Thursday, October 27, 2011

East Berlin By The Sea

Ocean Reef is closed to the public, the ultimate gated community, and sealed off to the outside world. It was no coincidence I crossed paths with a Rolls Royce leaving the club as I arrived by well worn Bonneville!


The tip of Key Largo has been sealed from the rest of the island chain and is connected by one road off Card Sound Road which is also known as County Road 905.


I was advised that if I wanted to attend the public meeting on the sacred ground I had to park my machine at Checkpoint Charlie, though they kindly offered me a ride in a club van. "What? No motorcycles?" I said. "That's sad..."
"They're too noisy," sniffed the lemon-sucking guard. Thus tarring my silent sewing machine with the same brush as the Harley pirates who revel in open pipes! Bummer. Cell phone service must be superb in the enclave.


Owners get shabby covered parking for their outlaw rides, and I felt sorry for them. It's no big deal but it is indicative of the tedium of life behind walls. I find it hugely ironic we spend billions to fence off Mexico while now allowing Mexican trucks to flood across the border while at the same time plans are being laid for another fence cutting us off from Canada. You just never know where the new Berlin Wall is going to pop up!


The meeting in the Cultural Center wrapped and I left on foot, anxious to get out of the discomfort of the manicured strait jacket that is this place.


Much is made of the absurd notion that a butterfly's wingbeat in the west may eventually produce a cyclone in the east, but chaos theory has a great underpinning of truth to it which is that advances in the human condition come in fits and starts and frequently by accident when we were looking the other way.


Unfortunately the animal imperatives of pleasure, avoidance of pain and minimization of effort lead us to fear chaos, with some justification. And we seek to impose order to avoid pain and effort.


The result inevitably is tedium. So boats, golf, tennis, cultural attractions and movies for communal viewing are all on tap for the sewing circles of the 21st century.


The problem is that we desire that which we don't have, and in our imagination life is perfect in a calm enclave surrounded by walls, provided with emergency back ups and guarded by private security and a million dollars-worth of Monroe County Sheriff's deputies! Theirs must be the most totally uninteresting assignment in the county. God knows they aren't needed anywhere else. But here the maintain a crime free zone.


Whoa! A rebel! Marlon Brando on a moped... Rockers are banned from Paradise but Mods apparently rule.


The sidewalk through the pruned and trimmed jungle was actually a golf cart autobahn and every few hundred yards Juan would pull up alongside and ask the striding eccentric if he needed a ride. Imagine the surprise when the white man smiled and replied in Spanish declining the kind offer. I endeavor to embrace effort in defiance of my animal nature.


I was brought up among the one percent and my mother, who died young, did not fail to impress upon me the need to be polite to the helpless. A lesson in manners that has gone the way of the dodo in this Brave New Century.


A friend came back from a visit to Canada and she was shocked by the pale uniformity of the residents of the Far North. I was surprised by her observations of the tedium of uniformity. Myself? I like uniformity at some level, diversity takes so much effort and where I enjoy stretching myself physically from time to time, being sociable is very hard for me.


If I could afford to live at Ocean Reef I could afford to buy isolation in the real world. To live surrounded by stifling rules as a palliative to the world outside seems appalling to me.


My friend wanted color and vibrancy and a little bit of chaos in Edmonton and her First Nation friend showed her segregation instead. The misery of segregation comes when it is forced, when it is used as social control. As long as we outside have sufficient means to live excluded from Ocean Reef who cares about the neatly clipped hedges and the private airport? However indifferent I am I dread the day when social inequality in the US leads to the view that this sort of dreary living is an unbearable privilege. That sort of chaos will bode nothing good for any of us.


My Bonneville was neither towed nor stolen- chaos kept at bay for more day.


That I found myself behind the Berlin Wall at the start of Fantasy Fest week in Key West and during the meetings that hold the future of Western Europe in the balance just added to my sense of irony. And my sense that anyone who feels the need to live apart guarded and cut off makes for the sort of leader recently pulled from a drainage pipe and murdered by the people he had until recently insisted loved and revered him. And just think: they are now going to get Sharia Law in Libya! Lucky them!


Ah, the freedom of the open road, untrammeled by gate passes, prohibitions and fear. Fear is a greatly overrated emotion. Long live the First Amendment.


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