Saturday, March 14, 2009

Duval Spring Break

Spring Break may be peaking and I think I'm glad if that's the case because I've had enough of the excitement for a while, perhaps for a whole year. At first it was fun having lots of overlapping calls in dispatch forcing me to figure out on the fly who to send where, but night after night of drunken orgies on the street gets old. I can't imagine what it's like to be an officer coping with the crowds on Lower Duval at two in the morning. So I decided to go out and get a refresher on the agony of community policing:"What are you doing here?" was the question the officers directed at me as a I slunk down the sidewalks squeezing my camera as I went. "Lunch break" I pleaded the fifth."Learning to feel your pain," was my reply, as I remembered not to walk in the street. The Lieutenant had been adamant on the radio about the need to keep people out of the street- where taxis and scooters roam . It was a good experience for me to get out of the quiet serenity of the dispatch center, but I'm allergic to crowds.Duval Street smelled like a brewery, filled with banshees squealing and yakking and managing somehow to carry on conversations,or if not conversations, the appearance of same:Photography on Duval in that light was a bit of a challenge especially as all the targets were moving around frenetically, but I have never been a fan of the harsh light of a flash which makes everyone look like moles caught on a croquet lawn.Night shift in dispatch at least has been quiet this winter and Spring break has made a lively change. But being out on the streets makes me glad it was just my lunch break and I could flee when my hour was up:Officer Randy Smith was helping check id's at the entrance to Fogarty's:The bucket drummer (he has a permit from the city to play upturned plastic buckets on Duval Street) was entertaining some lithe young women with a sense of rhythm:And someone who is usually reliable, I can't remember quite who, told me this young woman won the bull riding contest at Cowboy Bills:I seem to recall being slightly surprised she hadn't knocked herself out as she was a prosperous young thing. somehow by morning public works crews will be out mopping up the debris and rendering Duval Street fit once again for shopping to take place in the daylight hours:I strolled past the Bull and it's hot dog stand unscathed,But on my way back to the Bonneville at the end of Rose Lane I snagged the other hot dog cart at the other side of the intersection and I talked for a while with the vendor. He told me sales are down by a fifth but he was happy with the Spring Break crowds. I guess we all should be, but boy they are tiring!