Monday, January 12, 2004

Today in Key West

I read the Key West Citizen this morning, on-line, to get my daily fix of Key West news - as much of it as the Citizen deems to be newsworthy. And that set me to thinking about the ways that we keep in touch with our adopted home, as it soon will be again.

We took home delivery of the Citizen when we lived on Thomas St. I looked forward to sitting down with the paper on the patio, early, with a cup of coffee. When the weather was good (and it usually was), it was a good way to start the day. Before Thomas St., we lived on Passover Lane, across from the cemetery. There, it was the front porch that was the reading location. From that quiet spot, you could see and hear the plane traffic in and out of the airport.

I also picked up all of the weekly papers when they came out at the end of the week. There were, I recall, seven weeklies then. KWTN, the blue paper, was a favorite, as the editor/publisher, Dennis Reeves Cooper was fearless in exposing what he perceived to be misfeance, malfeasance, and pure corruption, especially in organized Key West. I read Island News (now defunct) and the Keynoter for news from up the keys, Celebrate for news of and from the GLBT community, Charlie Ramos' paper (I forget the name, but gone too, I think) for historical items and a bit of local news not covered elsewhere. I read Paradise This Week for what was going on in entertainment and the arts. And Solares Hill was (and still is, I guess) the "culture" newspaper, with essays by David Ethridge and Mark Howell. Unfortunately, most of those aren't available on-line, so I don't get to read them anymore. Well, soon.

There are several local radio stations, but we didn't tend to listen much to that.

For a while, I was reading the Buffett newsgroup on the internet, but drifted away from that because it revolved around Buffett's music (not that there's anything wrong with that!) and only included an occasional thread about Key West. For the last couple of years, I've been logging on the "It's Only Key West" discussion forum, run first by Sager, and now so ably by Captain BK since Sager passed on to his spritual reward. There are about 100 people registered there (but registration isn't required to read, only to post.) Several island residents are among the regular visitors to the forum. They are a friendly bunch, very willing to answer questions and even to meet visitors to KW who introduce themselves via the board.

I found two Yahoo! groups for Key West: Key West Florida and Schooner Wharf Bar. Membership registration is required for both. They are both relatively low traffic.

You can pick up some news before it hits the media channels, and other information about what's going on around town, by keeping a large enough circle of friends and acquaintances. We both made it a point to get out and visit people during the day. We'd meet people at breakfast at Harpoon Harry's, at Sippin' , the coffee shop on Eaton St., Schooner Wharf (which hosts The Breakfast Club early every morning), and lots of other places. There's almost always someone you'll meet who has some news about one thing or another, this person or that.

All in all, despite the constant stream of visitors, Key West is at its heart a small city of somewhere around 26 or 27 thousand permanent population. As in any city that size, there are lots of different ideas about what the place is and what it ought to be. There's a city project underway right now to update the community's vision of what it wants the city to be. A lot of what's making it into the local media these days -- homelessness, civilian review of the police department, affordable housing, the impact of tourists (e.g., RV's on streets and at beaches) and cruise ships, etc. -- are going to be considered in this project.

It'll be interesting to see how it turns out. I hope we make it there in time to have some influence. We hope it will turn out to be a plan to preserve paradise and not one that sells it out to the high bidders. Time will tell.

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