Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Key West Homes

After all these years I still get pleasure from looking at the massive diversity of construction in this small town. 
As we gear up for the holiday and give thanks for this and that, it may time to give thanks you don't have to deal with these monstrously over priced cottages. Just because they cost half a million or more doesn't mean they are properly built or maintained, or even dare I mention it properly equipped.
It takes paint to fight the salt air and powerful sun.
In the old days they used wooden shutters and secured them for hurricanes. The wooden shutters still used today that open forward from a hinge at the top are called Bahama shutters. 
And in a town that has never seen frost the winter holiday season brings out illuminated fake icicles:
A sloping tin roof, broad overhangs and lots of vegetation add up to classic Key West:
Local commercial fishing boats have a driving position at the front of the boat like this:
Buttoned up until someone comes to live here:
And something somewhere is always for sale.

I noticed the Fantasy Fest beads below next to the ugly sign and I was reminded that Fantasy Fest may take a different turn next year. The current organizer has retired and made  a point of telling the paper she made a fortune in real estate since the 1970s and was not forced out of running Fantasy Fest by the deluge of negative press this year.
Lots of Fantasy Fest beads remind me of the week that's best forgotten. Hopefully whoever organizes the festival next year can clean it up a bit. That would be nice.

Monday, November 21, 2016

City Hall Nears Completion

City Hall on White Street is close to being finished and should be occupied by the end of the year.
It is a magnificent structure, a fully refurbished early 20th century school building turned into the offices for the city of Key West. Some residents had to complain of course, the cost close to $20 million bothered them which is pretty funny as the city is currently renting space at Havana Plaza to keep the city running. and that's not cheap. The fifty year old pre-computer city hall on Angela Street was wrecked by Hurricane Wilma in 2005 and has been turned into a parking lot with a proper fire station (and public restrooms!) on that street corner.
This place offers easy access from all corners of the city with no more clogging of the tourist centers of Old Town. It has tons of parking and it retains a connection to Key West's past. I am glad they turned Glynn Archer school into this. Including the masonic symbol cut into the gymnasium name plate. Odd but true:
More controversy was generated by the solar panels in the parking lot. The whiners argued they are ugly and violate the rules of building design for the historic district. I think it's about time the Keys went solar.
Besides I think the argument that the houses across United Street aren't spoiled by the solar panels.
Look and decide for yourself:
Conversely the huge old fashioned emergency generator, a giant lump, causes no comment at all. Nor do the huge cement poles for power lines and all the infrastructure we are used to seeing. Change freaks people out. 
I can't wait to see the interior of this building which was rebuilt from the ground up inside the original shell.
And the landscaping is already in use:

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Fisherman's Cafe

I met JW a former dispatcher on my night shift at the Lazy Way Lane eatery opened by a friend of his family. We worked nights together for more than a year until he got a daytime job working at city hall, much better for his wife and child. Because JW grew up in Key West working days means he gets to spend time at family functions and keeps his eyes open as well. Night shift can be hard on a family man.
Fisherman's Cafe is where you go for Conch food, which is to say foods enjoyed by people who have been born and grown up in Key West and these foods are remembered as staples of the hard times in the past. Key West suffered badly during the Great Depression, a time when most of the city was unemployed, and when the city declared bankruptcy the Federal Government considered shutting the Keys down and evacuating them to save time and money.
Tourism turned that around when a Federal Administrator Julius Stone came to Key West and fired up the tourist industry that feeds the beast today. Yet when Conchs ("konks") reminisce about times they on't really remember they speak fondly of those simple foods that kept the city going. Mind you grits and cheese and fish are good stuff and were eaten even during the hard times of the 1960s when the Navy withdrew most of their sailors from Key West and  downtown went through another depression, saved this time by the arrival of gay guesthouse owners...
None of which mattered to JW or me. He had battered conch and I had hogfish he with spicy fisherman's fried and I with crunchy yucca fries. I love yucca, known locally as yuca, the Spanish spelling of the white starchy vegetable that tastes bland yet easily absorbs any passing flavor. 
I lied the food, especially the touches they add like avocado slices and a sprinkle of green onion along with the use of paper containers instead of the horrid Styrofoam which can't be recycled.
It was a good lunch and JW  got me up to speed with his job adventures and I shared mine such as they are,; who's been promoted and more importantly who hasn't, and so forth.
Rusty was perfect, curled up out of the traffic waiting for his walk. He really enjoys being involved and I like having him with me everywhere I go. He is not trouble at all.
An unassuming spot. I want to come back for the breakfast MENU. And now it's winter so sitting out is a pleasure. Which is just as well as there is no inside seating.

Saturday, November 19, 2016


 I collected some pictures of buildings I like. Above, my place of work on an evening of full moon. Below, Duval Street in monochrome:
This is the county office block  known as the Gato Building on Simonton Street. It's named for the Gato Family that built it as a cigar factory before they moved to Tampa when Key West got too expensive for their business...an old story still relevant.
The venerable fire station on Grinnell Street. It's really the Firehouse Museum and well worth a visit.
The new Seven Fish Restaurant Building. Deemed compatible with old town architecture by the guardians of classic Key West architecture.
 And the Seven Mile Bridge, not exactly a building but human construction nevertheless...

Friday, November 18, 2016

Dali Museum

The Sunshine Skyway Bridge across Tampa Bay connecting Bradenton to St Petersburg.
Even on a Friday the crowds following tour guides filled up areas of the museum. Field Trip!
Dali superimposed his paintings on a statue (LINK), his commentary on Indian Treaties in the US
A collection of photographs of Dali's life in Cadaques and elsewhere from the 1950s
Dali painted his famous optical illusion portrait in a small New York studio in 1975. His wife's bottom transformed into Lincoln's Face. Go figure. Surreal.
"Gala Contemplating the Mediterranean Sea which at Twenty Meters Becomes the Portrait of Abraham Lincoln-Homage to Rothko" 

The Discovery of America by Christopher Columbus:
This work is an ambitious homage to Dalí's Spain. It combines Spanish history, religion, art and myth into a unified whole. It was commissioned for Huntington Hartford's Gallery of Modern Art on Columbus Circle in New York. At this time, some Catalan historians were claiming that Columbus was actually from Catalonia, not Italy, making the discovery all the more relevant for Dalí, who was also from this region of Spain. Dalí's inspiration for this work was The Surrender of Breda, another painting by Velazquez. Dalí borrows the spears from that painting and places them on the right hand side of his work. Within these spears, Dalí has painted the image of a crucified Christ, which was based on a drawing by the Spanish mystic Saint John. The banner that Columbus is holding bears the likeness of Dalí's wife, Gala. She appears as a saint, suggesting that she is Dalí's muse, and that she is responsible for his own "discovery of America," where he captured the attention of the world through her encouragement. The flies and the bishop at the bottom left are a reference to a Catalan folk legend (from Girona) about Saint Narciso's crypt. Dali uses this myth to underline his patriotic devotion to his homeland's independence.

The Hallucinogenic Toreador:
Dalí conceived this painting while in an art supply store in 1968. In the body of Venus, on a box of Venus pencils, he saw the face of the toreador. This double image painting repeats the image of the "Venus de Milo" several times in such a way that the shadows form the features. Start with the green skirt, and make it into a man's necktie. The white skirt becomes his shirt. Travel up the figure. Her abdomen becomes his chin, her waist is his mouth, and her left breast is the nose. The pink arch forms the top of the head with the arena at the top as his hat. The tear in the eye (at the nape of Venus' neck) is shed for the bull. The red skirt on the right Venus is his red cape. 

The Ecumenical Council:
This canvas honors Pope John XXIII for trying to unite the churches through the Ecumenical Council. The coronation of Pope John XXIII is depicted in an omniscient vision. It appears four times with three views in the center, and one in the upper right hand corner which was formed by pressing an octopus onto the canvas. Along the bottom of the canvas, the self-portrait of Dalí recalls a pose assumed by Velazquez, thus another acknowledgment of the Spanish painter. Gala is depicted in the manner of Michelangelo's Moses, but she also represents St. Helena as Dalí has revealed in another work entitled St. Helena of Port Lligat. St. Helena was the mother of Emperor Constantine; her emblem in art is the cross. According to the legend, Constantine had a prophetic dream in which an angel with a cross appeared and told him "under this sign you will be victorious." Perhaps Gala's appearance in this painting as St. Helena is a tribute to her unwavering faith, inspiration, and guidance which led Dalí to victory.
The spaces are vast inside the museum.
And they rate this spaceship hurricane proof.

The museum is as capable of self promotion as the artist Dali himself was. You have to march through the store to escape. 

A most worthwhile place to visit. In the winter they promise a Frida Kahlo exhibit. We shall return.

An exhibition of Frida Kahlo’s paintings and drawings, together with her personal photograph collection, will open to the public at The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, FL on December 17, 2016 and continue through April 17, 2017. Kahlo’s works have achieved monumental importance in art and popular culture. Her dreamlike work suggests that love and suffering create a new sense of beauty. Kahlo’s art and storied life stir immense public interest.

Frida Kahlo at The Dali will be Florida’s first solo exhibition showcasing the extraordinary career and life of the acclaimed 20th century artist. The exhibit will feature a collection of more than 60 Kahlo pieces including 15 paintings, seven drawings and numerous personal photographs from the celebrated female artist and influential icon. The exhibition will extend outdoors where a special collection of flowers and plants representative of those in Kahlo’s own garden at Casa Azul, her home in Mexico, will grace the grounds of the Museum’s Avant Garden.

- See more at: LINK