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Sunday, May 24, 2015

The Stupidest Thing I've Heard This Year

The Stupidest Thing I've Heard This Year

If you read the blog, or follow me on Facebook, you'll know that I recently bought into a small bar here called The Cork and Stogie.  I wrote about it shortly after I made the move on April 1st. In that blog I mentioned that I was previously attempting to buy Viva Zapata with two other partners, but in the long run we realized we didn't have enough money to pull it off. The rent would be raising 50% after the first three months and it would be double what we started, three months after that. To make matters more nervous, this would be going into the slowest part of the year here.

Before we pulled the plug on it we entertained the idea of having an additional partner and had one guy who expressed interest. We'll just call him R. Well, R was a pretty well known individual and had been around town for many years. Consequently, he also knew a lot of people. Knowing the right people, particularly in city planning and government can definitely be a feather in one's cap.

I had met R a few years back at one of the songwriter's festivals. The Key West Songwriter's Festival is full of people from Nashville. When I first struck up a conversation with R, he was wearing jeans and cowboy boots. Naturally, I thought he was from Nashville. To my surprise, he was a local. Every time I've seen him since, he's always got on long pants. It's not that wearing long pants is bad, but in this town, it's odd. Odd enough to say to yourself "Hummmm. This guy always wears long pants. I wonder what's up with him?". If I saw him around with shorts from time to time, the question would never come about.

Bear in mind that it doesn't mean they can't be trusted or anything. My friend Schmegley never wears shorts and he's a great guy! However, one does tend to at least ask the question when the long pants come into play and shorts never do.

One night in the beginning of March one of my partners in the Viva Zapata adventure and I were out on the sidewalk talking to R about to impending venture. He had some interesting ideas, I will say. He also had a few ideas that were completely off the wall, such as making Viva Zapata into a fine dining restaurant.

He also flagged down some city government employee who walked by and chatted with him for a few minutes. Then another guy who walked by whom he hadn't seen in years, by knew of this guy's escapades here and in Panama, with what the guy said was with the C.I.A. The guy wasn't drunk, he was in-the-bag shitfaced. He made the most outrageous statements about blowing up an airport in Panama, in between swaying back and forth and almost falling over a couple of times. R seemed to have some sort of knowledge about this as well and asked the pertinent questions as the guy swayed to and fro. The next day someone Facebook posted a picture of the guy unconscious, laying in a random front yard, with a comical statement to go with it.

The next day the partner who was talking with R and myself asked if he could talk to me in private. We'll call this individual K. K is a great guy it's always great to see him. He has a great disposition and laughs easily.

We sat down and he says to me "Hey, I was talking to R and he was saying that he knows you're into the Trop Rock music, but he says that he wants you to understand that if he invests here, he said he doesn't want this place to become a Trop Rock bar or anything".

My reply to K was "Lets see what develops. So far he hasn't committed anything but talk" which K agreed with.

On the flip side however, I was completely amazed. What an extraordinary thing  for R to say! I mean, here is a guy who has lived here for quite some time, I think over two decades, and the bottom line is, he just doesn't get it. Again, I thought he was from Nashville when we originally met. Now I was thinking he should try his luck in a place like Nashville.

Lets look at Key West and the Florida Keys biggest resource: Tourism.

Who come here and why?

Getting the specific stats on tourism isn't easy. However I will say this. Key West gets a lot of visitors from outside the U.S. Having said that, the amount of Americans visiting here far outnumbers all combined visitors.  

Why do Americans come to Key West? Americans come to Key West because of what Key West is:

A tropical island, many consider part of the Caribbean (Hey, if Bermuda is considered part of the Caribbean, there's no reason we wouldn't be) floating one hundred and six miles off the mainland loaded with palm trees, beaches, bars, restaurants, and art galleries. The best part? It's it's own country, the Conch Republic, albeit tongue-in-cheek, but it is part of the United States. One doesn't need a passport to get here. Call it the best of both worlds! It's the U.S. and a foreign country at the same time!

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People come here because they want the island life getaway experience. They want to feel the tropical island lifestyle and be part of it,  take it in. Many businesses here on the island insist on piping in island music, be it from this island, or others. I know of an art gallery which insists on having nothing but tropical music playing. It's common and they're not alone. This one particular gallery is very successful and has been here for over twenty years. Why do they play tropical music? The general manager stated "People come here to be in the island lifestyle and island music sets the stage for that."

Two of the most successful musicians on the island over the years, fall into the category of Trop music. About 15% of all the music in Key West is Trop Rock. With our band, The Shanty Hounds, our repertoire consists of about 1/3 Trop music, 2/3 other. We consider ourselves pretty well rounded. Yet, people are out there, such as R who have a thing against the Trop music and because we play some of it and he had an ax to grind with it, for whatever reason, he throws us into a category that he doesn't like and wants to make sure we don't play it.

What amazes me is that people like R can be so ignorant. Regretfully he's not alone. Fortunately, he never joined us (nothing to do with music) and also, we never bought Viva Zapata. Unfortunately, as remarkable as it may seem, in business some people often put their personal likes ahead of feeding their cash register. They cut off their nose in spite of their face.

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