Ruining paradise

This New Yorker cartoon by Ellis Rosen made me laugh, and cringe.

I live on the water; well, at the water’s edge. I could almost jump out of my window and be in Biscayne Bay and for all the years I’ve lived here (20 years), I’ve thought of the issue of over-development. I’ve looked out over the bay and thought, “What if someone wants to build some sort of condo or something a few feet out from my seawall, literally in the water on stilts or landfill. Is that possible?”

It would be the same if you lived on a lake or river or any open space. Of course it happens on open land all the time. You have a forest in front of you for years and the next thing you know, it turns into a housing development.

And here in this cartoon is something so similar. This looks like an oil rig.

On Florida’s Gulf coast there are permitted sites where oil rigs and gas wells can be drilled, but currently while permitted, they have not been drilled. In 2010 there was an oil rig explosion in the Gulf, which killed 11 people and polluted the water. Sludge is still popping up onshore.

On the Atlantic Coast, I remember some years back, every time you walked the beach, you managed to step in black gooey oil slicks which smelled and of course polluted the area, not to mention your feet. I believe those were caused by cruise ships. I haven’t seen that problem for years, so apparently something was done.

Anyway, back to the cartoon – it reminded me of my thoughts over the years of looking out my window and seeing some structure being built out in front of me – in the water – in the Bay. As it is, our small village is turning into a city. As you look out over the village you see construction cranes dotting the sky. Greed. It’s all about greed. Nothing else. “Let’s destroy a small arts and sailing village to add high, sun blocking, traffic enhancing buildings,” is how the developers and city leaders think. Screw the quality of life, it’s all about money.

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King Mango Strut

We had a parade yesterday – the King Mango Strut, started in 1982 it’s usually the last Sunday of the year, but this year it was a week later, on Sunday, Jan. 8.

It’s a great small-town event and the best part is that most people know each other. It’s like Cheers, where everybody knows your name.

It was put off a couple of years due to the pandemic, but it was back this past weekend and it was so much fun. There are bands and lots of parodies of things that happened over the year – statewide, local and national. All one big parody.

It started as an offshoot of the Orange Bowl Parade and took on a life of its own. The center of town is shut down and the Strut takes over. If you haven’t seen people all year, they are sure to show up here on this very day.

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Life in a small village

So I’m starting off 2023 in a quandary. A friend and I were headed to lunch a couple of days ago. We went to one of the most popular places in town but the wait was up to 45 minutes so we left. As we walked passed the restaurant, the restaurant owner came running after us. “Oh good,” I thought, “He’s going to get us a table, slip us in somewhere.”

No such luck. He says, “Do you want to meet the new commissioner?”

We lost a City of Miami commissioner (a city council person) for our district in the City of Miami, because the elected guy ran for another office in November, and he had to give up his seat, so now they have to replace that seat for the remaining 10 months.

I didn’t want to “meet the new commissioner,” but I followed in hopes of getting an open table.

The restaurant owner brings us to this guy sitting at an empty table. Here we go, I thought, a meeting. Not lunch. I actually knew the “new commissioner,” and I’ve known him for many years. We were just speaking the week before about a village issue. The restaurant owner asked me to sit down. I asked, “Can I order then? If I sit down can I order lunch?” He didn’t answer, so I asked a few more times and finally he said yes, half heartedly.

The restaurant owner didn’t know we knew each other and his reason for bringing us over to the table was so that we, or I, could be talked into speaking up for the “new commissioner” at the city commission meeting next week – so that the commission appoints him to the seat, rather than have an election, which is what most of the residents in the district/village want – a free and fair election. Not an appointment.

What bothers me after I thought about it all later, was that the restaurant owner didn’t know the “new commissioner” and I knew each other. So why did he grab me to speak up at a meeting for a stranger in his eyes? Why doesn’t he speak up for the guy if he is so interested in him getting the seat? Probably because he worries about getting involved in politics because it would hurt his business. But I should get involved?

When the “new commissioner’s” food arrived I could tell he didn’t want us at the table. He wasn’t rude, but when I sked him if we were going to talk politics the whole time he said, “Yes, probably,” which meant to me, “Get out now while you can.” So we didn’t stay at the table to eat, we walked down the block to another restaurant but now I am supposed to speak for this guy at next week’s commission meeting. He has already texted me a number of times regarding this. My goal now is to get out of it, especially since most of my neighbors want an election and not me to speak up for this guy’s appointment.

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The wonderful Southampton Christmas Parade


On Saturday, five of us drove out from the city to one of my favorite things – the Southampton (NY) Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting. It’s a yearly thing. I think it’s 60th.

Thousands of people show up for this event.

We usually do some shopping, which is what the Chamber would love us all to do and then we eat at the Southampton Publik House. Then we step outside on Main Street and the parade starts around 5 pm.

It’s mostly lit up fire trucks and ambulances from various Hampton communities on the east end of Long Island. All small, quaint, old towns. So charming.

At the end of the parade, everyone walks to the end of the block where the tree is lit. It’s a real tree, permanently in the park, it’s there 365 days a year, just not lit up until this Saturday after Thanksgiving every year. There are fireworks behind the tree and it’s a perfect evening.

Before the tree is lit, the high school choir sings Christmas songs and then there are a few speeches, People are thanked for their support and hard work in making this event happen each year. Two ladies have been in charge since the 1970s and that always brings thoughts of the small town I live in in Miami. I can picture them going to work during the year – calling the hardware store owner, asking for something to be built, calling the bank manager for a donation, and so on, throughout the year, making things happen.

It’s all so Mayberry and Stars Hollow. I love it all. I’ve been to Southampton at different times of the year – different seasons. They are all lovable and charming. So are all the Hamptons in eastern Long Island.

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Pumpkin pickin’ on the North Fork

We did our usual October pumpkin and apple pickin’ this year, only we didn’t go up to the Hudson Valley, as we usually do, we ended up on Long Island’s North Fork because we were going to a couple of things afterwards on the South Fork – in the Hamptons. Lots of little villages filled the day.

It was gorgeous out, a bit chilly, but gorgeous, we got hot apple cider and pumpkin break and apple cider donuts and pumpkins and apples and such, but it wasn’t the beautiful Hudson Valley, which is the best part of the pumpkin pickin’ each year.

But still, we had fun and then ate in Westhampton and enjoyed a street festival then went to a bar where one of my cousins was performing, he’s a singer. It ended up being a long, but enjoyable day.

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Keep your mouth shut!

I laughed when I saw this on Facebook. It reminded me of something that happened to me a few years back, maybe 10 years ago.

I was at a meeting, covering the news for our village like I did. And at the beginning of the meeting, this guy, Joel, stands up from the dais and yells out to me in the back row, “Tom, you can stay if you keep your mouth shut and don’t say anything!”

I was dumbfounded because I never spoke at meetings, even at important City Hall meetings, I would just take notes for the news story I was writing. I didn’t speak because I didn’t want to be part of the story. I quoted everyone else, I didn’t want to quote myself.

I said, “Joel, when have I ever said one word at any meetings?” He just sat down and proceeded with the meeting. Our village was like the Gilmore Girls, you know, everyone showed up for meetings, the whole town would be there in one scene.

I don’t hold grudges, even though that was a stupid and rude thing to do and we are still friendly to this day, but I hadn’t thought of that in years until I saw this quote on Facebook.

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Wellness check

Today’s comic almost reminds me of something that happened some years back, maybe about 10 years ago.

I had taken a friend to the doctor’s office, which is at the hospital next door. I live next to a hospital. My friend had a cancer scare. Luckily everything worked out and he was totally fine, but this was a check up for something and we went to a cancer doctor, an oncologist.

I sat waiting in the waiting room and in walks the UPS guy and after him the FedEx guy with deliveries. Both of them knew me since they were my delivery guys, too.

Both of them separately had such a worried look on their faces. They asked me if I was ok, and I don’t think they believed me that I was there “for a friend.” But it was so nice to see their genuine concerns.

It’s weird that I would have the same delivery guys as the hospital which is a huge complex. Even though I am next door, I am in a neighborhood full of houses, you can’t see the hospital from the street, it’s on a lot of property and is sort of a campus, so you would think they had their own delivery thing going on.

But then again, I would see the delivery guys in the center of the village, about a mile away in the other direction, so I guess they covered the whole zip code or something. Many times I would be walking by in the downtown area and they would give me my packages as I walked by, saving them a trip to my house later in the day. It was more of a convenience – they would do this early in the day and their schedule would have them coming to me later in the day, sometimes 6 or 7 pm. So it was nice of them to give me the packages at 10 am as I walked by, rather than have me wait till the end of the day.

Anyway, this cartoon reminded me of that. I didn’t get the idea for the cartoon from those situations, but after I drew it, it reminded me of those situations.

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Our local celebrity

We have this homeless guy in town. At least I think he’s homeless, because I’ve given him a lot of money over the years because I want to help him out. And now I see what he is doing with some of that money – he’s on Instagram! And he’s asking for donations on his Instagram page.

I am cracking up over it, because he’s a local celebrity, one of the bars sells t-shirts with his picture on it and gives him the money and a friend of mine with a business in town handles his accounts when need be – like maybe cash a check or whatever. He’s a left-over hippie from the 1960s, one of those people that everybody loves so we support him.

Anyway, I noticed he started following me on Instagram and he has such great pictures posted. Really well lit and he’s in the pictures with beautiful women around town. He’s living the dream, well it looks like he is living the dream, I don’t suppose being homeless is the dream – but he may not be homeless, after seeing all this I’m flabbergasted. He’s got a lot of jewelry, is dressed well and is hanging out holding his own at local watering holes and places.

Maybe that’s his schtick – making out as if he needs the money, so people give him money, and he lives off of that.

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