Sunday, October 27, 2019


Not what you expect to see when you stop off at Miami Subs for lunch during a long day of answering calls for service at the police department next door. The odd thing was the ghoul with poor dental hygiene was  in the restaurant for the same reason I was. Fantasy Fest requires fuel whether you are the sinner or the sinned against, or in my case a bystander helping tamp  down the excesses.
He was one of eight people including visitors from Miami who not only wore real costumes but together formed a barber's shop octet. At least that was what they sounded like when they burst into song.  
 The fantasy fest lunch started with me sliding into my table across from my wife who arrived before me and ordered lunch as she the teacher was off on Saturday and I the dispatcher was making money on overtime at work with a limited lunch break. I was not best pleased when the freaks ext door leaned over and asked my wife if they could sing her a song...and then the nightingales came forth full throated and as sweet as could be. Color me astonished and my wife delighted. The best moment of Fantasy Fest, hands down, totally unexpected and perfect.
2019  will not go down in my memory as the best year for the annual street carnival one way and another. I just did not gel with event and found myself spectating in the wrong places at the wrong time. The Locals March on Friday night started in a  downpour and I was not  in the mood to wait it out after twelve hours answering the police radio. The weather is hot and sticky and frankly I am ready for a proper cold front after an exceptionally long sticky summer. Climate change may be a fiction or not human caused or whatever the latest line of denial may be but it looks pretty real in a place where tides won't go  down and heat won't go away and hurricanes are ripping things apart everywhere they go. Rant Over; but it's hot enough at the moment to destroy the will to live.  
So as I wandered Duval Street looking for costumes I didn't come across much on Friday. Perhaps they were reserving their splendor for the Masquerade March as the locals' parade is known, now that it isn't populated solely by local residents having some non-tourist fun. On Duval I watched people walk up an down and it was not that interesting. I looked at feet for a while wondering about a thread online I'd seen asking for photographs of footwear on the street. Sounds weird but they had an interesting variety. I didn't.
 Do I sound like a tired old grouch if I say almost bare breasts in public this week are overrated?  I am not interested in getting into a costume myself but I always hope for fantasy, variety, wit and maybe a statement about local politics or issues delivered with humor and good cheer. Instead I get women of all ages who think wit is airing their chests. Perhaps it is in a society as repressed and fearful as this one on this subject, so check out the reaction to these two women embracing a stranger who wanted a different picture for his vacation album:
I can only imagine what a French tourist would think of it all. I saw women topless on French beaches forty years ago when I was in a better frame of mind to appreciate them. On viewing some of my past Fantasy Fest pictures my Italian nephews, farmers by trade, were quite interested in Key West suddenly. I had to give them a reality check about the other 51 weeks of the year. This town is not the Bohemian retreat it once was.
This crowd of costumed revelers were on break between runs cleaning up the streets, maintaining the trash cans and barricades and keeping Duval Street bearable. They were pretty cheerful considering the heat and their physical labor. Which is just as well as their work is indispensable on a crowded street with lots of trash generated.
For me the routine continued through the week. I had managed to snag a lot of overtime thanks to my colleagues' indifference so my routine proceeded mostly unaltered. Rusty is a wonder dog of course with a  few limitations. Heat and crowds don't do much for him so I usually take him for a walk around 4 in the morning before I gird my loins for work which starts at 6. It is always a relief to spend time with Rusty  away from the politics and stressors of work. 
I have been contemplating the fact that after this Fantasy Fest I will only have to work through two more if plans go according to ... plan. The idea is to leave town well before Fantasy Fest 2022 and with my luck that will probably be the best and coolest and most fun carnival of them all. 
Oh and among those delightfully fully dressed troubadours at the beginning of these pictures there was one who called out to me by name. Even looking at him I failed to recognize Joe (and his girlfriend Destiny). Some paint, a wig and a smile and you are someone completely different. One day I shall try it when I am tired of being myself.
Of all the people I saw in public these two cheered me up the most.  Proper costumes:
It's  all in the name of commerce in the end and one supposes the money changed hands and in the end one hopes everyone went home as happy as they could. At the police department the hundred or so officers from our department and support from around the state get a day of rest but the work goes on filing reports about lost stuff, stolen stuff and fractured relationships  and alcohol fueled misunderstandings and poor parking and all the social debris that gets left behind after a blow out party. 
Swiftly flow the days
Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers
Blossoming even as we gaze
Sunrise, sunset
Swiftly fly the years
One season following another
Laden with happiness and tears
That old Fiddler on the roof got a few things right: swiftly fly the years indeed. Some years you want them to fly in a hurry, others not so much. Or if you are  a dog you wait on the couch for the boss to get home.