Letting Tourons Back to Key West

I usually try to keep it lite in my posts… especially during hard times. But today, I’m taking a mostly serious look at the situation in which we find ourselves. I was spurred on by “Key West Lou.” I follow his daily blog about Key West and, of late, “no punches pulled political commentary.” CLICK HERE TO GO TO HIS BLOG

One of Lou’s recent blogs started with:

Key West is closed down. Duval dead!

One of Key West’s famous gentleman’s clubs is The Red Garter on Duval. A strip joint with class. There is a large sign in its window: Sorry….. We’re Clothed Until Further Notice.

A delicate touch! A Key West one!

Lou’s comments and the sign are clever ways to point out Key West is in dire straits during the Cootie Bug crisis.

This pic was posted on twitter by Reese Piper, a stripper at the Red Garter. The comment with the pic was, “My club in Florida’ Clothed Until Further Notice’”
Reese @reesepipewrites proclaims of herself: Freelance writer. Mostly sex work, disability, & the intimate details of my life. Stripper.

Key West (and all of the Florida Keys) are almost entirely dependent on tourism. There is no other industry of consequence in Key West. Right now, there is a roadblock preventing all but residents from entering The Keys. During normal times upwards of 20,000 visitors are in Key West every day… sometimes more. While the full-time resident population of “Bone Island” is small, about 25,000, I would venture to say 95% or more of the residents are in one way or another dependent on tourism. Key West is indeed in trouble.

Monroe County Sheriff’s Office Col. Lou Caputo directs a driver wanting to continue down the Florida Keys Overseas Highway near Key Largo, Fla. Friday, March 27, 2020. The Keys have been temporarily closed to visitors since March 22, because of the coronavirus crisis. Keys officials decided to established the checkpoint Friday to further lessen the threat of virus transmission to people in the subtropical island chain. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY (Andy Newman/Florida Keys News Bureau/HO)
Road block allowing only residents into The Keys.

I sometimes comment on Lou’s blog… he’ll let anyone comment. So today, I commented about the “clothed till further notice” sign. I said:

Perhaps the sign should read, “We’re clothed until Fantasy Fest.”

(If you don’t know what Fantasy Fest is… it’s held around Halloween every year and can be best described as a “public tits & tease. I wrote about it last October.
For adults… HERE’S THE LINK TO THE FANTASY FEST PAGE. )

After reading Lou’s blog, I went looking for pics or videos of Key West during the shutdown. There’s one video of a bike ride down Duval just about sunset time. It’s eerie. All the places I like to go to have their doors closed and no visitors. Capt’n Tony’s, Sloppy Joes, and yes, The Red Garter, are all locked-up tight. There are no tourists. Even Margaritaville is closed except for take-out food.

Margaritaville closed! The horror of it all!!!!

(Here’s a LINK TO THE VIDEO, which is about 50 minutes long. Seeing The Rock like this is very eerie.)

There is some truth to my “clothed till Fantasy Fest” comment on Lou’s blog. I mean, unless you’ve recovered from the virus, there is no immunity. And with a vaccine maybe 18 months away, what are we to do. Visitors are the lifeblood of “The Rock.” Can it survive all the way to Fantasy Fest… or longer?

 And if Key West does open up for Fantasy Fest… or any time before there is an effective vaccination, what will happen? Of course… Tourons will flock to Key West by the tens of thousands. They will eat, drink, and party all over Key West… especially right down Duval.

(Touron = Tourist + Moron – Not all tourists are morons and vice-versa.)

Of maybe 20,000 visitors every day of Fantasy Fest, a few… maybe 100 or so, will have (or carry) Cootie Bugs into the bars and restaurants… and right down the middle of Duval. They will visit all my favorite places like the Chart Room, the “Trat”, the Rum Bar, or Aqua for dueling bartenders. And yes… Margaritaville!

So… I have to ask: Do you want Key West and the world to wait 18 months for a vaccine, or; perhaps, just perhaps, it’s time to rip off the Band-Aid and get it over with. Yes… it will be a lot like walking naked down the middle of Duval street… all exposed.

But that’s precisely what Sweden is doing. Not the naked part… but the “ripping off the Band-Aid part. They are allowing mostly “business as usual” and accepting that rather than taking months for everyone to get Cootie Bugs, they are getting it over with… and then on with life.

Hummm… thinking about it and considering it’s Sweden… maybe the naked part does apply.

So how long do we wait? It’s six months till Fantasy Fest. Is that long enough? Probably not. In a short period, the Turons are sure to bring the Cootie Bugs into every bar, restaurant, hotel, and t-shirt shop in town.

Southernmost Point before Cootie Bugs
Southernmost Point post “lock-down.”

Can we even wait until Fantasy Fest… six months from now? If we wait that long, then there will be no bars, restaurants, hotels, and trinket shops for visitors to come to. All but wealthy and retired residents will be forced to leave. They will have to find work elsewhere. Then there will be nobody to serve the booze, no musicians, no one to work in the t-shirt shops…. And no one will be at the front desk of the hotels. Those who make Key West the vibrant place that it is will be gone. The Rum Bar, the Trat, and maybe even the Chart Room will be gone. And I’m sure we can’t wait 18 months until there’s a vaccine.

Finally… if we’re not back to normal by Fantasy Fest, I’m walking naked down the middle of Duval street. That should be motivation enough to get re-opened.

So I ask… when should re-open? When do we “rip the Band-Aid off?”  I’m glad I don’t have to make the decision.

Silver Linings Everywhere

As has been my morning routine for a lot of years, the first thing I do is get a bowl of cereal or oatmeal, make a quick check of emails for anything important, and get a cup of coffee.  Then I sit down to watch NBC’s Today Show.

For the past few weeks, the Today Show makes me cry twice. In the beginning, it’s all Corona all the time… and I cry tears of sorrow. But as the show goes on, a few bright spots start to shine through. Of late, Harry Smith and Cynthia McFadden have had great stories of how people all over are stepping up in the time of crisis. These make me cry too, but they are tears of joy.

A grandma in Detroit doing what she can to help.

More than anything, this Corona Bastard Virus has shown what WE are made of. The “WE” I’m referring to is the collective American and world-wide spirit. Every day people from all walks of life are “stepping-up” to do whatever they can. Sometimes it’s just the little things that put a smile on a little girl’s face… the grandpa dancing in the street a safe distance away from his granddaughter to make her happy.

Or maybe it’s the firefighters saluting all the medical workers. This time it’s the medical workers that are running to the danger.

And of course, stories abound about people giving money. Athletes and celebrities everywhere are donating… millions. But it’s not just the rich. Piano Bar and lounge entertainers are giving free concerts on Facebook and YouTube. Far more than a lounge entertainer, the next clip is Niel Sedaka doing a Facebook Concert. You may not know who he is unless you are a Baby Boomer. But you are sure to recognize the songs he has written. He has written for and collaborated with performers such as Elton John, and The Capitan & Tennille.

Neil Sedaka is doing these every day on YouTube and FaceBook. If you don’t know who he is, ask your Grand-Dude

People are donating food to medical workers or old folks that need help. One place on an interstate was giving meals to truckers moving goods to grocery stores. There are others just going to work and doing their job. Yet they are the ones that get us our groceries and other essential stuff.

Yesterday I beamed over to the “mainland” to pick-up groceries. I ordered it all online and drove to the grocery store. I parked in the designated spot and opened up the rear doors of the Magic Bus. A person came out wearing a mask and loaded everything in the back. I offered a tip, but the reply was, “I’m just doing my job, and a tip isn’t necessary. Give it to your favorite charity.” I think that’s much more than “just doing their job.”

Hummmm… I think grocery store workers are some of the heroes on the front lines. Even though they try to do everything they can to keep everything clean and disinfected, think of the hundreds or maybe thousands of customers coming into the store. How many of those customers are bringing in Cootie Bugs with them? Well… when you consider many of us are isolating ourselves for safety, anyone working in a grocery store is putting themselves in “harms way”. I just hope they don’t bring it home and give it to their kids.

Then there’s the soccer mom in New Braunfels, Tx. She’s a mother of six, cranking out “COVID-masks” by hand. She’s making 40+ a day… in-between homeschooling and everything else a mom of six has to do while her husband is away at work. OH… what does her husband do? He’s a US Army Officer and works at the Brook Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas.

Mom of six making these masks. She said she only hopes to cover the cost of materials.

Sometimes it’s the simple things that make a difference. There’s a California girl who works at Macy’s. When the Cootie Bugs caused the Macy’s store to close, she was home and out of work. Not one to bemoan her problems, she found a way to help. She volunteered with Project Door Drop. This all while battling Melanoma herself. She just said, “It makes me feel good to help out.”

Volunteering to help at Project Door Drop.
Project Door Drop is a non-profit organization working to bring pre-packaged boxes of food to the elderly and immunocompromised within the City of Lancaster. All food comes directly from the LA Food Bank. One box is estimated to feed 2 people for 1 week.

Feel sad, and feel-good stories abound. Perhaps the one that includes both ends was provided this past weekend on the Today Show by Harry Smith. I think this covers the week better than anything else I’ve come across. In the end, it shows just how good people can be… it shows there is a rainbow on the horizon.

Groundhog Day… all over again.

I’ve watched this video many times. Every time I watch it, I get a little something in my eye. The full story about the guy in Texas tells you more about him, his neighbors and Americans. You really need to watch this. Here’s the link: Ventilator shortage solution by small company in Texas (opens up in a new tab)

The people with stories during this time are almost endless. Yes… this is a hard time, but if you look you can find the silver linings. Mostly these silver linings are in people… what they do and how they are helping each other. I encourage you to post comments with your story, or the story you have learned about.

Just What The World Needs Now

In the midst of this epidemic, has your faith in mankind been restored?… at least a little bit? I mean… people are kinder… gentler toward each other. Every day… almost every minute you see some act of kindness. People are giving of themselves to others. Throughout time, ordinary people have stepped up to do extraordinary things… ordinary people becoming extraordinary heroes.

Before you read on, click on the Youtube link below and let it play in the background.

Read more about this video and music at the bottom of the page.

Today’s hero doesn’t fit the mold we’ve come to expect… or do they? We’ve come to expect a hero to be someone in uniform that goes into danger. But take away the uniform and what do you have? A mostly ordinary person who is put in a situation and decides they are going to make a difference.

Usually, it isn’t the Generals, Police, or Fire Chief leading the way into danger. More often than not it’s the low ranking, low paid “soldier” down in the trenches. Today’s soldier is the one that delivers your mail, packages, or groceries to your door. It’s the truck drivers delivering TP to your store. (Hurry up… I’m almost out.) They are taking a chance exposing themselves when the rest of us are “hunkered down.”

Those that are wearing uniforms are still out there too. Themilitary, police and firefighters are still on duty… answering the call inthe face of new danger. Then too, some are wearing uniforms we don’t ordinarilythink of as “soldiers.” Nurses, doctors, orderlies are especially on the “frontlines.” They are the soldiers in the middle of the battle.

Most of them will say, I was just doing my job… or it wasthe right thing to do. Today, in every walk of life, we see people stepping upto do the right thing. Sometimes it’s rich people donating their time andmoney, but more often than not it’s the everyday people that are out there “inthe trenches.”

In the deepest, darkest and desperate times of World War II in Great Britain, their Prime Minister Winston Churchill gave a speech telling the people it would be remembered as their “finest hour.”

Perhaps this will be the world’s finest hour. I have seenmore good in mankind in the last couple of weeks than I have seen in a longtime. It’s not just here in the US…it’s all around the world. People are helping out any way they can.

People are working together in ways that we couldn’t imaginejust a few weeks ago. There’s the neighborhood that all go out to say the “Pledgeof Allegiance” with their kids in the morning. Neighbors throw impromptubirthday parties for little kids by driving around in their cars and truckshonking their horns. People everywhere are doing what they can to make adifference. They are looking out for each other. While having to remain apart,they are coming together

Keep it up humans.

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The music for “What the World Needs Now” was written by Hal David (Lyrics) and Burt Bacharach (Music) in the summer of 1965. It became a “top 40” hit. This video version is the “brainchild” of Shelbie Rassler, a student at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. The video below from the March 29 “Sunday Today,” tells about how she and her fellow students came together to put together the video. It is yet another example of people coming together in ways we couldn’t imagine just days ago. (By the way… seems the music of the 60s is still holding up pretty well.)

Adventure to the… Mailbox

I went to pick up the mail this morning. As I did I thought to myself, “Do you know where your mail has been?”

I mean… who has handled it. Perhaps I should ask how many people have handled it. I think it’s likely that it has been handled by twenty or thirty postal workers along the way. But… it is worse than that.

The envelopes in my mailbox have not been practicing social distancing from other envelopes. I dare say, they may have come in close contact with several thousand other envelopes. And none of them are using flap sanitizer. You know those flaps have to have been licked by… well I can’t imagine the horror of it all.

I peered down into my mailbox and saw a small mound of mail waiting for me. I started to reach in, but before I touched anything I pulled back my arm like I had discovered a rattlesnake ready to strike. I suddenly realized all of my mail has been contaminated by the dreaded Cootie Bugs.

What was I to do. I was expecting some important mail… money! (Actually a check from Carnival with my massive winnings from my last cruise… $11.73.) I wanted to get the mail out, but I also wanted to minimize my exposure to the Cootie Bugs. For a minute I contemplated all the risks. First, it was the mail itself. How would I handle it.

Then there was the mailbox. As the mail was slid into the deep, dark, cavernous recesses and corners of the mailbox, I’m sure the postal carrier (politically correct for mailman… ours is a man) must be covered in Cooties since he had been delivering thousands of Cootie covered pieces of mail. Therefore, the whole mailbox must be covered in Cooties.

After contemplating my dilemma, I realized I had just found a use for that closet full of 100,000 Walmart plastic grocery bags I had been saving. I would use those as “gloves” for my arms. I poked two holes in the bottom… one for one finger and one for my thumb. It would be no problem to decontaminate my finger and thumb… spray with anti-Cootie bug stuff and then wash my hands for three hours. So… I pulled the bag up over my left arm,  reached in, grabbed the mail, pulled it out and closed the mailbox with my right hand.

Doh… now my right hand had Cooties.

When I got back to the house, I opened the door… Doh… now the door-knob has Cooties. Once inside, I didn’t know what to do with the mail. I couldn’t put it down anywhere because I didn’t want the whole house to have Cooties. Finally I walked back into the spare bedroom and put the mail down on the nightstand. Fortunately, no one is using that bedroom.

I peeled off the Walmart bag, dipped it in a bucket of gasoline and torched it. Take that you Cootie Bugs! Then I proceeded to hose down everything I had touched with disinfectant. We hoarded 743 gallons of disinfectant when we got word the Cootie Bugs were coming. (We didn’t get to the TP till it was gone. I don’t think Walmart plastic bags will work well for that.)

Just to be sure I didn’t get any Cootie Bugs on me, I stripped off my cloths and burned them too. That was quite a show for the neighbors. Finally, I got in the shower and washed everything thoroughly. I sang “Happy Birthday” to myself four times for every part I washed… six times for a couple of parts.

Finally, it was time to plop down, turn on the TV and tunein my favorite sports show. Doh… replays of the first spring training game of1984.

Just as I was about to doze off, there came a quick knock-knock-knock at the door. I opened the door, but there was no one there. Out of the corner my eye I saw the flash FedEx person making a mad-dash for the truck. I understood… they don’t want Cooties either.

There on the porch step was a box. I realized the box had not been practicing social distancing with other boxes. Out came the Walmart bags, and into the spare bedroom went the box. This box was covered with plastic wrap, so I put it in a separate area from the mail. I called the mail area the 24 hour area, and the plastic stuff the 72 hour area.

About that time, there was another knock at the door. It was the pizza delivery. The young girl held out the pizza with her bare hand, and held out something for me to sign with the other hand. I froze for a minute. Where could I put the pizza?… would the pizza itself be covered with Cooties? With my hand and arm still wrapped in the Walmart bag, I signed for the pizza and told her, “Enjoy the Pizza’s. It’s on me.”

I guess I just have to eat beans till tomorrow. The food pick-up I made two days ago is still in the back of the Magic Bus. That quarantine will be up in another 24 hours.

Of course this has been tongue-in-cheek… sorta. But I do want to thank all the people who are out there delivering stuff like the mail, packages, and food. You are the front-line troops in this war.

Journey to the Land of Cootie Bugs

For the past few days I’ve been hunkered-down here on Kokomo Island. I want to avoid the dreaded Cootie Bug until it’s time to fly out to the Great Ho Chi Minh Trail Ride.By hunkered-down I mean I’m hangin’ in my safe-room bunker deep below the earth. This bunker is a cross between a man-cave and the NORAD command center buried deep in the mountains of Colorado. Except NORAD has nothing on this bunker. Mine is deeper into the earth and has much better stuff.

I have big screen TVs hard wired to all the sports channels. Oops… they’re all blank now. That’s okay, I’ve also got live feeds from entertainment venues all across the country. Oops… no live entertainment. That’s okay because I’ve got a tequila pipeline all the way to Jalisco, Mexico. So it’s “party on.”

But… today I had to come out of the safe-room to take care of some stuff I couldn’t put off any more. I had to go to the bank, the post-office and the store. It wasn’t pretty.

The Magic Bus transporter to beam me off Kokomo Island.

After the magic bus transported me off of Kokomo Island, I went to the bank. As I went in, I used my hands to open the door. You know… just the usual way. But then I thought about it and I was sure Cooties must have jumped on my hands when I opened the door.

OH NOOOOOO!!! I’ve got Cooties

I was 7th in line. Everyone in the line kept their distance. They all probably opened the door with their hands so they were certain to have had the Cooties too. Not to worry. I said to myself, “The Cooties are only on your hands, so just don’t touch your face… or any other parts… and you will be ok.”

Have you ever said to yourself, “Don’t touch your face.” As soon as I thought that, my nose started to itch. And I’m sure something was crawling on my cheek. And there was no doubt in my mind that a spider was spinning a web and laying eggs in my hair. Then my ear itched and then my other cheek. Pretty soon was about to leave. I couldn’t stand it. I had to go to the Magic Bus for some anti-Cootie wipes for my hands so I could scratch.

When it itches, but you can’t scratch your face.

But just then, it was my turn at the teller. First I had to put my card in the little machine and then enter my PIN. I hesitated to enter my PIN because I thought of all the people who had been putting Cooties on the keypad. But then since I figured I already had cooties on my hands, more wouldn’t matter… as long as I didn’t touch my face.

Now my face was on fire, but I managed not to touch my face throughout the transaction. The teller had been wearing those baby blue surgical gloves as she helped each customer. So those gloves must have had Cooties too. But, she wasn’t touching her face. I was wondering if her nose itched as much as mine, but I didn’t say anything.

I was getting cash out so the teller dutifully counted the the money. I saw she had it right the first time, and I just wanted to get out of there to wash my hands and scratch my nose. But noooooo.. she proceeded to count it again and again… 3,793 times to be sure the amount was correct. I should have asked her if her nose was starting to itch just for revenge.

Finally she was done. You guessed it… after all that handling, the money was surely covered in Cooties. So I asked the teller to put the bills in an envelope. She did and handed me the Cootie covered envelope with the Cootie covered bills inside. What could I do? I took the envelope.

Now my whole face itched. I ran back to the magic Bus as fast as I could. I used my clicker to unlock the doors. I had Cootie Killer wipes in the car so I ripped one open and cleaned my hands. After I cleaned my hands twice, I wiped down the door handle and the clicker. I put the Cootie infested envelope and money in the glove box. I then cleaned my hands again as well as the whole surface of the Magic Bus. Now I can’t use any of that money until all the Cooties die off… about 17 years from now.

By the time I was done with all that… my nose didn’t itch anymore.

When I got to the Post Office, there was a door and a line there. And the tellers were doing much the same as the one at the bank… handling everyone’s Cootie covered stuff.

I really didn’t need those stamps after all.

But I couldn’t avoid going to the store… I was low on toilet paper. Yep… you guessed it… no TP in the entire Northernmost Caribbean.  So I’ve implemented rationing.

This should hold me for about 73 days

And if that runs out… It’s a good thing I saved all those catalogs from Victoria’s Secret. Don’t scoff at me… I was saving them for an emergency. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Now I’m back in my man-cave – Cootie bug bunker. I flipped on ESPN… no good. I went to FOX Sports… nope. So I went to the emergency recorded material to find tonight’s entertainment.  I made myself a frozen concoction to help me hang on… and a shot of tequila… plopped down in the recliner and began to binge watch seventeen seasons of the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show.

Hey… I’m just a guy.