A Different Kind of Reefer Madness

Last night I caught the “420″ episode of Family Guy in which the debonair and back from the dead dog Brian goes on a campaign to legalize marijuana in his town of Quahog. Brian isn’t having much success getting people’s attention until baby Stewie informs the dog that he’s going about it all wrong. Rather than deliver rational arguments, he needs to provide a sound-byte spectacle. The two of them then stage a hilarious production number called “Bag o’ Weed” that convinces everyone in town that pot is a necessary part of their life.

 424px-William_Randolph_Hearst_cph_3a49373

“Anything That Threatens My Bottom Line Must Be Evil!”

(Words not said but probably thought by William Randolph Hearst, 1906 photo, US-PD)

That’s all good fun of course. Before he starts singing and dancing, however, Brian tries to convey the message that pot was first made illegal not because Reefer Madness would run rampant worldwide but because hemp (to which family of plants marijuana belongs) was threatening the timber and paper business of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and Hearst ran a smear campaign emphasizing the “connection” between cannabis and violent crime. This appears to be true. The DuPonts were also anti-hemp, as was Andrew Mellon. The reason the 1930s version of the 1% were so virulently opposed to pot was that hemp pulp could replace wood pulp very cheaply in the paper-making business and it also threatened the success of the DuPonts’ new synthetic nylon, which Mellon had invested heavily in. (Does all this sound familiar? The more things change…etc.) Continue reading

Rick Dostal of the 36th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Bar Stroll Presents Funding to Local Non-Profits

PSA bars

On behalf of the participating bars and bar strollers, Rick Dostal, of the 36th Annual St. Patrick’s Day Bar Stroll, presents a check for $ 5,000 to the Cancer Foundation of the Florida Keys .

Accepting the check is, Lanny Skelly and Eileen Masiello (not pictured Yvonnie Ametin).

Rick Dostal also presented a $5,000 check to The Boys and Girls Club.

Bezoar Bezoar

450px-PorcupineCabelasSpringfield0511

Nothing in My Stomach You Would Want. Really!
(CC 3.0, Some Rights Reserved.)

Odd things happen all the time. I just read on the AP wire via Zite about a man who c-sectioned a dead porcupine to save a live baby porcupine. Okay, that’s not what really went on, and if this already isn’t weird enough, here is where it gets stranger. This happened near Lisbon, Maine. The guy in question was out looking for wild mushrooms, and saw, sadly, a porcupine get hit by a car. The man had heard somewhere somehow that there is a valuable mineral deposit that forms in the stomachs of porcupines that practitioners of Chinese medicine crave. (If this is so, then goodbye porcupines, which will soon follow elephants, rhinos, sharks, and whatever other unfortunate animals are on the list for bizarre Asian medical ingredients on the road to extinction.)

So you’ve guessed it by now. The man cut open the porcupine hoping to find this mineral. Instead, he found a baby porcupine. It wasn’t breathing but, and here’s the really good part, he cut the umbilical cord and massaged it and it came alive. He and his family now are caring for it at home and plan to give the animal to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Good for them!

The ABC News story about this incident provides a really cute “awwww” moment with a picture of the baby. It also explains about the bezoar stone or “date” that can indeed form in animal stomachs. The stone is a tightly packed lump of undigested mineral deposits from fruits, hair, vegetables, and other things. In Chinese herbal medicine (sigh!), these stones are thought to cure everything from diabetes to cancer.

I think we need to start a movement to convince those who believe in such herbal remedies that the real secret to health lies not in various animal parts but in used chewing gum deposits. Think of the benefits this would have. Many creatures would be saved and all those unsightly gum spots on sidewalks would be scraped off and sold. If anything needs to disappear from our lives, these do. Definitely a win/win here. Who’s with me on this?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kim Pederson

Visit Kim Pederson’s blog RatBlurt: Mostly Random Short-Attention-Span Musings

The Frisbee King Throws to the Future

frisbee king

Getting old requires adapting to changed circumstances. I dislike this as much as anyone, both the getting and the adapting.

In our late 60s, we have more time, but less money, energy and strength. Parts that were once just fine now hurt. Some need to be repaired or replaced. Some things can’t be fixed.

Our horizon narrows with age.

Retirement redefines what we do and how we see ourselves. It’s tough when it’s forced on you.

I spent a few days last week in Key West, Fla., where three high-school classmates visited a fourth who has lived in the Conch Republic for 42 years.

Key West is a community that is upscaling itself by its own sunglasses. Continue reading

I Am Playing Badminton In My Soul

issue 55 rebecca

When I was a kid, my mom and I used to play badminton in the yard. Badminton, as it turns out, is not only a terrifically fun word to spell and say, but it is also a hilarious sport, especially when you are completely lacking many things that “other” people may consider crucial to the “sport” of badminton like a net, badminton skills of any kind, and a flat surface upon which to play. We had some tennis rackets, a birdie and a portion of the yard that wasn’t quite flat, nor really very large, but that would do for what we reckoned as our Olympic version of the sport. And, if you consider peals of laughter as points, we were, like, really, really, really good at badminton. Also my friends and I were quite excellent at tennis, s’long as there weren’t any other people on any of the three courts and we could have free reign of the entire arena. Continue reading

The Battle of the Bulge

I’m going back a bit in time here to revisit the first episode of Cosmos from a couple of weeks ago. At one point in that show, host Neil deGrasse Tyson mentioned that the earth and moon were much closer to each other when they were cutting their planetary baby teeth. Then he said something about the moon being pushed away from the earth by tidal friction and LEFT IT AT THAT! No explanation. No computer animation. Nothing. The thought must not have crossed his mind that millions of viewers out there in TV land would be left tossing and turning through sleepless nights wondering, What the heck is tidal friction? (Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration. Maybe it was just me tossing and turning and maybe it was only seven minutes before I fell asleep.)

A diagram of the Earth–Moon system showing how the tidal bulge
is pushed ahead by Earth’s rotation. This offset bulge exerts a net torque
on the Moon, boosting it while slowing Earth’s rotation.
(And if you can decipher any of this for me, please do. Gnu 1.2, CC 2.5)
Here’s how Encyclopedia Britannica explains tidal friction (or tidal acceleration): Continue reading

Pancake Penance

Pieter_Bruegel_the_Elder-_The_Fight_between_Carnival_and_Lent_detail_3

(Pieter Bruegel the Elder: The Fight Between Carnival and Lent, 1559, US-PD)
Nary a flapjack in sight.

I missed Pancake Day on Tuesday [March 4th]. I missed it because I didn’t know it was synonymous with Shrove Tuesday, the last day for many to party down before they begin six weeks of self-denial (Lent) on Ash Wednesday (which is probably what the inside of your mouth feels like, ash that is, after going wild the night before). Missing Pancake Day is a sad admission from someone who has received pancake griddles for birthday presents on more than one occasion (beginning with one from my grandfather when I was twelve or so), someone who loves to try out crazy recipes like pancakes made with granola and smothered in whiskey bacon maple syrup. But miss it I did.

Shrove Tuesday equals Pancake Day because Continue reading

The Frisbee King Returns To High School

Some people have a blast at their high-school reunions, while others refuse to attend. I like ‘em.

At my 50th this weekend in Pittsburgh, we looked older. Some of us looked old. Several now use canes. I heard a lot of talk about cancer and hearts, along with the usual wear-and-tear stories about knees and backs.

Whatever sexual, semi-sexual or pseudo-sexual vibes might have been slinking around at earlier gatherings were not in evidence this time. Or maybe my vibesight is not as good as it once was.

More than one person observed that we looked like our grandparents.

One, however, didn’t. One stood out. Continue reading

Notes on the Truman Waterfront Plan

Untitled-2

At the February 24, 2014 HARC meeting, I mentioned several concerns regarding the approval of the Truman Waterfront Major Development Plan:

  1. Continued discussion of Building 103 as a “Restaurant.”
  2. Planned walkways should reserve paving to incorporate “Cowpath” concept.
  3. Plan does not accommodate Outer Mole transportation solutions.

1.  I am not sure where the idea originated that Building 103 will be a Design-Build restaurant, but it seems to have taken on a life of its own, to the point that the City Planner now mentions it as a given. The notion that the park needs a revenue source to pay for itself is hogwash. Bayview Park doesn’t pay for itself, Smathers Beach doesn’t pay for itself and the Clayton Sterling Baseball Complex certainly doesn’t pay for itself. Continue reading

THE FRISBEE KING SERIES PART I: Life is a Frisbee, Thrown

Youtube Video Credit:  William Austin

Humans are the only species I can think of that show appreciation for the achievement of others. It can be expressed as a private word of praise, public acknowledgement, round of applause or people chanting your name.

Some children these days, though not all, are brought up in a cocoon of positive reinforcement. They are praised for participating. Effort does get more reward, and genuine achievement earns genuine commendation. But most children are not good at everything despite pro forma reinforcement. Speaking truth to children is increasingly avoided, even frowned on.

Sports stratify kids, ranking those who are good from those who aren’t. When kids pick up sides, they follow the pecking order from top to bottom that they all know. Judgment is not cushioned. The best are always picked  first; the worst always last. The kid who can’t catch plays right field where he develops an interest in geology from kicking pebbles out of boredom. Continue reading

A Brief History of Truman Annex / Part II

cm0433

State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/90697 (1965/66)

In the February 28 issue of The Blue Paper the editors/publishers asked if Bahama Village is being dispossessed of its 6.6 acres at Truman Waterfront.  The answer to that question is clearly “YES”!  I first took notice of plans for the Waterfront in 2005.  We, my wife and I, had just returned to the Conch Republic after a two-year absence.  We lived at the corner of Truman Avenue and Thomas Street and the City Commission was taking up the question of traffic flow into and out of the nascent development that was to be built on the 33 acres that was given to the City by the Navy three years before.

What follows is my attempt to chronicle much that happened between 2002 and now.  I will show when and how the City undertook to gain control over the 6.6 acres that were always supposed to be a significant part of the development and that were to benefit Bahama Village and its inhabitants economically and socially.

It’s not a pretty story.  There is still time to rectify the mistakes that were made, but the City is on a path to steamroll the original plans into oblivion.

Robert Kelly, Key West

~~~~~~

A BRIEF HISTORY OF TRUMAN ANNEX

PART II

Following a 1995 U.S. Department of Defense decision to shut down and dispose of fifty acres of waterfront property that was once known as the Naval Operating Base in Key West, Continue reading

A BRIEF HISTORY OF TRUMAN ANNEX

cm0433

State Archives of Florida, Florida Memory, http://floridamemory.com/items/show/90697 (1965/66)

PART I

The United States Navy came to Key West in 1823.  At the time, Key West was a remote outpost in Florida, at first a Territory of the United States established in 1822, and in 1845 admitted as the 27th state of the U.S.

During the period from 1823 until the beginning of the United States Civil War in 1860, the Navy maintained a continuous presence in Key West, pursuing marauding pirates and maintaining control over shipping lanes between ports on the Atlantic seaboard and in the Gulf of Mexico.  Although Florida seceded from the United States and joined the Confederate States of America for the duration of the war, the Union government continued to control ports and sea lanes. Continue reading

March 5, 2014…SPECIAL REPORT to the BLUE PAPER

pandas redux

People were not the only ones that were evicted when the Simonton Street Trailer Park was sold to developers….living in close harmony for generations with the park occupants was a colony of Pandas. In this photo from my archives that I shot for Solares Hill Newspaper in 1987, you can see two adults in the foreground (one up a tree) and several babies frolicking in the background.

They lived happily on the Bamboo stands that were scattered through the park, and the little ones would often lie down with cranky Park babies until they fell asleep.

But here is the Park today… Continue reading

What’s Cody Romano Up To These Days?

Cody headshot BEST

Cody Romano was one of the presenters at “frank,” an annual gathering in Gainesville for social change communicators and public relations specialists. Cody, who went to Gerald Adams Elementary School and graduated from UF, is a developer for Mobiquity, a mobile software company in Boston. He works with various clients such as Biogen developing apps for patients with neurological disorders, and Hasbro, creating video games that kill exploding aliens and adding technology to their game “Life.”  Romano spoke about his side project, “Geopackages,”  an app that promotes social change through location-based storytelling. Cody is the son of Womankind executive director Kim Romano.

Check out Cody’s website http://codyromano.com/  [Kudos to Cody .... and Gerald Adams Elementary!!]

Inevitable Harm

Today’s headlines are full of stories highlighting the fallout of masterful con men.  This epidemic comes in a myriad of degrees and forms and each of them is sure to leave a wake of destruction in the lives of those who cross paths with such dangerous men.

Good Morning Florida Keys’ Jenna Stauffer and co-producer Paul Hardt have spent the past couple of months working on a documentary entitled Inevitable Harm. It’s a powerful story that is based on the utter destruction a con artist can cause and even when initially perceived to be his accomplice, the strength one woman has to overcome it.

To find out more and to support the making of Inevitable Harm, the documentary click here.

The expert guest featured in the documentary is Sandra L. Brown from The Institute of Relational Harm Reduction & Public Pathology Education.  She will be in Key West for filming in April and during her visit, the team will be hosting a community lecture entitled “How to Spot a Dangerous Man,” as well as an agency training for professionals which will highlight the hallmark disorders and dynamics in relationships of impending inevitable harm.  As Sandra says, pathology has always existed and it always will therefore, the most any of us can to is educate.

Got a Second?

We’ve all heard it a million times: “This will just take a second.” Or “I’ll call you back in a second.” Or “give me a second, will you?” Usually we answer “yeah, sure” without thinking about it and then, depending on how truthful the second taker is being, start a slow burn process as that second turns into a minute or five minutes or, like, forEVer.

 120px-Flashingsecond

 This Is How Long a Second Is

(Approximately one flash per second; US-PD)

But how many of us ever take a second, literally, to think about how long a second is exactly. To find out, we have to break the second down into units, just as we break a minute into sixty seconds and an hour into sixty minutes. (Hmm, now I’m also wondering why we don’t, just to be consistent, have 60 hours in a day and 60 days in a month and 60 months in a year?) But which unit? We have milliseconds, microseconds, nanoseconds, picoseconds, all the way down to the yoctosecond. Continue reading

4,563 Miles on a Fixed Gear Bicycle…

Southern Most Point

I asked myself one day, “How can I, a coach from Colorado Springs with so many inspirational athletes and coaches, make a difference in thousands if not millions of people’s lives?” December 30th, I set out to fulfill a few goals for what is to be an outstanding year in using my life to shape others. The following represents a short synopsis of my bike ride across the Southern United States during one of the worst winters in decades.

End of December finally arrived, but my journey was only beginning. I packed up my bike, affectionately named Hidalgo, and headed to San Diego, CA where I planned to start my quest. I wrote out a list of goals I wanted to accomplish on this short adventure: Continue reading

Give Me a Head with Hair

Back when I used to go to high school reunions, one of the main reasons for attending was the jealous looks and remarks I would get from former male classmates (former classmates who are male, that is, not former males who are classmates). I received these envious glances because these guys were mostly sans hair while I was the opposite. I was reminded of this yesterday while watching American Hustle. This forgettable film (so much for all the hype) opens with an unforgettable scene: Christian Bale’s character Irving affixing his rug and then arranging his comb-over on top of it. If anyone or anything in the movie should get an Oscar, I vote for the comb-over.

Yeah, Go Ahead. Make Some Remark, Hockey Puck. I Dare You. (Don Rickles Publicity Photo, 1973, US-PD)

Yeah, Go Ahead. Make Some Remark, Hockey Puck. I Dare You.
(Don Rickles Publicity Photo, 1973, US-PD)

Writing this makes me wonder where this incredibly vain/gauche/desperate habit originated. (I know. Who am I to talk before taking a walk in their shoes, right? But what the heck.) In doing my normal “research” I did not find much on the history. (As far as I can tell, the Roman emperor Constantine may have been the one to start this madness.) Still, along the way I stumbled on some interesting comb-over flotsam and jetsam. First, individuals with comb-overs in Japan are called “bar code men” because the striations in the hair strands resemble the scanner bar codes on retail consumer products. Continue reading

BIRD MATING DAY

Today, of course, is Valentine’s Day, that special day of the year when many people celebrate their romantic relationships and school kids across this country and probably many others exchange Valentine’s Day cards in a sort of popularity contest where whoever gets the most cards wins. (I never did, which I’m sure has scarred me for life in countless Freudian ways.)

Valentines used to be handmade and handwritten (I know some people who still do this) but have been massed produced like the one below as greeting cards since the 19th century.

Antique_Valentine_1909_01

It’s likely that not many know or think of the fact that the celebration of February 14 began with a totally opposite sentiment. This day started as the Feast of Saint Valentine, a commemoration of a martyr who died on this date some time in the third century. (Is it just me or is it odd that they seem to know the day on which he was killed but not the year?) Continue reading

How I Became an Instant Millionaire


A friend did me a significant favor. When I asked what the cost would be, he said “A million dollars.”

I  promptly  whipped-out  my  checkbook  and   wrote  him a  check,   on-the-spot,     for      $ 1,000,000.00.

He laughed, walking away with the check saying he was going to have it framed and put on his wall so he could tell people he was a millionaire.

A week later, the Head Teller from my bank called me.  The conversation went a little something like this…

Teller: “Mr. Fraser, we have a check drawn on your account for one-million-dollars.  We’ve checked the signature and it seems to match yours.”

I started laughing, realizing my friend had joked my joke, by depositing the check I’d written him.

Me: “Yes… the signature matches because I did indeed sign that check.”

Teller:  “Mr. Fraser, do you have any idea what your current checking account balance is?” Continue reading

Saving the Grimal Grove

Big Pine Key native Travis Livengood recalls sneaking in to Old Man Grimal’s yard as a kid to shimmy up his mango trees and snag a few delectable fruits for himself and his friends.

“One day he caught me, and made me work in the yard to earn the mangoes,” Livengood recalled one afternoon recently as his daughters peered around the freshly cleared property while harp music lulled in the background. “He was a mean old man!”

Livengood was among the dozens of Lower Keys and Key West residents who dropped by one recent sunny Sunday afternoon to enjoy some music, food and tour the property that held handfuls of mischievous childhood memories.

Since 2011, Marathon resident Patrick Garvey and a handful of hopeful cohorts from up and down the East Coast have endeavored to save the former crown jewel of tropical fruit cultivation in the Keys.

“It is a lost piece of paradise and deserves to be brought back to life,” said Garvey, the Executive Director of the Growing Hope Initiative.

After a bit of research, Garvey and his Growing Hope Initiative sought means to save the precious piece of property from future real estate development and revitalize the dream that died with inventor Adolf Grimal at his passing in 1997.

But funding for the purchase of 1.76 acres wasn’t the only obstacle the group had to overcome. Continue reading

OUR Truman Waterfront Park. What happened?

1315440165-park-master

TRUMAN WATERFRONT ADVISORY BOARD meeting TUESDAY 1/21 5:30PM

If you have followed the park planning process as I have for the past 10 years or more, you understand what a convoluted mess our “park” has become.  Lack of progress has not been any one’s particular fault.  I, in part, attribute the lack of progress to special interests.  “Special” people insisting they get their way.  “Special” people who wanted much needed senior housing to be at the waterfront park and NOWHERE other than the waterfront park.   There were also “special” people wanting a marina.   And there was the 6.6 acres originally set aside for the BCCLT.  Each of those special projects has been shot down over the years – for various reasons.

At the most recent City Commission meeting there were two agenda items relating to our yet to be realized park – both items were postponed:

Item #16 was for Approval of a $347,924 parking lot for 46 cars and 14 scooters ostensibly to “serve the Bahama Village neighborhood and the future Truman Waterfront park.  More on that item later.  (The vote on that item was postponed at the request of the Navy.)

Item #24  WAVING the FORMAL BID PROCEDURES  for critical path components in order to facilitate development of Phase 1A of the Truman Waterfront  was also postponed.

As much as I hate to say this thirteen years later, those postponements are a good thing. Continue reading

Chaos is a Friend of Mine

 IMG_1759

I should like to speak about the mess.

The general messes we make–the piles of christmas paper exploding across the living room floor, the pens and pencils strewn across the bedspread, the wood chips and the remnants from underneath the couch–the record, the dust bunnies, the bones, in this case, that are used to keep rhythm. The realm of our emotional train wrecks, derailments and unexpected track switches, the hot messes of our psychological underpinnings, our curious and delectable romantic disasters.

I think that’s what we do, here, is make messes. Create piles of things in one place and move them to another, pick up sticks in our yard and throw them in the woods, move piles of dirt from point a to point b to dig basements and transform the broken hulls of boats into flower pots, leave pools of sweat on the gym equipment, paint stains on our fingertips, imprints of banjos on our inner arms, callouses, wine stains, ashes where our cigarettes had burned. Perhaps the glory and the salvation lie in that mess, somewhere, as scattered and misplaced as the rest of it.

We’d like to think that our lives make some degree of sense–that we’re tapped into something that will lead us forward with invisible reins, the bit in our mouth chiding but not disagreeable. I’m going to venture to guess that none of that is true. Consider the reins eviscerated, the leather corroded by age, use and weather, the horse is lame in his back foot and nobody ever taught me how to ride a horse so what the hell am I doing up here, anyway? What have you got  when the horse dies, when the baby is born, when your heart is broken and your mascara runs down your face in black, blurry lines, by god, you’ve got a glorious mess! Destruction and creation are as bound together as black and white, the mess is unavoidable, beautiful, marvelous…messy.

Here’s a story. Continue reading

Ignorant, Education Deficient, or Just Plain Lazy?

The conversation following a posting on FaceBook; a link to an article posted on WesternJournalism.com called “In 2014, The Obama Dictatorship Will Be Complete”.

(Un-named facebook poster#1)  OH LOL ! More conspiracy horseshit huh ? The next article I expect to see is how Obama is the anti-christ…..that will be a hoot ! ….but in all seriousness, this website is called ”western journalism”…..sorry, i don’t see any ”journalism” here……how about ”western conspiracy theories” or ”chicken little the sky is falling”……..just about had it with the nonsense people. you are telling me that you read an article entitled ”in 2014 the Obama dictatorship will be complete” and not realize at the least there is a political agenda here, …..more fairly this is just TRASH, RUBBISH…….The facts are spun, things are out of context……the usual…..people, use your brains please…I promise you e will all live to see tomorrow, the next week, month, year, decade. Political scare tactics and nonsense. sorry, no offense personally (Un-Named facebook poster#2)

The following reply was posted by RLC:  (Un-named facebook poster#1), first of all, here is the definition of the word you questioned as copied from Dictionary.com:

jour·nal·ism [jur-nl-iz-uhm] Show IPA noun
1.  the occupation of reporting, writing, editing, photographing, or broadcasting news or of conducting any news organization as a business.
2.  press1 ( def 31 ) .
3.  a course of study preparing students for careers in reporting, writing, and editing for newspapers and magazines.
4.  writing that reflects superficial thought and research, a popular slant, and hurried composition, conceived of as exemplifying topical newspaper or popular magazine writing as distinguished from scholarly writing: He calls himself a historian, but his books are mere journalism.

“Now as I read the article it seems to fit the definition of “journalism” quite well.  It is journalism, especially if you take the fourth definition.  It seems that the “news” media takes this fourth meaning to heart as what I read in the news, and see on the several news programs I view is reported, for the most part is “hurried composition” reflecting “superficial thought and research” to satisfy the “popular slant”.  Sadly, if you follow the “popular slant” of wanting something for nothing, unearned entitlement, and searching for a free ride, you will find the majority of the populous standing in line with their hand out to whatever political power seeker offers the greatest amount of free cookies and circuses.  This lazy majority is exactly the people that will give away the freedom and liberty we have enjoyed for over 200 years for a government welfare check and a seemingly free trip to the hospital.  It is just possible that someone who might attack an article with phrases like “conspiracy horseshit”, or emotionally charged statements like “Obama is the anti-christ”, might do well to partake of some thought and research before spewing unsubstantiated opinion.  Try doing a little research.  Obtain some facts before talking of spun facts, and political agenda.  Show me some reliable sources before shouting “TRASH or RUBBISH”.  In other words look up the word you intend to attack, cite your references, and stop spinning your own agenda.  Cut the strings puppet.  Get the facts then tell us how it really is.”

Now, I am not new to arguments, I have no problem voicing my opinion, and I rarely, if ever, back down from confrontation.  I am however new to higher education.  Way back in the olden times, when I attended high school, education was something “those people” tried to cram down my throat while I concentrated on social events, playing guitar, and stealing kisses from cute girls.  My memory of this education is as such; music and art were enjoyable endeavors, foreign language (German) was either fun, or torture depending on the teacher, math classes were like solving puzzles and I like solving puzzles, and English class was a complete waste of time as I learned to speak it at home, and that’s all I needed. Continue reading

A Moment of Revery, I Beg of You

IMG_0392

I am weeping tears of golden syrup. Sticky and tempting, they drift slowly down my barren, dry and broken cheeks. Chiding the miserable ache in my heart, the hunger pains subsist, clawing at my now hollow interior. Where once there were biscuits, now there is darkness, where once there were free refills, now the subtle echo of the sticky tear, breaking free of my chin so languidly and falling, lone and stoic, to the tile floor, mocks the freight train of tragedy burrowing through my soul. I call out into the darkness, into the void, fists hurled toward the sky, a single dollar bill crushed in the white-knuckled confines of my clenched fingers, where, where the fuck, has the Waffle House gone? Continue reading

City Commissioner Teri Johnston Weighs In On Key West’s New Homeless Shelter

City Commissioner Teri Johnston

City Commissioner Teri Johnston

When I opened this past Wednesday’s Key West Citizen online (www.keysnews.com), I saw an article on the night before’s city commission meeting, which I either spaced out or did not know was happening. I probably had a lot more fun at Kelley’s Caribbean MUSE open mike, and then at The Bull listening to Wanda Wilder belting out one song after another.

A major agenda item reported in the Citizen was a city planner report on where might a new homeless shelter go. Heaps of suggestions, many ridiculous.

The last paragraph of the Citizen article really caught my eye:

“It’s not just a city of Key West problem,” said City Commissioner Billy Wardlow. “It’s everybody’s problem. It’s a city, county, state and federal problem. Everything is negotiable.” Continue reading

Key West High School Academic Challenge Team Needs Your Help

Academic Challenge Team members pictured are (L-R from back) Alexandra Mercurio, Katie Upshaw, Sam Kearney, sean Barber, Humberto dos Santos, Alexis girard d'Albissin, with team sponsor Elizabeth Ford [not pictured: Edgar Romero, sherman Kaplitz]

Academic Challenge Team members (L-R from back) Alexandra Mercurio, Katie Upshaw, Sam Kearney, Sean Barber, Humberto dos Santos, Alexis Girard d’Albissin, with team Faculty Sponsor Elizabeth Ford [not pictured: Edgar Romero, Sherman Kaplitz]

Two years ago six Key West High School students brought home the state title in the Academic Challenge Tournament in Orlando. But, they almost didn’t make the trip. School budget cuts had stripped the team of its funding and the situation was not looking too promising. When the students made a public appeal for help, the community responded and within 24 hours the team was fully funded!

This year the school district is still struggling and the team has no funding for participation in competitive events – even at the County level.   The KWHS Academic Challenge Team needs our help once again.

Here is a note from team captain, Key West High School Senior, Sherman Kaplitz:

Due to a lack of funding, the Key West High School Academic Challenge Team, which has placed within the top three teams in the state of Florida for the past four years, may not be able to compete on the county or state level this year. Continue reading

BOOM OR BUST? New Event Proposed for Key West

City officials were surprised by the application from the International Noise Exposition Professional Team for Key West to become a stop on their international competitive noise circuit beginning in 2014.  Planned for mid-March, 2014, the Key West Noise Exposition would bring competitors from around the world for a week long series of noise events.

The application indicated that, based on attendance at similar competitions held in 2013, Key West can expect between 20-25,000 in-city visitors, with as many as additional 20,000 within 50 miles of the island city. “We can certainly guarantee 100% occupancy in all hotels and inns in town,” sponsor Jack Wooddimple explained. “This is the kind of event that generates its own publicity so no TDC money would be needed. Worldwide there is a large fan base ready to attend.”

A Noise Exposition is a series of contests between various noise producing “creations” in different categories: mechanical, internal combustion, external combustion/explosion, electronic amplification, and personal performance.  The winners from each of the categories compete against each other in the Grand Finale for overall prizes in three areas: total noise, annoyance, and people’s choice. Continue reading

Frankenfood

photo:  canstockphoto

photo: canstockphoto

I was talking with a good friend the other day and it struck me that our conversation would have been unnecessary just a few decades ago. It reminded me of the joke, “Eat Organic Food, or as our grandparents called it, ‘Food’!” We were discussing how to avoid Genetically Modified foods and the difficulty of that goal, given that the United States government has embraced this “industry” and all its lobbyist’s generous campaign contributions. “Industry” is an apt title for food produced with the same loving care and respect for consumers as that of a cardboard box factory.

The biggest player in this perversion of food is the Monsanto Corporation that manufactures a unique witch’s brew of plastics, poisons, pesticides, herbicides and genetically engineered seed. Despite Monsanto’s promises of increased yield, drought tolerance and enhanced nutrition, just the opposite has happened. Pesticide/herbicide tolerant GMO corn, soy and other crops have increased indiscriminate use of these toxic chemicals, Monsanto’s of course, by drenching what we eat with poisons and at the same time creating herbicide resistant weeds, requiring more and more toxic poison usage. This is yet one more example of man attempting and failing miserably to outsmart Mother Nature. Continue reading

Saving Our Reefs

Coral Reef southeast Florida showing diseased Sea Fan

Coral Reef southeast Florida showing diseased Sea Fan

AN IMMEDIATE THREAT TO OUR REEFS THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH CRUISE SHIPS OR DREDGING…

Years ago Dr. Brian LaPointe was the primary scientist instrumental in forcing our Federal and State governments to admit that land based pollutants affect marine ecosystems and can kill corals… it’s a no brainer but it took years for our local and national governments to admit this and to stop flooding Florida Bay with dirty water…

As a result of this flooding, we saw a proliferation of coral diseases (Black-band, Red-band, Dark Spots, White-band, White Plague, White Pox, Yellow Blotch — just to name a few) that devastated corals on reefs throughout the Keys … Since the flow was reduced, our corals have recovered somewhat. The ugly point about the articles linked below is that there is a huge push to have the dirty water that has polluted and decimated Indian River Lagoon re-released into, you guessed it, Florida Bay. The sad fact is, the resultant flows, if they are allowed, will make any damage that would have been done by widening our shipping channel and resultant harm by increased shipping and larger cruise ships seem like child’s play in comparison.

Continue reading

School District Watchdog Files Complaint With Inspector General

Dr. Larry Murray, 2012 Candidate for School Board District 3

Dr. Larry Murray

WAS SCHOOL PRINCIPAL CHRISTINA MCPHERSON’s SALARY HIKE A VIOLATION OF STATE LAW?

On Sunday, October 6, 2013, I filed a complaint with the Inspector General’s Office of the State Department of Education.  The subject of the complaint is the procedure whereby Ms. Christina McPherson, Director of Assessment & Accountability and principal at Poinciana School was given a substantial salary increase.

As you may know, when I recently filed suit against the School District for failing to comply with three Public Records Requests (PRR’s), two PRR’s concerned the salary and supplements, if any, that Ms. McPherson was receiving.  After I received the documents from the District, someone in the media asked if I had found a “smoking gun”.  My initial response was “No”, though that proved to be premature.

Because of information provided to me by several sources, I went back to the School Board meeting, the minutes and video, of August 15, 2013.  That was the meeting at which Superintendent Porter announced Continue reading

The Short Circuit on Solares Hill

A couple of boys were proofing the captions back in the composing room

While the gal out front who handled the phones was humming a Buffett tune.

Back in his cave, eyes locked on his screen, sat Marvelous Mark McCann.

And at his side sat his partner in crime, the lady that’s known as Nan.

 

Their office was cramped and lit by the glare of a bulb all lonely and spare.

It hung from a thread so tattered and red that to touch it was taking a dare.

It was the kind of a room you expect to have when you work on a small town rag,

A light and a desk and a creaky old chair with a seat that’s beginning to sag. Continue reading

Homeless Shelter Referendum?

At the October 3rd City Commission Meeting I said, during citizen comments, that I had received an email inquiry from someone who has a home in the golf course community, asking if the new homeless shelter could be put out to referendum? I paused, taking in the somber looks on the dais, said, that was meant as comic relief, of course that was not a good idea. Some smiles. Continue reading

Polar-Axis Shift – Key West Homeless Miseries and Beyond

homeless-terroristI wish everyone I know had been with me when I bumped into two remarkable people the other day and got caught up with them, as their rich lives and deep experiences and senses of humor and wisdom flowed out of them like manna from heaven. The man is probably the most educated person I have ever known. You could sit him down in any conversation on just about anything, and in short order he would demonstrate just how educated he really is. Yet, he is content to be homeless, read all the books he still needs to read, mind his own business, and serve the homeless in his own way, every day, by helping others enable homeless people to eat and not starve.

When I asked them, facetiously, if they will stay in the new homeless rehab shelter, if it ever gets built?, they snorted, laughed. Continue reading

NEVER STOP RUNNING, NAPALM GIRL!!!

Napalm GirlThe Sea was mild and soothing as I sailed alone in the western reaches of the Caribbean.  It had been four days since my last human contact.  Such exile does not disturb me – it comforts me.  The wind was light, and the waves were small and melodious – like the cello phrase in a string quartet.

Although quite relaxed, I was also vigilant, because my position was near the busy shipping lanes between the Panama Canal and the Yucatan Channel.  Suddenly, I sensed a nearby hazard.  My first scan of the horizon revealed nothing.  On my second, more careful sweep, I saw her – a gray smudge of a ship, still half below the undulating cusp of the Earth.  I took my binoculars from their rack and focused them.  What I saw slammed me backwards – both physically and emotionally.   She was one of them – a gray, military transport vessel that was all too familiar to me.  I had served aboard one – a U.S. Navy ammunition ship in Vietnam. Continue reading

LOW PRESSURE SEWERS AND THEIR HDPE PIPE – AN ENVIRONMENTAL NIGHTMARE?

The Low Pressure section of the Cudjoe Regional Wastewater System (CRWS) will have over 100 miles of High Density Polyethylene (HDPE) Pipe, ranging in size from 2” to 8” that will be buried 2’ to 4’ under the surface. It will be under pressures of 15psi to 60psi. The Low Pressure System is asserted to be a low cost, reliable, wastewater collection system that will save money on initial sewer system installation. But what are its long term costs? Could it be an environmental disaster in the future due to pipe failures? Or perhaps a financial disaster if the piping needs replacement in a few years?

The Florida Keys are a series of coral (limestone) islands. In most areas of the lower Keys, there is salt water flowing only a few feet below the surface. Limestone, with a high water table, is naturally unstable. Sink holes, dips, settling of buildings and shifting roadbeds occur over time. Idiots dig and drill without checking. Each home with a grinder pump (projected to be 2,800) will pump into a series of headers and ultimately into an 8” plastic line that runs over 20 miles from Big Pine to Lower Sugarloaf. In addition, 275 lift stations that consist of large concrete tanks with up to 5 grinder pumps will take the gravity feeds and pump them into the same lines.

The problem, in general, is that HDPE pipe has a tendency to become brittle and crack over time. It is inevitable that failures will occur at some time in the future. Our specific problem is that when cracks occur and effluent leaks, it is very likely that it will go right into our porous limestone aquifer. Eventually the effluent will reach our pristine waters, but this could be some distance away. Complicating things is that there is no way to monitor for leaks in a pressure system. With gravity, when there is a leak, salt water will leak into the pipe and be detected at the waste treatment plant and looked for in the manholes it flows through. A vacuum system line failure is noticed immediately and can be found through simple diagnostic troubleshooting. A leak in a pressurized sewer system might go undetected for months or longer. We may discover that the incremental improvement in sewage treatment we seek is lost through a collection system that is ill designed for our environment.

There is an excellent web site at http://hdpefailures.com/ that provides numerous examples of failures and should have been read by our County Engineer before this system was signed approved. For other ways the LPS/grinder system costs more, go to www.newtoncoalition.com or contact us at info@newtoncoalition.com.

Walt Drabinski

Sir Isaac Newton Coalition

——————————-

See also Rebuttal by Camille George Rubeiz, the Director of Engineering (M&I) for the Plastics Pipe Institute.

This Could Be The Start of A Bad Habit…

This could be the start of a bad habit.  I tuned into Bill Becker’s morning show on Labor Day and once again encountered the Chamber of Commerce PAC spokesperson, Jennifer Hulse make gobbledygook out of figures taken from the Army Corps of Engineers (ACE) Reconnaissance Report on the proposed channel dredging of Cut B.

Bill Becker was left sputtering and nearly speechless while Hulse claimed that widening the channel could create 1200 new jobs in Key West.

Becker asked, “You mean, another possible 1200 jobs if the channel is widened, versus if it is not?

Hules: “Correct.”

Becker: “Where would these jobs come from?”

Hulse: “If we can bring in a higher class of passenger that generates more money to the city – that’s jobs created for the city.”

Becker: “So, widening the channel would give us more jobs — I mean — it would just trigger that?” Continue reading

Mixed Messages

Some of you long-time KWTN readers may remember this story by Richard Watherwax…

A few weeks ago I read in the police blotter that someone had found some pictures of a naked woman in a parking lot, so they called the police!!!  I can hear the tires squealing, see the lights flashing, and there are the CRIME SCENE tapes going up, to protect the public..  That’s a bit of exaggeration, but the perception of a nude body in America has me confused.  So here are a few random thoughts on the subject.

I want all of you men to close your eyes and picture yourself buck naked.  You can’t see a thing, and suddenly a hand wearing a rubber glove slaps you hard across your ass.  As you open your mouth to protest, a woman’s nipple is thrust into your mouth!  A kinky S and M scene?  No… you’re just being born.

Now there’s nothing wrong with this scene… in fact, it’s a beautiful moment.  There we are at Mother’s breast, being nurtured, bonding with only woman that will love us unconditionally the rest of our lives (probably), and drinking life giving milk.  This is a moment that we file away forever, and from that moment on try to recreate every chance we get.  But that’s another story.  The point I want to make is this… a couple of years go by, and one day we toddle into Mommy’s bedroom just as she’s taken off her brassiere, and as she dives for the closet she shrieks “No, Johnny, don’t look!  Bad!  DIRTY!”  And we put that thought into our mental suitcase with a sprinkle of confusion, and start working out on the jungle gym, because, believe me, that baggage is going to get a lot heavier as we roll down the highway.

Now to illustrate the mixed messages that are presented to us daily, I’ve taken some photographs.  Continue reading

Conversations Between a Psychiatrist and a Mystic

The psychiatrist, Jerry Weinstock, M.D.,

psychiatrist-interviews

told me … He has lived, fished, dived and swam in and around Key West for decades. For a long time, he was Key West’s only psychiatrist. He had a full practice, no blank spots on his calendar. He probably treated every writer in Key West, when he was still in private practice. As far as he knows, the only people who ever got mad at him were people he could not give appointments when they wanted to get in to see him. He consulted at May Sands School’s challenged kids program. He was the School District’s psychiatrist on call. As a second calling, he became an ardent student and advocate for protecting the sea and the reef. Continue reading

In Response To: ‘The Gentrification of Simonton Street Trailer Park’

RE: The Gentrification of Simonton Street Trailer Park  (Issue #24, August 23, 2013)

A persuasively written article, but it includes a noteworthy mis-statement, i.e,   “The Reach …[was] built on land sold by the Catholic Church.”

Not [exactly].  The Reach was built on an assemblage of parcels, the major parcel having been owned by David Wolkowsky, who built the wonderfully whimsical but short-lived Sands Beach Club there.  David later sold the property to Reach developer Austin Laber, a New York lawyer.   Laber acquired the contiguous parking lot parcel from the Larranaga family, bought some individually-owned parcels along Vernon Ave., tore down The Sands, and built a monstrosity that he named The Reach.  Laber’s tactics were so over-the-top that I withdrew from representing the project.

I spoke today with Key West’s iconic nonagenarian, David Wolkowsky, who confirmed that sometime in the Pleistocene era he purchased the waterfront parcel at the upper end of Simonton St. from the Catholic Church, and that he later purchased the contiguous parking lot parcel from Larranaga. David subsequently sold both of those parcels to Austin Laber.

Laber set out to acquire individually-owned house parcels on Vernon Ave., to expand the footprint of what would become The Reach.  Although he succeeded in acquiring some contiguous lots, his aggressive tactics enraged many of the neighbors, who put signs in their yards that read:  “This house will NEVER be sold to The Reach.”   Vernon Ave. residents Gordon and Marge Smith (owners of The Bike Shop) were among the leaders of the opposition, which incorporated as Save Our Neighborhoods, Inc.

The brief history of David’s “The Sands Beach Club” is worth recalling.  David pulled a building permit that authorized him to “restore old boat shed” at an estimated cost of a few thousand dollars.  Continue reading

Homeless America – mainstream’s shadow, the Key West homeless laboratory might be different from the mainland laboratory

Some days, I wonder why I ever get out of bed in the morning?

 Sloan Bashinsky

Sloan Bashinsky

Father Steve Braddock of Florida Keys Outreach Coalition replied to yesterday’s post:

Steve-Braddock

Sloan:

The gentleman whose photo leads your post today “Duval Street repeat offender”

Duval-drunk

exited the FKOC program clean and sober in October 2011 after 20+ years on the street. He is doing very well and in stable veteran’s housing on the mainland. He is a very kind and gentle man who I feel blessed to have crossed paths with. Continue reading

Assisted Living For Seniors: More Questions Arise

canstockphoto6180035The Key West Housing Authority Board is made up of 5 members, but  a question has now arisen as to whether this Board currently has the required number of valid members to meet and vote on Housing Authority issues.

One issue that I’ve been following for many years and that is currently before the KWHA Board is Senior Housing.  I am slowly approaching the status of ‘senior’, some ‘kids’ may look at me and think I’m already there.  Interested citizens have been following the efforts of the Florida Keys Assisted Care Coalition, and many questions have arisen along the way – now that the Key west Housing Authority and their Board has become involved there are even more questions. Continue reading

The Trash Blog Comes To Key West: The Outdated Topography of Margaritaville

southernmost-point

At a whopping 18 feet above sea level, Solares Hill is said to be the highest point on Key West. In general, 18 feet is the highest point attributed to any of the Florida Keys, and the little known Windley Key is said to be the 18 feet that is highest. In an article about the Keys on Wikipedia it says “No area of the Keys is more than 20 feet above sea level.”

There’s a humorous review of the Mariott Beachside Hotel in Key West, where someone who was staying in the Presidential Suite discusses the tainted view: apparently they stepped out onto their balcony to cast their gaze across the aquamarine Gulf waters only to spy the squat, looming hill that is the Stock Island Landfill. Continue reading

A Somewhat Different Perspective on the N Roosevelt Blvd SNAFU

 Sloan Bashinsky

Sloan Bashinsky

Maybe six weeks ago, I ran into former Key West city commissioner Barry Gibson, who told me his one regret as a city commissioner was he did not hold out for a faster work schedule on N Roosevelt Blvd. He said he would have been only one vote, but he wished he had held out.

When I later shared that conversation with other people in Key West, including an assistant city manager, they said that was the first they’d heard the city had any say in how fast the N Roosevelt Blvd work could have been done. Hold that thought. Continue reading

Channel Dredging: It’s Not Just A Study

dredging vesselOn Wednesday, I listened to Jennifer Hulse, spokesperson for the KW Chamber of Commerce PAC on  Bill Becker’s morning show and would like to challenge her on a couple of points.

1. Hulse states, “the modern ships” — the type we want”, all have advanced wastewater treatment.

I would like to point out that the Carnival Magic which has only been in service for two years, is over 1,000 feet long and carries over 4,000 passengers and has no advanced wastewater treatment.

There is nothing in the agreement that states if we dredge the channel, we will stop getting the type that we don’t want. The cruise lines will continue to run the ships that are servicing the Caribbean Market until they decide that they no longer wish to. It has virtually nothing to do with whether our port expands to facilitate the largest ships. For the Carnival Magic, that is likely to be for at least another 15 to 20 years. What we will get is everything that we currently get PLUS the biggest ships that are now or soon coming on the market.

2. Hulse states that “Modern Ships don’t carry more passengers…”

Than what? Continue reading

What A Difference A Year Makes

Issue 21 school canstockphoto14143019This time a year ago, we were in the midst of two hotly contested School Board races.  In District 2, two challengers came forward in an effort to unseat a five term incumbent.  Further up the Keys in District 3, the incumbent stepped aside and five candidates slugged it out for that open seat.

Week in and week out, the candidates appeared at forums from Key West to Key Largo and back.  In one and two minute increments, the challengers attempted to both answer questions and lay out their vision for the future of the School District.

What I find most interesting about that campaign is how all of the issues so important last August were somehow ignored or forgotten after the election.  What was so critical in August quickly evaporated.

For example, Continue reading

Dear Beauty

butterfly photoDear Beauty,

Hello, allow me to introduce myself.

I am shame. I am loneliness. I am anger, I am despair, I am frailty and error and pain and sadness and capacity for evil. I am sin, I am hate, I am error and I am greed. I am, I have and I will.

I write because there is someone sobbing, in the other room, only drywall between us. This human is naked, the flesh of his body in a shallow puddle of his own tears. IN A PUDDLE OF HIS OWN TEARS IN A BATHTUB, there is a giant man, sobbing in the bathtub. Why is he crying? The ceramic is cold. The choices were wrong. The past is stalking us. The body has failed. The future has us by the throat against the wall. There will be costs and there will be lies and there will be pain. He cannot cope with this truth. And So. Tears of great sorrow. Don’t look at me, but never, ever leave me.

The man pleads with me to join him in the bathtub, if I don’t hide in the bathtub with him the house will cave in and, if I don’t pick him up on my back and carry him across town he will not be able to make it. Its his mother’s fault. Manbody childmind, I have made my choice. Continue reading

DORIAN

This is a work of fiction… not about me… I was never married, or divorced, and I’ve never lived with anyone named Dorian…  r. watherwax

~~~~

After 25 years of marriage, my wife divorced me… she took a bunch of money and left me with this big house. A friend told me I was rattling around, not in a big house, but in a well of depression and loneliness… and he was right. It went on for months, but one day my pastor said to me that it was time to get back into a real life, and he wanted me to meet someone named Dorian. On the way there, he raved how beautiful she was… but very quiet, rather mysterious, and with eyes that unsettled some people.

When we got there, I saw what he meant…. beautiful face… but her eyes had no pigment… black as coal. “Maybe she’s possessed”, he joked. Anyway, to keep this story short, let me say that not long after meeting her, she came to live  with me. And it was wonderful not being alone… but I felt a little unsure how she felt about me.

The first day after she moved in, I came home from work, unlocked the front door, and called out her name…”Dorie?… I’m here.”

Silence.

I went through the living room, dining room, kitchen, calling out her name…. nothing.

I went up to the second floor… 2 bedrooms, bathroom.. “Dorie… where are you?”

Still nothing.

Had she left me?

Up to the third floor… looked in the bathroom, still calling her name… and finally, in the guest bedroom, there she was, sitting in a chair looking out the window at the street below.

“There you are… didn’t you hear me?”

She turned her head, looked at me with those dead eyes for 5 seconds, then turned back to watching the street.

That hurt!

BUT….the following day, Continue reading

What To Do, What To Do About Key West’s Homeless Population (Former Homeless Man Shares His Views)

I used to be your neighborAfter the Roosevelt Boulevard townhall meeting last Tuesday came a regular city commission meeting. Dr. Robert Marbut led off with a lengthy presentation of his view of Key West’s homeless situation, which was followed by questions and comments from the mayor and city commissioners. Citizens were not allowed to comment or ask questions at that time.

Marbut said he conservatively placed the city’s homeless population at 1,422 and growing, more than twice the number of homeless previously reported in local surveys, as reported a few days prior in the Key West Citizen. Marbut said he did not include in that number 1,000 people who had stayed only one night at KOTS, which statistic any other city would have included in its homeless count. After Marbut spoke, I congratulated Gwen Filsoa for making those numbers public.

Marbut said the fair weather is the main reason homeless come to Key West to live. Nothing can be done about that. Marbut said the next reason homeless come to Key West is because Key West offers homeless so many amenities: plenty of food, medical services, booze, etc. He said all that needs to stop around Key West. Offer those services only at the new homeless shelter, which will force homeless to go there. That’s been his working model in other cities, which he said gets most homeless off the street. He said there are three kinds of homeless in Key West. New arrivals, who need to be told up front the difficulty of living in Key West with its high cost of living, the free ride in Key West is over, and they need to turn around and go back where they came from. The fairly new homeless, who can be turned around with the proper help and returned to mainstream. And the unreachable homeless, about twenty-five percent of the total homeless population; the homeless Mayor Cates and the city commissioners most want off the street.

Commissioner Billy Wardlow seemed to be the only one against the new homeless shelter being on Stock Island at the Easter Seals and Mosquito Control buildings. Continue reading

Burning Questions Remain For Big Pine Key Refuge

canstockphoto4097221On the morning of September 15, 2011, a short time after 10:00 a.m., a crew from the National Key Deer Refuge lit a fire a mile north of Blue Hole on Big Pine Key. The intended burn was 21 acres in size, despite the fact that it included a two and a half acre hammock containing rare Liguus tree snails.

By 11:00 a.m., the fire was already out of control, jumping the fire lines, and rushing south at a high rate of speed toward the Pine Heights subdivision of 43 homes. A forestry official from the Florida Dept. of Forestry was being transported to the hospital for heat exhaustion and the local fire departments were being contacted. Continue reading

Jerk…ey

Issue 20 Scott Fraser canstockphoto12316841Among the letters in my mailbox were two sample packs of beef jerky.  Great… I love beef jerky.  If a new company is giving out free samples these ought to be good.

The first bite was a bit tough.  The second bite had big knotty gobs of hard dried fat.  I could barely chew off a piece.

“That was pretty horrible,” I said.  “Maybe it was just that one.  I’ll try the other.”

The second was equally as bad as the first.

“You know,” I said to a friend, “if you’re going to give out free samples, give out your best product, not this junk,” I rhetorically exclaimed.

Rummaging through the trash bucket, I sought to identify the company to fire off a letter of disgust.

Retrieving the torn plastic wrapper from the trash, was when I first noticed the company logo with a happy tongue-wagging dog holding up his front paws as if begging for a treat.

Under this logo were the words…

“BEEF JERKY’

for dogs

 

Show and Tell: Reef Relief, Cruise Ship Relief, Money Talks…

Cruise Ship Leaves Outer Mole

Cruise Ship Leaves Outer Mole

The photo above of a cruise ship leaving Key West’s outer mole pier which I have been posting a lot generated conversation with a naval officer, Jim Brooks, who was stationed at Naval Air Station Key West for many years.

Jim Brooks:  Sloan, that’s one old photo in your blog. It was taken before the harbor was dredged in 2004-2005. Do you know if cruise ships are still kicking up that much sand and dirt? Continue reading

Party At The Top

Photo by Rebecca Rankin

Photo by Rebecca Rankin

 

PECKIN’

The saddest thing I ever did see

Was a woodpecker peckin’ at a plastic tree.

He looks at me, and “Friend,” says he,

“Things ain’t as sweet as they used to be.”

- Shel Silverstein

Since the 1950′s, at the least, the roof of the tallest building in Key West has been open to the public, providing a majestic vantage point to watch the setting, or rising, or ever presently beautiful sun gently caress the surrounding buildings, the hustle and bustle of Duval street reduced to a dimension of ant-like encouragement. Many old adages inflect that,  when your problems seem large, imagine them viewed from a tall building, from an airplane, from the atmosphere, and the hard lines surrounding your daily concerns and conflicts, your trivialities if you will, will blur into a much gentler, and approachable, broad perspective. It was in fact popular 90′s singer Jewel who mused, “I wanna pilot a plane with you, so all our problems look small, too.” Hit the nail right on the head, Jewel. Continue reading

North Roosevelt Boulevard SNAFU – Some Convoluted History and an Unpolitically Correct Suggestion to Stop the Bleeding

Sloan Bashinsky Weighs In On Roosevelt Blvd

Sloan Bashinsky Weighs In On Roosevelt Blvd

I drove down to Key West this past Tuesday afternoon (7 July 2013) to attend the North Roosevelt affected business owners meeting at the VFW, which itself is on North Roosevelt. Maybe fifteen people attended. Maybe half were affected business owners.  [Editor's Note:  We counted about twenty persons associated with business.]

I got there about 45 minutes into the meeting, so I don’t know what was said before I arrived. Rick Boettger seemed to be the host. He lives in Key West and, as far as I know, is not an affected business owner.  [Editor's Note: Boettger was the moderator, is the Secretary of the CNRAB and has worked on N. Roosevelt since 1996.]

An engineer spoke to the group for a while, then he introduced local attorney Robert Cintron whom I know pretty well. The long and the short of what Robert told the group was, as a general rule, landowners and businesses affected by road construction have no legal remedy unless their property is taken. Cintron said if there was a breach of contract by the prime contractor, DeMoya, which adversely affected the business owners, they might have a remedy as third party beneficiaries of the contract between the contractor and the Florida Department of Transportation, which hired the contractor. However, because of the third party beneficiary doctrine, FDOT’s contract with DeMoya had wording that they did not intend to create third party beneficiary rights by entering into the contract. After the meeting, Cintron and I wondered how that is legal, since third party beneficiaries did not sign the contract excluding them? Continue reading

Truffles Mixed with Stupidity

issue 17 woman with truffles

The package I’d ordered off eBay was nearly a week late in arriving.  The seller included an apologetic note saying she’d included a special gift as an act of contrition.  Deep inside the package, I found a small box that fit comfortably within the palm of my hand.

Issue 17 truffles 03

Shaped somewhat like a tiny treasure chest, the gold colored box rattled a bit as I rolled it over to read its front label… “Ginger Toffee Truffles.”

Since I like both ginger and toffee, yet had never experienced them simultaneously, I looked forward to this special treat. Continue reading

More On Zimmerman Trial From Local Ex-Attorney: KARMA AND GEORGE ZIMMERMAN TRIAL

Goerge Zimmerman at His Trial

Goerge Zimmerman at His Trial

About a year and a half ago, a fellow living in Nashville, Tennessee, whom I call Nashville J, started corresponding with me about various goings on in the Florida Keys, which I was covering on goodmorningkeywest.com and goodmorningfloridakeys.com. After I started writing about the George Zimmerman/Trayvon Martin case, mostly at goodmorningbirmingham.com  (I was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama and practiced law there), Nashville J started writing to me about that terrible affair. I suppose there are around 25 separate posts on the Zimmerman/Martin case at the Birmingham website. A case for which I see no good outcome regardless of how it ends.

Yesterday, Nashville J wrote to me.

I don’t know how the Judge now keeps out Martin’s pictures and fights at school – suspension – etc.  but maybe she can.

See the Associated Press article STATE WINDING DOWN IN GEORGE ZIMMERMAN TRIAL by Mike Schneider and Kyle Hightower.

I wrote back to J:

The prosecution is fully entitled to use anything from Zimmerman’s past which seems inconsistent with what Zimmerman said in the prior recordings, videos, statements. Continue reading

Another Friendly Key West Swimming Buddy – Antibiotic Resistant E-Coli

E-Coli Bacteria

E-Coli Bacteria

This article is a sequel to last week’s Your Friendly Florida Keys Swimming Buddy – MRSA.

I don’t imagine most people people living in Key West know about red flags being posted from time to time on Higgs Beach and Smathers Beach, on the Atlantic side of the island. Red flags with warnings, unsafe bacteria in the water. Unsafe coliform bacteria. Poop bacteria.

As graphically shown in last week’s Your Friendly Florida Keys Swimming Buddy – MRSA article, MRSA in the Florida Keys tends to attack the skin and work inward. Resistant E-Coli attacks internally and works outward. Both are fatal, if not treated, and both are very difficult to treat medically. Continue reading

Key West’s Lower Duval Street: A History of Flooding

Bird's eye pencil sketch of Duval Street by W.A. Whitehead : Key West, Florida

Bird’s eye pencil sketch of Duval Street by W.A. Whitehead : Key West, Florida

The area of lower Duval Street, around Greene and Front Streets, is often considered the center of the tourist area of Key West.  In the past several weeks, it has been the location of considerable flooding, as we have experienced higher than average rainfall.  The flooding has provided for some dramatic pictures, and become a curiosity for the island’s visitors.  A look back into history will explain how and why this flooding happens today.

In the 1830s, Key West resident and developer William Whitehead produced some very good maps and drawings of the island.  His works can be found in many sources including the Monroe County Public Library, and in several books and publications on Key West history.  The detail of these hand drawn perspectives is impressive.

Whitehead’s drawings of what today we call the lower Duval area, are dated 1838.  They were drawn in elevated perspective from the top of  Tift’s Warehouse (near today’s Mallory Square).  These drawings show at a glance why the area is so prone to flooding.  At that time, the area encompassing Duval St. from Caroline to Front streets, including Sloppy Joe’s, Old City Hall, Smokin’ Tuna, was a tidal pond of considerable size.  There was a long foot bridge across the pond, aligned with what is now the pavement on Duval street.  This pond also covered the area to Telegraph Lane, ending near the Pirate Well on Caroline Street.  Each day, twice a day, the water would flood and ebb through this pond, by way of a creek which was connected to the sea near where the A&B Lobster House now is. Continue reading

Your Friendly Florida Keys Swimming Buddy – MRSA

MRSA-6

MRSA Abscesses

MRSA-2

MRSA Before Erupting Through Skin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Editor’s Note:  Yeah, it’s truly gross, the photos get worse, and this is not the kind of stuff I enjoy seeing on the home page of The Blue Paper [Thanks Sloan! I was trying to make it attractive.]   But he does have an important message here.   Many of my friends and family members have been infected with MRSA and often its been after getting scraped or injured while playing around offshore.    Take it seriously, avoid swimming with open wounds.       –  Naja Girard

Continue on if you dare…

————————————————-

Continue reading

2nd Time Around: An Old Town Gem

2nd Time Around, 1100 Truman Avenue, Key West

2nd Time Around, 1100 Truman Avenue, Key West

I was reminiscing the other day, back to when my girlfriends and I would congregate at Consigning Adults – a high-end clothing consignment store on White Street.

Several years ago, for Walk on White, it was “the” place to be!  We would wine the night away –knoshing on delectable bites and red and white wine as we would spend the evening trying on beautiful clothes, cool and sometimes funky clothes, putting together costumes for the next party, and catching up with friends who we may not have seen for a month.

It was the saddest of days when our Consigning Adults closed, there was even a wake.  Another excuse for a party of course- hey it’s Key West!

Thank you Regina, Catherine, Candice, and Shelia for those wonderful times and memories.

Well, we now have another little gem in Old Town – 2nd Time Around,   This fabulous little store may not dress us to the nines – but it will furnish our houses with some cool furniture and some beautiful affordable accessories from pictures, to crystal.  And for the ladies there is beautiful hand crafted jewelry – earrings, bracelets and necklaces created by it proprietor Kaitlyn Giordano. Continue reading

Hurricane Voodoo

Hurricane Wilma's High Tide Over N. Roosevelt Blvd.

Hurricane Wilma’s High Tide Over N. Roosevelt Blvd.

Assistant city manager John Jones told me Key West lost 10,000 vehicles during that high tide. I owned one of those vehicles, a car I had bought real cheap and had left in Key West that summer, because the front end was messed up and it vibrated something awful over 50 m.p.h.

Toss in on top of all of those vehicles no telling how many motorcycles, motor scooters and bicycles, washing machines, dishwashers, refrigerators, televisions, vacuum cleaners, lawnmowers. Toss in on top of that mountains of ruined furniture, rugs, sheet rock, plaster, wiring, in ground level homes. Toss in on top of that mountains of dead shrubs and trees. All of which took mainland contract haulers months to collect and haul away. That was just in Key West.

I received a hurricane voodoo party invitation the other day, Continue reading

Good Samaritan?

prisoner clipart compressedAs hurricane Wilma approached, a friend said he was evacuating to Tampa, Florida, and asked that I keep an eye on his sailboat and dinghy, in case he couldn’t make it back. I noted where he parked his dinghy and suggested he leave combination locks on everything so he wouldn’t have to mail a key if access became necessary. He said he would.

Wilma came and went. His dinghy was full of water, so I jumped in and bailed it out. The sea was still too rough for me to venture out in my little dingy, so I e-mailed him asking for the combination, advising I’d heard his sailboat had washed up on the rocks. He e-mailed me the combination.

The next day, I couldn’t get the combination on the dinghy’s lock to work. Eventually, I gave-up, and motored out to his boat using my dinghy, which resulted in a much longer, rough and wet ride. Continue reading

Baloon Party

Issue 10 boy-with-balloon1We kids were having a grand water-fight when I stepped on it. Standing waist high in the lake, I knew whatever I was standing on wasn’t a stone, for it felt square and man-made. Reaching down to the bottom I retrieved a small yellow metal box, the type automobile fuses are packaged in. Sliding open its top, I was surprised to find not the small transparent glass fuses I had expected but a few milk-white colored balloons.

These were just what I needed to get an edge on my sibling combatants and turn the tide by escalating the contest to a water-balloon fight.

These little balloons were tough. They didn’t break on impact, just spilled their watery warheads leaving the rubber rocket’s fuselage intact for an immediate rearming and launching. Continue reading

Duke

Man with dogDuke wasn’t a particularly smart dog, but he was kind of fun to have around. Like most any dog he had a natural distain for cats, although with us living in the woods of New Hampshire there weren’t many that survived long enough to entertain Duke. Despite several intimate encounters, he never did learn those very fuzzy black cats with broad white stripes and a waddle to their walk weren’t cats at all. Continue reading

Just Another Day At Work

Kaynan Elkins

Kaynan Elkins

As I rest on the surface of the artificial water mass I look out of place with a mask and snorkel. Smoothly inhaling and slowly exhaling, I take one last gulp of air and plunge my body into the shallow water. I open my eyes as I near the bottom of the pool, look both ways and begin to collect the colored plastic rings. I circle the whole pool, only one more to go. “Where did that bastard throw it?” I think to myself. I’m running low on air.  My lungs begin to burn. Finally in the rays of the sun lay the one last ring. I gracefully glide to my target, scoop it up, and head to the surface. As I break the water barrier I hear squeals of glee. Continue reading

My Birthright

Marriage Certificate 2 enlargedThe day began for me as just another 10-year-old shanghaied by his father into helping with chores around the house. It was a happy house this spring morning, Dad whistling while he worked to organize the basement, Mom humming a gay little tune in the kitchen making an apple pie. All this wholesome family gayety was about to change.

Dad, his back toward me as he stood atop a ladder hanging curtains, his gaze staring out the window as I rummaged though a pile of faded old cardboard boxes trying to discern trash from treasure.

Flipping through a box of books, I came across a padded white case resembling those in which diplomas are presented. Never had I seen a white diploma case, but understood when I parted the two halves to find my parents marriage certificate inside. Continue reading