400-500 B.C. TO MODERN KEY WEST…..A HISTORY OF COCKFIGHTING

Some fun history today!

Originally posted October 2020

I am sick of politics! The political junkie has had it. Felt the need for a day off.

The sole topic today will be a history of cockfighting. A bit like politics. Both roosters going at each others throats to bloody the other.

Cockfighting is the sport of ancients, Presidents and common man. Though illegal, it is still considered a sport.

Roosters are trained to be killers, to hate other roosters. Their natural spurs are altered by adding on razor shop metal ones. The roosters are then ready to fight to the death.

Cockfighting is referred to as a blood sport because of the preceding.

Cockfighting had it’s beginnings sometime around 400-500 B.C. It was considered a sport.

The Chinese, Persians and Greeks were the first. Rooster owners were considered sportsmen and trainers. Much like horse owners and their trainers of today.

Spectators involved. They paid an entry fee to watch the fight and gamble on its outcome.

Three Presidents participated in and enjoyed the sport. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.

Over the centuries, the sport became illegal. Primarily in the 20th century. All States ban cockfighting.

In 2007, George W. Bush signed a federal law banning cockfighting.

Both State and Federal law carry severe jail time.

Two reasons are put forth as to why cockfighting is philosophically  illegal. First, it is gambling. Second, animal cruelty.

Key West and the lower Keys historically have been a home to the sport.

Roosters and chickens today walk around freely.

During the 1800’s, chickens became big business in Cuba. Breeders purchased varieties of Filipino Fowl from Spain. The Cubans created their own breed called Cubalayo. Their size and aggressiveness made them perfect for cockfighting.

In 1860, the Ten Years’ War began in Cuba. Cuba’s fight for freedom. Many Cubans moved to the United States. They brought their love of cockfighting with them.

Then came the cigar industry. Its success in Key West brought more Cubans and cockfighting chickens.

When Cubans migrated to Key West, an insufficient food supply existed. There was no U.S. 1 or railroad. Ergo, the Cubans also brought chickens for human consumption.

The chickens provided eggs and meat. They reproduced easily. Roosters and chickens are very prolific. The gestation period 29 days.

As Key West became more connected with the rest of the world and with the advent of local markets and supermarkets carrying chicken products, there was no need to raise chickens for food.

Most people stopped raising chickens. They freed them to wander wherever.

The chickens learned quickly how to survive on their own. They ate native insects, lizards, scorpions and worms.

Many believe the roaming chickens have also provided a benefit to the community. It is claimed they have minimized Key West’s cockroach population.

Key West outlawed cockfighting in the 1970’s. Cubalayo chickens were no longer of value. Most owners put the Cubalayos on the street to fend for themselves.

Roosters and chickens roamed freely. Nature took its course. Sex abounded. A chicken’s gestation time is 29 days. It did not take long for Key West to have chickens galore.

The marriage of the food chickens with Cubalayp ones resulted in what today are known as Gypsy chickens. The Gypsys are the ones running around Key West today.

Gypsys are a protected species.

The outlawing of cockfights has not eliminated the sport. Merely minimized it. There are still those who like to breed and train. Others who enjoy making money sponsoring cockfights. And those who enjoy watching and gambling as to the outcome of a fight.

Cockfights therefore do exist. Generally outside of Key West. In mangroves and other isolated places.

In 2017, a drug raid in Ramrod Key discovered 250 cockfighting chickens and fighting paraphernalia. The owners/operators of the cocks and fighting paraphernalia were arrested.

For some reason, present day cockfighting appears to be moving out of the Keys to mid Florida. In 2019, a raid took place in Summerland, Florida. Summerland being in Marian County. Fifty roosters were discovered.

The only place in Key West that I am aware of that had regular cock fights was the Gato House at 1209 Virginia Street. I could not ascertain the time frame. I doubt it could have been when the Gato family was residing there.

Gato moved out. Donated the house for a hospital. He had one condition. The hospital had to be named after his wife Mercedes. The Mercedes Hospital came into being.

The Mercedes Hospital closed down around 1942. It was vacant for a while. Then it was purchased and turned into a guest house. Today an apartment building.

The Gato House is the place where Key West’s most famous ghost resides. The hospital’s matron Maria Valdez de Gutsens. It is claimed she still walks the rooms and hallways of the Gato House.

The Gato House has a backyard. It was also constructed in such fashion as to have a center court. The cockfights probably occurred after the hospital closed. During the years the building was run down and overgrown with weeds.

Hope you enjoyed.

Have a nice day!

Easter

Easter thoughts from Lou….

 

Matthew 20:19…..On the third day he will be raised to life.

Luke 24…..He is not here, he is risen.

Such Easter Sunday’s religious joyous connotation. There also is another joyous one. In a popular sense. Best exemplified by Irving Berlin’s 1933 Easter Parade: In your Easter bonnet, with all the frills upon it, you’ll be the grandest lady in the Easter Parade.

I used to believe death was the only constant. Life has taught me otherwise. Change is a constant, also. Nothing remains the same. Nothing is as it was.

Easter Sunday attire is reflective of change. Big time. Mike Ragland is a retired police officer living in the Rome, Georgia area. He recently wrote a change type article for the Rome News Tribune titled “In Your Easter Bonnet.”

I have combined some of my thoughts with his for today’s blog.

The tale of Easter Sunday attire begins with Constantine I. Emperor of Rome in the early fourth century. He ordered his subjects to dress in their finest clothes and parade in honor of Christ’s Resurrection.

His decree developed with time.

In Tudor days, superstition originated which claimed that unless a person had new homespun cloth available at Easter, moths and crickets would eat his old clothes.

The Irish added a vestige that stated, “For Christmas, food and drink; for Easter, new clothes.”

A 15th century proverb from Poor Richard’s Almanac stated that if on Easter Sunday some part of the outfit was not new, one would not enjoy good luck during the year.

German settlers in Pennsylvania as early as 1782 paraded on Easter Monday. Easter Monday was widely celebrated as a holiday. The parading continued for over a century.

Then came the big one!

In 1870, ladies of congregations along New York’s Fifth Avenue began decorating churches with fresh flowers to commemorate Easter Sunday. A New York newspaper noted over half the female congregation members were decked out in their best finery while so doing.

A few years later, ladies and their escorts began walking to other churches to view floral arrangements and to be seen. The strolling area extended from 49th Street to 57th Street on Fifth Avenue.

By 1900, Easter Sunday  was rivaling Christmas as a merchant’s dream and was spreading to other cities.

Irving Berlin’s 1933 Easter Parade glorified the day as it had become. Fifteen years later, Judy Garland and Fred Astaire made the movie Easter Parade. One of the most profitable movies made to that time.

I am 82. In my youth, the whole family dressed on Easter Sunday. Where affordable, of course. I first noticed the everyone dressing up thing during World War II when I was 5-10 years old.

We dressed for church. Walked to and back from church as a family. Everyone smiling and exchanging hellos with neighbors and friends.

Followed by Easter Sunday dinner. Exceeded only by Christmas dinner.

The ladies wore hats. New ones, big ones, little ones, frilly and flowered.

I recall Easter Sundays in the 1960’s. Married with four little ones. We all dressed, went to church, and then to a huge family dinner.

The historical Easter Sunday and the one I knew is no more. A thought to be constant having disappeared. No one dresses as they did. Hats, what hats? Few families go to church together. Few go to church. The big meal, rare.

I am glad I was fortunate to have lived through those times. The memories real and warm.

My friends, whatever way you celebrate Easter Sunday, whatever you wear, whatever you eat, enjoy the day. This is what it is. Not bad, not as good, just the way it is.

Happy Easter!

HEMINGWAY HATED HIS MOTHER

Strong title. Can’t argue with history, however. Fact is fact.

Hemingway hated his mother.

John dos Passos, famous writer and Hemingway friend, said Hemingway was the only man he ever knew who truly hated his mother.

His mother was Grace Hall Hemingway. An aspiring opera singer, she settled into marriage and family. Taught music and voice lessons from the Hemingway home. Strictly religious, a woman with a melodramatic and mercurial temperament.

Grace had a peculiarity. Probably what contributed to her son hating her. She had a fondness for dressing Hemingway and his older sister as twins. Sometimes as boys with short hair, sometimes as girls with flowery dresses and long hair.

Hemingway was concerned at Christmas time when he was 3 that Santa Claus would not know he was a boy.

He was 6 years old when his mother finally permitted him to cut off his long locks for good.

Historians claim being dressed as a girl, etc. is why Hemingway spent his life proving his masculinity to himself and those closest to him.

The bitterness of his mother’s treatment is further evident in the way Hemingway treated female characters in his fiction and the way he treated his 4 wives.

Life is strange. Strange the impact a parent has on a child. Good, bad, or indifferent.

Spent time at the Chart Room last night.

John bartending. Steve and Cindy at the bar. Also Mike, owner of the Grand Guesthouse.

Steve and Cindy unquestionably Key West historians. They have resided in Key West since the mid 1970’s. Steve owned a series of taco stands in Key West and throughout Florida. Cindy was Jimmy Buffett’s assistant for more than 30 years.

They both know everything there is to know about Key West for the past 50 years.

Mike owns the Grand Guesthouse in Key West. A year since I had last seen him. We chatted a while. Learned something I did not know. His wife is Chef at the Reach. She has to be an absolutely outstanding cook. One of the finest steak houses in Key West.

A side note. Common knowledge that David Wolkowsky built the Pier House. What most do not know is that he also built the Reach. Two fine hotels on the opposite sides of the island.

The Reach initially was a rough sand beach with a shack sitting on it. Owned by the Catholic Church. A gathering spot for druggies. Wolkowsky bought the property, threw the beach bums out, and built a magnificent edifice.

A busy afternoon ahead for me. Sloan at 2. Some important work to be done. One of my programs is screwed up. Then at 3:30, Syracuse/Georgetown. Old time Big East basketball foes. Syracuse 6-2, Georgetown 7-1. Syracuse a 12 point favorite.

Patrick Ewing was an All-American star at Georgetown in his college days. Syracuse coached by Boeheim back then. Boeheim now in his 43rd year as Syracuse coach.

Ewing today in his second year as head basketball coach at Georgetown. A Hall of Fame Coach and a Hall of Fame Player oppose each other this afternoon.

Tonight one of my favorite Key West evenings. The Christmas Parade. Like one no where else. The whole town turns out to watch. I sometimes think half of Key West is in the parade itself. An exaggeration, of course.

I generally watch somewhere on Truman. Near Don’s Place. With Lisa and the grandkids.

Don’t know if I will make it tonight. I will be tired from my afternoon and will probably end up staying home.

The stock market.. Like Humpty Dumpty……Falling down!

Blame Trump.

The tariffs and sanctions he has imposed.

Things are not getting better.

Last week at the G 20 in Buenos Aires, Trump and China President Xi were having a private dinner with staff to try to work out the tariff war which is greatly adversely affecting the U.S. and China.

Duplicity reared its ugly head.

While Trump and Xi were talking in Buenos Aires, the U.S. had a prominent Chinese business person arrested at the Vancouver airport. Huawei CFO Meng. Huawei is a major Chinese company. Heavily involved in cell phones in Africa, Europe and Asia. Meng’s father and Xi close friends.

Meng was on her way to Mexico. She was arrested because her company has been doing business with companies doing business with Iran. Contrary to Trump imposed rules.

Such bullshit!

The horror of it all is that Trump and Xi were supposedly trying to work things out tariff wise at the moment of her arrest.

China pissed! Big time! A major insult by way of Asian thinking to China and Xi.

The market has been dropping dramatically as a result. One day up, I think. The rest down. Big numbers.

Yesterday the market dropped 558 points to 24,388. The 558 point drop erased all market gains for the year.

Good job, Donald!

The drop in my opinion not over. The tariffs and sanctions remain. China the biggest concern. Arresting Meng did not help.

If the market drops below 2,000 by year’s end, it will be the beginning of a world wide recession. Hopefully it will not hit 2,000.

I predicted last year that late this year or early into next year, the U.S. would be in recession. Not because I am an economic genius. Rather because I am 83 years old and have seen recessions develop in the past.

Enjoy your day!

 

CHINA 2018 THE JAPAN OF 1941?

December 7, 1941. In the words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, “A date that will live in infamy.” Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor.

There is cause and effect. Every action does have an equal and opposite reaction. Are the U.S. and China on a path similar to that  which led to the Japanese attack?

Examine the facts.

It was December 6, 1941, the day before Pearl Harbor. U.S. intelligence less than adequate. Roosevelt had been told the Japanese fleet was heading for Thailand.

Roosevelt sent a telegram to Emperor Hirohito: “For the sake of humanity” intervene “to prevent further death and destruction in the world.”

Roosevelt amusingly told his wife Eleanor…..”The son of man has just sent his final message to the son of God.”

U.S. intelligence was wrong. Roosevelt relied on the erroneous intelligence. The next day, Hawaii was attacked. Not Thailand.

Why did Japan attack Pearl Harbor? Japan was a non-entity in world affairs in the years leading to 1900. Isolated from the rest of the world.

In 1894 and 1904, Japan successfully engaged in wars against nations considered superior to Japan. During World War I, Japan participated on the side of the Allies.

The Great Depression affected Japan as most nations at the time. Tensions had begun  growing between the U.S. and Japan 10 years earlier. Driven by economic and demographic woes.

Japan invaded Manchuria and other parts of China. The League of Nations condemned the invasion. Japan withdrew from the League as a result.

The Sino-Japanese War began in 1937. Japan acted in an extremely brutal fashion. Perpetrated massacres. Mass killings and rapes.

It was obvious Japan was expanding globally. The U.S. tried to stop Japan’s expansion. The U.S. imposed economic sanctions on Japan, including trade embargoes on aircraft exports, oil, and scrap metal.

In September 1940, Japan signed the Tripartite Pact with Germany and Italy. The U.S. not involved in war with Germany and Italy yet.

The U.S. and Japan negotiated Japan’s expansion, the sanctions, etc. for months. Without success.

The U.S. had hoped the embargoes on oil and other key goods would lead Japan to halt its expansions.

The opposite proved correct. The sanctions and other penalties actually convinced Japan to stand its ground. Stand up for Japan.

Japan became increasingly angered. Thought U.S. conduct a part of Western interference in Asian affairs.

Importantly also, Japan felt the U.S. was not paying Japan the respect to which it was entitled. Japan believed they had earned respect as a world power beginning with the wars surrounding 1900 and its actions into the 1940’s.

Respect/face very important in Asian thinking. Neither was forthcoming from the U.S. There was a failure to recognize the new kid on the block.

Japan realized war was inevitable. Japan recognized the odds were stacked against them in a military confrontation. Success depended on surprise. The target Pearl Harbor. Four thousand miles from Japan’s homeland. The U.S. would not expect it.

Pearl Harbor was perfect. The U.S. fleet, except for carriers, in harbor. The fleet and U.S. morale would be destroyed. There would be no will to fight back.

Japan underestimated the U.S. and its people.

Sanctions a major cause compelling Japan’s decision to attack.

U.S. sanctions in effect today against China. The tariff wars. War, global recession possible. Perhaps imminent.

The issues the same. Overbearing sanctions, the economies of both countries in disarray. Everything moving at a rapid pace.

Trump the creator of the present scenario. His intelligence advise questionable. Where it does exist, he does not pay attention. He refuses to be properly briefed.

An example is Meng Wanzhou who was arrested/detained in Vancouver saturday. At the same time Trump was sitting with China’s President Xi in Buenos Aires.

Meng is CFO of China’s second largest technology company Huawei. Her father founder and a leading Chinese figure.

Huawei has been violating U.S. imposed sanctions by doing business with Iran. The reason Meng was arrested. She is awaiting deportation to New York for a federal court appearance.

Note again she was arrested while Trump and Xi negotiating at the G 20. An embarrassing loss of face for Xi.

The question also arises as to what right the U.S. has to impose penalties on China for doing business with Iran. The Iran problem is between the U.S. and Iran, not the U.S., Iran, and China.

Word is that Trump was unaware Meng was being arrested. John Bolton says Trump did not know and had not been briefed.

Makes one wonder what is going on at the highest levels of U.S. government.

The outcome of any military conflict uncertain. Both nations have nuclear weapons. China considered the world’s second most powerful nation. It may be questionable whether it is behind the U.S. militarily.

In the past five years, China has gone all out improving its military. In excess of 350 new naval vessels constructed with up to date nuclear missile capacity.

China has also constructed islands where none existed in Asian waters. Islands out of nothing. Now airbases with planes and troops stationed thereon.

It makes me question whether the U.S. is still the strongest nation in the world. I would not what to find out the answer.

Similarities exist between the Japan of yesterday and the China of today. Especially as regards each’s relationship at the specific time with the U.S.

Hopefully both the U.S. and China will negotiate their way out of this mess.

We are entering a Don’t Tread On Me situation. Where one side will not take it anymore. Similar to the Boston Tea Party, the Alamo, Pearl Harbor. Not a comfortable time.

MERYL STREEP AND ANTONIO BANDERAS IN TOWN

Meryl Streep and Antonio Banderas in Key West for a few days. Filming a movie. The Laundromat.

Movie stars Gary Oldman, also. Do not think he is here. Actual filming in Key West only 2 days. 12/5 & 12/6.

Filming taking place on Caroline Street. Caroline already Christmas decorated. Decorations had to be removed for the filming.

Locals hired as extras. $125 for a 12 hour day.

The Laundromat is the story of a group of journalists who took part in unearthing 11.5 million files linking the world’s most powerful figures to secret banking accounts to avoid taxes. The film chronicles how a Panamanian law firm allowed the wealthy and connected to funnel money illegally via tax havens.

Last night, a colorful one. The Lighted Bike Ride. Christmas decorated  bicycles and riders. Hundreds participated. The Ride ended at Mary Ellen’s on Applerouth. Applerouth one block long. Closed. A block party held for the bike riders.

Love Mary Ellen’s! Not 2 years old yet. A popular spot. Inexpensive. The best tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Funky decorated. Funky games. Like tuesday evenings at 9 for the Dildo Races.

Stopped at Blue Macaw. Cold! Seventy degrees. Temperature dropped to low 60’s during the evening. Heat back on!

Bar crowd skimpy. Said hello to Alisa and Stephanie. Chatted too briefly with Angie.

A bit warmer tonight. Low 70. Still heat time for locals. Our blood is thin!

I watched President Bush’s service at the Washington National Cathedral. Moving. Mourning and celebratory. More celebratory. Showed sides of the man not generally known. Bush had a sense of humor. Stories told which shared that facet of his life.

One of the more humorous involved Bush’s operation of the motorboat at his Maine home. Bush was less than a good driver. He scared the hell out of Putin!

Tears shed on occasion. By those in the Cathedral and Louis.

The eulogies personal and warm. Son George broke down and cried near the end of his. Former Senator Simpson could have had a career as a comedian. Former Canadian Prime minister Mulroney, also.

Jon Mecham articulate. Warm. Weaves words well. Described the President as Mr. Peepers who wanted to be John Wayne to the laughter of all.

Perhaps not everyone. I refer to President Trump. Perhaps Melanie, also. Both obviously uncomfortable, a strange addition to the rest in the Cathedral.

The former Presidents and their spouses sat together in the front row. Trump and Melania came in after they had been seated a while. Before their appearance, the former Presidents and wives were chatting and joking.

Trump arrived and everyone went stiff. Sat quietly staring ahead.

The Obamas were seated next to the Trumps. They briefly and respectfully greeted the Trumps. The Clintons would have nothing to do with him nor Trump they.

Trump appeared uncomfortable throughout. Scowling and arms crossed. Slouching forward. Looked like a slob compared to the other Presidents.

The thought just occurred. If you remove the T from Trump and replace wit with a G, it becomes Grump. Respectfully, what Trump appeared to be during the service.

Trump supported by the Evangelicals. A strong religious group in the United States. Trump did not appear evangelical yesterday. He did not participate in prayers or hymns. The Apostles’ Creed was recited by all. It was even printed in the program. Trump’s lips closed throughout, as were Melania’s. So too with the Lord’s Prayer.

One other Presidential observation. President Carter and Hillary. Sat next to each other. A “created” space between them. Appeared to be by choice. Never saw them talk to each other.

Family. The Bush family tight. Close. The influence of George Sr. and Barbara apparent.

It was obvious throughout that brothers Jeb and George have a close relationship.

Today ends the President’s final services. The family has to be beat. They  are in Houston for a service at the President’s personal Church. Then a 70 mile train ride to his Library where he will be buried with Barbara and Robin.

This is the first time in more than half a century a political figure worthy of note has been  train transported to his final resting place. Robert Kennedy. I clearly recall. A train took his body to Washington. The tracks along the way lined with people paying their last respects. As thousands had done a hundred years earlier for Lincoln.

God bless President Bush! God bless our having been reminded of him. It comes at a time in American history when we need to recall there have been Presidents of character, morality, empathy, humanity, etc.

Enjoy your day!

A DAY OF NATIONAL MOURNING

This morning at 11, family, friends, world, and national leaders will pay homage to George H. W. Bush at the Washington National Cathedral.

We no longer refer to funeral services as a time for sorrow, a time for mourning. Though in fact they are. Over the years those two words have transformed into a time for celebration.

Whatever, all apply.

While Bush’s life is being celebrated in the Cathedral, I will be full of sorrow. My heart will mourn for a good man gone.

I will shed some tears. Always do at events of this nature. A box of tissues nearby.

The Washington National Cathedral was completed in 1990. Following 83 years of construction. Though not complete till 1990, used for religious services in the years leading up to 1990.

Woodrow Wilson and Helen Keller are laid to rest within the walls of the Cathedral.

Later today, Bush will be flown to Houston. Tomorrow at 5:15 pm, he will be buried on the grounds of the George Bush Presidential Library and Museum next to his wife Barbara and daughter Robin.

Television yesterday showed former Senator  and Presidential candidate Bob Dole pay his last respects to Bush at the Capitol Rotunda. Moving. Friends and foes in the past. One saying good bye to the other.

Bush and Dole are members of the Greatest Generation. Both fought with distinction in World War II. Bush as a Navy carrier pilot shot down twice. Dole as an infantry man so severely wounded he was lucky to survive. Let alone still living today at age 95.

It was touching to watch Dole be helped from his wheel chair to offer a final salute to his friend and leader.

Syracuse won big time last night. Beat Northeastern 72-49. The team looked good. May they continue improving.

Syracuse’s next foe old time rival Georgetown. Saturday afternoon.

Immediately following the game, it was Tuesday Talk with Key West Lou. Enjoyed doing the show last night. Then again, I enjoy doing it every time it is done. The show went smoothly. Many thoughts shared.

My dear friend Lauri Thibaud has left the Rum Barrel and returned to Aqua. She will be working the Back Bar saturday and sunday evenings. Saturdays beginning at 5, sundays at 4.

Harry Truman time again.

I mentioned yesterday how Truman had bad eyesight, wanted to join the Missouri national guard in 1905, and feared he would fail the eye test. He cheated. Sort of. He memorized the eye chart. Passed with flying colors!

Truman now a private. Proud. Wanted his grandmother Louisa Young to see him in his uniform. He made a special trip to Grandview, Missouri to visit her.

Wore his uniform. Blue with red stripes down the trouser legs, red piping on the cuffs, and a red fourragere over the shoulder.

His grandmother was outraged! She told him the uniform reminded her of the Union soldiers who pillaged the family farm during the Civil War. She admonished him never to return wearing the uniform again.

He never did.

Enjoy your day!

GOD, MYSTICISM, BELIEF IN A SUPERNATURAL

Most people believe. Some in a God. Others a supernatural being of sorts.

Some that things happen for a reason. That an individual by his or her actions can compel a result.

I was at the Gardens last night. A sizeable crowd. Peter Diamond entertaining with songs born in my generation.

I was sitting alone in the back when Jackie Tee stopped by to say hello. I last wrote about Jackie a year ago. We met in the Chart Room. Following the meeting, I wrote her story. One involving a broken toe ring and Irma. One based in a religious type belief.

Some background first. Jackie a Canadian. Her first trip to Key West 20 years ago with her husband, 4 1/2 year old son and her sister. They have continued to visit every year for 20 years. Sometimes as much as 4 times a year. Always stay at the Galleon. As Jackie describes it, she is drawn to Key West.

While here 20 years ago, she purchased a toe ring. Wore it religiously for 20 years.

A couple of months before Irma, the toe ring began to split.

The toe ring totally split on September 10, the day Irma hit Key West.

Jackie thought some omen might be involved. A friend who she describes as a “new age spiritual” suggested the ring be repaired. Intimating some good might come as a result.

Jackie had the toe ring repaired. It was returned to her on the same day as Key West was opened for the first time permitting residents to return.

The toe ring have something to do with it? Perhaps. Jackie believes so.

With Jackie last night was her sister Donna. We had met last year at the Chart Room also.

Both Jackie and Donna read my blog every day. Love them!

A bit humid at the Gardens. No breeze last night. I was in need of air conditioning. Left and headed for the Chart Room.

John bartending.

Chatted with Carla and Jerry. First time in Key West. Staying at the Pier House. Both retired. Presently live on Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia.

Jerry had an interesting career. Spent 31 years with UPS. A welder, his title aircraft master. Retired from UPS and went to work the next 10 years at a company called Alston. It was there he met and married Carla.

They are having a ball! No question, they will return.

John mentioned that another person at the bar was from Utica. My home town. Rarely run into someone from Utica.

His name Tom Burns. We talked a long time. An interesting guy.

Tom is not actually from Utica. From Forestport. Fifteen-twenty miles outside Utica. Otter Lake area. Beginnings of the Adirondacks.

He brought me up to date on the Utica hospital situation. The 3 hospitals are merging and planning on rebuilding. In a place presently covered by an old Police Station building and a relatively new City Court House. Both would be torn down.

I immediately thought how my friend Anthony “Muzzy” Garramone would be upset. Muzzy and I grew up together. He eventually became a Judge. Thereafter, Chief Judge of the Utica City Courts.

Utica desperately needed a new City Court House. Muzzy lead the drive politically. He was primarily instrumental for its design. A beautiful edifice the result.

The building was named after him. The Anthony J. Garramone Court House. Other than his marriage and the birth of his children, the biggest day in Muzzy’s life. Much deserved.

Tom is involved with telephones. Believe he mentioned Verizon. Forty nine years old. Has avoided matrimony. Single.

His first visit to Key West. Obviously enjoying it. Who does not?

I have not been back to Utica in 12 years. I have lost contact with the community. He brought me up to date on the local political scene. Especially the recent Congressional race.

The Republican incumbent the daughter of a deceased New York State Supreme Court Justice. The Judge could be a difficult man to work in front of.

The Democrat the young son of a Utica attorney. An outstanding trial lawyer. Extremely successful in the practice. Made his reputation early in his career representing prominent criminals. Successfully so on most occasions.

Tom told me a major issue in the campaign was the early checkered career of the Democratic candidate’s father.

The district traditionally Republican. The Democratic candidate won.

Enjoy your day!

 

 

GROCERY SHOPPING WITH THE BLIND

A unique experience yesterday. I took Terri grocery shopping. Donna was ill and asked me to step in.

It was the blind leading the blind.

I shop at the new Publix. Know where everything is. Terri shops at the old Publix. I knew where nothing was. Everything in a different place from the other store.

The experience began with the drive. I was on Whitehead approaching Truman. She said, “Take a left on Truman.” How did she know Truman was ahead?

When we arrived at Publix, she explained the game plan. We were to enter on the right side of the store. Get a cart immediately. She would drive. I was to lightly pull from the front to control direction.

We started on the right side of the store. Needed bacon. She got me to it.

So far, I was comfortable. Not bad. Then it began. Go 2 aisles right. Take a left. Half way down on the right. Top shelf. Box or can colored such and such. Brand name provided.

And so it went.

Occasionally, I took the wrong item off the shelf. She was able to tell by the size of a can if I did wrong. The size not being that much different from that which she wanted.

She directed. I followed. I was proud of myself. I did good.

She wanted me to go one way, I went another. I saw one of the items on her grocery list 2 aisles in the opposite direction from where she wanted me to go.

Blew it for her! Totally discombobulated! She was lost! Not panicked. Merely said to me, “You did wrong. I do not know where I am.”

I righted the wrong and we were on our way again.

I was impressed. She knew where most things were. The side of the aisle as well as shelf. Occasionally, she would tell me she was staying where she was with the cart. The Deli area an example. Too crowded for her. Gave me walking orders and off I went.

Checking out interesting. She can empty a cart, though I did. She pays with a credit card, not a debit. Merely push it in and it registers without her doing anything else.

I was impressed! Her only inability was driving the car itself. Who knows, some day.

Intended to go out last night and watch the Syracuse/Cornell game. Too tired. The shopping trip had tired me out!

Remained home and watched Syracuse beat Cornell 63-55. Cornell was winning by one point with 5 minutes to go. An unimpressive Syracuse game against a lesser opponent.

The nice thing was that Boeheim’s 2 sons were playing. On opposite sides. One for Syracuse, the other Cornell. Neither embarrassed themselves nor their father.

Driving down a street this time of the year in Utica and Key West the same. With one difference. Utica has snow. Otherwise, Key West homes are decorated as those up north. Christmas spirit exists regardless of location. The Key West homes I have seen absolutely beautiful. Obvious that a lot of thought and work were involved.

George H. W. Bush a frequent visitor to the keys. Primarily, Islamorada area. The President an avid fisherman.

Generally stayed at Cheeka Lodge.

Visited before, during and following his Presidency.

His biggest fishing experience involved landing a 135 foot tarpon. The largest game fish he ever caught. Bush was 84 at the time. Took him only 45 minutes to land the giant fish.

Bush used a live crab for bait. Afterwards he said, “It was a thrill of a lifetime…..A great fighting fish was finally baited.”

Bush’s character, sensitivity, caring, etc. coming out from every source. Things we did not know about him. I share two I came across.

In the 1950’s, the Bush’s lost their daughter Robin to leukemia. She was 2 at the time. Bush wrote a letter to his mother following Robin’s death…..”We need a legitimate Christmas angel, one who doesn’t have cuffs beneath her dress. You have to be a father to know this,” he wrote. “We need a little one who can kiss without leaving egg or jam or gum. We need a girl. We had one once…..But she is still with us. We need her yet we have her.”

In 2013, Bush shaved his head in solidarity with 2 year old Patrick, the son of one of the agents on his Secret Service detail who was being treated for leukemia and had lost all his hair. He was that type man.

Another nature disaster. The Alaskan earthquake friday in the Anchorage area. A big one. One 7.0 in magnitude.

Trump immediately responded. Issued an emergency declaration making it possible for the Department of Homeland Security and FEMA to act.

Trump told the people of Alaska, “Your federal government will spare no expense.”

Trump will fail Alaska as he failed Puerto Rico, Florida, northern Florida, and the California fire areas.

There is not enough money! It was more than color in Puerto Rico. Not enough money. Florida still owed billions to reimburse and /or complete rebuilding following Irma. No one hears about Florida’s Panhandle. Michael destroyed most areas hit. One city totally obliterated. We hear nothing about how great FEMA is doing in the Panhandle because it is not doing enough. California desperately waits dollars rather than criticism. Trump should sweep out the swamp people in his cabinet rather than recommend the forest grounds in California be swept.

He will fail Alaska also. His administration has misused, misallocated, and I don’t know what else, funds for natural disaster relief.

Talk is cheap. Put money where your mouth is, Mr. President. Our country needs you.

Enough for today.

Enjoy your Sunday!

 

MY BOOKS DON’T BALANCE

I have difficulty making my check book balance. And I have only a measly Social Security check to be concerned with.

The federal government on the other hand has tons of money. Especially the Department of Defense/Pentagon. Should be easier. Especially with hundreds of thousands of employees. A number I assume bookkeepers.

No, the Pentagon has trouble balancing its check book.

Congress hired Ernst & Young to do an independent audit of the Pentagon’s finances. Hard to believe, but the Pentagon had not audited itself for decades. A serious error. Especially since 2 of every 3 federal tax dollars collected goes to the Pentagon.

On November 15, Ernst & Young advised it could not complete its audit. Too many bookkeeping deficiencies, irregularities, and errors. A reliable audit impossible.

The amount Ernst & Young could not trace/account for $21 trillion.

Beside poor bookkeeping habits, graft has to be involved. Too many dollars unaccounted for not to have been.

Cold yesterday. Required long pants. Nothing fits because of my 62 pound weight loss. Found an old pair of khakis. Fit. Tucked my shirt in.

I looked terrific! Straight! Did not even have to suck in my stomach!

The proof was when I walked into Lori’s for a haircut. Lori looked at me with bright open eyes and exclaimed “Louis, you look terrific!” One of her associates said, “Oh, my God!”

I threw my arms up in victory and exclaimed “Love it!”

Oh, vanity. However, I deserve to be vain in this instance.

Last night Blue Macaw for a while. One drink. Then off to Publix. Most of the food I had purchased before I got sick I threw away. No longer edible.

Tomorrow is World AIDS Day.

Key West’s gay community was hard hit. I have been here 30 years. I saw it when I began coming down. Sad. Men wasting away.

The interesting thing was the the love. Evident everywhere. Partners taking care of those afflicted. Gays taking care of each other. Straights helping the gay community in every conceivable way.

Key West took the problem in hand. Organized. Worked at the problem.

Today, life can be sustained if a person is afflicted.

A lovely AIDS Memorial sits at the end of White Street at the opening to the bridge. The day will be commemorated with a procession from City Hall to the AIDS Memorial where a service will be held.

No question, it will be sensitive and heart warming.

Syracuse/Cornell tomorrow night at 8. Syracuse should win by 20 points.

A special significance to the game. Coach Boeheim has 2 sons, Jimmy and Buddy. Jimmy plays for Cornell, Buddy Syracuse. Going to be interesting. Mom Juli will be cheering for both teams.

Trump and his defense team have been out foxed.

For over a year, Trump’s lawyers have been fighting Mueller re interview, depose, have the President answer written questions with written answers? Finally, last week the President provided Mueller with written responses. Trump proudly said he prepared the answers himself, not his attorneys.

Trump’s attorneys only permitted Trump to answer collusion with Russia. Refused to have Trump answer obstruction inquiries. Probably because it had to be obvious Mueller had much evidence obstruction wise to charge. However, it appeared little to nothing re collusion.

Yesterday, Trump’s former personal attorney Cohen plead guilty in federal court to lying to Mueller about a host of situations connecting Trump up with Russia. Collusion!

The President is in deep shit trouble. Collusion obviously viable. Big time!

I blame the President for the fix he is now in. His fault. Instead of retaining the best lawyers available, he took on hacks. Lawyers like Rudy Giuliano. Over the hill or incompetent, or both.

Again, Mueller’s play brilliant! Sucked the President’s lawyers right in.

Disease at the border. It now exists. Did not earlier when some were saying illnesses like leprosy were being carried by the immigrants.

Trump has created a situation where more than a thousand migrants are stuck in a small area at the border. Caused by Trump denying them the right to apply for asylum which would have resulted in the prolonged crowding not to have occurred.

Food not plentiful. Showers similarly. Sewage a problem. Portable toilets overused, plugged with crap on the floors. Disease inevitable. TB, chicken pox, and AIDS.

Good job, Mr. President. Everything you touch becomes a disaster.

Enjoy your day!

 

 

JEAN THORNTON RETURNS

A crowd of 200 was waiting at the Key West Airport last night. Waiting for Jean Thornton who was arriving on the Delta flight out of Atlanta.

The crowd yelled and screamed as she descended the plane’s steps. Soon she was hoisted on some burly shoulders and carried into the airport.

Jean is one of the most popular and loved persons in Key West. The Golden Girl. Found gold coins and emeralds when diving with Mel Fisher many years ago. Changed her life!

She was my benefactor also. When escaping Irma, I stayed at her home in Birmingham for 12 days.

Her airport reception is fantasy. Created by me. Everything else true. Thought she was deserving of such a reception. A figment of my imagination.

Welcome back, Jean!

I learn more about Captain Tony each day. His daughter Toni a huge help in acquainting me with him.

Tony had an electric car. Made it himself. Piece by piece, part by part. Inside and out. The car tiny. Maximum speed 3 mph.

There was an airbrush painter by the name of Bill Miller in town for years. A friend Of Captain Tony’s. He painted Tony’s face on the side of the car. Took up half of one side. Painted all kinds of other things on the rest of the car.

Tony had an old Lincoln. Airbrushed by Miller, also.

Tony drove around in the Lincoln with his goat Ruff. Ruff meaaahhhing along the way.

Cape Air is a small regional airliner that had been serving Key West for years. Their planes colorfully painted. One had Tony’s face covering better than half of one side.

A cruise back in time to the 1940s. Next wednesday. A preservation fundraiser for the Custom House. KWAHS has gone all out putting the event together.

Cocktails on the veranda of the Custom House first. Then a walk next door to Magaritaville’s Grand Ballroom. The Ballroom will have been transformed into a luxury cruise liner.

Recommended attire 1940s.

The weather outside is frightful…..No snow. But cold! Last night 63 degrees. At moment 64. High supposedly will reach 70 today. Normalcy returns tomorrow when the temperature will be in the low 80s.

The game plan last night was for me to go to Jack Flatt to watch Syracuse/Ohio State at 7. I laid down around 3:30 for a nap. Woke a little after 6. Too late for Jack Flat. Needed to shave, shower, dress, drive into town, etc.

Stayed home and watched the game.

Syracuse played its best game of the season. Its only good game. Beat Ohio State 72-62.

Ohio State undefeated prior to the game at 6-0. Syracuse 3-2.

It all came together for Syracuse last night. The hit on 3s, played great defense. Boeheim mixed his players up. May have hit on the right combination.

An on the road upset win.

My faith has been restored!

Manafort’s duplicity may save his ass with a Trump pardon. It will not help his attorneys or Trump’s attorneys. Their participation in the scheme borders on the criminal. Ethically, they are over the line. Could cost them their licenses.

Trump leaves today for the G 20 meeting in Argentina. He has a meeting scheduled with his “friend” Putin. The two will leave the meeting arm in arm. Friends!

Trump should be meeting with China’s Xi. The U.S. problem with China big. Sensitive.

What makes me laugh is that Russia benefits every time the U.S. and China conflict. For example, Russia is selling soybeans to China.

In 2 years, Trump has pushed Russia and China closer and closer. They have become bedfellows economically. Lets hope it does not happen militarily.

A big day in history. November 29, 1947. It was on this day 71 years ago that the UN voted for partition of Palestine and the creation of an independent Jewish state.

Conflict ever since. Peace seems impossible. Could be another 71 years and the Jews and Palestinians will still be warring.

Enjoy your day!