Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Getting By

I watch the debate in Europe over bailing out Greece, a country whose economy and economic system has fallen into a debt hole far too large for it ever to be able to climb out. The rich countries of Europe through the European central Bank want Greece to impose wage cuts and price increases on the people to avoid giving investors in Greek bonds "haircuts" which is to say the investors are pitting their influence against the desire of the people of Greece to see who loses. So far the people riot and the government balks and Germany grows impatient.In Key West where such esoterica pass almost unnoticed life goes on much as ever it did. People throw stuff out that my scavenging dog thinks are entirely too edible to pass up. After years of living on a chain Cheyenne is well off the chain and enjoying life as only a scavenger could. I watch her antics and laugh, but there is as usual a kernel of wisdom in her ability to make do.Fishing is always held out as the last resort in times of hardship and visitors love to come to key West, rent expensive accommodations and a bicycle and head out to the waterfront to try their luck. It worked in the Depression of the 20th century, they tell us. But if you read Hemingway's descriptions of life in Key West in that period it was not too terribly romantic, speaking as one who likes his middle class perquisites.In the Great Depression a government job was a modest buffer against starvation and now in this era of renewed Depression our leaders ask us to give up everything so bankers and their investors can avoid giving up anything and my neighbors, not a historian among them, cheer on the plan of self denuding deprivation. I wonder why it seems better that we should all starve genteelly rather than attempting to convince our leaders that we all deserve the bare minimum of a job and social security. But the crowds bay for their own blood so we must all give it.The population in Key West that is variously known as the residentially challenged, local subjects or bums has never struck me as a particularly desirable way to live. The lack of privacy, the boredom and lack of direction, the lack of a place in the social ladder, be it ever so low, puts the street life style outside the orbit of my desires. I traveled as a youth on my motorcycles and lived sleeping rough as I had no money and I saw from far too close the life that for some is a lifestyle. I wonder if they have room in their ranks for a few million more hobos?Historic Tours of America made headlines a few years back cutting benefits in response to the crisis of 2008. These jobs had always been viewed as decent pay for hard work and it is or was possible to make a career out driving a tour vehicle.The feral cats of Key West have their supporters who put out food around town for the beggars who live by their wits and who have made no choice at all to live on the streets. Indeed I wouldn't have a dog if it weren't for the pound for I should never and I have never bought a dog from a breeder of pet overpopulation and misery. I look at Cheyenne and wonder who could it be that threw her out for being too old, the ultimate crime in our sex obsessed, looks driven culture.They come, they drink, they attain oblivion on the sidewalks of Key West. Someone has to sweep up after them. A shadowy figure in a t shirt, the Key West uniform, trails along after them with a broom. I worked years ago as the janitor in an arts theater in Santa Cruz and when one of the managers protested at how messy people were the owner said they've paid for a ticket they get to throw popcorn where they want. Which rationale I suppose was reasonable and kept me in work (and free movies) but I wondered at people who needed to strew popcorn to release their stress and enjoy a movie. I wonder what they are scattering these days to release the stress of endless unemployment.

Road Trips

I have a suspicion that for many people the idea that a kid can ride a scooter without the required helmet makes for some kind of wild parental madness going on here. My mother loved motorcycles so much she got me my first Vespa 50 when I was just twelve, where in Italy the legal minimum age is 14. She never did buy me a helmet, and as I am child free myself I have no idea what is appropriate or not. I just hope the kid grows up learning to love the freedom of the ride.I know when I pull onto the highway on my wife's Vespa car drivers sink into despair at getting stuck behind the moped. When I disappear over the horizon faster than they can imagine I'm not sure they feel any better about the damned moped. When I see elderly vans pulling out in front of me my heart, in turn, sinks. I just hope they aren't going too far down the road...I had to wonder if it was a last minute plan to take off and bring the surf boards as well. How they got this far without getting lifted off by the slipstream I don't know, but there again neither do they probably. I hope the boards were worth the complexity of the journey to Key West.I will never quite fit the mold of the pirate biker. I watch them come and go by the thousands along highway one and I wonder how they all fit the mold and I never will.A nerd on a Bonneville. Strictly speaking Fat Albert isn't going anywhere but the blimp has a pilot on the ground I'm told and the idea is to use the blimp to interrupt the journeys of other people who may be trying to make illegal entry into the United States. Fat Albert may be the anti-traveler.
There are so many ways to travel by motorcycle and if I am not the bandanna type then I can also say with some certainty I am not the trailer toting type either.But however you do it the Overseas Highway needs to be done. Bucket list stuff.

Thank You Jeffrey

Jeffrey in Ft Myers of singing to jeffrey's tune put my page straight after some discombobulation that I caused, how or what I know not. Thank you Jeffrey. He mentioned CSS which sounds rather obscene, like a private surgery one doesn't want to talk about. I am relieved, the larks trill once more and god sits in her heaven and all is well with the world. Except mortgages and Greece, and Afghanistan, and food price rises and the Syrian uprising and the Libyan war. Other than that much is well with the world. Or at least with my page, thanks to Jeffrey.

More Key West Signs

Signs I see around Key West make me laugh from time to time. It makes me wonder if I'm the only one who sees the oddness of the words pasted everywhere. This one, it seems so condescending. It's not "free" with a meal. Is the meal free and you pay for the wi-fi? How about this next one... what does it mean? The sales staff in the office are handicapped while the ones outside aren't? And why do they differentiate?This next one was cheerful, I thought. A banker welcoming you into their clutches, how privileged!Check this next ad out. Key West is everything you ever dreamed of- and more! Good Lord what a burden for a small town!blah blah blah. Buy now. And then there are the sign writers that can't remember to do the spell check thing.
This sign also made me laugh, the way people use this stupid word as a euphemism for the unspeakable. Oh fudge! My arse. If you are going to swear do it properly when you're around me.You've heard the joke about the idiot visitor who wants to take a sunset cruise and asks about what times the sunsets are tonight, as though there is more than one. Well, according to the glass bottom boat schedule there is more than one!And you thought Mallory Square was just a place to gather and watch the sun go down. You look at this sign and you realize there are a million ways to spend your money at Mallory Square.In a town filled with stupid juvenile t-shirts working the sexual innuendo nonsense a plain silly t-shirt comes as something of a relief. Take this one home to grandma.
I have no idea who first coined this saying......but I do not agree with the sentiment. Once ruined people around you will not trust you one bit. You will be hemmed in by your reputation. Good luck.

Smathers Beach Replenishment

It might seem strange but the city has ordered three quarters of a million dollars of sand for Smather's Beach.The timing certainly seems odd as we enter hurricane season but I suppose the conventional mind figures summer is the right tome for a splendid sandy beach and that is what Key West has, against all the odds Nature throws up against these small sand-less, rocky islands.I am not particularly drawn to sandy beaches as a place to recreate, if I were I'd likely live on mainland Florida, among the tea party of the west coast or the interminable traffic of the east coast. As it is the measly sandy strands of the Keys are plenty for me.Beach goers who expect more get annoyed by the dead seaweed that tends to line the high mark, but the city has an answer for that too. Each morning an agricultural tractor, the only one around here, rumbles up and down making clean that which humans desecrated the day before.I wonder where else one applies one's tractor driving skills in the farm-free Florida Keys? When I was a youth ploughing a field was one agricultural chore I actually enjoyed among the year round delights of farming. At the end of the day one could see exactly what one had achieved in damp brown dirt exposed to sunlight. I expect cleaning a sandy beach has similar rewards.The cost of the sand has been spread about almost as much as the sand itself. From the newspaper reports I think, if I calculated correctly the city ends up paying $125,000 with the other costs absorbed by various grants and programs and funding at state and federal levels. Bulldozers don't come cheap. Sunset key does the same thing periodically. They order sand from the Bahamas and it comes chugging into the harbor in barges towed from hundreds of miles away so people on the island can disport themselves on the most talcum powder like of silica. May the power of the American Empire never grow less!Seaweed never grows less either so there will always be a brown ring around the bathtub of the Florida Keys' beaches.Wind and waves conspire to fill indentations in our rocky coastlines with heaps of dead seaweed. After a hurricane I call the smell of the stuff rotting everywhere across the islands, in every nook and cranny blown there by 130 mile per hour winds, the smell of survival. If you can't smell sulphurous rotting seaweed after a hurricane it means you are either a) evacuated or b) dead.A beach owner's work is never done.

The Bachelor Life

With my wife away and my dog and I alone at home I generally go to ground and absorb myself ain my cave with the chores and details of daily life. Who needs a social secretary anyway, let her enjoy California with her girlfriends, Cheyenne and I will be okay.
"Pizza? Brownies?" Chuck lures me from my lonely absorption like Winnie the Pooh chasing hunny. Oh, okay then, dinner it is, at sunset.Wayne and Chuck got back from St Louis last month with all their treasures from Up North and a life lived in the Big City. This is, I am reliably informed, a civil war era chandelier hanging from the ceiling of this modern suburban home. I couldn't help but think of those stories told by tour guides in Key west of the ships that came to this little harbor on the southern tip of uninhabitable Florida where they dropped off Carrara marble and Venetian glass and French pottery and Spanish furniture and the millionaire ship owners (and wreckers) decorated their homes from those far away factories.The dogs fell into a doze on the tile floor, while Cheyenne took up a position between me and the door, panting her plump little heart out and making sure I said goodbye before I left her behind. No such luck that night as I was not going home alone. We adults watched King Henry the Eighth squirm in the misery of widowerhood and he squirmed so much he didn't take his shirt off nearly often enough to hold Wayne's attention. I empotahized with him though as the sinbgle life is hard to adapt to.The Tudors seems to be suffering the fate of too many expository stories, starting out with a rush of lust and yoiuthful enthusiasm then getting bogged down in 16th century politics and generally making me glad I live when I do, when dentistry is more than a pair of pliers and a strong right wrist. My wife's away, woe is me, the chores all fall on my shoulders but the Bonneville should be back in harness tomorrow in time for my commute. Cheyenne has been learning to stay home at night alone and she seems to enjoy it far more than I do when my wife is gone. She has the run of the house and the deck thanks to the dog flap and when I come home after a night at work she is passed out fast asleep on her recliner on the porch, dead to the world without a care in her little doggy mind. I need to learn from her once again, the virtues of adaptability and patience. This too will pass, in another week when the flight finally leaves San Francisco hopefully with my wife and Phil's wife both onboard. I am hearing disturbing reports that Santa Cruz is as delightful as ever. too cold though I hope, as I sweat rivers reorganizing the shed in time for hurricane season. Where's my wife with a cold glass of lemonade?