Sunday, March 25, 2012


"Mary" is an old weather beaten and blistered replica of an 1850's era salvage vessel.
The wooden sailing ship has been run aground as decoration on Mallory Square since longer than I know.

Sadly, between the painted coconut and straw hat kiosks, the aquarium, shipwreck museum, conch trains and trolleys, hot dog vendors and the sponge warehouse (an overblown gift shop), not many people pay her much mind.

But me? I've got double trouble here. . .
I sail and, I aspire to be an historian if I ever grow up.
So Mary stands out for me.

Key West, of course, made it's bones on salvaging.
Ships sailing between Spain and Cuba would often run aground on the Florida reef.
Poor navigation, stormy seas and overloaded cargo ships, that were harder to control while tacking into the wind, were the main causes of the shipwrecks.

If the lookouts spotted a ship on the rocks, they'd holler " wreck ashore" and the salvage crews would man their boats, much like Mary, and race to the wreck.
The rule, as I understand it, was the first Captain to reach the wreck would be the"salvage master" and entitled to the lion's share of the plunder. Plunder which, after it was hauled back to town, could be either kept by the salvage master or
sold at auction.

In the early 1800s the Navy came to town and soon after that, Key West became an official U.S. port of entry. That drew more cargo ships directly here and more ships meant more wrecks and by about the time of the American Civil War the wrecking industry had made Key West the richest city in the United States.

Inevitably, with Yankee ingenuity being what it is, more lighthouses were built, nautical charts and navigation techniques were improved; and all that meant, less wrecks.

By and by, as the salvage industry faded, it was replaced by sponge harvesting and cigar making and those are stories for another time. But I can't imagine either was ever as lucrative as salvaging.
Key West's "golden age" was over.

Today Key West is a tourist economy (also not as lucrative as salvaging) and there sits Mary, weather beaten and blistered with chickens roosting in her hold; a strangely romantic reminder of a better time.

One last thing. . .

I've added a movie link; "Reap the Wild Wind" is all about Key West wreckers.
It stars Paulette Goddard, Ray Milland and John Wayne.
Released in 1942, it was produced and directed by Cecil B. DeMille (so you know the cinematography is first rate).
Some scenes get a little sappy (hell, it's an old movie) but you don't need to sit through all 2 hours of the story to get the overall flavor of Key West's golden age of salvaging.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

spring break

It's been Spring Break in Key West for the past couple
of weeks.

I saw this and thought, somebody had a real good time!!

artman's new e-mail address

Just a quick heads up my friends, I've changed my phone and internet service provider from at&t to Comcast.

My phone number remains the same but my e-mail address has changed.

The new e-mail address is. . .

My thanks, as always, for all of you staying tuned in. - Art

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

we are not saints

Anchors Aweigh is a 501(c)3 and has been Key West’s help center serving those seeking recovery from drug and alcohol addiction in the Lower Keys for the past
29 years.
The Anchors Aweigh Club is member-owned and supported.

Although Anchors Aweigh embraces the 12 step program of "Bill W." and "Dr. Bob", they are independent of
Alcoholics Anonymous.

I attended Sunday morning meetings at Anchors Aweigh a few years ago when I decided that I was liking my beer just a little too much. (a small problem by comparison but addiction is addiction and ultimately it's all about mindset)

The reliability and work ethic of the clean and sober employees at Anchors Aweigh was caring, concerned, supportive and, at the end of the day, beneficial to my health.

So with my thanks, I'm very happy to give a little something back and help hype a special fundraiser for my old friends at Anchors Aweigh. . .

The nationally known "Recovery Comedy Team", presenting “We Are Not Saints” returns by popular demand to share amazing personal stories of recovery through bold, riotous stand-up comedy and their poignant, unique experiences with addiction, recovery and change.
The performance features Amy Dresner, Felon O'Reilly
and Ian Harvie

The public is invited to attend at Anchors Aweigh,
404 Virginia Street, Key West. Tickets are $20 in advance
or $25 at the door.
The comedy show is recommended for ages 16 and over.

For more information, contact: Steve at 305 849-5418.

And to learn more about Anchors Aweigh, please visit. . .

Sunday, March 11, 2012


The dictionary defines the word bamboozle this way. . .
1. "to deceive by underhanded methods"
2. "to confuse, frustrate, or throw off thoroughly
or completely"

The Thesaurus offers these synonyms. . .
"deceive, delude, dupe, con, fake out, fool, misguide, mislead and misinform."

In my own lexicon the synonyms start with "sucker, scam, shaft" and get dramatically more colorful. I'd love to share but, this being a family show, I won't.

And yeah you're right, this is gonna be an ArtMan rant.

About 3 weeks ago, I was happily working away at my smoothly running computer when the phone rang. Without looking up at my caller I.D., I instinctively picked up the call.
It was a sales dude from at&t. I don't normally answer sales calls but this time they snagged me and sure, I could have ended the call really quick but he seemed warm and personable and I guess I was having one of my very rare mental moments of weakness so I listened to what he
had to say.

He wanted to offer me an upgraded service that would make my internet speed faster than a speeding bullet, give me wider access wireless networks and, the best part, would lower my phone bill by $25 - $30.
Well faster speed and wireless didn't thrill me but a smaller phone bill?
In this economy, what the hell could it hurt?
So in my moment of weakness, I agreed to the upgrade.

The product is called "U-Verse" and it was gonna be the best thing since sliced bread.

Two weeks later UPS delivered and I installed the new, unnecessarily large modem, a phone guy came over and strung a new wire from the pole to the house. Was I back in business as usual?
Well, not so much.

While I could still get on-line and still receive e-mail, I couldn't send e-mail. (I was e-mute).
Now, among the pile of papers that came with all this crap was a customer support number; I called it. . .
The "tech" on the other end told me I couldn't access the
e-mail server because I hadn't closed out my DSL account by paying the final bill. (no one had mentioned that before. . .)

Wasn't I dealing with the same company?
Well yes, but we do separate billing.
My thought was "you've been bamboo-zled."
Then the games began. . .

I logged on-line to the BellSouth website (which is how I've paid my bill for the last 10 years) but the bitch wouldn't let me in. So I called BellSouth but my call was automatically routed to "U-Verse". All I wanted to pay is my last DSL bill to clear the way for the new service and get back to work.
Long story short, it took, I kid you not, a half a day to finally find someone who could handle the transaction.

At that point it was 4:30 in the afternoon and the bill was paid but I was more aggravated than I'd been in a year.
It was time to just let it go, crack open a cold one and find something to eat.
"U-Verse" will keep until tomorrow.

The next morning, in much better spirits after a good night's sleep, I'm back at the computer checking the incoming e-mail (like I do every morning) and start drafting replies. No soap; the server isn't recognizing any of my addresses.

I'm back on the phone to customer support. . .

I explain the problem and suggest that with the "upgrade" maybe the port settings have changed. The customer support guy agrees (no one had mentioned that before. . .) and he gives me the new numbers.
While we're talking, I ask him how often he has to walk customers through these pain-in-the-ass problems. "Every day, 10 times a day, we have problems with the system" was his exasperated reply.

New settings in hand, I ended the call, punched in the numbers but still, no soap.
I was receiving e-mail but still couldn't send.

By now I'm in the heavy workload part of my week and it's time to "out-think the machine". I log-in to and access my e-mail from there and from there, it turns out, I can send. (improvise and overcome)

Confident that I've found an effective stop-gap solution to get me through the rest of my work week, I called it, a day.

The next morning, again in much better spirits after a good night's sleep, I'm back at the computer checking the incoming e-mail. I log on to (just like did the day before) but it won't let me in.
So much for my pleasant morning mood; now this is all a real pain-in-the-balls!
I've got a dozen clients looking for answers and I can't reply.
I could lose a few bucks over this!

Back on the phone to customer support. . .

After 10 minutes of "please hold muzak", a dude comes on, I explain the problem and now he's directing me to a Yahoo website to try and get at my e-mail.

A Yahoo website?? WTF???

Keep in mind, I'm not running a "dinosaur of a computer" system over here. It's a MAC 10 point something, running Adobe CS4 programs and I have 2 e-mail programs. Every thing works, every thing is backed up and the back-ups are backed up. The problem is not on my end!
I tell the support dude all that, ask him a few tech questions and he says, "we're not trained to deal with those kinds of problems" and gives me yet another number for the "Connection Specialists" (already another half day is lost on this mess).

I call, get another 10 minutes of "please hold muzak", some one answers and I explain my problem again. The voice on the other end confirms that they get calls like mine very often and they can help me. But for that help I'd need to subscribe to a maintenance service contract for $15 a month with a commitment for 12 months and would like to put that on my credit card today?

I think to myself, now let me get this straight. . .
I've been told by 3 separate support people that at&t knows "U-Verse" has problems only at&t can fix them. But to get them fixed, I've got pay for the privilege.
In my head that translated to, "you were dumb enough to get bamboo-zled into this sub-standard upgrade scam and now we're holding your internet capabilities for ransom."
This I could not abide.

Come Monday, all my on-line and land-line services will be moved to Comcast.
Going forward, I'll keep you all up to speed on
address changes.
And o sh*t, I'll have to reprint my business cards.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

waterfront playhouse

Back in about 1940 a cast of local thespians and some Navy dudes came together to form the Key West Players.

For 20 years, the troupe would stage productions wherever they could find space around town and sometimes even on Navy ships that were stationed in Key West during
World War Two.

Then in 1960, with the help of Tennessee Williams, the Players got hold of an old and run-down ice warehouse, built in the 1880s, on Mallory Square.

They renovated the warehouse, transforming it into an intimate 150 seat theatre.
The Key West Players finally had a permanent home.
They christened it, the WaterFront PlayHouse.

These days, when the sun sets, the curtain rises at the
not-for-profit venue for a regular schedule of theatrical, dance and musical performances during "season" that features our pool of local talent as well as internationally
known performers.

I've been there many several times and if you're local and like live performance art, you can see what they've
got cooking at. . .
The WaterFront PlayHouse

Sunday, March 4, 2012

a keys kinda weekend

There's always a lot going on in Key West and this weekend was no exception.
Yesterday I divided my time between the Schooner Wharf "Open Air Art & Music Affair" and the OIRF "ConchShell Blowing Contest".
Both were good excuses to get out and about among the
mischievous masses and enjoy a day under the sun and a cloudless blue sky.

I don't really have much to say about either event, but here are a few prime pix and some Conch Honking sound. . .

Schooner Wharf Bar, Open Air Art & Music Affair

This is my friend Mally, who's work I have always admired.
Make a minute to have a look at

OIRF ConchShell Blowing Contest at the Oldest
House Museum

. . .and if you've never heard what a ConchShell sounds like, here's a sound bite. . .

Click the arrow to start video. Run time, 1:14

Thursday, March 1, 2012

the key west claw

I've got it in my head that if I ever get to where I need to find a "real job", I want this one.

This dude, with his broad brimmed straw hat and leather work gloves, works for Waste Management, the garbage gurus
of the galaxy.
He drives around all day picking up all manner of stuff left out on the curb. He pulls a lever and a big-ass claw comes out of the back of his giant dump truck to hoist refrigerators, washing machines, sofas, mattresses, hugh piles of palm fronds and volkswagons (well no, I made that one up. But I'll bet he could.) Then he drives it off to God only knows where and all that stuff is never seen or heard from again.

The dude is totally happy in his work (and he didn't want his picture taken). And why wouldn't he be happy? Not only does he get to drive around paradise all day without a boss looking over his shoulder and probably pulls down a pretty good salary, but he gets to play with a ginormous version of one of those grab the teddy-bear with the claw Asbury Park
arcade games.

Outside of the arts, that's the job for me.