Monday, November 21, 2005

Key West Thanksgiving Dinner

For those in town for the holiday, here is a list of advertised Key West Thanksgiving dinners:
  • Hot Tin Roof, Elegant Waterfront Restaurant and Bar, 0 Duval Street, 295-7056 for reservations (5-10 p.m. seatings)
  • Bagatelle, 3-course meal at $45 per person, New-American/Carribean Cuisine, 115 Duval Street, 296-6609 for reservations
  • Cafe Sole, inventive Key West restaurant located in an Old Town neighborhood, Thanksgiving Menu is $25 (regular menu is also available), 294-0230 for reservations
  • El Meson de Pepe, Mallory Square and N. Roosevelt locations, Cuban restaurant offering "Deep Fried Turkey" and other Thanksgiving menu items, 295-9448 or 295-2620 for reservations.
  • Turtle Kraals, casual Key West restaurant/bar offering Traditional Thanksgiving Day Turkey and Football, $16.95 per person, 231 Margaret Street, 294-2640
  • Sheraton Suites, S. Roosevelt Boulevard (across from Smathers Beach), hotel's restaurant, $24.95 per person, $9.95 per child, 292-6213 for reservations.
  • Nicole Seafood, 601 Front Street at the Hyatt, Thanksgiving Buffet noon - 5 pm, $36.95 per person, 809-4000 for reservations.
  • Also offering Thanksgiving is the Hilton hotel and it's sister property Sunset Key, but I'd rather eat my hand than patronize them.

There are no doubt others that will have a Thanksgiving offering. But either way, I would suggest reservations be made sooner than later. Also, the good folks at are a good source for anything to do with a Key West vacation.

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Turbulence At Town Hall

Last nights city commission may be most known to residents for it's decision to not reschedule Fantasy Fest, something the working public overwhelmingly supported.But for me what was most obvious was how wobbly the commission dealt with the stress of the issues brought before it. The Key West City Commission looked like a vehicle whose lug nuts were not tightened enough...wobbling and appearing ready to lose a wheel and careen out of control.

The stress was brought on by the weight of it's agenda and the packed house - most there to support keeping Fantasy Fest as scheduled. (Fantasy Fest won, and will be held December 7-10.) The meeting began with a report on the city's finances, wracked by hurricane damage, business interuptions, and clean-up costs, and set the commission on edge. As the meeting progressed, one by one, the commissioners each seemed out of touch and rattled.

  • Rossi was confused as to what he had seconded
  • Bethel enraged the crowd by suggesting they were outnumbered by the anti-Fantasy-Fest-in-December "silent majority"
  • Menendez delivered more than one meandering sermon with no punch line
  • the Mayor/Chairperson threatened that the public shouldn't make this personal (and even scolded one resident who mentioned Bethel's name during her allotted 3 minutes)
  • and most menacing of all was Kholage who stared down the crowd and threatened in old-fashioned Bubba style, that if you push the commission, next time the commission will push back (later he would apologize for the comment, and tried to tone down his rhetoric).
I can only imagine how they'll deal with the real problems coming down the pipe.
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Monday, November 14, 2005

Fantasy Fest Timing Offends Some Key West Residents

As if things weren't enough up-in-the-air for many Key West Florida businesses and their employees, the rescheduled Key West Fantasy Fest is going to be debated at tomorrow's Key West City Commission meeting. The organizers of the event must still get approval from the city to hold the event - which requires permits for street closures, open container laws, and suspension of noise ordinances. Without the City's o.k. Fantasy Fest cannot happen.

This whole mess started when Hurricane Wilma forced the cancellation of the annual Halloween festival, something most residents never before thought would happen. The new date chosen for the Key West events were December 7-11....Pearl Harbor Day. Almost immediately some residents complained and thought it disrespectful to hold the festival on such a somber day. In response, the organizer sent out a poorly thought letter suggesting that we all show our reverence for the date with an all out "Red, White, and Blue" Fantasy Fest. Even the local press jumped on the public roasting - and declared the organizers insensitive and dim-witted. The organizers retracted the letter, and now have themed the event "Wilma's Freaks, Geeks, and Goddesses", a sort of mutation of the original theme, with the addition of "Wilma's".

Now cue up the City Commission. Senior Commissioner Harry Bethel won't have anything to do with Fantasy Fest in December. He voiced that it is family time, and something so bawdy (read "deviant") should not be in the same Holy month of December.

But where are all the local freaks, artists, and other fun characters that made Key West known as a laid-back, non-conformist community? Seems most are long gone, leaving a new island demographic rearing it's conservative head. More and more religious residents are belly-aching about the devilish Fantasy Fest invading the sacrosanct December. All the while, the working residents are stunned. Most are barely hanging on due to the combination of skyrocketing housing costs and hurricanes interrupting their ability to work. For workers and more than a few businesses, Fantasy Fest is critical.

On top of everything else, Goombay festival was rescheduled for the same night as the Christmas Parade. Residents of Bahama Village are understandably upset that the event organizers rescheduled their big party for the same day as the Christmas Parade, forcing them to choose between the two. Finally, organizers of Fantasy Fest have stated that if the event doesn't happen in December, it may not happen next Halloween. Somehow their funding is in jeopardy if they don't spend the money in the year it was allocated for.

All this is scheduled to be heard at Tuesdays commission meeting. With an 80% turnover on the commission after the elections, no one is sure what they will decide.
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Saturday, November 12, 2005

$30 Million Dollar Yacht Damaged & Aground in Key West

Now that Hurricane season is over (it's over right...twitch, twitch), and Key West is cleaned up and again looking like the idyllic island it is known to be, I took a ride up to the backcountry with one of the best Key West flats fishing guide for some flats fishing and a post-storm look around. The mangrove islands north of Key West were no longer lush green. The lashing they withstood has left their leaves the Burgundy color of autumn, as if autumn actually occurs in the Keys. These islands saw a storm surge of 8+ feet, submerging much of their branches, browning their leaves and scouring the bark. Mangroves are built for this environment - able to tolerate a salt water environment, and anchored to the soft bottom with a network of aerial roots. So it is no surprise to see the new green leaves starting to sprout.The water is still a little bit silty, although some of it is due to the breezy conditions we have had lately. Plenty of seabirds were chasing the pilchards, mullet, and other small fish schooling near the islands, and mangrove snapper and jack crevalles were ambushing them in the pockets of deeper water, especially next to the complex mangrove roots.Next, we moved on to get a closer look at a 162 foot yacht that had been torn from it anchorage during the hurricane and pushed far onto the flats. During the storm, many boats at anchor were damaged, sunk, or destroyed. But this boat is of a caliber that usually takes great precaution when a storm nears. The boat is estimated to be worth more than 30 million dollars. She is a beauty, and appears to have been built with no expense spared. Having survived the rest of the hurricane season where it was, just northwest of Key West harbor, she tempted the storm gods one more time. Two crew members were onboard, and I can only imagine the ride they had. The contract to remove the boat from the shallows is said to be 1.5 million dollars. The damage is severe, with both masts snapped, and the keel (probably at least 10-15 feet tall) stuck in the bottom. To get a sense of the scale of this massive luxury vessel, notice the man standing in the 1 foot deep water under the bow. Ouchey.
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Saturday, November 05, 2005

Pre-Production Photos of MTV Real World Key West House

Here are photos of inside the house MTV is using for the Real World taping. These were pre-production pictures (taken before MTV renovated the house, and before Hurricane Wilma flooded the house) that were part of a website that advertised the property for rent. That website is now unavailable.
Pool & Jacuzzi Indoors
A View From The Water
Enclosed Porch Overlooking Water
Kitchen Area
Another Pool & Jacuzzi Outdoors
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