Friday, November 9, 2012

An Unworthy Thought

I saw this editorial cartoon in last Sunday's Citizen and the point was clear immediately.

Snowbirds bring money to the Lower Keys when they migrate here in the dark of winter. They pay year round property taxes, supposedly with no homestead exemption and use services a few months of the year except they do love to clog the road, create lines in restaurants and talk loudly in public claiming to live here. It's astonishing how the arrogant snowbird stereotype persists, especially when there is absolutely no truth to it at all. None.

A Drink, A Walk, A Couple Of Encounters

When the Porch came to Duval Street I felt as though at last I had a place that I could drop in to and take a refreshing pause from the travails of daily life. Naturally it gets crowded because lots of other people have discovered the same thing, and equally naturally I don't get to hang out there often as beer has calories and costs money and I live 30 miles away but...from time to time I get to do some people watching.


Summer usually is a succession of warm days getting warmer as is the way around here, such that by September you are ready to find religion and pray to Aeolus, sacrifice a Labrador perhaps, and read the entrails looking for relief from the muggy daily overdose of heated summer air. Then yesterday the cool breezy autumnal days became full blown winter and north winds were howling. It was a facsimile, in minor key, of the widely reported winter storm currently dropping snow on the Hurricane Sandy survivors of the North East, poor sods.

In Key West a 65 degree evening with icy wind provokes a lot of comment and not much else. The air, when it is crisp like this clears away the particulates and everything takes on a bright shiny glint. The sun is very much lower in the sky, far below the Tropic of Cancer which itself is thirty miles south of here. Apollo is now approaching the Tropic of Capricorn for a late December austral rendezvous, before chugging back north to be almost overhead in June once again. And so I pondered for a while but Cheyenne got tired of waiting for me to finish my Palm, for she does not appreciate beer not even the Belgian stuff, and I had to get ready to hike.


We turned south on Duval and found that what I had suspected last time I walked by has actually happened. Fast Buck Freddie's is completely gone and some person named Hood is applying to the city to make changes to the facade of the venerable former Department Store. It has been masquerading as an art space for the past few weeks but that too is over.

The empty storefront will soon be something new, nothing lasts and in Key West especially so. We turned west on Southard and found more change, a good change this time with the departure of the chaotic Honda motorcycle shop to plague White Street with disorder dust and chaos so that this piece of Southard almost across from the Green Parrot is now delightfully restored to serenity.

Directly across Southard there is a new restaurant probably destined to fail like the myriad eateries here before it. It looked quite pleasant but politics notwithstanding this remains a recessionary economy even among visitors to Key West so a new eatery needs some strong reason to attract customers. Perhaps if it is barbecue like, or perhaps better than the old Meteor it may make a name for itself.

I tried to poke my camera inside the Green Parrot bar on Whitehead Street but the light was terrible and all I got was fuzzy images of people drinking. We kept walking, Cheyenne leading and me following blindly.

I saw a chicken amongst the public housing on Whitehead and I think the rooster saw me and was none to pleased about my presence. Cheyenne never chases free range Key West chickens for some reason but there again she doesn't chase Key Deer or ibis either. If she were Secretary of Defense she'd abolish her budget and zero out the entire national deficit just by minding her own business. People should be as smart as dogs.

It's not much of an advertisement on Petronia Street but that word indicates an old fashioned shoemaker lives within. Fuzzy got a whole page article in the newspaper a few years ago, the last living artisan of his craft in Key West. I was the second person to ask to take his photo yesterday and he was tickled pink to oblige me.

Further down Petronia we came to Mr Chapman's place and there he was readying his multicolored tricycle for his evening outing on Duval to cheer up the tourists with loud music and flashing lights. He has a new display of Buddha dolls on the trike and he was practicing his numerology, noting he lives on the same number as his birthday, 2-21 and should he forget his name it is easily found on the street sign at the corner - Chapman Lane. His father was 64 when he was born and his mother 14, a shotgun marriage he chuckled as a weapon made the union legal. He himself boasts Biblical progeny, 16 persons in all, counted among children and their offspring so far, from three wives and a few other incidental persons, he grinned. He counts himself blessed.

I had left Fuzzy content on his couch with his TV while the ardent Mr Chapman was tooting his horns and flashing his lights in search of adventure on the streets yesterday evening. I sided with Fuzzy's style on the whole.

And yes a few honkies voted for him too. So do you know why white people are known as crackers or honkies? "Cracker" is well known as an epithet and is used to describe the white men cracking their whips, at ox trains one adds as an addendum because the alternative object of the whips is too embarrassing to say out loud in this day and age. The term "honky" I learned years ago was used to describe white men who drove up to the "colored" whore houses and imperiously sounded their horns, unable as they were to enter the racially segregated establishments, to summon the women to their cars. Sometimes I am tempted to think we have made no social progress over the course of decades but then these things come to mind and one realizes that in fact positive change does come but slowly. Perhaps Tuesday was a harbinger of more to come. We can only hope.