Key West sunrises and other ups and some downs – situation normal

Key West sunrise

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Grand Ole Opry

Nashville J sent yesterday:

Sloan: Maybe there needs to be some of the signs in Key West!

Feds probe Albuquerque camper shooting as police rethink use of force

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Justice/2014/0329/Feds-probe-Albuquerque-camper-shooting-as-police-rethink-use-of-force

Pearl Harbor lookout

Peal Harbor lookout

So far, the only thing I have seen outside of Key West to affect how Key West treats homeless people is the Pottinger case out of Miami, and I think that is because the same US District Court in that case has jurisdiction over Key West.

The Albuquerque shooting looks awful for that police department. All those armed cops, look like SWAT team, and a police dog, do not have the ability to subdue a single man armed with two knives who was not even close to the officers from a knife standpoint, when he was shot and killed? What were those officers thinking? What were they on might be a good question, too? Meth. Speed. Cocaine? Crack?

Now it seems they Albuquerque PD, or somebody, is playing games with the evidence? Maybe the Albuquerque PD no longer has control over the evidence, or over the case. Maybe the FBI is running the whole show now, after the Albuquerque Police Chief came out right after the shooting with the officers were justified in their actions. Like the Eimers cased down here, a video probably saved the whole thing from being swept under the rug.

I wonder even now how the Albuquerque video survived. Maybe the officers and the Police Chief actually believed they would be patted on the back? Maybe it never occurred to them to lose the video? Well, a video didn’t help Rodney King, now did it? Those cops were acquitted in the criminal prosecution, but I heard it went the other way in the later civil lawsuit for damages.

I’d hate to have the Albuquerque cops and their police chief’s karma. Same for the cops involved in the Charles Eimers’ case down here. Our Police Chief Lee can’t make any of them tell what really happened, but I have a hard time believing he could not have put them on administrative leave without pay, because they were not honoring their police oath. And still not a public peep, that I know of , out of the city mayor and city commissioners about the Eimers case, which has been extensively reported in Key West the Newspaper – www.thebluepaper.com, which broke the case wide open by publishing the video shot by a bystander of the KW cops taking down the suspected homeless man Charles Eimers, who had arrived Key West last Thanksgiving Day, with money, with a pension, to live here. He was dead the next day.

Moving laterally and upward,

Connie Gilbert 4

last night, I saw Connie Gilbert during the Equality Florida event at the lovely Gardens Hotel

Gardens Hotel

across Angela Street from the old city hall. I told Connie to stay on the pilgrimage. She said, keep doing the hard work? Yes, I said. Connie was being honored for her long and faithful service to gays and lesbians in Key West, the Florida Keys and Florida. There were a whole lot of people there.

Seeing Mayor Craig Cates,

Mayor Cates

I smiled, he smiled back. I walked over, shook his hand. He said he said he hoped everything was going okay for me. I kinda rolled my eyes, he laughed. I said, everything was going okay for him? He kinda rolled his eyes. I said, situation normal? He said, yes. I said, SNAFU? He said, yes. We laughed. I headed over to the food table to stuff my face some more.

The food was exquisite. Really good vittles.

Jan from Ohio, a pleasant fifty-ish woman down for another stay in Key West, had to explain to her daughter what vittles are. Something from Georgia or Alabama, or thereabouts. I said, yeah, probably from Alabama, or thereabouts.

I had met Jan in the check-in line out front. The first name tag they had printed out for her had spelled her first name, Jam. We’d had fun with that, and had walked to the back of the long food line together, with her daughter, which had led to a lot of conversation, including, yes, for real, I am a mayor candidate, presently the only challenger to the incumbent, and she could read all about that and God only knew what else at goodmorningkeywest.com, and she would be featured in today’s post at that website.

The longer we talked, the more Jan said maybe she might be freaked out by learning more about me. I said, well, how freaked out did she feel I was by seeing two cute little antenna growing out of her head hidden by her hair?

Sloan and Mike

Mike Mongo (left, in photo) was in the food line. He was wearing his eyeglasses upside down, and I said maybe I could see better if I did the same. Someone else used Mike’s fancy smart phone thing to take the photo, which Mike then emailed to me under the title, “birds of a feather.”

Mike and I both are crazy, is what I think he may have meant. He is bi-sexual, currently just being married to a Jamaican woman. I am straight, doing the monk thing.

When I had come into the event from the sidewalk, a fellow greeting everyone was asking people if they were with a partner? When he asked me that question, I said nobody will have me. Then, he saw my name tag and realized who I was and laughed heartily.

The two fingers behind my head in the photo are a peace sign and belong to local artist and interior designer Debra Yates,

Debra Yates

whom I know somewhat mostly from running into her and talking a little while at functions sort of like the one tonight. She has an art and design studio and gallery on Southard Street, where I attended a very good photographer’s opening maybe two months ago. She asked me to come by Wednesday night for an art event, which I might do.

A Key West Conch, Debra has done well at her trade, and has a gallery up Miami way, too. She once told me that she steers clear of local politics because it’s never going to change. I think I recall agreeing and complimenting her wisdom.

Equality Florida folks from the mainland said last night that they are hoping this will be the year when they get equal marriage and other rights with straight people through the Florida legislature. It’s a hell of a thing to be lesser than because of something you cannot change about yourself.

Close to home for me, my younger brother Major was bi-sexual, tried to keep his straight relations from knowing his gay side, but not vice versa I don’t imagine. It never bothered me that Major was bi-sexual, other than I worried for him how that was affecting his life. The strain had to be there.

Major Bashinsky

He’s not with us any more, and I’m still convinced it was because someone who had the proof, out of spite or revenge over something, was going to out him and there was nothing he could about it. So he killed himself in a way that caused many people to believe he had been murdered, but it was ruled suicide.

I had people down here express disbelief that Major would kill himself to avoid being outed. Not in this day and time, I was told. I replied that they did not know Major, how hard he had tried to fit into what was viewed as “normal” in the straight, conservative, religious, social and professional (he was a lawyer) circles, which he came from and was trying to run with in Birmingham. I said they did not know those circles, either.

Looks to me, in America, this gay rights “debate” is fueled entirely by the Bible, specifically, what some man wrote a long time ago in Leviticus, that would be Moses, and what another man much later mimicked, whom himself was a closet gay practicing celibacy, that would be Paul. Looks to me, because of the Bible, gays, lesbians and bis still lack marriage and related rights comparable to straights. That sure looks to this ex-Alabama lawyer like a violation of separation of church and state.

Paint it anyway they wish, religious conservatives are why I attended Equality Florida’s event tonight. But for the Bible, there would have been no reason to have the event last night. Gays, lesbians and bis already would have equal rights with straights.

I was told in a dream last night by a dearly-departed Key West lesbian friend, originally from Montgomery, Alabama, that I would eat chocolate chip cookies today. I took the dream to mean I needed to be sweet today in what I wrote today on gay rights. Some of what I wrote last night to Nashville J about religious conservatives was not in the least sweet. So compared to that, what I write today is sweet.

loud music

Moving laterally and not necessarily upward, the city’s new noise ordinance to be gets major scrutiny in today’s Key West Citizen - www.keysnews.com, in the form of an article and an Editorial. First the article, then the editorial. My thoughts in italics.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

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Musicians wary of city’s plans to toughen noise law
BY GWEN FILOSA Citizen Staff
gfilosa@keysnews.com
Marty Stonely, a musician who has played in Key West for nearly 30 years, thinks the city’s plan to dial up its noise regulations is a lousy idea.

Musicians just want to perform while bar owners can police themselves when it comes to any complaints from folks who live within earshot, said Stonely, a popular sax player. People are trying to pay their bills.

Unfortunately, some bar owners police themselves and their musicians, some bar owners do not, which is why the new noise ordinance is up for passage.

“They moved into a combat zone and they want to remove the combat zone,” Stonely said, of locals clamoring for tougher noise restrictions. “We as musicians are helpless. The only people who have a chance to fight this are the bar owners.”

I appreciate the candor: combat zone describes some of the music on Duval Street and nearby; musicians in some of the bars trying to see who can play the loudest. Some of the people who live next to the combat zone moved there before many of the musicians in Key West today even got here.

Key West’s “sound control” section of its law books has become a noisy argument across the island. And while city staffers who helped write the law insist its not aimed at musicians, amplified music at Duval Street bars and eateries is exactly what code enforcement officers are measuring.

The ordinance indeed is aimed at musicians playing in bars, with amplifiers turned all the way up, but hopefully the ordinance is not aimed at musicians playing for tips on the street, who do not use amplifiers turned all the way up. I would like to see something like that written into the new ordinance.

“The issue at hand is amplified sound,” said Sheri Pogue, who thanked city staff for raising the decibel levels in the law but still protests it. “The economic impact on business owners, service industry workers and musicians is at stake, not to mention the impact of tourism. We are a tourist industry. People come here for the entertainment.”

True, and people living here make up the city, too. I do not believe there is a constitutional right to make as much noise as possible, regardless of what you call it.

Stonely performs regularly at Schooner Wharf Bar, Virgilio’s and other Duval Street bars with George Victory, Lenore Troia and Howard Livingston and the Mile Marker 24 Band.

I pass by Schooner Warf, for example, frequently at night.

Schooner Warf

I never heard music so loud there that I wanted it toned down. Yet I hear Pritam Singh, who is building the new hotel next to Schooner Warf, which new hotel looks to me like it is designed by gargoyles, will gain control over the lease on the land where Schooner Warf is, and not renew the lease, and make Schooner Warf, a Key West living treasure, move, or go out of business. That kind of development is another kind of noise I say the city should do without.

City commissioners on March 18 unanimously approved an amended version of the 22-page retooled ordinance prohibiting “unreasonably excessive noise.” Record crowds have attended the past two commission meetings at Old City Hall to listen as commissioners hash out the restrictions.

I attended those commission meetings. My impression is, the new ordinance is for show; it’s political; it will not be enforced in a way that changes anything; but if it is enforce, it will lead to lots of litigation and make a lot of Key West lawyers happy.

Musicians, bar owners and their supporters have turned out to protest what they fear is a law unfairly aimed at them, and how they earn a living.

They don’t trust the city’s handheld Quest decibel readers, pointing to their iPhone apps that deliver different readings than those taken by code officers. And they argue the property line isn’t a fair measuring point.

“Generally, they use the cheap ones,” said Stonely of the decibel readers. “They’re not finite and they give improper readings.”

No one is out to unplug Duval Street’s nightlife, city staffers said.

I agree, that is not the point of the new ordinance. The point is to tone down bars which play music so loud that it can be heard far beyond those bars.

“This ordinance isn’t targeted toward musicians,” said Jim Young, the city’s chief code enforcement official. “This ordinance is not trying to put anyone out of business. It’s trying to find an equal balance.”

I agree, with the caveat, I don’t see the new ordinance, if it passes, changing much, if anything, other than making local lawyers more money.

Stonely isn’t the only music man who feels there is more at stake than quality of life concerns cited as the impetus behind the push to toughen the city’s “sound control” law.

At the commission’s Feb. 25 meeting, Jesse Wagner and three friends rose to play a chorus of Woody Guthrie’s freedom anthem, “This Land is Your Land,” during public comment.

Afterward, Wagner noted the acoustic performance at the podium, which included a banjo and stand-up bass, was “96.7 at its peak,” according to his decibel reading.

I heard that Woodie Guthrie performance in Old City Hall. It was not offensively loud to me. It was what I would expect from musicians, who were playing to an audience, having a good time with the audience. It was not the kind of music which caused the complaints, which led to the new noise ordinance.

Jack Wolf, a Key West musician, said when your livelihood depends on being able to attract listeners to the bars, sound levels can matter.

“To draw people in,” said Wolf. “You can’t do that if you’re playing at such a quiet level nobody can hear you outside.”

There is not a bar with music in Key West, which I cannot hear from the sidewalk, and even before I get in front of the bar, and even across the street. That’s not the problem. The problem is bars which amp up music up to where it can be heard at the other end of the sidewalk, and farther away than that. Some bars get into competition, keep turning up the amplification, to be the loudest bar. To the point it becomes noise, not music; to the point it becomes a weapon. I love the music in The Bull, on the corner of Duval and Caroline Streets, another Key West living treasure. (Garden of Eden clothing-optional bar on the roof)

The Bull

I hear The Bull’s music out on the sidewalk and from across the street. It draws in customers from the street. But it does not make me feel like I’m being attacked, which the music coming out of some of the bars makes me feel; which the fellow on the tricycle with the Christmas lights and the revved up boom box makes me feel when he comes by loving every moment of it, and it’s not even his music (noise at that amplification); which the bars and vehicles playing that dreadful thump, thump, thump bass NOISE make me feel. If I were King, I would make playing that thump, thump, thump a deportation offense. I have heard the fellow on the tricycle do the same thing in his Bahama Village neighborhood.

Stonely no longer counts on his music talents as his sole source of income. These days, he has a niche business: legal videographer, which entails creating videos for lawyers battling civil cases in South Florida.

“Accident recreations, settlement videos,” Stonely said. “You have to be real good at audio.”

gfilosa@keysnews.com

Editorial:

Sunday, March 30, 2014
Noise ordinance sounds like nothing but trouble

Noise is defined as “any unwanted sound. Sounds, particularly loud ones, that disturb people or make it difficult to hear wanted sounds, are noise.” The opposite of noise is quiet, defined as “making little or no noise.”

For decades, the bustling entertainment district of Lower Duval Street has been filled with noise. By contrast, Upper Duval Street is popularly (and accurately) described as the “Quiet End of Duval.” Our residents and visitors alike know to go to Lower Duval in search of noisy nightlife, but to expect a quiet meal, pleasant conversation and a good night’s sleep in the residential, neighborhood commercial and tourist lodging areas elsewhere in Old Town.

The drafters of Key West’s new noise control ordinance need to keep that obvious difference in mind as they consider where to draw the line between the downtown noise-tolerant district and our quiet areas.

Amen.

The city’s reconsideration of the noise ordinance in a sense is a watershed moment in the growth of our community. We have written before about the proliferation of noise in our small community, and to their credit city commissioners have stepped up to the plate to reconsider modifications to the noise ordinance.

Like it or not, over the decades Lower Duval Street has been transformed into a noisy, hopping nightlife venue. Tourism proponents profess that any attempt to limit the cacophony of noise that flows from the bars and bistros of Lower Duval would have a devastating financial impact on those noise-producing businesses. Some bar owners insist that blasting their music into the street is part of their business model to attract customers.

Sounds like their testosterone model, to me. Sounds like adolescent boys playing mine’s bigger than yours. I once was told by Margaritaville’s manager that Sloppy Joes, another living Key West treasure, does $100,000 a day.

Sloppy Joes 4

The Bull has great entertainment, which does not insult my ears and senses. Sometimes the noise coming out of Margaritaville, which its manager told me also does $100,000 a day, insults my ears and senses.

Margaritaville

When Margaritaville is really loud, I wonder how its customers can stay in there? I wonder what’s the point? I wonder if Jimmy Buffet would let that go on if he were in there? He’s a co-owner.

We suspect that Lower Duval has become irreversibly what it is, and that attempts to eliminate or severely limit noise on that end of Duval will continue to be unsuccessful.

Lower Duval Street was loud when I stayed at the La Concha Hotel the week before Christmas, 1995. I spent time in Sloppy Joes that week. It was about the same volume back then as today. About as much fun back then as today. It’s a class entertainment operation now, was back then. Yet, if Sloppy Joe’s gets into a noise-making contest with its bar neighbors, I say it should be shut down for the rest of that day and night, just like what should happen to its neighbors. That’s the only effective way I see to police the noise junkies on and near Duval Street. Take away a day and a night’s revenue, then let them open back up, and if they don’t tone down the noise, shut them down for another day and night, and see if that gets through to them. Keep doing that until they tone it down. If they don’t like it, they can get a lawyer and sue the city. They will sue the city anyway, if the new ordinance is enforced against them, which I ain’t holding my breath about.

By contrast, anyone strolling Duval Street from Front Street toward the ocean will notice that the sound of music blasting from the bars downtown disappears by the time you reach Truman Avenue. The change is like night and day.

The sound mostly disappears before you reach Truman.

The noise ordinance approved on first reading would apply the same noise volume standard from the gulf-end of Simonton, Duval and Whitehead streets to the ocean. Unless that changes on second reading, the characterization of Upper Duval and its surrounding neighborhoods as “the quiet end” of the island could soon become meaningless.

Agreed.

The new ordinance would also strip our quiet areas of the protection they now enjoy under the easily understood prohibition of “plainly audible” noise.

I frequently hear plainly audible noise in my neighborhood, and I have heard it in other Key West neighborhoods where I have lived. The old ordinance didn’t stop neighborhood noise. People making noise could have cared less about the old ordinance. I imagine they could care less about the new ordinance.

The second (and perhaps last) reading of the new ordinance is on the agenda of the commission’s agenda for Tuesday’s meeting. Passing a law that applies the same noise standard to bedrooms as to bars would be the worst possible April Fool’s joke.

Agreed.

It is not too late for the city commission to take a deep breath and follow the lead of another city that like Key West has a noise problem — the City of New Orleans.

It is ironic that at this very moment in time, the City of New Orleans is struggling with enacting an updated noise ordinance focused on the noise problems that are being experienced in the French Quarter. New Orleans initially rushed to implement a new ordinance in January, but pulled it back for further consideration. New Orleans hired an acoustical engineering firm to study the noise issues and to present a new noise ordinance for consideration, based upon a comprehensive, scientific study of the noise pollution created by the bars and music venues in the French Quarter, and the impact of the noise on residents and those who work in those noisy venues.

Key West has a history of conducting studies when confronted with major policy issues. Given the import of the noise problems that exist in the Duval Street corridor, it would make sense for the city to pull the plug on the current, proposed ordinance and seek input from an acoustical expert before implementing a sound ordinance that could have unintended consequences.

— The Citizen

Baloney, this city is choking to death on studies and committees. Just take away the noise makers play things for the rest of the day and night, when they misuse them. Then give them their play things back the next day, and see if they play them differently. If not, take their play things away again, and again, until they play them differently. Hell, this not the mainland. It’s not really even part of the US. Since when did Key West really ever feel it had to do things legally?

Key West edge

This Key West on the Edge: Inventing the Conch Republic book I’m reading ought to be required reading for every school kid attending Key West schools, although probably too late for the book to make any significant headway with adults. The author really did his research, lots, heaps actually, of footnotes. All along Key West was wide open, fast and loose, live and left live.

The only place I see, so far, where the author may have dropped the ball is in his description of the lucrative ship wrecker business. He does not even mention, so far, that it was rumored, if not actually true, that some wreckers put out lanterns in the ocean and on the reef to intentionally lure or steer ships onto the reef, so the wreckers could make even more money saving ships and their cargoes and human lives than the natural course of events would produce.

Perhaps that’s why the city government to this day views itself as separate and apart from living by its own ordinances, while sticking same with relish to private citizens and businesses. Perhaps under the table payoffs, in whatever currency is sufficient, spices the Conch chowder a little more.

Here’s a drug years passage from Key West on the Edge, with a few small parts taken out to save my lazy fingers typing what didn’t seem as relevant.

************************

Key West on the Edge
Chapter 6
From pages 119-120:

In the “Bubba Bust” trial of the mid-1980s, Raymond “Tito” Casamayor, Key West’s Chief of Detectives and Deputy Police Chief, was tried in U.S. District Court, along with thirteen other defendants, for racketeering related to a cocaine smuggling operation based out of the Key West Police Department.
The prosecutors emphasized that the police department was awash with “graft and corruption” and labeled Police Chief Larry Rodriguez as an “unindicted” co-conspirator. A convicted drug dealer testified during the triaql that the had delivered cocaine, hidden in containers from Burger King and chicken Unlimited, to Casamayor at the police station. The verdict determined that under federal law the Key Weset Police Department was a “continuing criminal enterprise” …
Also arrested in the Bubba Bust trial were the prominent Key West lawyer Michael Cates and his wife, Janet Hill Cates. A former Key West High School football star and Monroe County Attorney, Cates had defended several clients accused of involvement in the drug business. He also had been the attorney for Historic tours of America …Edwin Swift III, one of its owners, testified in Cates’ defense. Swift said of Cates, his “word can be trusted, he’s honest, and he obeys the law” … the jury found both husband and wife guilty … Cates was sentenced to fifteen years on three felony charges, including his function as the legal adviser to a major cocaine operation, and Janet received ten years for selling cocaine …”
One might think Key West’s tourism boosters would have feared that the publicity around the drug busts would tarnish the island’s image and decrease its appeal for tourists. David Wolkowsky, however, offered a different theory. He suggested, instead, that the scandal might actually help, noting, “Intrigue, you know, is what Key West is about.”

*********************

I called Todd German about the Michael and Linda Cates trial, and Todd said he did not think that Cates family is related to Mayor Craig Cates’ family, although there might be a distant relationship from way back when their ancestors lived in the Bahamas before migrating to Key West.

Earlier in the book, the author tells of how the City Commission gave the originator of the popular conch trains a monopoly. The originator was not Ed Swift, mentioned above, whose company later acquired the conch trains from their originator, and then himself was given the same monopoly by the City Commission, on which then say Jimmy Weekley, who later would become city mayor for a while, then he was defeated, and now he is a city commissioner again.

Earlier in the Key West on the Edge also is some mention of Key West’s beloved living treasure Captain Tony Tarracino

Anthony "Tony" Tarracino

not having been a Conch; having fled from New England to Key West, because he owed the Mafia money; having had seven wives and many children of the legitimate and illegitimate kind; and having run for mayor several times, maybe six?, before he got elected. It was said he was a people’s mayor and he did not like development. It also was said he was a pretty fair smuggler, and his bar was quite a hit, and the ladies loved him. Maybe it was all those ladies who finally got him elected.

Sloan Bashinsky

keysmyhome@hotmail.com

Sloan at Coco's

Political advertisement paid for and approved by Sloan Bashinsky, for Mayor of Key West

About Sloan

Darn, that would take a while. Try the autobiographical pages in the header. Ditto for header menu pages at www.goodmorningbirmingham.com. Hatched and raised there, eventually I ran away from home. Here's a short list: Born 1942; male; single; accused of all sorts of imaginable and unimaginable things, perhaps some true. Live on Key West of Weird asteroid. Publish something most days on this website, been at that since July 2007. That's heaps of catch-up reading, probably not recommended.
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