Monday, July 6, 2020

Fleming Street Heat

People who sail modern recreational vehicles on the water  have inherited an ancient tradition of naming their boats and posting where they are from, a hailing port as it is rather quaintly known, so we decided to do the same thing to remember our time spent on Miki G, from Santa Cruz California. Tomasz at Key West sign took down the particulars of my wife's design and after three days called me in to do the deed. 
The name was suggested by Webb Chiles which took me aback as the original Gannet is a 24 foot ultralight sailboat which Webb sailed round the world on his sixth circumnavigation. We have some traveling to do to keep up with that fearsome reputation.
I have to say I was quite proud of myself as I managed to drive into town, negotiate the streets of Old Town, locate the back entrance to the store and back into it all without scratching the van, sideswiping a car, killing a cyclist or knocking the cell phone booster on a low hanging branch.   I don't know how long I can keep that up bt I doubt Gannet 2 will be seen too often in Key West, a place where all vehicles are fair game for scratches dings and broken mirrors.
It was a blistering hot day, I was on foot and as a precaution I had left the hound at home. I don't think Rusty was impressed by my act of kindness as for some unaccountable reason he loves to travel everywhere with me and   being left behind is not acceptable. Except it was the right thing to do.   
They tell us the "feels like" temperature (the only one that counts in my book) has been around 105 degrees which is much hotter and unbearable than is normal or acceptable. I wandered around Fleming Street while Tomasz worked his magic and as much as I like the colors of Key West...
....sometimes black and white is a better way to express my mood. I like summer heat in South Florida and I prefer humidity to dry itchy skin such as I get in the desert but this sort of temperature is off the charts hot. I suppose we should get used to it as the cycles of heat are supposed to get more frequent and more intense with the passage of time. There's a prospect.
I have lost track of the anti-climate change debate but I suppose there are some hardy souls out there who think wild weather and heat waves and hurricanes and winter storms are supposed to be this intense but for the rest of us who live at zero feet above sea level climate change has been brought home with a  jolt. The Army Corps of Engineers is doing a study to figure out what needs to be done to keep "flooding events" from inundating the Keys and their engineering expertise brought local politicians up to speed with reality according to the newspaper.
The bill to flood proof the Keys for the foreseeable, which gets to be an ever shorter timeline as the planet warms up, is going to amount to $3.8 billion dollars not all of it available from the Federal Government. That includes money to buy land and houses that cannot be saved and to raise others on stilts and build sea walls, King Canute style. Our local leaders in wisdom balked at that price tag but facts as has been noted previously are stubborn things. The study continues and will doubtless bring more ghastly reality checks to cheer up our community leaders.

I passed the offices of the spouse of a candidate for Mayor and I was not surprised to see the poster calling for votes. What I was more surprised by was to read in the Key West Citizen the remarks made by that candidate in regards to the bar closings mandated by the State. One has to wonder at a candidate for high office who compares a state health mandate to the modern all purpose villains of the Third Reich.

On Tuesday, Mark Rossi, owner of the Rick’s entertainment complex, and Rick Haskins, both running for Key West mayor against incumbent Teri Johnston, attended a protest Tuesday, June 30, in front of the Monroe County Courthouse. Organized by a group of people who depend on bars for their livelihood, the two candidates and about 20 people, three of whom held Rossi campaign signs, asked Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis to allow bars to reopen. DeSantis closed all state bars for a second time June 26 after cases of COVID-19 began hitting new daily highs.

The protest group, calling itself Business Industry Liberties (BIL), was formed this week by Monica Woodbury, owner of Rose Petals in Paradise, a home florist who sells flowers in several local bars and restaurants; and Kendra Sue Krause, a regular bar staffer. Woodbury said the BIL Facebook page attracted 80 members in its first two days online.

“We are doing it for the people who are losing their jobs daily,” Woodbury told The Citizen. “Bars are being discriminated against. COVID knows no difference between a bar, a Walmart, a restaurant.”

Woodbury said that if local bars and other businesses are following city emergency orders on social distancing and wearing masks, there is no reason for Gov. DeSantis to single bars out for closure.

“This virus could last a year, five years, forever. How long are we supposed to be closed,” Woodbury said, adding, “We have to learn to live with it. It could take our whole economy down.”

Rossi was also unhappy about the city’s new rule turning giving code compliance authority to police officers, calling the new emergency rules “Gestapo tactics of the mayor.”

“They’re stopping everybody, even if they’re wearing a mask. They’re shutting down Duval Street,” Rossi claimed. “People have to take personal responsibility. If they don’t, is it the government’s job to make them responsible? It’s a free country.”

The finished result pleased me and what's more important pleased my wife. 

There was no pleasing Rusty who greeted me and pouted for five full minutes when I got home.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

A Walk At Dusk

Photos taken earlier for use on a Sunday when I am trying to just post pictures of the Keys I like and that you won't see anywhere else as most people have no clue these paths and trails through the mangroves even exist.
Mosquito repellent makes it possible to stroll aimlessly without leaping around like a puppet on an out of control string. the little nasties will leap up your trouser leg if you don't cover yourself properly with cancer causing chemicals especially just after it has rained. 
Nevertheless in the right circumstances, like a cool evening breeze and a few clouds in the sky it's a great moment to be out getting your exercise.

Above I used the proper outdoor white balance, then just for fun I went with ondoor lighting to produce an intense blue.

A shiny seagrape leaf at high intensity camera recording levels (ISO 3200), all shiny and new like a fresh seagrape. 
These are a few of my favorite things at  dusk..  

Saturday, July 4, 2020

Waterfront Walk

Rusty can be very patient with me when I put the viewfinder to my eye but he won't pose no matter how long I take to frame the picture. I liked the shadows of the posts all lined up but I shouldn't have minded at all had he chosen the moment to look over his shoulder at me...would he hell.
Some visitors to the Keys are being really difficult about wearing masks. Our numbers are going up, locals are not too happy but we are stuck with lots of people clumping together and an outspoken few make a fuss about covering their noses and mouths.  The idea is to wear them indoors and anywhere when you are closer to strangers than six feet. All that means you should walk around with a mask in your pocket if not on your face. Some people get quite creative with their storage solutions as they social distance:
Simonton Beach is officially a city sanctioned boat launch location. Most people launch kayaks but some people get serious as these tire tracks show:
I spotted the common or garden residentially challenged resident rapidly becoming an endangered species in our expensive gentrified town. Some lucky folk make homes afloat and come to town for supplies, others find quiet spots to hole up away from the conformity of the homeless shelter and the recovery programs available in town.
If it weren't so boring living on the edge with nothing to do all day I might envy them the panoramas of their idle al fresco lives:
I like to think the seating arrangements are far enough to inhibit the vapor trails of virus on the beach:
Three pigeons into two pieces of  bagel won't go; so they had to squabble and share the bagel pieces tossed by an overhead hotel guest.
I never did get into fishing unless it was at Winn Dixie. Others prefer to go out and hunt for themselves:
And some quiet mornings they leave a powerful impression of passing wakes to mark their departure:
Enough people and boat watching, time to get Rusty back to the car.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Negative Space

I greatly enjoy bright sunlight and sharp shadows and absurdly saturated colors, especially in my pictures. People who have more time to spend arguing online than being out taking pictures talk a lot about the qualities they like in still photography and I have been discovering that I am less enamored of reproduction than I am of creating something with more color and contrast. I like the void of darkness or light that can be found in these sunny latitudes.
We are told to call it negative space, the area that has nothing in it, that creates a background or balance for whatever action there may be in the picture. I greatly enjoy silhouetting trees and branches and leaves against the sky, which can be any of a number of colors and shades.
At night black and white pictures give me a chance to find a black blank canvas to drop objects into negative space. For some reason the human mind prefers objects clumped in uneven numbers, one or three (as here) or five possibly.
Three Mallory Square palms photobombed by my dog at four in the morning.
Mangrove roots jutting into the negative space of a reflected moody sky: 
The best negative space of all: Florida in 1823, a long marshy peninsula of negative space, Seminoles living away from prying eyes, a few invaders at the southern tip and a few pioneers in the northern tier and the rest of previously Spanish Florida suspended in peaceful negative space with hardly any human habitation at all. Just those Seminoles soon to be attacked and moved and overrun.
I'd love to own this $175 print but ironically I lack the negative space in my van for such a large display of self indulgence. Oh well, something positive in the negative then.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

The Yellow Brick Road

The end of the road, that's what they say about Key West. I crossed paths with some guy at a  party when once upon a time I attended such events, and he was new in town. He couldn't get over the fact that at last he had made it to the end of the road. A giant dead end. He was proud of himself. I think alcohol got the better of him and he faded  back Up North. And left behind this image in my head of me living at the end of the road, a kind of yellow brick road of dreams, at the bottom of a dead end jutting out into the ocean. He found the notion fascinating, I find it slightly unsettling. I had quiet a nice life even before I stumbled into Key West looking for work.
If you look closely at the inspection cover in the street above you will see the letters USN stamped in the metal plate. That's because this was a city filled with US Navy bases and artificers who put together  a lot of the infrastructure you see today around the city. There are still seven navy installations around here but this is not a town filled with bell bottom pants or gob hats anymore. It is a frontier town one has to suppose on a border with a country with whom our leaders are not very friendly but none of that really impacts daily life in the tourist set. Visitors are titillated by the thought of the Godless Communist Isle just 90 miles away, closer than the nearest Walmart, but it's presence has no impact on life here.
I watched the two figures stepping away from me on Whitehead Street and then I thought about making a picture and the point I wanted to illustrate was how we live in Key West, the blue uniform walking to her hospitality job, the yellow t-shirt jogging to better health for a happier vacation memory. A few of us who live in between the two types work for the government in one capacity or another. We live with regular pay and boring hours and normal shifts in a  town that celebrates vacations! That is a little off kilter.
Here's another funny little thing while we're looking around Whitehead Street. The dude on the bicycle in the picture below, is riding into Truman Annex, the former Navy base converted  to civilian housing. He is riding through the pedestrian entrance next to the gates that are never opened to vehicles. 
They are called the Presidential Gates as they are supposedly only used by Presidents who used to visit the Navy base and stayed at the Commandants house later renamed the Truman Little White House as he spent so much time there. Indeed the columns alongside the gates have Uncle Sam's monogram cast on them.
The water tanks  from the days before water was piped to Key West from Miami. Before World War Two the city survived on rain water and stored water for passing ships to resupply.  the war forced the Navy to rethink things and they built the water pipe alongside the new continuous road to make sure the Navy had enough water here to monitor the southern approaches and engage in anti submarine patrols. The water tank has fallen into disrepair as much history has in Key West.
Sometimes small dogs like to rest and watch the world go by. So we stop and do just that until small brown dogs are ready to move on. It's his time devoted to his needs so if he wants a break he gets one.
I love this weird cargo tricycles operated by a  charter boat company. I saw them years ago in Mexico and I was sorely tempted to buy one and stick it on the deck of my boat and bring it to Key West. I had no reason to own a cargo tricycle other than the lust for one so I didn't follow through but here they are...
And it turns out they haul quite a load. She pedaled by with nary a squeak from the overloaded machine. Now I know I want one with still no reason to have one. We aren't taking bicycles on the back of our camper van so a tricycle is decidedly out of the question.
The yellow brick road that ends at Margaritaville Resort as all good yellow brick roads should. It's all part of the schtick I mentioned earlier. I go to the police station when I come to Key West. When the rest of America shows up they go in search of Jimmy Buffet. I met him once in a former job and he was very nice passing the time in idle chat during a  work break (my break not his). I had no idea who he was, everybody else at work knew and made endless fun of my ignorance. That's why I know I met him. My Key West moves in different circles from him or his fans but I do see his parrots from time to time.