Monthly Archives: August 2013

The Wedding Surprise

How do you explain something that only happens in a movie–when it happens to you?

Surprise rings purchased after the surprise wedding.

Surprise rings purchased after the surprise wedding.

My family doesn’t know. My friends didn’t know until they checked Facebook. I’m still in shock. Today is Friday, August 16, and it has become the date of my wedding anniversary. Until about 11 a.m. this morning, I had no idea that I was getting married.

Thank you Yohandre, for giving me this dream. You have been my angel and my rock for the past 18 years, and I would do anything for you.

You didn’t care about marriage, so I learned to let go of that idea. Actually I don’t care that I got married–I care that I got married to YOU. You are a gift to this world and an unbelievable blessing in my life. In my perfect world, I would clone you 7 billion times and spread you across the planet.

I wanted to marry you so that I could stand up, tall and proud, and tell the world that I love you and that you are an amazing person and that you deserve to be respected and loved. I don’t deserve you, but as sung by Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music, “somewhere in my youth or childhood, I must have done something good.”

Yesterday I had no idea that our vacation to Los Angeles would turn into a wedding, that our friend Claudia would turn into a witness, that our plans to have a “nice lunch” would take a detour to the courthouse in East L.A. You got me good.

I got the best surprise I could ever wish for. Everything is possible.

 

Surfers (and Discovery Channel) cause shark attacks

Let’s get real — unlike the Discovery Channel, which just aired a FAKE documentary about a giant, attacking shark (see the fraud skewered by the Daily Show in “Sharks, Lies, and Videotape“). Sharks would starve to death if they depended on eating humans.

The angel shark's shape shows that rays and sharks are related.

The angel shark’s shape shows that rays and sharks are related. Called Elasmobranchs, they are fish, not monsters.

The humans most responsible for the increase of reported shark attacks are scientists and surfers — scientists, because they love to count things that were never counted before, and surfers, because they love to swim in torrid waves where sharks are hunting for fish. Put in more diplomatic terms, the authoritative International Shark Attack files states: “The numerical growth in shark interactions does not necessarily mean that there is an increase in the rate of shark attacks; rather, it most likely reflects the ever-increasing amount of time spent in the sea by humans, which increases the opportunities for interaction between the two affected parties.”

Party of surfers, perhaps? It continues in its most recent annual report: Surfers and others participating in board sports (60% of cases: 48 incidents) were most often involved in these incidents in 2012. Less affected recreational user groups included swimmers/waders (22%) and divers (8%). Surfers have been the most-affected user group in recent years, the probable result of the large amount of time spent by these folks engaged in provocative activity (kicking of feet, splashing of hands, and “wipeouts”) in areas frequented by sharks, the surf zone.”

Across the entire world in 2012, during the billions upon billions of times that people entered the water at the beach, a total of 18 swimmers were bitten. More people were bitten by dogs right now while you are reading this sentence! (And dogs and snakes kill vastly higher numbers, but where is Angry Dog Week? Snake Week?). Of the total 80 attacks worldwide last year, 7 people died. Seven. More people than that died this instant trying to cross the street.

If I were a shark, I would try to kill many, many more people as a Public Service Announcement to GET OUT OF MY BACKYARD.

The fact is that drowning is a huge risk and shark attacks are not. Locals in Miami do not believe me when I tell them that no person has ever been killed by a shark here. Think about it: Miami does not have large waves, therefore it doesn’t have many surfers. It certainly has sharks — any part of the ocean does — it just doesn’t have as many people doing “wipeouts” in a shark’s dining room.

Our friends at the International Shark Attack File in Gainesville don’t want to offend surfers, so they call them “Surface Recreationists.” But let’s get real. If you want to surf, you accept the risk that you are playing in a wild, dangerous environment, where many animals are just trying to survive. If they bite you instead of a fish, it’s your fault.

But if you prefer fear over facts, watch the Discovery Channel.

P.S. To reduce your chances of a shark encounter, wear a dark or drab bathing suit. Or swim nude.

Sen. Nelson loses mind on Keystone

Why has Florida’s senior senator Bill Nelson, who has a strong pro-environment record, changed his stance this year to favor the Keystone XL pipeline extension?

This movement's name comes from carbon pollution.

This movement’s name comes from carbon pollution.

That mysterious switch is the current focus of a new club that has been meeting at my house, called 350 South Florida, and the group is the subject of my Going Green column this month in the Biscayne Times. In the article, several founding members express reasons for joining this grassroots group to address the climate crisis.

Solving the Sen. Nelson mystery is just the first of many efforts that the group is planning, with the intent to raise awareness locally and solve climate change issues globally. The group formed after an intensive weekend training in Coral Gables provided by 350.org, an international movement founded by Bill McKibben, a leading writer and activist against global warming. Within only a few years of existence, the movement has led some of the most visible and effective demonstrations to address climate change.

Actress Daryl Hannah gets arrested in front of the White House this year to protest the Keystone pipeline.

Actress Daryl Hannah gets arrested in front of the White House this year to protest the Keystone pipeline.

Getting back to Sen. Nelson, he was against the Keystone XL pipeline before he was for it, so something or someone influenced him within the past year. Money? Fame? A secret crush on Republicans? As a leading Democrat from a non-oil state–actually an anti-oil drilling state–his position makes little sense, and suspicions grow around such contradictions.

Recent comments from President Obama indicate that he is likely to kill the project. Even if that happens, supporters of the project will need to explain why they want to risk pumping dirty fuel through the heartland so that a port in Texas can send it overseas. The new pipeline from Canada offers very few jobs and benefits for Americans and a very, very high risk to the seven billion people of planet Earth.

Even ghosts struggle in ghetto

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This plaque from 2012 arrived about 50 years after the cemetery was forgotten.

Last week I visited a haunted housing project in a lower-income neighborhood of Miami. The strange setting is the subject of August’s Park Patrol column, which will be posted within the week at www.biscaynetimes.com. Not technically a park, the private property’s managers have pledged not to re-disturb the dead on these two acres of grass (in Miami’s concrete jungle, that’s a park!).

The forgotten Lemon City Cemetery for black residents of early Miami, many from The Bahamas, was discovered in 2009 when construction began on the property and bones were unearthed. Stop the bulldozer! The discovery led to a historical scavenger hunt, legal battles, and eventually a settlement to reinter the bones and create a memorial to the forgotten dead–not by the city but by the developer. The City of Miami had claimed amnesia about the cemetery’s existence. By allowing it to remain private, develop-able property, the city seems to be saying that it could care less.

The Lemon City Cemetery Memorial lists the names many of early Miami's black residents.

The Lemon City Cemetery Memorial lists the names many of early Miami’s black residents.

It reminds me of the ancient Tequesta Indian bones discovered in the downtown financial district of Brickell, discovered in 2005 during a condo’s construction, which were reinterred in a small park without the benefit of a plaque (I covered it a few years ago as part of the Miami Circle scandal of unmarked graves). This year a petition has been filed to name the area an official historic park of the city.

Guess what–the Lemon City Cemetery beat them to that punch and got that designation due to the persistence of a community activist (get details in my upcoming article).

It is strange to think that dead people are buried underneath your subsidized housing development or high-class condominium, but they certainly could be. Glossy real estate brochures don’t try to sell that feature (inhabited by 23 ghosts!) and it seems that whole cemeteries can be forgotten.

Hardly recognized in life, the poor and landless dead get erased by concrete over their final resting places. Or do they rest? These two examples show that some forgotten spirits keep fighting to live again.