Monday, August 22, 2011


Riding down to Truman Waterfront of a Sunday afternoon I spared a couple of minutes to watch a soccer game in progress at the bottom of Petronia Street.

I have no idea who the Reds were, nor the Blues, but I heard some Latino encouragement from the sidelines. Unfortunately while I was watching, Blue dominated play and was pressing Red at the far end of the field.
I actually enjoy watching soccer even though I am no sports fan. I like the emphasis on field skills, control of the ball, high speed tactics, the ability to think ahead and go for the opening. I know there isn't much scoring relatively speaking but compared to a clunky game like American Football which stops every ten yards, soccer is like ballet.
One of my pleasures in riding at random and looking for pictures is the ability to drop in and drop out of small sideline events always underway somewhere in the Southernmost City.

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Eaton Street The Divine

They worked like crazy and did it in a week.

I have no doubt at this point that I was not alone in being sick of hearing how pot-holed Eaton Street was. Well it ain't no more!

Smooth as a billiard table the new street is lovely to ride, as long as you don't deviate down a side street...

I also noticed the old 30mph signs are gone. This is the main artery into Lower Duval (the bar district) and it used to be a nice speedy thirty plus five. Florida law allows for speeders to go five over without a citation. I guess that's gone, but in exchange...

...a smooth street from White to Simonton. There was quite a lot of fussing about how traffic would cope but the paper instead ended up carrying a bunch of anonymous comments from neighbors who loved the after hours pedestrian mall that Eaton became. One day we will see pedestrian only zones embraced in this slow-to-react town.

Even the manhole covers felt smooth. What a difference a layer of extremely expensive asphalt makes!

All good things come to an end and soon enough the black stuff turns gray again at Simonton Street.

We still have the repaving of North Roosevelt to look forward to, a race for time between Florida going bankrupt and the street getting paved.

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Hurricane Irene

There has been a nervous tingle in Key West, but at this point Hurricane Irene seems most likely to be nudged off Florida by a building ridge of high pressure. Jolly good.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration website shows a decided path toward Charleston, South Carolina, a harbor city open to the south east and doubtless not ready to absorb another storm surge on the level of Hurricane Hugo of fond memory. This is payback for a long tedious 2011 of climate change disasters across the country except in the southeast. Or not. Nothing has happened yet and nothing is promised. Perhaps the rabid capitalists of Bermuda and the peasants of the Bahamas will be the chosen tribes this time around. Or we Conchs. In the meantime life goes on as the platitude has it.

I would ask that storms not be personalized. I hate how people talk about hurricanes as "he" or "she;" they have no feelings they are caused by wind and water. Everyone should have a hurricane plan and sensible people do. Inexperienced people think they are brave until the winds start to howl and then they crap themselves by which time it's too late. Evacuate often and early is my credo but...most people plan hurricane parties instead.

Well, so far it's a false alarm for the Keys, so until next time, keep planning life as normal unless you live in Charleston in which case prepare to kiss your ass goodbye if you listen to the sadists. I prefer realism. Roll on November 30th.

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My Blue Heaven

When Thérèse arrived at Key West International(!) Airport she was whisked to IHOP for breakfast. She lives in Paris but she spent many of her younger years in the US, and pigs in a blanket at the International House Of Pancakes hit the nostalgic spot on arrival. For her second morning back in Key West my journeyman gardener needed something local.

This place is excellent I said, in a chicken coop, but too expensive for locals. As though to hammer that point home a friend of mine said, of Blue Heaven, "I've heard it's good but the prices..." That's the thing about visitors, they give you carte blanche to splurge.

So splurge we did.

And we were not alone, the place was absolutely packed. We had a half hour wait when we two signed in and all the bar stools were full and people were sprawled in garden chairs in front of the band. The band? Live Caribbean music for a breakfast serenade by a white boy singing not too bad at all.

I by far prefer gentle live music to a television screen while eating as the music added to the funky atmosphere. Is it too much to ask restaurants to get rid of their gruesome TVs? They don't have to add wandering chickens but I hate the attention-sucking TV while eating. A television in the dining room tells me the food is crap.

The food here was not crap, it was perfect.

Late morning mid week and they couldn't run out of customers. Lines dissipated and more hungry people showed up to wait.

Service was good without being intrusive and we got all the (strong - oof!) coffee we could drink.

We both ordered bacon lobster and tomato Hollandaise with a side order of grits and cheese. "I love grits!" Thérèse said clumping corn meal on her plate. They were perfect, of course.

As Buffalo Bill will tell you if you are in town for Goombay, bacon makes anything taste better and it pulled a real number on this lobster and key lime sauce.

We staggered out into daylight passing still more lines of waiting patrons. Blue Heaven cashes in on it's cachet with a dust catcher store alongside. I like the upside down parking sign.

One other thing about Blue Heaven, the owners have been in town for decades and they help everyone they can. Eating at Blue Heaven or Salute puts money to work doing good around town. And the food's not bad either.

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Buildings I Like

I like lots of random buildings I see on my walks. I am no churchgoer but I like looking at churches. They pt me in mind of the deep tropics, islands in the Caribbean, hot sunny and religious.

And buildings that just look like churches are interesting too, with peaked rooflines and large courtyards. The firmly closed gate is not inviting on the other hand as a church should be. Let's not forget that many churches these days are locked which is a practice I find sad.

In this climate metal doesn't last very long especially if left to it's own devices. I am surprised when I see so many old rusted roofs still in daily use. And like this one, modernized with the curse of satellite propaganda.

Sometimes the buildings I like are more of a perspective than a complete building. How often does one get to see a sea of siding like this? I love the effect of all lines flowing to infinity.

And this building on one of the Bahama Village lanes massively enhanced by the presence of a motorcycle in front. The ideal lifestyle in the Keys, a balcony to watch people with a proper motorcycle to ride past them.

There was something decidedly old fashioned about this dude striding along with planks on his head. Since time began people have carried stuff on their heads and even today in the age of infernal combustion, it seems this can still be the best way to get the job done.

This is a well known colorful corner on Petronia Street in Bahama Village. A life loved outdoors and in full color, enhanced by the still blooming flame tree.

By many people's account it has not been terribly hot this August and it hasn't felt that hot to me either. One is never certain what is a "normal" temperature for the time of year but for the most part this summer has been mild.

This building was running it's fans full speed, not that my picture shows it, doing a brilliant job of cooling the air on an otherwise empty porch. I think teaching people the art of conservation won't be easy in a town that has energy to burn, even on a not too hot August morning.

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