Friday, September 26, 2008


The only thing I was looking for in moving to the Keys, all those many years ago, was a quiet smooth and simple life and, for the most part, it's been exactly that. 

But last week I found out that I am suddenly a co-owner in an insurance company and have multiple holdings in Real Estate.
 Did I miss a meeting? 
I don't recall anyone asking me if I'd be interested in being such an investor.Now that I am though, will I have to dust off my three piece suit and power tie to show up at board meetings?
. . .and, if things go well for my involuntary investments, will I get a quarterly dividend check?
. . .or, if things go badly, will I be obliged to dive out a 14th floor window? I'd have to drive up to Miami to make that leap, which means I'd better run over to the credit union for a second line of credit on a car. . .

. . .Suddenly my quiet, smooth and simple life has a few wrinkles in it.

It's hard to ignore all these recent bankster pranks, they're everywhere! 
On the internet and radio, in a firestorm of unsolicited e-mails, in the press and 24/7 live streaming video. Christ, I'm afraid to look under the bed!!

The Washington wiz-kids need $700 billion dollars and they've gotta have it by the end of the week! They're as frantic for it as my daughter is when she needs the First National Bank of Dad to send her $500 bucks RIGHT AWAY!!

In my world, there hasn't been much reason to consider billions and billions of dollars. 
In fact, the only times I've ever even said "billions and billions" is on those rare occasions when I do my Carl Sagan impersonation.

So being visually oriented, as artists are, I wrote it down. . .
(You know, that's more zeros than my calculator can deal with.)

I still couldn't get my head around how much money $700,000,000,000.00 really was. 
So I looked some stuff up. . .

$700,000,000,000.00 is $140,000,000,000.00 more than has been spent, to date on the Iraq war.
If you stacked $700,000,000,000.00 in quarters, they would reach roughly 3 million miles into space.
and, the famous one. . .
$700,000,000,000.00 could buy 2,000 McDonalds apple pies for every man women and child in America.

Now I'm not an economist and like I said my calculator won't deal with all those zeros. But as a thinking man I had to wonder. . .
If the Federal Government is hell bent on solving their financial problem by throwing money at it, wouldn't it be less expensive for them to throw every person in America (all 305,244,837 of us) $1,000,000.00 each?
Then we could all pay our mortgages, pay off our cars, fill up our gas tanks and "go shopping". After all, it's only Monopoly money. So what difference does it make how it gets spread around? Wouldn't that save the day or, would that be benefiting all the wrong special interests, like "we the people".

That's where all this stops being funny.

The Fed would have no interest in solving the problem even if they could and it didn't "sneak up" on them. You know yourself, when you're running low on funds you're aware of it long before the money's actually gone and you deal with it. 
This financial chaos was contrived by the handful of global gold holding ruling families and greed-crazed banksters who pull the strings of our Punch and Judy politicians who, in turn, bludgeon "we the people" with patriotic rhetoric and "high ideals".

I've linked a couple of video clips below. They are a recent interview with Congressman, Dr. Ron Paul (R - Texas) who, although isn't a presidential candidate any more, is a sane and sober economic voice with a more realistic perspective on the game going on around us. . .

Ron Paul on Glen Beck 9/18/08 - Part 1
Ron Paul on Glen Beck 9/18/08 - Part 2

Monday, September 22, 2008

night flight

On my morning walk today,
I passed this flight of stairs.

The image,
in natural light,
struck me as just a bit mysterious and romantic.

. . .a word from our sponsor - VIDEO

click the arrow to start video. run time 1:26

Friday, September 19, 2008


I promise, I didn't set this shot up. . .
But because I travel around with a camera roughly 98% of the time and pay attention to what's going on in the world around me (also 98% 0f the time) things jump out.

What grabbed me about these three buckets, left by my neighbor's kids in their front yard, were their colors. . .
Red, Green & Blue.

Now if you just thought, "big deal, there's also T in China", let me explain real quick.
As an Artist/Designer I recognized Red, Green & Blue as the color separation formula for CRTs (TV & computer screens).
Anyway that's why the colors caught my eye in the first place but while I was uploading the picture to my iMac I thought hmmm, R,G & B could also stand for. . .

The names of three old girlfriends - RoseAnne, Gloria & Beatrice
or three friends from around town - Richard, Gary & Bob
or even three brand names of beer - Rheingold, Grolsch & Budweiser. . .

At that point the beast was out of the cage and I just started freelancing the whole concept. . .

baseball players - Cal Ripken Jr., Lou Gherig & Barry Bonds
artists - Renoir, George Seurat & Botticelli
astronauts - Roger Chaffe, John Glenn & Buzz Aldrin
fruits - Raspberries, Grapes & Bananas
vegetables - Rutabaga, Green Beans & Brussel Sprouts
italian foods - Risotto, Gnocchi & Braciole
rock bands - Rush, Genises & Beatles
governmental behaviors - Repression, Gerrymandering & Bank Bailouts
dead presidents - Richard Nixon, Grover Cleveland & James Buchanan
crooked politicians - that one broke the bank, so let's skip it. . .

and finally. . .
essentials for living a balanced, healthy life in Key West - Rent, Groceries & Beer

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

the other half of the sky


Sunday, September 14, 2008

artistic arrest

I seem to be temporarily stuck. Artistically I mean.
It happens every once in a while and never lasts long but I have to admit that when I first realize that I haven't taken a photo or drawn a picture in a week or written a word in three days, my first ego driven knee-jerk thought is usually, "O God my Aunt Lee was right! I should have studied with the Jesuits and become a doctor!!
But then eventually I calm down and remember that the only way to get un-stuck is to surrender to the stuck-ness.
"Sure, creativity is your product",
I say to myself, "demand has been high and so the stockpile in the cerebral warehouse is a bit low this week but you've called in the order and the delivery trucks will be here soon."
No pressure, no panic, no problem.

I'm pretty sure I know what brought it on this time too. . .
I let just a bit too much of the outside world in. Two weeks of those manhandled Olympic Games and then another two of the frantic antics of Barry & Joe & John & Sarah playing like a really bad remake of Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice.
Talk about an American backwater greasy spoon for mental indigestion. . .

So last Thursday after Dennis, Rhonda, Joseph and I got this week's issue of the BluePaper on the street, I called it a week, tuned in to a few mindless movies, puttered with my plants, ran my bike both ways to and from Cudjo, did some reading and, after a plate full of comfort food, went to bed early.
Has any of that helped? Who knows. . .
Frankly, as the keeper of the consciousness in artistic arrest I'm usually the last to know. But as I woke up early this morning I thought I heard eighteen wheels of inspiration rumbling down the neural pathways. Hopefully they'll remember my address.

click on the cartoon to enlarge

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

hurricane repellent

Well thankfully Hurricane Ike wasn't interested in a visit Key West and that's a good thing, as his former category 4 strength would have cleaned our collective clock.
And while we can say we were lucky, I'm less likely to believe in luck than I am to believe in the power of prayer. So while the storm headed west into the unseen sunset, I headed over to the island's powerhouse of foul weather prayer for a quick word of "thanks again".

The Grotto of Saint Mary, built and dedicated in 1922, was first imagined by Sister M. Louis Gabriel as a protection against devastating hurricanes. Three years earlier, in 1919, a Category 4 storm, remembered as the "Florida Keys Hurricane", passed directly over Key West taking 300 lives before moving on to Texas where it took 300 more.

Inspired by that tragedy, Sister Gabriel and her fellow Sisters of the Holy Name of Jesus and Mary, set to work creating the Grotto as a kind of hurricane repellent.

At the shrine's dedication in May, 1922 the good Sister blessed it saying, "For as long as this grotto stands this island will never suffer the full force of a hurricane."

These days, when hurricanes threaten, locals head to the Grotto of Saint Mary to pray and light candles and, as it turns out, since the the shrine has been there, no storms stronger than Category 2 have passed over Key West, the city has been spared major hurricane devastation and no lives have been lost.

Friday, September 5, 2008

blue sky

I'm just back from Fausto's (the local grocery store) where the talk on almost everyone's lips was, "Ike's headin' this way and we're gonna get somethin'!".

True enough, I thought, I get an e-mail report every 6 hours from the NHC (National Hurricane Center), I check in with NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) at least twice a day and I receive those great assessments from Bryan Blankenship every few days (I like being informed).
. . .and yes, it's looking like we're in for week of wicked weather.

But, that's all a day or two or three away yet and stepping outside this afternoon, here was this cloudless, clear blue view of the universe.

The photographer in me said "just take the picture" while the human in me thought, "before we let the gray skies scare us off and bum us out, why don't we let the blue skies give us hope and cheer us up?" (after all, this is what we live and breathe at least 80% of the year).
And the Yogi in me knew that if ever one of my grandchildren asked me, "why is the sky blue?", my simple answer would be, "because it's God's favorite color."

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

key west watercolors

I wanted to try something a little different today and talk a bit about an artist with a Key West connection whose work I admire.

Winslow Homer lived and worked from 1836 to 1910. The broad stroke on his background is, he was born in Boston and worked as an illustrator for Harper's Weekly during the Civil War. But, he's best remembered for his astounding watercolors.

Homer understood the science and spontaneity of the watercolor medium better than anyone else at the time. So when he'd head out on vacations to the New England coast, Bermuda or the Keys, he'd carry his brushes, paper and paint pans with him everywhere he went and capture immediate experiences, in the moment. He'd concentrate on only the essentials. . . the effects of color, light and continuous motion of ocean and air.

It was a technique considered very advanced for the day.

Homer’s Key West watercolors are among the most vibrant of his works. He made his first trip to Key West in the winter of 1885 (while James G. Jones was the city's mayor). Like all of us, he was drawn to the warm weather and loved getting out on the water to go fishing. Naturally, he also found a gold mine of colorful characters to paint. (same city, different century)

On his last trip to Key West in 1903, (Benjamin D. Trevor was mayor), Homer's artistic focus was mainly on the harbor. The watercolors he did on that trip, eleven in all, turned out to be the final series of his life.

Not long before his death in 1910, (when Dr. Joseph N. Fogarty was mayor), Homer was quoted as saying. . . “You will see, in the future I will live by my watercolors.”

I guess he was right about that.