Friday, December 8, 2017

The Beach Bum

I remember vividly watching a movie whose title I've forgotten at the Regal Cinema (when it was open) and one of the social failure characters announced he was going to get the money and fulfill his dream of going to Key West, at which the audience as one sat up and yelled at the screen in unison: "We don't want you here!" If we're going to be honest most movies made in Key West in whole or in part leave one feeling that way. The flicks always portray Key West as a magnet for scoundrels ad wastrels who only seem colorful in fiction; in real life these people are a pain in the ass.
Apparently there's a new effort being filmed in Key West and some people are all agog. IMDB says it's called The Beach Bum - oh joy!- wherein "a rebellious stoner named Moondog (Matthew McConaughey) lives life by his own rules." Further from IMDB: According to director Harmony Korine, some cinemas in los Angeles have agreed to show the movie while spreading curls of marijuana (smoke).
It's not really surprising one gets tired of seeing Key West in the movies. There have been some good ones though. 92 In The Shade if you can get ahold of that Peter Fonda classic from the novel. I liked CrissCross starring Goldie Hawn with some excellent scenes of older Key West. A friend of mine was an extra at the baseball field at Peary Court and she remembers the experience fondly. I didn't mind A Murder of Crows either with Cuba Gooding. Though not great it has  a nice chase scene on White Street and some boating shots as well. The plot is better than you expect. At least I seem to remember it that way and it's been a few years.
I don't know what to think about some movie about a beach bum in a town where only movie stars can afford to buy ( I exaggerate only slightly) and in which Jimmy the musician who never showed up to help out after Irma has a role. You can assume I don't think much of the premise for this movie. Apparently Buffett shot his scenes with "Moondog" in Miami. Buffett's connections to Key West are tenuous at best. Yes he got his start in Key West but the pursuit of fame and fortune have led him elsewhere, to more profitable places.
Key West as I like it: nooks and crannies and quiet streets and me and my dog. Not at all like the TV series Bloodline which I liked until they decided to end it abruptly and prematurely. The final season made little sense to me. 
Oh and some inconsiderate soul standing in the dead middle of the sidewalk. I wanted Rusty to pee on his shoe as we walked around his eminence. Rusty of course was too polite. Perhaps one day...probably about as soon as someone gets around to telling a real story about life in Key West.
Really. A beach bum living by his own rules. How likely is that? Not as sexy in real life as a movie star, eh?

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Winter Season

It's not getting any better as we approach the third month anniversary of the Category Four Hurricane that came ashore near here, Spanish Main Boulevard on Cudjoe Key. This is the view when I come or go from my home at the southern end of Spanish Main. My wife keeps a running tally of the new appliances and furniture and large amorphous lumps of garbage that are being added surreptiously to the Hurricane Irma wreckage that lines our subdivisions.
I took Rusty for a walk on Sugarloaf Key on Tuesday and struggled to find a clear spot to park my car before we set off on foot.
 Ramrod Key has a pick up spot that empties and fills as garbage is shuffled around. Currently it looks fairly empty in this photo I took from my car as I paused alongside the highway. 
The post office on Summerland Key has re-opened though it looks rather forlorn frankly. This is their temporary sales area:
Key West looks pretty much a sit always has, and this was the sole picture I got for the holiday parade because I had to go to work before it got underway. There's no garbage piled up in tourist land. 
I walked past the former Secretary of State's office on Simonton Street. Peter Anderson who made the Conch Republic into a profitable state of mind is long since dead, and his office has been transformed into a consignment store which seems ironically representative of the state itself. The Conch Republic paraphernalia is still available online. 
Christmas is coming and as a premature gift we are promised a cold front this weekend. Some people think we may see overnight lows in the mid 50s. I'm sceptical not least because I haven't seen temperatures below 60 degrees (15 Canadian) in a decade at least.
Perusing one of the Keys related Facebook sites I found this picture of the Australian pine on the old seven mile bridge getting decorated. Very cool.
 I saw some Christmas lights winking ona  pile of roadside garbage on Sugarloaf Key on my way to work. That made me smile.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Postcards From The Beach

Sunrise. A cheap shot because this is how so many mornings start.
 Roots of an upturned tree.
 In color. Not sure which way looks best.
 Rusty doesn't swim but he loves to run. 
 A swamp. In black and white:
In color:
 The beach looking west:




 Looking west:




Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Card Sound Toll

Card Sound will be changing appearance slightly this week. Starting today we are advised work will begin to tear down the old toll booth next to Alabama Jacks restaurant at the Dade- Monroe county line. In the photo below from a few years ago the Bonneville is just inside the Monroe County line looking south at the toll booth. 
The removal of the booth has been planned for some time and I got a last set of not so great pictures on the fly the last time we drove through and paid the dollar toll. The toll was instituted to pay for the bridge over Card Sound but that bridge was long since paid for and the toll lives on. 
 It was a manual toll booth and during the day two people took your money and gave change. The employees at Ocean Reef got a pass to reduce the cost and starting in February this will be an automated Sunpass machine. If it's like Dade County they will send a bill from a photo taken of your vehicle tag in the event you don't have a Sunpass. 
 It should speed up the process of passing through. On holidays and high travel days the line could get quite long. And all you had to do was proffer a dollar bill...even on a motorcycle you paid a full buck. Grr...
 It was a rite of passage for those of us who prefer Card Sound to the high speed tailgating and low speed performance of the 18 Mile Stretch, Highway One from Homestead to Key Largo.
And now those anonymous interchangeable people are gone for good. If their booth doesn't come down completely today the job will be finished tomorrow so Card Sound is out of service while the work gets done.
Hurricane Irma did a number on the already weak canvas at the toll booth and sadly no one saw any reason to clean up. Oh well. Starting in February they say the new Sunpass machine will be here in it's place.

Monday, December 4, 2017

Dinner With Susan

I worked an overtime shift Thursday during daylight hours to help out. We have lost another dispatcher to her growing family so she has quit to take  a lower paid job in the city with more family-friendly daytime hours. We are back to being short staffed so I am suddenly working far too much overtime especially as these are the holidays and everyone is taking time off. I know its Christmas time as there are wreaths on Duval Street.
After my shift in daylight hours my wife met me and we went to visit a friend who lives near the cemetery. I did a brilliant job of parking the car up a ridiculously narrow alley and we sat on her back porch occasionally interrupted by low flying airliners landing at the airport. For people elsewhere Hurricane Irma is over and its time to get back to other normal functions of life but around here the storm has had some profound effects. People are continuing to leave the Keys, trash pick up is problematic and community leaders continue to refuse to face the fact that Monroe County was not prepared and is still no prepared to deal with a similar catastrophe. The thing is now we all know that there will be anther storm and we all hope it will be far enough in the future we can pretend to ignore the implications.
 My wife went to the pharmacy in Marathon last week and it was a struggle for her to get out of class in her lunch "hour" to get her meds. She asked why their hours are now so short. No staff was the reply so they open at nine and close at four. That's all they can manage. I've got someone interested in taking my flooded Bonneville off my hands and I will need to get a copy of the title as I can find it at home. I was planning to go to the little DMV office in Big Pine that's open three days a week and is staffed by nice state workers from Marathon. No dice I was told as that office was flooded and won't reopen. I was crushed as now I have to ride 30 miles to Marathon to get my vehicle papers because the DMV in Key West is staffed by the rudest least helpful humans to inhabit these islands. On the bright side the Shell station on Summerland Key reopened this week, three months after the storm.
However it has no roof and I haven't got gas from a pump without a roof in so long it felt very weird standing there in the sunshine pumping gas into the car. However it was nice to see some small return to normality and I am glad to have a gas station two miles from home once again. There is trash still littering the highway as collection ceased for a while as the state had to investigate some contract shenanigans involving friends of the governor and dubious  payment schedules.  
The creepiest thing is a rumor that is going around that explains why the water was cut off for several days after Hurricane Irma. And rumors will fill the space given to them by the absence of official explanations.  It seems that the water was turned off deliberately to prevent the sewage system from backing up and  filling people's homes. The new system involves individuals pumps that macerate the excrement and push it into the sewer system that will eventually filter the sewage into water. These grinder pumps are buried outside the property line and they need electricity to function. Without electricity they don't work and the fear was that pushing sewage and water into them whehile the power was turned off would cause chaos. So we had no water.  
These problems were foreseen when the county put the grinder pumps out to bid and it was rumored at the time that a friend of an Important Person was pushing these pumps to get the contract. It was obvious at the time that burying an electrical pump in land liable to flood was a bad idea and some citizens have organized a law suit to get the grinder pumps exchanged for a simple and effective gravity system. I have no idea of the extent of the problem with grinder pumps but the rumor would seem to have some basis in common sense.
Which leaves us all wondering where we go from here. Key West missed the worst of the storm but Sugarloaf to Marathon the islands got horribly trashed. There are still people living in hotels at Federal expense. Ten million bucks is to be spent restoring a few hundred homes to a bare livable state. FEMA says they have no trailers thanks to all the other disasters that have overtaken the country this year.People are leaving the Keys. And we speculated over dinner that the numbers of working people fleeing will pick up as the rate of restoration to normality continues to lag and possibly slow down.
I have no idea what role climate change plays in all this but if we get a real threat of another major hurricane next summer, whether or not it hits us, the stream of people leaving will become a flood. We seem to be heading toward a tipping point for working people struggling to hold on in the Florida Keys. 2018 may be a very interesting year all round, elections, weather and Irma recovery all included.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Holiday Parade

From the 2009 Holiday Parade this picture, to remind me of one of my favorite parades in Key West:

The holiday parade is a reminder that some corners of Key West actually represents a small town where real people live out lives that involve normal stuff.  I am  child free so most of that  Key West stuff passes me by but I do enjoy the Christmas parade and it's  cheerful selection of floats  put on by utility companies, local businesses, schools car clubs and so forth. This year  a friend who participated said it was one of the biggest and best organized he's seen  so I feel extra good about having to miss it!

Naturally I have worked the past several years the night of the parade so perhaps I tell myself it isn't as much fun as I remember. No actually it probably is and I used to consider the thrown tootsie rolls as a bonus. 
Like every other employer in the Lower Keys these days we are short staffed so overtime is abundant and free time isn't. But the parade was bad timing this year. For me.