Sunday, October 23, 2011


Another glorious evening in the Keys, the sun falling to the horizon in the daily blaze of glory and all is well with the world.

Except of course it isn't. Europe is falling apart and thanks to crazy globalization we find our fate inextricably linked to the fate of the Euro. It never occurred to me the European Union could end up eating itself alive, dying a slow painful death thanks to insane hidden debt aided and abetted by international bankers. It sounds like a plot form a cheap thriller. And yet...our standard of living depends on their ability to stem the debt. Which they cannot do so we slide slowly backwards into poverty just a little bit behind them.

It's at times like these that we find not unity but division. The sign says screw our constitution but the 33rd chapter of the Book of Psalms says something else:
Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD;

and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance.
The LORD looketh from heaven;

he beholdeth all the sons of men.
From the place of his habitation he looketh

upon all the inhabitants of the earth.
He fashioneth their hearts alike;

he considereth all their works.
One has to wonder what Jesus would do on Wall Street. Join the money changers in the temple at number 85, or join the communist-hippie-unemployed losers in the street? There's a subject for a sermon, indeed.

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Goombay 3

Fantasy Fest is the big draw this time of year and next promises plenty of skin and costumes and visitors bound t have a risqué good time on the streets of this little town. Friday was a pleasant little home town street fair, with the promise of...coconut milk? Not forgetting the naked hunk.

We have been suffering from the ravages of the first serious cold front of the winter. Temperatures plunged well below seventy at night and daytime highs couldn't get close to eighty. My wife found our sweatshirts as a precaution and winter clothing started to appear everywhere!

For all that I try to be mindful when I walk Key West I still find views that are new to me. I have probably seen this balconied white building a hundred times but I noticed it Friday evening.

Even though there seemed to be fewer people than in years past lines have never been a problem at Goombay.

Not everyone hauled out winter wear to cope with the extreme winter temperatures. Sandals and boots were the choice of extremes.

I am amused how protective people are of their dogs when they meet. My philosophy is let the dogs sort it out they are much smarter and tuned in than humans. I hate seeing dogs held back from having fun

The hula hoop lady had roped in a couple of youngsters to have a go and they were doing well.

We got our curried goat stew and the consensus was we needed pudding so we ordered funnel cake at the Blue Heaven stand.

Deep fried Americana.

Nice beads, I said. Shall I hold them up for you? She said. I kept quiet and took a picture.

Chuck and Wayne saw intimations of the state fairs of their youth Up North and ordered a second funnel cake.

I like that kids in Key West can run free. Parents tell me neighbors send home reports of all the youngsters activities before even the errant kids make it home...

Want to try a fried Oreo? I thought it sounded disgusting but I was out voted and it was free.

Er, no thanks.

I want spicy red meat grilled and sticky. Yum. The fried Oreo tasted like funnel cake with melted chocolate inside. Disgusting!

Meet, eat, talk, drink. Repeat.

I loved the curried goat, the curried chicken was excellent, the arepas hit the mark and the fruit popsicles were astonishing.

It was an under subscribed Goombay, but next year perhaps it will be better if I have lower expectations.

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Goombay 2

Goombay is the Bahamian street fair which is celebrated the weekend before the Fantasy Fest Bacchanalia gets serious. Goombay is food and music and a gentle stroll down a few blocks of Petronia Street through the heart of Bahama Village.The vendors sell food but also more or less alluring lines of patter.

We made a date to come by and get some curried goat stew when it was ready at the Blue Heaven stall.

I was going to work at six, for what turned out to be an incredibly hard night of dispatching. I was on the main police channel all night and I got my ass handed to me from 6pm till 5:45 in the morning. I went home shattered by endless calls for service and a night that seemed like it would never end. I should have had some cold beer to fortify me for the rigors ahead...

Goombay is about hanging out with friends...

...though I left my best friend at home as Cheyenne doesn't cope well with crowds.

I saw this guy having a tropical good time so I asked to take his picture. "Mais oui he said.

She wanted hers taken too. It turned out they were Frogs so I deferred to the Francophone Chuck.

He walked and talked and discovered Key West will soon be home to a new French café, to be called Frenchy's on United Street.

My wife met one of her pupils much to the student's surprise. Thats the joy of small town schooling. "Hi miss, meet my boyfriend!" Erk. It's not easy for me either as I have to struggle to remember not to say fuck or make some inappropriate joke about one of those many things adults think their iPhone toting offspring have never heard of.

Funnily enough we didn't meet other friends on our stroll. Perhaps that contributed to my sense of sparser attendance this year. Buffalo Bill from Up North was conspicuous by his absence but he had thought that might have been the case
When we met last year. Goldman Sachs has a lot to answer for, one way and another.

The tourist attractions were out to see and be seen, wild chickens chasing scraps and the extra loud Mr Chapman on his music box tricycle.

I could no more stand in the street with a hula hoop than I could ride a tricycle making loud noise. I prefer to hide behind my camera and pretend I am visiting from St Louis. "Gee," I overheard the genuine article say to his wife, "Key West is weird." Just keep tipping, would be my advice.

The goat stew wasn't ready yet. Soon...

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Goombay 1

The city closes Petronia Street from Duval for the Goomaby street fair.

This year the performance platform was set up in the soccer field beyond Fort Street instead it's usual location on Emma. Thus the festival, supposedly celebrating Bahamian culture was longer than usual, and with apparently fewer vendors, seemed rather sparsely attended compared to years past.

There was still plenty of food,

And the usual quota of straight people expressing eccentricity.

Petronia Street was dressed to represent the almost tropical Bahamas.

And we ate the food we came for. The round yellow pancakes are corn meal tortillas filled with melted white cheese, a slightly sweet dried food pula in Colombia, called arepa.

Alcohol is always on hand at Key West functions,

in one form or another.

Blue Heaven, at Thomas and Petronia, put on quite the spread. We ordered conch salad which came on a bed of green mango slices.

This is the restaurant that most represents Caribbean food in Key West.

The Conch salad was actually quite good, and I say that as one of those rare humans that prefer their seafood cooked, not raw.

Goombay is more than food, it's also companionship, nothing nicer than a sidewalk to sit on.

This wasn't the best Goombay ever but I'm glad I went.

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