Sunday, May 31, 2009

In The Pink! ~ Bonnie Schwartzbaum Chats With Outgoing Mayor Kevin Burns

Supporters Of Frank Wolland For Mayor Chatting With One Another

Outside the polls you saw a lot of people of diverse religions and ethnic groups, everything from Hassidic Jews to Haitian Americans, having friendly conversations about everything from the candidates they supported to what their kids were up to these days. Everything was peaceful until...

Labels: , , ,

Violence At The North Miami Polls ~ Supporters Of Council Candidate Jean Rodrigue Marcellus Tried To Grab My Camera And Then Clobbered Me On The Head

My heartfelt thanks to Merna and her coworkers at the Walgreens photo lab for actually getting still warm prints in my hands so quickly. Usually I just say "Take your time. I'll pick 'em up tomorrow" but it must have showed! Before I even walked up to the counter it was a "Hey Al! I can get them ready in under an hour." Perfect!

I've been shooting election photos in North Miami and elswhere since before 1970, and for numerous publications and candidates. I know that I have a right to photograph people or an event in a public place.

My reason for photographing this lovely group of citizens was that candidate Michelle Garcia mentioned to me that they had grabbed stacks of political fliers away from her and others working for her campaign. I walked over and politely asked them to not do so. I got cursed out. I got shouted at. I tried to explain that this was something that just isn't done, taking literature away from your opposition like that. I got threatened. I started taking pictures. I got cursed at again, told that I didn't have the right to photograph them without their permission.

They started advancing towards me in a very threatening manner. A woman by the name of Henrietta Lacy I later found out, smashed my camera into my face, and then clobbered me on the side of my head. Two of the guys with her must have had second thoughts about the way things were going and restrained her while she continued screaming at me. Now a few hours later I'm in pain. The right side of my head hurts where she clobbered me, my nose and eyebrows took the brunt of the camera being pushed into my face, and I must have also twisted my neck along the way. Now I'm heading over to the police station. Time to file a complaint!

Monkette reminds you not to vote for Jean Marcellus. If I could so easily find out Ms. Lacy's name then Jean could have found out my phone number. It's not like nobody knows me around here. An apology would have been a nice gesture. Jean, I'm still waiting.

I also found out that there's some concern that Jean Marcellus might not even have been a North Miami resident long enough to run for the council seat. Last year he was running for a seat in another municipality. There's a lawsuit pending now about that.

Labels: , ,

The Thrill Of The Wait ~ A Flat Tire Story

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Vote NOW or VOTE Tuesday, But VOTE

These are the three candidates that Monkette wants everone to vote for!

SOMEBODY is STEALING yard signs! That's a crime, both the stealing and the trespassing.

That's OK, We know which side is doing the stealing. It's so bloody obvious that it's the candidate whose signs weren't stolen.

Regardless of what I wrote in the post immediately below this, it IS a TRUE story based on vampires that catch, torture, kill, and drink the blood of the yard sign stealers.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, May 29, 2009


The "Official" Election Day is Tuesday, June 2nd, but there's "Early Voting" at the North Miami Public Library this week. Things were getting serious. A couple of days ago somebody stole the Frank Wolland for Mayor yard sign from my lawn. Frank replaced it. Tonight the thief stole ALL the signs from my yard. I drove around the neighborhood and sure enough, the thief must have found a market for used campaign signs. Everybody's yard was devoid of campaign signs, regardless of candidate.

The rain poured down all day, really POURED, but Michelle Garcia, Frank Wolland, and Bonnie Schwartzbaum, and their supporters (as well as their opponents) were out there in front of the polls holding campaign signs, waving at the people driving by, and speaking with everybody they could, while trying to maintain a remnant of dryness beneath their umbrellas. Mostly they just got soaked. I wasn't there more than about fifteen minutes, used my umbrella, took some photos, and I got soaked. Monkette refused to even get out of the truck!

They were STALKING VOTERS! That reminded me of the motion picture my friend Bob Morgan had made a few years back. The cover is perhaps a bit too graphic for an election, but it is an eye grabber!

Nobody is going to get their heart cut out of their still living body for voting for the wrong candidate. Honest! Regardless of any rumors you might have heard to the contrary. Save that kind of thing for the movies.

Recently my old friend Robert Morgan has gotten back in touch with me after a too many years hiatus. He told me that he has the script written for BLOODSTALKERS II and like the first film it will be filmed in the Everglades. Most likely it will be headquartered here in North Miami. He wants me to do the stills and I'll probably have a small part in the film. Look at the hair style on the guy in the picture! A younger face with less grey hair, but pretty much the same shaggy mop that I'm sporting these days. Without a doubt a movie star hair style.

Monkette is all excited. She told me that being a movie star should make me very popular with the ladies. Last week she told me that I should be very popular with the ladies already, based on some demographic research that she was doing in preperation for the election. She told me that according to the latest government statistics I'm one of the three North Miami residents who are unmarried straight male registered Democrats not living in nursing homes.

Labels: , , , ,

Old Glory

Bonnie Schwartzbaum turned the tables here. She grabbed a couple of shots of ME and Monkette with her cell phone camera and emailed them to us. With the help of a bit of "walking me through it" from Flo Tiger I managed to learn how to get them onto the blog.

This was shot outside of Claudio Sanchez's house where we had the barbeque the other day. We were lucky! The spring rains waited a couple of days to arrive and drench us.

This particular photo is "Copyright(c) Bonnie Schwartzbaum 2009".

Labels: , ,

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Pigging Out In North Miami ~ (a little of this, a little of that)

I miss contact sheets, those 8x10 black and white prints with all the frames on a roll printed on it. Lately they've been offering these "Index Prints" at the lab when you get color processed. They're much smaller than an 8x10 but if you click on one the image does get bigger. At least you can see what's in the photo.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

We Arrive At Claudio Sanchez's Bar-B-Que For Bonnie Schwartzbaum

IMPORTANT NOTE! These are copyright photographs. They are editorial in nature and should not be considered as "Paid Political Advertisements" for any of the candidates appearing in this blog,

Bonnie Schwartzbaum and Frank Wolland. (Bonnie And Clyde They Ain't)

Claudio Sanchez hosted a bar-b-que in his backyard on Memorial Day for Bonnie Schwartzbaum's campaign for city council. I'd guess that fifty people or more stopped by to meet Bonnie and to voice their concerns about the direction North Miami has taken over the past few years. The biggest concern after the dilapidated state of our water plants and public parks was the obscene salary increase the present mayor and council recently gave themselves on top of lifetime health insurance, a huge expense account, and a ten fold increase in salary.

We need people that understand that our infrastructure has been ignored for way to long. We need a mayor and council that responds to the needs of the residents. What we don't need is a bunch of Bonnie & Clydes hoping to line their pockets at your expense. Hoping? Hell! They have it all planned out. Greed knows no bounds.

Mayoral candidate Frank Wolland dropped by in the midst of his busy day of campaigning. He and Bonnie chatted for a few minutes, Frank made the circuit shaking everyones hand, and then hurried off to his next scheduled stop. He was a great mayor in the past and I'd love to see him get the opportunity to get North Miami back on track! With Bonnie's help he will. DON'T FORGET TO VOTE! Early voting is this week at the North Miami Public Library or vote on Election Day next Tuesday at your regular polling place.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Frank Wolland For Mayor ~ Up Front Honesty

Yup, you can tell when it's getting down to the wire. Lesser candidates get panic struck and their opponent's yard signs start getting knocked down or stolen. When I went out this morning the "Elect Frank Wolland For North Miami Mayor" sign as well as the Michelle Garcia and one of two Bonnie Schwartzbaunm signs seemingly had grown legs and had walked off into the night. Whoever did the deed was sloppy about it too. One sign was pulled up by its roots, wire holder and all, while the other two were simply pulled off of the wire stand.

Stealing yard signs is a criminal act. Well, it IS stealing, after all, plus it involves trespassing on private property. Then there's those nearly invisible wire frames rising out of the grass. If somebody were to trip and fall they could poke out an eye or suffer a life threatening puncture wound to their body. Not a pretty thought,is it?

I wouldn't vote for somebody who would stoop that low. Would you? Franks followers aren't stealing other candidate's signs. This week there is early voting at the North Miami Public Library, or you can wait until Tuesday next week and vote at your regular polling place on ELECTION DAY, June 2nd. But VOTE. The fate of your city is in your hands and FRANK WOLLAND is looking forward to working with you and FOR YOU in making North Miami an even better place to live, work, and raise your kids.


Stealth, Cunning, And Vicious Dogs. This Is WAR!

I had already let my hair grow longer than it's been in nearly forty years, and I dug out my old Elect John Patteson for North Miami City Council T-shirt from twenty years ago. A perfect disguise! Nobody would recognize me! Monkette was safely back at the house attempting to eat her way through an entire stalk of bananas. That would keep her occupied for a hours.

I headed over to Starbucks to meet up with Gloria, an Italian women noted for her skills at training killer attack dogs. Because of the large Hispanic population in South Florida she favors these Mexican ex-patriots formerly in the employ of the gangs of narco-trafficers along the Texas Mexican border. They take commands in both Spanish and English in addition to French, German, and Italian. Gloria assured us that this was a very effective way of carrying out the stealth mission of distributing Bonnie literature in hostile neighborhoods. They've also been trained to recognize Michael's T-shirts and bark at anyone so attired, running tight little circles around and between their legs as they near the polling places.

None of the dogs have green cards of course, but they're willing to work hard in exchange for life-time veternary benefits,unlimited doggy treats for life, the right to piss on the legs of anybody they don't like and the right to shit wherever they fancy. They want to be just like the current council.

Monday, May 25, 2009

The War Room ~ Briefing The Troops

Everybody met at Bonnie's house and we had coffee and bagels before taking seats in the living room. Allison handed out clipboards and pens and then stood by the large flip chart. She outlined the day's task as she flipped pages on the chart. The troops were wearing comfortable shoes and the signature yellow Bonnie Schwartzbaum shirts, then they were divided up into pairs. Maps showed which streets each pair would cover, one person working one side while their partner visited the houses on the other side. There were lists of the last known resident for each house along with their listed party affiliation, whether or not they'd voted in the last election, everything that could be gleaned from the county records, all the information and facts available.

Stacks of hand-out cards were distributed to everybody, then Allison went over what the troops were supposed to say, how to handle recalcitrant residents without alienating them, how to talk up Bonnie's qualifications as well as her ideals and visions for a better City of North Miami. If nobody was home we were warned not to put the cards in a mail box. It was OK to push them through a mail slot. Otherwise tuck them between the door and the door frame near the door know. A few questions were answered, Bonnie gave a pep talk. Water bottles were distributed. It was a sunny hot day. Then everybody went out to their asigned routes. ACTION TIME! We're going to win this one!

Labels: , , , , ,

What Bus Shelters? Where Are They?

Well there uused to be a bus shelter in front of The Three Horizons condominium complex on 125th Street just east of the the railroad track at the start of the bend. The first time I'd photographed the location was nearly forty years ago when it was nothing but an empty field. I was working for the North Dade Journal and a guy came in looking for a photographer. He wanted a picture of himself standing in the middle of the field for an ad in the paper announcing the new condos that were planned for the property. The guy's name was Bill Morgenstern, and his dad was the developer who owned the property.

For the next few years Bill was very much a hands-on person, very involved with the development throughout the construction phases and then he saw over the sale of the units. He also asked me to photograph some antiques for him. Bill soon opened an antique shop more or less across from City Hall and was a fixture there for years. He passed away a few years ago.

Over the years as North Miami gussied itself up bus shelters went up along the streets. No longer did residents have to wait for buses in the rain. It didn't happen at every bus stop, but at a goodly number of the stops got them. There was one in front of The Three Horizons and one in front of City Hall.

Recently they started to dissapear. GONE!. The metal columns were cut off flush with the pavement. Just a bare bench. No protection from the hot sun or the torrential showers. NONE! Let the elderly residents at The Three Horizons sit on wet benches and huddle under umbrellas. Does city hall care about citizens sitting in the rain or baking under the summer sun? Of course they do! That's why THEY have a bus shelter in front of City Hall.

Monkette decided that she was small enough to use one of Bonnie's signs to keep the rain drops off of her head. Smart girl!

Bonnie Schwartzbaum CARES about our residents. She's not running for City Council becasuse she wants the obscene huge salary the present council awarded themselves, or the lifetime health insurance, or the overly generous retirement pension. She's running because she cares. She wants to make North Miami a better place for all of us. Vote for Bonnie on June Second.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Time For A Change ~ Monkette Can't Wait

Nothing seems to happen fasten enough for Monkette! The run-off election was still ten days away and she couldn't wait to replace the Blynn sign with a Bonnie Schwartzbaum sign in the reserved parking lot behind City Hall. I tried to reason with her, told her that the city would put up the new sign after the election if Bonnie wins.

It ain't easy reasoning with a toy monkey. Brain neurons and cotton fibers just don't seem to process information in exactly the same way. She grabbed the sign and bolted from the truck, ran into the parking lot, and jumped up on top of the hedge. Finally I decided to try a different tack. I appealed to the girl in her. "That sign is yellow with red letters while the other signs are white with black letters. It just won't LOOK right! You know how careful Bonnie is to always color coordinate her outfits, don't you? She's NOT going to like this. No way!"

After a brief discussion she put the sign back in the truck. I took her over to Publix in search of Devil Dogs and bananas.

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Flower Children! Sexy Young Chicks! And I Missed The 7th Annual Greynolds Park Love-In

I saw Bonnie walking towards me across the Publix parking lot clutching this little bouquet of yellow flowers matching our outfits. It brought back memories. My favorite radio station, 102.7 FM, had been talking for weeks about the big Love-In at Greynolds Park. The station plays sixties rock, and in the late sixties Greynolds Park had a Love-In every Sunday. Whatever groups were in town playing at Thee Image on Friday and Saturday nights would give a free outdoor concert in East Greynolds Park on Sunday afternoon. The 'Dead, Canned Heat, you name it they played there. If you were too paranoid to bring your own smokin' dope that was OK too. You could get a good buzz just breathing the hazy pungent air. There were a few cops there "just in case" but nobody ever got violent, no fights, no drunks, just mellow pot heads grooving to the music, and frankly I always had the impression that patrolling a Love-In was covetted duty, getting to hear some great Rock for free, lots of cute young scantily clad girls for eye candy, and the cops always seemed to locate themselves downwind of the action, right there in the thick of the smoke.

Every once in awhile I run into one of those former 14 or 15 year old "teeny boppers" and we talk about old times. I'd recently gotten a few Emails from Harryette, making sure I'd be at the Love-In, and I'd really been looking forward to going. Bonnie, however, has an election to win. Literature to hand out, phone calls to make, all that good stuff needed to displace another stuffed shirt from the North Miami City Council. A couple of days before the Love-In I sent Harryette my regrets. I'd survive. What I'm hoping? To get a majority of the council agreeing to start an annual Rock Weekend at the stadium! I suspect that I'd be much more likely to get a yes vote from Bonnie than from Michael. He just doesn't look the part.

I can envision Bonnie with flowers in her hair! But she, unlike Harryette, has a husband. Damn it!

Labels: ,

Who Spreads The Evil Behind The Lies?

I'm becoming ashamed to admit that I've mostly voted for Democrats all these forty odd years. I was just forwarded an email that included LIES about the candidates in the June second run-off election for North Miami Mayor and two City Council seats.

First off, the city has always had non-partisan elections. Nobody runs as a Republican or a Democrat here. We run for office as North Miami citizens. About twenty years ago Scott Galvin and I managed to get a charter ammendment passed that divides the city into four districts. Before that happened the "Rich Folk" in the waterfront areas pretty much controlled the political landscape here. Even the Rich Folk in North Miami seem to lean towards the Democratic Party.

When somebody sends out a mass Email claiming that candidate Bonnie Schwartzbaum is a Republican? Well it's no longer considered polite to tar and feather somebody or take them out on a sailing ship and hang them from a yardarm. Too bad. They deserve it! As for Bonnie? She was registered as an independant at one time but BONNIE IS A REGISTERED DEMOCRAT. Here's the gist (I left out the stuff about the South Miami election.) of the Evil Email:

"Hello Democrats!

Special Elections upcoming in North Miami (June 2nd)

In North Miami...June 2nd
- 2 Great Dems running for Mayor, Andre Pierre & Frank Wolland
For Andre...Visit or call 305-398-9650
For Frank...Visit or call 305-895-8588

- We have Democrat Councilman Michael Blynn vs. Republican Schwartzbaum
To volunteer with Michael...please call 305-319-0800 or our office

- We have Democrat Jean Marcellus vs. NPA Garcia
To volunteer with Jean...please call 305-300-6610"

Those self serving fascist pigs (Hey! Why not call them dirty names? They play with dirt, they get dirty, right?)not only lie about Bonnie but look how they leave off Michelle Garcia's first name! They substitute "NPA" without stating that it stands for "No Party Affiliation".

Lies and misinformation should have no part of the process. I'm still endorsing Bonnie Schwartzbaum and Michelle Garcia for City Council and Frank Wolland for Mayor. Of course sometimes a down and dirty attack on the opposition can be an effective campaign tactic. If done correctly it can completely destroy a candidate's chances of ever getting elected to anything again, and forever too. Monkette thinks we should be doing exactly that. She's heard the story about how it happened to a well liked North Miami mayor who double crossed a council candidate that he'd actually talked into running to begin with. But every cloud has its silver lining. That resulted in the election of North Miami's first female mayor, Christine Moreno.

Monkette has been pouring through old newspaper stories, newsletters, City Council meeting agendas and minutes, attending civic functions and campaign parties alike, making lots of phone calls and sending out scads of emails, finding people willing to "speak for the record"..and she's collected quite a pile of tasty tidbits...stay tuned!

At least Pat and I were able to get a bit of relaxation before heading over to Bonnie's Sweat Shop for another day's campaigning.

A Sense Of Entitlement? Or Just Old Fashioned Arrogance?

Things like this must make Mike Blynn want to shout out for all the world to hear "I'm withdrawing from the race and endorsing Bonnie!" Here it is! Read on:

"DFAM Endorses Bonnie Schwartzbaum

"As of May 20th, Democracy for America Miami-Dade is proud to announce the endorsement of Democrat Bonnie Schwartzbaum for North Miami Commission District 2. Bonnie is a wonderful progressive who registered as a Republican to campaign against Ronald Reagan in the Republican primary and has since gone home to the Democratic Party. She has been endorsed by one of her former opponents, Claudio Sanchez.

"She is seeking to bring back transparency and financial sensibility to an area that has not had it for far too long. She wants to open after school programs for children to help keep them off the streets, something she will fight hard for since her own daughter teaches at a middle school in the community.

"She won't give herself healthcare for life and multiple salary raises. She will however, put a human face back on local government."

A "human face" sure beats a "fat cat". Hey Mike, didn't your doctor tell you about the relationship of pot bellies and heart attacks?

Friday, May 22, 2009

Al Kaplan Wearing A Blynn T-Shirt?

I guess that I'm percieved as being a lot more influential in this city than I ever imagined! I was standing outside the polls on election day wearing a bright yellow Elect Bonnie Schwartzbaum T-shirt. She's running against the incumbant Michael Blynn.
Michael showed up dressed "Lawyer Casual", no jacket, collar and tie loosened a wee little bit, and just to prove that he wasn't dressed for business he sported a baseball cap on his head and he wore sunglasses. He acted genuinely hurt that I wasn't supporting his re-election bid. He said that he couldn't fathom why I'd be helping a political newcomer, somebody who'd never even been on a city advisory board before! He handed me one of his shirts, and just to keep the peace I put it on over Bonnie's shirt until Michael wandered off elsewhere.

His shirt reads "Qualified, Competant, Caring, Courageous". I also percieve "Complacent and Contented with the status quo", especially since the council just voted themselves a humongous raise in flagrant violation of the city charter.

Bonnie might be new to this but she is a successful business woman who is dedicated, dynamic, determined and daring. We need new blood on the council bringing new ideas and maybe a dose of idealism too.

I've got nothing against you Mike. You've done a good job. I just think that it's time for the city to move in new directions. Bonnie shares those desires. "Dedicated, Determined, Daring, Dynamic" is what the city needs.

Several candidates failed to make the cut in the election and now we have a run-off coming up on June second. This time Michael gets to go one on one with Bonnie to win the hearts and minds (and votes) of the North Miami citizens.

Thanks for the T-shirt, Michael.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Whose Campaign Outfit Could THAT Be?

Big MYSTERY. I don't have a clue in hell as to the significance of that red and blue outfit. Monkette was hoping that there was an intersting story there someplace. I told her that after the election was over with, and she was recuperated from eating way too many bananas at scads of victory (and not so victorious) parties, she could ask around and perhaps solve the mystery for all of us.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Monkette And The John Patteson T-shirt

Monkette wanted to go to the candidates forum even though she was exhausted from spending the day folding campaign brochures and doing the door to door thing. Michael Blynn was "working the room", "pressing the flesh", trying to curry the favor of the voters. He probably should have brought one of his supporters along, but Monkette felt sorry for him and planted her tail on a seat front and center, holding it for Mike until he was ready to sit down.

Finally the program was getting underway and another guy briefly took a seat next to Monkette, but then Mike sat down, crossed his legs, and leaned back in a relaxed pose. Michelle was sitting next to him in a black dress. Bonnie was wearing a black dress also. Now Monkette wants me to buy her a black dress. Next thing you know she'll be shaving her legs and swinging through the trees in Enchanted Forest Park wearing spike heels! Better her that Michael Blynn.

And the T-shirt? For years John Patteson was my best friend until he moved out of town. About 16 or 18 years ago he ran for council and lost. I still had one of the shirts. Michael has constantly been on my case for wearing a Bonnie shirt. I couldn't be working for Bonnie and wear a Michael Blynn shirt. No way! John Patteson to the rescue! Problem solved! Monkette still wants a black dress.

Labels: , ,

A Red Hat And A Head Of Curly Hair

Pat Motro and I have known each other for over xxxxty years(a gentleman never tells)since she was a freshman at Barry College and I was their photographer. When I went over to Bonnie Schwartzbaum's house last Sunday there she was! Busy getting stuff organized for the door to door campaigning later that day. But this isn't about the campaign. Or the hat.

This is about HAIR!!! Everybody is always telling me to get a haircut. This has been going on since I was a kid. Today started out by my going over to my ex's house to change the plug on a lamp cord and get the two packs of cigarette tobacco that she'd brought back from Germany last week. Fritz, Claudia's dad, rolls his own like I do and always sends me a couple of pouches. Then I had a cup of coffee, played with her two dogs, and listened to some variation of the theme "When are you going to get your hair cut? You look like a bum!" Finally I said goodbye, I left, and I headed over to the Chamber of Commerce.

Penny Valentine immediately started in on me with "When are you going to get that damned hair of yours cut? You look horrible, simply horrible like that!" and on and on and on...but the rest of the day was uneventful. Until tonight.

I went to Starbucks, got some coffee, and was sitting out on the patio about to light one of those cigarettes I'd rolled with that nice strong German tobacco. A sexy looking blond woman in a black dress came out of Starbucks, and as she walked by my table she said "I have to tell you that I just LOVE your hair!" but she just kept on walking. When my head stopped spinning I looked back over my shoulder. She was sitting at a table with a guy who was completely bald.

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Monkette Gives Michelle Garcia Some Last Minute Advice On Election Day

The North Miami Board Of Adjustment Before Michelle Garcia Got Appointed To The Board

About a year ago Mario Flores asked me to exhibit at his gallery, which would be directly across 125th St. from City Hall if it wasn't actually like a store front north of the corner on 8th Ave. I started digging out prints of Miccosukee and Seminole Indians from the 1970's, pictures of rock groups and Love-Ins at Greynolds Park from the 1960's, photographs of half naked young chicks who are now sixty-something grandmothers, all what the collector market refers to as "vintage prints", prints made all those years ago and not recently printed from old negatives.

Mario said "Very nice, but how about doing something new, something different, something creative!" He still wanted to show some of the older work, but now I had me a project to do! Oh thrill. I'd been shooting black and white here and there in the past couple of years. I had big zip-lock bags full of still to be developed film cluttering up the fridge to prove it.

One of those rolls had this photo of myself (on the right) that I shot with that ultra-wide 15mm Heliar lens as I sat there at a board of adjustment meeting. I had fun(?) trying to get just the correct parts of the image to develop with my new found technique of dribbling developer from my finger tips onto the exposed enlarging paper, tilting it this way and that to get those drops to run across the surface. Maybe one out of ten came out OK, a phenominal waste of money at about a buck and a half a sheet, but Mario was happy and the exhibit a success.

So there we were a row of mostly ugly (except me, of course) older guys. Only two of us had our faces where the developer happened to run. Michelle was still a couple of years away from her board appointment, otherwise you can be damned sure that I would have dribbled freshly mixed Dektol developer all over her face!

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, May 18, 2009

South Beach Adventure

Waiting For The Coffee, Conferring With The State Department

At a recent homeowners association meeting North Miami City Councilman Michael Blynn, in his desperate attempt to secure enough votes in the upcoming run-off election to keep his council seat, was talking about how he was entitled to the recent humongous raise plus the obscene benefits package the council recently gave themselves in flagrant violation of the city charter. He thought that it was well deserved because of all the time he puts into city business and all the trips to Washington, D.C. he's made at city expense trying to secure grants for the city. It's called lobbying.

I tend to do things differently. James and I have become close friends over the years as his State Department job brings him to the Miami area several times a year for various international conferences. A time or two he's crashed at my house but since marrying Liz they tend to stay at fancy art deco South Beach hotels, and they dine on gourmet fare at trendy sidewalk cafes and posh gourmet restaurants. We discuss cameras and film and how immigrant influxes affect cities like North Miami. He's gone all around North Miami with me, visited stores and eaten at restaurants like Jimmy's Place, met the residents rich and poor alike, knows the problems of the city and its residents, and he has friends in other government agencies that he talks with on a regular basis. It's called neworking

James and I spent the afternoon eating and talking and watching the scantily clad girls wander by. James grabbed the check and put it on HIS expenses account for the trip. Michael, now that's the way to lobby Washington. Let them come to you.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Another Exciting Evening Rehashing The Already Well Hashed

Oh thrill. At least we'll only have to listen to the two candidates in each race that are in the run-offs. Monkette is considering just staying home and sitting this one out. Like she says, "Al, I don't OWN a home! I just crash at your place." She also seems pretty damned sure about who's going to win. I wouldn't bet against her either.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

What's Happening? Bedlam!

The voting was over, the ballot boxes were heading back to city hall,the council chambers were overflowing with the candidates, their families, and their supporters. The usual array of civic activists were there, and most likely not a few people who were just hoping to get invited over to a victory party. They tend to have much better food than Burger King. Even the losers had planned victory parties, and somebody has to eat all that food, including the fresh bananas.

Here we're looking at a row of candidates' behinds as they're trying to find out who won and who lost as soon as possible. Only one race had a winner. The other races ddn't produce the needed 50% plus one vote to determine a winner. Now the whole thing starts over again as the two top vote getters for each seat go head to head with one another, hoping to win the run-off on June 2nd.It's lookinggood for Frank Wolland and Bonnie Schwartzbaum. That sure put a big smile on Monkettes face!

Labels: , , ,

Friday, May 15, 2009

Pounding The Pavement ~ Frank Wolland Is Worth The Work And The Walk

Monkette was getting pooped from all that walking in the hot sun. Distributing campaign literature for Bonnie Schwartzbaum, Frank Wolland,and chatting with people seemed like and endless task. Those blocks seem pretty long too when you're less than 18 inches tall. She sat down for breather.

"Hey Al! You know that Kenny Rogers song The Gambler?" "Yes" I replied, "What about it?"

"Well, you know how the lyrics go: You gotta know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em and know when to get up and walk away..."

"Yes, I do" I replied. "What are you leading up to?"

Monkette took another swig of water and continued "Well, just about everybody in North Miami knows that I'm the political consultant mapping out strategy for a couple of the candidates, and they know that I planned out Mayor Kevin Burns' winning campaign two years ago. Of course two years ago everybody kinda thought it was only a joke, but this time around I've had candidates vying for my services! Of course I'm a toy monkey and my head is stuffed with cotton. That makes it rather difficult to comprehend humans' thought processes, you know, how do humans think?"

"OK, what's the problem? What's your concern here?"

She paused for a minute, took another long swig of water, and we resumed our talk. "It seems to me that if I was human and a candidate, and my opponent was using a toy monkey as his or her political advisor, mapping strategy, writing speeches, and so forth, then the voters would realize the actual candidate of record was really just a stand-in for the toy monkey, right? So losing to that candidate is in reality losing the race to a toy monkey!"

I muttered something along the lines of "I guess you could look at it that way! Why?"

"Well, if that's true, then we have a few candidates running who should know when it's time to fold 'em and when it's time to get up and walk away. Fold and walk! Simple! They gotta know that they don't stand a chance in hell of pulling off a win at this point. Crap Al, if they can't figure that much out, how do they expect to function as a mayor or work on the council? The only honorable thing for them to do would be to save the city the expense of the run-off and just withdraw from the race. They could actually make themselves look good to the voters by doing that. Save face! Political capital in the bank for a run in the future!"

I couldn't argue with that! We felt a bit more refreshed and resumed our campaigning.

Labels: , ,

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Monkette tells Mayor Kevin Burns "It ain't over 'til it's over!"

Monkette and I took Robin with us over to city hall to watch the ballot tabulations and maybe at least find out who made the run-offs. Robin isn't much into politics so Monkette sat next to her, explaining what was going on, how it all worked, as I wandered around talking to people. As things got underway I took my seat and Monkette sat up on my knee for a better view of the goings on. She really got miffed big time when the Channel 4 reporter and camera man interviewed the guy next to her, though. She wanted to be the first toy monkey ever to talk politics on TV. She calmed down a bit later when we got home though. There she was, plainly visible, on the 11 o'clock news! Maybe after the June 2nd run-off, I told her! It ain't over 'til it's over!

It's been two years now since Monkette first burst onto the North Miami political scene, planning strategy and executing a flawless and successful re-election campaign for Mayor Kevin Burns. Term limits prevent him from running again and now he has his sights set on a run for a Florida senate seat. Before the vote counting got underway the other night Kevin wanted to get another "photo op" with Monkette, North Miami's premier political consultant. Just look at that grin on the mayor's face as he and Councilwoman Marie Steril shower Monkette with praise for another job well done. Marie has a pretty good grin there too!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Early Voting At The North Miami Public Library

The week before the "official" election dayyou could go to the North Miami Library and be an early voter, no matter what you precinct was. This brought out all the candidates and their supporters, and councilman Michael Blynn had lots of coolers full of cold water handy. He seemed upset that Bonnie Schwartzbaum would be mounting a well planned and executed campaign to unseat him, and plenty of people were wearing their bright yellow Elect Bonnie T-shirts.

But even Monkette was able to fire up the neurons in her cotton filled skull and figure out why there was so much "throw the bums out!" sentiment in the city. The city has allowed its water plants and water mains to fall to a dangerous state of disrepair and the parks are hardly maintained at all. The city council and mayor managed to "find" the money in the budget to give themselves lifetime health insurance, a generous pension, a more than generous expense account, and boost their salaries ten-fold. They did this in violation of the city charter.

Michelle Garcia isn't running for Michaels seat. She's in another district. She's been doing her homework and understands the problems the city faces. The first time Monkette met her she was impressed and decided to back her on her bid for a council seat, spending hours in the hot sun campaigning.