Thursday, October 31, 2013
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
The re-elected mayor of Key West is in hot water for his plans announced without much of a by-your-leave to build a homeless rehab facility on Stock Island, on the northern half of the island previously annexed by the city. It's not a real popular plan not least with the homeowners on the golf course nearby and a swath of city residents who argue that a 24 hour center for the homeless will not solve the problem and may just make it worse. Worse than this?
I continue to be astounded by the numbers of people who drink themselves insensible night after night on city streets. Not all of them are residentially challenged but they sure don't hold back when it comes to quaffing cheap alcohol. While the bigwigs argue about the size of cruise ships the streets present this spectacle to paying tourists. Let me tell you the police are doing what is permitted night after night, taking names, arresting and moving along. What the real solution is I don't know but shooting down proposals like the mayor's isn't the path to productive discussion. The city has had a falling out with Reverend Braddock one of the leading homeless activists and his expertise seems to have been sidelined. I can't imagine how that helps.
Hydration is all the rage and this couple luckily had a plastic recyclable bottle of filtered tap water bough at great expense to keep them from expiring on the hot city streets. They were at least one block from Harpoon Harry's and the New Market (Maun's) where refreshment is sometimes available as rumor has it. And non alcoholic too. I learned when living on a boat that water is terribly heavy so perhaps I am simply justifying my laziness.
I make it through an entire walk without so much as a sip of water. I astonish myself. This dude in the picture below went a long way to surprising me too. It's illegal finally to text and drive in Florida, as of the first of the month, so he couldn't have been texting but he crawled up Fleming onto White Street at ten miles per hour (giving me the opportunity to take the next picture below as he dawdled after a red light went green) then suddenly he got galvanized and started racing down White Street as though a firecracker had gone off up his fundament. Then at the light in front of Sandy's he flicked a cigarette butt into the street. His pest control company had the green seal of Eco-awareness on the back or some such nonsense. Irony where is they sting?
I really liked the 15 minute parking zone in front of the dentist's office. I've never had a fifteen minute appointment at Doctor Claude's office on South Street. Even to clean my teeth takes half an hour.
Someone got quite enthusiastic already about my birthday tomorrow. If anyone would like to swap a Halloween birthday with me let me know how we can do it and I am ready to get through All Hallow's Eve with absolutely no celebration at all. My wife is promising cup cakes from the shop in Marathon near where she works. I asked for pineapple upside down cake and she groaned I always want the most complicated cakes, so my evil plan to get cupcakes worked. Might as well get something for turning fifty six.
I keep seeing these painted faces around Key West. They were a sensation for a time but like everything in Key West they ended up being rather evanescent though the weather can't wipe their remains out completely. Cheyenne was not at all fascinated by the decal.
This weird loading dock next to Finnegan's Wake has been abandoned for ages, as long as I can remember which may not technically be an age but it has sat there like this for a very long time. Suddenly it looked like construction was about to happen. Not so fast! There's fencing in front of it but here it sits as always:
As much as government gets blamed for all the ills of the Western world business manages not to get too worked up sometimes about the details. A new gutter perhaps?
Here's the old West Marine at 725 Caroline...
...and here is the new boater's supermarket stretching from the corner of Grinnell Street. I think the building is quite attractive with its built in sliding hurricane shutters in a natty shade of blue.
And then of course there is a huge segment of Key West voters who told the people in charge that enough is enough and dredging is off he table. The city commission is telling the Feds to back off, the people don't want change, and they mean to hold their leaders accountable. Oddly enough many of the city commissioners supported the dredging study while their voters told them no by 75 to 25 percent.
I wonder if they will pay attention over the long term to the will of the people in this small corner of a tone deaf country?
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
George like me never even knew about Key West until he had an accidental brush with it. He flew over the town and throught the situation looked interesting, a town surrounded by turquoise waters. I rode there on my Vespa looking for a ferry out that wasn't there. Beorge became an accident two European ad spent a productive lifetime in Prague city of monuments and spires and writers and acommunism and bloody cold winters. Five minutes after arriving in Key West and abandoning his rental car for a walk George and his missus decided Key West was a lot better than Belize, the other short listed place with winter sun that looked better than Prague as a place to retire.
So here was my chance over tapas at Santiago's Bodega to find out why Key West. Weather? Of course. Fishing? Nope. Boating? Nope. Family ties? Nope, not at all. The literary scene? A big fat Yes for this literature major who first identified Prague decades ago by its Kadka/Kundera fame and only later discovered he could earn a living there. There was no unbearable lightness of beans in Prague for George who landed a volunteer gig there just as capitalism started to rear it's busy head behind the former Iron Curtain. By the time the chance for foreigners to get established in Prague had passed George was ensconced with local partners playing with money and learning to be happy working eighty hours a week in his adopted land speaking an adopted language with a cellphone glued to his head. Meanwhile back in Gotham City... I was living on a boat in California reporting news and making absolutely no money whatsoever. I met women though and learned the old adage they won't lie down in a cabin they can't stand up in.
Yet here I am living in the Keys, living the dream as it were, unable to explain how I even got here except I showed up on my boat after years of flirting with Key West and finding it wanting, when suddenly the fog of San Francisco Bay was no longer tolerable and enough of the outside world had penetrated Key West to make it at last comfortable for me. I find tolerance to be a precious commodity as I grow older and tolerance in California is draining away under the pressure of too many people and too many golden dreams crowded into a state no longer large enough, or golden enough to give them room. Key West's reputation for tolerance may be somewhat overstated nowadays as traditionally not tolerated issues like homosexuality and unconventional relationships generally are tolerated far more widely across the country. It's tough to be a Bohemian nowadays, an irony that I quite enjoy considering George's many decades of actual residence in Bohemia....our neighbors at Santiago's were from somewhere else recording their visit for posterity. Perhaps they felt the bohemian vibe?
George will make a much better gauge of what happens when one moves one's life to a Key West of which so many dream and not everyone attains. You should ask him how it's done the next time he greets your cheerfully on the street and asks how you are doing. He really means it, he wants to know. It was a privilege to meet a nice guy and he will be very gentle with you. He was with me. Must be those European manners.
Monday, October 28, 2013
George Smathers - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. He is also infamous for his shared dalliances with his friend the president but one doesn't want to think about that at a place as wholesome as a public beach.
Sunday, October 27, 2013
William strangling Heather, as one does.
One scandal that won't die is the local family that got involved in stealing meter money from the city. I was surprised to see it back on the street:
Do free drinks get your vote?
I knew we were getting close to the end when a sunset vendor muscled through the line en route downtown....
It was old fashioned silly fun. I had a good time, ninety minutes out of my life I'll never get back.