Thursday, May 31, 2012

Flagler At 11th

There is an odd open space along Flagler Avenue that seems to serve no purpose to man nor beast in the city, except perhaps the occasional illegal encampment.

As I recall Hurricane Wilma wrecked a chapel in this area in 2005 and plans to reconsecrate the spot have fallen through. The land is for sale.

The open space sits between 11th Street where the boat ramp gives access to the Riviera Canal, while on the west side Catholic Charities operates their soup kitchen.

In the middle we find a wasteland of mud, rubble and vegetation. It makes for good dog walking.

Cheyenne patrolled the perimeter and gradually penetrated the interior, nose to the ground, absorbed by the smells.

Through the trees we see the homes of the neighbors who undoubtedly will be happy to see this spot turned into something more formal than a mud pit.

Someone has been working to clean up some of the land:

I was quite attracted to the power of the chipper, an instrument of destruction that has never quite looked the same to me since I saw one used in the film Fargo.

You know what a shopping cart standing guard indicates...

...and sure enough behind the bushes we came across an abandoned camp. I know the cops are in the habit of patrolling this area so I wasn't at all surprised to find no one actually busy making a home in the shrubbery.

Potted plants make any camp a home:

Key West never ceases to amaze me.

A city where land is as valuable as anywhere yet someone owns this useless open space and here it sits, unused. All the better for Cheyenne.

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Dawn Reflections

Leaving work at six yesterday it was another clear sky dawn with a sunny day in the offing. The lights of Stock Island illuminated the sky to the west of Boca Chica bridge.

The day shift workers are always pouring into the job hub that is Key West as I leave town after a night of sitting up taking 911 calls. I was struck how the oncoming headlights washed out the sunrise.

As sun rises go it wasn't especially spectacular yesterday, though after half a century of waking up every day I am still glad I am here to see the day break, better yet from the saddle of my Bonneville.

These few pictures illustrate my commute, though usually I don't stop to admire the views. They are worth it.

Summer is a time of light winds, usually, and glassy calms.

Hurricane season starts officially June 1st and all the storms stories will be broadcast to get everyone's wind up.

The boring part about summer is how serene these coral waters are most of the time.

I have traveled the tropics and these scenes tend to remind me of those far off places

Palms tend to do that.

Looking south from Mile Marker 13, Overseas Highway.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Old Bahia Honda Bridge

I haven't run a picture of my favorite seascape in a while so here's a quickie of the old Flagler Bridge connecting West Summerland Key to distant Bahia Honda State Park.

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Old Harley, New Bonneville

I have been riding my Bonneville with just the top case and a cargo net lately. I have left the saddlebags at home and have been enjoying the less cumbersome ride.

Not as unencumbered as this lithe, nicely restored old Harley.

Tis bike was built to ride with thick paint, modern electrics ad all parts properly mated together.

The carburetor and huge air filter box used to interfere with the rider's legs on these older bikes.

I am no fan of tiny peanut fuel tanks and high arching ape hanger handlebars, but this is a machine put together with care and it shows.

I have no idea, not being a Harley aficionado, what is right and proper and what has been adapted. To me authenticity doesn't matter much and the owner of this thing cares because he's stuck a padlock on it to keep it his.

The Harley mystique makes people crazy and even onlookers want a part of these machines that define motorcycling USA.

The old Triumph thing is part of a different tradition and the modernization of the Bonneville makes the nerdy Triumph disciples of decades past crazy with contempt.

I like how my bike looks, how easily it rides, how adaptable it is for practical uses and how it connects me to my motorcycling past however tenuous that connection may be.

Harleys do the same for other people. And I don't mind saying there are a couple of Harleys in the contemporary line up I wouldn't mind riding if I could afford them. They are practical dependable and hard working. They ride further than their owners are capable of taking them as is the case with most modern machines.

In Key West it's bicycles that get the workstation out and even these rides out perform their owners in terms of longevity.

I wish it were time for motorcycles to be treated as dependable transportation, not toys. I'm guessing the economy will have to regress a long way for that to happen.

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Monday, May 28, 2012

Old City Hall

It is a distinguished building at 510 Greene, once city hall, now used to prop up the residentially challenged who try to camp on the steps in the evening, even while city commission meetings go on inside.

The police keep moving the bums and the mechanics have got the clock running so all is well with the world.

And the leading lights in the city get to take their bows, from an adoring populace.

The stately brick building attracts visitors so they have an information booth inside, downstairs.

Visitors and ATMs go together like a hand and a glove.

Stairs is the commission meeting room at the top of these lacy stairs.

There are also wrought iron bars through which one can look at the world outside.

This coup,e walked out past me down the stone flight of stairs outside, delightfully bum-free, clutching their presentation board.

They had been speaking it seems inside the chamber,

Which had what must have been some planning commission holding a hearing. It's quote pretty in wood and brass.

Most of the city staff work out of temporary offices at Habana Plaza on Flagler while the city succumbs to the will of the mayor who pushing hard to consolidate city hall at Glynn Archer school, a plan I like. What happens then to this old meeting chamber I don't know.

Perhaps it is too ornate for modern government offices.

And no public building would be complete without some mention of Cuban revolutionary José Martí:

And the potted history of the building is contained here, on this historic marker placed properly enough, outside.

I like this building and I enjoy attending meetings here.

I also like looking across the street and ponder my joy at not having to fix a roof in the broiling afternoon sun.

It looked like hot work.

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Sunday, May 27, 2012

Dead And Alive

This Green Street location across from Old City Hall on the 500 block never seems to do well.

This theme bar closed at the end of last month.

I always thought a steel horse was a 19th century name for a railroad but I guess that was, more accurately, an iron horse.

Whatever, I sham't miss it, as I didn't miss McFadden's or abut Harvey's before it. Big Daddy Conch's and Crabby Bills before that back a decade ago. They come and they go as illustrated by this picture I took with the blinds down behind the window which created a mirror effect.

This place on Ann Street looks closed,

...with the hurricane shutters in place and the fading sign

Far from it. The have an active website and claim to be Key West's oldest surviving dive shop, since the mid eighties they say.

The gate to the left is locked.

The fence is tall, the mural fresh.

And were I a gecko I could have slipped in but this place is as active as it's website. That cheered me up. They have a booth down by the water to meet and encourage customers.

Not all stories are happy stories but perhaps a fresh start will take off and be a success down here:

People who like opening new businesses don't seem to lose their taste for it even when greeted with failure. With Fast Buck Freddie's going and the Deli gone change continues apace in downtown Key West.

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