CONCH REPUBLIC DAYS

It was April 1982. Drugs and illegal immigrants were coming in through Key West and the lower Keys. The U.S. Border Patrol set up a roadblock and checkpoint at the northern end of US 1.

Traffic backed up big time. Many locals and tourists were inconvenienced and angry.

A federal court action was brought to have the roadblock/checkpoint removed. It failed.

Key Westers were undaunted. Their mentality prevailed. A group of local citizens decided to protest. In humorous fashion, of course. They went to the roadblock/checkpoint and opened one on their own. Under the auspices of the newly formed Conch Republic. The day, April 23.

History was made!

The men assembled advised the U.S. Border Patrol that Key West had seceded and was an independent nation. They further advised that then and there they were declaring war on the United States.

The group waited one minute and then advised they were surrendering. In addition, they demanded $1 billion in foreign aid.

The aid never came. However much has developed since that 1982 day.

The Conch Republic has won a form of recognition from the U.S. It has a capital headquarters in a yellow conch house on Simonton Street. The Conch Republic flag flies in front.

The Conch Republic has an Army, Navy and Air Force. Officers uniformed. An ocean going fleet consisting of the Schooner Wolf and ten civilian boats. An Air Force consisting of several pre-World War II bi-planes.

A female contingent exists. Young lovely ladies. Their uniform, bikinis.

Even a national anthem. Working In The Conch Republic.

The 35th anniversary of the birth of the Conch Republic is being celebrated with a week long event. Begins tonight at the Schooner Wharf Bar at 7. The event is the Conch Shell Blowing Contest.

A major event is the Great Sea Battle which will take place in a few days. The Conch Republic and United States engage in war!

Off Schooner Wharf, the Conch Republic Navy consisting of the schooner Wolf (a pirate ship in reality) and several small motorized vehicles will engage the big ships of the U.S. Coast Guard. The Conch’s will fire sea water via large hoses at the Coast Guard. The Coast Guard will retaliate with fire hoses.

The Conch’s will throw cabbages, eggs and tomatoes at the Coast Guard. The bikini clad ladies will be holding on from the yardarm doing most of the throwing. They will be attired as pirate ladies. The men as pirates, also.

The air battle is terrific. U.S. Navy jets from Boca Chica will engage Conch Republic bi-planes. The bi-planes will also bomb the Coast Guard cutters. With rolls of toilet paper which open up and flutter down on the Coast Guard vessels. Something to see.

Don’t miss the Great Sea Battle! It’s a winner!

Buffalo’s Tom and Fran Dixon are in town. I hope to go out to dinner with them tonight.

Enjoy your day!

 

 

KEY WEST PEACE

Strange as it may sound, Key West is a very peaceful place to live.

Most think it is Duval Street night after night. Once for me. No more. The once being when I first started coming to Key West 26 years ago. After a few years, I had it with Duval. Too much for me. The excitement gone.

I still hit a bar or restaurant occasionally. That’s it. Don’t do one bar after another anymore.

Some things I did yesterday and will do today reflect the peaceful existence I enjoy.

Researched and wrote all day yesterday. Chart Room last night. Only the Chart Room. Sat at the bar and chatted with John. For a while with Phil from Minneapolis who sat next to me.

Phil only 36. A hard worker. Ha already made his mark and a bit of a fortune in an intellectual property firm he founded and sold. He is on vacation with an absolutely lovely lady friend. They are staying at the Pier House.

Enjoyed my time with John and Phil. Stimulating conversation.

A tough day ahead today. A haircut and manicure. Several hours apart. I will read and write in between.

Tonight, bocce. Though I no longer play because of my heart, I am still carried on the team roster. I sit on the players’ bench and cheer my friends on. Enjoying a couple of drinks at the same time.

I had to stop playing a couple of years ago. When I bent over to pick up the ball, I fell over. My  team mates began doing he bending and handing me the ball. Kind of them. Made me foolish.

Then I started losing strength when I threw the ball. That definitely was the end. I was of no value to the team.

I retired from bocce.

Conch Republic Days begin tomorrow. A many event weekend. Adults playing like children. I will watch some of the activities.

The carrier fleet heading for North Korean waters a continuing fiasco. No one assumes responsibility.

The USS Vinson was more than 3,000 miles away heading for the Indian Ocean for war games with Australia. Has been turned around and is now heading for Korean waters. Still around 3,000 miles away.

An obvious screw up. Trump and his people take the position that they were correct when they said the carrier fleet was heading for Korean waters. They never said when, however. Now that the Vinson has turned around, the fleet is heading for Korean waters.

Ergo, no one was misled.

We all make mistakes! Own up to them when they occur.

Trump came out with another beauty yesterday. He said Korea “actually used to be a part of China.” Truth searchers say no.

Tillerson announced yesterday he is seeking an exception for Russia from certain sanctions. Russia and Exxon-Mobile discovered what may be the largest oil deposit ever in Arctic waters. Saudi Arabia’s deposits minuscule in comparison.

Russia and the oil company are engaged in a joint venture/ownership in drilling for the oil. Work stopped because of the sanctions.

Tillerson says let the work proceed. What is he thinking? Here we are investigating Russia for tampering with our elections. Consider also Tillerson was CEO of Exxon-Mobile for 15 years.

Tillerson forgets he now works for the people of the United States.

Enjoy your day!

 

SONS AND DAUGHTERS OF ITALY

I attended the monthly meeting of the Sons and Daughters of Italy last night at the Bottle Cap. Always enjoyable. Good food, good people. Interesting conversations.

Giorgi sponsored me in the club. He was elected President last night.

I sat with Paul, Sharon and Donna.

A new member and first timer was a woman whose name I cannot recall. Sorry. She recently arrived from Italy. Her family has been in the gelato business for years. Like three generations. In Italy. A store recently opened in Key West.

A daughter in Key West. She is managing the store for her father.

The family was not happy with the machinery used to make gelato which was available in the U.S. She brought family machinery with her.

The new store is called Gelateria Nuovolfiore Key West. Address 407 e Front Street.

She brought samples for us to enjoy. All terrific!

I have been dieting three weeks. Cheated last night. Big time. Ate everything. Did not feel guilty at all.

Edward Toppino is a Key West icon. A giant. Today around 90 years old. He is a member.

His father built US 1. For real. Ed got into the business. Today his sons and grandsons. Ed a neighbor. Lives around the corner from me.

Ed told us about the 1935 hurricane and its impact on US 1. The hurricane was a 5 and one of the worst to hit the lower keys. Certain railroad bridges down or broke. The road in bad shape. If my memory is correct, over 400 dead.

Ed spoke about some of the railroad bridges resupported and used for the highway. The difficulties in building the highway at that point.

One of the problems was where to live. Tents used prior to the hurricane. Ed’s father built a motel in Marathon to house his family and some of his employees.

The railroad, Flagler Railroad, died with the hurricane. Flagler’s dream no more. The motel in Marathon still stands.

Stopped at the Chart Room afterwards. John off. A new female bartender. She said she would be working four nights.

Friend Ken at the bar. He is in and out of Key West. Leaves tomorrow. Will return in a month.

Met Mark and Jim. From outside Flint, Michigan. Interesting conversation.

Spent the afternoon listening to Trump and Tillerson. I fear they are leading us into a war.

Bocce tonight, depending on the weather. Has been pouring big time all morning. May clear up. If it does soon, the courts will dry by bocce time.

Conch Republic Days begin friday. Seven at Schooner Wharf Bar. A short exciting parade. Lively costumes. Shell Blowing Contest.

The famed commentator now dead Charles Kuralt was a frequent visitor to Key West. Schooner Wharf was his favorite place. He referred to it as the “…..center of the universe.”

Sarin gas has been in the news since Assad bombed his people with it. Sean Spicer got sarin gas and Hitler screwed up two days ago. The news has been following his mea culpas.

No one has mentioned that Hitler was in fact involved with sarin gas. The Nazis developed it. Then stockpiled it. Hitler refused to use it against the Allies.

The gas used in the death chambers was not sarin.

I spoke of Attorney General Jeffrey Beauregard Sessions and his Civil War Confederate namesake General P. C. T. Beauregard yesterday.

A follow up re the General.

The General bombarded Fort Sumter for 33 hours. The Union force was not prepared for the battle. Little ammunition, cannons, food, etc. The Union surrendered.

Turns out Beauregard was a gentleman. He did not take the Union forces and contractors working on the fort prisoner. He permitted them to leave and march north.

There were 118 military and 43 construction workers. Not one had sustained an injury during the fight. The South lost a dog during the battle. Plus one soldier who was killed by an accidental explosion after the battle.

Robot, robots, robots! They are everywhere! Moving in on everything we do.

Today, chess. An expert chess team played two robots. The robots won most of the matches.

Enjoy your day!

 

LET MY PEOPLE GO

At sun down tonight, Passover begins. Families and friends will join in what is referred to as a Seder dinner. Passover will last 8 days.

A celebration. Passover celebrates freedom of the Jews from slavery in Egypt.

I will join my dear friend Donna and her family for Seder. Donna has always required her family to join her where ever she is for Passover. They come. Religiously! The one year one of her sons and his family could not make it, they were here for the Seder dinner via Skype. Skyped from both ends.

We are also celebrating Donna’s birthday tonight. Seventy. She does not care I mention her age. She wears it well. She is proud and happy she is still here.

I must mention my Father. Today is his birthday. He would have been 103. He died 5 years ago at 98. I miss him.

Back to Passover. The Hebrew word for Passover is Pesach. Means to pass over.

Moses had visited the Pharaoh. “Let my people go!” The modern version. Actually, “Set forth my people.” Intent of either: Set my people free.

Pharaoh said no. God delivered 10 plagues upon Egypt. All kinds of bad things. The tenth plague was that on this evening the first born of each family would die. Except for Jewish children. Death would pass over their homes rather than enter. The source of the term Passover.

My yesterday began with 5 Guys for lunch. I have been on a diet for 2.5 weeks. Lost 12 pounds. Only problem is I lost 11 the first week. However, I am losing inches. No question. Can wear shorts once too tight. More impressive, I can cross my legs.

The diet high protein.

Lunch consisted of 2 hamburgers, no bread, topped with mushrooms. No fries either.

Then to Walgreens and Publix. The worse time to grocery shop at Publix is sunday afternoon. So many people!

Conch Republic Days begin friday and will last a week. Fun time! Exciting events! My favorite is the Sea Battle. Conch Republic against the forces of the United States. U.S. jets versus pre-World War II bi-planes. Bombs of rolls of streaming toilet paper dropped on U.S. Coast Guard vessels.

The Conch Navy valiantly opposing Coast Guard vessels. Conch pirate ships hosing sea water on the Coast Guard together with eggs, tomatoes and cabbages. Many on the Conch vessels lovely bikini clad young ladies.

An event not to be missed!

I have been opposed to GMOs. I suspect the battle has been lost. A Republican President, Congress and Supreme Court make it impossible to win the fight.

Florida Keys Community College’s Bill Irvin will speak to the GMO issue next sunday at the Botanical Gardens at 1:30. He is a biology professor.

On this day in 1953, the 3-D color film House of Wax appeared on the screen. Starred Vincent Price.

I was a senior in high school at the time. Everyone went to see the movie. Young and old alike.

Especially thrilling was that we had to wear some kind of glasses while watching the film.

The scariest part of the film was not people being killed, dumped in hot wax, etc. It was a fellow on the street hitting a paddle ball. A hand paddle with a rubber ball attached by an elastic string. The ball came flying right out into the audience! Everyone yelped and screamed at the sane time!

Harry Truman time again. On this day in 1950, Truman left Key West after a one month vacation.

Key West loves Harry Truman. Harry Truman loved Key West.

Enjoy your Sunday!

DON RICKLES

Don Rickles died this past week. He was 90 years old.

Rickles was a comedian extraordinaire! His type comedy off the beaten track. Insulting! Over the top so!

A stand up comedian, he was like a bull getting the best of the matador. He gored his subject matter. Generally, some one in the audience.

I was his victim one time.

It was the mid 1970’s. I was staying at the Plaza in New York City. Rickles was performing at the Copacabana. The shows were 7 and 9. I wanted to see the 9 o’clock show. No room at the inn. Seating only available for the 7 o’clock show.

I would not be seeing Rickles.

My room was on the back side of the Plaza. I had to use the small elevator at the back of the first floor to get to my room.

In was late afternoon when I got in the elevator. No one else on the elevator. As the doors were closing, a body came bursting through. It was Don Rickles.

We nodded to each other. I started in. Explained my desire to see the 9 o’clock show, no room, etc. Could he help? Took a piece of paper and pen out of his pocket. Asked my name and wrote it down.

He told me to enter through the front door of the Copa. Ignore the long line waiting to get in. Ask for a Mr. somebody. The elevator stopped, doors opened and Rickles was gone.

I was thrilled.

I was dressed and ready early. The Copa was walking distance from the Plaza. As I walked by the Pierre, I decided there was time for a drink. The Pierre bar one of the most intimate in New York City.

As luck would have it, I met a young lady from Paris. We started talking. I asked if she would like to join me for the Don Rickles show at the Copa.

She was as thrilled as I was. She picked her extra long mink off the back of her chair and dragged it behind her as we went out the door.

The Copa at this point was two blocks away. We arrived. The line was long outside. I followed Rickles’  instructions. We walked in without waiting. Mr. somebody was there. He asked us to sit at a table on the side and brought us drinks.

The show at the Copa was not on the first floor where we were seated. The show room was in the basement.

After the long line had gone through, my Parisian friend and I were alone in what was a big room also. Had we been forgotten?

Mr. somebody suddenly appeared and escorted us downstairs. The room was packed. He snapped his fingers and all of a sudden two waiters showed up, one carrying a small table above his head. We and the table were escorted right up front. Not even first row. A step beyond.

A bottle of champagne appeared.

To truly image the Copa, recall Goodfellas. Several scenes were shot in the room.

I thought how lucky I was to have run into Rickles. The treatment was top shelf.

Rickles came out. It took him all of three minutes to attack me. I was the show! For a half hour. He beat me, abused me, made fun of me.

Told the crowd how I asked him for help in getting a reservation. Who did I think I was, he asked. Made fun of my nose which he said was large. I did not know it was large till that moment. Accused me of being a Jew.

As to Paris, he said she’s too good looking to be your wife. Has to be your girl friend. Asked her if I was taking good care of her. Figured I must be as he pointed out her mink coat on the back of her chair which was partially lying on the floor. Then looked at me and asked if she was good.

So it went for thirty minutes. Not one second’s break. Everyone laughing, including me.

After the show, he came over, shook hands and apologized. Which was not required. We chatted  a few minutes and he was off.

There was no charge for anything.

A fun evening.

Enjoy your day!