Friday, October 26, 2012

Other Street Views In Key West

It's not just nekkid people on the streets these days though they get the attention.

The MGB roadster parked variously on the streets was in motion yesterday. The curious, and pleasing thing, is that it appears to be in use, not as a parade ornament, but for the banal and very necessary reason that construction material needed to get home.

I see classic motorcycles held up as paragons because they are owned and never ridden. My 1979 Vespa is close to be restored for the road I am told by Green Tree Scooters. When it gets here it will be ridden, a lot. Frank loves his white 370Z and this summer he took his first long vacation in a long time and drove the Nissan to Nebraska and back. Sometimes you just have to get off the rock.

I rented a Piaggio MP3 250 in Rome two summers ago and I discovered it is an able tool to ride cobbles and street car tracks but it is a very complicated piece of engineering. Would you pay $9,000 for a three wheeler that rides like a two wheeled scooter? Lots of people in Paris and Rome do, I am told.

I liked the imitation Mario Sanchez illustration on the cowl of this Honda Metropolitan even though the sticker strikes a dissonant chord. I keep my motorcycle plain because I shouldn't like to spoil it.

This Cushman was a plain shade of green though no Cushman is plain to devotees of the defunct brand. I grew up with Vespas but whatever the brand I'd like to see more stylish scooters in Key West, just for some thing good to look at. The plastic fantastics are fine but dull.

Then there are the three-wheelers which you'd think would litter the streets of Key West, practical wheels in a town still filled with manly full sized trucks and SUVs. This one was rare enough the occupants asn't surprised I stopped to take pictures.

I think he might have been surprised to know I saw tons of three wheelers in Italy. We used to buy fruit and veg from a traveling nor who drove a 175cc Ape three wheeler built by the same people that build Vespas.

Funnily enough it has space for a motorcycle sized license plate but it was issued a car sized plate instead. One day Florida will get with he alternative transportation future that is rushing to meet us.

Happy Naked Couples

I didn't start out by looking for nekkid Fantasy Fest couples but that was where Fate led me as I walked away from Duval Street up Caroline. I went where Fate led me, and my camera came with me.

One with the other, he said.

She seemed a lot happier than he to be in front of the camera.

So where do you put the wallet when wearing close to nothing?

Young, happy and loaded with...Bud Lite??

Who knew the Devil rode the bus? This one did, I saw them both descend.

One for the ladies I pleaded and they obliged.

I like Vespas but Cushmans have their place.

They want to see her not me he said, stepping back.

Overheard on Duval


The street fair has come to downtown Key West, focused mostly on Duval Street but also to be found on the approaches to the city's main drag, named for the first territorial Governor of Florida, William Pope DuVal, originally from Mount Comfort, Virginia. He came to Florida in 1822, served a month as a judge in St Augustine and was thereafter appointed governor of the new US territory ceeded by Spain. That was then, this is now.


Santa Mommy stopped traffic momentarily, but not the crowds on the sidewalk who swept me along like a leaf down the drain of perdition. I overheard some odd off the cuff remarks from assorted people walking around me (not necessarily the people pictured please note!) most of them taking beer glasses for a walk on this fabled street. But let's not forget, for one moment that Fantasy Fest cannot interrupt the basic functions of life in the Southernmost City. Some of us have to work! Me to be exact, Friday Saturday and Sunday nights similar to this sweating fellow Teamster.


"See you later! - See a lot of you later!

"I can't help thinking this week that often, less is more."

"If we get lost all we have to do is find Sloppy Joe's and turn left and we'll be able to find the car, no matter how drunk we are."

"I saw this guy who was totally naked, except for..."

"I do loves me da wimmin," - announced a totally non ethnic middle aged white guy, high on life.

Body painting is a big part of Fantasy Fest, and paint counts for clothing on any part of the body that isn't the genitals which must be covered.


It's not just body paint that is part of the commercial aspect of Fantasy Fest. Buy a coaster save a turtle. If it was that easy you'd think the reptiles wouldn't be on the endangered list at all.


But Fantasy Fest is about alcohol and middle aged, middle class libertines loose on the street in the "Fantasy Zone" which is the temporary name for Duval Street.

The cruddy fake 'Krewes' from Tampa were already cluttering up Duval Street. They marched around led by a dude with a whistle like a scout leader, and as they duck marched they were busy showing off their uniforms. These people bring big anonymous plastic floats to the parade Saturday that is meant to be a display of local talent expressing local sentiments. They make the parade long, slow and ultimately boring.


"Hey! I just got a text offering two dollar Michelobs!"

There was a comment in a previous essay about the essential beauty of a woman cycling Key West.

From the sublime to the ridiculous. I spared you a picture of the dude behind the dude under the smiley face. He was a well tanned older white guy sporting chaps and a circumcised penis not properly veiled by a piece of gauze.

"Hey Conch!" A familiar voice called. Doug Bennett of This Week on the Island was sitting on his porch watching the world go by. He said he was reminded of me when a guy wandered by wearing odd colored Crocs, green and yellow. "Got to work a lot harder to stand out in this town," he chuckled looking at my well worn pink footwear. We lamented the expansion of the parade to include outsiders, but clearly when a city commissioner owns a Duval Street bar...commerce is king. "At least he doesn't accept a salary for sitting on the commission," was Doug's parting shot.

"Living the life others dream of..."

And there he is the Commish in question. Give Mark Rossi credit, he rides his Zuma everywhere, and I guess he must have worn out his yellow 125 and replaced it with this white one, laboring valiantly beneath his ample girth.

Off Duval life continues as normal which for Key West's wild chickens means strutting their stuff under the klieg lights and cameras.

Did I say "normal?" As close as it gets around here and that might mean meeting Zorro the Gay Blade down at the end of Caroline Street.

Or a devil in an extremely tight fitting blue dress, as in " the devil made me do it."

It's Fantasy Fest so it's your fantasy to do with as you will. Me? I went home and took Cheyenne for a walk on Little Torch Key and got rained on again.

I don't know how people live in the chaos of Old Town but perhaps one day I may have to find out, life is full of twists and turns. Meanwhile I prefer to enjoy the peace and serenity of the backwaters at Mile Marker 27.

Me, lightly disguised as a rather rain soaked off duty police dispatcher far from the madding crowds of Fantasy Fest, just where I wanted to be. Soon enough there will be lots of 911 calls from distraught happy people, alcohol soaked and confused by life. It will be my pleasure to show them the light at the end of the Fantasy Fest Tunnel, the start of the long road home back to safe and normal.