided to call it quits. She said, among other things, that she found it hard to keep up the connection. I wish I were making that up, Ken, but that's the exact word she used.

From the actual police report
During the same conversation I told her that I thought I could identify the exact moment the magic disappeared. It was late October. I was returning home from a productive day of research in Coconut Grove, a 35 mile drive. To pass the time, as we had done so many times before, she accompanied me on the trip. I called her when I left Miami and we talked about everything, anything, and nothing on the phone all the way up I-95 and across I-595, and up Nob Hill Road.

I was about a mile from home when a teenager made a right turn on a red light and ran right into the side of the car. I wasn't hurt, but the car was a write-off.

That's the last moment I could remember feeling the magic. A lot has happened since then, and so little of it's been good. Actually, none of it's been good, unless you count me saving Pops' life, but that's another story entirely.

Irony alert, Ken. After my magician and I had our recent conversation, I remembered I had actually written about that moment in one of my Pastoral Letters, of all places. I went back to read what I had written. And, that's when the light bulb FINALLY went on. [As I said above: I am often the last one to make a connection.]

I am just guessing, Ken, but I think I can identify the exact moment she stopped feeling the magic. That would have happened when she read Before and After Synchronicity, another one of my Pastoral Letters. I published it very soon after the accident. I had been working on it for a long time. I finally decided to rush it to completion, maybe before it was even ready. Probably before it was ready.

I say that because in that post, in my fumbling to find the right words to express the magic I had been feeling, I offhandedly used the term "mumbo jumbo" more than once as a way to express what I used feel about deep spirituality, a force beyond my limited understanding, but one that I was finding myself opening up to despite myself. [In a run-on sentence.]

What I was REALLY saying (in my clumsy way) is that prior to meeting that extraordinary woman, I didn't believe in that mumbo jumbo. After stating that, I then listed all the magical synchronicity that brought us together. All these things had me doubting what I had previously believed, or non-believed, as the case may be.

And, as for my loose language I am truly sorry. It came off in a way I never meant it to and I have only myself to blame because I didn't choose my words wisely.

However, if I am right about this, I also think I am owed an apology. Rather than tell me her feelings had been hurt, and why, the magician kept it to herself and allowed it to eat at her. Furthermore, I was never given a chance to explain, to clarify, to make amends.

I should have seen it. I felt her pulling away, but I put it down to the holiday season. I even remarked once that she felt distant, and as proof I pointed to Facebook, which had already noticed she was not coming up in those algorithms that show who you are close to and who is close to you.

And, more than once, when I expressed something magical she would ask, "But what about the mumbo jumbo" and I would explain again how everything I had once believed had been turned on its head. In other words, while I didn't know what it was, it was no longer mumbo jumbo.

And then one day the magic was gone. I could no longer rouse in her those feelings that I once had, which led to a disappointing visit to Toronto in August and a more disappointing conversation recently, where it was decided that we pull the plug.

That's when I started to ask, "Where does the magic go when the magic goes away?"

Then, on the very day I began this post (and it can sometimes take me weeks to get these thoughts down the way I want them, I took another one of those Facebook quizzes that use your algorithms:

That's when I realized that due to the immutable laws of physics and the Laws of the Universe, the magic never really goes away. Either that or the Universe has a really sick sense of humour.

But, I have talking to the crows again.

And, it has not gone unnoticed that I am publishing this on Yom Kippur.

If you've liked anything you've read at the Not Now Silly Newsroom,  please consider donating to my Go Fund Me campaign to Support Investigative Journalism. My Freedom of Information requests from the City of Miami are beginning to add up, not to mention all the other costs of researching systemic racism and corruption in Coconut Grove.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Ennio Morricone ► Monday Musical Appreciation

Blowing out 88 candles on his birthday cake today is composer Ennio Morricone, who has written the soundtracks to more than 500 movies and tee vee shows. 

Born in Rome, Morricone played trumpet and, apparently, composed his first piece at the age of 6. In 1953 he was asked to arrange for Italian radio shows. A few years later he started playing trumpet in a Jazz band, which may be why some of his soundtracks are so trumpet-laden.

Morricone became known for his soundtracks to several of Sergio Leone's so-called Spaghetti Westerns, including my favourite western of all time, "Once Upon A Time in the West."

"Once Upon a Time in the West" is the only Western anyone ever needs to see. It contains all the Western tropes we've come to expect and weaves several story lines together into a broad canvas about the civilizing the west. And, for Bonus Points: Henry Fonda plays against type as the meanest sumnabitch on the planet.

Almost everyone recognizes this movie theme, reinterpreted by Apollo Four Forty:

I'll let The WikiWackyWoo pick up the slack:
After having played trumpet in jazz bands in the 1940s, he became a studio arranger for RCA and started in 1955 ghost writing for film and theatre. Throughout his career, he composed music for artists such as Paul Anka, Mina, Milva, Zucchero and Andrea Bocelli. From 1960 to 1975, Morricone gained international fame by composing the music to westerns. His score to 1966's The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is considered one of the most influential soundtracks in history[3] and was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[4] With an estimated 10 million copies sold, Once Upon a Time in the West is one of the best-selling scores worldwide.[5] He also scored seven westerns for Sergio Corbucci, Duccio Tessari's Ringo duology and Sergio Sollima's The Big Gundown and Face to Face. Morricone worked extensively for other film genres with directors such as Mauro Bolognini, Giuliano Montaldo, Roland Joffé, Roman Polanski and Henri Verneuil. His acclaimed soundtrack for The Mission (1986)[6] was certified gold in the United States. The album Yo-Yo Ma Plays Ennio Morricone stayed 105 weeks on the Billboard Top Classical Albums.[7]

Morricone's best-known compositions include "The Ecstasy of Gold", "Se Telefonando", "Man with a Harmonica", "Here's to You", the UK No. 2 single "Chi Mai", "Gabriel's Oboe" and "E Più Ti Penso". He functioned during the period 1966–1980 as a main member of Il Gruppo, one of the first experimental composers collectives. In 1969, he co-founded Forum Music Village, a prestigious recording studio. From the 1970s, Morricone excelled in Hollywood, composing for prolific American directors such as Don Siegel, Mike Nichols, Brian De Palma, Barry Levinson, Oliver Stone, Warren Beatty and Quentin Tarantino. In 1977, he composed the official theme for the 1978 FIFA World Cup. He continued to compose music for European productions, such as Marco Polo, La Piovra, Nostromo, Fateless, Karol and En mai, fais ce qu'il te plait. Morricone's music has been reused in television series, including The Simpsons and The Sopranos, and in many films, including Inglourious Basterds and Django Unchained.
As always, the proof is in the grooves:

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Hurricane Wilma ► Throwback Thursday

The path of Hurricane Wilma was one of the oddest.
As Hurricane Matthew barrels towards Florida, let's take a look back to Hurricane Wilma, my first and last hurricane.

Hurricane Wilma smashed into the west coast of Florida -- at Cape Romano, south of Naples -- on October 24, 2005.

However, Wilma had already been a devastating storm for 8 days prior. Wilma was unlike most hurricanes, which start off the west coast of Africa as a area of low barometric pressure. They move across the ocean, picking up speed and power until they hit somewhere in the Caribbean, Mexico, or Florida. However, Wilma not only scored the hat trick, hitting all three, but unconventionally started in the Caribbean as a low pressure trough southeast of Jamaica on October 13th. Barely moving, it went from a Tropical Depression, to Tropical Storm, to Hurricane in under 5 days, eventually becoming a Category 5, the largest on the Saffir-Simpson Scale.

Eventually pushed by other weather patterns to the north, Hurricane Wilma first drifted over to Mexico and the Yucatan peninsula. These weather patterns also slowed Wilma's forward momentum, so once it hit Cozumel, it just sat there and churned for almost 2 full days. Usually a hurricane loses strength when over land, but Wilma was nearly as strong when it left Mexico as when it arrived.

This concrete wall, just a mile from me, has never been
replaced. It was blown over just by the sheer force of the wind.
After that, Wilma moved into the Gulf of Mexico where it was affected by another weather pattern, which not only turned the hurricane to the northwest, but luckily, it also increased its forward momentum. By the time it hit Florida, it was racing. It crossed the state on a diagonal in less than 5 hours, lessening the potential damage than if it had continued to move slowly.

As it was the damage in Florida was significant. As the WikiWackyWoo says about Broward County, where I live:
Wilma was the most damaging storm in Broward County since Hurricane King in 1950. Winds between 80 and 100 mph (130 and 160 km/h) lashed the county for about five hours. Widespread minor to major wind damages to residential and commercial buildings occurred. At least 5,111 dwellings were left uninhabitable, including 2,800 condominiums and apartments, 1,441 mobile homes, 42 single-family dwellings, and 170 commercial buildings. Much of the damage was incurred to roofing and siding, while interior damage was caused by rain and winds. Along the Intracoastal Waterway, a number of boats, docks, bulkheads, and dry storage marinas sustained impact, and many houses and businesses suffered roof damage.[41] The storm severely damaged 69 school, totaling as much as $100 million.[42]
I rode out Hurricane Wilma in the condo with Pops, who would turn 80 4 months later. I was scared because I had never experienced a hurricane before, but Pops was already a veteran of Florida hurricanes.

In fact, during Hurricane Andrew in 1992, when I was still writing news for BreakfastTelevision at Citytv, we did a live phoner with Pops because Andrew was lashing Florida while we were on the air. Pops was in no danger from Hurricane Andrew, which ravaged Homestead, some 60 miles to the south, before it went into the Everglades, the Gulf of Mexico, and, eventually, Louisiana.

Just like Pops rode out Hurricane Andrew, he was determined to ride out Hurricane Wilma and there was no way I was going to leave him alone.

That wasn't as foolhardy a decision as it sounds. There are 2 bathrooms and a large walk-in closet in the condo that are relatively secure. They are what I call "interior rooms" or rooms within rooms. However, every decision we made after that was extremely foolhardy and dangerous.

That's because Pops and I did not shelter in those places. We wandered around the condo watching all the debris fly by the windows. We were lucky nothing flew through the windows as we were watching. I am reminded of this comedy routine by Ron White.

Then it all stopped and everything became quiet. We were in the eye of Hurricane Wilma.

I went outside and took a short walk. It was beautiful. The sun shone down and it looked like a typical day in Paradise. The eye wall was so far away that I couldn't see it at all.

Then the wind started to pick up from the opposite direction and I headed back inside to stare at it through the windows again. SMH!!!

The aftermath for us is that we were without power for 18 days during what became a heat spell. It was like going camping, but with more comfortable furniture.

That was then. This is now:

Within the next 12 hours Hurricane Matthew will arrive. This time it's taking the more traditional east to west direction.

However, then it chooses an alternate route.

There are weather patterns to the east of Florida. The latest models say they could push Hurricane Wilma to the south and then back to the west. Florida could get whacked by Matthew twice within the space of 5 days.

Hurricane prediction is still pretty shaky 5 days out, so I am not panicking yet. However, to be honest, I am more concerned about the 2nd hit. If it's anything like the last time we won't have any power after the first hit. Consequently, it will be that much harder to get the weather alerts on tee vee and computer. I'll have to make sure I can keep a charge on my phone. However, if you don't hear from me, you know I've been washed out to sea.

Meanwhile, here are some of the other pics I took of Hurricane Wilma damage.

Roots here do not grow down because of the sandy soil. They grow out. Consequently they blow over easily.

The same tree from the opposite direction. The force of the tree falling over lifted the concrete slab under which the roots grew.

Every street was filled with debris.

This is all building flashing, rain gutters, and hurricane shutters blown around my condo complex.

Despite being closed, some hurricane shutters did very little.

Yet, some condos were damaged while those right next to them were not.

This is a portion of a roof that was peeled off by the wind.

More roof peeled off by the wind.

Some of that roof landed on this car. When I came back with my camera it had been removed.

Another view.

Pops giving the universal sign for R.I.P.

This is another root ball perpendicular to the ground. The trunk is to the right, off camera. That long thing
is one of the roots. Most ripped apart, but this one was too thick to break. However, the tree falling over
ripped it out of the ground with such force that it distorted the concrete and steel bench in the background.

My mother planted this tree next to the condo when they first moved in. It's a good thing it fell that way and not into the condo.