Thursday, September 13, 2012

Around The Harris School

This time of year it's hard to convince myself living in the Lower Keys is a more enjoyable life than living in Old Town, but in a couple of months the situation will reverse itself like the tides and the flow of people into the city for the winter will flood the streets with vehicles people and noise. But for now one can sit on a street corner for five minutes and see nothing more than this:

The only sound the creaking of a bicycle chain screaming for lubrication. To sit on the edge of the Old Harris School on Southard Street is to be on the edge of the Earth, comfortable in the shade, and looking into the abyss of lives slipping through the fingers of their owners and tumbling into the whirlpool of alcoholism.

In the land of exasperated "self reliance" and "individualism" these characters are left on the streets with their misery and mental afflictions to shuffle past our well ordered middle class lives, pissing and shitting in the streets, collapsing on the sidewalks and passing out on private porches in a toxic haze. That's when the "self reliant" those who hate paying taxes call the government and ask us to deal with them and bitch about the absence of a permanent solution to the unsightly problem that will drive away the cash cows known as visitors. God forbid a bleeding heart suggest the creation of mental hospitals and drug clinics and treatment. Better spend the money blowing up brown people and wasting more money trying to make police officers into a pale semblance of social workers. I call this circular contradiction job security and ponder Christ's Beatitudes.

But back to the point: Harris School

It's still the the Harris School empty and useless, not a school, not a cultural center as envisioned by the Rodel Foundation, whose good works were wrecked by Bernie Madoff and his legions of the greedy. It won't be a new city hall so in the end I expect it will grind into obscurity as a collection of "professional offices" housing paper pushers who will neither know nor care what the old building was nor what it signified to the history of this little town.

Whether or not the school is a white elephant sitting in the middle of a residential neighborhood, a walk around it's perimeter well outside the "No Trespassing" signs is always worthwhile, I find.

Traveler's palms framed by gray roof and blue sky, a well netted porch with a hammock safe from buzzing invaders. These are Key West images to make a person dream, as winter starts to encroach.

I am told car heaters are being taken out of mothballs Up North, and the morning air has a touch of the crisp freshness of Fall in the temperate latitudes.

Down here construction work continues apace in the torrid heat of September in the Keys. This is high hurricane season, going well so far, and this year heat and humidity are tempered by a persistent breeze which has made the hottest time of year relatively bearable for those of us used to the stifling heat.

Winds blow leaves into the unpeopled streets, but the debris will be cleared soon. Fantasy Fest starts to impinge on the imaginations of those of us who rely on visitors for income as this is also the quietest time of year and uncertain incomes falter in September and October.

Fantasy Fest is a nuisance for a retiring type like me when middle aged jollity takes it's clothes off in the streets and alcohol rules.

Except this brand of alcoholism is a temporary escape for most of the revelers and they drink and vomit and then go home Up North to resume their lives of propriety and censure tut tutting at those grody unwashed shuffling figures who populate the dark corners of Key West and bring tourism into disrepute.

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