Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The Wheels of Commerce

Rusty was ambling with his nose down and I was looking around through the eye of my camera lense, a  habit which makes me focus on the details I otherwise wouldn't notice. I saw the scooters parked under the thatch palms and without my noticing the telephoning cyclist hove into view. I see it all the time: people on bikes and scooters (and skateboards too!) with a phone glued to their ear, or shouting into an earbud microphone...All things are critically important for those of us equipped with a  portable electric telephone.
 And then there are those moments of introspection when we present a blank face to the world as we ponder, and finish a Cuban sandwich. I kept Rusty on a  short leash because, even though he isn't very food driven he won't ignore low hanging fruit, especially in the form of a proffered Cuban sandwich from Five Brothers. The owner of the food woke up suddenly and withdrew his hand as my furry predator got closer.
Limin'  - a Caribbean term denoting hanging out and chatting and accomplishing nothing more. He was buried in his paper behind his bare feet, something I doubt he would do in his suburb Up North, while the dog was far from limin's and looked ready to challenge Rusty on a  mere pretext but my boy ignored him as you do bullies.
I laughed when I saw the prim and crisp representation of a modern chef caught between the stacks of just-in-time supplies from mainland warehouses. Rusty paused long enough for me to compose the picture before we were off again.  
Some lime, some wheel boxes of food under the winter sun, some turn bicycles into offices. And the wheels go round.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Those Picket Fences

Not all fences in Key West are proper picket fences.
 I saw this "AAA Approved" sign on the fence outside Mangia Mangia restaurant. Does anyone, I wondered, use AAA recommendations anymore? Does Triple A make recommendations? I am a member and I have Tripadvisor on my iPhone...
I think this next picture was on Margaret Street near Carey Lane with my back to the cemetery. The dude on the left had just stepped inside clearing the way for the picture, then he stepped out and butted into my frame. I felt like complaining but that seemed a bit harsh as it was his front yard.
 This one made its way to my Instagram account, Angela Street alongside the cemetery:
Strictly speaking this isn't  a picket fence but I like Bonnie Albury's house even restored to gleaming perfection, as I remember it the way it was when Bonnie, the last of her family was fading away there and calling 911 petulantly complaining about painters setting up easels on the sidewalks painting her old pile against her wishes. I talked her down many times when I worked day shift in 2004  and 2005.
Lots of lines and woodwork to keep pristine in these non-picket fences at the Albury house on Southard Street. The decks are painted with some weird gleaming paint that looks like it just got rained on.
 Quintessential Key West:
 The Citizen newspaper box on its side at the same location, however its label still manages to come up right side up. Down but not out: also quintessentially Key West.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Key West Monochrome

I really liked this picture of the church at Fleming and William:
 And this one worked for me, a corner of the Old Harris School on Southard:
 On my Instagram account I labeled this one "waiting."
 Not quite black and white this shot of an empty dining room at Turtle Kraals:
 A lighted boat:
 A post doubling as a bill board display:
 The Galleon resort:
 Front Street looking toward Duval:

Saturday, February 25, 2017

Aground In Key West

I took this picture for the scooter tag thread in the Adventure Rider motorcycle website but I liked it all leafless evocative of a northern winter. Deciduous trees tend to lose their leaves in winter in the Keys more I think because of the lack of rain and decreased hours of sunshine than for the presence of cold.
The Keyviche building on Caroline Street remains closed and unused, a tourist winter gone to waste. Surprising but true. They were said to have great fish but the prices reflected the quality and high prices are killers in this economy oriented eating town. You can still see the old flame holders from its previous incarnation as the Brazilian steak house chain Braza Lena.
 The newest CVS on Duval street continues to display the worst windows ever. I suppose they feel no need to entice shoppers in or beautify the street at all. All I can say is it was much dirtier when the building wasn't  occupied at all. 
 The souvenir shop across the street at the Conch Train station shows how it is done:
They do make a mess overnight around Duval Street. Before most people are awake the city's employees have it all clean and tidy again:
And the day starts again as the sleepers get up and start their aimless wanderings:
Someone was tidy as they drank:
 Mallory Square coming to life:
 Out in Key West harbor someone was waking up on a slant if the boat was even occupied:

Friday, February 24, 2017

West Summerland Key

I was glad to note in a recent Key West Citizen caption to a picture by the noted photographer Rob O'Neal that he referred to the location as West Summerland Key. Ironic too as it was in regards to scouting as I recall.
I think West Summerland, known to cartographers to day as Scout Key is one of my favorite spots in the Lower Keys. Luckily Rusty likes it too. For me this place offers an almost natural mound of dirt from which I can look down on a panorama and this makes it unique. Think about it: I live in place which is so flat tall bridges constitute  hills. Here I can climb the mound that was the railroad approach to the Bahia Honda bridge and I can pretend I am on a mountain. Pretty cool.
 Then there is the history, in this case the old water pipe installed by the Navy with a pump station hereabouts, built in 1942 to supply the wartime garrison in Key West. The infrastructure is collapsing but that makes it all the more photogenic. Above we see the remains of the original water pipe. The 1982 replacement runs alongside the highway and hangs under the bridges.
West Summerland also consists of friable white rock which weathers into odd rounded mounds. It looks like hard clay. Sometimes I sit on it while Rusty hunts. In the picture below the white rocks look like cotton wool balls strewn about:
 Rusty on the trail:
Rusty hunting
 The tide was far out so I wandered the tide pools staring down at sea anemones trapped in puddles waiting for the return of the ocean. I also found a common-or-garden plastic bottle turned into art by the crushing of the waters and the silting of the sand (and a little dexterity with the camera settings).
When I see hardcore photographers setting up their multiplicity of equipment to catch a sunrise or some other moment on their headlong flight back to the mainland I feel privileged. For me there is tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow if today doesn't work out. Sunrises will get more colorful, wind and waves will conspire with me tomorrow not against me...who knows.... who cares...I will be back when I feel like it.
 Besides which I am too impatient to deal with tripods and long lead times- I have a dog to keep up with.
I did have time to play with shutter speeds and light conditions while Rusty ate a long dead fish. There wasn't a lot of movement in the water but I managed to soften things up with slow shutter speeds a bit.
Whatever it was he thoroughly enjoyed crunching down on it and it gave him terrible dog breath. No kisses for Rusty for the rest of the day.


Seaweed was pushed up onto the beach. What you see here is a floating mat and were you to step on it you would sink immediately into the water below:

Another fine morning walk at West Summerland Key.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Stock Island Construction

The Stock Island gentrification news is all focused at the moment on the new Ocean Edge Hotel at the former Oceanside Marina which has been made to vanish to be replaced by this:Related image
from the Web
However the new Pritam Singh resort is under fire as the owner has rented an apartment on his own property to gain standing to sue some other apartment owners who are renting out their units illegally and wrecking his peace and quiet. In the course of the suit it apparently came to light that the hotel has a lot more rooms than it has permits and the county is investigating that little problem. It's hard to imagine anything will come of it, as Singh is very wealthy, but they are making a  show in the county offices.
Around the other side of the island on Shrimp Road another large luxury hotel is taking shape at the Village Marina complex.  
 This is much more low key so far, no lawsuits, no anger, just steady building.
It's all part of the changes that are finally coming to Stock Island after years of threatneing gentrification. It would have been silly to assume that the crash of 2008 killed off all plans, it just slowed them down.
The problem with all this change is as usual the displacement of people who do the work. As it is hotels closer to Miami, in the Islamorada area for instance get their workers on buses from Homestead, commuting back and forth for hours for the chance of a better paid job in the luxurious end of the Keys.
Around here some hotels are considering employee bedrooms in their buildings, but the commute to Big Pine Key, 30 miles from Key West, once unthinkable is now commonplace.
Stock Island will have to clean up to attract tourists but that will be just part of the master plan I am sure. The duty old trailers that house the Cubans and the Haitians who wash dishes and clean rooms and tidy gardens will disappear and those lives will be upended and I suppose sent to the mainland to find other work.
This can't last, and as the hotels in Key West keep drawing people it makes sense to those who need to keep expanding to do their expansion here.
I can't say I particularly like Stock Island the way it is. But there again it's nothing to do with me. I don't like the chaos and garbage everywhere. The problem for me is that when clean up happens it tends to go too far in the opposite  direction, that of a certain sterility in conformity. And to me that is worse...so when it comes to the run down nature of Stock Island, on balance I'd rather they left it alone.
But money talks and that's all there is to it.