The rule in the city of Key West is that bars must close by four in the morning and alcohol cannot be sold until seven. Which on the face of it seems pretty unrestricted but I think if this rule were not in place the inferno that is Lower Duval when the bars are open would never end. As it is bars will start closing as soon the customers go home but by four in the morning the shutters must come down. Sloppy Joe's as not often seen by visitors to our fair city:
It's amazing to think Rick's complex has ten bars on one entire city block, owned by a city commissioner. I suppose my total lack of ambition would never pose the conundrum but one wonders why he hasn't found something better to do with his time after decades already spent raking in millions from all the cheap beer sold in this place. The odd thing about these types of people is that enough is never enough; they have one bar or restaurant working out in spite of the odds in a cut throat trade, so they want another and another, and pretty soon one owner has half a dozen places all to himself and the band of investors.
Yet, despite my lack of enthusiasm for bars when they are populated, I am like my dog in one respect. Cheyenne the anti-social likes to visit dog parks after the other dogs have left and only their scent remains. It's not that she's mean to other dogs it's just that she prefers to be left alone to enjoy her sniffing by herself, unmolested.
In that sense I love coming to Lower Duval even as the crowds leave and the street becomes as empty as an after hours dog park. I like seeing the evidence of people who were heard but are here no more. I like being able to stand in the street and not get run over while I take a picture. I like squinting through the glass at the empty bars, on silent display like stage sets or museum dioramas. Some of the them weren't technically closed as it was before the witching hour of four. Like the Bull:
"Why you taking pictures?" the young man asked me aggressively, eyeing my sewn-on police badge on my shirt. He brightened up when I said it was for me and my albums, so he impulsively threw his arms open asking me to take one of him, Brian. Alcohol is a hell of a mood changer.
Greene and Duval, below, the epicenter of mass tourism and bar hopping in Key West. During the day!
I read this list of foods posted, who knows when, at Shorty's market, a convenience store on Lower Duval. Aside from the misspelling I wondered about the foods on offer, fresh breads and pastries as though they'd never heard of Sysco food deliveries. Fresh baked? Really? I am astonished.
And I was riding in shirt sleeves, just because even though it was cool it wasn't cold last Tuesday night.