Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Wedding Season

They say Spring is the season for weddings Up North, though around here weddings seem to go on all the time. I bumped into a crowd at the Westin docks and it was pretty clear even to one as dense as myself what exactly was going on.Can't have a wedding without music no matter how complex travel arrangements might be.

It seemed kind of weird to me that people were coming up one dock, walking the waterfront and gathering at the other dock, but I trailed along for a look. I didn't have Cheyenne with me so that helped. I wasn't sure if they had come from Sunset Key or were going to Sunset Key but that is the ferry behind the three lovely heads.That's the other Sunset Key ferry doing it's endless back and forth across the harbor.

I watched the apparent wedding party milling around at the head of the dock. The charter boat dude seemed unnaturally interested. Possibly the food, probably dreaming of a wild night with one of the boys, or girls. In Key West one doesn't ask, or care though telling seems to be quite the pastime...I find it odd to realize I got married 17 years ago this August. We did the deed in a friend's garden, a magnificent location on the upper slopes of the fog free banana belt above the city of Santa Cruz. That the owners are divorced and struggling to separate themselves from the lovely garden is just one of those tragedies in life. My wife and I are doing fine, thanks for asking.I am tempted to quote Samuel Johnson's famous dictum that (a second) marriage is the triumph of hope over experience but, to quote someone else entirely, 'taint necessarily so. I wish them luck and lots of money. It can't buy you love perhaps but it sure can help it along.

There are more places and ways to get married in the keys than you can shake a stick at or i could ever imagine:

Ramrod Views

I have no idea who Lori Stiefel is but she sure knows how to paint. This is actually a mailbox I passed on West Indies Drive on Ramrod. The whole thing was painted (I didn't check underneath) and for all it was a mailbox it was a canvas.I also saw a limestone and coral rock wall held together with daubs of cement. I couldn't make my mind up if the cement added to or detracted from the rocky look. I guess building dry stone walls is a lost art these days.
These are summer views across the water, flat and serene waiting for a rainstorm or two to darken the horizon and bring misty slashing rain. We've had almost none so far this "rainy" season.I was amused by this improvised bird feeder. However a bloody great pigeon had taken the lead spot and was picking off the best of the food for himself. The small native birds, sparrow-like and diffident were forced to stand around and wait their turn. It seems there are bullies in all walks of life.Evidence of the drought is everywhere, leafless trees are interspersed with yellow leafed bushes and lots of fallen leaves everywhere. The salt ponds across from my house would normally be full of life, restored by rain. No crabs and fish swimming in these mud flats means no birds wading and looking for them.
No rain in the forecast either.

Schooner Wharf Bar

Lazy Way Lane runs down the back of the Schooner Wharf Bar and even though you wouldn't credit it, this is a bona fide one way street for cars as well as bicycles.Some people erroneously call its Schooners Wharf Bar. There is only one schooner in the name.

A schooner in nautical lingo is or was, a fast sailing boat with more than one mast (usually two) with sails square rigged fore and aft to make them better able to maneuver. They were frequently used by governments as patrol boats, especially as revenue cutters for the Customs Service. Which puts the name at odds with the piratical theme preferred by the bar's patrons. Which is a point only a nerd like me could come up with I suppose.This is a picture of a French schooner off the Internet, but the Western Union in Key West is docked right next to the bar and thus gives it it's name. People eating and drinking at Schooner Wharf couldn't give a damn one way or the other.It''s an open air bar on the waterfront, exceeding popular and has been for years. It's owned by a rather attractive blond woman pictured below managing one of their many events. Evalena Worthington has been a fixture on the Waterfront since before Noah built his arc contributing to causes and selling Key West as a a funky alternative place to hang. She does it brilliantly.
Take some plastic patio furniture, spread some pea rock under the trees and call it good. The punters love it, it's noisy raucous and filled with live music.The resident musician Michael McCloud has been a fixture here for years also making the punters feel at home and making gentle fun of one and all. And it really is on the waterfront too.I suspect they pay people like this to sit and sip beer and make piratical noises from time to time to give the place it's "authentic" flavor.And there is always activity going on around town. Be it something as simple as man struggling to walk a small bundle of energy. Oh and the young woman of course. Silly me.Schooner Wharf has been over shadowed from time to time by threatened developments and respectability encroaching on it's little funk corner of Key West. So far, so good.

This is the website for Schooner Wharf:
And this is the latest message board at Trip Advisor which will give you some idea how much visitors fancy the place:

Jack Riepe Drops A Bombshell

I was sitting at home on a quiet Tuesday afternoon drinking tea and contemplating the meaning of life when a brown paper package slipped through my stringent line of home defenses and I found myself wondering if I should call the Monroe County Sheriff's Bomb Squad. I decided instead to open it.I wasn't far wrong when I figured it had something to do with terrorists. The proper title of this dangerous manifesto is Politically Correct Cigar Smoking For Social Terrorists. It is a collection of stories purportedly about the author's life smoking cigars and women- not necessarily in that order.The author, pictured above, even took the time to add a short and friendly inscription on the flyleaf. "Dear Michael: Fuck You. I look forward to riding you in the fall." Which could sound menacing coming from someone else but I know Jack will fill me up with Irish Whiskey before the event, so I won't feel any pain at all. I've been though that before as longtime readers may recall.
The book is actually a fun read, much like the author's own blog and I am not alone in discovering it's unusual pleasures. I'm actually in quite good company if you rate a long dead prophet as company.The arrival of the package was great good news for me, not least that I now won't have to turn to riepe's blog when I feel a little blue as I have his humor carefully preserved on 177 separate pages of toilet paper all ready for hurricane emergencies. I also have a delightful picture of the author in an absurd Tyrolean hat on the last page which is worth the price of admission alone. While I was waxing lyrical about the arrival of the book and it's superb descriptions of wanton lewd naked women doing unspeakable things to the author, my dog was completely unmoved. Trust her opinion if you prefer. If you've never heard of Jack riepe (huh?) check his blog: and make sure you lead small children and people with heart conditions quietly from the room before you do. Good Luck.

Truman's Little White House

The building known today as the Little White House inside Truman Annex was built in 1890 to house the Navy base Commandant and his Paymaster. It gained fame as the southern retreat of President Harry Truman when he spent a large amount of time in Key West vacationing. They say he took 11 vacations here totaling 175 days during his presidency after World War Two. There are lots of pictures floating around Key West about Truman's life while vacationing. It is said he met his Vice President-Elect Alben Barkley in Key West at the airport dressed in his "Key West Uniform" of brightly colored open neck shirts and the VP was rather taken aback standing there in his Washington DC uniform of wool suit and starched collar.Apparently life in Key West was quite laid back for the president who walked around town accompanied only by a secret service agent while he got his daily exercise- unthinkable these days. Key West liked Harry Truman enough, and appreciated his visits so much that they renamed Division Street (which divided the city from the open country at that distant time) in his honor.I arrived too late to get in the house this time but I did get to see the Truman sculpture by a sculpture medium that I find fascinating and quite arresting.Of course I couldn't pass by this lovely old house without turning scatological for just one minute. Really? The restroom sign right at the entrance as you walk in. Too cool. The Little White House has an excellent site to give this old Key West home a proper perspective: