Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Democrat Monroe County

While the Presidential drama gets drawn out on the mainstream press, which ignores the substantial number of votes to be counted in heavily Democrat Dade and Broward, little Monroe County at the bottom of the state has gone blue. Which is odd considering registered Republicans number 19,000 and Democrats are at 18,000 and declined to state are around 15,000. Yet the returns show our Congressional Representative will be Joe Garcia who beat his Republican rival handily. No surprise as David Rivera the Republican has a politica past mired in scandal and Garcia is a solid uninspired citizen, I will be delighted to be represented by a Democrat in Congress though I expcthe won't be radical enough to suit my New Deal tastes.

State Attorney Catherine Vogel will be back in town in January, no longer second-in-command of the state prosecutor's office but in charge of prosecuting crime in Monroe County. She left town after she lost the last election when she was number two in the office. Earlier this year she beat incumbent Dennis Ward in the primary because he prosecuted corruption and didn't flinch when facing down Conch notables in court. The locals proved their power and ousted Ward. It will be interesting to see how hard core Vogel will be when faced with prosecuting the offspring of local power brokers.

Dwight Bullard won the State Senate seat which like the congressional seat is only partly in Monroe County and thus is in the sway of Dade County which has so many more voters. Bullard is the scion of a powerful African American family in South Florida and his win was a given. Like so many who come to power by inheritance he may be a Democrat but he will be no great shakes in the energy or dedication departments when it comes to taking care of the Florida Keys. It's sucks to be a small County sometimes.

Holly Raschein, she of the shiny blonde forehead has restored the State Representative's seat to the Republican party kicking the bearded young Ian Whitney in the goulies. Seat 120 was held by Republican Ken Sorensen for years as he slowly fossilized in office. Then when he was timed out local hero Ron Saunders won office once again and represented the Keys in Tallahassee rising to be minority leader in the gerrymandered Republican state house. Saunders timed out this election and he appears to be headed toward lobbying for gambling for Indians which seems like a morally elastic life choice for the good old boy.

The mainstream press is waving around a big excited woody about the close Florida race for the Electoral College at ten pm Eastern time. I'm sticking my unimportant neck out and predicting an unarguable win for the President when the blue heavily populated counties across the state finish counting their votes.

I have long since argued the one percent like Obama, he has given them everything they want and despite the pathetic accusations of communism thrown at the First Black President by the uneducated sheeple, the President will win reelection. If he will subsequently survive assassination attempts a la E Howard Hunt, remains to be seen. As long as he gives the one percent what they want he will be fine, and he knows it.




Power To No Name Key

To look at this scene you wouldn't necessarily see anything out of place, a just a few visitors enjoying an early winter day in the lower Florida Keys. However the power poles are completely out of place when you consider this is No Name Key.

When I bring Cheyenne out here for a walk I am not used to pulling off the road and finding a big cement pole sticking out of the hood. I guess tags changed and I had better get used to it now.

I don't come to No Name much in the summer as its hot and Cheyenne doesn't enjoy the backwoods in the summer heat. But this summer I have been following the trials and tribulations of bringing commercial electricity to this island.

What is profoundly weird is that the public utility Keys Energy has planted poles and strung wires and the courts and the count haven't yet decided if commercial lecture city should be supplied goths island for the first time.

To see the poles in place like this you'd think the matter was settled but it isn't. It's a long and. Arduous story as you might imagine, especially because the courts are involved.

On the front lines there are two sets of home owners, one lot that oppose bringing power to the island, and the other lot that forcefully demanded it be brought. It has long since struck me as odd that you'd buy an expensive home out here off the grid and then decide you really want electricity and go to court to get it.

Opponents of electrification say supporters are speculators hoping to increase the value of their holdings by bringing power to No Name where homes currently live with diesel generators and solar panels. This is not an alternative society of eco-warriors, oddly enough. No Name is a suburban community like any other with all modern conveniences except the power lines. They have underground phone and cable TV (!) lines already hooked up.

Then there is the Federal government which operates a nature preserve on the island to give free rein to the protected Key Deer and that supposedly is another reason to not have electrical development on the island. Or at least it's another reason for all interested parties to show up in court and argue about this stuff.

Meanwhile the utility company has blundered ahead for some reason and wired up everything as though the electrification of No Name Key is a done deal. All they have to do now is hook the island's new infrastructure to the grid at Neighboring Big Pine Key.

What they will do with all these poles if the courts rule against electrification I have no idea. Meanwhile life goes on in the usual uncomfortable way on No Name Key. Personally I like electricity and I will miss the grid when our civilization founders under the weight of greed and abuse we inflict upon it daily. I don't envy homeowners here who have to maintain loud smelly expensive generators and organize costly solar panels to do what I do at the flick of a switch.

And a nice off the grid hippy home here doesn't come cheap in case you were wondering. 2008 did some damage to prices of course but it's still pricey.

It is only an asking price and maybe if electricity comes prices will go up but that's only a maybe.

And the cause of all the trouble? They don't seem to care one way or the other.


As far as I am concerned electrification is ugly and I don't like the poles and wires, even though I do like the final product! People bought homes on the island knowing there was no electricity and yet some of them now expect everything to change. Change is good I remind myself daily. Perhaps but No Name doesn't look better.



Monday, November 5, 2012

Power Boat Races

I have never been much of a fan of the power boat races in Key West but after last year's fatal wreck and the grieving widow's lawsuit I am less enamored than ever of this lame excuse to show off one's penis extender. I mean, if you choose to take part in a massively expensive, inordinately pointless dangerous sport, and you die while doing it, your heirs should have the good grace to go home and lick their self inflicted wounds in private. But no, this is America where self reliance modesty and good manners have been sold down the river of avarice so now we have another chance to watch these bluebottles racing dangerously up and down the Key West Harbor.

Enjoy if you can. But remember, if anything goes wrong this year, we have no one to blame but ourselves. Not the participants, never in life should we hold the "sportsmen" who power these preposterous excuses for boats, never could we hold them accountable for their own folly. That would be unAmerican.



Safe Harbor, Stock Island.

Schooner Wharf Bar on Key West's waterfront like to claim the title of the last little piece of old Key West, but it seems to me, this piece of waterfront could more properly lay claim to representing the way Key West used to be. It's called Safe Harbor and it is a body of water that consists of commercial wharves, docks and industrial activity the like of which Key West hasn't seen in decades.

This is a boating community, and there is commercial activity here but that doesn't mean people don't live here as well, and. And some earn a living or practice a craft on land here among all these boats.

There is a fascination with boats and the water that transcends usefulness. People find the waterfront to be endlessly fascinating and perhaps soothing. As a former sailor, with Asperger's, I find he constant rattling of rigging on hollow aluminum tubes maddening. I used to prowl my deck obsessively during high winds attempting to tie off any errant halyard to stop the end,es banging. Sometimes I'd bungee my neighbors' lines as well such was the racket.

Hogfish restaurant is a popular eatery tucked away among te boats. This is in fact the main reason boatless people come to Safe Harbor.


At little piece of old Key West? Maybe. The fish and chips aren't bad but the beer selection is weak of you lie interesting craft beers. But the atmosphere makes up,for that I'm sure. It must, this place is popular.

This is downtown Safe Harbor whose location is accurately mapped on the post out front.

If you can tear yourself away from the fish fillets and Bud "Lite" there is a graveled alleyway jutting out into the water from behind Hogfish. Cheyenne loves to explore it.

She ignored the killer cat out for a walk. I was advised she has a vicious temper but saw no sign of it.

Artists in all media hang out here in these useful little warehouse compartments, building whatever comes to mind.

I could never own a custom painted motorcycle like this. I put too much wear and tear on my Bonneville to spend the time or money doing this to it:

Everywhere you look around here there is something to see, be it ever so inexplicable.


This guy is preparing to head north to Pensacola but he wasn't keen to get his picture taken as his oat wasn't shipshape. Not the point I told him. Peoplewantto see you living the dream. Am I right?

Pleasure boats mix it up with their traditional antagonists here, the commercial boats. Professionals for some reason dislike amateurs as though a human who boats for fun is beneath contempt. I don't know why but some sort of machismo is probably at the base of the antagonism.

And back on this side of the channel the ultimate in pleasure craft, a wooden river boat type of machine gets the refurbishment it deserves. It put me in mind of the movie Fitzcarraldo.

I took this picture with the caption in mind, considering the feeble state of my two banana trees at this early stage in their lives: banana envy. Very Freudian I'm sure.

Cheyenne causes me envy sometimes when women just walk up to her and start petting her. I can look as baleful as you like and I never get the attention she does.

Cute but pointless signage.

Cute and potentially useful signage.

They build stuff, like I said earlier, in these warehouse units, woodworkers included.

I wandered over to Fishbusterz fish market later but the dockside restaurant that I quite liked is no more.

At the beginning of this essay I mentioned the soothing effect of open water views.
According to the literature the basin was carved out of the water in the 1950s at a time when shrimp boats were based in Key West Bight in Key West. Land prices started to go up in the eighties and the Shrimp boats moved and found a new home here.
Across the water the power plant operated by Keys Energy, the local public utility, sits and waits for a massive power outage. They have a couple of huge diesel generators there and I'm told they can run electrical needs for the lower Keys at eighty percent capacity for two weeks on the fuel stored at Stock Island. It's the sort of emergency back up they could use in New Jersey right now.
On land there is a whole world of activity, less dramatic than the power station and it's preparation for disaster.

Don't get used to all this rustic beauty because development plans are in the works to build a luxury upscale boating facility just across the harbor. Imagine how contained that sort of gentrification will be as the years move forward. This sort of cheap rustic old style living will not be tolerated for long. Money talks remember...There are also moves afoot to try to incorporate Stock Island into the city of Key West, presumably to benefit the wealthy, not the restaurant workers and handy people who live in the trailers on Stock Island. I guess we should enjoy. His while we can and hope for the best.

Walking Cheyenne Is always a delight and around here because there is much to see and smell. I'm not sure lobster traps smell as I would like stuff to smell but she is a dog.

It's hard work and it takes it out of a dog. Who then needs to take a sort of swim.

This is a close up picture at the end of Stock Island's Front Street which stops short at the power plant. Very impressive it is too.

One more fine mural to admire. Murals are a popular form of expression in the Lower Keys.



The last little piece of Old Key West? You decide.