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Wednesday, February 27, 2013

U.S. Navy Key West, Truman Waterfront, The Mole Pier, Cuisine, Jimmy Block, New Website

^ listen to my recent interview on Pirate Radio’s morning show^

The Navy, the Mole Pier, and the Truman Waterfront

Fifteen years ago the United States Navy gave the City of Key West an area of land called The Truman Waterfront. To date, the City has done nothing with it. The city has however granted the use of the ramp there for the new Duck Tours. Within the last week the Navy, who still control the two piers , named the Outer Mole Pier and the Inner Mole Pier, as well as the water, have cancelled civilian use of the water and piers. This effectively puts the duck tours out of business, as there is no other place where the amphibious crafts can enter the water at this stage.  The United States Armed forces have been using the area for Special Forces Training, for one. Seals, Green Berets… ex, use the thirty four foot deep Mole for underwater training.

Over the last two years, or so, the city has been entertaining the idea of building a civic area, as well as a marina,  as the land in the area still belongs to the city. With the Navy’s announcement last week of no civilian crafts allowed in the water, that squashed the plans for the marina right then and there. In this day and age marinas are closing, not opening, so this may very well have been a blessing in disguise for what could have been a major white elephant. The problem that the city is looking at is that in their plan, is that in their original outlook for the area, the revenue for the land development was to have come from the profits (??) from the marina. Well, now there will be no marina, so where will the funding come from? The idea of the marina bankrolling the civic area is sunk. Hummm.

Additionally, the Navy has the final say in what goes in there construction wise. About a year and a half ago they specified that no construction could be made where Eaton Street ends there. The reason for this is elementary: If the Navy needs the area in the future, they WILL take it back and they will need supply access for their supply trucks. This is why they stated Eaton Street must not be blocked by construction. Additionally, the Navy will review any plans for the area and say either “Yay” or “Nay”.

In the last year we’ve seen the Navy increasing their use of the Mole. In years passed it was a sub base.  I believe this ended in the mid-seventies. As of late, they’ve been increasing their usage of the area. Just over a year ago the Navy commissioned the USS Spruance here. Then, last September the Mole was host to ten ships of the joint task force. It was the most ships there since WWII and they could have fitted more easily. You may have seen the piece I wrote about it here in the blog.

The U.S. Navy has been increasing its usage of the Mole more and more. Let’s look a little closer at the obvious; Key West is the southernmost city in the United States and it already has two Naval piers that it can utilize. I call that a strategic advantage. It’s already been established that the Navy controls the Truman Waterfront area and has the final say as to what can and cannot be built there. In theory, it’s very possible that they could approve absolutely nothing for construction at The Truman Waterfront. On the other hand, if anything were to be built there by the city, they could take it over at the drop of a hat, in the name of national security, and rightly so.

What do I suggest? My suggestion may seem a bit out of the box for some, but please hear me out. My suggestion is that the City of Key West offers the U.S. Navy the Truman Waterfront property back, with the understanding that we want several U.S. Naval ships based here.

What this would do is bring in additional naval personnel and their families. That means new construction, additional civilian jobs, as well as additional money in our local economy.

To me, this seems to make the most sense. Additionally, I’d be willing to wager that those in charge in the Navy fifteen years ago, may not be the same people that are there today. Even if they were, we live in a very different world today, then back then. Also in that wager, I’d predict that the Navy would accept the land back.

Let’s work with the Navy, not against them. It’s good for everyone; The Navy, The City of Key West, the overall economy of Key West.


 Let’s look at cuisine for a moment.  If you run off to anywhere outside of wherever it is that you live, a good distance, you will end up encountering something that’s unique to where you’re visiting. The further you go, the more diverse it can get. Likewise, cuisines from emigrating populations arrive with that populous as well. Additionally, as you would expect, things that grow in a given area are part of that areas cuisine, naturally as well.

I’m thinking that I might add a cuisine section here every now and then,  just for a kick, or, pardon the pun, to spice things up.

In this blog today, I’ll add something that is native to the Keys, which is called “Ol’ Sour”. One of the most absolutely surprising things that I’ve found,  is that most of the chefs I’ve come across in this town don’t have a clue as to what it is at all, yet it’s native to the area that they are established.

Ol’ Sour is an old Conch* condiment made from key lime juice. Conchs always had key lime juice on the table, along with salt and pepper. The problem was that like all fruit, key limes have their season.  This was before refrigeration, mind you.  So, what the Conchs would do would be to take a table spoon of salt and a scotch bonnet pepper and put it in a pint rum bottle full of key lime juice.  It would go sour, but it also would be preserved. Two weeks and it’s ready. The longer you leave it, the better it gets. The heat of the pepper won’t kick in until a few months however. I had one bottle that was eight months old and it kicked ass!
So what happens when you get someone like me who discovers Ol’ Sour? Crazy things indeed! I decided to try it as a marinade. The one thing that you need to realize is that Key Limes have, by far, the highest APT rating (APT = Acid Per Teaspoon) of all citrus fruits. If you’re going to marinate say a chicken or pork in Ol’ Sour, four hours is the absolute maximum. An overnight marinade will kill the dish! Put in on the BBQ and about five minutes before it’s done; baste with your favorite BBQ sauce. Believe me, you’ll love it! For most fish, a 10 minute marinade is perfect.

Fly on Jimmy

We lost a Key West musician a few weeks back.  Jimmy  Block passed and it came as a shock to many of us. Jimmy was only maybe in his early to mid-forties. I knew him casually. He used to come to the Harpoon Harry’s open mic, often with an ensemble that would get into a rhythmic groove that was really, really cool. Godspeed Jimmy.

In Jimmy’s honor, I’ll put here the Youtube video of the Key West Junkanoos, recorded just a few months back, when they lost one of their own, Robert. The crowd following the Junkanoos, which included Robert’s brother Harold, were singing the Gospel song “I’ll Fly Away”, to the rhythm of the Junkanoos.  Today I’ll post it for Jimmy Block. Fly on Jimmy. Peace.

I redid my website and it is now a Shopify site.  The great thing about this is that you can now, not only buy my album “Shanghai’d and Marooned in Key West (things could be worse)” but also a bunch of songs that were never released! Three songs I recorded a year prior to Shanghai’d are listed under “Salutations from Key West”, which include my signature song “Liveaboard”, along with “Garrison Bight”, and  ”Life on my Terms”. These songs feature myself on all guitars and vocals, Dan Simpson on Bass, and George Wood on keyboards. Also available are the four Biker songs my band “Chris Rehm and the Rabble Rousers” recorded in 2003, “Fat Boy”, “Sweet Dyna”, “Rainy Day”, and “Electra Glide”. These four songs are very different than most of my released songs, save for “Mile Zero” and “Cajun’s Got a Coconut”.

Additionally, there are actual demos of some songs that have yet to be recorded.  These songs are running only $.75 each.

As time goes on there will not only be more music available there, as well as other cool stuff that is currently in the works!

*= Conchs are the nic-names of the first inhabitants of Key West after the Spanish left. (Conch is pronounced “Conk”)  Most came from the Bahamas and were decedents of Torys in the American Revolution, who fled to the Bahamas, part of the British Commonwealth. African Americans were also part of the emigrating group from the Bahamas. This was around 1820 on. Today anyone who is born in the island chain is considered a Conch, regardless of where their ancestry is from.  Anyone who is not from the islands, but lives there for seven years, is a “Freshwater Conch”.   The Conch Republic extends from the Dry Tortugas, through the Marquesas Keys, then through the archipelago of Keys that stretch from Key West through Key Largo. Approximately  1,700 islands are in the Conch Republic/Florida Keys.



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