GOOD TO BE BACK AGAIN

Stealing from Mac Arthur…..I have returned! Gene Autry…..I’m back in the saddle again!

It is good to be home.

I got in at 4 thursday afternoon after two days of driving. Birmingham to Key West. Eight hours each day.

No question, a few days does make a difference. Specifically with regard to traffic. Little traffic. Very little. Only spots crowded were Orlando and Miami. I used the Florida Turnpike.

No waiting in line for gasoline. Pumps available at all times.

The second day was depressing, however.

I spent all day listening to the radio re the Mexican school collapse and the search for Frida Sophia and perhaps several other children. Drama! Heart wrenching!

Yesterday, we were told by Mexican authorities that there was no Frida or any other children beneath the wreckage. Alive or dead. The situation “not a reality.”

There has to be more to the story. Does not make sense to me.

The search for the children weighed heavy. To it was added another sadness. I saw what Irma did to the Keys.

Beginning with Florida City, a relatively small tree down here and there. Just outside Marathon, you could sense things were going to get bad. They did.

Beginning at the Marathon point and down to Sugarloaf, everything got consistently worse. Debris piled on the side of US 1. Furniture and mattresses. Refrigerators. Boats upside down. Cars on their sides. Roofs off. Buildings down.

Big Pine, an absolute disaster. It was as if King Kong had stomped all over it.

Summerland, Cudjoe and Sugarloaf hit badly, also.

I had been informed I would see many refrigerators. Apparently they fly through the air with the greatest of ease. I even saw one in a tree. A big one. About 15 feet up, laying sideways on a couple of big branches.

The damage itself was too much to take. Coupled with the little girl under the Mexican school, both scearios combined too much to take. Tears were actually slowly rolling down my cheeks at one point.

Key West was a different story. Damage, yes. A roof gone here and there. Most signs blown through. Trees the real problem. Toppled. Size immaterial. Big and little ones.

My new home is in an area covered with large trees. A cathedral type appearance over the streets.

No more. I was shocked! at least half the trees down. The roads one lane. Piled debris on road side heavy.

My new home survived. No damage. Except for a big tree in front and 5 little ones (20 footers) in the back.

I thought I was returning to full services. No Comcast television, computer and landline. All three I discovered have been off since September 7. One day after I left, three days before Irma hit.

Comcast no help. Comcast’s attitude always the same. Don’t care/don’t bother me.

I called to ask when I would get service. The operator did not know. Asked if I was aware there had been a hurricane.

I am getting wi-fi from my cell phone. A special app. Extra cost.

I went out thursday night. Duval Street a ghost town. Places still boarded. No one on the street.

Met up with John, Kevin and Molly at Bourbon Street. Very few bars open. Food, forget it!

On the way home, I stopped at the Marriott Beachside. Asked for a menu. No food! Enjoyed a drink, met some nice folks who live on the golf course, also.

Yesterday a busy one. Up early. Stopped at Verizon and Publix. Only one Publix open. Customers looked sad. Heads down, asses dragging. A remnant of Irma?

Also got a haircut, manicure and pedicure.

I was energized all day. Assume it must have been the time I spent at Jean and Joe’s. Restful.

Dinner last night with Don and David at Pepi’s. One of the few restaurants open. They were only serving off the luncheon menu and did not have all of the items listed. I enjoyed a huge cheeseburger.

The tree in the center of the outside dining room did fall. Big time! Never more to stand. Destroyed part of the roof portion. The roots pulled up half the concrete floor.

One thing bothered me. The FEMA presence in the parking lot on Simonton behind the fire station. Two huge white tents. took up 2/3’s of the parking. Roped off. A couple of hundred people going in and out of the tents signing up for FEMA. Mostly Bahama Village residents. Everyone happy.

What bothered me were the two Homeland Security guards/officers. Uniformed. Never saw one before.

Tall, thin, crew cut hair, blue uniforms and guns on the hips. Reminded me of the neo-Nazis in Greece I have written about many times.

Their appearance bothered me. I asked myself why does this agency need its own military force.

A fire yesterday. 717 Duval. Reported flames engulfed the building. Fire Department got the fire under control. the building housed a tattoo shop.

Food is a problem. There is  scarcity. Monroe County announced free breakfasts and lunches to all school children till October 25.

I compliment Senator Mc Cain on his Obamacare stand.

Two observations.

Google maps. First time I ever used the service. Off my cell phone. Where have I been? Wow!

The Key West Citizen. Could be the beginning of the end. The Citizen is downsizing. Henceforth the Citizen will produce only two editions a week. A weekend edition on saturday. another edition on wednesday. The Citizen will also soon be moving its operation to Miami.

Sad. A Key West tradition.

Syracuse/LSU tonight. LSU favored by 23 points. Would like to watch the game, never the less. Jack Flats still closed. Might watch at Don’s Place.

I will be doing my Key West Lou Live video on Facebook later this afternoon. A quick few minutes. Interesting dialogue.

Enjoy your day!

 

MARIA, MARIA, MARIA…..MAY MEET A GIRL NAMED MARIA…..THE NAME MAY NEVER BE THE SAME

The most beautiful sound I ever heard: Maria, Maria, Maria…..I’ve just met a girl named Maria /And suddenly that name / Will never be the same…..Maria!

The West Side Story’s music happy. Irma has not been. Now comes Maria. The song resonates. However, Maria may make us unhappy. As unhappy as Irma.

Maria on her way. A category 3 at the moment. On a path similar to Irma. Could come right over the Keys and Florida. Maybe not. Maria has a slight bend to the east.

Jose in between. The male meaningless. Expected to downgrade to a tropical storm. If it landfalls, probably the northeast coast of the United States.

For some, Keys’ living is a dream. Paradise. The reason they located here. Irma destroyed that dream for many. The Keys will recover. The time in between will be difficult.

As Irma approached, the issue for many was whether to stay. Significantly more left than stayed.

A woman who stayed regrets her decision. To those returning at this time, she suggests they do not: “To paraphrase Sheriff Ramsey, bring enough resources…..to last a week. If you can’t do that, then get back in your car and get the hell out. It’s not fun. We have no power. It’s hot. We’re rationing ice, and the water is brown out of the tap…..We wouldn’t stay again.”

My friend called me again this morning. Continues to be impressed with 801 and Bourbon Street. Air conditioning, ice and free food. Tells me the same person owns both establishments.

He recommended I not return yet. Very little power, no water, little gasoline, sewer problems continue, the smell/stench abominable, air thick with humidity, ATM machines covered, etc.

He told me I misspoke in yesterday’s blog re roadside debris. Could be seen all the way to Cudjoe Key, not Islamorada. From Cudjoe to Key West, merely bent trees.

US 1 opened for residents and business people all the way to Key West 7 this morning. Traffic heavy. Flat tires frequent.

US 1 has only one checkpoint. At Florida City.

Side roads apparently a problem. There are 21 side road checkpoints between Marathon and Key West due to unsafe conditions.

Someone reported on Facebook this morning 2 accidents already on US 1. One of the accidents a head on. One person dead. I have not been able to verify this information.

My admonition. Drive carefully. Do not speed. An extra half hour in getting to Key West will make no difference.

A personal calamity. Pisses me off.

I have a debit card with Bank of America. About four days before I left Key West to avoid Irma, I received a letter from Bank of America advising some one got into a series of card numbers. They were issuing new cards and I should receive one by the 14th. To use it when received. Ok to use old card in the meantime.

Hurrying to leave Key West, I gave the card no thought. Know I did not receive the new card as of the date I left.

Took Jean and Joe and my fellow evacuees to dinner last night. First time I have trued to use the card since 9/3. Card no good. The recorded wording something to the effect my number not registered with them. I tried every which way to get a human to speak with. No luck.

I had other cards to pay for the dinner.

Figured I would run over to a Bank of America tomorrow morning to get a temporary card. No Bank of Americas in Alabama.

I’m doing good!

I cannot talk to a human bank person till Monday morning during bank working hours on the phone.

I have a feeling I will be returning to Key West at some point this week without the card.

Suppose I needed the card? Suppose it was the only card I had? Suppose I was facing a 1,000 mile drive back to Key West without a card for gas and a motel one night?

In view of Irma, someone at the bank end should have made the decision to keep the old cards good at least till the end of the month. It had to be obvious not all would have received the new card before escaping Irma.

Robert and Ally’s dog Jake a Jack Terrier mix. Looks and acts like a Jack Terrier. Took a while, but we finally bonded.

Joanna is an evacuee staying with the Thornton’s, also. Johanna is a manager at the Audubon House. She has a Jack Terrier mix. Ralphie. Yesterday, I was sitting in a chair watching television and he jumped on my lap. Stayed. I rubbed his head, back and tummy of course.

Ralphie and I are bonded. He follows me around. Makes me play with him.

I live and learn. Teddy Roosevelt was fond of Jack Terriers. The White House had a rat problem. Jack Terriers are the natural enemy of rats. Roosevelt had several brought into the White House to live. It was the end of the rat problem.

Enjoy your Sunday!

IRMA AN EXPERIENCE

Irma an experience! No question about it!

Not just the hurricane itself. The peripheral, the tangents. The whole picture.

Dinner the big event of the day for we evacuees at the Thornton home in Birmingham. A lengthy telephone call from a Key West friend this morning and other information I have obtained re Irma.

There is another world besides Irma. Time for me to begin a return to it. Slowly. ergo, I will write about a couple of non Irma items.

The  friend who made it back to Key West telephoned this morning. Key West not yet ready for people to return. Not unless they can do with out electric power, sewers, food, and gasoline. Which means as a practical matter, no air conditioning, toilet flushing, eating, cars to drive, and working generators.

I start with this morning’s phone call.

He and a lady friend ran off to Boston. Made their reservations to return to Fort Lauderdale. Plane reservations honored. $99 deal when made. Airline honored the price, also.

They had a hotel reservation in Lauderdale made a week ago. Honored, no gouging.

People trying to return to the Keys who do not have reservations have difficulty getting a room. The hotel permitted them to sleep in their cars in the hotel garage.

My friend rented a car to drive to Key West. No gouging here either.

Florida City the re-entry point. They attempted re-entry yesterday. His lady friend is a nurse and medical emergency trained. She has an identification card to that effect. She was going down to help. She was a go. My friend had nothing.They let him through because he was driving her.

The roads clear and repaired all the way to Key West. From Florida City to Islamorada, debris stacked on side of road and in the center. Anything that could float or be blown. More refrigerators than anything else. Many boats, also.

From Islamorada to Key West, no debris visible anywhere. The trees were bent from the wind. Items did not fly around. Wind significantly less than elsewhere. A reason why Key West missed the brunt of the storm. Fifteen miles closer and Key West would have been like Cudjoe Key and Big Pine.

In Key West itself, little property damage. Many trees down, however.

My friend owns a home in Key West. Very minimal damage to the outside of his home. None inside, except the house smelled big time. He opened the windows to get the smell out. His pool water was black. Trees in the pool.

Adding to the smell was the fact he did not clean out the refrigerator and freezer before he left.

Few gas stations open. In and on the way to Key West. In Key West, certain gas stations were pumping gasoline from the gas trucks. Not going through the pump.

The two businesses who appeared prepared for Irma were the primary gay bars. Bourbon Street and 801.

He enjoyed the evening with a friend at Bourbon Street. They had air conditioning, alcohol, food and ice. The air probably provided by large generators. The ice delivered.

He told me a large truck showed up in front of Bourbon Street. Dumped bags of ice at the front door. Then went across the street to 801 and did the same thing.

Curfew is from dusk to dawn. Bourbon Street locked its doors at dusk and was not bothered by the authorities.

End of the friend report.

Since the end of the call, I have learned other things which change or may change certain portions of my friend’s report. His report through last night. What follows from this morning.

Two people have died and 10 injured as a result of Irma in Key West.

Gasoline. Continues to be scarce.

Sewer treatment facility functioning. Some house toilets backing up, however. Those that have water or a bucket of water are able to flush toilets. Water still a problem.

Power. Remains a problem. From the Seven Mile Bridge to Key West, only 7 percent have electric power. The upper Keys, 30 percent. The power people are giving special attention to Cudjoe and Big Pine which took the worst beating. Overall, there are 300 downed polls which take time to fix.

Airport. Still closed to commercial and general aviation flights. Expected to reopen tuesday for all flights.

Food. Old Publix opened for a few hours yesterday. Other Publix and Winn-Dixie in Key West remain closed. Publix in Big Pine opened only a few hours yesterday.

Evacuees. People like me. Though what I report is not how I feel. there is a rising tension being reported. Evacuees want to return to their Key West homes. In spite of the negatives I have reported. Believe officials too cautious. I do not want to get on the road till I have motel reservations where needed, know I can get gas all the way back. And when I get back, I have power, air conditiong, gasoline, food, etc.

Return date. Just heard US 1 to Key West opens tomorrow. People are being permitted to return even though things still not as they should be.

Some other bits of information.

Key West is located in Monroe County. Monroe County has one of the most stringent building codes in the United States.

Florida’s citrus industry took a beating. The loss statewide is estimated at 50-75 percent.

Re-entry stickers are being forged.

A rumor has spread that a truck was found in the Keys full of dead bodies. Not true.

Now to last night.

Dinner at the Thornton’s again. Two guests. Dan and Paula. Not related or connected in any fashion. Both Birmingham residents.

Dan an IT person for a hospital conglomerate that has hospitals from Birmingham south to Broward County. He visits Key West 1-3 times a year. Is a good friend of Jean and Joe.

Dan provided the meal. Bags of Mexican food. The dining room table could not hold all the food.

Wine consumption remained consistent. Tequila added. I missed the tequila. I was tired and went to bed early.

Paula joined us. A friend of the Thornton’s. Lovely and charming. Never been to Key West.

Dinner tonight at an Italian restaurant. My treat.

I was going to write of other things. The Irma report took too many words. Already over a thousand. I will save the non Irma news for another time.

Enjoy your day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BEGINNING OF THE END…..

June 6, 1944. D-Day. Allied troops landed on the beaches of Normandy. American, British, and Canadian. One hundred fifty five thousand strong. Within 11 months, Germany would surrender.

This past weekend, Trump and company publicized this week would be a national tour by Trump to share with the people his infrastructure plan. To privatize infrastructure.

I support infrastructure remediation. I do not support privatization.

Instead of infrastructure, Trump appeared in the White House yesterday morning telling us about his plan for privatization of air controllers. I figured tuesday would find Trump into infrastructure.

Apparently not to be. At least not today. Trump news this morning says he wants to work on healthcare and the budget first.

Why the switch?

Aqua first last night. Tom Luna and Rich Dery singing as only they can. Destiny their guest performer. A knock out voice, also.

Liz at the bar. With girl friends Josefina and Mary. First time i have seen Liz in a few weeks. She is still with cane. Looking questionable whether her second hip surgery worked.

Photographer Larry Blackburn at the bar. We exchanged hellos and shook hands.

Then down the block to Bourbon Street. Wanted to hear Bria sing. No Bria. Discovered she has left for New Hampshire for the summer.

I was disappointed. Not for log, however.

Rocky Bottom was filling in for Bria. A terrific entertainer!

Bourbon Street is a gay bar. One of the top ones in Key West. Rocky Bottom, a female. Kept the guys entertained. Her tip bucket filled up rapidly.

Rocky Bottom sings to a different tune. A little wild. One song had fuck every other word. She sang the tune not sensuously. Hard and tough!

Joe Schroeder opened Bourbon Street twenty plus years ago. He was looking to establish a Beads, Boys and Booze operation. He succeeded big time.

Stopped at the VFW for a bite to eat on the way home. The VFW is open to the public. Prior military involvement not a requirement for admission.

I was at one end of the bar. A mature couple came in and sat at the other end. About a dozen people at the bar.

The new guy bought for the bar. He knew no one. His first time in the VFW. His name Mark and he was from Michigan.

On my way out, I stopped to thank him and shake his hand. He said, “Thank you for your service.”

I never served.

My meal was meat loaf. Mother’s cooking.

You can tell the humidity is heavy. Glasses fog up immediately when you get out of an air conditioned car.

Tomorrow at 10 am at the Custom House, Dr. Cori Convertino is giving a walking lecture telling the story of Henry Flagler’s Overseas Railway. Dr. Convertino is the KWAHS curator who devoted months putting the Flagler Railway exhibition together.

Coomey appears before a Congressional Committee thursday. Too much hype. Expectations running high. Too much may be expected. Certain of his testimony will be classified. Additionally, Special Counsel Mueller may limit what Coomey may reveal.

We shall see.

The emblem of the Democratic Party is the donkey. From whence did it come?

Andrew Jackson was running for President. The Party’s mascot at the time was the Rooster. Shades of Key West 175 years later.

Jackson’s opposition used a play on Jackson’s name to make fun of Jackson and his followers: Jackasses. Donkey in due course became the more tasteful replacement for Jackasses.

The Rooster did not completely die. The Democrat Rooster remains to this day on ballots in some states.

Tonight, my podcast. Tuesday Talk with Key West Lou. Nine my time. www.blogtalkradio.com/key-west-lou.

Usually, I list topics to be discussed in the evening in the tuesday morning blog. Not this week. With Trump out there, things change hourly.

The past few weeks, I have spent my tuesday afternoons adjusting my topics to fit breaking news. Today, I am waiting till one to formulate tonight’s program.

Enjoy your day!

 

 

 

 

 

FLU SHOT DOES NOT ALWAYS WORK

When it rains, it pours…..

Donna and Terri have been having a rough time of it. Battling Terri’s cancer.

Donna got the flu shot this year. Not the time to taunt the gods. Terri and the flu would not be a good combination.

Donna has the flu! Big time! The worst from her perspective. Strong coming from Donna who has had some heavy illnesses in the course of her life.

Donna has a type of influenza A. One of the influenza’s protected by the flu shot. Hit her New Year’s eve. Twice in the hospital yesterday. Temperature 103.

Donna says it is death. Even getting a little better is in the death area.

The flu shot does not always work. Some still come down from the flu. Not from the shot itself. You cannot get the flu from the shot itself. The virus injected is dead.

Hang in there Donna. Terri, stay away from Donna.

Spent yesterday afternoon preparing for tonight’s podcast. Tuesday Talk with Key West Lou. Nine my time. www.blogtalkradio.com/key-west-lou.

A major topic is the Theft of Social Security. The Fund would be sound if the government stopped taking surplus funds out every year. Presently, the United States owes Social Security just under $3 trillion.

You will find the truth interesting. It will anger you as well.

More robot discussion. China is on the way to replacing in excess of 600,000 employees at one of its plants with robots. Also, further exploration of poor veteran care at Veterans’ Hospitals. The story of a veteran who died with maggots in his wounds.

Plus, a Texas police officer who sexually assaulted a 13 year old girl, a Mexican scheduled for deportation and/or removal 19 times who raped a 13 year old girl on a bus, the Miami cop who was fired for bragging the black neighborhood was a good place for gun practice, the EPA intentionally hiding radiation in water at a number of sites, the story of a 13 year old boy paralyzed from a chicken pox vaccine, and more.

Aqua big last night! Tons of people. The season ongoing.

Many friends. Sheila, Jean and Joe Thornton, Stephanie, Liz, Mary and Josefina. Tom and Rick doing the Dueling Bartenders thing.

Made two new friends. Anna and Everett. Owners of Anna’s Cabana. A lovely 40 foot power vessel. They live on the boat when in Key West. It is presently docked near A&B Lobster House.

Anna is the Captain and Everett the first mate.

You know who is boss in that family!

They told me they were steady dinner customers at Berlin’s. We hope to run into each other.

An Alabama night. Anna and Everett Alabama residents. As are Joe and Jean. Anna and Everett plan on being at the game in Tampa on January 9. Joe and Jean will be gut wrenched here in Key West.

In distant past years, there was a drop off of tourists immediately following New Year’s day. Not in recent years. Not this year.

I had difficulty finding a parking place near Aqua.

Liz and the ladies left early to have dinner at Virgilio’s.

Liz and her friends like to whoop it up. Spent New Year’s eve at the bar at Aqua from 5:30 to 11:00.

Then to Bourbon Street to her Bria sing. The best!

Tim and Scott at the bar. Enjoyed a couple of drinks with them. Friends of Donna and Terri. Know them from the Back Door.

They work for Bourbon Street, though not last night. They told me how busy New Year’s eve was. They were still tired.

Stopped at the street level bar/restaurant under Crabby Dick’s where Alex plays tuesday nights. Chatted with Alex and his wife. Met Alex’s brother who is vacationing here.

I was energized. Not tired enough to go home yet. Walked over to Virgilio’s to chat with Liz and friends.

Virgilio’s impressed me. A good 10 years since I had been there. A night club back then. Still a night club. However, a restaurant during dinning hours. The place was packed. Had there been room, I would have joined the ladies for dinner.

Dinner was at Outback. Easy. A cheeseburger. Watched the final minutes of the USC/Penn State Rose Bowl game. A tremendous finish! Just like pro ball. The last couple of minutes everything. USC won with a field goal in the final minute after intercepting a Penn State pass.

Somewhere along the way last night, Hard Rock Stadium  came into the talk.

When first built in 1987, it was the Joe Robbe Stadium. Joe Robbe was the first owner of the Miami Dolphins. He was also the prime mover in getting Joe Robbe Stadium built.

I was in Joe Robbe Stadium in 1987. For Super Bowl XXIII. The Stadium impressed me no end. Especially the elevators.

Think of the long almost vertical elevators at the Atlanta airport. Robbe Stadium had similar elevators. Multiple ones. Side by side. You rode up swiftly to your seat before the game. The elevators took you back to ground level after the game. All elevators were down only after the game.

When Robbe died in 1990, he left a $100 million estate.

Back in the early 1970s, I had a condominium at the Jockey Club in Miami. A private club. The place to be in the those days. Fun 24 hours a day.

Joe Robbe had a condo there also. Occasionally we would enjoy a drink together at the bar. A nice guy. Willie Shoemaker would join us on occasion. He lived at the Jockey Club, also.

Enjoy your day!

 

EVENING CUT SHORT

Busy day yesterday. Running around doing all kinds of tasks. Including Xmas shopping.

Do not get the impression I am buying a ton of gifts. Not. I am walking around trying to purchase the most thoughtful gift for the few I buy for.

So busy, I never had lunch. Which affected my evening activities.

I had a three pronged plan for last night. Aqua, Alex, and Bourbon Street. Only made Aqua.

Sheila at Aqua. Love her.

So too, Liz. And her friends Mary and Josefina. Joined them at the bar.

Liz dressed all in black. Dynamite!

I enjoyed three drinks with the ladies. They left for dinner at La Trattoria. I remained as it was too early for Alex.

Then my stomach started. Could not understand why. Finally realized that Louis had not stopped for lunch.

So much for Alex and Bourbon Street.

I started home. Knew I had to eat something. Bulk up. Figured 5 Guys would do it. It did. A cheeseburger and fries. I felt fine even before I finished the burger.

Tom and Rick singing at Aqua. A lot of Christmas carols. A lot of people. Twice the normal crowd. Obvious people starting to drift into Key West for a Christmas holiday.

Europeans and Asians included. Germans and Japanese primarily.

The Custom House tonight for its first special Christmas event. Music and holiday lights on the porch/promenade. The Custom House itself open to visitors. Should be good!

My podcast show tonight. Tuesday Talk with Key West Lou. Nine my time. A fast moving interesting and revealing half hour.

Topics include more on robots replacing workers, General Motors closing five factories for 1-3 weeks, China returning U.S.’s submarine drone, whether Russia’s Turkish ambassador being shot in Turkey an Archduke Ferdinand, purpose of the electoral College, two separate groups of pharmaceutical houses sued by government for price fixing and doctor bribing, and more. www.blogtalkradio.com/key-west-lou.

Enjoy your Day!

 

ROBERT FROST’S TIME IN KEY WEST

The Today In Keys History section of the Key West Citizen carried a brief comment re Robert Frost. To the effect that it had been announced on this date in 1934 that Robert Frost would spend the winter in Key West. His first visit.

Inquisitiveness tickled my fancy. Where did he stay? What did he do? Etc. Did a bit of research.

The winter of 1934 may have been Frost’s first visit, it was not his last. He returned in 1945. Spent every winter in Key West through 1960.

Jessie Porter’s home was a haven for writers. Daily visits. Sitting around and talking. Frost included.

Porter’s home was at 410 Caroline St. A garden cottage was located on the property. Frost leased the cottage during his 1945-1960 stays.

Porter’s home today is known as The Heritage House. It is listed as a National Literary Landmark.

Away from the Porter premises, Frost’s favorite place to hang out was the Casa Marina.

Spent yesterday afternoon preparing for tonight’s podcast. Tuesday Talk with Key West Lou. Nine my time. www.blogtalkradio.com/key-west-lou.

Topics off the wall! All kinds of interesting things happening. I will open with the alleged Russian hacking of the Democrats and the opposing views of the CIA and FBI.

Followed by Chinese factories making our Xmas toys under deplorable working conditions, pharmacy executives arrested for bribing doctors to recommend their pain killing drug, a black man arrested for DUI strapped into a chair and beaten by a police officer causing the black man to lose sight in one eye, Venezuela eliminating half its paper money, and more.

Aqua first last night. Liz and Mary there. Sat with them. Jean Thornton on the other side of the bar. Tom Luna, Rick and Traci entertaining.

Alex tapped me on the shoulder to say hello. His wife standing outside. Alex was playing across the street. I will have to stop in next week to hear him blow his horn.

Liz and Mary left for dinner at Antonia’s. I headed for Bourbon Street.

Berlin’s Bria sings monday and tuesday evenings at Bourbon Street. Went especially to hear her. As usual, outstanding.

Sitting at the bar next to me were Jen and Paul. Jen vacationing from Fargo, North Dakota. Paul a December snowbird for years.

Jen and I had an interesting conversation re Standing Rock. She lives where it all happened. I expected her to be sympathetic to the Sioux cause. She was not. She felt the Native Americans were making a lot out of nothing.

Interesting.

While the Polar Vortex is reaping havoc on the northwest, Key West weather has never been better. Mid 80s yesterday. Never hot. No humidity. Comfortable.

The Polar Vortex is expected to be felt over the keys early next week. Very cold weather. Significant drop in temperature.

The war between the community and the Lower Keys Medical Center continues. An attorney hired by the community group reported that the hospital board had no authority to act and that the legal paperwork involved years ago was binding.

The battle will continue. I don’t understand why the community group does not take a direct assault on the company operating the hospital for insufficient care, over billing, etc.

Last but not least. My new streaming show will not debut thursday as planned. The best laid plans of mice and men…..

Only one problem. Described yesterday. It will not be resolved by thursday.

Enjoy your day!

 

GOOMBAY!

Finally! Goombay! Last night!

Goombay is of Haitian or some other Caribbean derivation. Goombay is a round goat skin drawn over a round or square wood or metal bottomless pail. Played with the hands. There were a lot of palms slapping on goat skin tops last night.

Goombay has become an annual event for some. Don entertains a group from his bar. He has been doing this for years.

We met last night at Don’s Place. A drink or two. Eleven of us in a cab ride to 801. 801 is one of the most popular Key West gay bars. It sits on Duval at the beginning of Goombay.

After a few more drinks, we headed out. First a group picture. We take one every year. No one has ever seen the finished product.

For some  of us, the initial walk is short. One block to the outside bar of Bourbon Street. Another premier gay bar. It has become a habit to stop there to listen to Blue. A singer. A long time friend of Don and David.

We sat enjoying a few more drinks. Some of the group danced. On soft sand.

The group at this point consisted of Don, David and Billie, Stan and Clare, Dan and Betty, and Louis. Don was my date.

Now came the walk up Petronia Street. Booths/stands on each side of the street. Music coming from everywhere. All kinds of Caribbean type food. The street crowded.

Similar to New York’s San Gennaro Feast, except San Gennaro is Italian in nature.

I had to eat. Opted for a sausage sandwich.

Once we left Bourbon St., we separated. Impossible for a large group to move together. The goal Blue Heaven.

I got there last.

Blue Heaven is a large outdoor restaurant. Packed.

I stayed for one drink. Exhausted. It was time to leave. I snuck off with no good byes.

As I was leaving, I heard Louis! Turned and it was Jean Thornton. She has been back two weeks and it was the first time we have seen each other. A big hug and kiss.

I will see Jean again this afternoon at a retirement party for Joe Lyles.

My car was at Don’s Place. A big walk. Especially with how my heart has been behaving recently. I took it slow and made it. No adverse physical feelings.

Today busy.

Syracuse/Boston College at noon. Will watch at home.

Then to the Hot Tin Roof for Joseph Lyles’ retirement party. Well deserved!

Tonight became a problem. I had a date scheduled with lovely Jenna for dinner. Does my heart good to be out with a beautiful 30 year old woman.

Then I found out that there was a bocce make-up game tonight. Don’s Place/Hell’s Rangers. Big time game between two big time teams this season. Don’s is alone in first place. Hell’s Rangers in third. Hell’s Rangers generally in first place most seasons.

The match has turned into a party. Hell’s Rangers bringing the food and Don’s the drinks. A cook out!

I wanted to see the bocce match. I gave up Jenna for a bocce game! A sure sign I have gotten old.

Jenna understood. We are going out together tomorrow night.

I mentioned the Rick Pitino situation yesterday. David Taylor wrote me a long in depth review of the situation from his perspective. David now lives in St. Louis. However, spent many years in Kentucky. He was aware first hand of facts I knew not. Will share them with you as the Pitino matter develops.

Enjoy your day!

 

 

GREAT GOOMBAY

Last night, one of the best Goombays ever!

Droves of people. The beginnings of Fantasy Fest in the air.

We started at Don’s Place. About 15 of us. Then 2 big cabs to 801. We were at 801 a long time. It had started to rain.

Once the rain stopped, we were off. Everyone going their own way. The plan to meet later at Blue Heaven.

I ran with Don and David. First stop was the outside back area of Bourbon Street. For the unaware, 801 and Bourbon Street are Key West’s most famous gay bars.  The three of us get to 801 once as year. Bourbon Street was a first.

Don and David know Blue. A local singer/musician. I had never heard of him. He was playing in the backyard at Bourbon Street.

Let me say first, I was very impressed with the back outside of Bourbon Street. A great layout! Two pools, an attractive bar, stage, tons of tables and chairs.

Blue was good! Don and David correct. We stayed quite a while. Friends joining us and leaving.

Finally, we had our full of Blue and Bourbon Street. It was off to Blue Heaven. I left first. I had not had dinner and was drinking. Needed food. Enjoyed a large sausage sandwich I bought at one of the food stands. Walked to Blue Heaven eating the sandwich.

Blue Heaven packed as usual for Goombay.  I found a chair at the bar and settled in. Everyone showed up at some point. A lot of drinking.

I ran into many friends last night. Some I have not seen in a while. Added to the pleasure of the evening.

David and I folded first. We both agreed we were tired. We walked back to Don’s Place. A bit of a hike. Good for us, however. Burned some of the alcohol up.

I was home in bed asleep before 10. The evening ran from 5-10.

My yesterday began with the anti-gravity treadmill. I pushed myself farther than ever. A bit too far. I was exhausted at the end. Took me the afternoon to recover.

I never got to be interviewed on 104.9. Technical difficulties at the other end.

Fantasy Fest King and Queen announced last night. My fried Mark Watson won. He is King. A big deal!

Syracuse/Pitt at noon. Syracuse a 6 point underdog. I suspect Syracuse will lose. I plan on watching the game.

Dinner tonight with Jenna.

Enjoy your day!

RAINBOW DELIGHT

I got out a bit more yesterday. Day time only. Not ready for night action yet. I have not had a drink in two weeks. Soon, though not today.

I went downtown. Wanted to see the Rainbow cross walks the City had painted at the intersection of Duval and Petronia. A sight! A lovely one! Key West!

Key West is a gay/straight community. The cross walks are painted in hues of the rainbow. Light purples, orange, yellow, pink, etc. The location perfect. Key West’s two most famous gay bars on opposite corners. 801 and Bourbon Street.

Earlier, I visited with Tammy at Lee Nails. Manicure time. The nails were extra long because of being laid up.

Tammy always a pleasure to see. I admire her and her husband. They came from Vietnam about 12 years ago. Today, the owners of a flourishing business employing a number of people. The American dream existed for them. They purchased a lovely home with pool last year. They work. Six days a week. From 8 in the morning till 8 at night.

They deserve it all!

Then to the new parking lot behind Antonia’s. I once again have a parking place mid-Duval.

One parking meter. Sufficient. I walked over and there were six people huddled around the machine. A set of older parents and two 30ish couples.

One of the ladies was trying to figure out how to work the pay machine. It can be confusing.

As I approached, she yelled…..$38!…..I am not going to pay $38! Obviously, she did not know what she was doing. I was five feet behind and said not to worry. Hit the cancel button. She did.

She only wanted three hours. She again was confused. I walked up behind her and quietly asked if I could help. Without even turning, she yelled…..No!…..Get out of here!

So much for being helpful to tourists. Why let something so stupid spoil a vacation.

An item in this morning’s Key West Citizen claimed we could expect a less active hurricane season. Our last hurricane was Wilma ten years ago.

I am a bit superstitious. I wish it had not been said. It could be an invitation for a black cloud to hover over us.

Fellow came to fix a crack in my pool yesterday. He got all dressed in his black water suit, air tank, etc. He appeared to know what he was doing. The whole job took all of ten minutes.

It is 10 in the morning. I am about to take my last anti-biotic. Twelve days of them.

Enjoy your Sunday!