Category Archives: The Key West Chronicles

Colourful Key West (Part II) – Painted Cars

My last post featured some funky Key West buildings, but it’s not only stationary items that dazzle on this island – there’s also a fleet of elaborately painted cars cruising around.

Key West Painted Car

Same car, but different location

Same car, but different location

Key West Painted Car

Maritime themes are among the most popular

Maritime themes are among the most popular

Colourful depiction of a coral reef

Gotta love those turrets...

Gotta love those turrets…

Key West Painted Van (front)

Must belong to a musician 😉

 You could go for an equally cheerful buggy instead...

You could go for an equally cheerful buggy instead…

...with a wee trailer to cart your belongings around in

…with a wee trailer to cart your belongings around in

This one's not painted, but embellished with stickers. Seems it hasn't been operational for quite some time

This one’s not painted, but embellished with stickers. Seems it hasn’t been operational for quite some time. The shack behind is actually a restaurant called The Fish Camp, and, despite being a bit on the rustic side, the food there is totally delicious!

Another one, just as knackered

This has got to be the craziest one of them all!

This has got to be the craziest one of them all!

Same again, from the front

Same again, from the front

Colourful Key West – Part I

Time for more pictures, methinks.

The Strand Theater, once a cinema, now a Walgreens pharmacy

The Strand Theater, once a cinema, now a Walgreens pharmacy

A very pretty house, of which there are many, many many in Key West. I can't possibly photograph them all, sigh.

A very pretty house, of which there are many, many, many in Key West. I can’t possibly photograph them all, sigh.

The most important building on the entire island. To me, at least. Ooooooh, the sticky buns….!

The most important building on the entire island. To me, at least. Ooooooh, the sticky buns….!

Key West houseboats. My friends, Vicky and Ian, whom I'm staying with, live in one of these

Key West houseboats. My friends, Vicky and Ian, whom I’m staying with, live in one of these

More houseboats in the warm light of the setting sun

More houseboats in the warm light of the setting sun

A painted wall in Bahama Village. None of the people are real ;-) I like how the scooters in front blend in with the mural.

A painted wall in Bahama Village. None of the people are real 😉 I like how the scooters in front blend in with the mural.

Not so colourful, this one. More on the dilapidated side. But full of character, nevertheless

Not so colourful, this one. More on the dilapidated side. But full of character, nevertheless

And coming up in the next instalment, Key West painted cars! I bet you can’t wait, can you?!

Is There Crime in Key West? Yes. Of Sorts.

Life on small islands usually bears little reflection of how citizens of the same country experience their daily lives just a few nautical miles away on the mainland. Key West is no exception. With an area of just seven and a half square miles and a population of twenty four and a half thousand, it is very much its own microcosm. The pace of life is slow, its inhabitants are laid back, class backgrounds and socioeconomic disparities pose no barrier to socialising together. Miami, famed city of vice and ginger haired serial killers, is three-and-a-half hours by car and 40 minutes by plane, but it may as well be on a different planet.

It should not come as a surprise that Key West criminals are a very special breed with their own set of priorities and particular ways of doing things. My friends, who I’m staying with here, told me of a recent bank robbery, where the robbers were discovered just a few blocks away from the crime scene, in a local bar, having a drink, the holdall stuffed with cash right beside them. I’d like to think that the round was on them, and that the cops stayed for a couple of cool ones before making their arrests.

Besides hearsay and local anecdotes, there is a much more authoritative source of criminal activity on the island – let me introduce you to the trusty Key West Citizen:

A couple of days after I arrived here, the thermometer reading plunged to 20 C, just so you get an idea of the "cold temperatures" that the islanders are forced to endure

A couple of days after I arrived here, the thermometer reading plunged to 20 C, just so you get an idea of the “cold temperatures” that the islanders were forced to endure

Every day, The Citizen features a Crime Report section. Here is a sample of the headlines and articles that have appeared since I got here on Jan 15th:

It takes some gumption to come up with an excuse like that...

It takes some gumption to come up with an excuse like that…

This one is my absolute favourite so far:

Key West Bean Feud

Key West Homeless

Yes, a broken window was the crime of January 20th. An antique broken window, if you please.

I’ve highlighted the amusing passage in the last two pieces:

Key West Homeless Arrest

Key West Duelling Veterans

Key West – An Island Under the Rule of the Rooster

Toledo has its scrawny street cats, and Key West, as I found out this week, is overrun with resplendent roosters. The reason they have taken over the island has something to do with Cubans, who arrived on the island in their droves in the mid-1800s, being partial to cockfights. But after these spectacles were outlawed back in the 1970s, the chooks were duly booted out into the streets – now talk about a fowl unemployment crisis!

There are thousands of them roaming the isle, scratching a living together. Public opinion on the “Key West Gypsy Chickens”, as the breed is officially referred to, is sharply divided – some love these colourful and resilient characters, others are twitching to have them all culled. But the upshot is that they are protected, and people who are not nice to them are prosecuted, as you can see in this news item I spotted in the Key West Citizen on 18 Jan 2013:

Key West Rooster Crime

It has to be said, the males of the species are handsome little devils. (See below, NOT above!!)

Key West Rooster

And it’s not only live roosters that are omnipresent – they’ve spawned a whole genre of idiosyncratic Key West art and, of course, merchandising.

Rooster Finials

Roosters as faithful gatekeepers

A fetching tranny rooster luring passers-by into a gallery

A fetching tranny rooster luring passers-by into a gallery

Key West Rooster Paintings

Rooster Advertising

This one was striking enough to land a major advertising contract

A stuffed specimen overseeing proceedings at a local outdoor café

A stuffed specimen overseeing proceedings at a local outdoor café

Rooster-shaped popsicles begging to be shoved into the mouths of babes

Rooster-shaped popsicles begging to be shoved into the mouths of babes

And while the boys are strutting about town getting five-figure modelling contracts, the drab clucking females are dutifully raising the next generation.

Key West Broody Hen

Note one chick poking out from under her behind, and two little feet sticking out at the front. She has five chicks altogether.

Key West Day 1 – Doggy Nappies and Girly Shopping

After a loooong day’s travelling, involving a train, a bus and two flights, I woke up on a boat this morning. Or rather, a floating house. And if I crane my neck just a little bit more, I think I might be able to spot Cuba in the distance…

For the next two weeks, I’ll be posting from Key West, Florida. I’m staying with my dear friends Vicky and Ian, who moved to the sunny little isle from cold and drizzly London a year ago.

My view onto the pier this morning. In case anyone's wondering, that strange pink thing on the washing line is a dog nappy (diaper), as worn by Princess Pugsy. She had a stroke a while ago and is no longer in full control of her waterworks.

My view of the marina this morning. In case anyone’s wondering, that strange pink “garment” on the washing line is a dog nappy (diaper), as worn by Princess Pugsy. She had a stroke a few months ago and is no longer in full control of her plumbing.

And here she is, giving a live demonstration of her very best of heartbreakingly pathetic looks

And here she is, Princess Pugsy, who travelled from the UK to the US in style, voyaging across the seas on the Queen Mary II, because my friends didn’t want to subject her to being sedated (Pugs don’t handle the medication well) and shoved into an aircraft hold

My friend Vicky and the puglet as celebs of day in Key West's local paper The Citizen

My friend Vicky and the puglet as celebs of day in Key West’s local paper “The Citizen”

My first day in Key West featured some girly shopping (of course!!!!) and what better purchase to make than a pink leopard print rucksack with a matching pair of knickers

My first day in Key West featured some girly shopping (of course!!!!) and what better purchase to make than a pink leopard print rucksack with a matching pair of knickers