Unpacking The Writer ► April 2014

Welcome readers both new and old. Once a month, on an irregular schedule, I drop a blog post under the rubric Unpacking the Writer, where I pull back the curtain and expose some of what’s happening on this side of the keyboard, much like Toto did to The Wizard of Oz.

Which is only appropriate because I wrote under the nom de plume of Aunty Em for NewsHounds, the motto of which is “We watch Fox so you don’t have to.” Clearly, I did a very good job of exposing Fox “News” mendacity. You know how I can tell? Although I left NewsHounds more than 2 years ago, the same crazy, obsessive Fox “News” defending, cyber-stalking bullies I picked up back then continue to hound me to this very day. [See what I did there?]

BOOK CORNER: I’ve been writing about the exciting adventures battling my cyber-stalking bullies — chapter by chapter — since the day I launched this blog. They’ve been published at Not Now Silly as needed and now comprise quite a thick dossier on what crazy obsessives do in the Age of the Internet. In previous times they’d be standing on street corners babbling incoherently. This medium keeps them off the street, unless they have a phone smarter than they are.

As of late [and mentioned only to satisfy Grayhammy’s vast curiosity, because he keeps asking] I have been working with an editor to give the project more ‘”shape,” as they keep putting it. They believe The Johnny Dollar Wars could be turned into a Laff Riot Situation Comedy or a blockbuster Gothic Horror movie. [It works both ways.] Until I post a compendium, the best place to start is Anatomy of a Cyber-Feud, which is currently the #3 most popular post at Not Now Silly for the past 30 days, despite it being published way back in December. If you want to keep up with the daily shoot & miss tactics of The Flying Monkey Squad, you’re personally invited to join The Johnny Dollar Depreciation Society, on the facebookery.

Follow the day-to-day craziness of my cyber-stalking bullies at The Johnny Dollar Depreciation Society page.
HARD WORK: Forging Farce Au Pain from the raw alphabet.

CHAPTER TWO: My other book, Farce Au Pain, proceeds a lot slower than I ever expected when I promised serialization way back when. I anticipated having more time to work on it, but life and new Coconut Grove stories keep getting in the way. It doesn’t help that I chose to make my task more difficult. Because it’s being published on the Internet, I decided to link all the facts and references to the existing internet proofs as I edit the manuscript. There are a lot of those, which you’ll notice when it’s eventually published. I’m closing in on it, but I’ve learned better to make any hard promises, otherwise Grayhammy will squawk again. Hopefully I’ll have some news on that front very soon. Stay tuned. Check your local listings. Coming to a browser near you, and all that Jazz.

COCONUT GROVE CORNER: Still awaiting news of a Trolleygate settlement in West Grove. Almost 2 months ago I wrote Is Trolleygate Headed For An Out Of Court Settlement? To quote myself:

So confident are all the parties that an agreement is possible, that they’ve requested a 60-day freeze in all legal proceedings to see if they can all get on the bus. Based on the anger expressed at the Village Council Meeting, it may be an uphill climb on a rough road to a negotiated settlement.

The broad outline of the proposed settlement looks like this: Coral Gables agrees to drop its lawsuit against Astor Development that asks a judge to abrogate its contract with the developer. Meanwhile Astor Trolley/Astor Development agrees to stick the new fake trolley garage RIGHT WHERE IT IS NOW, more or less, as opposed to the non-conforming White Elephant on Douglas Road.

Those 60 days are just about up, if they haven’t expired already. I should put in a few calls. I’ll add that to my ever-increasing To Do List.

This is where the next sidewalk ends.
This historic walkway has been fixed.

MY LATEST WRITING PROJECT: I’ve slowing been crafting another chapter in my ongoing series Where The Sidewalk Ends, Racism Begins (of which there has been only one so far). The next one will delineate another segment of The Colour Line in Coconut Grove, pictured at left.

The Coconut Grove Colour Line has existed for decades. The line was
always meant to keep Black Grove separated from White Grove. But, it’s not just ancient history.

Current segments of The Colour Line are as concrete as the cinder block wall described in Where The Sidewalk Ends, Racism Begins.
Other parts of The Colour Line in Coconut Grove are subtle and almost
imperceptible to the naked eye, unless you know what to look for. Still
other parts of The Colour Line are as clear as black and white when
looking at maps of property values and demographics in Coconut Grove. 

A close up of the fence seen in the background [above left]. Two
feet have been added to the top of it within the last few weeks.

Although the building of The Colour Line in Coconut Grove is ancient history, some of the walls along it were not only maintained, but made taller and more formidable as time went on, a process that continues to this very day. Shockingly so.

Within the last few weeks the latest spot I have been struggling to write about has had its fence — this small segment of The Colour Line — grow 2 feet taller by just nailing new boards over the old. Look for the next blog post on The Colour Line, coming soon to a browser near you.

THE CORNER OF MAIN HIGHWAY AND CHARLES AVENUE: This is where it all began for me 5 years ago when I discovered the Historical Marker and started researching and writing about this small corner of the world. Here are some quick updates:

The deal concerning the Coconut Grove Playhouse continues to unfold exactly as the residents had hoped it never would. The Miami Parking Authority has now painted HUGE arrows in the parking lot on Main Highway, directing traffic to an exit on Charles Avenue. This has increased the traffic in both directions along the Historic Roadway, along which you will find the Coconut Grove Playhouse; the Charles Avenue Historical Marker; the E.W.F. Stirrup House; the former Odd Fellows Hall; the Mariah Brown House, the first house built on Charles; ending at the Charlotte Jane Memorial Park Cemetery, named after the wife and childhood sweetheart of Mr. Stirrup and at the time of its founding the only place in Miami Black folk could be buried.

Meanwhile rapacious developer Gino Falsetto continues to chip away at The Colour Line in Coconut Grove. His Aries Development has checkmated the Coconut Grove Playhouse with the acquisition of the Bicycle Shop on Main Highway at one end. This adds to the property he’s controlled for a while: the two empty lots immediately west of the Playhouse and the E.W.F. Stirrup House immediately across the street. Now whatever people want to build in between all those properties will have to go begging to Aries Development, hat in hand.

Pops on his 88th birthday, February 14, 2014

PERSONAL CORNER: My family and closest friends know, but I’ve not shared this with Not Now Silly readers yet: I came to Florida after the death of my mother to look after Pops. It’s starting to weigh on me and maybe writing about it will help me work some things out.

I’ve been in Sunrise for 9 years, arriving just in time for Hurricane Wilma. When I arrived, Pops was fine, despite his having a stroke about 20 years ago. He battled back and you would never know he had had one.

Pops didn’t really need me to care for him. He was capable of accomplishing more in a day than I did. However, he is of a generation of men who knows where the kitchen is, but just doesn’t know what kind of magic gets food on the table. If I weren’t here, he’d be getting all his meals out of the microwave. A fried egg is beyond his expertise.

However, in every other way he was competent. Three or 4 days a week Pops played 9 holes of golf on the course that wends its way around the condo complex. He’d hang with his buddies at Subway or the condo clubhouse. The last few years he’s been slowing down. At first he’d only play 8 holes of golf, knocking off at the one closest to our building. Then it was 5 holes, meeting up with his crew on the 4th and playing with them through 8.

He may have battled back against the stroke, but he’s getting pummeled by the years. Within the last year he’s been admitted to the hospital twice, both times for having a bit of trouble catching his breath. The last visit was 3 weeks ago. He’s just not bounced back the way we all thought he would afterwards. And, he hasn’t played any golf since. He’s just had a round of tests to see whether we can get to the bottom of this latest problem and we’ll get the results in a few days when we visit the pulmonologist again. Meanwhile he’s on a Nebulizer twice a day and an inhaler 4 times a day and his movements are resricted by his lack of energy.

We’ve recently convinced Pops to start using a cane. After the stroke he always had a very slight imbalance. However, lately it’s been more pronounced. He seems unaware of how he tacks to the right as he walks without assistance. My biggest fear, of course, is that he’s going to fall when I’m not here or when I’m asleep. That’s why I now always make sure a walker and cane are within reach.

This all means I am getting to Coconut Grove less often than I would like, but I wouldn’t suggest Gino Falsetto relax. I still pop into Coconut Grove when I’m least expected. Recently I was fortunate enough to meet his wife Magda. Maybe one day soon I can meet the brains behind Aries Development and can ask him questions directly. Meanwhile, you can help Save the E.W.F. Stirrup House by joining the Facebook group.

About Headly Westerfield

Calling himself “A liberally progressive, sarcastically cynical, iconoclastic polymath,” Headly Westerfield has been a professional writer all his adult life.