Tuesday, November 20, 2007

other MEN of note

While I am on the subject of MEN and some of the crazy things they choose to do...
Here are two photos of Blake W. in Iraq.
He hasn't had much time for chatting lately.

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Florida MEN, Part III

We went down to the waterfront to see the sunrise.
Most sunrises that we see are quiet peaceful events, we don't talk much although we have been known to snore.
Being on the west side of Florida usually means great sunsets over the water but usually limits sunrises to waiting for the sun to peek over your local strip mall. (If you haven't been to Florida in the last five years or so you would be surprised to see that there is a statewide ratio of an entire stripmall for every 32 residents, so when the sun rises in Florida there is a very good chance that you will see it rise over a nearby store).

A sunrise at Cedar Key is very different.
It is an actual island, which is where the "Key" comes from (I will explain the sad story of the "Cedar" part another day). This island is far enough out that you can watch sunrises and sunsets with only a very leisurely ONE block walk between them.
We were on the East end of Dock Street to watch the sunrise and things were not quiet and peaceful. This is a fishing town.
On weekends there are charter boats heading out at 6:30 to catch grouper. This was a Wednesday so all of the clammers were going out instead. There were a few families going on some charters, but there was a continuous stream of pickup trucks with clam boats in tow backing down the two boat ramps. The old timers were wearing rubber aprons and rubber boots and the younger ones were wearing wet suits.
The clam boats are very long, low, and wide with a large outboard motor mounted through a hole that is about six feet from the bow. The bow curves sharply up and has a little steering wheel right at the point. The captain, which is usually the old timer with the rubber apron, stands up in the bow and drives, while the younger guys with the wetsuits operate the overhead winch in the back.

The sun came up at about 7:10 and the boats were all gone by 7:15, each of them heading off in different directions.
I got distracted watching a construction barge setting up shop while Beth walked away to get a coffee.
A second wave of boats started arriving in the parking lot at about 8:10. These were the man/woman couples. Husbands and wives or fathers and daughters repeated the same process although at a more casual pace with a little more complaining involved. Load the boat in the water, do a little chatting bow to bow, and then drive off in different directions. Gone by 8:25.

At 8:30 the boats from the first wave all returned loaded down with big bags of clams. They made arrangements to meet for drinks as they hauled their boats out of the water. At 8:40 they all drove away.
I assume that after a drink or two they were going to unload the bags of clams from the boats, wash them down, sort them, and prepare for tomorrow's trip. I have no idea how long that process takes, but I assume that it would take a good part of the day, factoring in the drinking and all.

Now this is civilized fishing. Lobstermen in Maine are required to check their traps every day no matter how bad the weather is, and it is bad 11 months of the year.

These guys plant the clams in their growing bags when the weather is nice. If the weather is bad they don't need to go out, the clams don't care, they are still eating and although they probably aren't that worried about their future, they aren't being eaten either. They are as happy as clams just waiting out any storm. The clammers keep themselves busy doing other clammer-type things indoors to prepare for better weather, or they drink.
When the weather is wonderful again the clammers plop their boats in the water and do the harvesting. Very civilized. LOTS of clams.

Cedar Key sunrise and barge

(Click on the picture to see more or go straight to the SLIDE SHOW)

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Sunday, November 18, 2007

Florida MEN, Part II

Beth and I returned to Cedar Key from Gainesville just in time for the First Annual Cedar Key Charity Male Revue. $10 includes dinner and "The Show". the dinner was homemade lasagna. It was good. Then things just got weirder and weirder. These weren't just ANY men. These weren't New York or L.A. metrosexuals or transexuals. These were clammers and fishermen in drag. Ugly men don't make beautiful women, but they ARE funny.

Normally seeing Milton Berle, Bugs Bunny, or every British television personality dressing in drag doesn't make me laugh as much as the laugh track suggests that I should. Well, maybe Bugs Bunny does, but I don't think that a man dressed as women is inherently funny, but when somebody that looks like a Yonkers New York hooker is telling you quietly how hard it was earlier that day "to unzip my durn britches with these durn long fingernails on" you just have to giggle.
These were the regulars of a bar called "Coconuts" (voted best bar in Florida 2006, 2007). The regulars aren't tourists, they are locals. Locals either sell to the tourists, or they fish for a living.
Beth and I had never seen any of them before so we were basing our first impressions of these folks on the way they looked tonight. They were stunning! Walmart Chinese self-defense Stun-Gun stunning, but it definitely kept all of the customers very alert.
The old adage of "everybody looks good at closing time" would not apply here.
"Red" had a long slinky dress, large black high heels and a red wig with Bette Midler curls, a little pocketbook, and a Budweiser bottle.
"Key Lime Pie" had very long legs, nice shoes and a very short dress. A large mane of black hair, black eye makeup, and a large nose, and just a hint of five o'clock shadow showing through the white pancake makeup made me think of Alice Cooper in 1972. I told him how much he looked like Alice and he said in a VERY low hoarse voice, "I'm getting a lot of that tonight".

More "girls" and their "pimps" kept coming in. Most of the "pimps" were the wives or girlfriends of the "girls" that were competing tonight. The "pimps" were dressed all flashy and had facial hair.

When the event finally started the "girls" would be introduced and then would stroll around to a soundtrack that they chose, and try to get tips. They had 5 or ten minutes or so to do their magic. The one that collected the most money would win the competition.
After the evening gown competition, each one came out in a bikini. There was a lot of dancing on tables and each one collected a lot of money in their bras, bottoms, or garters.
Then there were the awards. There were certificates given out. Third place got a sparkly tiera. Red was the second place winner and received a tiera.
First place went to the only "girl" that didn't have a wig on. He had long bushy gray hair and a very large gray mustache. He looks just like David Crosby (in drag). His gown looked like a maid-of-honor's nightmare with big gold poofy shoulder thingamabobs. He/She received the biggest tierra and a dozen roses and a long royal looking cape/train that was at least ten feet long. As the First Place Queen was being crowned "Red" suddenly fell off his high heels and almost took out the drumset. He REALLY fell. I saw his shoes in the air BEFORE I heard the clunk on the floor.

The band started up and the place was hopping. A really GOOD band with a great guitarist that we had seen before (playing in a different band), who looked just like a guitarist friend of mine named Kramer who lives in New Hampster.
Unfortunately Beth and I had to leave because we were both feeling really ill. Unlike most states, Florida still allows smoking in their bars, and everybody smokes. They all talk with VFW voices and are either sucking on a cigarette or are lighting one up. There was a solid cloud of smoke from our knees up. We went out to the bar's fishing porch many times during the "event", but the smoke was winning. We had to leave.

They raised over $750 for Children's Cancer Research.

Red and Beth
(Click on Red and Beth to see a slideshow)


chemo sabe said...

I just hate it when a guy has nicer fingernails than me!!!!

November 19, 2007 9:09 AM

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Florida MEN, Part I

We were visiting Rick and Dee in Gainesville Florida. They were alternating shifts of the "ya gotta move here" tour. Dee gives one tour and Rick gives an entirely different one.

I had told Rick that I wanted to see some gators. He told us that in this area ANY body of water that isn't surrounded by a fence will have a gator in it. Cool. I wanted to see some.

Rick took us to a place that he hadn't been to in about 5 years. It is in a section of Gainesville called Payne's Prairie. It has all kinds of wildlife. Many years ago a movie was shot there and they brought in Buffalo/Bison for the filming. When the filmmakers left town they just let the buffaloes roam (this was before the days of "carry in -- carry out"). There are also wild horses, more birds than you could imagine, and gators.

We walked on a path that had warning signs at the trailhead that had some token "gator warnings", like what to do if one is blocking your path and especially the fact that you should NOT be out there at dusk because of an interesting fact about a gator's diet: During the day, gators select their meals according to size (Poodles, no Great Danes), but once it is dark, size doesn't matter, "everything is supper". OK. I will pay attention to the height of the sun.

I was looking forward to seeing a gator or two in their natural environment. Rick brought us to his favorite "gator hole". We peered through the moss draped branches and saw a big gator tail. After we adjusted to that, we spotted more, and more. We backed out and walked partway around this 50 foot round pond. It had non-muddy water that was brown with tannic acid, so it looked like a primitive cup of tea. Very primitive. Prehistoric primitive. There were at least 10 gators in view at any one time and more kept appearing.
Beth kept looking behind her to make sure we weren't being stalked.

I was taking a lot of pictures while Rick, who grew up in the South, kept trying to get me to follow him down the steep embankment to get a "closer look". Since I grew up waaaaay up North, I thought that I didn't really need a "closer look" that had the possibility of being from the inside of a gator. So I took pictures from a safe(r) distance.

When we were done at that hole we continued on a pleasant walk past bird watchers with binoculars. We watched long beaked birds poking in streams. We listened to large quantities of "cooing" birds that stayed out of sight. Very pleasant.
Then we came upon a much larger pond. It had gators too. Not as many per square foot as the small hole but it seemed to be enough to eat a large quantity of anything.
Rick, being a Southerner, felt obliged to go down and introduce himself. Beth and I stayed behind taking pictures and trying to convince Rick to throw us his car keys before he went any further.
It was going to be a long walk home.
As he got closer and closer to the edge, more and more eyes kept appearing on the water. Now I want to clarify something here: Us Northerners don't think of eyeballs as particularly dangerous by themselves but, in my opinion, eyeballs that seem to be attached to a huge set of teeth, hundreds of pounds of muscle, and perhaps most importantly, a large stomach that may be feeling hungry at the moment, should be allowed a certain amount of "personal space".

Rick is a Southern-Preacher-Man. He might have connections that I don't, but I think that his "Southern-Man" was leading the way at the moment. The "Preacher" part wasn't involved.

It takes a long time to step through the grasses and brush when you are trying to avoid stepping on water moccasins, so I didn't try to rush him or distract him, although I DID keep pleading for the car keys. He has a good arm, I knew he could get them to me, but I also knew that if he was busy being eaten, he may not have the presence of mind to put his house guests first and pull his keys out of his pocket.

When he was down there by the water, he kept pointing out various gators that were popping up here and there, just looking at the menu, I suppose.

Suddenly Rick snapped his arms over his head and screamed!

The gators all splashed into the water at the same time. The water was churning and there were NO gators to be seen. The Southern-Man was happy. He looked around with a posture that said "come on, you want a piece of me?". I jsut wanted his car keys. Beth kept checking behind us.

Rick climbed back very carefully.

We had a nice stroll looking at birds, turtles, and other gators in the marsh.

We went back to Rick's house. When Dee (Rick's wife) looked at the pictures I thought that she would be angry and bawl Rick out for being "such a knucklehead/macho/typicalman", but no, she's seen him do this a LOT of times. If she was walking with him, she wouldn't even slow down to watch him confront the gators, she just keeps walking.

But then again, she probably has her own set of keys to Rick's Mustang.

(Click on the picture to see a slideshow)

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