Search This Blog

Sunday, January 24, 2010

U.S. Coast Guard report from Haiti

Here is a cut and paste from my friend Duke Gatto, retired Coast Guard officer, who sent me this piece out of the Concord Monitor he received, written by a U.S. Coast Guardsman on the Tohoma.


Interesting article from a young ensign from the USCGC TAHOMA describing his experiences working with the relief efforts in Haiti.


The Concord [NH] Monitor
Tuesday, January 19, 2010javascript:void(0)

'This is why we signed up'
Concord 'Coastie' joins relief effort in Haiti

For the Monitor

Ensign Christopher Pince, 22, of Concord is aboard
the Tahoma, a U.S. Coast Guard Cutter based in
Portsmouth that has been dispatched to Haiti to assist
earthquake victims. Pince e-mailed this letter to his
fiancee Saturday, who forwarded it to family members.
His parents, David and Meg Pince, offered to share
it with the Monitor:

Shortly after I e-mailed you this morning, I was told I
was going to be on one of the boarding teams going
over this morning. I quickly changed into my blue
coveralls and boots and headed down to board the
small boat that would take us over. I was the second
wave of Coasties to go over. We left at about 9 a.m.

As I headed over, I noticed (that) the trash I told you
about that littered the harbor water began to get much
heavier. Soon you couldn't even see water, it was just
trash and debris. We were dropped off at the Haitian Coast
Guard Base . . . or what was left of it. It really was
just a couple ruined buildings and a dock. There were
several trashed boats laying on what was left of a
small beach. But what was left of the base was in

We disembarked from the small boat and started
walking down a small road. The road had different
levels to it, like it was split in random places. Some
higher, some lower. Trees were uprooted, rocks
and boulders were all over the place. As you looked
around all you could see were uprooted trees and
deserted huts, most of which were completely in ruins.
I passed several huge stone buildings that were
destroyed and looked like they were about to fall
over at the slightest breeze. We had marked these
off with yellow caution tape to alert people not to go
near them.

We continued walking down the road and began to
notice Haitian people just sitting by the side of the
road. Some of them had makeshift bandages, others
just were sitting there. Some talked, others just
looked forlorn and stared at the ground. Even those
who talked were solemn and downtrodden. There
was no laughter, no smiles, no children's voices -
just silence.

As we got closer to the building that we had set up
as our makeshift clinic, the silence was broken by
the sounds of people, but it wasn't the normal sounds
you hear from people . . . they were screams,
wailing, crying, and desperate calls for what had to
be help. I knew I was going to be walking into a
destroyed third world country, but nothing could have
prepared me for what I saw at the clinic.

Pleas for help

As soon as I got there, before I could even find out
what I could do to help, I was grabbed by a man
and a woman pleading with me and a buddy to come
and help their child. I didn't know what to say, so
I followed them. They brought me to a little girl who
had an open laceration on her arm and a broken
leg. She was covered in a wool blanket, and there
were flies buzzing around her.

I knelt down next to her and brushed all the flies away
and ran my hand over her head trying to soothe her.
She didn't make a sound. Just looked up at me. I
turned to my friend and told him that we needed to
find out what the heck we had so we could help them.

We told the parents we'd be right back and made our
way to the front of the clinic. There were approximately
200 people waiting in the yard outside. Most were
hurt, some were family members who pleaded with us
as we walked inside to help their loved ones. We told
them we'd be back out and kept walking.

The clinic was run by all Coasties. We had armed
guards standing watch so the people wouldn't stampede
in. We passed by our shipmates and walked in. The
stench inside was incredible. It smelled like garbage
(which turned out to be rotting flesh) and then mixed
with bleach, which is what we used to clean the floors
and tables. I have never seen anything like what I saw
in that clinic.

We immediately found our ship doctor and were
directed to the supplies. I'm not a doctor and my
knowledge of medicine is very small. But today, I
got a lot of hands-on training. My buddy - his name
is Chris, too - and I grabbed splints, gauze, bandages,
disinfecting solutions and other supplies and headed
back outside. From that point on we just went from
person to person, splinting arms, cleaning and
bandaging wounds, and comforting and giving water
to everyone we could find.

It was like walking into a nightmare. I've never
experienced anything like it in my life. I had to stop
and pray several times, just for the strength to keep

Smiles and sobs

I helped take care of a little girl. She had to be about
6 years old. She was so cute. She had a broken arm
and was trying so hard not to cry. I came up to her
and knelt down and asked if she was okay. She just
nodded at me. So I began talking to her and preparing
the splint for her arm. After I had wrapped it up, I
told her she was very brave and patted her cheek
gently. She gave me the biggest smile, and I smiled
back. Her parents were so thankful.

There was a little boy who already had his leg in a splint
who was sitting there sobbing. So I went up to him and
put my arm around him and got him to calm down and
stop crying. I had brought a couple of the candy bars
that you gave me for Christmas, but I left them in a guy's
backpack. I wish I had them to give to a couple of the
kids - that would have been a real treat for them.

I can't even tell you how terrifying some of the wounds
were. Old people, young people alike were just torn
apart. I saw more rotting flesh and open wounds today
than I have ever seen in my life. I worked as hard as
I could to help these people. I did everything I could . . .
but if it was a huge wound, I could only tell them to
wait and refer them to a doctor.

I ended up cleaning wounds, putting splints on, and just
helping carry people and bring medical supplies around
to the doctors and people who were more qualified
than I. I hope I made a difference for at least some of
the people.


I was cleaning a wound on a small boy, and a man with a
broken leg was talking to me. He kept telling me how he
"loved Americans" and how "God will bless America
forever." Everyone I saw, even if they didn't know any
English, were just so thankful.

It was such an out-of-this-world experience. I felt like I
was in a book - I couldn't believe it was me doing this.
Living this. I hope I could make a difference. I hope the
small things I did, the smiles that I gave to them, the
reassurance that help was coming, I hope it made a
difference. In the six hours I was there, I hope I helped.

The sun is setting and most of our guys are back on board.
There have been four helicopters flying hurt people to
hospitals throughout the day.

We'll see if I go back there. They're rotating the boarding
teams so that everyone gets a chance to participate and
help out. I don't know if I will, but I do know that the
experience itself was rewarding, if not terrifying, too.

Please feel free to share this with your family and anyone
else. Pass on to them my love, and tell them to keep the
prayers coming for the people of Haiti, and all the military
down here helping. One thing I want you to know is that
every day Captain will ask us at quarters (formation)
who wants to go over the next day, and everyone raises
their hand. That's the kind of people that are working
down here right now. They are devoted to their job and
helping people.

This is why we signed up.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010


Here's a new song, (we're just living in a) Modern Day Atlantis. A song about the Conch Republic being destined to sink into the waves eventually because of rising tides and ice caps melting.

(we’re just living on a) MODERN DAY ATLANTIS
E F#m+4 E F#m7+4 E F#m7+4 E A E
E F#m7+4 E F#m7+4 E F#m7+4E A E
E F#m7+4 E F#m7+4 E F#m7+4 E A E
E F#m7+4 E F#m7+4 E F#m7+4E A E
E F#m7+ E A F#m7+4

E F#m7+4 E A E

A B F#m7 B E F#m+4 E A F#m+4

E A F#m+4










© Chris Rehm BMI

More to come :-)

Monday, January 18, 2010

Homeless in Key West

The homeless can be an issue in Key West. Here Popeye is laid out at the corner of Duval and Front streets, yesterday about 2:30 in the afternoon. Popeye's been on the streets of Key West for nearly 20 years. There is actually an open container law in Key West, however with tourists is overlooked. With the homeless, not so much however. The above picture is one reason why.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The 5:30 Sound Check

Please help Haiti in their darkest hour!!! Text 90999 on your cell and donate $10.00

Every Friday at 5:30, The Green Parrot Bar has it's 5:30 sound check, usually from the band that's playing that evening, as well as Saturday. This isn't always the case. There are also times that a different band will play the 5:30 Sound Check. You may very well see a local artist there at 5:30 as well. This last Friday however, it was the Friday/Saturday band doing the 5:30 slot.

The band this week were The Blue Vipers from Brooklyn. A fun, acoustic Jazz/Swing/Blues band doing music from the '20's and '30's with guitar, upright bass, percussion, and clarinet/saxophone. Loads of fun. If the front man on guitar told you he was the grandson of Jack Larson, who played Jimmy Olson on the '50's tv series Superman, you wouldn't question it.

They had the crowd dancing in front of the stage and "everyone was having a good time and smoking cigarettes". Some girls were doing Flapper style dances, perhaps it was The Charleston... Next to me was a woman who looked exactly like a 5'4" Olive Oil, right out of Popeye. The Epileptic Scarecrow also jumped out several times and did one of his wild, patented 45 second dances, just to give additional color to an already interesting evening.

At 7:00 it all wraps up. Try to close your bar tabs before then, as the staff has a shift change.

Regardless of who's playing at the 'Parrot, you will have a great time at the 5:30 Sound Check!!!

Thursday, January 14, 2010



In respect to the massive loss of life, pain, and suffering due to the earthquake in Haiti on Tuesday, this blog will abstain from the goings on in Key West today.

Key West has a substantial Haitian population, as does all of South Florida and to our Haitian friends and neighbors, you are all in our thoughts and prayers in your darkest hour, of darkest hours.

To our neighbors all around the world please join us in sending aid to our stricken neighbors in Hispaniola, immediately.

Thank you.

Chris Rehm

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The End Of The Line – Key West

Key West. You just can’t go any further. The road stops at Mile Zero. Or, it may start there, if you prefer? But to so many living here, like myself who moved here from elsewhere, it ends. After Key West, you’re on a boat, or a plane to another country. The car has finished it’s run.

Because of this, there is a wide assortment of individuals who come here. Of course you have the noteworthy artist who have landed here over the years. Ernest Hemingway did so in 1928 and to this day his home is a nucleus of Hemingwayphiles, literary laureates, and tourists in general. Additionally, the Tennessee Williams found a home here, as did Jimmy Buffett, who actually, unlike the two aforementioned authors, actually made his fortune partially because he actually came from here.

However, in a place that is considered the furthest outpost, it also draws additional sorts. In 1980, the first of the current series of new, much safer bridges were constructed off of Bahia Honda. This lead to a much greater accessibility for the masses, when the entire archipelago of islands were connected with these bridges allowing everyone to come down.

Who has the frame of mind to head the Southernmost outpost? There are many, all of which are interesting and unique, however, today we’ll look at one sort, which does stand out and is prominent. We’ll just call them “Runners” for this blurb. Yes, they may fall into one of several different social categories, however, they all have one thing in common when they land in Key West: They’re running away from something.

The vast majority of these Runners arrive alone, They’re, for the most part not attached to a lover or a friend, though, of the Runners, perhaps between 5 and maybe 10 percent are traveling with, what can be best described as a “Shotgun Partner” or even a “Wing Man”. By the numbers, you can see however, it’s not common. Mostly they are alone.

Why they are referred to as Runners is that there is something in their past that they are running away from. In most cases this starts out as a secret, known only to them. A couple of hints you might come across could be “Oh! No! Don’t take my picture!!!” or “What? You’re putting my picture on the Internet? Oh… you have to call me Beelzebub Bud, Don’t use my real name!!!” “What? You’re traveling back to my home city? Hey, No! You don’t know me! Never heard of me!”

I could go on for centuries on the walks of life these people come from or the things they’re running from, or the crazy situations they’ve gotten themselves into, both plain old screwy, or criminal, but they all have something in common: They’ve run away from something and have gone as far as they could go: The End Of The Line, Key West.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Live Music - Key West

One of the greatest things about living in Key West is the live music!!! Bars such as The Green Parrot, Hog's Breath Saloon, Schooner Wharf, Margaritaville, Cowboy Bill's, Finnigan's Wake, and Sloppy Joe's are constantly bringing in bands from around the country. We're talking national acts here. Then, there's the local performers, who are of such a high caliber that the bar is just about as high as it can go. These folks can also be found at the aforementioned, plus there's Captain Tony's Saloon, Island Dogs, Rick's, El Alamo, The Bull, The Lazy Gecko.... ex.

As far as venues go, there are a myriad. All over town live music is playing. All along the tourist main drag of Duval establishment after establishment has live performers.

Perhaps the most amazing thing about this is that none of this costs you one cent to enjoy! Door cover charge? Are you kidding? In Key West? They'd go out of business in a week! In Key West, you just walk through the door, grab a beer and enjoy and have fun!

Key west also has a slew of streaming web cams broadcasting live!


Sunday, January 10, 2010

Cold ... still

In short, this last week, with the exception of Thursday, was "Bite your ass" cold in Key West! This morning, Sunday, January 10th it was 46 degrees when I took my dogs for a walk at 9am! As I've stated before, this is not in my contract! A kid on a bike passed me singing a song that went "You gotta freeze to breath..." We're looking at a high of 53 today. Uuuggghh. Around the end of the week we're back to normal however, but this has certainly been a cold year thus far!

Last evening I didn't feel like cooking, as everything was frozen. So I started to think where I could grab a bite to eat. Around the corner is The Bottle Cap Lounge, however, I was up for something more quiet.I started thinking of places I could go and then, on this cold evening, I thought of the perfect place, Finnigan's Wake. An Irish pub named after the James Joyce story about Tim Finnigan who supposedly died, but woke up at his wake when someone knocked over the whiskey on him. Perfect! So I hopped on the bike and off I went to Finnigan's Wake. When I got there they had an Irish woman playing guitar and singing like a canary. Fiona Molloy was her name and she had a great command of the bar ant the undivided attention of it's patrons. Just what the doctor ordered! I ordered a Murphy's Stout on "Draught", to utilize the Irish and Commonwealth spelling of the word we spell "Draft".

I love all of the Irish Stouts. Beamish, Murphy's, and of course, Guinness. Murphy's is from my maternal grandparent's home county of Cork, so it has a melancholy attachment for me, when available. Both of my mother's parents were off the boat from County Cork in Ireland, Connolly and Flynn being the family names of my grandfather and grandmother.

A marvelous evening was had with Ms. Molloy playing all sorts of Irish and American, songs, plus a song from Newfoundland, as well as Germany (Lilly Marlene!!!... in German, French, and English!). One Irish song she brought up fans to sing verses she fed them about a woman who sits and fits... needless to say it ended up on the boarder of profane with the entire pub laughing their butts off! Ms. Malloy finished off her evening with "God Bless America" and there really wasn't a dry eye in the house. Thank you Fiona Molloy!!!!

The ride home was bitterly cold with a temperature of 49 around midnight or so, but with a belly full of beef and potatoes and stout and a heart resonating from a great performance, who could complain?

A real mind scramble also happened this week! Tim Garrity, my friend from all the way back, calls me and asks if I got the package he sent. Make a long story short, it was in my mailbox.Back when we were nineteen or so.. this wasn't last week... Tim was in the Navy and asked me to send him his guitar to San Diego. I bought him a strap to go with it... kinda cool in that it had a pouch for picks in it! So I sent that along with it.

Well, the package Tim sent was the strap I sent him 30+ years ago, as my dogs ate one of my straps recently!!! Holy Smokes!!! I truly was at a complete loss for words. It certainly warmed me up a good deal!

The week is supposed to climb gradually in temps and by Thursday we should be back to normal.

Bobby DeVito is sick, so unfortunately there will be no Sunday Afternoon Blues at Captain Tony's. Get well Bobby!!!!!

Ms. Sheila Sharkey Griffith was kind enough to invite me to go and play on the Trop Rock Cruise "Puerto Los Somewhere Cruise", leaving out of Tampa this week! Wow! Nice! Regretfully, I had to decline because of my own scheduling however. Big Bummer! Nevertheless, Thanks Sheila!!!!

However, hopefully with warmer weather heading this way and more, next weekend holds a lot of promise of great things to come!

All The Best From Key West!!!


Monday, January 4, 2010

Cold, Stolen Flag, Jesus Freaks, Hare Krishnas, Chinese, Indians, Euros, and Brits

Okay! Christmas, New Years, and Birthday are all out of the way, so now it’s off and running to the next break… is there a break? I don’t think so. If you’re not doing something in this town, you’re looking for something to do.

One thing we have to keep in focus is to try not to allow life to get in the way of doing the things we want. No. It’s not always in our control, however we at least have to make a sincere effort and not just go through the motions.

The New Year here started off with a cold front that staying with us for a bit. Low 60’s during the day and low 50’s at night. This will continue to the end of the week, where the long range says we’ll hit 70 on Friday, but plummet back down to what we have currently and continue for another three days after that.

This is not in my contract!

I’m currently wearing long pants and a jacket. I much prefer shorts and a T shirt, frankly!

I took the dogs out this morning and found that someone stole my Conch Republic flag that I had outside my door. I’m not sure if I’ve been complemented or violated?
Here’s a picture of it with my friend Tim, who orchestrated the entire flag/outside set up outside my place when he was down in November.


If anyone sees the flag, you have my permission to steal it and send it back home.


Way, way back when I first moved to Miami, I would see these people walking south on U.S. 1 dressed in biblical garb. They looked as though they belonged in the movie Moses, or a movie about Jesus Christ. Long, white robes, sandals, and a small bag to carry their worldly possessions. They looked like Christ, Moses, or Mother Mary in their hair, be it facial with the men, and or otherwise. This was some kind of a Jesus cult, it turned out and the reason they were heading south on U.S. 1 was…. You guessed it. They were heading to Key West. This pilgrimage went on for maybe three years, to my recollection. However, after that I never saw them again. Until last week, that is, when I saw a group of them… thirty years down the pike, mind you, walking up Duval St! Huh?

More on this fascinating story as it develops.

Come to think of it, Hummm. Been a while since I saw Hare Krishnas as well. They were the bane of so many in airports for years. Well, fear not. Just tonight we had three marching Duval in their robes, one playing a percussion drum-type instrument from India (where else?), while another played a sort of tambourine with the cymbals ringing away, while yet a third lead them up and down Duval singing…. Hare Krishna , of course!

No one can really explain another phenomenon that is happening, this time in the tourist industry in Key West. The percentage of guests from China and India has skyrocketed since last year! This blogger’s guess is for every individual guest from China, or India last year, there are between forty and sixty this year. Not sure how this will effect the local economy. The motels, and guest houses I imagine will be full, so for them it’s a good thing, providing my hypothesis on where they are staying is correct in the first place. However, Key West’s largest commodity is found in the bars and these guests are not setting foot in them. I can say that in the gallery that’s my daily gig, nothing whatsoever has been shipped to India or China. Could the dwindling dollar have something to do with it?

The Europeans are as strong as ever, as are our guests from the British Isles, fortunately! They of course, march excitedly into all of the tourist attractions and bars, adding their converted Euros and Pounds to the local economy. This is what Key West needs to survive.

The Conch Republic depends on the tourist industry, much to the chagrin of Papa Hemingway’s opinion, back in the day. However, it is what it is.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Blue Heaven

Well, things change, don't they? Last year I went to several events at The Blue Heaven Restaurant here in Key West and they were nothing short of stellar events in a fantastic surrounding! The Blue Heaven, of course is like no place on the island whatsoever! It goes so far back that Ernest Hemingway used to go there and referee boxing matches held in the '30's. Up stairs there is a bar that was a bordello, back in the day, with three very small rooms off of it, just large enough to do the deed in. Outside, where today just about everything takes place, is a sand floor with a water tower that used to be part of Flagler's Railroad, above the outside bar. Did I forget the two stages?

Well, the last event I attended last year was the New Years bash they had. The place was packed and everyone was full of cheer and good tidings, The atmosphere was second to none.

Naturally, I was very much looking forward to this years New Years there as well!

My mode of transportation in Key West is bicycle, unless I'm taking the dogs to the park or going shopping, where the car is more practical. New Years Eve was no different. Blue Heaven is only about three or four blocks from home, so I arrived in no time. I was kind of surprised when I pulled up to the bike rack and there was plenty of space to "tie up" on Thomas St.

I went inside and to my additional surprise, the place was almost empty! Half the stools at the bar were available as well. I moseyed on up to the bar and ordered a Stella Artois from Alanda, who was holding court behind the bar. Mary Spear was just finishing up her set on stage with Cayman on percussion and a guitarist whom I didn't know. That was just before ten pm.

I met a nice family from Detroit there, Denise and Rocky. She and I share the same birthday, it turned out, so it was an instant bond for us. We had fun as I plowed down Pilsner Urquells, which followed the Stella.

I was in the men's room when the clock struck the hour of the decade! Fitting. What a relief that was! "Out with the old and in with the new!!!" I hollered and I made my way out of the men's room and headed back to the bar, ordering, yet another Pilsner Urquell.

Shortly after that, The Junkanoos of Key West came marching into the Blue Heaven in their complete regalia and the cacophony of marvelous sound which accompanies them! They stayed about ten minutes, or so, before heading off to their next destination.

A little after that I left. I was a bit bewildered at the lack of people there since last year. The owner has purchased another restaurant in town, Salute, over on Higgs Beach. Naturally, he's focusing his energy on getting that place off the ground, however, I think they may be doing it at the expense of The Blue Heaven.