Saturday, August 6, 2016

Key West Details

I never cease to be amazed by how much using a camera forces me to notice things, not just see them. Colors shapes and details leap out at me as I stroll around Key West.
I imagine these days with the craze involving photographing imaginary Pokemon characters I am more invisible than ever with my dog and my iPhone.
Which leaves me free to admire details, and some times the big pictures as well.
To me the details of the city tell me more than the people who cross my path. Most people in Key West hide behind a uniform of casual clothes that express island laissez faire at best and social indifference at worst I suppose.
The buildings, the architectural details speak louder to me than clothing fashions or baseball caps.
I keep thinking there is nothing new in the city but there always is. Maybe just a big green leaf.

I saw these pomegranates and I was reminded of my tree on Ramrod Key, the one where somebody stole my first ripe fruit. I was glad to move out of that sourpuss neighborhood. I didn't steal these:

Key West: trees, houses and motorcycles. A perfect combination.
The old louvered windows, classic Florida architecture:

Friday, August 5, 2016

Water By The Spoonful

We  went to see a very intense play which was part of the Red Barn's Summer Series, a reminder that tourism now never sleeps in Key West. Water By The Spoonful was a remarkable performance and left me wrung out.
As we walked away I had a lot to think about, not least that as much as I disliked my own upbringing it was nothing like the combination of Iraq veteran (from New York's Puerto Rican community) and an intersecting bunch of drug addicts. Yet it was a totally absorbing story and I came to no conclusions why I got sucked in so much and one can only say it was imaginative and well written and performed with power on our local stage.
It was the first time I saw an Internet chat room depicted on stage and that in itself was interesting. The four characters were illuminated as they spoke their messages and they stared across the audience as they spoke giving a sense of the detachment of posting in an online forum. It was surprisingly effective.
Key West at night is delightful especially when  its  hot by day. 
My favorite time to be out is  after four, when the bars close and alcohol can no longer be sold, but before six when commuter traffic starts to wake the city up again.
The city belongs to me and Rusty and strange messages make even less sense than they do in broad daylight.
St Mary's minor basilica on Truman Avenue:
A walk in darkness, always worthwhile.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Salsa At Sandy's Cafe

I think when my colleagues voted to send me down Virginia Street to get coffee and snacks from Sandy's Cafe, the all night Cuban Coffee shop on White Street, they weren't expecting me to get the better part of the deal. But I did. Take photos and make sure they don't eat all the croquetas-Nick texted on receipt of this picture:
The  great thing about Key West is that even at three in the morning it's highly unlikely that anyone is going to be an asshole or pick a fight on the streets. In my experience even drunks will at worst be annoying, though the requirement is for you to keep your cool and keep smiling. Key West is a very safe easy going town on the streets. In the pages of the paper tempers flare, and neighbors don' get along great a lot of the time, but walking the streets is usually a pleasure. They aren't strippers, my uncharitable fellow dispatchers texted between 911 calls.
So being the only white guy in what suddenly became a crowd was no big deal. The pity of it was I suppose that I had a police shirt on and yet the big cotton badge gave me a shield to hide behind too.
The women who my (jealous) colleagues rather uncharitably ascribed by text, to the oldest profession might have had  a busy night as they ordered plates of full-on Mexican food. Paradoxically Sandy's Cuban Cafe is run by Mexicans.What is she wearing under that mesh dress? That's for me to know.
The car stereo was turned up and salsa classes began on the sidewalk. Bring more croquetas was all I heard from the peanut gallery.
Apparently they figured they would do better among themselves and there was talk of a threesome but I think it was not intended as anything more than a quick all-woman shuffle while waiting for dinner/breakfast. 
I was in no mood to reveal my Spanish so I kept out of the banter and took the text comments from the office as I kept my colleagues trapped in dispatch up to date. Michael, tell her she's a chonga. It means "beautiful goddess" in Spanish. Thanks Chelsea, I wasn't born yesterday.
 Oops! Not the only white guy any more. Reinforcements.
 Look but don't touch, and she put on a nice show for her audience.
 Time to go. Thank you I said, for livening up a quiet night.
She looked startled. Claro que si, hablo espanol. I could see her thinking back wondering what she'd said. I was busy putting the coffees in the car and clearly I couldn't reveal. That would be impolite.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Key Largo Hammock

Kay Drive in Key Largo has a rather nice hardwood hammock located on it, just off Highway One.
It was hot as hades in there but Rusty liked the look of it so I let him wander off while I played with the camera.
 I was in Key Largo to have a dental implant started at the surgeon's but the pain medication hadn't worn off so while my wife wandered the nearby flea market I took Ruty off to commune with nature for a bit. And to sweat.
The flea market is apparently moving to anew home, luckily they have one as McDonald's will be putting some Golden Arches down at Highway One and Kay DRive. 
I hope they don't disturb this quiet little corner of woodland, known in south Florida as a hammock if it's a piece of dry land that  grows hardwood trees. 

 Rusty liked it. So did I.
Owing to the surgery and pain meds I was a passenger on the way home so we both slept on the back seat.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Gardens Hotel

It's  a low key spot, a good place to gather together before tackling the demands of dinner in town, as a group.
The self serve wine bar is a great feature. You buy credit on a  proprietary card and you use it to dispense wine of your choosing, by the taste or half glass or a full glass as you like:
Hotel guests have a pool surrounded by the garden, visitors have a cool crisp interior to sit in if they don't want a  sweaty outdoor bar.
And Michael Robinson playing the piano.
And the hotel cat to see you on your way to dinner...

Monday, August 1, 2016

Lower Keys Medical Nightmare

The debate over the Lower Keys Medical Center on north Stock Island is heating up and could provide an interesting bit of public wrangling to take us into Fantasy Fest. Here's the deal as reported and as much discussed by local residents....
Lower Keys Medical Center as the hospital is officially known has apparently annoyed one person of influence too many and simmering resentment against the hospital has exploded into a  public call for a boycott and numerous stories of hidden billing, malicious collections and medical shortcomings. A local advocate of impeccable credentials Reverend Stephen Braddock took on the hospital by demanding an itemized bill, as required by law and the hospital not only refused but sent out the bill collectors with legal threats.   Braddock was delighted and said he was happy to take the hospital on in court at which point the bullies backed down and settled. 
Funnily enough the hospital flew out a well known local community leader for treatment in Miami and when the wife asked he be flown by the Sheriff's helicopter which doesn't charge county residents the hospital told her it wasn't available. When the private carrier sent her a bill for $60,000 she checked with her friend the Sheriff who told her that his helicopter had been absolutely available she went ballistic and a group of community leaders called for a boycott of Lower Keys. The hospital run by a shady medical group out of Tennessee rewarded their patsy running the place by firing her:
Nicki Will, CEO of Lower Keys Medical Center in Key West, Fla., has resigned, effective immediately.
Ms. Will is leaving her position after 13 years as as CEO. LKMC did not provide a reason for her departure.
During Ms. Will's tenure, LKMC achieved numerous accomplishments, including facility improvements and recruitment of new physicians to the community, hospital officials said.
"It has been my honor to serve as CEO of Lower Keys Medical Center and work with the incredibly talented and passionate teams who provide care to our community," Ms. Will said in a prepared statement. "The hospital is a vital, valuable asset to the Lower Keys community and I am confident that the board, medical staff and dedicated employees will continue to move the hospital forward for the benefit of our island community."  Becker's Hospital Review
Yeah, whatever, good riddance. I know these allegations of appalling billing practices are real because one day last month a bill collector appeared at my door. Wrong address as it happened, but my neighbor told me he wanted to discharge a $1500 bill $50 a month and the hospital sued him, which is illegal and was thrown out of court. Go figure.
At this point the people I have talked to about the hospital fiasco want Community Health Systems of Tennessee out and would like to see not-for-profit Baptist Health come in and give the community the impeccable service for which they are renowned in South Florida. I wouldn't mind if Lifenet the pirates of the air took a hike too but I guess it's one step at a time. It sure is time for Monroe County to take control of this situation. 
Interestingly enough there may be a simple legal way to dump these nasty inhumane business people from these islands and that is an issue of  the lease that the hospital is currently operating under. Lower Keys used to be a county facility  paid for by a tax district which decided almost two decades ago to give the failing hospital a new lease of life by transferring the facility lease to the for profit people from Up North. Now some legal minds have been studying the entrails and they say the lease might have been executed improperly.  If so the whole fiasco will be in the local politicians' hands to screw up.
Health care is too serious and affects too many people for Lower Keys to continue to be operated as a cash cow for the benefit of stockholders elsewhere with no regard for human decency right here. I hope for happier days as I grow older not younger with all that that entails.

CHS are not good neighbors or decent humane business people apparently: