We are very pleased that State Senator Annette Taddeo will be speaking at the 4th of July Celebration at St. Luke’s in Kendall. We are also very pleased to have the former Bishop of the Episcopal Church of Cuba Bishop Miguel Tamayo kick the day off with a benediction.
An original emphasis for the event was to celebrate this very special July 4th and also talk about gun violence in our midst. Especially since we are less than two miles from the Hookah Lounge shooting just a few weeks ago. A crime still unsolved. With that in mind we reached out to several community leaders and are very happy that Senator Taddeo will be able to talk with us and take questions. Obviously, we have more on our minds than community violence, not least of which is the tragedy unfolding in Surfside, lingering Covid concerns, etc.
But most of all we are planning a festive day with bands, food trucks, and fun. We are expecting hundreds of neighbors throughout the afternoon and are honored to have both the bishop and senator join us.
Pangea is the long-standing standard of Miami’s live music industry ever since legendary band leader Dorian Reyes began the group years ago.
Of course the members of the band have turned over a few times since its inception back in the day, but the result is the same: a party going on, as we will witness on July 4th.
Dorian is known to Miami’s musicians for more than his drumming, singing and band leading though. He is also a producer who is putting the finishing touches on his new studio where he will be mixing and producing the music for TheoEco’s new documentary So Flo Guns, currently in production. He is also composing music for the film including his song “My Music” which will be used in a very special way for the segment on Parkland. It is in Dorian’s new studio that we recently finished the mixing of Gunz, the documentary’s theme song written by AJ Niilo. AJ was Pangea’s guitarist in the old days (along with Ani Espriella, Pete Masitti and other great players) who has since gone on to play with the likes of Shakira, David Lee Roth, Josh Stone, KC and the Sunshine Band, and many others.
But right now Dorian’s focus is on getting his iconic band ready for a great July 4th performance at St. Luke’s in Kendall.
The last time I saw Dorian play was with Raymond Daniel Rodriguez at the Deering Estate on Valentine’s Day 2019 where their original project Vintash Band played for several thousand on the expansive grounds. It was an amazing performance on a perfect February evening. We are very excited that Raymond will be playing with Pangea on July 4th and while St. Luke’s lawn isn’t quite so expansive it is plenty big enough to handle the several hundred neighbors we are expecting on the Fourth. This time the music will be largely favorites from Pangea’s galactic repertoire of Miami’s favorites and will also include the electric Cuban American singer, songwriter, dancer, DJ, Dayana Falcon.
It’s been a tough year for musicians everywhere and Covid has put most in a tough place. But the light is shining at the end of the proverbial tunnel. This is Pangea’s first gig since the lock down and we are pleased to provide the venue to play for the neighborhood.
All are invited to this free event sponsored by St. Luke the Physician Episcopal (Anglican) Church and TheoEco.
Our July 4th Celebration is taking place at St. Luke the Physician - a “hidden in plain view” garden parish, right in the middle of Kendall.
Just a mile or so west of Miami-Dade College’s Kendall campus on Killian Parkway, as you drive over the turnpike and look to the right, you’ll notice a big red cross over the trees, on top of a bell tower. As you get closer you’ll notice a big open green space – St. Luke’s lawn. A tree-lined green expanse just perfect for our July 4th Celebration, complete with bands, food, and fun!
Once on the grounds you notice there is so much more than just the lawn and the understated church building itself. The meditation garden and recently opened La Casita Thrift Store make this a very special place that thousands drive by every day, but rarely notice. It’s likely been this way since the early 1980’s when it opened – though the Banyan tree and Staghorn ferns were likely much smaller, and the priest lived in the thrift shop building.
St. Luke’s is an Episcopal (Anglican) church with many members rooted in the Caribbean and other spots around the world. It’s been a tough year as it has for churches everywhere. In-person services stopped at the beginning of the lockdown and have only resumed under meticulous conditions including temperature checks, mandatory hand sanitizing, socially distant seating, no choir, no wine, etc.
St. Luke’s is trying very hard to get ready for its future and this July 4th celebration is part of that; with the extra opportunity for fellowship – and fundraising - it offers. Because the best thing about St. Luke’s if you ask those that have been here since the beginning, is the fellowship. St. Luke’s is a very special place which represents our melting pot community in ways like few others. So the idea of St. Luke’s remaining in its pandemic induced status is distressful to the long serving members that make the place go.
This July 4th at St. Luke’s has come together very quickly as it became clear that CDC guidelines will permit it. It is really shaping up with food trucks and three bands offering music for all Miamian tastes.
We hope you can spend at least part of your July 4th afternoon with us. If you can’t make it we hope you’ll consider a donation anyway. We are also reaching out to the local business community for potential sponsors. Just go to Lukes4th.org where you can find more information, the flyer, sponsor materials, schedule of performances, and updates. Just click on the “Donate or Sponsor” button.
And, as always, please remember St. Luke’s in your prayers and good thoughts.
See you on the 4th!
Music, Food, and Fun! Bring a blanket and hang out ‘til sunset at this free event.
Our July 4th event is really shaping up with food trucks arranged, a stage booked, and three bands! We are also looking for sponsors who want to share in bringing this very special July 4th to our community. Of all the food options I’m thinking the Cold Stone Truck might be the most popular since what is July 4th without ice cream!? For more just check out the Lukes4th.org page for updates.
Of course, our ability to make this happen can really benefit from sponsors as this is also a fundraiser for St. Lukes, the TheEco Institute, and our local musicians. So, we’ve set up the following sponsorships which can be reserved from the website. Just go to Lukes4th.org and click on the “Donate or Sponsor” button.
$2,500 – Founding Father Principal Sponsor (One available.)
Most prominent logo on all promotional pieces, website and mailings. Tented VIP area. Free food and drinks for 10. VIP parking. Large signage on stage. Speak at event. Our heartfelt Thanks! - Limited to one sponsor.
$1,500 Liberty Bell Music Sponsor (Availability limited to two.) Extra prominent logo on all promotional pieces, website and mailings. Tented VIP area. Free food and drinks for 6. VIP parking. Signage on stage. Recognition at event. Our heartfelt Thanks!
$1,000 Tea Party Stage Sponsor (Availability limited to two.)
Logo on all promotional pieces, website and mailings. Tented VIP area. VIP parking. Signage on stage. Recognition at event. Our heartfelt Thanks!
$500 Minuteman Security Sponsor (Availability limited to three.)
Logo on all promotional pieces, website and mailings. VIP parking. Recognition at event. Our heartfelt Thanks!
$250 Old North Church Promo, Assurance and Tidying Sponsor (Availability limited to five.)
Logo on website. VIP parking. Recognition at event. Our heartfelt Thanks!
$100 Patriot Sponsor (Availability unlimited.)
Logo on website. Our heartfelt Thanks!
To sponsor this event just go to Lukes4th.org and click on the Sponsor button.
Music, Food, Speakers, and Fun! And Fundraiser for the feature documentary film So Flo Guns.
We are planning a major celebration with our community on this very special Fourth. It will be one to remember and a bit of surprise that it is possible at all given the CDC guidance just weeks ago. But we have it organized, Miami’s top band Pangea and other artists are booked, and much more is in the works.
I am struck that another Miami mass shooting happened less than two miles from our office at St. Luke The Physician in Kendall. (Deadly mass shooting near Miami area college campus | Miami Herald) Three dead and five injured in our neighborhood. This is a poignant reminder that the issues our event and documentary addresses are all around us. None of us are immune to these risks in our midst. However, I believe we are not helpless to affect gun violence in our community. This event is a way to help.
So Flo Guns (SoFloGuns.com) is the new feature documentary from TheoEco about guns in South Florida past, present, and the future. From Ponce De Leon’s arrival on Key Biscayne in 1513, to pirates in the Keys, throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, to Seminoles and Soldiers in the 1800s, to gangsters in the early 1900s, to the Cocaine Cowboys, to Parkland, we have a long and tangled relationship with guns, and their evolving lethalness.
TheoEco’s goal is to have hundreds of thousands of South Floridians, and millions more worldwide see the film by the end of 2023. Clearly, we need a lot of repeated screenings to all corners of South Florida - a role community organizations can uniquely provide for their neighbors in addition to the awesome local cinemas throughout our area. They have screens and venues that can be put to good use in off hours, while also offering fundraising opportunities and the chance to increase the flow of visitors and regulars alike.
But first we have to make it! Our co-hosts can get on board now and be a part of it from the very beginning. Which is what these fundraisers are all about. We have a budget of just over $200,000 and have spent a little more than $60,000 so far. We are reaching out to foundations for grants, wealthy donors for donations, crowdfunding campaigns, social media, etc.
For more go to SFG Co-Hosts (theoeco.org)
So Flo Guns – Musketeers, Pirates, Indians, Soldiers, Gangsters, and Clint Eastwood’s “Unforgiven” Rifle
So Flo Guns - A new documentary for release early 2022.
South Florida’s entangled gun environment begins right here more than 500 years ago. So too America’s gun culture.
Last week we visited museums from Key West to West Palm Beach in search of the oldest guns in South Florida’s museums as we begin to build a timeline of guns over the 500+ years they have been here at the core of our very colorful – and often notorious history. Here’s a list of the museums we visited and the artifacts we found:
First to the Lock and Load Museum in downtown Miami. This is likely the most complete collection of guns in South Florida though I’m not sure how many original South Florida artifacts are in the collection, so I look forward to going back and digging in a bit further. Regardless, it is an awesome place for gun aficionados. Where else can you dig into gun history and then go fire fully automatic machine guns in the same place?!
Next up was West Palm Beach and the Palm Beach County History Museum. Unfortunately, it is closed on Mondays and I forgot to look ahead of time. But we found a wonderful representative outside the front steps (Casey I believe it was) and he talked about the gun owned by gangster John Ashley (and the rifle of the Sheriff that gunned him down) circa 1911 on exhibit. This is the oldest artifact we have found so far from the early 1900’s and has a terribly colorful history.
Later in the week we made it down to Key West where we came across some tremendous items. First was at the Mel Fisher Maritime Museum from a 1700 shipwreck, the slave ship Henrietta Marie which sunk off the southern tip of Florida. This flintlock pistol is the oldest true artifact/gun we have found in our research and it definitely looks like it was under water for more than 200 years. It is however not actually a gun ever in use in South Florida – it just happened to sink there. That being said it tells the story of the types of guns around at that time and is part of our history. It is the kind of gun used by the Pirates that roamed the Caribbean and Florida Keys for the better part of two centuries from the late 16th to the early 19th centuries.
But South Florida can go back even further with its gun lineage, reaching all the way back with artifacts and reasonable extrapolation (thanks Professor George) to the time of Ponce De Leon and his first visit to South Florida at Key Biscayne in 1513 and then again to the Southwest coast near Cape Coral in 1521. Regrettably, while we are unlikely to find an actual matchlock musket artifact from the 16th century we found a wonderful exhibit at the Collier County Museum in Naples back in 2019 of a Spanish Musketeer with a matchlock replica and full uniform and armor! For more about the guns in this period – and those that used them – check out From Matchlocks to Wheel-Locks in Early America -- 1500 to 1740 https://youtu.be/IBak7kgevaw.
The history of guns in South Florida gets another big notch on the timeline when the Cape Florida lighthouse is built in 1825 where presumably the keeper had a gun as we conclude from the Seminole sacking of the lighthouse on Key Biscayne in 1836. There was definitely a gun battle, hence our confidence that guns were there, though I am not aware of any actual artifacts from the time, though we are still early in our research. For a glimpse of what a battle with Seminoles might have been like, and the Springfield rifles around at the time, check out the trailer from the 1953 Rock Hudson movie Seminole (https://youtu.be/WJaGp4cJLNM) starring Anthony Quinn as Chief Osceola. Yes, it’s a bit cheesy and likely out of touch race relations wise, but in no other movie have they depicted the realities of trudging through the glades in woolen uniforms, dragging canons through waist-high waters, all as hell rained down from the same types of guns the Indians likely brought with them into South Florida. We hope to dig deeper into this aspect of So Flo Guns’ story in the coming months.
But the most exciting discovery on last week’s trip was at Key West’s Fort East Martello Museum finding what we believe may be the oldest museum firearm in South Florida. One that is actually from the period and was in use then and there in 1865. The Spencer Carbine (along with a shotgun) from the Civil War is under glass as soon as you enter the gallery. Western movie fans will remember the Spencer, it was used by Bill Munny (Clint Eastwood) to great effect in the movie Unforgiven https://youtu.be/X5Vb_FUuRDE. Please note that this is not a “light” scene so consider yourself warned.
Thanks to all the awesome guides and representatives at all these museums. This kind of work is impossible without these places and the people who love and work for them.
So Flo Guns - A new documentary for release early 2022.
South Florida’s entangled gun environment begins right here more than 500 years ago. So too America’s gun culture.
At the core of our documentaries is a historical documentation of the past. This requires lots of time in museums, libraries, collections, etc. Just as importantly, we require the goodwill of supporting organizations and individuals who open up their archives and help guide the process with their expertise. We are indebted to them.
Research for So Flo Guns began in 2018 with an interview with Dr. Paul George and will continue through the early summer. Here’s a list of some of the museums we are looking to:
We plan to finish our shoots by October 2021. Though Covid restrictions are still a consideration it looks like most things should be available to us in the relatively short term. Many museums are open already.
For an idea of what we do with all this research please take a look at the Old Floods segment from our 2017 film So Flo Floods. It provides a good look at the kinds of elements we will bring to So Flo Guns including interviews, graphics, historical archives, even an animation. In the new film we will upgrade all of these elements with improved lighting and sound, better graphics, improved animation(s), etc. The new film also has something So Flo Floods did not - a more engaging subject that lends itself to visual storytelling with lots of supporting media and artifacts. Floods by their nature leave little behind for examination. Guns are the opposite in that there is so much to be examined including the guns themselves.
Here’s a link to the 15-minute Old Floods segment:
We are very fortunate to have Dr. Paul George’s involvement in both films and feature many excellent photos from HistoryMiami’s archives of the 1926 Miami Hurricane in the Old Floods segment. Similarly, we received a great deal of help from the LEW Museum of the Glades in Belle Glade remembering the 1928 Okeechobee Hurricane that devastated the region.
Dr. George is Miami’s premiere historian at HistoryMiami Museum and we look forward to his contributions to the new film. For a taste of what we can look forward to we include the following brief clip in which he discusses the Cocaine Cowboy era and Miami’s gun culture.
We owe much to the keepers of our history and look forward to getting “back in the stacks” over the coming months. We plan to reach out to other repositories, collections, and aficionados we find along the way who might be willing to perform live-fire demonstrations of their firearms and interviews.
If you can think of additional museums and collectors we should contact please contact us.
Including clips from:
While not a trailer people can begin to get a feel for where we are and what we are going for.
About A.J. Niilo and Gunz
We are very fortunate to have Miami’s own A.J. Niilo compose the theme song for the film: “Gunz”. Coming out of Hialeah-Miami Lakes Senior High School A.J. was classically trained throughout high school receiving the Silver Knight award. A.J. currently performs with Taylor Dayne and Debbie Gibson, having performed and toured with David Lee Roth, Shakira, K.C. and the Sunshine Band, Joss Stone and many others. He writes music for television and currently has music on the cable network Epix on the show "Get Shorty" and on Hulu's "The Handmaid’s Tale." He pursued learning the musical craft by playing in the local Miami clubs with the popular band Pangea. Here’s what he had to say about Gunz:
“In this song I wanted to express the two sides of the gun issue. Those that feel threatened and want to guard their right to own all guns and those that want responsible gun ownership with strict gun laws to stop the persistent loss of life on a daily basis. The tension of both ideologies come through with a scream. I express the different emotional shades of the American culture of guns today.” - A.J. Niilo
South Florida’s entangled gun environment begins right here more than 500 years ago.
So too America’s gun culture.
For release in 2022.
Guns and South Florida go together like palm trees, sand, and art deco hotels. They’ve been here since before anyone can remember and are more numerous than people. It’s clear they are not going anywhere and are also a scourge on its citizens. We love them, and we hate them, and our politics can seem twisted by them with South Florida (So Flo) especially stained by them in the national psyche.
Filming for So Flo Guns began in the immediate wake of the Parkland shooting, February 14, 2018. A month later we documented the March for Our Lives protest on Miami Beach. Later in the spring we interviewed the organizer of a gun show and documented its goods. Additional interviews, including Dr. Paul George, resident historian of HistoryMiami, took place over the summer. October’s Line in the Sand demonstration on South Beach in which members of Florida Carry took their rifles and sidearms to South Pointe was the last shoot to date. 2019 found us with other priorities it seems and 2020 was taken up by the pandemic.
Paul George on the Cocaine Cowboy Era.
2021 brings a renewed passion to finish the film even before the most recent mass shooting epidemic. Assuming COVID-19 is enough in the rearview mirror to allow shooting in the summer of 2021, with three months of post-production in the fall, we will be ready to roll out the finished film shortly thereafter.
Ten shoots are planned over the summer and include firing a matchlock musket like Ponce de Leon in the 16th century, as well as a Kentucky long rifle like troops had in the Seminole Wars. Coincident with a stop at Al Capone’s house in Miami Beach, we will feature a Tommy gun. Next we’ll focus on the Cocaine Cowboy era that will bring us up to the modern day AR-15. Plans to visit Liberty City will bring in civic leaders to discuss the everyday shootings that occur in their neighborhoods and the handguns that are such a neglected part of the story.
One shoot is planned outside of South Florida with a gun manufacturer in New England where we intend to document, buy, and shoot a new Kentucky long rifle working replica. Why New England? Because Florida produces few of the guns it uses. New England has always been a big supplier of guns. Why this particular firearm? Because it is the same kind available at the time the 2nd Amendment was adopted -- and a big purpose of our film is to illustrate the evolution of the guns themselves. And to show how far we are from what the Founding Fathers could ever have imagined when they gave us the right to bear arms.
Gadsden Flag circa 1776.
The fourth quarter of 2021 will find the footage in Kathmandu where our editor Amit Nepali and his studio are located. Our trans-world post-production habits are well honed with this being our fifth feature documentary.
At the moment we are logging footage, preparing a trailer, working with the music creators, and beginning to scour museums from Key West to Naples to Belle Glade to Miami, digging through archives, identifying the guns, artifacts, press clippings, locations, and fascinating interviewees for the film.
A.J. Niilo - Composer of So Flo Guns theme song Gunz.
So Flo Guns speaks to the various points of view of the gun discussion and helps people understand that the gun situation here is historic and intractable – but not hopeless. Perhaps it’s not about eliminating guns, but de-risking them. Get it back to what it was when the Kentucky Long Rifle was state-of-the-art, back when the 2nd Amendment was written. Because it doesn’t take a genius to see that Daniel Boone’s rifle bears little resemblance to an AR-15.
For more click here.
By Steve Richards
Note to Readers:
This essay was written before the shootings in Atlanta but the echoes between the two are striking for at least three reasons:
Disclaimer: This is theological-political satire inspired by the essay: My New Church – the NkRA? There is currently no NkRA church, Neo-Know Nothing Republican (Knicker) Party, nor an offer to trade in AR-15s for Kentucky Long Rifles.
So, I’ve been hired by the NkRA (Neo-Know Nothing Religion of the Armed) to head up its proselytizing department as a consultant.
It doesn’t pay much but I’m happy to be helping out and thought that the first thing I should do is compare the original Know Nothing party of Lincoln’s day with the Neo-Know Nothing Republicans (NKRs or Knickers) of today. Kind of a psychographic review of our prospective members - get into their heads if you will.
But first, the demographics, which are pretty simple for such a homogenous group like ours. How so? The original Know Nothings of the 1800’s were largely White, Anglo Saxon, and Protestant. Today’s Knickers are pretty much the same. Not surprising so let’s move on…
Next, the original Know Nothings were anti-immigrant and fought against the citizenship of immigrants – and their voting - by just about any means possible. Which seems like something most Knickers can relate to given their focus on migrants from South of the border, the Muslim ban (darn Biden), the Wall, outreach to white supremacists, etc.
Third, the Know Nothings were an essential catalyst to the dissolution of the Whig Party much like the Knickers to Republicans today. The Know Nothing movement seemed to come and go over a generation so that by the start of the Civil War it had largely disappeared. Turns out the Know Nothings in the North were more abolitionist than anti-immigrant and mostly joined the newly formed Republican Party. Millard Fillmore’s defeat illustrates the point when he came in a distant 3rd in the 1856 presidential election; instead, Democrat James Buchanan won and that was that. It remains to be seen how long Neo-Know Nothing Republicanism soldiers on though 15-20 years from its origins in June 2015 would put it on par with the original.
A fourth element to be considered is the unfortunate name itself: Know Nothings. Noone would ever choose such a name on purpose. Turns out that the original Know Nothings changed their name to the American Party as they realized their name sucked. This is still the case as calling someone a Neo-Know Nothing Republican can irritate as I can attest from my personal focus group that I am documenting in Neo-Know Nothing Republicans I Love (KnickersILove.com), at least until the historical context is explained. Fortunately for them, Knickers can just stay Republicans as they are the majority of the GOP.
Fifth, Knickers, like the Know Nothings, tend to keep their most extreme views to themselves, others in the party, and maybe a few of their Facebook friends. This makes the fringes a little hard to communicate with, especially since our Twitter feed and Facebook pages have been shut down. This would seem to be very much in the spirit of the original Know Nothings who got their name from saying they didn’t know about the party. When asked about their views on immigrants and the mushrooming nativist organizations they were joining they said they knew nothing. Knickers similarly are often loathe to identify themselves (though the FBI is helping with their pictorial tweets of the most wanted from its Capitol Hill Violence webpage).
Knickers have a different take on knowing nothing as informed by conspiracy theories, media sources, neighbors and loved ones, etc. Per Joe Scarborough,
"It’s all, at the end of the day, about owning the Libs… To these demagogues, actually, owning the Libs now means owning science, owning medicine, owning reason, owning rationality. - Morning Joe, 3/3/21
Sixth, being anti-immigrant went hand in glove with being anti-Catholic, which, in the mid 1800’s meant Irish. They hated the Irish, even though the Irish were white. On the other hand, Knickers are not overtly this way though their enmity toward caravans of folks from the south in practice makes then kind of that way. Why so vilified? Same now as then I suppose, they are feared as a threat to white America – and our jobs - like Bogey and “Oomph Girl” Ann Sheridan dramatized in the 1937 film Black Legion.