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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BELIEVE

God is in His Heaven, all is right with the world.

The Lord knows everything, even before it happens.

He is all merciful.

So why do disasters like Harvey and Irma occur? Wars? Genocides? I could go on.

I believe. Though no longer a Church goer. Speak directly to Him. Generally in times of adversity. Rarely to say thank you when things are good.

People believe in different ways.

Which brings me to the story of Jackie Tee and a silver toe ring.

Jackie’s first trip to Key West was 20 years ago this month. With her husband, 4 1/2 year old son, and sister. Jackie purchased a silver toe ring. She has worn it for 20 years.

A couple of months ago, she noticed the toe ring was starting to split. Irma hit Key West September 10. That same day, the toe ring totally split. Jackie found the same ironic. Perhaps meaningful.

Jackie has a friend who she describes as a “new age spiritual.” Her friend told her to have the ring repaired: Repair the ring, repair the island. The two went together from the friend’s perspective.

Jackie is having the toe ring repaired.

As a side note, Jackie has returned to Key West almost annually the past 20 years. She says the island draws her. It does. Many persons.

Some Key West information.

Wendy’s hit hard by the surge. Seven to 10 days before lower Keys residents can return. No power, water, sewer, limited food.

US 1 bridges all ok. Side road bridges not yet tested. Road debris being removed.

Five food drop sites have been established. Food and water was to be available. People went. Only two had food. All 5, no water. People upset. The first rumblings.

Cell phone service spotty. Persons outside the Keys do not seem to understand. Many complaining why relatives and friends in and from the lower Keys do not call them.

Cell phone service went down 3 hours after Irma hit. I read a report which described the event…..Everything went eerily silent.

Social media has been the savior. I now understand why Trump went to it during the campaign and now as President. Facebook especially helpful.

Hardest hit were Big Pine and Cudjoe Key.

No casualties reported through yesterday.

Re-entry for residents and business owners to MM 73 permitted. Islamorada.

Dusk to dawn curfew remains in place.

A few gas stations beginning to open in the upper Keys.

I received a text yesterday from Shavon White. She is a producer at FOX New York City. She required information about Key West, identification of some who stayed, how to make contact, etc.

Trump arrives today to inspect Irma damage. A proper thing for a President to do. My question is why he is not visiting the Keys. Air Force One could easily land at the Naval Base at Boca Chica. A few short miles from Key West in one direction and Big Pine and Cudjoe Key in the other.

We in the Keys are people too! Could use the lift a Presidential visit brings.

Trump is visiting with EPA head Pruitt. There is an irony to the visit. Both have been working hard to cut disaster relief programs from the federal budget.

They arrive today to take bows for doing a great job in the recovery. First Texas, now Florida. When the budget comes up, they will continue to oppose federally funded disaster relief.

Now a Trump/Sessions scenario of which most are unaware.

Recall the federal program that provided surplus military equipment to police organizations. Police organizations included university police/campus police. What is known as Program 1033.

The program was stopped two years ago by Obama.

Trump signed an Executive Order permitting a resurgence of the program. Supported of course by Sessions. Intent being that law and order prevail on college campuses where students have recently become exceptionally rowdy with demonstrations.

The program is delivering to college campuses grenade launchers, armored trucks, pistols, assault rifles, etc.

The militarization of college campuses! Something like 117 already receiving various items.

I find it difficult to comprehend why military equipment is required to put down college demonstrations. The student will view it as police state activity.

I read somewhere that most students graduate with a debt of $37,000. That much money and they have to oppose heavily armed campus police!

Most campus police today are privatized. Bothers me. They lack oversight. Quick trigger fingers in the making.

Just received a call from Guy de Boer. KONK Life publisher. He was in Homestead,. Leaving the Keys!  Homestead has cell phone capability. Guy was calling friends to see if ok, where they were, etc.

He is leaving because he needs cell phone capability to run his newspaper. He will be doing it out of Miami for a few days.

Enjoy your day!

 

SITTING OUT IRMA

Being bunkered down in Birmingham not bad. Joe is off working somewhere in the west. Jean home with us.

We party starting at 5 each evening. Cocktails and then dinner. Alcohol and wine galore. Exceptional food. Stories flow. Laughter prevails.

Not bad.

Miss Key West, however. I can’t wait to return.

Jean Thornton our hostess. Savior perhaps a better word. I have a new label for the wonderful Jean. Hostess with the mostest. The Perle Mesta of Birmingham and Key West.

Jean, a continued thank you for your generosity.

Liz. My dear friend Liz. A year older than me. We date. She cooks for me. We do Dueling Bartenders together. We communicate.

Irma on its way! Liz chartered a plane and flew out. Did not even think to call Louis.

For shame!

I am kidding. Do feel forgotten, however. Liz is in her St. Petersburg home. Large and strong. Survived Irma. Power out. She has a supply of ice however and is able to keep certain foods cold.

Linda Grist Cunningham is a retired newspaper woman. She and her husband now Key West residents.

Linda was in Virginia with her sickly mother as Irma was arriving. Her husband Ed in Key West. He is riding the storm out with Sheila and David in their Key West penthouse. They survived Irma well.

Linda has prepared an excellent run down on Irma. Irma: “End of day one in Key West. What we know and don’t.” She also has put together an Irma site: Hurricane Irma Key West.

I plagiarize from End of day one. Linda’s accumulated facts better than anything I could put together.

Irma hit Key West as a category 4 8:30 sunday morning. Actual landfall 20 miles up US 1 at Cudjoe Key. One hundred thirty miles per hour.

Key West has water problems. Main line intact. Some branches broken. A boil water warning in effect.

Many trees down. Those still standing bare. Down to the bark. Foliage ripped away.

There are 42 bridges between Key West and the main land. All have to be checked.

US 1 asphalt road surfaces ripped away in certain areas.

Linda’s advisory for those who remained in Key West simple. Conserve water, eat sparingly, and be certain to help each other our.

Thank you, Linda. Keep publishing.

Late tonight is Birmingham’s time for an Irma visit. Two in the morning. Not bad. A tropical storm or depression. Kid stuff after what other areas have suffered. We sill be safe in Jean’s home. I will probably sleep through it.

I have complained re the media’s lack of coverage. Miami north covered. The Keys, especially the southern ones, forgotten. We are people too! We were hit first and hard. Media reps should have been in Key West.

One of the Irma escapees in our group has family in the Virgin Islands. Hit by a 5. She has been glued to the TV looking for Virgin Island reports in addition to Key West. Zip! Nothing!

I am doing my Key West Lou Live video on Facebook daily. Nothing fancy. Sitting in a chair holding my cell phone out in front of me.

Mostly Irma at this time. A few minutes. Take a look. You will enjoy.

Finally and most importantly. Yes, there is something more important than Irma. Though some may disagree.

Today is the 16th anniversary of 9/11. Our homeland attacked. Three thousand lives lost.

We must never forget. We must remain vigilant.

Enjoy your day!

THIS IS AN ADDENDUM. I JUST VIEWED A VIDEO OF BIG PINE, ETC. DAMAGE FROM JOYCE GOUSE IN UTICA. THE DEVASTATION FAR WORSE THAN I THOUGHT. WORSE THAN ANYTHING I HAVE SEEN IN THE PAST.

 

 

 

 

 

TRUMPELSTILTSKIN

Trumpelstiltskin applies.

Think about it.

My President is a bully. A bully avoids confrontation. Confrontation in this instance is Trump’s appearance at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. He can hand it out. Fears getting it in return.

Go face to face. In a congenial setting. The situation cannot get worse. Something better might come from it.

Chart Room first last night.

Met two former upstate New York neighbors. Mark and Marge Rapport. Formerly of Lowville, New York.

Lowville is the end of the world. Roughly fifty miles north of Utica. Snow like you would not believe!

Mark and Marge spent 7 1/2 years residing in Lowville. Mark was the Administrator of the Lewis County General Hospital. Largest employer in the area. Mark today retired. Marge, also. From nursing.

Lowville is in Lewis County. One of the largest land counties in New York State. Correspondingly, one of the smallest population wise.

The Village of Lowville is the County seat. Its population 3.5 thousand. The Village is part of the Town of Lowville. The Town’s population 5 thousand. Includes the Villages’s 3.5 thousand.

Ain’t much to do nights in Lowville. Marital sex the frequent event. Marriages strong because of it.

Turin is a few miles south of Lowville. Turin also in Lewis County. A big ski area. Chris Rounds is a well known Key West figure. Presently owner of La Te Da and Fantasy Fest king. A good guy overall.

Chris formrly of Turin. Born and raised there.

I mentioned Chris to Mark and Marge. Though they do not know him, I suspect they will be looking him up.

Met three charming ladies. Becky, Michelle, and Donna. All in the financial field. Becky a retired CPA. Michelle an internal auditor for a hospital. Donna a senior financial analyst.

The ladies all originally from Iowa. Becky and Donna still reside there. Michelle now in New Orleans.

Spent some time chatting with Becky. Lovely lady. Charming personality. Would enjoy running into her again before she leaves Key West.

The three were on their way to a drag show at 801 later. Their first.

For me, it was off to La Te Da’s outside bar for dinner. Then a brief stop at Publix to pick up some groceries. What a bachelor does on a saturday night in Key West.

Key West people compatible. Tolerate most things. One happy family. For real.

Sometimes an outsider tests our tolerance.

A sad occurrence one in the morning on 2/23. 1200 block of Duval.

Two Key Westers going home on their bicycles. Some one on a scooter/moped came up behind them and then in front. Hit one of the bikes causing it to overturn.

The trouble maker was calling the bicyclists faggots and other vile names. Shouted at them: “You live in Trump City now!”

Sick bastard. He will be caught. Police arrived. Witnesses.

Another sick incident. Friday morning just before 6 am. Two young girls were waiting for their 6 am school bus pick up. Two men stopped in a pick up truck and offered them a ride. The girls refused. One of the mothers drove up with a bottle of water her daughter had forgotten. The men drove away.

Fortunately a rare occurrence in the lower Keys. My concern is the 6 am pick up time. The schools have to do better. These kids are getting up at 5 am to start their day. Wrong! Time for the school board to rework things.

Big day ahead. Probably will never leave the house.

Sloan at noon. Syracuse/Louisville on TV at 2. The Academy Awards tonight.

Not a bad day!

Enjoy your Sunday!

 

FAT ALBERT

Fat Albert was a mainstay over Cudjoe Key for more than 30 years. Fat Albert was a white Air Force blimp. Tethered to Cudjoe. Part of the military radar system.

Once there had been two blimps. One was taken down several years ago. I do not recall the name of the one that went first. My recollection is that Fat Albert had become obsolete and was taken down by the Air Force in 2013.

A reader in this morning’s Key West Citizen Citizens’ Voice asked…..Where is Fat Albert? The person who wrote in said he was driving on US 1 and he discovered Fat Albert was gone. Where is it, he asked.

Sometimes that which we see every day, we stop seeing. It is there, but we see it so often that we fail to see it.

Did the writer fail to note that Fat Albert has been gone some three years? Or, is Louis wrong and Fat Albert did not come down in 2013?

If you know, let me know.

My yesterday started with a visit to my heart doctor. One scheduled in haste. I experienced chest pains during the night. Doctor ran some tests. Found nothing. There is going to be more tests. A stress test among them.

I felt fine yesterday. Feel fine this morning. Pains did cause me concern.  The nitroglycerin made it go away the two times it was experienced.

Such is life at 80.

Nothing was going to stop me from the excitement of the Syracuse/Dayton game. I opted to watch it at Don’s Place. Toni joined me to watch the game. Toni is a die hard Kentucky fan. Toni is into basketball. I enjoyed being with her during the game. Good company.

Met Cecil. The name does not fit him. A tough appearing guy. Cecil a Syracuse fan, also. He graduated from LeMoyne College.

The ‘Cuse distinguished itself yesterday. The second half was not expected. Could not have been imagined. Syracuse blew Dayton out in the second half. Syracuse won 70-51.

If I was going to get a heart attack, it was during the excitement of the second half.

Syracuse plays Mid Tennessee tomorrow at 6:10 pm. Mid Tennessee a #15 seed beat Michigan State a #2 yesterday. Mid Tennessee is not to be taken lightly.

I decided not to push my luck. I was home mid afternoon. Did not go out in the evening.

I did do some research however for this week’s KONK Life column. The title of the article alone will blow you away. I am not sharing it at the moment.

I was under the impression that the US Air Force did not have its combat beginnings till World War I. I was wrong. The first US Air Combat Mission began with the invasion of Mexico in 1916. The US was trying to capture Pancho Villa.

Today is a significant day in history. In 2003, the war with Iraq began. Bush 2’s war. “…..to defend the world from grave danger.” Bush’s words. He told us Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

I am one who believes that had Bush not opted to invade Iraq, the Middle East would not be as it is today.

A final observation. Those who comment to this blog do not always agree with each other. Generally, diametrically opposed. Sometimes the exchanges get heated.

Not yesterday when it came to the Syracuse victory. They stood as one in their excitement!

Enjoy your day!

ALL BUT THE HORSE

 

I was at the bar at Tavern ‘n Town last night engrossed in the newspaper and sipping a drink. I suddenly sensed something/someone next to me.

She was lovely! Decked out in cowboy hat and boots. A leopard sundress in between.

She looked familiar. She kept smiling. Finally, I said I know we’ve met but I can’t remember where or when or your name.

She laughed and nodded her head to someone further down the bar. Then it came to me. Joyce and Bill. We had met at Tavern ‘n Town a month ago. Joyce lives on Cudjoe and Bill Sugarloaf.

They invited me to join them for dinner. We had a very good time! An excellent evening!

Bill is a Penn State grad. We discussed why Penn State stopped playing Syracuse in football years back. His version, the Penn State version, I had never heard.

The evening was filled with laughter and good talk.

Began yesterday with the anti-gravity treadmill. Body Owners a great place. They make bodies work again. Jenny takes good care of me.

I had to hurry home afterwards. My friday interview on 104.9 radio. I am questioned re the KONK Life column I write each week. Sex Tales of Old easily handled. Interesting stories about how sex impacted the lives of certain historical figures.

Had a doctor visit later in the afternoon. Then stopped at Sq. 1 for a drink. Jason bartending. It was happy hour. Food looked great. Drinks cheap. Beefeaters $4. Anywhere else, $10-12. I recommend the place.

Bocce playoffs begin this afternoon at 3. If we win, we play again at 5. If we win again, we play tomorrow.

May the gods be with us!

The whole scenario exciting! A festive occasion. Colorful sun tents for the players. Hamburgers and hot dogs for the players. People come to watch. Bring the kids and babies along. Blankets strewn about. Coolers with food and drink. Everyone having a good time.

Because of Paris, security in the lime light again.

Read an interesting item re airport security this morning. The Department of Homeland Security announced that 73 TSA airport employees are on the terrorist watch list. All approved for access to secure areas.

What the hell is going on? Doesn’t anyone pay attention to these things?

Syracuse basketball tonight. Syracuse plays Elon. Never heard of them. We are expected to win big. 16.5 point favorite. Game at 7. Bocce should be over by then. I  will be watching.

Enjoy your day!