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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Conch Republic Independence Week, USCG, Fried Phone

My phone fried itself. The AT&T Blackberry was under warranty, however AT&T were happier using the $50.00 deductible and charging me the fifty clams on the insurance. The charger input was rusted, although the AT&T store verified it had never been underwater. Hey! I live on an island in the Gulf Stream. Lots of salt in the air and things with electrical connections rust quite easily here. Don’t believe me? Just as Dan Simpson of Private Ear Studios who is religious about treating audio connections with an elixir-spray that prevents corrosion. Dan’s been here 25 years dealing with it, he knows. Knucklehead me, it never occurred that I should use it on my phone. Personally, I feel it’s a design flaw making it out of a metal that will rust, in an atmosphere such as the one we live in here in Key West. AT&T feel differently. Live and learn. Contract is up in fourteen months.

Key West imbibes in more alcohol per capita than any other city in both the Conch Republic and yes, the U.S.A. It’s funny. When I first moved here and got a job, instead of the early morning gab around the coffee machine regarding the ball game the previous night, here it was what bars were hit and the escapades that went on! “Oh man! We hit Willie T’s and I was doing shooters of Jaeger! Then we went to Cowboy Bill’s and there I started with Gossling’s and cola…. This guy comes up to me and I tell him ‘I OWN this town!!!! Then we ended up at Island Dogs where I switched to Mount Gay Rum and we met this guy from Chicago. I swear he must have been in the Mafia….” On a typical morning, that’s what I’d hear when I got in.

Michael McCloud’s “The Conch Republic Song”, which is the National Anthem of the Conch Republic, states speaking of Key West “… where the ladies are lovely and drinking’s considered a sport…”. This statement couldn’t ring more true, in this town. In other places it may be something approaching a taboo to speak about, however in Key West it’s the fuel that drives the economy. I’ve heard that there are 300 liquor licenses on this little two-mile by five-mile island. The Wine/Beer and Liquor trucks heading here from the mainland weigh more than the trucks hauling gasoline here, which are limited to ¾ full, because of weight on the bridges, hence our higher gas prices. Bar alcohol gets cart blanche however.

Because of this, this blog will, from this point onward, have a libation featured!!! Tonight’s feature is Hurricane Reef Pale Ale. Hurricane Reef Pale Ale is a very palatable ale indeed. 100% Barley with Cascade hops from the Pacific Northwest, it’s a full American Ale, with a good body for the Spring weather we’re having currently….

Nights, low 70’s, days low 80’s, and there’s always a breeze. Perfect! The best time of year… perhaps!

Conch Republic Independence Days are at hand! On April 23rd, 1982 the Conch Republic seceded from the United States and the celebration continues to this day. This years events ran from April 16th through the 25th. Sir Peter Anderson, Secretary General of The Conch Republic, is at the helm of the event, as always. Events ranging from “Drag Races”, in which drag queens, in full regalia, run through obstacle courses, all run for the charity benefit of Helpline. Also, there’s the Conch Republic investiture party for the benefit of the Conch Republic Foster Children’s Fund. Pet Strolls benefits the Xena Fund. There’s also a bed race, sponsored by the Fairvilla Megastore. A Parade as well, naturally! With a multi day event, how could they not have a parade? A seven-foot Key Lime Pie in Mallory Square!!! The list went on and on.

Without doubt, in their finest moment, the Conch Republic Navy went into battle against the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Sawfish. The Schooner “Wolf”, carrying the Admiral’s Flag of The Conch Republic’s Admiral Finbar, who participated in the original insurrection, 28 years ago, commanded the naval operations. The Wolf, along with John McKean’s Appledore Schooner and several other vessels of the Conch Republic Navy, in addition to the land based Army artillery section, plus a true squadron of Conch Republic aircraft from the Conch Republic Air Force, all took part. Weapons of choice were water balloons, toilet paper, and water cannon. Although it appeared that the Sawfish had The Conch Republic Nave entirely lathered with their water cannon, later at Schooner Wharf the commander of the vessel surrendered his sword to Admiral Finbar and was subsequently conscripted into the Conch Republic Navy, crew and all. A hilarious speech was given by the Coast Guard commander, which had the entire bar in stitches and really imbibed the spirit of Key West and the Conch Republic. Videos below! Who would have believed a commander in the USCG would have such a great sense of humor? Long live the USCG! Long Live the Conch Republic!

Big thanks to Sir Peter for anchoring the event, with a ton of help from lots of businesses and citizens in the community! Thanks to all!

“All The Best From Key West”©

Chris “Boris” Rehm


Wednesday, April 14, 2010

NAS Air Show, El Alamo, Still no dogs at Schooner Wharf

Over the weekend the Key West Naval Air Station, located on Boca Chica Key, just a few miles and two keys up from Key West, hosted their annual Air Show last weekend. What a great show it was as well! F/A 18’s, F16’s, Fat Albert, C117, P51 Mustang, Corsair, T6, …. The list goes on….. oh yeah… The Blue Angles as well! What a great show it was. A day full of adrenalin surges as the jets and planes zipped by. The most emotional for me was the fly by of the current USAF F16 flying wing to wing with the Army Air Corps P51 Mustang of WWII (The USAF was not formed until after WWII). The most thrilling was the Blue Angles. However, the scale of excitement for the entire day was never below an 8.5 on a scale of 10 the entire day, regardless of what was happening at any given time. Hats off and a salute to the Key West Naval Air Station, for extending their hospitality to the public for the weekend!

Meanwhile, back on Duval, it seems that Five Dollar Stores are ramped. Barkers with heavy Israeli accents, stand outside the stores all day long hollering “Evey ting in da store fy dolla”. Speculation on the streets suggest all of these stores are tax write offs for their Israeli owners, who send their kids here to run them, in lew of military service back home. Other’s say they are laundering operations. Who knows if any of this is the case or not, however? Outside 109 Duval, once a bar that Jimmy Buffett cut his teeth on before he became famous, today the Five Dollar Store, an early twenty something barker with a contemporary pork pie hat, suddenly breaks into a silly dance after he does his accented “fy dolla” cry. His friend with him gives him a hi five, as they are trying to impress a passing gaggle of American Beauties. The girls look at them awkwardly, until one says he looks like a complete jackass. They all screech into laughter as they continue down the street. Suddenly, the sound of a radial engine bi-plane distracts the attention on Duval, as a symbol from a by gone era gently floats by in the sky and all is good on the streets of Key West.

Sat in with Bobby D. and Sampson, of Cool Breeze at Robert Douglas’ open Blues jam at El Alamo, Monday evening. Had a blast! Jim Clark was on drums and an unknown harp player sat in as well. It was a lot like being chauffeured around in a limo with those guys! Everything just seemed to care of itself. Nice! Damn good to play electric again too. Big thanks to Frances Lynn Sally Galbraith for taking the great picture as well!

Schooner Wharf still is being pressured by the city, not to allow dogs in. I wrote a letter to The Citizen (the local paper) about it, however they didn’t publish it. The State of Florida has a provision saying that local government may over-ride the state law, which says dogs are not allowed in eating establishments. Like Michael McCloud asked on stage, if those of us with dogs in our homes don’t have any problems, why would things change in an out side eating establishment like Schooner Wharf Bar? I fully concur. Having dogs in bars has been an age-old tradition in the Keys. Who’s the Einstein that’s decided to subject Schooner Wharf Bar to mainland mentality? Who ever it is, they should move back to the mainland and good riddance to them. The question should be left to the policy of the bar/restaurant itself, not some jerk that wants to take the Keys out of the Keys. Next thing you know they’ll want to tear down The Key West Customs House so they can build a high-rise condominium, or perhaps move historic Clinton Square itself in the name of “Progress”. Thinking like this belongs on the mainland, thank you very much… and don’t let the door hit you in the ass when you leave.

All The Best From Key West!


Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Easter, C.W. Colt

Spring Break is winding down and the students are headed back to school. Easter weekend was very slow here with the students headed back and families spending Easter together, I imagine. I was at Hog's Breath Saturday and the crowd was marginal. Likewise at Schooner for breakfast, and the same thing.

My buddy Jackson Bunn was in town over the weekend and we caught a Keys favorite, C.W. Colt over at Rick's Key West on Duval, of course. C.W. classifies himself as a "Caribbean Country Blues Master" and that pretty much sums it up. When we first got there he was playing solo acoustic, then Mark, from The Hog Fish, came and sat in with him on percussion. Just a great set all around. This was something way overdue for me. Over a dozen years ago, I met and played many, many times with C.W.'s bass player, Doug "The Alien" Raver, in Homestead, when I lived in Palmetto Bay/Miami. Doug had been knighted by Mel Fisher, the King of the Conch Republic, when he played regularly with C.W. and duly swore me in as a citizen of the Conch Republic, complete with a certificate saying so. After all these years, it was a pleasure to finally enjoy an afternoon of C.W. Colt's great music. It virtually goes without saying we had a great time. As far as C.W. goes, here's a great link where he can describe is music and background far better than I can. Enjoy!

All The Best From Key West!