Sunday, May 31, 2009
The "Key West Magic Moment" that happened last Friday (May 29th) involved my Netflix account.
I had been looking forward to a mindless bit of movie fluff for the weekend but of course I manage the order of my "queue" about as well as I manage my sex life and so an unintended date showed up on an unexpected afternoon. The movie I found in the mailbox was "Thirteen Days" and it's a very well told story of the Cuban missile crises from the perspective of the Kennedy administration.
The "Key West Magic Moment" you ask. . .
Well, later that same day, when I started writing the monthly checks that keep me living in the style to which I am accustomed, I realized that May 29th, 2009 might have been Jack Kennedy's 93rd birthday.
An unintentional JFK movie in the mailbox on JFK's birthday.
. . .some things just make you say, hmmm.
Well, now it's Sunday and I've watched the movie twice and both times a scene, about 3/4 the way through, stuck in my mind. On President Kennedy's desk was a plaque that held this quote from an old Breton fisherman's prayer,
"Oh God, Thy sea is so great and my boat is so small."
I don't know yet why, but that quote resonated in me and I felt compelled to offer this quick sketch of my initial perception of it and share it with all of you.
Blessings - a
Friday, May 29, 2009
I'll admit that outside of offering helpful directions now and then or the occasional "where're you from" afternoon small talk at the Green Parrot, I don't have very much direct contact with our tourist visitors to Key West. But, always the artist (and an open minded one at that) I spent a little time with our visiting brothers and sisters last weekend.
Their Key West is an alternate reality to be sure. They come for some fun, too much time in the sun, a "cheeseburger in paradise" and by sunset they're back on the boat that brung 'em, leaving a little of their hard earned in their wake.
Say what you like, I've come away thinking it's a win-win for everyone.
(and yes, there was only one tune that could do it all justice)
click arrow to start video. run time, 4:14
Thursday, May 28, 2009
A few weeks ago I posted pictures and a brief history of the Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg, the now famous WWII era ship scheduled for sinking to become an artificial reef off Key West. . .
Well yesterday the deed was done and at the end of the day I watched a handful of videos of the event. Here's a link to the best one I found and it's pretty cool so, if you haven't already seen it, have a look. . .
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Sunday, May 24, 2009
General Order 11 (Sec. 1) - Grand Army of the Republic
"The 30th day of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form or ceremony is prescribed, but Posts and comrades will, in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit."
Formerly known as "Decoration Day", the day was originally set aside to honor fallen Union soldiers of the American Civil War. Shortly after the end of that war, freed slaves disinterred the remains of Union soldiers from a mass grave at the site of a Confederate prison camp in Charleston, South Carolina . They properly re-buried the soldiers in individual graves, built a fence around them and declared the site an official Union Graveyard. They returned to the site on May 30, 1868 together with surviving Union soldiers to decorate the graves with flowers and celebrate with patriotic singing and a picnic. After WWI, Decoration Day was expanded to honor the fallen of all American wars. Though the alternative name,"Memorial Day" was first floated in the late 1800s it didn't become common until after WWII and later, in 1967, it was made official by Federal Law.
Although there is no nationally prescribed ceremony to observe Memorial Day, as it states in the General Order above, ". . .Posts and comrades will, in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.", towns and cities across the country have developed their own ways of paying respect. Here again is a bit of Key West's Memorial Day observance at the U.S.S Maine site in our historic cemetery.
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
I hadn't heard it in so long that when it woke me out of a sound sleep the other day, it took a few seconds before I knew what I was hearing. Rain dancing down on my aluminum porch roofing. Traditionally, we don't get much rain in the first six months of the year and this year practically none. Compared to the rest of Florida we get the lowest amount of average annual rainfall, at about 40 inches a year, and this year I've heard was below well below average. So I welcome the rain dance and so do my plants.
A few months ago I stumbled over a TV show I'd never seen before. No, I didn't break down and buy a boob-tube, I found a website on the computer, a while ago now, called Hulu.com where you can go and watch TV shows and movies for free. The normal routine is, at the end of the day while I'm fixing food or some such, I'll check in with Hulu.com to get a daily dose of Jon Stewart. Well one day I was cuing him up and a promo screen, advertising a show called "24", caught my eye. I'd heard of it, of course, but never saw it so I figured "what the hell" and watched it. . .
and watched it the next week. . .
and the next. . .
and the next. . .
. . .you get the picture.
It's a cliffhanger every week to keep you coming back for more and there's a level of that suspended belief system thing you have to do to get through it but as cop shows go, it's not half bad.
I often think the main dude, Jack Bauer, must be a superhero. Not because he can kill terrorists ten at a time or because he's sure to outlive that pesky pathogen.
I think he's a superhero because the guy can do all that stuff and never needs any sleep. . .
But I do. Goodnight my friends.
Sunday, May 17, 2009
I've spent most of the day, this so far sunny Sunday, out and about shooting footage and stills for yet another Key West the Blog Video Feature. ( if you've missed some of the others, I'll leave a few links at the end of this post)
Anyway, as you might expect, I ended up with some serendipitous stuff that fell under the heading of yesterday's theme of mapping one's travels. Since the feature won't be finished for a few days I thought I'd post these odd bits in the meantime. . .
South Street & Whitehead
(click arrow to start video. run time 42 secs.)
Additional Videos, if you care to. . .
CASA DE LA NAVIDAD
Saturday, May 16, 2009
By the time this morning's welcome rain finished falling, I'd done just about enough of my Saturday chores as I was figuring to and it was time to get out of the house. Under a partly sunny sky with that rain-washed fresh smell in the air, I decided to take a walk and visit with an old friend across the island in Bahama Village.
These are a handful and then some of Key West unique-ities (a.k.a. things you won't find in New Jersey) that mapped my course along the way to there and back again. . .
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Sunday, May 10, 2009
The first thought I had as I started shooting this series of the Vandenberg was, "damn that's a big boat!"
Working from "stem to stern", noticing davits and doorways, ladders, stairways, lookout stations, air ducts and windows, rails, rigging and rust, I realized there was more space aboard than was needed for a full compliment of crewmen to sail her.
Wondering about the satellite dishes looking just a little out of place, I somehow knew that the service the ship was originally built for was probably not the last thing she was called to service for. Add to that the mysterious Russian writing on the walls and my second thought was, "she must have one hell of a backstory".
It turns out she does. . .
The ship was built 1943 at the Kaiser Shipyard in Richmond, California. Henry J. Kaiser was the guy who developed the famous "Liberty Ships" and "Victory Ships" that were prefabricated and could be assembled at any one of his 7 shipyards in a little over two weeks at a quarter of the cost of conventional shipbuilding.
The ship was first commissioned in 1944 as the General Harry Taylor and for the next year, until the end of WWII in 1945, she served as a transport ship in both the Pacific and European theatres. (General Taylor who himself died in 1930, had been the US Army Chief of Engineers in the mid-1920's. There seems to be a Navy rule against naming ships after anyone among the living.)
With the war ended, the Gen. Taylor was back in New York loaded with returning troops (imagine that, once upon a time we really did bring the troops home) in mid-August, 1945.
A good story goes that as she was being guided to her pier, the harbor-master's tugboat played Bud Green, Les Brown and Ben Homer's "Sentimental Journey" over their loudspeakers.
A month later, the ship was ordered to Baltimore where it was de-commissioned.
In 1957 the Gen. Taylor was called back into service to rescue 3000 Hungarian refugees at the end of the horribly unsuccessful Hungarian Revolution against the Soviets and transport them to safety in Australia.
Then 4 years later, in 1961, to help fight the Cold War, the old General was ordered to Brooklyn's 56th St. shipyard for refit as a "Missle Range Instrumentation Ship" and in 1963, was re-commissioned as the General Hoyt S. Vandenberg.
She then served for the next 16 years heavily involved in space and missile tracking missions. (General Hoyt Sanford Vandenberg himself, who died in 1954 - there's that pesky dead guy rule again - was one of the founding fathers of the United States Air Force.)
In 1979 the USS Taylor/Vandenberg was again de-commissioned and it's 36 year career in the military was over.
I'm mostly sure I haven't seen it but, in 1999, a movie called "Virus", starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Donald Southerland came out and featured the Vandenberg.
I looked up the movie's plot line and learned that the story was about a tugboat that, after a serious storm at sea, came across a deserted Russian ship infected with a monstrous mutating virus from space. I can only guess the movie gets "Hollywood" from there but the ship's appearance in that flick more than likely accounts for the Russian writing I spotted on her the walls.
A year later, ARK (Artificial Reefs of the Keys), who must be movie goers, chose the old ship for possible deployment as an artificial reef off Key West and the Navy transferred the ship's title to the Maritime Administration. In 2007, the Vandenberg was finally approved for transfer to the state of Florida for use as an artificial reef.
The Vandenberg arrived in Key West on April 22, 2009 and while I was shooting this series of pictures, the work crews were busy at their work, boring huge holes in her sides to let the air out and the water in when the ship is sunk. (it adds another whole new dimension to Shakespeare's notion of "drawing one's last breath" don't you think?)
Finally, in late May or early June 2009, depending on time, tides, harbor traffic and political special interests, the General Hoyt S. Vandenberg will be towed 6 miles out to 140 feet of water and sent to the briny deep as a dive attraction for humans and affordable housing for sea creatures.
Because I'm not a diver (or a sea creature), once she's out there and under I won't see the old girl again. So I'm glad I spent a little time with her this week and learned a bit about her rich 66 year history.
Friday, May 8, 2009
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Last week my cactus plant, I call him Spike, flowered again. I love it when he does that and even though he's really only done it once before, about 4 years ago, it's the rarity of the event that makes it that much more special.
The thing about these cactus flowers is, they're weren't there yesterday but they're here today and they're gone tomorrow. So, if you're not paying attention, it's easy to miss them.
That I did notice it and took the time to take the picture is somehow reassuring to me. In the face of all the noise and distraction that is the current clusterf@#k of a world we live in and even as jaded as I feel myself becoming, the larger part of myself is still paying attention to the real world around me and remaining grateful for the small things that are God's quiet work.