Monday, January 19, 2015
Sunday, January 18, 2015
It was lucky for our evening out that my wife had bought our tickets ahead of Friday night's performance at the Red Barn Theater. We enjoy live plays but sometimes there is an enormous mental block that makes the effort not worth the candle and a night in, with the dog and Netflix seems infinitely preferable to a thirty minute drive to arrive and then be crushed by a throng of eager theater goers.
That said The Last Night of Ballyhoo was entirely worthwhile. It was written by the author of the better known Driving Miss Daisy and also deals with being Jewish in the South, this time in Atlanta in 1939. I thoroughly enjoyed the performance, funny and poignant by turns, especially as the play opened a window on a time and a place and a culture not well known to us. The cast was splendid and I found myself absorbed by the story. A great night out.
After the play we strolled Duval looking for a drink for my wife ( I was driving) before heading back to the car a few blocks away on Eaton Street. Our friends were hungry and took off on Caroline Street after hasty adieus so we had time to wander. After we nearly tripped over a party of drunken revelers and were momentarily blocked by a man the worse for wear who mistook a tree for his wife and refused to let "her" go, we decided that Friday night on Duval Street really wasn't our scene and we turned and took the short route back to our car.
That took us past the old abandoned theater on Eaton, said to be haunted. Haunted no more, for now it is to become home to Key West's fourth theater company, if you include the peripatetic fringe group of no fixed abode which performs in found spaces. These fine people with powerful bios listed, are working to organize the space and with two weeks to go they will have their work cut out. I look forward to seeing what they can do with "original Key West" plays.
It was a pleasant night for a shirt sleeved walk, a cool north breeze prompting my wife to complain she was almost cold which goes a long way to explaining why we live here...
...that and the 19th century architecture rendered mysterious by the night.
We paused by Hilltop Laundry to remember our adventures bringing our clothes ashore from the boat, hauling sail bags filled with salt encrusted rags accompanied by our two dogs when we lived anchored in the harbor. The good old days tinged with the unhappy reality that living like that may be no longer possible nor desirable at our advanced ages.
Bollocks. If I wanted to I would go back to anchoring out. But driving home to be greeted by a happy dog and a glass of wine and a comfortable couch in a home battered by winds, yet planted entirely stationary was an entirely worthwhile place to be. Besides it's much easier to drive to the theater on the highway than get in a dinghy, cross a dark wet windy harbor covered in spray and outboard smoke and be forced to do it all in reverse hours later, just to get into a rocking pitching bed. Good old days indeed!
Saturday, January 17, 2015
What a strange winter we are having. Out and about it suddenly starts to rain, at random out of a cloudy sky. Days are hot and frequently muggy with all the moisture in the air. Nights are cool and breezy and pleasant. The cold fronts we were used to have faded from memory, just as four dollar a gallon gas has faded, replaced by fuel hovering between $2:30 and $2:80 a gallon, if you know where to look. It all seems to mitigate against the humble bicycle:
But the town is packed with snow refugees, people who now find themselves living in the path of powerful winter storms and they ride bicycles not as gas savers but as temporarily liberated souls, bohemians in a place south of reality. No kidding "south of reality" like this one bed, one bath = $715,000. But it is a pretty little eyebrow home in the part of town least likely to flood in a storm.
Some elements of local architecture haven't been updated yet:
There are odd spaces, dirt unused, which is odd in a town where everything costs so much.
And with it come odd little signs, "please use the little path" made me smile. I chose not to but the sheer good manners made me want to.
Key West, possibly made worth while by Cuban cuisine (and soon it seems Cuban rum and cigars) and pink taxis:
And ancient cultural symbols mostly forgotten in the rush to pursue the latest fad.
Key West: since 1828.
Friday, January 16, 2015
I can't say for sure if, on my last drive into town to pick up my refurbished motorcycle the people who crossed my path were visitors but I can say this: now is the height of winter visitor season and I had a very strong hankering to be back home, on my canal on my dead end street. This guy was doing a very good imitation of me at home far from the madding crowds of Key West, minding my own beeswax.
It was a gray day yesterday, I think it was what passes for a cold front these days when properly defined winters no longer seem to exist. Cold north winds raked the islands Wednesday night when I rode in to work but by yesterday afternoon it was oddly warm and slightly muggy again. Perhaps a hot con leche from Five Brothers would have seemed appealing had it been properly cool.
"It's a one way," she called out to the rider following her as they got their bearings and planned the next leg of their ride. Undoubtedly visitors and nothing wrong with that.
I confess: I do wear a helmet frequently when riding a powered two wheeler around town. Partly because I've ridden on the highway from Cudjoe and I can't be bothered to stop and take it off. Partly because it's winter and I don't trust the visitors and locals get impatient. I do answer 911 calls so I know better than most what hurts when you fall off, or get knocked off. But I will also confess I don't wear a bicycle helmet. The mark of the visitor, or should I say the sensible visitor?
I recommend these irritating Conch Tour Trains if you have a desire to learn about Key West. They are slow and seem to be powered by corny jokes and puns from the drivers (Not a Conch Train joke but surely this looms large in the drivers' minds: What's the difference between a Canadian and a canoe? A canoe tips ).
I am guilty sometimes of wishing the roads were swept summer clear so I could drive as I do in summer, but I try to tamp down such unworthy sentiments. Raking leaves seems a hard way to pay the rent and then have to fight clogged traffic to get home.
High visibility walking shorts, ample enough to flap like a skirt. So uncouth as to be cool in some else's world, no doubt. Why on earth would you want to draw attention to your diminutive self when dressed in feeble imitation of burly, powerful African American sports heros? Buggered if I know. The world outside Key West keeps getting more confusing. On the subject of fashion it turns out I am an elderly lumber sexual now that young bucks have learned to love beards. Did you know that make beard balm ointment nowadays?
Good joke says I, Captain Obvious, as Cheyenne trundles past the sign... dangerous Cheyenne. Ha ha!
The joke was on me because at that moment a genuinely fearful person approached us. "Is your dog dangerous?" Could be I said, sensing my pink Crocs ("I AM GAY") were failing to keep this charming woman at bay. Does she bite? Oh yes, I said, as long as you are baked grilled or fried. She doesn't bite the apparently seriously questioning visitor said, handing me her Bud Lite (open container! Not mine, officer!) as she bent down to risk her digits to massage Cheyenne's scalp. She's not dangerous, she insisted. But I am I said, fiercely. I don't think she believed me because she took back her canned token of rebellion and smiled cheerfully. She's not dangerous she said. You never know, I said, not wanting to tell how she sleeps serenely through the noisiest home invasion, me, when I get home after a motorcycle ride.
"How old?" he shouted at me. "Good afternoon," I replied. He repeated his question but louder. Fifty seven I replied. Not you, he said, your dog..? Oh I said. I was just using a traditional polite expression to open a conversation with a stranger I said. He was immune to sarcasm focused as he was on one thoroughly uninteresting subject: Cheyenne's age. How old are you, you daft old fool I wanted to say, but I mumbled nearly fourteen and he nodded, satisfied. That's another thing from Up North: why does anyone care how old my dog is? And shy can't they be polite when they ask, rather than barking at me as though I were on a charge...
Another woman walked into the street to avoid making eye contact. I wasn't going to lunge at her, honest, but I might have used that tired old formulaic greeting one tends to use if one was brought up right. She wanted no part of it (must be a visitor!) and then a scooter with a Five Brothers delivery box on the back buzzed me by on Angela Street near Catholic Lane and the rider shouted "Hi Michael!" over his shoulder as he went by. That confused me. Who the hell was that?
Ice chests on scooters usually denote delivery vehicles, like this one:
He must be a local, but the guy walking towards the camera isn't. He's shirtless because he's enjoying not being in the snow belt just now.