HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!

My mother has been dead many years. I seem to miss her more each day. Sounds strange, I know. However she pops into my head one or more times a day.

Seems we both got closer as we got older. I would stop to see her on my way home most evenings. We would sit at the kitchen table. She had a bottle of Beefeater, glass and ice cubes ready.

She was not a drinker at all. However she did not mind me having one with as we talked.

We chatted about everything. From my work, to the kids, what was new, etc.

Our relationship became deeper as the years progressed.

Her death killed me!

Do not think our relationship was that good in my formative years. My mother was a disciplinarian. Born in the old country. Many the large pasta bowl or large wooden spoon she broke over my head.

She viewed me as a bad boy and I never understood. I was the best of kids.

In my adult years, I discovered in conversations with other Italian boys that their mothers did the same thing. An ethnic trait I guess.

I do not recall my sister ever being punished. Girls could do no wrong.

I am 85. Soon to be 86. An interesting time. Age makes you an historian of sorts. Some experiences were had in the past many years ago. They repeat themselves. The result not always the same, however.

George Will is the Washington Post columnist. A true conservatist. A black hearted Republican.

I always thought he was too conservatist. As my years have added up however, I find many of my thoughts coincide with his. I was a liberal. Age has made me conservative in any respects. Today I consider myself a right leaning liberal. Will never changed. Conservative and remained so.

Will just turned 80. He shared his thoughts about reaching 80 in a Washington Post opinion piece published May 7.

I want to share some of his thoughts, feelings, etc. re reaching 80.  Note I am 85. It is surprising how many of our today thoughts run along the same lines.

The opinion piece is titled: What My 80 Years Have Taught Me.” I am selecting some of his thoughts and sharing them with you as well of those of some ancient philosophers. I do not identify the philosophers. This portion of the blog would never end if I did.

Comments contained in the article.

Will begins with an Alan Bennett quote. Already I am deviating from my plan not to mention others. Hopefully Bennett will be the last: “At eighty things do not occur; they recur.”

Will writes the benefit of being 80 is “You’re well beyond the danger of dying young.” Also, “you have more  brain cells to devote to other things worth noticing and trying.”

How about there is “no cure for birth and death, save to enjoy the interval.”

As to the evening martini before dinner, he recommends suspending them and instead drinking Manhattans.

An interesting and very true observation: You “are not intimidated by busy body physicians.”

Another, “age imprints more wrinkles in the mind than it does on the face.”

Some aging facts.

In 1941, life expectancy was 64.8 years Today, 77.85 years. Only 6.8 percent of the population lived beyond 65 years, whereas today 16 percent.

Sixty three percent of households did not have telephones. More of the population older than 25 years had no high school diploma. Today, 90 percent do. Homosexual sex was a crime in all 48 states.

“By percentage, the nation’s most rapidly growing age cohort consists of those 85 and older.”

“To be 80 years old in this republic is to have lived through exactly one third of its life.”

An epic event occurred on this day in 1960. One that would change the lives of women forever. The FDA approved the birth control pill.

The pill made women equal to men regarding sex. Provided them with a freedom they never knew before.

I suspected up to 1960, females feared getting pregnant were they to have sex outside marriage. Perhaps the worst that could happen to a woman.

Now the ladies were equal to men. They could enjoy sex as freely as men. The danger of pregnancy would not be a problem if the woman was on the pill.

I find this amusing in a respectful sense. Having been educated in Catholic schools through college, I thought the ladies were reluctant to have sex for religious reasons.

Was I wrong!

The pill also seems to have become the beginning of a woman’s ascendancy in every day life. They went on to smoke, wear pants, become high level executives and professionals. All the while having children. Women proved they could run the house and work at the same time. Men lack the capacity to multi-task.

I went out last night. Whoopee! Had a good time.

I was scheduled to meet my lesbian wives Donna and Terri at 7 at the Red Shoe Island Bistro on Petronia between Duval and Whitehead. A relatively new restaurant.

I parked in the Rams Head lot. Previously the Blue Macaw. One of my pre-pandemic haunts.

A handful of cars in the lot. Surprising. Went into the bar and restaurant. No more than 10 customers. Staff all new. I knew none of them.

Since I was early for Donna and Terri, I had a drink at the Rams Head Bar. Following which I walked down to the Red Shoe Island Bistro. A mere 1 1/2 blocks away.

I started wobbling. Could not understand why. Then it dawned on me. I had forgotten my cane in the car!

I decided to get to the restaurant and worry about the return trip later.

We had dinner at a table set on the sidewalk. Lovely table cloth, napkins and silver wear. A limited menu. Reasonable. Food excellent. The specialty yellow tail. The menu captioned with “Ain’t No Tail As Tasty As Yellow Tail.”

Donna, Terri and I have not seen each other in more than a year. It was like seeing family that you had not seen in quite a while.

Rob manages the restaurant. Ron was our waiter.

We discussed everything. We agreed the political situation in reality was a black/white war. The blacks moving towards a majority in the land and the white Republicans fearful of what might happen.

We talked about new restaurants. One Donna and Terri enjoy is Mary Lins. The old Finnegan’s Wake and Dirty  Pig.

Work discussed. Not enough help available. Workers have left because of pandemic and/or high cost of living in Key West.

Restaurants and bars still hurting. Entertainers are being required to work for tips. The tips are minimal and performing is like working for nothing.

We talked about the cost of the new and old high end restaurants. Astronomical!

Hotel rooms came into play. I mentioned the Miami Herald piece that said Key West rooms were as high as $1,100. The piece also indicated Key West was now the most expensive place in the world for a hotel room.

Before we left the subject, I learned that during Spring Break and Easter week, even the cheaper hotels on the Boulevard had some rooms at $1,000.

Ridiculous! Key West is going to kill the goose that lays the golden egg.

One hotel on the Boulevard actually rented out rooms during those times as high as $1,280 a night.

The walk back to my car was difficult. The cane!

On the way home, I drove through Bahama Village and down Duval. Not many people.

Enjoy your Sunday! Enjoy your Mom if you are lucky to still have her. If not, I know you will think of her.

 

 

JOY WITHOUT RESERVATION…..I REMEMBER IT WELL

Today the celebration of V-E Day. Victory in Europe.  Germany surrendered this day in 1945.

I remember it well.

I was only 10 years old. Even a 10 year old could understand. Ever since Pearl Harbor, World War II was the talk in every household every evening.

Whose father, brother, uncle, cousin, etc. was involved. Most on the front lines. Many had not been home in 3 years.

The country cried, yelled, smiled, and laughed. All part of the joyous celebration.

It was early morning when the news arrived. I was first aware that something big had occurred when I heard the noise of pans being hit with large wood spoons and whatever else was available. The wood spoons reflect I lived in an Italian neighborhood.

People were on their porches hitting the pans, yelling, screaming and crying. Extremely emotional!

Even now I have tears in my eyes recalling the event.

There was neither work nor school that day.

My father did the right thing by me. He took me everywhere. We lived in upstate New York in the City of Utica. One hundred fifty thousand population at the time.

We were out all day and into the night. Visited different parts of the city. Many porches had dummies of Hitler hanging from them. Certain neighborhood corners had people in the streets singing and dancing. Utica’s downtown in the evening when we visited was the same. Crowding shoulder to shoulder. Hugging and kissing. Singing and dancing.

Dad took me to Church also. In the middle of the day. It was packed. People quietly praying their thanks.

Our fighting men and boys were coming home.

Key West is on the map vacation wise! Finally, big time!

Not sure it is good, but it is where we are.

The Miami Herald reported yesterday that the Florida Keys have the highest hotel rates in the country.

Key West was particularly mentioned. For an “overnight stay in Key West, prepare to dig deep to pay for a hotel room. The cheapest double room $299. A bargain! Several hotels charging $1,000 a night.”

The article made mention of another Key West distinction. Key West is in the top five most popular destination sites in the world.

Key West is changing. In the past two years has already changed dramatically. I for one am not happy about it. Most locals would agree with me. Everything expensive, traffic heavy, visitors a new type, rowdy and cantankerous might best describe them, etc.

Little Key West is on its way to becoming big Key West.

Poor Alice Reid Griffin. She was the Madam of several whore houses in Key West and Stock Island at different times in her career. Her establishments were known as Mom’s Tea Room.

The Navy had a large contingency stationed in Key West in the late 1930s and through World War II. Many were her customers. Even the police were amongst her best customers. Seemed most men liked Mom’s.

The Navy was not thrilled. The Navy considered the activities at Mom’s to be immoral and also a place where the sailors were prone to acquire a sexual disease. The Navy was constantly beating up Key West leaders to arrest Alice and put her out of business.

They arrested her several times. Did not put her out of business till sometime in World War II. She had made her fortune. She purchased a home somewhere in Old Town to spend her final years.

Why Alice and Mom’s today? It was on this day in 1941 that Alice was convicted of violation of the Mann Act in federal court. The violation popularly known as white slavery. The bringing of a woman over state lines for purposes of prostitution. Alice had imported one her  girls from Atlanta.

No matter how you look at it. Whether you approve or disapprove of her conduct. Alice is part and parcel of Key West history.

Harry Truman was born this day in 1884 in Lamar, Missouri. The son of a farmer.

He could not afford college. Was an artillery officer during World War I. Following the war, he opened a haberdashery store in Kansas City. The business went bankrupt in 1922.

He then became involved in politics. While a U.S. Senator, he developed a reputation for honesty and integrity.

I consider Truman to have been one of our greatest Presidents.

The teflon man. John Gotti was the first to be labeled the teflon man. The reason being he was acquitted in so many criminal trials.

Ronald Reagan was next. Followed by Bill Clinton.

Questionable acts slid off all three.

Trump has had hanging over his head the Stormy Daniels matter. Stormy was a pornographic actress. It was 10 days before the 2016 election. Stormy was threatening to go to the press regarding her alleged sexual relationship with Trump.

Through his attorney Michael Cohen, Trump is alleged to have paid Stormy $130,000 to keep her quiet. Not a legal payment. A violation of the Election Law.

Cohen acknowledged his involvement claiming he did it with the knowledge and consent of Trump.

Trump never has been charged., He could be now without question since he is no longer President. It is not going to happen.

The FEC announced it is dropping the case against Trump re the $130,000 payment.

As a result, Trump has joined the ranks of teflon men.

I would like to know why the FEC dropped its Trump investigation? The public should be made privy as to how it came about.

Yesterday’s blog warned of grocery costs and the anticipated sky rocketing of them by later this year. Today the cost problem involves used automobiles.

As with groceries, the price of used cars has been “spiking.” Such is causing auto dealers to pay more at auctions to restock their tight supply.

The price of used autos does not seem to go down. If the cost continues to rise as predicted, a “scary-crazy” inflation will occur. The auto dealers will be left with an excess of used cars for sale. People will have refused to pay the new expensive prices for used cars. The auto dealers’ inventory of used autos could bury them economically.

Tonight dinner with Donna and Terri at 7 at a restaurant they selected in Bahama Village. I am looking forward to be with Donna and Terri after more than a year and also to be out and about in Key West on a saturday evening.

Happy Mothers Day! Wish my Mom was still here.

Enjoy your day!

FISH FOR YOUR DINNER…..IT’LL BE A LOT CHEAPER

Groceries have consistently risen the past several years. I have made the observation during the last four.

Michael Snyder is a blogger. I have previously mentioned him. His blog yesterday alarming. It’s title: “What Will You Do When Inflation Forces U.S. Households To Spend 40 Percent Of Their Income On Food?”

Snyder starts with corn. He reports the price of corn has gone up 142 percent in the last 12 months. My advise: Stop eating corn!

However people can’t merely stop eating. Sustenance is required to survive.

The cost of food typically used to be 10 percent of disposable income. The 10 percent of course did not apply to the poorest. They are required to spend more than the middle class or richest.

The USDA recently wrote that in 2019, income for the poor remained static as the price of food rose. The USDA claims the poorest have been required to spend 36 percent of their disposable income on food.

What about the average American family? Some economists believe that eventually the percentage of disposable personal income for the average American family will each 40 percent. Sooner than later.

Which means the poorest will spend more than 50 percent of their disposable income on food.

The theory behind the percentage of disposable income is simple to understand. The salary of the poor remains constant at a time when the price of food is increasing. The rich on the other hand do not feel the increase cost of groceries since their disposable income is so high that the increase is never experienced.

Inflation is moving up. The largest increase month to month in 9 years.

Government spending comes into play. The government this year hopes to spend a whopping $11 trillion. The government does not have $11 trillion. If Biden’s tax plan does not work, the money will have to be borrowed.

Note I believe Biden did the right thing with the stimulus spending. It was the only way to prevent a deep recession, the only way to be sure most Americans had some money to spend on necessities or anything else.

The American people loved receiving the stimulus checks. However if a cart of groceries will cost $400, nothing will help. Forget any more stimulus checks. The money in any fashion is just not there.

Snyder predicts a major national crisis. As smart as he is, he is not always correct. I hope he is wrong in this instance.

Gun shootings. Will they ever stop?

The most recent occurred yesterday at the Rigby Middle School in Rigby, Idaho. Sixth grade. A female 6th grader yet unnamed came into class with a gun in her bag pack. She pulled the gun out, shot 3 persons in the limbs. Two students and a custodian. Her teacher was finally able to take the gun from her.

No further details are available at this time.

Texans are on a roll. I am not referring to the voter restriction package being worked on at this time.

There is another bill of consequence moving  legislatively. It passed the Texas Senate yesterday. A “Constitutional Carry” bill allowing handguns to be carried without a permit.

Republicans do not believe a permit should be required in order for a person to “carry.” They believe other gun laws passed by Texas in recent years contain sufficient restrictions on gun control.

Facebook’s monopolistic problems continue to grow. Could reach a point where government interference will be required. To break Facebook into several smaller companies with no connection one to the other.

Reminds me of the telephone company of old. I thought the break up stupid at the time. I obviously was wrong. My problem was the government was punishing a company for becoming too good at what it was doing.

The break up of the Bell System occurred on January 8, 1982. The Department of Justice had filed an anti-trust lawsuit against Bell in 1974.

The break up was resolved by Bell and the U.S. entering into a Consent Decree providing, among other things, that the AT&T Corporation would relinquish control of the Bell Operating Companies that had provided local telephone service in the U.S. and Canada up to the date of the Consent Decree. AT&T would retain the long distance part of the business and its Western Electric subsidiary which provided most of the telephone parts in the U.S.

A monopoly split. Life went on.

If the U.S. goes after Facebook to split it up into smaller companies, it will not happen overnight. It will take years for the litigation to be resolved. Note that the telephone company break up took 8 years before the lawsuit was finally resolved.

Schadenfreude. A big word.

Read it for the first time yesterday. Had to look it up. The word means to derive pleasure from the misfortune of another person.

Fits Trump.

All a lawyer has is his reputation. Not only as a skillful practitioner, but also as an honest person.

William Barr was not a man of ethics when he served as Attorney General under Trump. His reputation as an issue arose in a federal case being presided over by Judge Amy Berman Jackson.

She wrote in a decision handed down this week that Barr was a fixer and corrupter of justice. The rule of law went out the window when he decided matters.

More is to be revealed in a further decision to be handed down in the next two weeks.

Barr now walks with a “sullied reputation.” His series of wrongdoings many.

Little Palm Island has for years maintained a world wide reputation as one of the finest resorts in the world. Irma blew it away. Took 3 yeas to rebuild.

Little Palm Island in located 30 miles north of me on Little Torch Key. A boat ride off U.S. 1.

Conde Nest announced its Hot List this week. Hot List referring to the finest resorts in the world. Little Palm Island is on the list. Conde Nest says it offers “a fresh take on tropical chic” and redefines “the exotic castaway fantasy.”

Twenty years ago, my former wife and I enjoyed dinner one night at the Island. Out of sight food and service! At the time, the resort had something like 11 cottages. The wife wanted to check them out.

When she returned, she told me the cost was $1,100 a night and not worth it.

A portion of the article I read included price per night. TripAdvisor advised the lowest cost is $3,890 a night. Ridiculous money. No way would I spend it.

My 412 days of self-quarantine continues to affect me. I stayed in again last night. No problem. I was comfortable remaining in with my books and old movies.

I find my problem is a common one. Psychologists are writing about it. People are talking about it.

I know I will get out tomorrow night. Dinner with Donna and Terri. I have not seen them in over a year.

I told Donna I have one requirement. We have to eat outside. She laughed. She and Terri have already has been eating inside.

Enjoy your day!

 

RANDOM THOUGHTS

Things in the forefront of my mind in recent days.

Revolt? Is our country heading for one? I’m talking guns on the streets, violence, etc. Things already occurring could become far worse.

The Republican Party has changed. Trump responsible. Now his Party. He has successfully rabble roused almost 50 percent of Americans.

Trump success will not endure. Those from the states, counties and towns he has made his following will change. Whereas Trump has been successful in capturing many Americans, he will soon learn they will turn. His followers, the insurrectionists, will leave him behind as they take over.

And they my friends could be the new Republican Party.

I fear for the Liz Cheneys and Mitt Romneys. Republicans are a dying breed. They will be trampled as the new radical groups charge over them to take control of the party.

We have experienced more than one pandemic in recent years. The ever increasing number of shootings and gun related deaths.

A problem that will not be resolved for many years to come. Especially in this time of insurrection. Who would want to give up their guns?

Biden is going to suspend patent protections. A WOW!

The world needs the vaccine. To slow down and hopefully prevent a variant virus to leave from where ever it is and travel to the U.S.

I am a believer in doing what you have to do at a particular moment. I understand where Biden is coming from. Encourage generics that will be cheaply available.

My concern is what about Pfizer and Moderna. Both companies busted their asses and came up with usable vaccines in a much shorter period of time than anticipated. Yes, they made and are making big dollars.

Now is the time to screw them for their efforts? They were “friends” who were their in our time of need.

I am no fan of pharmaceutical companies. They constantly ream the public. Yet I sense an unfairness in suspending patents.

The Maricopa County Arizona recount is becoming a joke.

Cyber Ninjas is the company doing the recount. There are 2.1 million ballots to be audited.  The company has been at it for weeks. Only 250,000 audited thus far.

Why? Because they are inexperienced and do not know what they are doing.

The company appears to misrepresent also. There was a claim floating around this week that 250,000 audited, 250,000 found to be fraudulent. USA Fact Checked the 250,000 number re fraudulent ballots and said no way. The claim is false. There is no evidence of widespread fraud found yet.

Biden won Maricopa County by 45,000 votes. Cyber Ninjas is a private company headed by a Doug Logan. Repeating myself, the company is inexperienced in the work it is doing.

Logan has been a promoter of electoral fraud theories. A conspiracy theorist. Prior to this Arizona activity, he made claims of voter fraud overall on social media. He also was involved in attacking the Michigan vote.

The recount is being done in the Vets Memorial Coliseum. Cyber’s lease for the space ends May 14. Logan wants to stay after that date. The Coliseum says Cyber cannot. The space is already leased.

Obviously Cyber will need a large facility to continue. It is working at a snail’s pace as the 250,000 number indicates.

The U.S. Department of Justice has gotten into the picture. Justice has advised Cyber in writing that it has “concerns” regarding the audit thus far. Justice claims the audit itself may violate federal law, that the records are not under control of election officials, that they are not being adequately safeguarded by contractors, and that they are at risk of danger or loss.

There is humor involved. The “bamboo search.” The audit is examining each ballot for traces of “bamboo.” The purpose to prove the conspiracy theory they came from Asia.

Two American students have been found guilty of murdering an Italian police officer. Les Elder 21 and Gabriel Natale-Hjorth 20.

They have been sentenced to life in jail.

Appeal time.

Whether civil or criminal, appeals take forever in Italy. Seven to ten years not uncommon.

Italy has the most convoluted court system. The criminal portion is overloaded. Proceedings are long and nit picking. The average time for an appeal is just under 5 years. Note “average.” I mentioned earlier it could be 7-10 yeas. The length of time depends on the Province where the case was tried. The larger the Provence, the longer time it will take for an appeal to be perfected.

Italian appeals are totally different from those in the U.S. and probably the rest of the world. The final appeal is before Italy’s Court of Appeals. Not merely an argument on some legal point as here in the U.S. Rather the whole case is retried before a court of several judges.

A major contributor to delay.

Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has had a checkered career. A terrific politician. However always getting into trouble. Some time back, he was convicted on tax evasion charges. He was not concerned as the appeal would take 7-10 years. I do not believe it has been reached yet.

On the other hand, he was charged with having sex with a female under 18 years of age. Convicted. The appeal heard in only one year. My recollection the appeal resulted in a half assed victory which was sufficient to keep him out of jail.

Then there is Amanda Knox. An American. Convicted of murder. Sentenced to 20 years. Released in 4 years. However if she lost her appeal, she would have to return and do the entire 20 years. It took six years for her case to reach the appeal stage. She was found not guilty.

Whether the two young Americans convicted of murder will be released pending completion of the appeal, I do not know. Knox’s appeal took six years. Their’s will take at least as long.

A right on Comment in this morning’s Citizens’ Voice: “Why don’t all the people who don’t believe in vaccinations and masks go over to India? Then they could really test their theories and see how that goes.”

A happy recollection. It was May 6, 1954. Roger Bannister was racing the 4 minute mile in England. It was thought he could break the 4 minute mile. He did. His time 3:59.4.

The happiness came into play because of who I was watching the race with on TV. Note the whole world was watching and interested.

I was 19. My father and I watched it together. We were yelling as if at a horse race. Thrilled that Bannister succeeded.

It was the father/son thing that made the event so special.

Around 5 last night, I went to the Pier House Beach Bar. Except for Janine the bartender, I knew no one. I enjoyed a drink and some fried calamari. Then home.

I was out not even 2 hours. I have yet to acclimate to my new life.

Enjoy your day!

 

TRUMP’S BIG LIE HAS METASTASIZED…..DEMOCRACY TEETERING

Trump’s Big Lie has taken hold. Metastasized like cancer. It is a cancer. A death threat to our country.

The Big Lie: The election was rigged.

Yesterday, New York Times opinion writer Tom Friedman wrote an article titled: “The Big Lie Devoured the GOP and Now Eyes Our Democracy.”

Some of Friedman’s comments.

“We are close to a political civil war – more than any other time in our history.”

“The Big Lie is not fading away.” It is “being enhanced by a solid majority of elected Republicans and ordinary party members – local, state and national.”

Friedman quoted an article by University of Baltimore School of Law professor Kimberly Wehle in The Hall. She noted, “As of late March, state legislators have introduced 361 bills in 47 states this year that contain limitations around voting, a 43 percent increase from just a month earlier.”

Wehle indicated the GOP’s position was that the bills were about election integrity and security. She wrote, “The lack of actual evidence of fraud and mismanagement in the American electoral system totally belies those cynical beliefs.”

Friedman went on to point out that Republicans claiming a fraudulently rigged election result is “equivalent to lighting a fuse to a bomb planted beneath the foundations of our democracy.”

Regarding Liz Cheney, Friedman wrote, “Unless more principled Republicans stand up for the truth about our last election, we’re going to see exactly how a democracy dies.”

Following January 6, Twitter refused to permit Trump the use of its social media. Facebook merely suspended Trump. Both basically for the same reason. That Trump was using the social medias to promote and encourage violence.

Rather than handle whether Facebook should make Trump’s suspension permanent, Zuckenberg took the easy way out. He passed the buck. He had Facebook create an Oversight Board to deal with the problem. Twenty persons selected from all over the world to decide whether Trump should be permitted to return.

The Oversight Board announced its decision at 9 this morning. The suspension is to continue. However within six months, Facebook should issue some guidelines by which such “expulsions” will be dealt with in the future..

It assumes Trump will have the opportunity to reapply.

Trump desperately needs Facebook if his desires to run again in 2024. He needs Facebook for fund raising. The need to use Facebook therefore is crucial.

In the meantime over the weekend, Trump announced he has launched his own communications platform. A blog. It will operate as mine does. Its platform will be WordPress as mine is.

I assume his cost will be my cost. No big deal.

I checked out the new Trump blog this morning. www.donaldjtrump.com/desk. Up, but not yet running.

I find it amusing that Trump will be communicating as I do. With one difference, of course. He will have a couple million subscribers while I a mere 70,000. I could never run for President on my blog.

John Keats. Poet exemplary. Now long dead.

It was on this day in 1816 that The Examiner published Keats’ first work. The sonnet O Solitude.

Thirty five yeas ago, I spent a month in Italy with my then wife, 3 of my 4 children, and my parents. On one of those days when we went our separate ways, I found myself at the Spanish Steps in Rome.

I had what might be described as a Keats moment. I wrote about it in this blog in later years on 10/31/14.

My recollections of Keats and the Key West Lou article.

John Keats was an Englishman who wrote romantic poetry. He did not have a long life. Born in 1790, he died in 1821 at the age of 26.

I was in Rome at the foot of the Spanish Steps. Alone. I was walking back and forth deciding what to do next. I passed a small building next to the Spanish Steps. There was a small plaque on the front door reading John Keats.

The last time I had heard of Keats was back in college in an English writing class.

The building was a small four story structure. A tiny villa. I entered.

Inside, I discovered this had been Keats’ last resting place. He lived there several months before dying. He died in his bedroom on the fourth floor. I was able to view the room and all the other rooms he lived in. Off Keats’ bedroom, there was a small library containing his works, some in original form as first written.

One of the writings brought tears to my eyes. It was a line from one of Keats’ poems. The poem had been written with pencil on a piece of paper. Scribbled best describes his handwriting.

The poem contained what probably was the most famous line written by him…..A thing of beauty is a joy forever.

This apparently is the day when an occurrence of some importance was written by me. Keats was one. I wrote about that experience in this blog. I have another to write about. This one written in September 2014. However, not in the blog. I was writing a weekly column also at the time in KONK Life.

The famous Scopes trial. It came to my attention this morning because on this day in 1925 John Scopes was tried for teaching that man had evolved from an ape.

The KONK Life title: Scopes Monkey Trial…..A Fraud.

The trial was rigged. Not just the trial. Even the facts leading up to the trial. All phony.

A criminal case. Titled State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes. The trial took place in July 1925. Human evolution the issue. State law prohibited teaching man was descended from apes.

The town involved was Dayton, Tennessee. A small community. The local merchants were distressed. Business was not good. Something had to be done to put Dayton on the map so people would visit.

Local merchants came up with the human evolution trial idea. They convinced school teacher John Scopes to lie and say he did teach it. He had not.

I suspect the judge was in on it. I do not believe the attorneys Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan were.

What is amazing is that most people to this day consider the trial a for real one dealing with an important issue.

People can be fooled. In this instance for almost a hundred years now.

I am old school. I consider divorce a sad happening. Perhaps because my marriage ended after 52 years.

It was announced yesterday that Bill and Melinda Gates are divorcing after 27 years. Gates is purported to be the second wealthiest person in the world. The founder of Microsoft.

It is reported $150 billion is at stake.

There is no prenuptial agreement. However the parties have apparently resolved the financial issues. A separation agreement has been offered to the court outlining how they wish their respective properties be allocated. The court will have to approve it. Should not be a problem.

Enjoy your day!

WE HAVE THE BEST GOVERNMENT MONEY CAN BUY

Back. Only one day off. Doctor and emergency room.

Problem gave me some concern. Woke in the middle of the night choking and having difficulty breathing.

Fine now. Endoscopy next. In several weeks. Told I am not so bad that I need an immediate one. There are others who do. Bothered me initially to have to wait. On the other hand if such was the opinion, it did contain a degree of good news.

Florida Governor DeSantis not the best of leaders. Never the less, he is up front as the Republican candidate for President in 2024. He is a junior Trump.

Monday DeSantis signed into law a bill giving him the power to preempt local COVID rules.

Preemption getting big in Florida. Key West continues to have the cruise ship problem. DeSantis expected to sign that bill into law soon. Now he wants to dictate wearing of masks, etc. He claims by preempting the local COVID rules he’s helping “people, businesses, jobs , schools, and personal freedom.”

Hitler was a #1 tyrant. In my order to things, Trump was and still is #2. DeSantis could be #3. God help us!

The Citizens Voice portion of today’s Key West Citizen had an interesting comment regarding Florida. The last line read: ” We have the best government money can buy.”

Though this is fantasy, I sometimes think the island of Key West is going to sink into the ocean. Too many people!

Everyone wants Key West! Prospective residents and tourists. Each group willing to spend astronomical amounts of money to be in Key West as owners and tourists. Demand being high and supply limited, prices are ridiculous. But, they still keep coming.

United Airlines announced yesterday they have decided to extend the Houston/Key West connection till September 7. The present run which actually was a short one was to end May 5. However, business is obviously good.

Rents are very high. Many cannot afford them and have left. Workers, especially bar and restaurant ones, are in short supply. Most landlords will not rent for more than 7 months. They want their property back by December or January so they can gouge the tourists. I don’t blame them. Rental properties are an investments. Investments are intneded to make money. Here a bit piggish. However, part and parcel of a capitalistic society.

The situation overall is too much. Key West is growing. I don’t like it. Doesn’t matter. Merely one person’s observation.

An example of the growth is interesting. When I first started coming to Key West in the mid 1990s, the season was it. The season ran from January 15 till the sunday after Easter Sunday.

Then it became quiet. Nice.

It was always said at the time that during the summer, a person could throw a bowling bowl down Duval and not hit one person. Things were so slow that many restaurants closed August and September.

There no longer is a slow season. Key West has become a summer vacation land. The season runs all year. At most a 25 percent difference makes for a slow month. The hotels getting big dollars in what used to be the off season and summer.

Some day the boats with a glass bottom will tell its customers to look closely and you will be able to see Key West.

A respected and honored Key Wester died this day in 1937. Judge Jefferson B. Browne. A prominent person. His positions included President of the Florida Senate, Collector of Customs, Chairman of the Railroad Commission, and a Judge of the Florida Supreme Court 1916-1925. From 1916-1923, he served as Chief Judge.

I know of his background personally. In 1912, he published the book “Key West, The Old And The New.” Considered the best historical reference for Key West data from its beginnings to 1912. The book covers everything in detail. Politics, churches, businesses, burial grounds, hurricanes, cigar manufacturing, hospitals, Civil War, education, etc.

I know. I discovered his book about 3 years ago and purchased it. Many times the book provides facts I cannot find elsewhere.

Peter Minuit. I have not heard nor seen that name since grammar school. It appears in this morning’s Key West Citizen’s day in history section. The event occurred on this date 1626: “Dutch explorer Peter Minuit landed on present day Manhattan Island.”

Liz Cheney and Mitt Romney are 2 Republicans I have always respected. Rarely agreed with their views. We are diametrically opposites when it comes to political philosophy. They are both staunch Republican Conservatives. I am a Liberal.

The “new” Republicans are beating the hell out of them. Trump’s people. His followers. Those who believe everything he utters. Those who want to ride his coattails, if that will be possible, into nomination and election to office.

Cheney’s Dad was Vice President under Bush 2. He had a tremendous influence on Bush. I believe Cheney talked Bush into invading Iraq.

Liz Cheney today is #3 in the Republican House caucus. An important and powerful position.

Her party is ready to dump her. Probably will occur in the next 2 weeks. Her sin accusing Trump of the “Big Lie.” His insistence that the election was rigged. She has no fear in repeating her position that Trump is fabricating.

Her penalty for speaking truth. A truth her party presently refuses to acknowledge.

I have always respected Mitt Romney. His business and political career without reproach. He was the Republican Party’s Presidential candidate in 2012. Now, a U.S. Senator representing Utah.

The Utah Republican Party held its State Convention over the weekend. He was booed when he came on stage to speak and during parts of his speech.

Romney’s sin was he voted “yes” to Trump’s impeachment.

This consistent lying by Trump that the Election was rigged and stolen from him has a significant number of followers. People who have bought the “Big Lie.” Some those who attacked the Capitol on January 6. Most of whom are anti Cheney and Romney.

Joseph Goebbels was Hitler’s Propaganda Minister. He was the one who said and sold the statement which in effect said tell a  lie, make sure it is a big one, repeat it constantly, and it will be believed.

Trump’s claim of victory reflective of Goebbels’ statement. The statement used by Hitler to capture power and retain it for a number of years.

In a recent Opinion Piece in the Dessert News it was written: “Without open and civil debate within a party, it will grow ossified, the GOP will miss out on the immolation that is bred from diverse incidental exchanges.”

I first thought Trump was not actually lying when he argued the election was stolen. I attributed his comments to his not being that intelligent and having a sick mind.

Now I am convinced he is lying. He is following the Goebbels’ line And it is working!

Trump’s first wife Ivana said he kept Hitler related books in his nightstand drawer and would read a few pages each evening. He obviously knew where he wanted life to take him.

Today is tuesday. Tonight my blog talk radio show. Tuesday talk with Key West Lou.

Join me at 9 my time for an interesting half hour of my rantings and ravings. www.blogtalkradio.com/key-west-lou.

Enjoy your day!

FIRST GOOD NIGHT OUT…..IT WAS LIKE OLD TIMES

The flavor finally returned!

Yesterday for me was the 18th day since coming off self-quarantine. Prior to last night, I had been out only 4-5 times.

Last night not only was I out, I had a good time! The old days prior to the virus had returned!

My evening was to start at 6. Don and Chris were meeting me at the Pier House Beach Bar for a drink and then out to dinner.

I was early. Discovered Jean and Joe Thornton at the bar enjoying an early diner. Jean was wearing a crazy Kentucky Derby hat.

The lovely Janine was bartending. She has worked the Beach Bar more than 20 years.

Chatted with Jean and Joe till Don and Chrs arrived. Jean was enjoying stone crabs. Reminded me yesterday was the season’s last harvest. She offered me a claw.

Don and Chris presently live near Syracuse. We met in Key West many years ago and have become good friends.

Poor Don! He had a foot problem far worse than mine. He was somewhere in the U.S. on business. Wisconsin if I recall correctly. He fell on a curb. Broke bones between knee and ankle, the ankle itself, a bone in his foot, and tore ligaments.

Good job, Don!

It has been a long recovery. He is better. Walks without assistance. He showed me a photo of the screws they removed from his leg. Heavy hardware.

We stayed at the Beach Bar and watched the Kentucky Derby with Jean and Joe and everyone else.

The Derby was exciting, as always. Two things impressed me.

Medina was the seventh horse trained by Bob Baffert that won. Baffert is the guy with the headful of white hair. He is now the Tom Brady of racing. No one else has won 7 times.

Syracuse basketball coach Jim Boeheim and wife Julie were also in attendance. They met 27 years ago at the Kentucky Derby.

Boeheim also owned a “piece” of one of the horses running. Hidden Stash. Boeheim owns “two hairs of the tail.”

Actually, he does own a piece of Hidden Stash. Syracusan Adam      Weitsman owns Hidden Stash and for real gave Boeheim a small piece of the horse.

Unfortunately, Hidden Stash finished way back in #14 position.

Jim and Julie watched Hidden Stash make a run for the roses. As mentioned earlier, Jim and Julie met at the Kentucky Derby 27 years ago. Coach yesterday said, “It’s great to be back!”

I doubt Boeheim is into horse racing in any fashion, other than described herein. I have known him personally since 1981 and horse racing is not part of the man.

Bob Kastner came over to say hello mentioning he had met me a couple of times at the Chart Room and reads this blog every day. Thank you, Bob. I may have misspelled his name. If so, I apologize. He also introduced me to his wife.

The Derby over, it was time for dinner. Don had made reservations at a new restaurant. The Belmare.

Many Key West restaurants closed because of the pandemic. The Commodore was one. Sad. I had been a customer on and off for over 20 years. The best prime rib in town!

The Commodore was on the second floor near Alonzo’s. On the first floor was the famous and busy Boat. The  Boat is gone. Replaced by a hamburger restaurant owned by a movie star whose name escapes me. Both the Commodore and the Boat were owned by the same person.

The Belmare is top shelf. High end. Attractive. Decor basically the Commodore with minimal changes.

Don and Chris had eaten at the Belmare the previous evening. It was so good they wanted to go a second night. Don has a gregarious personality. Met many staff through him including Lucy the manager and bartenders Matthew and Kim.

Food and service were excellent. I enjoyed a piece of grouper, Don a lobster mixture, Chris the same except with shrimp.

Enjoyed Don and Chris’ company. We had not seen each other in over a year.

Such was my evening. Like the “old” days.

Don, Chris and I parted ways after dinner. Me to my car to go home. Don and Chris to Duval to party.

This afternoon an easy one. A manicure and pedicure at 2 with Tammy.

Enjoy your Sunday!

A DOCTOR’S EARLY ON IMPRESSIONS OF THE CORNAVIRUS ATTACK

I was fortunate to make the acquaintance of several new persons this season. I say “fortunate” because due to the COVID-19 problem there were fewer people in Key West.

Two of those persons were David and EB Berger. David is a retired anesthesiologist. EB is short for Ennid. EB a nickname that has followed her for years. She is a retired attorney.

A charming and interesting couple.

David’s professional career was in the New York metropolitan area.

David and EB own a home in Key West.

During one of our conversations, David mentioned he had dome some writing a few yeas ago. For his pleasure alone. Never published any. I asked if he would send some to me. He did.

David was retired by the time coronavirus hit. He wrote concerning his impressions. What follows is a piece he wrote in the third month of the virus in April 2020.

I thought it worthy of sharing. He titled it Battle Lines.

BATTLE LINES

The Coronavirus pandemic has been an unprecedented stress on health care delivery. There are more patients, sicker patients, requiring more resources than seems possible. The specter of health care workers becoming infected has introduced an element of fear that most practitioners have never even imagined. As a recently retired anesthesiologist, I have stayed in touch with my colleagues in the New York metropolitan area to get a gauge on their day to day existence.

I have heard accounts of many health care workers who are conflicted on whether they should enter the fray or whether to sit this one out for their own safety and for the safety of their families. I myself wonder what I would do if I were not retired, with multiple risk factors and luckily isolated in a relatively safe zone. I know of several people who are sitting this one out, but just as many who have had to step up their hours as well as the intensity of work to meet the challenge.

We see accounts of health care workers in urban hospitals who are overwhelmed physically and emotionally, who are realistically fearful of getting sick because there is inadequate personal protective equipment for all practitioners. I’m sure these accounts are true, and am hard-pressed to understand how these situations developed. My heart goes out to those people who are sent to war without weapons.

Fortunately, the health system which I was associated with has exceptional resources, and I have not heard horror stories from my colleagues. The gist of what I have heard is that my colleagues are treating this just like any other challenge they have encountered in their careers. This challenge is unquestionably unique as the sheer unrelenting volume and intensity of disease has never been experienced except during wartime. The challenge is met through established channels of cooperation and decision making. That is because health care is a team effort. It requires resourceful administration and emergency planning. It requires the cooperation of multiple hospital departments in order to deploy services where they are required as well as to develop novel solutions to problems on the fly. It requires the dedication of health care workers to work harder and longer than they ever have before. In the trenches, teamwork is the only thing that gets people through the day and the only thing that gives people strength to get up and do it again the next day.

Today I saw a Facebook video from my hospital of a patient who was being discharged from the hospital after 17 days in the ICU. The entire hospital staff was lining the walls wearing masks and applauding the patient. There was a shedding of tears, but no hugs, just an occasional gloved fist-bump.

Everyone has seen a video like this. The difference for me was that I know this guy. He has worked at my hospital for 30 years and every person in the hospital knows him. In a week where many patients were dying despite the heroic efforts of the entire staff, he survived. It was a moment of victory in a season of death. The loss of countless patients was put in perspective by one friend who was saved. Health care workers must find a sense of detachment in order to stay sane. For a moment, that detachment was overwhelmed by the fact that health care is very, very personal. That experience provided the motivation to keep on going.

 

David Berger MD

Key West

April 2020

 

David has a talent. He should write more.

Staying with doctors for a moment, I visited Dr. Norris yesterday. He wanted to check how the gout problem was coming along. I had telephoned him to complain the pain had left me days ago. However, the swelling of the foot and ankle was getting larger. Extremely so.

Saw the good doctor. Gout is gone. My problem now is water retention. I have been on water pills for years. He took me off them 2 weeks ago. Something to do with getting rid of the uric acid.

The swelling extends up through my calf.

I am back on water pills. Can’t wait for the “swelling” to go down. The swelling is so significant I am unable to wear my normal every day shoes. The foot would not fit. I was back to crocs.

I also gained 5-6 pounds during this time.

It is amazing how many people have had gout. It has monopolized many of my written and face to face conversations recently.

Found a new place for lunch. Actually, to get a sandwich at any time.

It is called The Moose Pit. Located at the back of the Moose Lodge building on Eisenhower.

It is absolutely nothing appearance wise. Typical old fashioned Key West. A hole in the Moose building for cooking. Seating outside at several picnic tables. Each covered with a huge umbrella.

I make a point. Expect nothing fancy. It is the food that will return you to the place.

The specialty of the house is Pit Beef sandwiches. Seven variations. The meat, cheese and a dressing.

The sandwich on a huge soft roll. I had the Pit Beef with cheddar and house made island sauce. At least 2 inches high. $10! The best deal in town.

I have to believe 98 percent of the people in Key West are upset with the cruise ship bill passed by the Florida House and Senate. It is on its way to the Governor for signing. He will sign it. I would be shocked if he did not.

Following are 3 comments in this morning’s Citizens’ Voice critical of what has occurred.

“Yes, Republican Senator Jim Boyd stated that his bill to over turn the cruise ship referendums would ‘protect’ Florida citizens, but from whom? Key Westers voted for the referendums and the cruise ship crowd got the State legislature to vote for them!”

“Big money wins today (most are not local) as they get to have the daily mega ships come into our port.”

“Where do I sign up to greet cruise ships with “Unwelcome signs?'”

The stone crab season ends tomorrow. As a practical matter today as there can be no harvesting after May 1.

Stone crabs…..One of the world’s greatest foods. The season is from 10/1 to 5/2.

An interesting election today in Texas.

A Republican Congressman from Texas died and this election is to fill his seat. Twenty three candidates running. Includes the dead Congressman’s wife. No party distinction. All 23 run on the same line.

The victor must receive 50 percent of the vote. If not, there will be a run off between the highest two.

Texas has not elected a Democrat to the seat since 1983. However, the numbers have been getting closer and closer. In the most recent election, the Congressman won by only 3 percentage points.

Texas has been moving Democratic. This may be the time for a politically significant result.

Joe Manchin. I am not saying I am tending to dislike him. I have reached that point already.

Excuse the vernacular, the man is a pompous self-serving ass.

Biden needs every Democratic vote to achieve his goals for America. One Democratic Senator voting with the Republicans and Biden’s proposed legislation is defeated.

Manchin has already said loud and clear he will not vote to eliminate filibuster. In addition, he now advises he does not support statehood for Washington D.C. nor a bill to overhaul federal elections.

Big day today! The Kentucky Derby! The race is scheduled to start at 6:57 pm.

Today represents the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby. A 2 minute race. It is considered the  greatest 2 minutes in sports.

Don and Chris are back. Been a while since we have been together. I am meeting them tonight at 6 at the Pier House Beach Bar.

I wish the Pier House would reopen the Chart Room!

Enjoy your day!

 

David Berger # 1

One of the themes of DaThomas Paine’s “Common Sense” is that there needs to be a balance between man’s pursuit of liberty and the government’s responsibility to maintain order for the common good.

The great thing about America is that everyone is allowed to have their opinion. Exchange of opinions is what defines a democracy. Democracy, atits best, is the distillation of the spectrum of opinions and the establishment of a compromise which accommodates that span of ideas. In most eras of American history, this democratic process has worked, primarily driven by statesmen who serve the common good.

The First Amendment right to free speech is the cornerstone of our national ethos. Nonetheless, I was dismayed to see protesters in multiple states take to the streets to oppose the self-isolation orders imposed by their state and local governments, at the direction of the federal government. Even though I cannot fathom the logic of their protest, I fully support their right to express themselves.

As a retired physician from the NY metropolitan area, I know that many, many people are dying of Covid-19 and that my colleagues are stretched to their physical and mental limits trying to manage this disease. I understand and empathize with the fact that many people have been badly injured, both emotionally and financially. I also understand that not every part of the country is affected to the same degree by the pandemic and that easing of self-isolation rules will roll out at different rates across the country.

What I cannot understand or tolerateis that in congregating without any regard to the spreading of disease in direct violation of rules formulated to keepthe disease in check, these people are putting themselves AND OTHERS in danger by ignoring basic common sense. Social distancing was instituted because the disease is spread from person to person by contact that is by no means intimate. Furthermore, people may not get sick for a very long time after they are infected and are infective; some do not get sick at all. The only way that this disease can be checked without an effective vaccine is by avoiding contact with other people. VERY SIMPLE. Do not gather in crowds to express your opinion. Use social media, traditional media and contact your representatives. Do not risk other people’s lives because you are overdue for your haircut. Do not block health care workers from getting to work.

Lastly, the behavior of politicians who have politicized these protests and egged on the protesters is contemptible and misinformed. The concept that lives must be sacrificed for the economic recoveryis beyond common decency.

At this moment, the solution to opening the country involves widescale testing of the entire population, both for Covid-19 positivity (active infection) as well as blood testing for antibodies to the virus (indicative of active or previous infection). In combination, these tests can better approximate the extent of disease so far (current estimates are likely far below the real infection rate). People who have reliable evidence of prior disease and who have recovered can reasonably reenter the economy without risking others. Careful analysis of the data derived by pooling these results can help us understand how the virus travels and how to identify regions at imminent risk.

Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” remains valid in modern times. This pandemic will continue for the foreseeable future. We all need to continue to use self-discipline, common sense and the guidance of scientists rather than to rush blindly into reopening the country.

 

David Berger MD

April 2020