Tuesday, December 18, 2012

happy merry

Friday, December 14, 2012

créche consciousness

I found my way over to the United Methodist Church to catch a bit of the living nativity scene.Re-enacted mostly by the children of the congregation, reverently costumed as angels and shepherds, it was a very nice re-telling of the story we all know so well.

Whether any of us believe the nativity story as historical fact or allegory, we have to admit that mostly everyone on the planet is aware of the tale.

For some of us there's never been a time when we can remember not knowing about Caesar's census, the star in the east, three wise men and no room at the inn.

The peace and kindness of the story of the Israelite's birth is in dramatic contrast to the vicious and violent story of his demise. Yet I suppose that's very much a parallel to the world we live in. Dog eats dog all year long but, for at least one day - Christmas - we lay down our aggression, greed, pain and worry, to just be.

If any story, fairy tale or not, can have that kind of effect;
I'd say it's a pretty good one.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

a meeting of the minds

"A meeting of the minds" digital illustration ©2012 Arthur A. Winstanley

Thursday, November 22, 2012

thanksgiving, 2012

I'd been walking around all last week thinking
about Thanksgiving.
I looked at my calendar and saw that Thanksgiving fell on November 22 this year.
"Why the hell. . ." I asked myself, "is that date significant
 for me?"
It seemed to be so stuck in my head but, being distracted by the mayhem of real life, I didn't really take pause to
think it through.

Then last Tuesday morning as I was waking from my deep sleep, it hit me. . .
November 22 was the day, in 1963, that President Kennedy was murdered.
That was 49 years ago and in all those years I couldn't remember Thanksgiving ever falling on November 22.
So I poked around on the internet and sure enough, it never has and probably won't again for another 75 years.

 I've got no deep philosophical point here but it surprised me that - even with my more creative than average brainpan - I never even considered that one year Thanksgiving must inevitably fall on the day the President was killed.

I think I've mentioned, earlier posts, that I was 10 or 11 years old when JFK died so I didn't know or care much about politics or anything much more than I didn't want to go to school any more. But since then, I've read and learned a lot about the man and I've come to really like him.

John Kennedy was 46 when he died and in my child mind at the time, never imagined I'd ever live longer than that.
I guess I was wrong.

Happy Thanksgiving, my friends.

JFK pardoning a Thanksgiving turkey

Thursday, November 15, 2012

the dreaming goddess & a barber-pole with feet

"dreaming goddess" watercolour by Arthur A Winstanley ©2012 Arthur A Winstanley

"barberpole with feet" coloured pencil 
by Arthur A Winstanley ©2012 Arthur A Winstanley

Saturday, November 10, 2012

politics & a change in the weather


So mercifully, the great American election cycle is finally over.
(yes Virginia, there is a God)

John Boehner is still Majority Leader in the House while Nancy Pelosi is still the minority Leader, Harry Reid is still Majority Leader in the Senate while Bitch McConnell (sorry, I really don't like the guy) is still the Minority Leader and Paul Ryan got his Congressional seat back.
Joe Biden remains Vice President and Barak Obama is still President of the United States.

 Think about it. . .
Hundreds of millions of dollars spent and an incessant parade of irritating political ads later, absolutely nothing
has changed!
Sweet leaping Jesus, what has our government come to?

Still worse than that, thanks to the attempted voter suppression meddling of Florida's imbecile Governor (I don't care for him either), all of the votes any of us, here in the Sunshine State, cast; counted for nothing.

Now four days later, the horsesh*t political posturing has begun again.
(Talk about business as usual)

But whatever they do or don't get done for "the American People", those of us in Key West, will enjoy
another day in paradise.

a change in the weather

Even if I didn't have a calendar, I'd know it was November.

As she has for the past thirteen Novembers we've been together, Maxine (the cat & my feline barometer) has abandoned her warm weather resting place on the porch and re-adopted her cozy spot in the warmth at the foot of the bed.

I'll never understand how she knows there'll be a change in the weather.

Monday, November 5, 2012

view from the hammock

So there I was, swinging in the hammock at the end of the day, wondering what I would take my next picture of. . .

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

the strange case of count carl von cosel

A few years ago I got it in my head that I wanted to do something uniquely "Key West-ie".
And so, for a month and some, I guided ghost tours.

You'd walk a group of folks around town pointing out different sites related to spooky stories and tell those stories in as ghastly a way as you could.

There was Robert the creepy doll looking out the attic window of the Artist's House, the kid who took the seven story dive from the top of the LaConcha Hotel and who's ghost is now sometimes seen riding the elevators in the hotel, the long abandoned theatre on Eaton Street that is so haunted that the homeless folks won't even sleep in the shelter of it's entrance way. Then there's the heart-wrenching tale of the Marrero House (now a guest house) where Cuban cigar maker Mr. Marrero's widow, along with her children, was evicted from the house she loved so well and died penniless and living on the streets of Key West. But her heartbroken spirit is sometimes seen wandering around the house in tears.

And then there's my own personal favorite Key West creepy true story about Count Carl von Cosel.

So just in time for Halloween I thought
I'd retell the tale here. . .

Our story begins in 1927 when 50 year old Karl Tanzler, a.k.a. Count Carl Von Cosel (and god only knows why), abandoned his wife and children in Dresden, Germany and made the crossing to
Key West.
He made many claims that he had nine university degrees, had been a submarine captain and was an electrical inventor. In truth, he was just a lonely man living in a fantasy world.
Still, he busloaded his way onto the staff at the U.S. Marine Hospital where he worked as an x-ray technician.
(not so weird yet; but wait, the plot sickens.)

Then, at the hospital in April 1930, he met the girl of his dreams.
Her name was Elena Milagro de Hoyos, a beautiful 22 old Cuban girl.
She was dying from tuberculosis.
He was smitten to the bone.

By her x-ray reports Von Cosel knew that Elena was not long for this world but somehow convinced the young girl, and her family, that he could cure her using a special x-ray machine combined with daily doses of a miracle tonic made from gold flakes
and water.
The Count began administering his miraculous treatments to Elena and along with them, proposals of marriage which Elena rejected. But the Count had convinced himself that Elena was his destiny and obsessed beyond all reason, was not taking no for an answer.

 Sadly, in 1931, Elena died and her family buried her in a common grave.
In his despondent obsession von Cosel couldn't bear the thought of his beloved rotting underground so he got approval from her family to move her body to an above ground
stone mausoleum.

During the move he found that Elena’s body had never been embalmed and was in a horrible state of decay. So von Cosel hired a mortician to clean and fix-up the body before placing it in the new tomb.

Elena’s family was alright with all that but what they didn't know, was that the Count had the only key to the crypt.

 For 2 years after that, night after night, von Cosel would go to the crypt with flowers and gifts for Elena and sit beside her coffin talking to her. He believed they could communicate and soon she was begging him to release her from her "prison" so they could be together.
Unable to resist, one dark night in April 1933, Von Cosel stole Elena from the cemetery.

 He took her to his airship laboratory (which he had christened "Countess Elena" and one day, he planned to fly with Elena to the stars where the atmospheric radiation would restore 
her life).
There, he began the job of resurrection.
Now remember, the girl's been dead for 2 years.
He held her body together with piano wire, put glass eyes where her real ones used to be, made a wig of her own hair and, piece by piece, strengthened her skin with wax and silk. He treated her with lotions, potions and electrotherapy and used perfume to mask the odor of decomposition.
Then carried her to his home on Flagler Ave., dressed her in a wedding dress, serenaded her with his home-made organ and slept with her. (yes, that kind of slept with. . .)
for the next 7 years.
Eventually people around town started getting suspicious. Why was that guy, who lived alone, buying dresses and
 all that perfume?
The rumors were flying and eventually found their way to ears of Elena's family.
With that, Elena's sister Nana stormed over to von Cosel's home and demanded that he tell her the truth about
the rumors.
Reluctantly, he agreed and showed Nana her dead sister’s corpse dressed in a wedding gown and propped-up in a chair.


Nana called the cops and Count Von Cosel was arrested and charged with grave robbing and abusing a corpse.
The case went to trial and von Cosel was convicted on both counts but the statute of limitations on those crimes, (2 years) had long since expired so no sentence was imposed.
The trial was big news in our small town and at the end of it the Count went so far as to ask the judge if he could have Elena's body back.
Well, that request didn't go over big with the judge and Elena's family reclaimed her body and re-buried her in a secret grave.

Now, you might think the weirdness stopped there, but no.
Count Von Cosel began charging tourists twenty-five cents to tour his laboratory. Then, after the weirdo tourists stopped coming for his macabre tours and the money ran out, Von Cosel used dynamite to blow-up Elena’s old mausoleum and left town.

For the next 10 years Count von Cosel lived in Zephyrhills with his sister, where he died in July 1952.
Count von Cosel was found dead, hugging a life-size effigy of his beloved Elena.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

epidermal art

There's a lot of fun body art out and about and I had a great time shooting all those painted poses. Posting most of them here though was problematic, for the obvious reasons, but these three are cool and show off the inventive range of styles.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

junkanoo rush

So, we're coming up on silly season again.
Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's.

Here in Key West we get a week's head start on the rest of the world with Fantasy Fest but, before we can have a Fantasy Fest, we've gotta have Goombay.

In all my years here, I've always liked Goombay best. It's just a little left of the culture, it has the feel of less pressure (a.k.a. less corporatism) and hell, it's a homegrown celebration that stayed homegrown.

This year, I made it a point to get in on the Junkanoo Rush and man, am I glad I did. It was colorful, it was energized, it was harmonious and it was loud.

Like Mummers on steroids, these cats danced and pranced their way from the Elks Club, up to Duval and back down Petronia to the main stage and the drums and bells and whistles never missed a beat.

By the time they got to where they were going, better than half the neighborhood was walkin' and talkin' and movin' and groovin' with 'em.
It was so cool!

"Junkanoo", I've come to find out, is a Bahamian cultural expression. It's all about parades that are held in the Bahamas twice a year, on December 26th and January 1st. (New Year's Day is when the Mummers do their thing too)

The word “Junkanoo” comes from centuries of poetic license around the name "John Canoe", who was an African prince and slave trader operating on the Gold Coast in the seventeenth century.

Legend has it, he whooped up on the British navy and captured Fort Brandenbury so, to the Dutch and English he wasn't real up there on the popularity list but, to the slaves, he was a hero and the "Junkanoo Rush" celebrations were held in his honor.

Before emancipation, slaves were allowed three days off, December 25th, December 26th and January 1st. On the the 26th and the 1st, they were allowed to celebrate their Junkanoo festival.

As the story goes, anyone who was either an active participant in or a just spectator of the Junkanoo annual events was off the hook for going to work the next morning. (imagine that concept, an extra day off for dancin' in the street!)

Anyway, I've given up a bit of the back story and the color, here's a taste of what it sounded and moved like. . .

click arrow to play video. run time, 1:03

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Sunday, September 16, 2012

on this site. . .

They're everywhere and we've all seen them. . .

"Historic Site Markers" mentioning something or other that happened in history and somehow rates being remembered
in perpetuity.

While I was owner/operating my Design/Advertising Agency in Philadelphia, I'd travel around town and I'd see Historic Site Markers on almost every other block.  
(for a small city, Phili's a big town for it's history)

Historic Site Markers are a National Pastime.
Hells Bells, we've even got one on the Moon!

Now, most of you know I'm a history junkie.
So I really like the signs.

But honestly, read enough Historic Site Markers and, at some point, you've got more Historic Site information than your brain can contain.

You could give yourself a case of mental indigestion.

That's why I particularly liked the Historic Site Marker I found here in Key West on the corner of Caroline Street
& Pecan Lane. . .

 There's nothing to try to remember. . .

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

that sorry day

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

I drew this one exactly as I was watching the live coverage of events in lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001 from Florida on the T.V.

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 to add anything 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, all these years gone,
I'm not sure it matters. But whoever was responsible, knows that they are; and will, in this life or their next, be fated to
realize the reckoning.

Thursday, September 6, 2012


These are drawings I did a couple of years ago of two of my favorite local musicians and never really set free.

So here they are. . .

Michael McCloud & BassMan, Bubba LowNotes
Michael plays folksy soft stock most every afternoon at the 

Schooner Wharf Bar.

The Pianimal. . . Barry Cuda
Barry's a kick-ass honkey tonk pianist who I usually catch at 
B.O.'s FishWagon on Friday nights.

Monday, September 3, 2012

remembering labor day

Widely accepted as the brainchild of Peter J. McGuire, (general secretary of the Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners and a cofounder of the American Federation of Labor) Labor Day is "dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers."

The first ever Labor Day celebration was scheduled in New York City on the first Monday in September of 1882 but, for one reason or another, was held off for a day (probably called on account of rain) and so the parade and picnic were held instead on Tuesday, September 5, 1882.

Held as an annual "workingmen's holiday", by 1884 labor organizations in other cities joined the celebration.

The first governmental recognition of Labor Day came through local municipal ordinances passed during 1885 and 1886 and from them came a movement to secure state legislation. By 1894, 23 states had adopted the holiday in honor of workers.

In June of that year, in the aftermath of the deaths of a number of workers at the hands of the US. military and US. Marshals during the Pullman Strike, President Grover Cleveland made reconciliation with Labor a top
political priority.

Fearing further strikes and riots, legislation making Labor Day a national holiday was rushed through Congress and unanimously signed into law just six days after the
end of the strike.
Cleveland also signed a bill designating the first Monday in September as Labor Day while hoards of hungry unemployed were marching on Washington to demand relief.

But here in the Keys, the first Monday in September is notorious for only one event. . .
. . .The Labor Day hurricane of 1935.

On September 2, 1935 a category 5 storm made landfall in the upper keys at Islamorada bringing sustained winds of at least 160 mph and storm surge of 18 to 20 feet.

It would be the first of 3 category 5 storms to find their way to the United Sates in the 20th century (the other two being Camille in '69 and Andrew in '92)

Damage from the Labor Day Storm was estimated at $6 million (1935 dollars), it kicked the holy smoke out of Henry Flagler's Key West Extension of the Florida East Coast Railway and took 408 souls. Those, ironically enough, mostly World War I veterans who were "workingmen" along the rail line.

So to close out this post for Labor Day, I'll borrow a line from local songwriter Terry Cassidy's tune,
"Henry and his Railroad". . .

". . .This morning we'll remember what not to forget."