Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Prehistoric Florida

A friend of mine said my pictures make Florida look prehistoric, a reminder than in some ways this most maligned state, most badly developed state still has kept in touch with its prehistory. I suppose so. The thing I like about the back country in the Keys is that it reminds me of walking in the desert, a place of not much life and a great deal of wind whistling in your ears as your feet crunch through the soil. Around here the "desert" if green and often moist, populated by birds and insects and not often silent as the cars on Highway One are never more than a few miles distant.
And yet I find that prehistoric look everywhere, bleached tree limbs reaching up to the sky in supplication...I wander off the trail, frequently finding my feet mired in clay and muck, my dog happily splashing unseen between the bright green bushes occasionally flashing his tail like a brown pennant above the mangroves, marking his passage.
In the middle of prehistoric mangroves I spotted the old Niles wooden bridge to nowhere blown away by Hurricane Irma. 
 In its glory days it looked like this:
And now all I can say is it looks forlorn, washed up and even more useless than when it joined two empty mangrove patches.
The views across the waters between the islands are like this, with odd human made structures appearing through the heat haze. I often wish for elevation in this flat low lying islands. Standing on a tree stump or a small mound of gravel gives you immense perspective. Relatively speaking.
There he is, happy as a clam waiting for me to decide our next direction. I whistle and he comes running, then he waits. I feel bad for all those dogs I see outside the trailer park near my home trudging the same stretch of roadside every day in the same way at the same time. At least they are getting walked but Rusty I try to actively stimulate with variety and open spaces to run across.
Exploring is in his nature, wherever we go his nose is down and he is intent. He doesn't like the same walk two days in a  row usually so I take him by car on a  circuit of nearby trails. They look pretty much the same to me but they don't smell the same to him.
 clouds worthy of the heat and humidity of summer:
And then a Florida sunrise. No wonder other states malign Florida; all they see is orange juice and condos and weird lurid tabloid news. 
 I see this:
Thank you Rusty.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Blimp Road

I was discussing photography with a friend and she gave me a little nudge in the direction of filters on the camera.
I like my camera because it forces me to look and see instead of skipping and not noticing. It also allows me to look and stay an observer.  That was one reason I liked being a reporter, the ability to not get caught up in what I was watching. So re-thinking the use of filters I see new ways to see and where there is manipulation of reality it's obvious. I like realism but Mandy, a former Key West resident, pushes me to look, not just see.
This is  Rusty, clearly not as you actually see him with  just a mild color twist:
The views are limited wherever you live and travel daily. I sometimes resent the absence of hills and rivers in the Keys and when I wish for changing seasons I remind myself they bring cold, as  well as the all transforming snow, which though lovely to look at is unbearable to feel (for me).
Herewith some pictures of Blimp Road on Cudjoe Key, just another side road to nowhere...
 ... like every other road off Highway One...

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Chihuly St Pete

Curiously my most successful pictures came from my iPhone. Minimum human interference...
 These cups Chihuly calls macchia from the Italian for forest (Think maquis in French):

At the Dali Museum's exhibit of Dali and Duchamp I noticed Marcel Duchamp struggled to show motion in his art. Visiting this place shortly thereafter I was struck by how easily and effectively Chihuly has done just that with these representations of what looked like water lilies flowing on the walls of the chamber as though pushed by currents of water. Duchamp could have learned a lot from this glass artist.

These translucent images of sea shells were my favorite display. So I took several pictures...

 Seaform Drawing 2007:


Saturday, March 3, 2018

Spring Break

I am not fond of using the car when I am on my own and I'd rather be riding a motor cycle, even the modest Vespa  which Hurricane Irma spared when it took my Triumph. However it so happened I had to take the car into town last Thursday as the bike shop had repaired my wife's bicycle, also wrecked by Hurricane Irma. Owing to the rear ending of my big car (the replacement for the car also wrecked by Irma) which fits the bike rack, I was driving the convertible Fiat 500 with the roof open and the bicycle sticking out the top like a tattered sail. I came out of Publix facing a long walk to the distant car only to find myself following a young lithe tanned blonde woman with aviator glasses and shorts so skimpy her mother would have blushed. Well, I thought to myself, there's a compensation for being stuck in this parking lot and not zipping in and out of the scooter area as I usually do.
However her mother isn't in town apparently so it was in order for her to dress in such a way and when I saw her return her cart to the cart pen in proper style I was ready to be a little less judgemental. Then I saw a group of four more students loading a  car with essential supplies and again a  barely covered bottom was sticking up like a beacon hailing all ships at sea. What, I asked myself, is going on? Spring Break is going on I had to remind myself. It is that time of the year when  young people, Future Leaders of America invade Key West and spend money and seek happiness in unlikely places.
Spring Break is another of those events that has you happy if you make money off the invasion and not if you don't. Some hotels decline to rent to Spring Breakers for fear of damages and disruptions. Key West is an expensive town and the young people pack themselves to a room like sardines which causes issues for the hotels. For me Spring Break is a time of complicated commuting - lots of accidents and wild driving - and long nights at work. Dispatching the police is an odd job in that nothing happens for a bit, in a small town, then suddenly everything goes wrong at once. I have been working night shift for about twelve years and I like it better than days but this is the time of year that tests your mettle on a 911 line. In a  town like Key West where the older calmer millionaires are taking over and going to bed early, a sudden influx of party mad youngsters is a bit of a jolt.
For all those other nights when we sit up in the wee hours waiting for the phone to ring, Spring Break is a long endless series of calls for service to deal with drunks, drunks yelling, drunks fighting, drunks making noise, drunks passing out in public places. It's less a crime waves than a  loss-of-self-control wave. University after university takes a week-long break and some of these students come here.And it can make you cringe as you can see below where I managed to take a self portrait wherein I lost my neck under my gray beard. I wonder where I put it? I don't need a neck when I spend much of the night hunched up trying to remember where the officers are and where they need to go, a giant chess game of trying to keep ahead of the anti-social behavior.
It used to be that many more young people came to Key West when Key West wasn't so hidebound and their money seemed to matter more. Nowadays there are many more choices for the students, though Mexico's rather undeserved reputation for violence has caused an influx of students no longer willing to visit Cancun 350 miles south of here. That drug cartels are shooting each other up on the border from time to time but not going near gringo resorts has not much impact on the fear factor. So much the better for Key West.
Happily life goes on outside the confines of Smathers Beach where the ritualized mating dance of  vacationing intellectuals takes place, and Rusty still needs his walks and old people like myself and the good artist Webb Chiles continue to potter around decorously as (unfortunately) suits our advanced years. Chiles is getting a rather big sailing award in New York from the Cruising Club of America which is nice but I don't suppose the Spring Breakers will care. I do.
Actually I hope Spring Breakers don't twig that it may take them half a century for their achievements to get recognized. It might dishearten them.