Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Gordian Knot

The Key West City commission has decided to change the parking rules in the city so we can expect some uproar come October when they take effect. In essence city residents in Old Town (west of White Street) have 1008 spaces marked for residents only but the current definition of resident is rather broad. If you have a car with a "Monroe County " tag you qualify or you can buy a decal at city hall. All that is going to change for a one year test period, they say. Starting in the Fall Old Town residents with all proper documents for their address and their vehicle will get a $25 annual decal to use residential spots. It sounds excellent but already there are voices grumbling about change. People who work in Old town but don't live there are upset. People like me who liv ein the county and have enjoyed residential spots only get to do so until October...change sucks...oh well.

Really the problem comes down to space. A small island, lots of cars, and not enough room. Plus you fill the island with people who expect all the conveniences of life Up North and you get impossible demands on a community unable to meet all the demands on the space. Honestly I view the changes in parking laws as a test of fortitude on the part of Old Town residents, New Town residents and County residents who are all going to have to adapt to change.

Of course the decal sales and the rules had better be followed scrupulously. there is a history of favoritism and the like that might engender some suspicion of ev eyrone's motives. I have high hopes the new parking Tzar is worth his money. The city could really use some streamlining of this impossible problem.

Stimulus On Hold

Considering I commute against traffic, riding into Key West in the evening and out of town in the morning I wasn't particularly concerned by the signs of impending traffic jams that appeared between Big Coppitt and Sugarloaf Key. Actually I rather looked forward to some serious road improvements on a highway that has become rutted and pock marked with time.I notice the poor state of the Highway much more on my Bonneville because in part, I can pick and choose my route through the worst of the decaying asphalt. But when I forget and do hit a pot hole or a rut or a rippled section of roadway the bike bounces quite heavily. Well, I thought, I'm glad some Federal stimulus money will be available to start to smooth out the ride. Apparently not.The flashing bill boards had promised work was to begin on April 25th but so far there is no sign of anything. Indeed the signs have been pulled off the roadway and parked on Sugarloaf Key next to the fire station. And they are still blinking their message of impending roadworks on April 25th, 2011.I have seen no reason given in the newspaper for the delay, or cancellation, so I have no idea what happens next. Large trucks run the highway every day to keep our stores just-in-time inventory going and those trucks tear up the roadway better even than frost and freezing. I hope they do the work. Money has run out for sewer building so that project has stalled while the county considers a "public-private partnership" which based on the experience of Stock Island will be a corrupt disaster. Perhaps with Quantitative Easing in decline, supposedly we missed the boat for this shovel ready project. It wouldn't be the first time- not after the governor threw away 29,000 jobs by cancelling the (Medium) High Speed Rail project. That $2.4 billion was going to keep freshly unemployed NASA workers in the state when the space program dies down. Not any more. Oh well, at least we still have sunshine in Florida, even if there is no work.

Tropical Lunch

My phone rang. "Hey Fat Head! How ya doin'?" the rasping New Jersey accent of jack the ripper cut through the pleasant conversation we were having during our picnic lunch on my porch. Chuck was more polite than me. "Hi Jack!" he said cheerily to the speaker telephone.Well, there's a coincidence thought I, as Jack riepe and Chuck made the sort of polite small talk that chokes me up. It would have been good to have had riepe there in person but Chuck and I had planned to gorge ourselves stupid on the best bread Key West has to offer and riepe would have been a handful to cope with in such circumstances. My loyal dog nudged my leg for a while and then passed out, full herself of treats and walks and heat exhaustion. We made a mess of the Colez Peace bread which Chuck brought from the restaurant store on Eaton Street . Country Italian I think it was and it went down just fine with salami and some assorted cheeses from Winn Dixie, Cheddar, Parmesan and Brie and a jar of Boetje's mustard.One of the great things about living in the Keys is that even though one is a bit isolated from the full range of American Middle Class Mall shopping, no bad thing for a recluse like me, one can still get hold of the foods that have revolutionized American tastes since Julia Child started her campaign decades ago. I did notice that a lot of the more off the wall organics and frou frou middle class products (South Beach granola, Newman's Own cereal for instance) are no longer stocked now that Big Pine is inhabited by troglodytes and assorted primitives...It's nice the snowbirds have gone home for the summer but I miss their finicky shopping habits! Chuck, being an engineer wanted to see why my refurbished outboard isn't making full power so we sat in the skiff for a while and pondered. Brian the mechanic should be here before the weekend I hope, for a definitive diagnosis. The 1985 Harley is still running just so, and refreshed by a 27 mile ride out into the boonies Chuck was ready to go home.So he did just that. A perfect afternoon in the fabulous Florida Keys.

Middle Torch Key

Torchwood is reputed to be very hard and burn slowly not that I have ever knowingly seen any or burned any, but there are these three islands in the myriad lumps of limestone and coral between Big Pine and Key West.I drove Cheyenne out yesterday morning and we walked for a little while along the road, I watching the sun come up, she nose to the ground. A school bus passed, just to remind us that even out here the long arm of free public education reaches, for now. Highway One looking toward Ramrod Key across the channel was not particularly busy, which is another indicator of the departure of snowbirds. For some reason even the daily commute gets clogged when lots of non working visitors are in the islands.
If I were here in retirement I would make it a point not to drive during the commute but they don't seem to mind adding to the congestion at peak hours. Luckily I am not obliged to find an explanation for the inexplicable. To be standing at the roadside in pure silence watching the sun break through the clouds is one of life's more perfect experiences. The little rain we have had has brought out a fine crop of mosquitoes in the Torch Keys, and the fact that I left a window open in the car while we walked, meant that I had a Mr Bean moment when I got back in the Ford.
I sat there for a moment wondering why there were so many insects in my car and then they started biting and I started thrashing. I might have looked very odd to someone outside looking in, but happily Cheyenne and I were still alone on the road. Like the late great Spalding Gray I try to have a perfect moment here and there and reality always manages to intrude. Fucking mosquitoes.A waterfront home is a thing of beauty, a comfortable retreat and I enjoy my canal side home a great deal. It is not on the open water which comforts me when the winds reach hurricane force and it is but three quarters of a mile from the Great Trunk Road that connects the Keys. Highway One unhappily does not always look it's best as it passes through our wire hung, neon lit communities.

The Shell Station on Ramrod Key is selling regular gas for $4.11 a gallon. I hope Saudi Arabia doesn't give in and go down in the flame of protest. As pathetic as it is we need our friendly Middle East irrational dictatorship to keep pumping crude so I can take my dog for interesting walks. I hope the oppressed of the Middle East can see their way to forgive my absurd driving habits.