Thursday, June 4, 2009

Catherine By Night

You look at a picture of a house, something that resembles this, and you know modern suburbia is miles away:
I was thinking of The Rose Tattoo one morning when I took a stroll during my lunch break, as I looked at these houses on Catherine Street near the House Of Brats (Horace O'Bryant middle school as it's properly known).Cascading foliage faintly resembles the blacks and whites of the movie made from the work of Tennessee Williams. The Rose Tattoo was set in an Italian-American community of the coast of the Gulf Of Mexico, though the film was shot a block away on Duncan Street, in the house next door to the playwright's. Which was convenient for Tennessee Williams as he got to hang out with Anna Magnani, though being a poof he had no idea what to do with that strapping example of Italian womanhood, except talk to her. The house her character lived in could have been any one of these 21st century residences:And though the film was shot decades ago when Burt Lancaster was young and strapping, these houses are still here sheltering families in that part of town Realtors are pleased to call "Mid Town" which lies between White and First Streets.At three o'clock in the morning this street is actually quite quiet, and in passing all I could hear were two people muttering on a porch at the end of Eliza Street. Catherine Street was silent, until one of the inmates started hacking up a lung with a persistent cough. Then the street fell silent again, no cats, no lonely dogs, no cars, just me crunching my way past the periphery of people's lives:Then I heard someone talking LOUDLY on a cell phone. I was busy focusing a shot and by the time I was alerted to his arrival I understood it to be a young black man on a bicycle. He was entirely picturesque as he pedaled, hands free and talking on his phone he wore a baseball cap thrown back and sideways on his abundant curls and he pedaled slowly but firmly, in no great hurry to get where he was going. But for all that, I could barely frame him in the camera:I got an artistic shot instead, all faded and shimmering. Oh well, I do prefer them like this crisp and concise:I think the dark and light effect of the street lamps gives these narrows roads a rather sinister effect when photographed but it really isn't like that in real life. Walking Key West at night gives you the opportunity to stare, rudely at other people's lives:And ponder the pride of place the convinces a Key West resident that bumper sticker defacing a gas cap expresses a valid emotion:Large pick up trucks and Sport useless vehicles dwarf the little houses they park alongside:Though the matter of price keeps things in perspective. This little red house on Catherine Street, well appointed and equipped with a swimming pool has been given a name by it's current owner, la casa roja, "the red house"and if you want it you'll have to fork over one point three million recessionary dollars for it.The Citizen ran a story last Sunday telling of the high rate of availability on Duval Street with many marginal businesses failing to make after the snowbirds head north and winter tourism is replaced by the fits-and-starts of summer festivals. Apparently commercial real estate that isn't immediately profitable isn't so interesting at the moment.
This is not a commercial neighborhood as the discerning eye can tell almost immediately. There isn't even one of the ubiquitous convenience stores this side of White Street. Looking east toward New Town and George Street:Looking west, towards downtown and White Street:And lacking a picture of my Triumph which, at the time was securely parked at the police station, I found this Harley on Eliza Street. This was three hours before I threw the Triumph down the road on my way home:And so back to the station, to the frigid air conditioning of the radio room and out of the muggy silent night of Catherine street.