Saturday, December 31, 2011

happy new year my friends

Wishing you all the very best.
a digital illustration by Art Winstanley
"A New Year in Paradise" © 2008 Arthur A. Winstanley

Sunday, December 25, 2011

christmas in key west

So I went out walking on Christmas Eve.
Mostly to get some evening air but also to see some Christmas lights around town.

I never really know where I'm headed when I wander out on my walks, I sort of just follow my nose and the internal guidance system does the rest.

That particular night, I found my way to BayView Park, which is the place where the official city of Key West Christmas Tree lives, surrounded by a sort of Santa's Village.

While I waited on the corner of Eisenhower Dr. and Truman Ave. for the light to change, a family came up from behind me and stood there also waiting for the light.
They were a family of a Mom and Dad, two small (I guessed maybe 5 or 6 year old) children - a girl and a boy - and their aunt (the Mom's sister).
I wished them a Merry Christmas, the light changed, we crossed the street and all headed into the park.
In the park we went our separate ways. They, to have their family frolic and me, to take a few pictures. I shot around them as best I could as the vibe wasn't right for me to make them the subject.

My subject was Christmas in Key West.
How we celebrate it and the way it looks for a half dozen weeks in a city that never knows snow.

Wandering around town that night, woke the ghost of Christmas past in me.
I relived my mother's butter cookies, how my grandfather lined up bottles of tawny port wine, like so many tin soldiers, under the tree to give as presents and how my own children badgered their mother and I at six o'clock on Christmas morning for permission to tear open their presents

Mine has been a good life. (dare I say, a wonderful life?)
Not without it's bumps and bruises to be sure but getting past the impact of those, is all about attitude and faith and I have plenty of both so, no worries.

The magic of Christmas-time is, at least for a few days, nothing much else matters.
The world seems to be just a little less frenzied, the people around seem to smile a bit more and the mornings (if you keep out of the stores and malls) are just a little more quiet.

The keys to Christmas (no pun intended) are compassion and love. One way or another, the more we give,
the more we receive.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

brass balls

If there's anything I've learned from my [longer than I ever expected it would be] lifetime, it's that there's not a problem this world can throw at you that can't be solved.

All it takes is an optimistic outlook and a pair of brass balls.

Monday, December 19, 2011

o.k, break's over

Between living next door (and I mean right next door) to a construction site for the past six months that, just about the time of my last post, got incredibly loud with beeping backhoes, roofers hammering, screaming circular saws and the incessant drone of a quartet of orbital sanders that sound like a swarm of large bees.

And the painful drain circling demise of the Key West the Newspaper (my bread and butter graphics/art direction contract), it's very confusing "resurrection by popular demand" and then having to re-design the publishing process as, for now, the BluePaper limps along from week to week.
I've been more than just a little distracted and honestly, not the happiest camper in the tent.

So, true to the rule that says "if you don't have anything nice to say (and trust me I didn't), don't say anything at all" I figured it was best to take a break from my normally optimistic blogging. (and believe me, all the pictures I shot during that break were really gray and gloomy - talk about art imitating life)

Anyway, I always had faith that in time,things would sort themselves out. After all, as the saying goes, " when God closes a door, he opens a window". But in this case that window was on the 14th floor and I don't do well with heights so the sorting out took a little longer than I'd wished it would.

Then yesterday I woke up (a good start), got out of bed, stood out on the porch coffee cup in hand, took a look around and thought, "look at where you live, the life you've made for yourself with caring friends and loving family and hey, you still have your health; get your sorry head out of your ass."

It was time to start dosing myself with some comic relief.
Bill Hicks, Jon Stewart, the Republican "Presidential" debates. . .

By the end of the day, the fog of funk lifted and I was back to my "it's all good" self.
Besides, it's almost Christmas and even and though I've been known, at times, to be an irascible son of a bitch,
I'm no Gingrinch.

So enough already; break's over.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

my organic barometer

A few hours before the weather broke last week, I knew it was going to happen. How I knew didn't have anything to do with meditation, incantation, speculation or rain dancin'.
It was all about Maxine.

Cats live very structured lives.
"At 8AM, you'll find me over here and at 10AM I'll be over there. At noon, I'll come in looking for my daily ration of tuna and from noon to 4PM I'll be sleeping out under the plant stand on our terracotta tiled porch. But at 4PM I'll be back in the kitchen for dinner. . .
. . .And by the way, if you go to the bodega for beer, I expect you to have a dollop of milk in a bowl for me so we can both enjoy a cocktail."

Now most of that, except for the "gimme food" stuff, is her summer schedule. So like I said at the start, a few hours before our clear blue skies and sticky heat gave way to hours of gray skies and cooling rain, Max had again assumed her place on the one of my living room chairs that she believes
belongs to her.
It's a seat she never takes during the summer and it's been a behavior pattern I've recognized for as long as we've been living here together.

And when January rolls around, a few hours before the even cooler weather kicks in, I'll know it's time to start cursing out my drafty jalousie windows again because "my organic barometer" will be curled up under the covers at the foot of the bed.

national geographic @ key west the blog

Now this is a cool thing, someone at National Geographic Magazine noticed Key West the Blog and took a few minutes to write a complementary comment about it.

A friend told me about it and I thought "go on!" but curiosity got the better of me, I looked it up and sure enough;
there it was. . .
"paradise or paradox, it always depends
on how we look at it."

Click on the logo to give it a read.

Monday, October 3, 2011

who's in the details?

Some folks say, "the Devil is in the details".

Other folks say, "God is in the details".

The real deal is, it's just us; here and now,
alive in the moment.

What we think and how we choose to live is who we are.

"We are in the details".

There's no demon or deity about it.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

hmmm. . .

Well so, last week was a busy week in ArtMan-land.
Between having to appear in court as a witness on behalf of my good friend, the nefarious Dr. Cooper, trying to remember how to tie a Windsor Knot and wrapping up a months-long project of a mouthful of dental work I needed to get done (don't cringe, it didn't hurt), there wasn't much time to think, or write, about much else. But after a quiet weekend and an extra down day due to rain. . .

I didn't choose to get up close and personal with this thing so I don't know what it is or what it does.
From where I stood it struck me, artistically, as a visually interesting representation of functional industrial sculpture and another illustration of how human-kind exists beside nature rather than in accord with nature.

Left to itself, nature in Paradise, or anywhere else for that matter, doesn't need or want anything.
All it has to do is breathe. Nature is a self-sustaining eco-system. (you knew that)
The air, the ocean, the coral, the trees, birds, fish, geckos, iguana and our freakishly large bugs. . .
Everything just naturally and effortlessly supports
everything else.
Throw in human-kind however and it all gets a little trickier.

We need paved roads, gas stations, electricity, flush toilets, cell phone towers, Dion's Quick Chick Chicken and whatever this thing is.
But when you get real about it, all those things aren't human needs; they're human wants.
Whatever this thing does, it's man-made and so, designed to force a desired result; nothing natural or effortless about it.
(human-kind exists beside nature rather than in accord
with nature)

Our civilization could have evolved just as naturally and effortlessly as the geckos, iguana and the freakishly large bugs. But it didn't and I know, as well as you do, that it's way too late for us to go back to living like Gauguin's Tahitian beauties.
We're stuck with the mess we've made.

I've heard it said (and maybe so have you) that if every bug on Earth (freakishly large or otherwise) died off, the planet would die with them. But, if all of human-kind died off, our small blue marble of a planet would prosper.

Just a little something else to make you think, hmmm. . .

Thursday, September 15, 2011

cayo paloma

Alright, alright, I admit it. I did an illegal thing, pulling off on the shoulder of the road on the 7 mile bridge for a non-emergency stop.

I was driving back down the Keys the other day and out the corner of my eye was Pigeon Key.
Now, I've been there a time or two for the annual arts and crafts festival but never thought it was much to
write home about.
Still, on that particular day, it seemed to be
calling out to me. . .
Artman. . . Artman. . . Artman. . .
(Christ, sometimes I just hate when that happens!!)

Long story short, I was compelled to pull off the road, get out of the car, nearly get creamed by a mile long Peterbilt seemingly doing a million miles an hour and take this
damned picture.
(it was the perfect place to become the proverbial bug
on the windshield)

But I got the shot and, very luckily, still live to tell the tale. . .

Pigeon Key, originally known as "Cayo Paloma" is a small, 5-acre island located off the old Seven Mile Bridge (seen in the background there) just short of 50 miles north of Key West, below Marathon Key in the middle Keys.

Early Spanish explorers named it for large flocks of White-crowned pigeons (Columba leucocephala Linnaeus) that roosted there.

Originally, Pigeon Key was a work camp for the Florida East Coast Railway.
During the building of Henry Flagler's Overseas Railroad Key West Extension between 1908 and 1912, there were, at times, as many as 400 workers housed on the tiny island.

A few of the buildings from the Flagler era remain on the little rock and are now part of the Pigeon Key Historic District.
Today, they serve as housing for educational groups, administrative offices for the non-profit Pigeon Key Foundation and the Bridge Tender's House has been converted into a small museum.

The last thing I wanted to say about Cayo Paloma was a thought that came to me while I was editing the wide angle photograph seen above and has to do with that portion of the old Seven Mile Bridge.
By all accounts, it really is 7 miles from Pigeon Key to the next spit of coral (which I'm pretty sure is Duck Key to the south) and in between there's nothing but water. Can you imagine being on a train, running down that single track, wider than that single track with no railings on either side? Looking out the windows of the train on either side, all you'd see is water.
But for the bumping and grinding of the steel wheels,
I'll bet you could imagine that you were flying over the ocean.

How cool is that?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

that sorry day

"September 11, 2001" © 2001 arthur a. winstanley

I drew this one exactly 10 years ago today between 9 & 10 in the morning while I was watching the events in lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001.

There's not a whole lot anyone can say about that sorry day that hasn't already been said and I'm not even gonna try here. But I did want to pay a moment of homage to all those souls who were, through no fault of their own, put in positions of absolute powerless-ness.
No one human being has the right to put another in that place.
It's just wrong.

I don't believe in the existence of "heaven" or similary, in the existence of "hell".
But karma is our reality. We, all of us, will reap whatever
we sow.

Outside the mainstream consciousness there remains a question as to who is responsible for the crimes of that
sorry day.
I'm not sure we'll ever know for sure and, 10 years gone,
I'm not sure it matters. But whoever is responsible, knows they are; and will, in this life or their next, be fated to
realize a reckoning.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

ukulele lady

This past Labor Day I woke up with a song dancing around
in my head.
You know how that happens. . .
A tune gets caught in the cogs of your mind and no matter what else you're doing or thinking about, the damned song haunts you all day long. You know what I'm talking about.
The song I woke with was "Ukulele Lady", published back in 1925 by Richard Whiting & Gus Kahn. . .

. . ."I saw the splendor of the moonlight on Honolulu Bay;
There's something tender in the moonlight
on Honolulu Bay. . ."

Well, a couple of hours later, after I'd had my 2 cups of morning coffee, the tune was still with me. . .
". . .And all the beaches, are filled with peaches who bring their ukes along; And in the glimmer of the moonlight,
they love to sing this song. . ."

I jumped in the shower, gave my head a good soak and the record just kept on playing. . .
". . .If you like Ukulele Lady, ukulele Lady like a'you;
If you like to linger where it's shady,
Ukulele Lady linger too. . ."

I knew right then there was no getting away from it so I surrendered and decided that being afflicted with a corny tune was as good a reason to take the day off as any.
No Monday thing at the BluePaper, no working the phones, no billing, no nothing. . .
". . .If you kiss Ukulele Lady, while you promise
ever to be true;
And she sees another Ukulele Lady
foolin' 'round with you. . ."

I just wanted a long walk.
So I drove up the Keys to the "hinterland" and did
exactly that; walked.
". . .Maybe she'll sigh (an awful lot), maybe she'll cry (and maybe not); Maybe she'll find somebody else by and by. . ."

Whilst walking and feeding Florida's State Bird (the mosquito) with gallons of my blood, my mind began wandering as I wanted it too and it always does when I go walk-about.
And it hovered around school daze. . .

When I was a kid (all those hundreds of years ago), the most Labor Day meant to me was that in two more days school would start. I always thought it was cool that the first week of school was only 3 days long and imagined it was so the nuns could get used to wearing their scratchy habits again after dancing around naked all summer.
". . .To sing to when it's cool and shady,
where the tricky wicky wacky woo;
If you like Ukulele Lady, Ukulele Lady like a'you. . ."

But the first 3 day week of school was cool for us kids.
I mean, it sucked having to get back in long pants, long sleeved shirts buttoned up to the collar and those really sad embroidered clip-on ties but at least, for those first 3 days, we didn't have to do any real school work.
Those 3 days were spent calling role, being assigned classrooms, distributing books, getting to know who your new pain in the ass teacher was gonna be and sitting in assembly for a new school year pep-talk from the monsignor.
". . .She used to sing to me by moonlight, on Honolulu Bay;
Fond memories cling to me by moonlight,
although I'm far away..."

I never did like school. Being cooped up in a room behind a desk (which had a hole for an inkwell no one used anymore) for 6 hours with 30 or 40 other kids and a relic of a nun we nicknamed "Pruney", just wasn't my cup of meat.
". . .Some day I'm going, where eyes are glowing and lips are made to kiss; To see somebody in the moonlight
and hear the song I miss. . ."

All the same, I was good at it. (my parents would have nothing other) But then, about 6th or 7th grade, along came RoseAnne Dechelli. My adolescent testosterone went through the roof, my grades were like "who gives a sh*t" and I turned into the juvenile delinquent I still am to this day.
(". . .and maybe not")

But for all my stomping around in the brush,
I never out-paced that damned song.
". . .Ukulele Lady like a'you. . . . . . . . "

Here's a link to a version of the song in question.
Click on the chick to check it out.
(Go ahead, click on her; you know you want to. . .)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

"the condition"

Just a little political spit-balling from the cheap seats. . .

. . .and, for the sake of this observation, the operative words are " first" and "black"

When Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, making Robinson the "first black" ball player to play in the modern era Major Leagues, he understood it wasn't going to be the most popular management decision he ever made.

Both he and Robinson knew that however good Jackie Robinson preformed on the field (and he was really, really good) they both were stepping into a steaming heap of bigoted abuse. So there was "the condition"; Robinson had to agree to just take all the disrespect that would come his way on the chin, without comment or retaliation.
The last thing either he or Rickey wanted, was to fuel the fear driven fires of white bigotry with the image of an angry black man and cloud their vision of the bigger picture.

For 10 seasons Jackie Robinson just played the game (a career total of 1382 games) and no matter what anybody said or did, on or off the field, he never said a word.

He played in six consecutive All-Star Games, six World Series and when he walked away from the game, his lifetime batting average was .311 with 137 home runs, 734 RBIs and 197
stolen bases.
He was inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame in 1962 and his uniform number, 42, was retired across all major league teams, (a high honor in MLB). After he died in 1972, Jackie Robinson was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.

But for all that success and accomplishment, Jackie Robinson did something so outstanding that the rest pales by comparison. He opened the door to ball players of color and by staying true to "the condition", when he left the game, that door stayed open. Without Jackie Robinson there would be no Roy Campanella, or Willie Mays, no Elston Howard, Reggie Jackson, Rafael Soriano or even Derek Jeter, who was born of a black father and a white mother.

And there's my clever segue to our current President. . .

In June, 2008 as the Democratic primaries were winding down, Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton, the last two Democratic contenders, attended the 56th Bilderberg meeting at the Westfields Marriott in Chantilly, Virginia.
When the meeting was over, so were the primaries.
Barak was offered the Presidency and Hillary was placated with the office of Secretary of State and a future seat
on the IMF.

The powers that really rule the world had made their executive decision. (McCain never really had a prayer, he was just next-up on the Republican roster).
But maybe, just maybe, the Bilderbergs understood the
"first black"
President of the United States wasn't going to be the most popular management decision they ever made; and maybe, just maybe, they knew they'd be stepping into a steaming heap of bigoted abuse and so, there was
"the condition"; Obama had to agree to just take all the disrespect that would come his way on the chin, without comment or retaliation.
After all, the last thing he or the Bilderburgs wanted, was to fuel the fear driven fires of white bigotry with the image of an angry black man and cloud their vision of the bigger picture.

In the three years since his election, from time to time, I've been as frustrated with how the guy rolls over for the obstructionist, predominately old white guy, Congress he's been saddled with as anyone else. (Like, when's he gonna grow a pair, start kickin' ass and taking some names?)

The dude signs an "Affordable Healthcare Act" and a "Recovery & Reinvestment Act", repeals "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", sees to the killing of Bin Laden, puts more boots on the ground in one worthless war and takes them off the ground in another, he doesn't invade Libya, he turns 50 and takes a vacation with his family and now he can't even get a
speech scheduled. . .
No matter what Obama does, the obstructionist Republican House only gives him sh*t; and still, the guy never says an overly aggressive word.

It was during the "debt ceiling" mayhem that I started thinking back to Jackie Robinson.
He was the "first black" ball player in the modern era Major Leagues but, he wasn't the last.
Barak is our "first black" President but, there are a lot of other politicians and legislators of color out there on the horizon. Despite anything else, Obama's outstanding achievement is,
he opened the door; and maybe, just maybe, by staying true to "the condition" (whether it costs him a second term or not), that door will stay open and he won't be our last.

Thursday, August 25, 2011


There's none of my genius PhotoShop magic here;

Just a straight-up reflection of a boat at the bight in the night.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

the dragonfly

Today I saw the dragon-fly
Come from the wells where he did lie.

An inner impulse rent the veil
Of his old husk: from head to tail
Came out clear plates of sapphire mail.

He dried his wings: like gauze they grew;
Thro' crofts and pastures wet with dew
A living flash of light he flew.
Alfred Lord Tennyson

You are made of almost nothing
but of enough to be great eyes
and diaphanous double vans;

To be ceaseless movement,
unending hunger, grappling love.

Link between water and air, earth repels you.
Light touches you only to shift into iridescence
upon your body and wings.

Twice-born, predator, you split into the heat.
Swift beyond calculation or capture,
you dart into the shadow which consumes you.

You rocket into the day.
But at last, when the wind flattens the grasses,
for you, the design and purpose stop.

And you fall with the other husks of summer.
Louise Bogan

Monday, August 15, 2011

deep fried butter on a stick!

Just a quick one here and no, these are not my photographs.

I looked in on the suedo-political hijinks in Iowa this past weekend and of all the "important" impressions I might have come away with, I came away with this. . .

Deep Fried Butter on a Stick!

Let me say it again . . .
Deep Fried Frikkin' Butter on a Stick!!!

A 4 ounce (a.k.a. 1/2 cup) stick of of butter dipped in some kind of corn-meal batter that's plunged in a pool of boiling chicken fat grease!!

Sweet Jesus Christ on Friday!!!

This is good, but universal health care is not. . .
What the hell are we becoming?

Thursday, August 11, 2011

circling the drain

I'm about to bend one of my own rules here
and wax a bit political.

graphic by Art Winstanley © 2011

I read somewhere that the average shelf-life of "global" empires has been roughly 300 years and that their demise has been, more often than not, caused by economic collapse rather than invasion and conquest.

Take Rome for example. . .
By the time Alaric and the Visigoths (the infamous barbarian hordes) came riding over the hill and stormed through the gates of Rome looking for food, there wasn't any food
to be found.
After a century and a half of inept emperors, a Senate corrupted to the point of being dysfunctional and an overextended military, the Roman Empire was bankrupt.

By then, the political and monied classes had long since seen the writing on the wall and moved their interests, any sense of governance and chariot races to hide behind Christianity in Constantinople; leaving the plebeian/proletariat class
(the working stiffs like you and me) to fend for themselves.

Sounding vaguely familiar yet?

In the present American "global" empire, we have a President who ran like a visionary but governs like a functionary.
(face it, Barak is a disappointment)
We have a Congress and Senate that can't, or won't, legislate themselves past their own self-interests and, after ten years of worthless war, a military stretched so thin you can see through it. (oh but we've made great strides in robotic prosthetic limbs)

All our bullsh*t bureaucrats need to do next is move their "seat of power" to the Turks & Caicos to be near their corporate cronies who don't pay taxes and restart the chariot (a.k.a. NASCAR) races there, with Christ on their side.

It might be helpful, at this point, to remember that the American "global" empire is 235 years old.

Only 65 years to go. . .

Sunday, August 7, 2011

night lights

Being out and about around Key West on my once weekly overnight gig for the Blue Paper offers me an alternative perspective on our fair city.

The first thing that can grab you is the quiet.
Even on Duval after 4am, the island is at peace. It's like the rock's daytime energy buzz stretched itself out in a hammock and took a nap.
But Key West, it turns out, is yet another city that never sleeps; at least not completely.

While most of the store fronts and small business offices are dark, the mini-mart gas stations are open 24 hours and so is Sandy's Cuban Coffee on White. The hotel front desk folks are on the job, the cab drivers and cops are always on the prowl and even after the bars close, there are the guys who hose down the sidewalks in front of the bars, the street sweepers and the working girls at the adult entertainment dives.

It's a different brand of people who work the overnight.
A little friendlier, more easy going. Definitely different from the folks in the hustle of the daytime world where I spent the other 6 days of my week. There's not as much going on and all will make the time to stop and chat. The security guard at the Federal building, the front desk dude at Ocean Key, my buddies Donnie and Michael at either of the Chevron mini-marts, the working girls and even the cops.

I've been pulled over at least a half dozen times for nothing in particular and of course they'll do their "official" garbled transmission thing on their shoulder radios with my license in hand but I always get away clean with the impression that all they were really wanting was a few minutes of contact conversation. (they are, after all, alone in the squad car for 8 - 10 hours every night - and, it turns out, cops are people too.)

So as much as the overnight in Key West is nicely lighted in all it's luminous neon glory from dusk to dawn, to my mind, it's really the overnight people who are the real night lights
on our island.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

summerland key?

I don't really know where I was when I pulled off US.1 on my way back from Key Largo the other day.

All I knew for sure was, I had to piss like a race-horse and needed a pit stop.

The marina struck me as very colorful and there was a place nearby where I bought some fresh catch fish that, after I got home, cooked up real nice.

Maybe Summerland Key?
I'm not sure but, if anyone can offer any thoughts,
I'd be glad to know.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

yes deer

Out on No Name Key the other day, I came across this family of Key Deer and got curious. . .

"Key Deer" (Odocoileus virginianus clavium) are an endangered species that live only in the Florida Keys. They are a subspecies of the White-tailed deer (O. virginianus)."

It is thought Key Deer migrated to the Florida Keys from the mainland (where else), over a land bridge during the Wisconsin glaciation that happened from about 110,000 to 10,000 years ago and are not found anywhere else
on the planet.

The earliest known written reference to Key Deer comes from Hernando de Escalante Fontaneda, a Spanish sailor who was shipwrecked in the Florida Keys and captured by Native Americans in the 1550s. (talk about no damn luck at all)

The deer were hunted as a food supply by native tribes, passing sailors, and early settlers but the hunting of Key Deer was banned in 1939 when, after widespread poaching and habitat destruction, their population dropped to less than 50 of the critters.

The National Key Deer Refuge, a federally administered National Wildlife Refuge operated by the Wildlife Service, was established in 1957.
The refuge is located in the lower Florida Keys and currently consists of approximately 9,200 acres of pine forests, tropical hardwood hammocks, freshwater wetlands, salt marsh wetlands and mangrove forests on Big Pine Key, No Name Key and several smaller uninhabited islands.
(It turns out, Key Deer can swim between islands.)

There is also a private organization, the Key Deer Protection Alliance, that takes a hands-on approach to helping protect the Key Deer.

Thanks to all these good efforts, the Key Deer population has grown back to between 500 and 800 critters.

Still, living so close to humans, the Key Deer have little natural fear of humans so, as they roam around unabashed, the biggest threat to them is being turned into road kill if they try to cross US.1. The annual estimates are 30 - 40 kills per year.

So if you're driving through Big Pine and see those brown road signs that say 30 MPH, just think "yes deer" and slow the hell down. You might just save a couple of bucks. (pun intended)