Friday, April 30, 2010

Key West

A Critique, Continued to Part III

We took a marathon walk on our Second day too. We walked to the Hemingway House, then to the Southernmost Point in the USA, and back across Key West to the Audubon House. The weather was overcast - thank goodness - because it was hot with the humidity over 80%!  Walking all over the key was tiring, but I’d much rather move under my own power than sit in the expensive tour guided electric trams that roam the key.

The Hemingway House was busy, the tour guide knowledgeable, and cats were everywhere. It is obvious the six-toed creatures are well cared for with weekly vet visits, toys, and no odor or mess about the house or grounds. The cats are very docile; one black kitty asleep on his master’s bed, another asleep in front of a photograph of Hemmingway with his fishing buddy – the guy “The Old Man and the Sea” is based on. To this cat lover the cats were actually the best part of the house, and that isn’t to belittle the house in any way. The tour was well worth it. I had always wondered why a robust male, a brilliant and prolific writer like Hemingway would commit suicide. The tour guide told us that Hemingway was given electric shock therapy as treatment for manic/depression. The therapy accidentally damaged part of his brain, and he was no longer able to write. As a visual artist, I thought to myself, “How would I feel if I were no longer able to draw and paint my waterscapes? What would it feel like not to be able to put together my mixed media and digital photographic montages?

On that sobering note, we left the Hemingway compound and walked past the lighthouse and through an interesting neighborhood whose residents were mixed - people of color and white - to the southernmost point in the United States. That neighborhood had the most authentic feel to it with Catholic shrines in front of some of the shotgun bungalows, and mom and pop stores on street corners. We found a line of folks waiting to have their pictures taken at the Southernmost Point Marker. For the most part people were orderly, waiting their turn based on the order of their arrival at the marker. The marker reminds you that Cuba is 90 miles to the south.

Joe and I made another long trek across the Key to the Audubon House and gardens, perhaps the best part of the day for me because of the artwork, the original Audubon etchings, and wonderful antique furniture in a museum-like environment. It was obvious that no expense has been spared to protect the art and furniture. The small but carefully labeled tropical garden was the most informative I’ve encountered in South Florida, and we spent a full hour looking at the orchids, plants and trees there.

After all the walking Joe insisted we needed a libation so we took a quick walk over to Duval Street and the Tree Bar at Rick's for a Rum and Coke, and a delightful conversation with the very informative bartender.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Key West

A Critique, Continued

On the first full day we decided to drive around the key, stopped at Smathers Beach and continued into Old Town. We parked the car in City Parking, then did a walk through Old Town, on to the port where cruise ships dock and folks watch the sunset, then to Duval Street, and finally, over to the Truman Little White House, a huge, meandering walk!

The area around the Little White House reminded me of Old Town, Lancaster because the old fixed-up and new houses backed onto a picturesque alley like Trinity Place in Lancaster, Pennsylvania where we had lived for 29 years. The Trumans visited The Little White House a total of 175 days during Truman’s tenure as president, and the inside feels like a home, not a palace. Unfortunately we were not allowed to take photographs once inside the house. I say unfortunate because It’s still furnished exactly as when President Truman visited in the mid 1940’s through 1951, with majolica gloss ashtrays insidiously mixed with colonial style furniture and chintz floral patterned couches. I felt as though I had walked through a time warp. At the end of the tour we were reminded that Truman was responsible for ending WWII, dropping the atomic bomb on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, and firing the maniacal but extremely popular General MacArthur, among many other things. * While not wildly popular with his contemporaries, today he is considered to be among the great presidents.

After walking for hours and a 40 minute tour of the Little Truman White House, Joe and I went back to Duval Street where we stopped at Rick’s small outdoor annex for a rum and coke before heading back to our hotel and a swim in the pool.

*I place the pejorative on MacArthur not only because he was so ego centric as to contradict President Truman publically, but also because he wanted to blow an atomic trench across Asia to contain the Chinese Communist Government within its radioactive embrace. While we might debate the humane use of atomic weapons on Japanese cities in order to end WWII, purposefully using the bomb to permanently destroy a huge patch of the earth must never be contemplated.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Key West - a critique

The next few entries will be based on our all too short trip to Key West. I'll post several entries with photos.

My partner and I loved and disliked “The Conch Republic!” Elitist that I am, I was hard pressed to find the authentic Key West in 3 busy days. But, I want to book another stay perhaps in an inn on one of the quieter back streets in the old part of town, spend more time looking, relaxing, eating, drinking and talking with the native, and imported Conch Republicans. Hopefully the authentic Key West experience is still to be had.

This all too short trip gave us the tourist experience, and I know I shouldn't expect more. The artist in me loved the authentic tropical 19th century blocks of old Key West. That part of town was extensive, and so quiet at night - with the exception of the occasional wild rooster screech. However, the Jimmy Buffet honky-tonk of Duval Street reminded me of the Wildwood, New Jersey boardwalk on Labor Day, minus all the little ones, but plunked down into the tropics. Perhaps if I were in my late teens or early twenties and on Spring Break I might have found it exhilarating. Instead, I found that it had the most tiresome drunk tourist vibe imaginable.

Okay, so much for the best and the worst. I swam a lot in our hotel's tropical garden pool, and exercised as always. We also did the usual tourist things; Hemingway House, The Harry S. Truman Little White House, Audubon House, Southernmost Point, Mel Fisher Museum, the current much extended art exhibit (I think) ICONS, sculptures by Seward Johnson located around the Custom House, and the Sunset (that didn't happen). We walked everywhere, opting for the exercise instead of the expensive trolley. I took a ton of pictures! We drank and talked with the bar tender in the small quieter outdoor bar at Ricks (part of the big party complex), and ate out all three nights - more about the eating out later. Suffice it to say we had great fun, but are worn out.

Thursday, April 15, 2010


Once again, I take a break from that lengthy monologue about the Pomo and Po-pomo.

The kites are amazingly cool all by themselves, and watching the guys fly through the air and over the waves revs the heart into overdrive.

If I were twenty something and know what I know at sixty-five I would definitely do the necessary exercise to build my body to allow for the stress on shoulders, arms and back. Then, I would go out and spend the big bucks for the equipment, and hire a coach to train for the sport.

I know there is a risk. I’ve heard stories of guys being picked up out of the water by the wind and slammed into buildings. But, what sport doesn’t come with some risk, and I should think that a bit of knowledge, practice, a good coach, and common sense would go a long way toward reducing that risk.

I imagine that being lifted out of the water and flying above the blue-green south Florida ocean must throw the kiteboarder into a state of absolute and total euphoria.


Saturday, April 10, 2010

John’s Post-postmodern position

What does faith have to do with it?

I return to my entry of March 31st, "Post-postmodern Characteristics"

One of the intellectual components of my becoming a young adult was the recognition that reality was not based in opposition, but rather variability. Thus, as an undergraduate student back in the mid 1960’s I had a postmodern outlook on the world. However, as an older adult, I now know that variability and specificity are both necessary to any meaningful human exchange. When two or more people listen carefully to one another’s various positions on a particular subject, the dialogue they construct together will build a meaningful approach to that subject based in a reconciliation of established practice with new understandings. If variability and specificity are not present simultaneously during human exchange, then misunderstanding, failure, and destructive behavior wait in the wings.

And that is my senior adult Post-postmodern position - If, as some claim, that position must be based in a leap of faith, so be it. However, It is more, or perhaps less than a leap of faith. Instead, I am talking about a reorganization of one’s knowledge and understanding of that knowledge based in the necessity of actual human intercourse. I / we must actually have faith in the transformative power of thorough and constructive human interaction.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Butterfly Photograph

This photograph from Butterfly World in Broward County creates a break from my ever over-loaded metacrtitical pontification. I haven’t made the annual trip to that ethereal garden, and I probably won’t have the chance before we leave South Florida for the Panhandle, and points north next month. So, I’ve marked it in on next year’s MUST DO list. Anyone who lives in south Florida or who visits us should put Butterfly World on his or her MUST DO list.

I took this photograph during our 2007 visit using my old 5 megapixel Sony DSC-F707 with the ‘Carl Zeiss’ lens. I loved that lens because it was and is the most versatile lens I’ve ever had on a camera. The great range of that lens allows me to zoom in and out on the butterflies without having to stop and change lenses. The newer 10 megapixel Sony DSLR doesn’t do anywhere near as well, though one can select a model that comes with two lenses.

However, the point is that Butterfly World allows the visitor to take a vacation from our hell-bent planet. One friend described the place as “instant nirvana.”