Monday, September 10, 2012

No Trespassing. Keep Out!

For whatever reason Cheyenne doesn't much like walking the Loop Road on Sugarloaf Key. Perhaps she will develop a taste once again for it this winter if temperatures cool as they are supposed to. Perhaps in her doggy consciousness there is something repulsive about this pleasant public park built around a wide asphalt trail to nowhere. Perhaps it's just too shadeless and hot in summer for her. My dog's feelings notwithstanding I like the place and wish we could penetrate a little deeper than the massive gate and fortifications at the entrance.

Monroe County has, over the past couple of years devoted considerable energy to putting up cement barriers blocking backwoods trails to vehicles. These bright yellow barricades have popped up all over the Lower Keys in an effort to prevent mostly bored youth from seeking pleasure spraying mud and doing doughnuts out of sight of their elders and betters.

It was the sight of all these Loop Road barricades that got me thinking about the local passion for "No Trespassing" signs that sprout like mushrooms anywhere some snowbird imagines people having fun in their prolonged absences Up North.

I keep seeing these posted! signs everywhere I ride in the Keys and I wonder at the stress caused by being an absentee landlord. Beware of the dog?

The gate below is rather fetching if garish. I prefer a more low key approach, speaking as one who has no gates in his life. These barricades have to symbolize the alienation that is the subject of constant discussion in self help therapeutic sessions.

We should unhand the television they tell us and talk to our neighbors. Hard to do when Brinks is guarding the perimeter, however ineffectually.

The adirondack chair is a word touch. I imagine the guarded homeowner sitting in it, corn cob pipe puffing smokily with a big double barreled shotgun across his lap. Most likely the reality is mo one sits there. And the next hurricane to hit head on will blow the ornament into the middle of the next island.

"Keep Out!" "Posted!" "Beware!" the friendly neighbors screech, as though were I ill intentioned the signs might prove effective.

The odd thing is violent crime is decreasing and in the Keys violent crime between strangers is extraordinarily rare. Theft happens and there have been spates of bored teenagers stealing coin purses and fishing rods, and Miami crooks stealing outboard motors for parts, but on the whole on of the joys of living in the Keys is the small town lack of serious crime.

You wouldn't know it to see the home fortifications that line the streets.

I blame television for the suspicious and fearful attitude taken by most first worlders. At first blush if you have not considered such a proposition I know it seems weird but think about what television portrays as the real world.

Local "news" is a mixture of faddish "tips" typically how to barbecue meat for a holiday or how to lose weight after the communal feast and a series of ghoulish stories about some pointless act of domestic violence somewhere in the county.

The acts of violence that I see at work dispatching police usually seem to involve people who know each other and have a falling out usually field by mind altering substances like alcohol. Nothing has made me so inclined to temperance as a lifetime spent answering 9-1-1 calls. Alcohol fucks people up, royally.

Mix alcohol, sex, irritation or frustration and lack of money into a living space and the results are predictable. For the rest of us gasping at the TV screen it can seem the entire world around us is hellbent on taking us down with them. I grew up in boarding schools with no access to television and y vacations were chopped into two different countries so I never did get to follow programs or learn to enjoy staring the boob tube. As an adult I don't miss the nonsense that passes for local news. My fear level is I believe more commensurate with actual reality.

Check the sign above, full public identification right next to a Berlin Wall Style barricade. Below, welcome to America and Keep Out.

To me these barricades and enclosures and protective signs are a measure of how far we have fallen from country I chose to emigrate to, a place of self confidence and standing tall. A place where strangers represent an opportunity for hospitality not a threat.

I know the mainstream theory is that you can never be too careful that it's a dangerous world "out there" and traveling unarmed is an invitation to death by violence. I also know that trying to explaining an alternative reality to the cowering masses is a waste of time. I ponder the barricades and observe the detritus tossed to the curb outside the protected area. Trash in the grass cannot be seen from inside the stockade. Pity though as it's quite pretty outside.

It's a quiet neighborhood on a hot September afternoon everyone buttoned up inside their perimeter fences.

I remember President Reagan urging a bunch of communist foreigners to "tear down that wall," but he forgot to make the same suggestion at home. Berlin Walls everywhere.

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