Monday, June 20, 2011

Bridle Path In Sepia

The Bridle Path where Key Westers used to exercise their horses supposedly, is where I like to exercise my dog when we come to the city to do some pedestrian exploration. Cheyenne likes the wilderness and the chance to find some abandoned trifle of urban refuse in the bushes.I have been here before and shall return with my camera because it is a suggestive view of palms, sand and water on a grossly overbuilt island, but this time, the day being gray and overcast I thought perhaps it might be a chance to play with the camera and it's settings.Robbing a photograph of color these days is tantamount to creating distance form the object pictured. We are so used to the immediacy of color that reducing the image to shades of dark and white makes it look an hundred years old.But if proof were needed that these pictures were taken yesterday, there is Cheyenne, bold as brass and decidedly not much of a day over ten years old.
The same as it ever was, a sandy path, a string of coconut palms and me with a hood over my tripod mounted camera squeezing a bulb and counting out the seconds of the plate's exposure. Not.
I love digital photography.

Father's Day In Key West

Wandering my favorite city early Sunday morning I came across a dog friendly tourist who posed the impossible question: "When will the sun come out...?" Beats me, but it didn't look promising with all clouds overhead and no wind.We went to town early Cheyenne and I, figuring dawn on Father's Day would give us free rein across the most visited parts of the city. I too had been hoping for crisp sunrise but we got drizzle instead. It was hot and humid for both of us.But the visitors keep coming to Key West, and now we are moving into family vacation time in the summer. It may have been a gray overcast morning but a rental bicycle and a towel spell beach to some people, no matter what.The landmarks of Key West don't have to be open to pull in the passersby. They come and they go and they come back. There seems to be an endless supply of visitors no matter what the economy does Up North. European visitors are here in numbers too, though I expect there are more Germans than Greeks these days, all things considered.All the restaurants around town cash in on the Hallmark holidays and I can only imagine how many buffets and feasts were on offer to celebrate Father's Day. Curiously enough this holiday was started as a local celebration on a poignant note at the beginning of the 20th century in West Virginia. A whole group of fathers died in a mining disaster, 210 of them, of the kind we still see today when spending money on safety counts for less than a human life and it became a nationwide celebration as the years passed. In 1972 the people in charge made it official nationwide and now people spend money on cards and gifts and make card sellers and restaurants happy.Splendid stuff no doubt but these red letter days on the calendar have never done much for me. I am not one for celebrating my birthday either, which as it falls on Halloween becomes an especial nuisance when people take it into their heads to think that I would rather spend my birthday in a costume, like a pirate say, when I don't even ride my motorcycle wearing a bandanna like some people...I think on the whole holidays (holy days) as celebrated in the past were a worthy break in common people's lives that were filled with drudgery, and prior to the advent of labor unions people didn't even get two consecutive days off in a week. Nowadays these hallmark holidays come and go as ways to encourage people to find reasons to celebrate that seem as remote to me as Saint's Days do to most people today. How many know their saint's day? Mine is September 29th but you won't find me out buying a card or sitting down to a special meal. Instead we celebrate inoffensive culturally vapid stuff like mothers and fathers who should be celebrated for their daily heroism as far as I'm concerned. I'm not tough enough to be a father. Or a mother were that a choice.My favorite holiday is July 4th, a day created to celebrate something real from history that I have applied to my own life. This year I expect to celebrate it, as much as one can, in a foreign aircraft flying to a foreign country where the fourth of July will simply be the start of one more dreary work week for everyone around me, and where I will be the gawping tourist for a change. So much for holidays, holy or otherwise.

Robin And Jerome

If I could explain the pleasure it gives me to photograph other people taking pictures of my beloved Key West I would do so. As I cannot explain it I shall not try. Suffice it to say these photographers caught up with me later when Cheyenne I parked on South Street.My target was the fireplug at South and Whitehead Streets that passes for the southernmost point in the US. Normally this place is littered with people lined up to get their picture taken and even showing up here at three in the morning on a lunch break has disappointed me as that is the time I tend to come across drunks being creative and original draping themselves all over this monument to human gullibility.It didn't always look like a fire plug. When I first rode to Key West in 1981 I parked my Vespa P200 in front of a sign stuck on a scabrous piece of sea wall.A few years ago, in response to neighbors' complaints of too many people milling around here the City Commission contemplated moving the Southernmost Point, an act of derring-do that not many geographically enhanced communities could contemplate committing. I'd love to see the geographic center of North America moved from Rugby, North Dakota on a whim...Actually if they included Mexico in the equation that's exactly what they'd have to do! So you see, the southernmost point is an idea, a state of mind and not a geographic spot in reality. The actual southernmost point is visible through the fence at the Top Secret listening post on the Navy base, but no one would profit if that were the location of the fireplug...And just for the record I have had my picture taken at this most geographic spot. Just yesterday as a matter of fact.And there's the actual southernmost point I was talking about. The military listens to Havana through those dishes, I listen to Havana on my car radio, which I find inexpensive and really quite simple, 590AM for classical, 950AM for news of a rather dreary Soviet style of rah rah upbeat crop reports and the like, and 620AM for Radio Rebelde, and all is advertising free.
The person who took my picture was from Ft Myers visiting Key West by goes by the name of Robin; whose picture I in turn took at the point, with her massive field piece of a camera. Her husband Jerome, a fearsome former Marine lives in Japan, and far from sprouting two irradiated heads rather likes living there as a civilian.We chatted for some considerable time and it was interesting because living abroad does things to people who see the world in a slightly different, dare I say skewed, light. When asked where I as from I ducked the question and said simply "Europe," as most interlocutors end up telling me about their Uncle's first cousin Daffyd who lives in Wales and have I met him? These two didn't, and that endeared me to them. We talked about how Japan makes for a great place to live, clean organized and well mannered which seem to be evermore desirable qualities as we sink into the mire of a contracting economy in this country.One wonders when and how we will turn around a nation that is, as Jerome put it rather appropriately, feeling entitled. I've noticed that quality at work when people call 9-1-1 for the most spurious reasons and act as though the police department should drop everything to locate their lost id or some other odd thing. In Japan public manners are not a thing of the past, and mutual respect is still practiced according to Jerome, and I believe him.I get the feeling that if we ever got leadership in this country that asked us to roll up our sleeves and pull together the response would be a massive shrug of the shoulders. I'd like to think I'm wrong and p[perhaps if we saw people at the top taking hits in the same we at the bottom are being asked to things might be different, but it's odd to see our leaders feeding the banks and starving us of jobs.After all the awful news we have heard from Japan, and still hear if we know where to look it was encouraging to hear the other side of the story, and meeting Jerome and Robin gave me hope that we too on this side of the Pacific will get our chance to show what we can do when we find a leader who shows the way by example. Until then the circus it seems must continue.

Sunset Sail

We had fired up the grill and were enjoying standing around in the warm evening air for the pizza stone to heat enough to toast the home made pizza. "Look at those clouds," Chuck said, using the fatal words that sent me scurrying for the camera I had, for once, set aside. "Look up!"It was just one more gorgeous sunset, etched with ribbed clouds......and speckled with parachutes.They were apparently amateurs jumping with instructors for we could hear squeals of delight as the aerial sails twisted and turned in the hot air above us.
I have no desire to jump but I do enjoy the spectacle with my feet firmly planted where they are supposed to be, on the ground.Timing as the platitude has it, is everything and this lot timed their sunset jump just right.And as they twisted and twirled their way to the ground a protective plane, presumably the perfectly good one from which they jumped circled them and kept an eye on their progress.I have written previously on the subject of parachuting from the Sugarloaf Airfield.
We didn't let the parachustists' spectacle distract us from the perfectly cooked pizza.