Thursday, May 12, 2011

Statues At The Customs House

There are real people on the waterfront in Key West......and there are statues...

...ans there are paintings of statues:And, by extension there is someone photographing the painter statue of the statues at the Customs House on Front Street.These are the life sized, and more than life sized artwork of one Seward Johnson, the grandson of the Johnson of talcum powder fame. What you think of his artwork depends on your perspective. In general the people I rub shoulders with on the streets of Key West seem to like them well enough but art critics aren't so gentle. Johnson suffers from a problem wealthy heirs often seem to get tangled up in, which is how to be accepted as a bona fide artist when you are very far from starving. He has had his work on display around Key West for some time and many of his statues are on display and one of the less commercial and more interesting museums around town.It was actually built as a US Customs House, hence the snow friendly design of the roof, and fell into disrepair along with much of downtown in the mid 20th century. It has been restored and revived and makes a very nice history museum. I haven't been back in a while since I took myself there in 2008.
The large statue in front of the Museum is no longer the American Gothic Farmer/Daughter combo but the statues have multiplied. Johnson has a rather dull website of his own but the Wikipedia entry against his name is rather more arresting with more details of the artist's life than he might want to discuss . However controversy follows him even to Key West. He was noted for his family groupings set around the Southernmost Point which irritated a good few people who wanted the monument unencumbered. Enough protested such that they were banished and have re-surfaced to greet arrivals at the Key West (International) Airport. That was a while back and Key West and Johnson seem to have kissed and made up as his name is never much mentioned around town these days.But his statues remain to delight visitors. Who may very well be simply having fun in between their other jobs as art critics for all I know.

1,000 Page Views

I am astonished to note that Google counted more than one thousand page views for my blog yesterday. I have come close before but that was a first and there it was in black and white:

Page views yesterday

I have to say I am gratified that you are following my progress so closely and take the time to look at what I see in the Keys and Key West every day. It does take planning and a fair amount of effort to keep up with the five-a-day format but I can also affirm that I have a new energy boost about the potential for these essays and I am still working on new ideas for this blog. At home I thank my wife for her unstinting support, pushing me into the office to write when she could be enjoying my company (think about that for a moment...) and my buddy Chuck who is brim full of ideas and suggestions and tweaks which I will implement as we move forward. He and my wife have been clear and constant in their support for my efforts along with kind words from Orin and of course the Twisted Roads Jack riepe . I have to say that after much thought I have come to the conclusion that I like my blog right where it is in its layout and color scheme so I have dropped plans to move to a new domain or web page. However thanks to Orin's help it's new address is though will still direct Web searches to this very spot.

I am getting used to the frequency and pace of five a day and I am looking forward to implementing Chuck's latest zinger which is to include interviews with regular people who live and work in the Lower Keys and Key West, to find out what keeps them ticking down here south of reality. If you are one such and would like to see your picture here and as essay about your daily life please contact me at If you know of someone who might like the treatment or that you would like to read about drop me a suggestion and I'll see what I can do. I hope that such additions might help broaden your knowledge of what it takes to make living full time in the Keys a reality and give you a fresh perspective onlife down here, because let's face it, not everyone is a police dispatcher around here. Amazing but true.

I am also working to figure out how to add reader's essays. Gary: I still can't figure it out quite and neither could Orin but the pictures won't download. @#$@^&! Rest assured the glitches will work themselves out. Anyway the guru of this change, the rather unapproachable Bill Belew calls this sort of work fiddling inasmuch as I'm not writing fresh posts and I have lots of words in my head struggling to get out so cheerio, I've got to get back to posting!

So onward and upward and thank you for your support.


Dogs riding in a jeep: what could be more Key West than that?And of course the Conch cruiser, as ratty old cars are known around here, has lots of stickers, either to express the character of the occupant or to hold together the rusted bodywork. I am a pedicab virgin in Key West never having ridden one here but they do look picturesque sometimes and in certain locations.I'm not sure what the collective noun for a group of parked Harleys is but I was thinking of a cluster, or standing or something. They gather all around town in front of various hotels and guest houses.
ATM machine = Automated Teller Machine machine. From the Department of Redundancy Department. If it weren't available inside what would be the point of the sign? Everyone in this country seems to think everyone else has lost their minds.
Sailing: the last bastion of independence and self sufficiency.

And then finally we have the foul t-shirt du jour. Why oh why I ask myself do I have to see this shite on the streets of Key West, at Clinton Square in this case ready to greet cruise ship passengers entering town? Now I grant you not everyone in town likes cruise ship passengers as a class but this?And you can get it cheap too! As to what it means I recommend Urban Dictionary for the latest youth slang which is about as hideous as the shirt. Mind you, we get to see all sorts on our streets.I expect he had a deprived upbringing, a place where good taste and manners were in short supply. The more I'm around people the more I like dogs.