Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Bits Of Duval

St Paul's Cathedral is getting a make over or a touch up which is good to see. The white monument will make for great pictures under the blue winter skies for visitors enjoying summer in winter.

If you had plans to trespass in this alcove on the 400 block of Duval- forget it! There's a sign up there...

And I was nearly tempted to get my ear pierced. Who can resist a freebie? I can when it involves giving up my own flesh. It would have shocked them at work to see staid old me show up with brass door knocker in my lobe.

This store was called Life in Paradise apparently, though it was not a very prominent or permanent name. Now it's just FE which in Spanish means "faith," peculiarly appropriate in Paradise.

"Sexy Drunk High" just what Key West represents to too many people. I wish people would stop buying this crap so we don't have to see it when we walk around here.

I enjoy the arcade along here, for the shade and the people watching...

... at the best spot on Duval.

That would be the much hated Starbucks. Get a window seat and watch the people shuffle by. Think what you like about chains and their coffee, but it's a superb ringside seat.

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300 William

It's the little touches I like, for instance the fretwork painted on the pole.

I guess this building was once a gas station which would have been before my time. But I do remember when it was a roofing company. One day the owner saw the light and retired there and then. The place stayed closed for a while and now they sell fish here, quite successfully by all accounts.

And it looks good too. So does William Street, because trees hanging over the roadway always look good.

I never tire of Key West roof lines, sky and trees.

The wildly varied colors on and off the porches.

Key West is looking good in-between summer rain storms.

Porches and white picket fences.

And fans whirring aimlessly cooling who knows what.

There's a Triumph Bonneville in the darkness under there.

Like I said trees make everything look better.

And at the north end of the street there is the promise of salt water.

Key West has been surprisingly full of people in September the slowest month, and my empirical view suggests the city might be packed in October too. Good for us.

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Key West Pix X

I pulled into a motorcycle spot downtown and found myself backing the Bonneville next to a Scarabeo 500 big scooter and a Harley next to that, the All American "scooter."

Proper Key West scooting. Bare feet and a babe.

Or bare feet, a bandanna and a fag dangling from your lower lip.

Traveler palms, and a traveling Harley complete with saddle bags.

The weirdly named Kymco 500 Exciting, a scooter as powerful as the Scarabeo (Italian for beetle) but a lot prettier.

Moped Hospital sells the Korean Kymco scooters but I've only ever seen them sell 50cc models.

They are also famous nationwide for selling go fast packages for Kymcos. And now 500s? Key West keeps growing.

But sometimes a bicycle is best.

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Eat In The Street

I read some exciting news in the paper this week, bleary eyed as I am from getting up at five in the morning. Working during the day is horrible and I shall continue to whine about it until Friday when training is done.

The above picture I took at Eaton looking north toward the bar district of Lower Duval. That's not where my excitement is directed. The picture below looking south from Southard toward Angela is half of the proposed two block pedestrian mall suggested for weekend evenings starting this November! How cool is that?

The pedestrian area would run from six to midnight with restaurants putting tables in the street and stores staying open to encourage people to wander and shop in a peaceful adult atmosphere. This picture I took looking south from Fleming where the pedestrian zone would begin at Fast Buck Freddie's.

Indeed Fast Buck's owner Tony Falcone was quoted as a prime instigator of this great idea. He is a well respected merchant in town, not surprisingly, as he also helped get Fantasy Fest underway with his late partner thirty years ago. What Tony proposes the city disposes, usually.

The idea of creating a pedestrian zone on Duval is so obvious you'd be tempted tom wonder why it ha taken this long, but for all that it is touted as progressive the city fathers are conservative in an isolated provincial sort of way.

I'm sure then pedestrian zone is causing some powerful people palpitations never mind they've been doing this Up North and everywhere else since the economy started to boom and people used to have money to spare.

Key West tends to be late to the party but better late than never is say. Who's for ossobuco al fresco?

I wouldn't mind chowing down on a Jack Flat's hamburger and mashed potatoes under the stars with a cold brew...

Mara Arita illegal is almost outdoors already... But they would be welcome too!

This could be a great thing band lots of fun. The paper said everyone who needs to be in the city is getting behind this test plan and other merchants interviewed by the Citizen showed no public opposition to it.

The idea is to encourage more people including locals to venture onto Duval of an evening and have some adult fun that doesn't involve necessarily getting drunk and rowdy.

This should be fun.

Duval Street by night for the rest of us. At last.

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Fences And Signs

The tourist trolleys and trains call this the Presidential Gate to Truman Annex, at the end of Caroline Street at Whitehead.

The US on the white columns is a hint that this was once an entrance to a Navy Base. Now it is a gated community with Rules. Lots of them.

President Truman, we are told repeatedly, spent many vacations, hundreds of days in Key West during his presidency so much so the Navy Commandant's house where he stayed became known as the Little White House.

I can only come here when Cheyenne stays at home which is sad. The good bit is she can't read anyway.

To warn visitors they have further to go there are lots of these signs on all the fences:

The story goes that a young man came to Key West from Boston slept rough and got an idea. He managed, when the Navy auctioned off 17 acres to buy them on the second attempt and somehow raised the money to build a gated development of Key West style homes, as he put it.

The developer Pritam Singh still lives in town and has exported the Key West style to other developments and includes lots of greenery in all of them.

This isn't my style of living but it works for lots of people. The Annex has been a damned nuisance for the city and the Truman Annex Master Property Owners Association has been involved in legal disputes more than once.

One issue was that the property owners wanted to be allowed to rent short term, defined by the city as less than 28 days and usually only allowed by special permit in the city.

There was a lot of argy bargy back and forth as lawyers do, arguing there was some secret clause in early sales contracts allowing such rentals. There were stories of happy retirees-to-be who were likely to be rendered bankrupt by a refusal to allow vacation rentals...and in the end a compromise was worked out whereby the city surrendered. I can't recall exactly but I think someone found the secret clause.

Then TAMPOA decided to install a gate at the main entrance to the Annex on Southard Street. There was another secret clause allowing the private property association to block off a city street. They argued that issue for a while.

Once again the city promptly bent over to TAMPOA and surrendered it's rights over a public street. The association started to install a gate.

Then the US Navy saved the day for the weak kneed civilians. The Navy told TAMPOA to stuff their gate where the sun doesn't shine and the bullies of the gated community ate their hats and promised only to put a guard at the entrance after ten pm and access was still open to all.

The city surrender to TAMPOA required it to build an alternative road to Truman Waterfront via Petronia Street bypassing the Annex which is what I use mostly to avoid the guard house on Southard which is unoccupied during the day. But tha sentry box aggravates me by it's presence.

So now things are peaceful, as they should be, and in the winter short term renters will come to town, and stay here just steps away from the fun and rum on Duval Street.

Chickens bring a touch of local color to this reserved neighborhood.

But the gates are in place, lest we forget.

Even if like me you don't like gates the Annex is worth a walk, for it is clean and tidy and peaceful.

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