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!

 

SNOWSTORMS ONCE FAMILY TIMES

The northeast is getting crushed under tons of snow. Most places closed down. Definitely work places and schools.

Means the family is together for a whole 1-2 days.

Time for mom, dad and children to talk to each other. Yesterday, yes. Today, I do not know.

My yesterday goes back roughly 50 years. I loved the 1 or 2 snowstorms a year. Closed the office down before the big storm hit. Went home to join the wife and kids.

No computers, laptops, or cell phones back then. People had to talk to one another. Lite the fireplace and we sat around all day. Chatted about this and that. Played cards and games. Even ate together.

Hot chocolate time, also. My wife prepared hot chocolate. It fit the day.

Today, I sense everyone is engrossed in their computers and cell phones. Even mom and dad. Little personal communication.

Everything has changed. Except for the snowstorm.

I was all over Duval Street last night.

Started with the Chart Room. Should have skipped the place. A drunk obnoxious older woman got on my case. Insultingly. Loud. I don’t think I had said ten words to her. All polite, of course.

She had a hair up her ass. Even her husband could not get her to shut up.

I finally laid a bill on the bar and walked out.

The Chart Room has a new bartender monday-wednesday. Paul. Last employer, the Gecko.

He should have handled the situation. He did not.

John, Emily of days gone by, etc. would have first asked her politely to calm down and if she did not, called security.

I left without even finishing my first drink.

Headed over to Aqua. Should have gone there in the first place. Dueling Bartenders evening.

Tom Luna back. He has been gone for three weeks.

Met Ed. Retired here. We had similar backgrounds. We arrived to this stage of our lives by different paths. But, got here!

Ed a Long Island person. Went to Bowling Green. A track man. He was familiar with Manhattan College which I attended. Manhattan had a terrific track team back then.

Basketball his game, also.

Ed was in ROTC. Took a commission. Did a year in Vietnam. Left the service a captain.

His other life spent as a high school principal.

Today, Ed serves as Adjutant Commander of the VFW on North Roosevelt Boulevard. The one with the good cooking, as he described it. He was correct. I occasionally stop by.

Walked over to Bourbon Street from Aqua. Wanted to hear Bria sing. She starts at 8. I was too early. Two drinks away time wise for me. Too much.

Hunger beset me. Stopped at Mangoes. First time at the new Mangoes. Remodeled beautifully.

Sat at the bar. Met Peter who was sitting next to me. Peter interesting. Originally from Chelsea. For the unaware, part of New York City.

Peter works at Fogarty’s by day.

Enjoyed Peter’s company.

I did not enjoy my meal. Disappointed. Ordered nothing special. Wings. Tough. Over cooked. Difficult to bite, difficult to chew.

I am going to give Mangoes a break and not say I don’t recommend it. A place that beautiful can’t be serving poor food. I will be trying it again soon.

Service was excellent.

The new health care plans sounds like a winner. Fourteen million without coverage in one year. Twenty six million in ten years. Lowers taxes for the rich. Hits the old hard. Many will end up with insufficient care at a time when they most need care. Premiums and deductibles high.

My Facebook video I will be doing in a couple of hours will succinctly express my feelings.

Enjoy your day!

 

 

DRINKING LIBERALLY

I attended a Drinking Liberally meeting last night. Met my expectations, failed to meet my expectations.

Drinking Liberally is a political and social organization were self-identified liberals and progressives gather in bars to socialize and talk politics. It is national. Hundreds of local organizations.

I never knew of the group’s existence till last week. Saw a small notice in the Key West Citizen advising its next meeting. Did some quick research. Decided to attend.

The meeting was last night at VFW on Northern Boulevard. Five to 6:15.

I was disappointed in the drinking portion. Conservative rather than liberal. More water drinkers than alcohol.

I was impressed with the meeting itself. Grass roots. Most attendees senior citizens. With one exception. A young man about 25.

Topics covered many issues. Too many. The organization is still seeking its way. It will get there.

I was impressed with the ladies. Participated to the fullest. Greater than the men in attendance. No bashful women in the room.

The group meets the first thursday of every month at the VFW at 5. I plan on continuing. The comments were revealing.

Then to the Chart Room. John bartending. David came in. Always enjoy David’s company.

Paul showed up with a friend. Paul was merely showing the room to his friend.

Met Elaine and Ken. Elaine an exquisite beauty. Involved deeply in charitable work. Especially, the American Cancer Society.

Ken a semi-retired oncologist.

Elaine and Ken married 57 years. Award winning! Two children, 4 grandchildren.

Periodic visitors to Key West. Usually stay at Marquesa.

Ken shared an interesting experience. He was a senior at Northwestern Medical School. Senior students were sent to the homes of the poor to provide services. One was baby deliveries.

Deliveries performed right at the home. Stirrups required. Two coke bottles for each foot covered with a shower curtain. To insure a germ free environment , newspapers were laid under and over the mother to be.

Elaine and Ken leave today. Hope to run into them the next time they visit Key West.

Devin came in. I did not recognize him at first. We met several months ago in the Chart Room. I wrote about him at the time.

Devin is 40ish. From Illinois. He and his brother own and operate a large farm. They know what they are doing. Get their product grown and sold. They work with the major food corporations. Did not fight them as the food cycle changed.

Devin has a Key West condo. He is back for several months. I am sure we will run into each other again.

Tom and Fran Dixon arrived last night. we get together sunday. They left their home in cold and snowy Buffalo for the heat of Key West. In for a surprise. A cold front coming in. Monday, tuesday and wednesday. Monday evening a low of 57. Cold!!!

The Key West Citizen reported this morning of a bull shark problem in the Key West Bight. Three have frequently been seen. Divers and boaters concerned. Scared. Especially divers who clean boat bottoms.

One female, two males. The female 8-9 feet long. Weight estimated at 500 pounds.

The female was some how hooked and netted. Dragged 6 miles out and released. It is assumed the two males will leave the area. They apparently were enjoying the comforts of the female. They will leave seeking female companionship elsewhere.

Robots/artificial intelligence. Not discussed enough. A danger already arrived and anticipated to spread big time over the next five years.

I have spoken and written about robots taking over human jobs for a year. Few seemed concerned. I was beginning to think I was a voice in the wilderness. I was extremely disappointed the issue was not discussed during the Presidential campaign.

Recently, a word here and there in the media. Finally.

I shall speak to the issue the next several days. A few words.

A recent study by economists at major universities concerning middle class jobs interesting. Bottom line: Where robots take routine middle class jobs, those workers drop out of the work force. They leave the job market entirely or are pushed into low paying employment.

The study links unemployment with automation.

An interesting study observation: Robots don’t just co-occur with unemployment, they cause it.

As I have previously commented, robots and artificial intelligence already quietly replacing human jobs. Some auto assembly lines no longer use humans. Work done by huge robots. McDonald’s testing automated kiosks to take orders. Anticipated that in 18 months, the McDonald drive in window will have a robot handing you your order and change.

Tractor trailers being tested for driverless operation. Uber testing driverless cars in two states.

Foxconn is the major manufacturer  of the Apple I Phone. One million two hundred thousand employees. One million of which work at factories in China. Already let go 60,000 employees at one plant. Replaced by robots. Working towards all plants going robot by 2020.

Query: Where will robot unemployed humans find work? Requires attention.

Enjoy your day!

 

 

FRIEND PACKED CHART ROOM

The Chart Room last night was mostly friends. Some old, some recent, some new.

I walked into John, Sheila, Jean and Joe, Tom and Clare, Nanette and Jean Louis. Later, David, Anna and Everett, and Paul.

Sheila, the love of my life. Always happy. Joe and Jean smiling and chatting. Waiting for the Alabama game saturday. Jean will jump off a building should Alabama lose.

Tom and Clare from Aqua a couple of weeks ago. Tom a retired lawyer. Wife Clare, a former teacher and now PhD statistician. Tom and Clare were with friends from Florida’s New Port Richey. Nanette and Jean-Louis.

Nanette a retired middle school principal. Jean-Louis an energy consultant.

Nanette brought to mind a Jeanette McDonald and Nelson Eddy musical film from the 1930s. No, No, Nanette.

Chatted a bit with everyone. I was waiting for Paul. I met Paul at Giorgio’s home the night some of us watched the Michigan game last week. Paul is retired Naval Intelligence. A good time to talk with Paul in view of the intelligence political items on the front burner in Washington. I was not disappointed in our talk. Enlightening.

Saw David at the end of the bar as I was paying the bill. Seated next to him were Anna and Everett from monday night at Aqua. Their boat named Anna Cabana. Nice people.

David, Anna and David Alabama fans also.

Headed home. Stopped at Roostica on the way for lemoncello wings. Lucked out. Sat next to a bocce opponent. His name escapes me. A tough adversary. He loved to roll first. Long. Ninety nine percent of the time, his ball was right on the polina or mere inches away.

Things that surprise me. The number of people familiar with smelts. I wrote about smelts yesterday. My favorite Christmas fish. Many responded. Many aware of smelts. I received an education re where they are available to be harvested. One spot is western New York State. I did not know.

One of yesterday’s items that I did not have room to get to involved Richard Nixon. On January 4, 1974, Nixon refused to hand over tapes subpoenaed by the Watergate Committee. It was the beginning of the end for Nixon. He resigned eight months later.

Another item held over to today involves the Marathon Turtle Hospital. A unique rare facility.

Fifteen juvenile turtles were air lifted from Cape Cod to Marathon. Kemp’s ridley sea turtles. An endangered species.

The baby turtles had pneumonia. Brought on from cold Cape Cod waters. Weighed anywhere from 2-10 pounds.

Today in Keys History carries a photograph of the ground breaking for a Masonic Temple in July 1950. The building today The Studios of Key West.

A three story building. Where did the Masons go? Is there a formal Masonic Temple in Key West somewhere else? I don’t think so. Surprising.

William Hackley day. On this date in 1856, he was up and raring to go at 7 in the morning. Rain coming in  from the northwest. Hackley wrote, “It is so dark now in the office that I can scarcely see to write.”

No electricity in those days. Everything by candle light, if possible.

Candle light tough to work by. I recall one of the Key West hurricanes where I was stuck in the house for several days without electricity. Candles only. To this day, I cannot understand how Lincoln studied law by candle light. Reading tough!

Skaneateles restaurateur Dan Reardon back in town. A snowbird. Two to three months a year. A die hard Syracuse fan. We will be watching some games together.

Syracuse played Miami last night. Syracuse won 70-55. Game not televised.

I am pleased Syracuse won the game and in good stead. Miami came into the game 11-2, Syracuse 8-6. News reports state Syracuse’s fabled defense finally worked, the players crashed the boards and their offense was effective.

Pitt saturday at noon.

Roger Kostmayer is a Key West resident. I have never met him. However from his letters to the editor have come to know him. I would describe him a walking conscience.

In a recent letter to KONK E-Blast, he wrote: “Without warning or debate, in the dark of the night behind closed doors, the Republican caucus effectively killed the Office of Congressional Ethics, an act of extraordinary hypocrisy.”

Enjoy your day!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PRESIDENT CARTER’S KEYS VISITS

Happy New Year! As with practice safe sex, practice a safe evening. Drinking and driving don’t go together tonight or any night.

Most are aware Harry Truman visited Key West many times. His favorite relaxation venue. Few are aware that Jimmy Carter has been visiting the Keys annually for years. To welcome the New Year. Also, to enjoy a vacation.

I first became aware of Carter and his wife Rosalyn’s visits some 15 years ago. I was visiting Howard Livingston at his Summerland home. He made mention that Carter was staying down the road with friends. Mentioned it to me again the next year.

Carter is here for what has become a traditional post Christmas vacation. This time with an entourage. Carter, wife Rosalyn, one grandchild, ten great grandchildren, and other family members. Some 40 people.

I doubt they are staying with friends with such a large group. However, they are somewhere in the Keys this week.

As evidenced by the story and photos of Carter and some of the great grandkids in this morning’s Key West Citizen. Carter and family were at the Marathon Turtle Hospital. He and the great grandkids helped return rehabilitated loggerhead turtle Salty to the ocean yesterday.

Orange Bowl party last night. At Sharon and Giorgi’s home.

Stan a Michigan grad. An enthusiastic one. We watched the game together in his honor.

Unfortunately, Michigan lost by one point to Florida State. 33-32. Michigan played poorly in the first half. Came roaring back in the second half. The last few minutes compared to the final minutes of a pro game.

In addition to those already mentioned, the group consisted of Donna and Bob, Karon, Matt Babich and fiancée, and Paul.

Typical separation of the sexes. The ladies watched in the living room, the men in the den.

Food outstanding! Sharon, the gracious hostess, had prepared well!

I met Paul for the first time. A retired U.S. Navy intelligence officer. We spent quite a while together. Even missed part of the second half of the game. My inquiring mind enjoyed his professional experiences. He performed his professional tasks on the ground, not from a Washington office.

I learned a lot from Paul. An interesting man. I suspect we will get together again for a longer chat.

I have avoided going out New Year’s Eve for several years. Primary problem parking. I prefer remaining home in bed watching the ball fall in New York City and Sushi in the shoe at Bourbon Street on CNN.

Four drops tonight. Sloppy Joe’s, Bourbon Street, La Te Da and the Ocean Key’s Sunset Pier. A huge crowd at each venue. Bodies pressed together. By 12:15, the crowd gone. Into the bars or home.

A fun experience. I will do it again sometime when I have transportation to and back.

Dachshund Walk at noon today. Pets dressed for the occasion. Parade begins at Monroe County Courthouse on Whitehead.

The Casa Marina Hotel opened this day in 1920. A Henry Flagler enterprise. Still standing and continues to be one of Key’s West’s most beautiful places to stay. The pool and beach atmosphere outstanding.

My daughter Lori was married on the beach some 15 years ago precisely at sunset. It was figured to the minute. The sun broke the horizon as they said their I do’s.

Followed by a black tie reception.

A memorable event.

Everything seems to suggest a kumbaya situation developing between Trump and Putin. Do not rely on it.

On December 29, 1961, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev sent a holiday message to President John Kennedy. He told Kennedy he looked forward to a threshold year. He further suggested steps be taken to liquidate centers of military danger.

Kennedy sent a cordial response. Wished the Premier a Happy New Year.

Both messages claimed cooperation one to the other in the coming year.

It was not to be.

The Cuban Missile Crisis occurred in October 1962. We were on the brink of war. I recall the time distinctly. I was a young practicing lawyer with a wife and four children. I feared war was forthcoming. The resolution boiled down to who would blink first, if at all. Fortunately, Khrushchev did.

What happens if Putin tests Trump? Who will blink first, if at all?

Again, a safe and happy New Year!

 

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!