Thursday, April 18, 2019


I was thinking about how people leave Key West after I read a Facebook comment from someone ending their vacation and returning to Canada for the summer. I like to take Rusty to Little Hamaca in the middle of New Town, especially now the winter residents have left and the place is mostly empty as summer heats up. 
Little Hamaca is right next to the airport which as you can see is heavily fenced in along Government Road, the roadway that leads all the way to the back of the city park.  It is actually a peaceful spot wedged between the Riviera Canal and the airport fencing, however you do get to listen to the aircraft coming and going, and aeroplanes are not really peaceful if meditative silence is what you are looking for.
What I mean is, there is open space in the park, trees and shade and room to wander with your dog, and aside from the aero engines there's not much going on among the trees. Little Hamaca used to be renowned as a pick up place for closeted gay men and perhaps it still is for all I know but  Rusty and I walk there unmolested.  
And yet, through the impenetrable fence there is a surprising hive of activity. Planes are taking off and landing all the time. I see helicopters, commercial airliners and tons of private planes coming and going. I used to know an air traffic controller who worked there for a while and to him it was a sleepy little backwater and I suppose he knows what he is talking about but it looks busy to my untrained eye.
I think of all those people in the planes looking back as they leave, some looking forward to their next visit, others lamenting their departure and I suppose some who are glad to be escaping this claustrophobic little island...And as I watch the take offs and struggle to photograph the flying machines in some interesting and previously unimagined way I recognize I am glad to be the one staying behind.  
I cannot say I am a fan of flying in commercial airliners as I find the process dismal and out of my control, thinking of all the lines, the inspections, the lack of dignity in the process. Air travel is a means to an end for me and I would love to cross oceans as a passenger on freighters in my retirement instead of flying. My wife would beat me up if I suggested that but the dream lives on. 
So I feel rather sorry for those in the planes looking back wishing they were here or looking down wishing they were driving and of course I am glad to be the one left behind.
Then there are those planes I might like to fly in like the Dry Tortugas tour planes which fly low over the multicolored waters and give you a short half day to wander the ruins of Fort Jefferson out in the ocean. 
The float planes take off from the airport whence they return in a few hours, but at the fort they land on the water and taxi up to the beach to avoid their passengers getting wet feet. It's actually pretty cool.
 And there are the little privately owned bluebottles buzzing back and forth around the skies, what pilots call "general aviation":
 In between the relatively large machines:
 And I even saw an odd looking experimental type machine take off:
And then there is the plane that will never fly again. It was hijacked to the US during an internal Cuban flight. Instead of being returned to Cuba  a Miami federal judge awarded it as compensation to an exile Cuban family in the city and the plane sits behind the fence in Key West and seems to be slowly fading away. Weird.
And to wrap up this Thursday's look at Key West and the Keys here are a couple of gratuitous dog pictures.
 Rusty enjoying yesterday's sunny afternoon at Little Hamaca City Park.
A dog shadow flitting hither and yon.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Roadside Stop

I was early into town so for some reason unknown to my sentient self I pulled over at the western end of Boca Chica Bridge on Highway 1.
 I  saw a plastic bag fluttering out of reach in the median and it put me in mind of one of those Facebook debates over single use plastic bags. My buddy Robert, and eco-warrior was making the case for eliminating plastic bags which was riling some other people up. And there it was all ready to fly off into the water and look like indigestible food for wildlife.
The flats north of the approaches to Stock Island are jet ski country, and I saw a couple of them zipping across flat water:
 I wasn't alone as an angler came round the corner hunting his prey:
I am no fisherman as I fear that pitting my wits against the fish would only result in me coming out second best. I hunt fish at Publix.
The fisherman being hauled hither and yon on the flats boat was more involved with his phone than the scenery. A commonplace nowadays.
 A lovely day in the Lower Keys.
 One more lovely day in fact.
 Not bad for the reptiles either.

 Good to be alive.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Frances Street

Standing on White Street at four in the morning. I looked up Angela Street and set up my tripod. 
On the other side of the street, the cemetery, above ground to avoid a high water table of course.
For some reason the night sky over Key West seems particularly velvety and black. The full moon comes around the 19th as I recall so there wasn't a lot of light in the sky last week when I took these pictures. 
I switched between color and black and white.
It was windy which tended to give the palms a little blurry motion effect at slow shutter speeds.
Normally the larger gate on Frances is open during the day but when it's closed, as it is at night it looks rather forbidding:
Frances Street looking north toward Eaton.
And then in color which does not improve it much in my opinion.

Picturesque Key West.

Monday, April 15, 2019

The Studios Portraits

The last of this week's  exhibits I saw at The Studios of Key West on Eaton Street, is the showing of 101 water colors of residents of Key West. 
 It put me strongly in mind of the portrait show I posted here that was on display a while back at the Tropic Cinema. That was a pairing of black and white photos of people a few years apart. 
 Here instead  the artist used a camera lucida a description of which I found on Wikipedia.

The camera lucida performs an optical superimposition of the subject being viewed upon the surface upon which the artist is drawing. 
The artist sees both scene and drawing surface simultaneously, as in a photographic double exposure. This allows the artist to duplicate key points of the scene on the drawing surface, thus aiding in the accurate rendering of perspective.
 Interestingly they also had a slide show pairing the subjects with their portraits:
At first I couldn't figure out who I was looking at, unless I knew the subject, but I did find subtle name tags after looking for a bit:
 "In February, Artist-in-Residence Brenda Zlamany invited 101 Key Westers to pose for watercolor portraits as part of her ongoing “The Itinerant Portraitist” series, in which she travels the globe to explore the positive effects of painted portraiture. Previous chapters have included the Aboriginal population from Taiwan, girls from an orphanage in the United Arab Emirates, taxicab drivers in Cuba, artists in Brooklyn, and elderly and disabled people in a nursing home in the Bronx."
 "Zlamany uses the camera lucida, a device for drawing that dates back to the Renaissance and that promotes a two-way exchange between the artist and the subject. She aimed to capture a wide cross-section of the community, and her Key West subjects include drag queens, teachers, fishermen, MARC House residents, artists, and even Mayor Teri Johnston. All the portraits will be on view in the XOJ Gallery."
 We had the hall to ourselves.
And best of all a glimpse into the finest part of the The Studios I think, the places where they encourage, train and teach artists.
It's a higher calling I think, to be on the spot in a town like Key West drawing out the artistic inclinations.
 I wanted to hang out and absorb the molecules.
 Back to the painted elevator and the real world outside.