Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Triangles Masts And Flags

Thanksgiving is a dim memory and already we see the familiar triangular shape not of the gay equality symbol, but the stylized Hanukkah bush appearing in our town.


All we need now is a little snowfall. NOT!



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Art In The Streets

I keep tripping over stuff to see and things to look at on the streets of Key West, especially on days when I least expect to see them. The cross on St Paul's:


These gray skies lend an air of menace to everything, even a lilac Victorian.


Roller skating through the gloom on Simonton. Good skaters make it look easy so idiots like me have a go and scrape our elbows.


The Customs House, Key West's Federal outpost closest to Cuba.


Christmas decorations are making a shy little appearance here and there around town. The palms continue to flourish.


Victorian Key West, bricks and a street lamp at the Peppers of Key West building.


This chair, now chained to a tree downtown was a Sculpture Key West exhibit as I recall at the Botanical Gardens.


Head eating a palm (tree).


Like I said things just appear around here when you least expect them. And no it's not magic, it's Key West.


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Bars Of Key West

It is said by tour guides that Key West has more bars and more churches per capita than any other US city, which statistic is not easily verified, I guess. I am not a barfly, and I have never bothered to have a drink in any of the bars on the 200 block of Duval.


I end up walking past them a lot and they are easy enough to peer into on a whim as they are wide open and inviting. I'm not sure why I'm a reluctant bar crawler but noise doesn't do much for my Asperger's and I have a hard time with making myself understood or even simply listening to a conversation.


A friend of mine with a history of working in bars restaurants and hotels estimates a complex like Ricks must take in money in the the tens of millions of dollars annually with ten bars squirreled away in the complex. It is an estimate that boggles my mind. A least City Commissioner Rossi makes enough to be able to decline the $20,000 annual salary the city pays it's elected leaders.


A peak into the Lazy Gecko with televisions competing for my attention and the same basic layout as every other bar - stools tables and chairs in an easy to clean format, just doesn't draw me in. But these places are positive havens for hundreds of thousands of people. They are a large part of the draw of Key West. Irish Kevin's draws a younger crowd I'm told.


I find it mystifying. For the same price one could get a craft brewed beer at The Porch or even drink beer or wine at The Tropic while watching a movie. Yet bars are the ultimate appeal to so many people in Key West I feel I am missing something fundamental.


It was early evening and people weren't out yet. As I was going to work I was hoping the promise of cold damp weather might keep them all home for a quiet night of dispatching (it did!). The Bull was quiet, lacking the usual crowds fueled by alcohol fueled for that particular momentary friendship of the bar stools.


The quantity if not variety of bars is stunning. I did have. Drink once in Captain Tony's on Greene street but that was to get an out of town friend a memorial cup. My kind of drinking requires me to be able to enjoy a conversation among friends, not to be deafened. I like my porch quote a lot too, watching my own sunset celebration which I know is cheating when discussing a tourist town.


Then there is The Top which opens at 3pm and has a bar that opens at 5pm so you can look out over the city from high atop La Concha while sucking up the demon alcohol. That is decidedly worthwhile. Tradition says suicides preparing to jump drink white wine prior to the fatal leap. That and a grain of salt perhaps.


I think the Grand Café starts to look appealing around dusk but I've never eaten there. Why? No clue- we just go elsewhere, if on Duval, Fogartys for cheap and cheerful or 915 for atmospheric and exotic (and fries in a fake newspaper). I think perhaps this is too much the tourist strip to be appealing, is lower Duval. It's hard to imagine places catering to visitors with the horrendous rents charged around here, can do as well as places off the beaten path.


Finally, in this incomplete and decidedly unscientific look at a few of the many choices of drinking holes there is a new place named rather grotesquely the Tattoos and Scars Saloon, on Greene Street. It doesn't look grotesque.


The only thing that made this place stand out was the dirt bike racing on the television. Not enough to suck me in I fear, even had I not been off to work.



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Taking A Ride

I couldn't help but contrast the decorative drive of a scooter rider with a lei on the mirror stem...


...to my own rather less whimsical attachments to the Bonneville. I can't see a day in the future where I might decorate the bike with flowers.


I've been seeing more helmets on craniums around town. Another sign of winter when the responsibles descend from Up North.


This youth caught a red light at Duval and came to a superb screeching sideways halt in response to the light. The effort to get cyclists to follow traffic laws seems to work from time to time.


The actual real cold front of the week seemed to be blowing in and the skies grew dark over downtown.


I was getting ready to duck for cover at work as the light faded and I wished I too had a portable dog.


It takes work to locate a scooter in a crowded lot.


They all look the same.


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Hit And Near Miss

The Bonneville wasn't a problem when I got back to my commute after a week away. I'd left the tank full because I'm compulsive, so all I had to do was turn the fuel on, pull out the choke and press the starter button and we were off to the races. Cool.


Not quite so cool on my very first ride into town for my first shift of the long week. We were bombing along at 65 and I was at the back of a line of cars passing Baby's Coffee and I wasn't the least bit stressed. Someone in a big silver van was though. 65mph in a 55 zone wasn't fast enough for the Tweedledum in the driver's seat. The next thing I know he's trying to mate his people mover with my left saddlebag. I nearly fell out of the seat when I sensed something over my shoulder and looked around directly into the eyes of the dirigible driving the van. He couldn't hear me but my gestures were unmistakable. What I said in sign language was that this was not a passing zone and I hoped he burned in Hell for eternity at some suitably immediate moment. Rather him than me. In the next passing zone I passed, at absurd speeds, the next couple of vehicles in front of me while they were still doing a respectable 65 in a 55 zone and with that effort I hoped not to see the assassin again. My evasive maneuver worked.


Wow. Welcome home. November is in my estimation still a bit early in the winter for muppet snowbirds droning up the highway mowing down all comers, but this year they seem to be coming early with a new sense of purpose: kill Conchscooter.


The next morning a stupid rainstorm while leaving work was out of place but that wasn't the worst of it. I nearly succumbed to the classic "left turn in front of oncoming motorcycle." It was a silver Dodge turning into the Mobil station on Summerland Key. My seven inch headlamp was blazing in the dawn darkness, I was at the speed limit which either saved me or put me in harms way. The zombie at the wheel turned half way into my lane before he finished his tweet and suddenly stopped. I was bracing for the inevitable flight over the hood thinking it was either $300 wasted for my new helmet or thank heavens Nolan has a sterling reputation for good brain buckets. I swerved, yelling incoherent obscenities through my face shield into his open window. I hope he shit himself because I nearly did. New riders reassure themselves high visibility clothing and extra lights will save them. Learning how to ride defensively will do more, as will the armored clothing, gloves and boots I wore. I was lucky the zombie woke up and stopped else I'd be looking at large hospital bills despite my protective gear and my wide swerve.


I may have missed it but the Key West Citizen never reported the take down photographer Rob O'Neal suffered downtown early one morning recently. Word got out as he now is facing months of recovery from the scooter wreck and apparently has medical bills to deal with. I still don't believe bake sales replace proper health insurance because getting hurt is bad enough but not having coverage or being denied coverage, business as usual by our insurance overlords, makes everything worse. I was lucky this week,twice, me with insurance, sick leave and a lawyer for a wife. Beyond all that vigilance is everything and I do love my leather gloves because I always put out my hands when I go down and I can't type with hamburger for fingers.



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