I have written from time to time over the past seven years about one of the more pleasant waterfront stretches in these islands that really don't have beaches worth talking about. Boca Chica Beach it turns out is just one more threat to the flyers of the mightiest military machine on Earth and it must go.
It seems these spindly shade trees threaten the ability of military aircraft to land safely on the vast spacious runway of neighboring Boca Chica Naval Air Base. You'd think that these last few trees left here on public land would be allowed to remain but it seems Regulations require then to be chopped down.
It puts me in mind of those rules that forbid us, perhaps not much longer, from using iPads during the take off period in commercial airliners. It always seemed to me that if that was all it might take to crash a plane and create a stir, we were doomed. It turns out you can't crash a Boeing with an iPad - shocked?- and now we will soon be allowed to make phone calls on flights thus giving me one more reason to hate getting in a plane. Do you even remember why you can't carry shampoo on a plane or why you must remove your shoes? That's because you live in a world terrorized by a bunch of medieval religious nutters who think death is the best way to live. I say screw 'em, no one gets out alive in the end anyway, and let's live our lives with the greatest joy we can. Which of itself is hard enough, never mind allowing madmen to make us craven.
So when mere mortals wonder why their beachside refuge must be torn down, anonymous pipes up in the Voice column of the Citizen:
I welcome those beachgoers to sit in the pilots' seats on a moonlit evening. With a driving rain and 30 knot crosswind and those sacred trees suddenly pop up in your windscreen and your concentration is on trying to land safely for you and your crew, you let me know how valuable those trees feel then. When your butt stops puckering, go down to the end of the runway and give those precious hardwoods a hug. These men and women are in those aircrafts protecting us on a daily basis. Give them all and any tools needed to do their job safely. Go buy an acre of woods up north, put some sand around the trees, and thank those young pilots for your ability to do so.
Freedom buys you this:
I wonder at the old route that Highway One took back before Al Qaeda had this country by the balls. If you turn off the modern Highway One at Rockland Key you will discover the truck entrance to the Boca Chica Navy Base. The direct route was the original path of the public highway that ran through the base. Nowadays such openness is beyond imagining.
So when they say the trees must go, and they will, as ludicrous as it sounds, because they pose a threat to freedom you will know that freedom wrecked this modest remaining stretch of public beach. On the other hand when the Key West City Commission caved to the Truman Annex Master Property Owner's Association and agreed to allow them to close Southard Street, a public thoroughfare, with a gate it was the Navy that stepped in and told TAMPOA that freedom required the street to be open twenty four hours, so TAMPOA meekly yielded, removed the gate and stopped bullying the city. Thus what the Navy giveth, occasionally the Navy taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Navy.
I miss the good old days when self confidence, obliviousness perhaps ruled our collective thinking. I suppose it's gone forever, and fear replaces the openness and cheerful optimism of the post World War Two era when anything seemed possible, and even desirable. One could buy an airline ticket on a whim and climb aboard without being treated like a terrorist. The assumption was positive, not negative about human intentions. Nowadays everyone is guilty until proven otherwise and I don't think it's the attitude that made America great.
So the trees must go, to protect freedom, and the barren wasteland their departure will leave behind will be the perfect symbol of the modern notion of what it is to be free: it is a wasteland devoid of beauty, surplus, debate or consideration. It is the negative freedom of a world without joy or trust or hope. It is just a tree, useless, not magnificent, perhaps not even beautiful, but surely no threat to national security in a rational world?