Dear Ben… an official “Request”

Everyone that knows me, knows that I have an addiction… cruisin’. I also have a love affair with Key West… and of course, I’m a parrothead.
[def: par-ought-head — Fanatical, out of control, aficionado of Jimmy Buffett and everything Margaritaville. ]

It wasn’t that long ago that I dreaded the idea of a cruise. The idea of spending a week going places was ok. But the idea of all the time floating around getting there… especially all the nights with nothing to do… terrified me.

Boy was I wrong. I discovered the piano bars on cruise ships. Night after night of absolute fun… laughin, singing along, maybe dancin’ a little, and certainly drinking too much. For me, it has become not so much where the ship is going, but rather, who the piano bar entertainer is.

I should tell you, the piano bars on Carnival cruise ships are not the “elevator music” type piano bars you may see in some hotels or other cruise lines. Carnival tries to provide a piano bar that is rip-roaring, sing-along fun. Late night it is often irreverent, politically incorrect and usually a bit naughty… sometimes a lot naughty. For me, it’s a blast.

Now days, before I book a cruise, the first thing I check is what ships my favorite piano bar entertainers are going to be on. I do that even before I check to see where a cruise is going. In fact, my last cruises have been booked solely because of one magnificent entertainer; Ben Gentry. And I’m doing it again. Simply put, it’s my opinion that Ben is head and shoulders above the rest, the best of the current PB entertainer Carnival has.

Now if it sounds like I’m “sucking up” to Ben, it’s because… well… I am. But what I just said is also true. I’ll get back to this in a minute.

First, for those that don’t know, Carnival is “cheap” when it comes to compensating their employees. (That’s not earth-shattering to those of us that cruise on Carnival.) Carnival depends on gratuities to supplement the income of many of the crew members. I think in some cases, gratuities may be the main source of their income.

The same thing is true for piano bar entertainers. They depend on folks to “put bread in their jar”… tips. This is true of land-based piano bars too, but I think more so on cruise ships.

(By the way… I’m sure all piano bar entertainers HATE and at the same time love Billy Joel.)

Anyway, lots of folks want to have the entertainer play their favorite tunes… like… ummmm… let’s say a Jimmy Buffett tune. Now… since most of the piano bar entertainers also don’t like doing Jimmy Buffett stuff, if you just write your song on a piece of paper and send it up to the entertainer, then that is just a “suggestion.” Most likely it won’t get played. At best it will go to the bottom of the stack.

However, if your suggestion is wrapped in paper currency, it becomes an official “Request.” If the denomination of the paper currency is like a Peso, then the request will still be at the bottom of the playlist. The larger the denomination, the higher in the playlist it goes.

I should mention that you shouldn’t expect the PBE to play your request instantly. You see, they often get on a roll and have the folks singing, clapping and dancing to a set of themed songs. So don’t expect your request for “God Save the Queen” to be played in the middle Jeremiah Was A Bullfrog.

Well… I suppose if the request for “God Save the Queen” is wrapped in the US currency that doesn’t have a picture of a past President on it, you may well interrupt the bullfrog.

So now to the main point and why I’m sucking up to Ben Gentry. You see, the last two cruises with him I left him with a “Future cruise credit request” for songs Ben didn’t know at the time. Of course, these were proper “requests” and not suggestions… and of course with it was wrapped in an appropriate dead president. (Sorry… not one of those other two bills.)

Ben did a magnificent job the first time with a song that is very difficult for anybody to do. He did such a good job it almost got me laid… almost.

So… the last time I cruised with him I left him with another future cruise credit. This time I gave a list of four of the more obscure Jimmy Buffett songs that he didn’t know. My note to him was to pick one.

But… these weren’t just obscure songs. Each one of them has a connection… a significent connection to Key West. Therefore, here (in no particular order) are the stories for each of the songs from which I hope my request will come.

Tin Cup Chalice – Jimmy got his “musical footing” when he went to Key West. He was just out of a bad marriage and deeply in debt. A friend took him down US1 to Key West in an old Packard. (Packard is a now-defunct car company.)

When he first got there, Jimmy played for beer in a corner of a place called the Chart Room. I think every bar and honky-tonk in Key West claimed Jimmy played there. This one has pictures to prove it. It’s a tiny place and hard to imagine any entertainer would play there, but he did.

Tin Cup Chalice is the first song Jimmy Buffett wrote after he got to Key West. It’s about the Sunset Celebration. Every Day on Mallory Square there is a Sunset Celebration… at least on days when clouds don’t block the sunset. Crowds of people go there every sunset, and they all applaud when the sun drops into the ocean.

The lyrics to Tin Cup Chalice are about the sunset, the sailboats on sunset cruises and life in Key West.

Ben… if you pick this Tin Cup Chalice, please change one part of the lyrics to the way I always sing it: “With a tin cup for a chalice, fill it up with good red wine”… change “good red wine” – to – “tequila and lime.” I don’t know why Jimmy didn’t write it that way… maybe it was before Margaritas and such.

Woman Goin’ Crazy Caroline Street – The street in Key West, Caroline Street, is where the “red light district” used to be. The main “red-light” area was down by what is now known as the “Schooner Wharf.” (Yes, that’s where the Schooner Wharf Bar is.)

Back in the olden days when shrimpin’ and fishing were king in Key West, the sailors would come into the Schooner Wharf from days, weeks or months at sea. They would get paid and immediately head to Caroline Street for a little “liquid refreshment” and “companionship.”

One of the places they would go was one of the roughest and toughest bars Key West has ever known… the Red Doors. Downstairs was the saloon and upstairs was the brothel. Today the Red Doors houses a little boutique downstairs, and air conditioners poke out of the walls upstairs.

This song starts with, “There’s a woman goin’ crazy on Caroline Street…” and goes on about a rough and rowdy bar. Pay attention to the lyrics, and they will tell all you about the woman and Caroline Street.

Ever notice how some of the Buffett songs have weird lyrics in some places. This next one is a good example… starting with the title.

Last Mango in Paris – The title of this song is misleading. It really should be “Captain Tony’s” Almost everyone who has been on a cruise to Key West has walked right by Captain Tony’s bar on their way to Duval Street.

This song starts out, “I went down to Capt’n Tony’s… to get out of the heat.” The next time you are in Key West, step into the doorway entering Captain Tony’s. There is a fan there blowing cool air down on you. Every time I go into Captain Tony’s I stand there for a minute to cool down and hum the tune in my head. (I don’t dare sing out loud.)

Anyway, the song is about Captain Tony rather than about the bar. Captain Tony was Tony Tarracino; a character and icon of Key West. I can’t tell the whole story here… it’s too long. But, before he opened the saloon, Tony was a shrimper, charter boat captain, a gunrunner for the CIA.

Capt’n Tony ran for Mayor of Key West four times. One of those times Jimmy Buffett was his campaign manager. Really! You can see the newspaper clippings in the bar. The last time he ran… the time he won, he came under fire for using the word “shit” in his campaign: “All you need in life is a tremendous sex drive and a great ego – Brains don’t mean shit.”

When his opponent tried to make a big deal out of the profanity, Capt’n Tony responded, “If everyone who uses that word votes for me, I’ll win by a landslide.” He won by 32 votes.

The next time you are in Key West, you owe it to yourself to go down to Capt’n Tony’s to get out of the heat… and then spend a bit of time there reading and learning about the place and the man. You’ll discover that he probably really did:

Eat the last mango in Paris…”
“Take the last plane out of Saigon…”
“Took the first fast boat to China…”

I think of the songs, this next one is should be the National Anthem of the Conch Republic. (If you aren’t sure where the Conch Republic is, try Google)

Semi-True Story – Key West is full of tales. Presidents, writers, minstrels, and characters… Truman, Hemingway, Buffett, and Terricino all add to the lore of Cayo Hueso (the original Spanish name of the island). No matter where you look… no matter what corner of the island you go to, there’s a story that goes with it.

Names like Bumfarto, Sushi, and Sloppy Joe all add color. Every little bar from the Speakeasy Inn to the La Te Da, to the Schooner Wharf Bar, to the Chart Room have a story to tell about Bone Island (the translation from Spanish of Cayo Hueso).

Everywhere you go you will hear a story… and every one of them true… at least according to the rules of this song.

As much as anything else this song personifies “The Rock” and is why I like it. Well… then there’s that tequila thing too.

So Ben… it’s your choice. It is looking like I’m going to be seeing you this fall and I’ll give you a better “heads up” when I’ve booked. But this should give you enough to ponder for now.

Strumpet

I wanted to write about fun stuff today. Lots of fun stuff… Margaritas, the beach, cruises in the Caribbean, or Jimmy Buffett songs of Key West. Anything about fun and sun. But events of this week have created a black hole in my psyche. Every night when I go to sleep, I try to think about what I might write, but Strumpet takes over my thinking… and my dreams. So I should get this out of my system.

First a definition. I looked up “Strumpet” in the Merriam-Webster dictionary. Here it is:

s·trump·et
1. A prostitute
2. S-Hole – Trump – et all.

So you see… the definition fits perfectly for the current occupant of the White House and all the cronies in the administration.

I couldn’t believe all the spin, distortions, mistruths, and flat-out lies that came out of Strumpet this past week. It started with all the spin from the meetings with “RocketMan” (Strumpet’s words not mine.) The United States got nothing… nada, zip. RocketMan got an invitation and place of prominence on the world stage.

Furthermore, RocketMan got what he wanted most… any form of a concession from Strumpet. He got a public announcement that the United States would stop war games with its ally, South Korea. I’m sure that was far more than RocketMan dreamed of.

And did you see that photo op of Strumpet saluting the North Korean General? The North Korean film crews got years worth of propaganda about how RocketMan made Strumpet cower in their presence. Way to go Strumpet.

This was on the heels of Strumpet pissing off six of our allies at the G7 conference. Strumpet even wanted Russia back in the club to once again make it the G8. Of course, that makes sense if you think about it. The other six members are pissed at Strumpet. So now he needs his butt buddy, Putin, back in the club. Maybe if Strumpet could get RocketMan in the club… they could have a threesome.

There is no sleep for the wicked. The situation along the U.S – Mexico border is shameful… a disgrace. The United States is setting up concentration camps there. What makes it worse, is that they are child concentration camps. Nazi Germany set up such camps where they separated families. I don’t have an encompassing solution for the immigration problems we have, but this is not it. I thought we were better than that… maybe not.

I should mention that Attorney General Sessions claims that he is supporting the law. Well folks, no law supports what he is doing. Sure there are laws about illegal immigration, but those laws don’t say to separate children from their parents while awaiting their case. It is the Strumpet administration that is doing that, pure and simple.

Then Sessions had the balls to use the bible to justify his actions. First, I don’t know what God is really thinking, but there’s no God that I know of that would condone this. Furthermore, the same passage Sessions quoted was used by Southerners to justify slavery, and by Hitler to justify his authoritarian rule in the 1930s.

That’s the problem with just someone’s underlined parts of the bible. The meaning can get distorted when the whole picture isn’t there. Sessions quote was from a tiny portion of The Book of Romans, Chapter 13. He used the part where St. Paul commanded that the laws of the government be obeyed. I think it would be good if Sessions would read the rest of the Romans… then he would know the real meaning and not justify the child concentration camps the government is setting up.

Those concentration camps are immoral. If you just sit there and do nothing about it, may you burn in hell. If we as a people do nothing about, may we go to hell.

Pewwwww… but I’m not done yet. Neither was Strumpet. He went on to put out a series of “spins,” half-truths, misstatements and flat out lies.

The one that bugged me most is that he said the current problems at the border (concentration camps) are the fault of the Democrats. That’s undeniably wrong. But before I go there, I’ll list the other stuff.

  1. Strumpet claimed his now-jailed campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was only his campaign manager for “49 days or something like that.” Fact: Manafort was campaign manager for 144 days… nearly 5 months.
  2. Strumpet said the Department of Justice IG report criticizing former FBI director James Comey exonerated him (Strumpet) from any wrongdoing in the Russia probe. “No Collusion” Fact: That report had nothing in it about the Russia probe. The Strumpet doth protest too much, methinks.
  3. Strumpet changed his tune on the firing of Michael Flynn as United States National Security Advisor. This time he said, “Some people say he lied, and some people say he didn’t lie.” Fact: Strumpet is the “some people.” When Strumpet fired Flynn before the cameras he said, “I had to fire General Flynn because he lied to the Vice President and the FBI.” Flynn has pled guilty to lying to the FBI. This is just another case of Strumpet playing loose and free with the truth.
  4. Strumpet is blaming the shameful separation of children from their parents along the US border on the law passed by Democrats. Fact: There is nothing in the immigration laws requiring separation of children from their parents.

I don’t understand why he does this. It goes on and on. Perhaps it’s because Strumpet can’t help the lies. I don’t know what he’s thinking. When befuddled, he makes up stuff. Or perhaps he is incompetent or senile. Well, we know he lies about lots of stuff. He has been caught in blatant lies many times.

But perhaps it’s a combination of all the rest. Strumpet makes stuff up, is befuddled, is incompetent and is senile. This makes perfect sense. First, he makes things up because he thinks you and I are too stupid to know or find out the difference. Maybe he thinks we don’t care. Well if that’s what he thinks about the American people, then he is the stupid one.

Perhaps the later three of the possible reasons is the essence of the problem. He is clearly incompetent. He’s a game show host and had no experience for the position he holds. The “Peter Principal” has been proven again. To remind you of the principal, it holds that some people rise to their level of incompetence.

It’s clear that Strumpet makes things up. When he is asked a question that he knows nothing about, he will never say, “I don’t know.” That’s not in his nature. When he recently proclaimed the immigration laws now being enforced were the Democrats laws, Strumpet just couldn’t help himself. He made it up and had no idea if it was true. It wasn’t true or even close. The laws were made over many years… more of them under Republicans than Democrats. The fact is that what’s going on in the concentration camps is the policy put forth by this administration’s Attorney General, Sessions.

The other two options for Strumpet’s behavior are that he is befuddled or senile. Well, I don’t think he’s senile, but he is often befuddled. Just consider the COVFEFE incident. This is not only that he tweeted the babble, but mostly the way he tried to weasel his way around admitting he was befuddled.

I could be wrong, so you choose from the possibilities:

A. Strumpet flat out lies.
B. Strumpet thinks you’re stupid.
C. Strumpet makes things up.
D. Strumpet is incompetent.
E. Strumpet is befuddled.
F. Strumpet is senile.
G. All the abo… well you know.

Perhaps you think I’m wrong with the list. Indeed, I may not have thought of something. If so, you choose something you think explains all of this from Strumpet. Post it here. I welcome you to express your opinion.

Oh… before I end my rant, I would like you to consider one more thing. It’s the other definition of strumpet… prostitute.

In this case, prostitute is just a nice word for whore. And that’s just what I think Strumpet is… a whore. He will do anything, and go to any length to help himself… even supporting bigots if he believes it will help him. Here’s the latest case in point.

The two pictures below say it all. They are taken from a campaign video for Corey Stewart. I can’t even believe I’m saying this… he is the GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate in the state of Virginia. Republicans!!! Have you lost your minds!!! This guy is proud of “pro-slavery icons.” Don’t the words racist and bigot mean anything to you?

But wait… there’s more.

There's no place for this man in our government.
There’s no place for this man in our government.
People of Virginia... your vote in November can prevent this guy from getting into our government at one of  the highest levels

People of Virginia… your vote in November can prevent this guy from getting into our government at one of the highest levels

Now, I don’t think we should tear down all the statues of the Old South. I think there is indeed a place for a statue of General Robert E. Lee. That is part of our heritage and history. We need to know it, and I thought we had learned from it. But… and it’s a big BBBUUUUTTT. “Proud of pro-slavery icons” probably tells you all you need to know about this guy.

But wait, there’s still more. Strumpet has once again proven he will be a whore for anything he thinks will help keep a majority of Republicans for him in Congress. First, Strumpet supported Roy Moore. You remember him… he’s the guy that was seen as a racist and a homophobic… holds the belief that Christianity should order public policy… and probably had past ties to neo-Confederates and white nationalist groups. He was running for the Senate and Strumpet supported him. Yeah… that guy. Fortunately, he lost.

Now Strumpet is supporting Corey Stewart. I hear you… you say, “Naw… Strumpet can’t be that stupid.” Well, he is. Don’t believe me? The next pic is of the tweet Strumpet sent out supporting Stewart. Strumpet will indeed prostitute himself for anything.

Strumpet will prostitute himself for anything that helps him.

Strumpet will prostitute himself for anything that helps him.

Here’s what I can’t figure out. Strumpet’s supporters seem to let anything he does “slide.” Everything I’ve laid out here is just the last week. This has been going on and on yet I still see posts on social media proclaiming;

“This is what we hired him to do.”

Really? Is this what you hired him to do? The only thing I’ve seen him do is to claim credit for massive permanent tax cuts to big business, and a few bones given as temporary tax cuts for some in the middle class. How much has your paycheck increased as a result of the tax cuts?

Even if you like the new tax stuff… then what else has Strumpet done. Nada, Zip. Don’t try to tell me his dealings with RocketMan have done anything. Nothing has come of that but a bunch of photo-ops.

So why is it some folks let him slide? What is it he does that makes them turn a blind eye to everything else? He was caught saying about women, “I can grab them by the pu**y.” And during his campaign he said, “I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue, and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose any voters.” The way Strumpet acts, he thinks he can do anything and get away with it. Maybe he’s right. I just can’t figure it out.

The November elections aren’t that far away. It’s your chance to do something. If you like what we have and want to keep Strumpet in power, then maybe I will go on a very long cruise to the Caribbean. But, there are enough seats in Congress to take away the Republican majority. (I didn’t believe I would ever say that.) Leaving Strumpet without a majority on Congress will leave him a eunuch.

It’s up to you.

 

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Big Sunday Plans

Did you ever have one of those days where you planned to do lots of stuff? Sure you have. Today was one of those days for me.

First I was going to go for a bike ride… at least five miles. Then I was going write at least a chapter in the next book I’m working on. I also planned to edit a chapter of another book. Then I was going to wash and vacuum the car. To cap the day off I need to change the spark plugs and air filter on the Magic Bus.

Of course, it was Sunday. So you know where this ended up going. First, I was in serious need of coffee. Not just any coffee would do. I have become addicted to McDonald’s coffee. So once my eyes were clear enough, I went and got the coffee. The McDonald’s is just a few blocks down from me here on Kokomo Island, so I just walked.

I just got coffee, but Sgt Pepper wanted a Sausage & Egg McMuffin. Since they have a special on Sausage & Egg McMuffins (one for $3 or two for $4), I bought two. So much for my diet today. After wolfing down the McMuffin, I refilled the super-giant sized coffee and headed back to Casa Kokomo Man.

I should really call it “Shanty Kokomo Man.” It’s a giant cardboard box with a 67-inch big screen TV and a LazyBoy recliner. What more does a man need?

I sat down to sip my coffee and flipped on the TV. Sports was preempting my usual news. Tennis was on. It was the French Open. I thought to myself, I’ll drink a little coffee and then get to work. I spent the next hour and a half checking my eyelids for cracks. When I woke up again, Rafael Nadal had won the match.

I decided that I would just outline the next chapter in my book. But first, I wanted to check on any NASCAR news.

So I watched this show I had never seen before. It was a couple of people in Key West discussing NASCAR and interviewing some NASCAR personalities. I’m not making any of this up. A man and woman in Key West were the hosts of the show. I have no idea who the man and woman were. They seemed to have a little NASCAR knowledge, but then so do I. I guess this is just another of the little known Key West stuff.

After “Key West NASCAR,” the Fox Sports 1 pre-race show came on. Of course, I had to watch that to find out all the information on today’s upcoming race.

By this time I thought I would just edit the chapter already written and start work on the new chapter tomorrow. It turned out it was raining, so the race was being delayed. It would be an hour or so before the track could be dried.

Sgt Pepper chimed in:

“Barrraak – Sunny day… Time for the Beach – Barrrrak”

He was right. Since the race was delayed, and since it was such a nice day I decided Sunday wouldn’t be a day for working on any writing. I would spend some time on the beach and then do the work on the car and Magic Bus.

The beach really was nice. It was about 88 degrees, and the water temperature is about 83. I love living in the Northernmost Caribbean.

On the lookout for boobies

On the lookout for boobies

Sgt Pepper and I spent a couple of hours on the beach. I went for a swim… need the exercise, and Sgt Pepper talked with the sandpipers. More than anything else, we just hung out on the beach soaking in the warm sun and searching the horizon for boobies. NO!… not those kind of boobies…. seabird type boobies. Sgt Pepper likes to play with boobies.

I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking I didn’t get anything useful done today. But you would be wrong. I got some work done on the car and Magic Bus. Well… ummmm…. errrrr… ok, it wasn’t much work. I got online and ordered the spark plugs and air filter. They will be here Wednesday.

But really… can you think of a better way to spend a Sunday.

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Overlord

I watch the news everyday; morning, noon, and night. When I watched this morning, there was nothing said about one of the most momentous events ever that happened on this day; June 6. The significance of today will probably pass without much mention. I hope I’m wrong, but the events of June 6, 1944 aren’t in the consciousness of many people still alive. After all, that was 74 years ago. I wasn’t even born then, and neither were most of you reading this.

But I bet your grandfather, or father, or possibly great-grandfather would know. Names like Utah, Omaha, and Point Du Hoc would still reverberate in their minds. For the British, Canadians, and Australians… the names Gold, Juno, and Sword would have been burned into their memories of those earlier generations.

Tom Brokaw has called them “The Greatest Generation.” I don’t know if they were the “Greatest,” but I do know that on this day in 1944; 153,115 men of the Allied forces went ashore in the largest amphibious invasion the world has ever known. It was the beginning of the end of Nazi Germany.

Maybe Tom Brokaw is right… maybe they are the “Greatest.” I can’t imagine what it must have been like. Soldiers of the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions jumped out of airplanes into the black of night. No night vision goggles, no infrared images of what was below… they just jumped out into the blackness not knowing what was waiting below them. I have no idea where they got the guts to do it.

Think about the two hundred or so Rangers that had to scale the cliffs of Point Du Hoc with the Germans up on top raining “Potato Masher” hand grenades down on them. Their job was to get to the top cliffs and disable massive German artillery that could be destructive to the Americans landing at Omaha and Utah beaches. They had no idea how many angry Germans were waiting for them on top of the cliffs. They just knew they had to get to the top no matter what the enemy was throwing down on them. I have no idea where they got the guts to do it.

The rest of the forces going ashore knew that the Germans were waiting for them. The Nazis had planted mines, wooden stakes, tripods and anti-tank traps to stop invading forces. As the soldiers waded… sometimes swimming or drowning as the went ashore… the Germans fired down on them from the fortifications they built to stop any invasion. The soldiers going ashore knew the Nazis would use everything they had to kill them and keep them from the beaches. I have no idea where they got the guts to do it.

But they did do it. Over 150,000 soldiers from the US, Britain, Canada, and Australia went ashore on “D-Day,” June 6, 1944. The toll was high with over 10,000 casualties… at least 4414 confirmed dead. Many movies, books, and stories have been told that try to tell us what it was like to go ashore on that day. But I don’t think any of book or movie can tell us what it was really like. Only those that were there really know. It doesn’t matter to me if they received some kind of award, badge or formalized honor… everyone that attacked the Nazis that day was a hero.

If this map looks complicated, it's because it is. Landing 150,000 soldiers in a short time is complex.

If this map looks complicated, it’s because it is. Landing 150,000 soldiers in a short time is complex.

The success of Operation Overlord can’t be overstated. Within one week of D-Day, 326,000 men and 50,000 vehicles were put ashore. By the end of June, nearly a million allied soldiers were in France. It would still take another eleven months and many more sacrifices before Nazi Germany was defeated. But June 6, 1944 was the beginning of the end.

There are very few of those D-Day heroes still alive. Estimates vary, but at best, of the 150,000+ that went ashore that day… only a few thousand are alive. Of the 16 million who served in WWII only a bit over 500,000 were alive a year ago. As it will with all of us… age is catching up with them. All are over 90, and over 130,000 die a year.

Going ashore into the barrage of enemy gunfire.

Wading ashore into the barrage of enemy gunfire.

So today… no make that every day… go out of your way to find one of those old guys wearing a WWII Veteran ball cap. Shake their hand and tell them “thank you.” But more than that, take a little time to talk with them. Ask them where they were and what they did in WWII. Ask them about their life, their children and grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. Listen to their stories if they will share them with you. Do it today… you don’t have much time left till those stories are gone.

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Escape to Key West – Part 2

I can’t believe it’s already been a week since I was in the Keys. I guess time goes fast when you’re having fun. It seems that every time I get ready to write about the rest of the trip, something else pops up. Although I started writing this a week ago Monday, I finally forced myself to finish up.

Key Largo – My time in Key Largo was cut short. Little Bastard Alberto was churning up in the Yucatan. While it wasn’t a complete loss… I did get one afternoon of SCUBA diving in. Little Bastard Alberto made diving any more a bad idea. Sgt Pepper and I did spend an evening at Sharkey’s foot tappin’ (claw tappin’) to a good old-fashioned rock-n-roll band. Then it was on down the road.

One of the things I wanted to see was how much damage remained from last fall’s Big Bitch Irma. Mostly I discovered how fickle she was. Most of the area seems to have been untouched… at least that’s what it looked like. Maybe it has been fixed up. But starting about mile marker 85 there were places that were destroyed.

Most houses or businesses were in great shape. But then it was bizarre. In between the perfect condition places something would be utterly devastated… with no chance of repair. Then drive along for miles with no apparent damage, and then BAM… another place all smashed up. For the most part, there was only a little damage remaining.

With Alberto brewing, it was raining on and off. Sgt Pepper is easily scared by such stuff, so rather than seeing much along the way we only stopped at the Sunset Grille. The Sunset Grille is right at the southern end of Marathon. I think there used to be a man-made beach there, but if there was, it was completely eroded away. Otherwise, everything else there, including the pool and patio, were in great shape.

We only stopped for a bite to eat. I had a Cuban… I’m driving so no booze for me. But Sgt Pepper on the other hand had two Tiki Parrots. Really… that’s a booze drink they serve there. I don’t know what’s in it, but after two, Sgt Pepper needed me to carry him to the car. Then it was on down the road. Next stop… Bone Island

Barrrrrark… Are we there yet?… Barrrrrark

Key West – Thanks to Little Bastard Alberto, it rained almost the whole time on Cayo Hueso. Cayo Hueso is the original Spanish name of Key West. It was a heavy rain most of the time with a little bit of wind. But I wasn’t about to let the rain spoil my fun.

I took a look around to see how Bone Island is doing after last fall’s Big Bitch Irma. As it turns out, there is very little damage remaining that I could see.

All of my favorite places for liquid refreshments were fine. I suspect some may have had new coats of paint. In any case, everything was bright and shiny. I took a couple of pics to show you what I mean:

A "La Te Da Cosmo"... mmmmm-mmmmm good

A “La Te Da Cosmo”… mmmmm-mmmmm good

 

The best Painkillers this side of the island of Jost Van Dyke

The best Painkillers this side of the island of Jost Van Dyke

There was one exception… a t-shirt shop on the corner of Green and Whitehead was almost destroyed. It used to be the “Tropical Corner”. This was the first T-shirt shop most cruise ship passengers would come to as they walked into Key West. The place right next door was where they sold tickets for the “hop on – hop off” bus. It’s gone. The following pic shows the before and the after of the stores.

Hard to believe this is the same place... but it is. Before Big Bitch Irma... and after.

Hard to believe this is the same place… but it is. Before Big Bitch Irma… and after.

I’m going to leave out all the debauchery along Duval Street. You’ll just have to buy the book when it comes out. I do want to tell you about one special place. I was making my way to some of my old haunts… with Sgt Pepper on my shoulder. He was suffering a bit of a hangover from the two Tiki Parrots yesterday afternoon and was being kinda quiet.

I was peddling my bicycle on my way along Elisabeth street from Caroline, going to Amelia and then over to Duval. (Actually, I was headed over to visit folks… and a “painkiller” at the Rum Bar.) Suddenly Sgt Pepper went berserk.

“Barrrrrark, barrrrrark, barrrrrark, barrrrrark, barrrrrark, barrrrrark, barrrrrark, barrrrrark, , barrrrrark, barrrrrark, barrrrrark.

When I was finally able to calm him down a little bit and asked, “What’s wrong?”

He answered, “Barrrrrark, Nancy Forrester’s barrrrrark”

He flew off my shoulder… he never does that… and landed on a sign at 518 Elisabeth Street. It was a sign for Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden.Now I knew about the “Garden of Eden”… the roof-top place on top of the Bull & Whistle. So I wondered what Sgt. Pepper was getting me into.

Well, I have to tell you… Nancy Forrester’s garden is way better than the one on the top of the Bull & Whistle. Nancy’s garden is in her backyard. It’s a place where she rescues parrots. It’s small and way underfunded, but she is currently caring for 23 unwanted parrots. She relies entirely on donations. (More about donations in a minute.)

I couldn’t believe it…. nobody wanted these parrots. They were beautiful!. Nancy spent a lot of time telling us about what she does there. Of course, I already knew that a parrot is a lifelong friend, partner, and companion. It takes commitment to have a parrot. A parrot can live to be 100 years old. So if you want a parrot, it is indeed a lifelong commitment.

While we were there, Nancy introduced us to two of the parrots she is caring for. First was Mr. Peaches… an astonishing Moluccan Cockatoo. Mr. Peaches would sing and dance, but maybe most amazing is that he would play games on visitors smartphones. Really! He learned to use his tongue on the screen to play games. These Cockatoos are an endangered species, and Nancy wants to do what she can.

Mr. Peaches lovin' the music.

Mr. Peaches lovin’ the music.

 

Next up was “Batman”… a magnificent McCaw He was a bit of a talker. He and Sgt. Pepper carried on quite a conversation. I have no clue what they were talking about since I don’t speak parrot. But knowing Sgt. Pepper, he was getting information on all the hot chicks in the area.

Batman spreading his wings.

Batman spreading his wings.

You can tell Nancy is passionate about what she does. She welcomes visitors to her garden and will spend as much time talking about her passion as you would like. Her garden (and her kindness) are one of those little-known places in Key West everyone should visit.

Don’t be shy. There’s just a little path along the side of her house that leads to her “Garden.” If you weren’t looking for it… or had Sgt. Pepper with you… you almost would miss it. From the front, it looks like many of the houses in Key West. But the path does lead to the garden and Nancy welcomes everyone.

She asks for a 10 dollar per person (or per parrot) donation. It was worth way more than the $10 bucks. As soon as I got home, I sent her some more to help out. You can donate with a credit card or Paypal. With the weather the way it was, she hasn’t been getting many visitors and needs to care for a lot of birds.

It was a great way to spend the late morning. Sgt. Pepper and I sat there sort of playing with all the parrots… feeding them some banana chips… talking with them… and listening to Nancy tell about the parrots. Even Sgt. Pepper learned stuff.

We were there for at least two hours. It was sprinkling on and off most of the time. I would have stayed longer, but it started raining harder, so we left.

I spent the rest of the day doing Key West stuff… visiting old haunts, and having liquid refreshments. But my time at Nancy Forrester’s Secret Garden is one of my best Key West memories ever. Anyone visiting Key West owes it to themselves to visit and spend some time there.

Visit Nancy’s website or her facebook page.

Click here for Nancy’s facebook page

Click here for Nancy’s web site.

The trip to the Keys was way too short, and I spent too much time hunkered down due to all the rain from Little Bastard Alberto. There were no sunsets… no walk-abouts (or crawls) down Duval… and none of the adventures I hoped for.

So… another trip is in order. SOON.

“Barrrrrark, When are we going back… when are we going back?  barrrrrark”

Read part 1 – Escape to Key West – Part 1

 

 

Escape to Key West

I’m in serious need of an escape. And Key West is the perfect place to escape to. They are accepting of anyone and anything. I’m pretty sure you could march butt naked down Duval Street with a bottle of Patron, drinking shots and with a boom box blasting out LMFAO’s Shot, Shot, Shot… shot, shot – Shot, Shot, Shot… shot, shot, EVERYBODY”… and no one would bat an eye.

 

So that’s the first thing I’m gunna do when I get there. Well… except for the naked part… and ok… maybe not down the middle of Duval. But the Patron Tequila and the shots are on… along with a few of my other favorites.

You may think that because I live in the Northernmost Caribbean (Northwest Florida on Kokomo Island,) it would be easy to get to Key West. After all, it’s Florida… just a hop, skip and a jump. But you would be wrong. It’s not so easy.

First, I have to get off Kokomo Island. The mail boat only comes once a month, and since Jimmy Buffett quit flying his Albatross, he won’t come to pick me up anymore. So I have to pack the magic bus with everything I own to have enough stuff to make the arduous journey. And don’t forget… SCUBA gear… enough stuff to almost sink the magic bus.

Ummmm… about the magic bus. I can’t tell you much about it or the genie letting me use it will take it back. Let’s just say, that it will get me across the expanse of water from Kokomo Island to the mainland. Once there, it turns into sort of a modern version of a 60’s hippie VW bus.

MagicBus2

That’s all the magic I’m allowed to use. After that, I have to drive it down the highways and byways just like any other vehicle. It does have other magical properties, but I’m not allowed to use it except in emergencies. One day I’m going to find out what that red button in the middle of the dash does.

So… after crossing the great channel I’ve still got about 700 miles to go to get to Key West. I hear you… you’re screaming, SEVEN HUNDRED MILES!… But you’re already in Florida… how can it be that far?” Well believe me, it is. And that last 100 miles is down a two-lane road. The lookie-loos driving that road are going so sloooooow. It seems like they are always going along at 20 mph trying to find turn off to “No Name Key”… or to the “Square Grouper Bar and Grille.” There’s no way you can make good time down that road… the “Overseas Highway.”

But I always have a plan for that last 100 miles. I take a separate day for that part. I stop in Key Largo and spend a day or two there. Key Largo is the SCUBA capital of the world. This may be the only tourist area in the world that has more SCUBA diver operations than T-shirt shops.

I spend a day or two or three in Key Largo SCUBA diving. That way I can have breakfast at Bogie’s… “Here’s looking at you kid.” I also have a mahi-mahi fish dinner at Mrs. Macs in Key Largo.

After my time in Key Largo, I spend a whole day driving that 100 miles down the Overseas Highway… U.S. 1. I go to No Name Key… have a slice of pizza at the No Name Bar… and stop in at the Square Grouper.

By the way… this and all the places I’ll be stopping at are all part of an upcoming book, “Travels With a Naked Parrot.” I’m making this trip with a parrot. His name is Sergeant Pepper. You’ll recognize him and me because I go almost everywhere with him. He’s perched on my shoulder most of the time.

So off I go on a week-long trip to Key Weird. I hear it already:

“Barrrrak, Are we there yet… Barrrrrak.

Read more about the trip at: Escape to Key West – Part 2

 

 

I Support the 2nd Amendment

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Maybe the most talked about topic in recent months is gun control… or perhaps the need to have more… or perhaps to have less of it. Sometimes I think it’s about supporting the person on your side of the fence.

Before I continue… I’m sure that many of the social media posts on the subject and some that repost them have never read the 2nd amendment. So, here it is:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

 That’s it… nothing more and nothing less. Nothing about hand-guns… nothing about AR-15s… nothing about tanks, bazookas or rocket-propelled-grenades. Go ahead. Check it out for yourself. I’ll wait right here till you get back from Googling it…

Now, here’s what I think. It’s clear to me that the “Founding Fathers” were afraid that the United States would not remain free without a “well regulated Militia.” There was no standing military at the time… only state Militias.

And the Militias of the time were not full time… these were citizen soldiers much like our reserves or National Guard. Most importantly here, these citizen soldiers used their personal weapons when called upon. So it was absolutely necessary for them to “keep and bear arms.”

Today, our militia… the military, reserves and National Guard… provide our soldiers and citizen soldiers any arms they need. Still, in a dire emergency… like when Mexico or Canada invades, we may need more than our Army, Marines, Navy, US Air Force, Coast Guard, National Guard and Reserves have.

In that case, we may have to call on every able-bodied citizen to take the weapons out of their closets to defend our nation against the hoards attacking us.

Now, who should be allowed to have those guns in their closets? Well… here’s where the pissing contest begins. But I will start with some I think everyone will agree with me on.

  1. Terrorists that have claimed allegiance to an organization intent on causing harm to the United States or United States citizens SHOULD NOT HAVE GUNS.
  2.  Convicted violent felons that have committed armed crimes… particularly if they have already used a weapon in the commission of a crime SHOULD NOT HAVE GUNS.
  3.  Crazy and berserk persons who clearly intend violent harm to themselves or others SHOULD NOT HAVE GUNS.

OK… see that wasn’t so hard. We can all find some stuff we can agree on. Let’s see if we can find some more.

  1. Guns should not be allowed in a courtroom except for law enforcement officials.
  2. Guns should not be allowed at political rallies except for law enforcement officials.
  3. Six-year-olds should not be allowed to purchase guns… maybe not even seven-year-olds.
  4. No one, except law enforcement and military (militia), will be allowed to purchase 50 cal. machine guns, bazookas, or rocket propelled-grenades.

See… we can find ground for common sense laws. I think we can all agree on everything I’ve put out there so far. Well… except maybe that last one on 50 cal. machine guns. I mean, some may claim that they need that for hunting hawgs… or for their collection… or for self-defense of their apartment. But for now, I’ll assume 50 cal. machine guns should be banned from private ownership.

There are already lots of laws controlling guns. There are laws in every one of the 50 states and at the federal level that in one form or another are those I’ve mentioned above. In fact, if you re-read the 2nd amendment, there is nothing about private ownership… NOTHING!!! The founding fathers were very specific… they intended guns for the militia.

Lawmakers, Attorney Generals, and Supreme Court Justices have all agreed that the 2nd amendment does not provide for private gun ownership. Now you shouldn’t take my word for that. I mean, this is the internet. Anybody can say anything. So go ahead, look it up. Come back here when you’re done. I’ll wait for you.

Okay. You say we need guns so that the hoards from Canada don’t invade. We’ve all seen it… “No one would ever try to take over Merica because of all the guns here.” I do have a proposal for this contingency in a minute, but let’s look at how much sense this proposed defense makes.

Yep… if the hoards did invade, we would have a lot of guns for them to overcome. Since they know that, they would come at us with aircraft, tanks, and armored personnel carriers. How well do you think the guns you have at home would do against that. And… they would have 50 cal machine guns, bazookas, and rocket-propelled grenades. As you try to defend your apartment with your handgun, they would call in an air strike and make you disappear. Or that tank would put a round into your bedroom where your loved ones are hunkered down.

Now… about that proposal I have. You say you still want a gun for defense against the hoards invading our country. I say GREAT! I admire your patriotism. So here’s my proposal. Join our militia. (Reserves, National Guard, etc.) Buy your weapon of choice… pistol, AR-15 or even a bazooka. You will be trained in the proper use of many weapons and how to properly defend your apartment.

In fact, I think this should be required of every American. Stand up for your country by being willing to die for it. Once you’ve joined the military, the weapon(s) of your choice will be stored in the armory. You can check it out to go to the practice range on the military installation… any time you want. You need to maintain proficiency, so you will be required to check it out at least once a year to take it to the range.

If the hoards do make it ashore in Montana, then the weapons will be passed out to all our militia. Our great national defense will begin. With every man and woman armed, just let the hoards try something.

Now… if we can just find a defense against the zombie apocalypse.

Next up on the subject… More ways to support the 2nd amendment: a handgun in every home.

But first, I’ve got to take a little trip to the Florida Keys. After all, I seriously need an escape to a land the hoards won’t invade. Zombies are another thing. Zombies seem to like Key West, but at least I’ll have no worries about the hoards.