Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Lower Duval

I am not terribly fond of Wells Fargo Bank. They are doing better than Bank of America which appears headed for bankruptcy despite the best endeavors of the Federal Reserve.

Wells Fargo's stupid robber baron stagecoach has only just appeared in town since they bought Wachovia with taxpayer money and every time I see their sign I am reminded of the great 13 trillion dollar public bail out. Or was it $1.2 trillion? But in our happy fantasy world in Key West business is booming, thank God.

Tourists are crowding the sidewalks and spending their precious dollars in town which is all to the good. This character musing at the base of a palm trunk may get short shrift if the Mayor's new anti-bum plan gets implemented. The Police Chief backs it, in it's unannounced form, so we shall see what they produce eventually.

They are going to increase services for the deserving poor (as our Victorian forebears would have described them) and plan to crack down on panhandling and loitering, which frankly seems due. Apparently Mayor Cates has been seeking inspiration elsewhere in towns that seem to have a handle on this problem and has come home full of pre-election vim and vigor. I wish him well on this one.

For Sale, always for sale somewhere. I expect some entrepreneur will see opportunity in that sign. This next is NOT a Key West chicken.

People Up North have been complaining loudly about the heat this summer and yet down here it hasn't by most accounts been that terribly hot and muggy. But it has been hot enough.

90 something degrees in downtown was enough to convince him to get out his bedroom fan.

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To Eat Or Not?

I am very fond of this view of the building that houses Mangia Mangia, but I am sad to say I'm not fond of the food there. Perhaps I am missing something but this is a very popular eatery that is not on my radar. I wish I did like it because the building looks lovely.

This used to be the Blue Lagoon, a rather seedy motel with a restaurant attached that could not seem to succeed in any format. Something has happened here that has finally taken a different turn and people tell me it is doing well. That would be a nice change and presumably the restaurant is now worth visiting too.

The rolling advertising features video film and loud color word messages of which I am not fond but there again I am no friend to television anyway.

Which is funny because I dearly enjoy paying a visit to The Porch across Caroline Street from The Bull, and a Belgian Palm beer is just what the doctor ordered. They sell lots of craft brews and ciders and wine too. In the wine cellar they have a cursed TV screen which was showing film of surfing the last time I was there. I rather enjoyed that.

The Porch is tucked away in the Porter Mansion which supposedly makes it hard to locate, for a generation raised with GPS glued to it's forehead.

They also have a pleasant outdoor seating area which I will enjoy this winter. One other place I went to recently was on Little Torch, home of draft Smithwick's and the best, tangiest Key Lime Pie offered in any Keys restaurant.

Parrotdise, at Mile Marker 28, also sells table wines under the Big Pecker label. A double entendre of such power that prudes have complained about the parrot billboards on the Overseas Highway advertising the stuff. My guest wanted a couple of t-shirts for her college bound sons so I hope the Big Pecker label is more puerile than offensive. I still really like their genuinely home made pie whatever the size of their peckers.

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Coming And Going

I see the most outrageous carrying devices on scooters in Key West. This one wasn't particularly wild except that the box seemed disproportionately huge, putting two wheels to good use.

I find people who like to ride motorcycles don't always respect scooter riders, yet scooters in Key West are always in use in all weathers doing all the grunt work of daily living. In street clothes too.

In the 'going' department Voltaire books closed and went.

Thanks to the ubiquitous electron, book stores and video stores seem to have had their day. Our corporate bosses will now choose our entertainment and we will Kindle what they allow and stream whatever videos they allow. Paper will just be what we wipe our backsides with. Brave New World.

I see flashing blue lights down the street and I am glad I am not yet at work.

The car in front of me slowed to a crawl to look for blood and guts. People are gross. Go home and watch TV rubbernecker!

This place used to be the Lemonade Stand.

I'm glad they kept the mural, the owners of the new enterprise called In One Era Antiques. And the passer-by's tricycle seemed to fit in which was why I stopped.

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Dr Nancy Foster Eco-Discovery Center

Science in the public interest, it's free to all comers and it's beautifully laid out and it will teach anyone a thing or two.

It's all about fish and corals and mangroves and birds and things.

Wetlands and beaches and dunes and Florida's astounding eco-system, much abused and taken for granted and struggling to survive get their moment in the limelight here.

Hammocks get a display too, not cloth sleeping platforms but lumps of dry dirt rising a few feet above surrounding inundated lands, typically found in the Keys and Everglades.

State employees do a valiant job teaching the public to respect our land and water.

And since I was last here the electronics seem to have expanded and improved. The are lots of interactive screens to press and watch and listen to.

The center is itself an example of what could be done if public officials in the Sunshine State had a clue. Sod and solar panels on the roof reduce interior heat and create electricity.

That solar panels aren't everywhere in the Keys is a disgrace but a few hardy pioneers like the Eco Center and the Key West High School are trying to lead the public horse to water, in a manner of speaking. Lots of visitors like the Hogfish restaurant on Stock Island but I wonder if they know what it's namesake looks like?

Then there is the big yellow cylinder that replicates the undersea laboratory that lives nine miles south of Key Largo in sixty feet of water.

Scientists live down there for extended periods supplied with all the necessities, including phones and Internet by a buoy floating on the surface. Children of all ages can wander through this replica to get a feel for the last form of "space travel" left to us now that Russia rules Outer Space alone.

In fact not only marine scientists choose to make use of Aquarius, but they also tell us proudly NASA used to use it to simulate living conditions in space. Perhaps they still do for our astronauts traveling as guests in Russia's rockets.

It seems a rather Spartan life to me, despite the Internet and cell phone coverage looking out through little port holes.

The have bunk beds and a kitchen and to come back to the surface they have to spend hours decompressing to clear the nitrogen from their blood.

It is all terribly elaborate and very useful they tell us.

Then there are the water tanks breeding corals and fish and not very easy to photograph successfully and outside the sun shines on those solar panels on the roof.

A big old brain coral sculpture to remind you where you are,
down at the Truman Waterfront.

Our enemies keep telling us government is the problem not the solution.

The Eco-Discovery center shows that generalizations are not worth the hot air they flown on.

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