Ever have one of those days when there’s so much rattling around in your brain — think Disney Fantasia — and so many things on the to-do lists — think Disney Cinderella — that you just want to lock the door, sit in a corner in a dark room and dare your family and friends to knock? That’s me and column-writing day. Lots of ideas and not one of them worth more than a passing social media post.
So, here goes with what I got: Key West updates and short takes:
Sargassum: A couple weeks ago I did a whole thing on the kick-off of the way-too-early 2023 sargassum season. Headline: It’s bad now; it’s gonna get really bad as the summer plods along. Sargassum has been around for millennia and it’s good for the ecosystems but not in these smothering, record-breaking quantities.
I should know by now that when I write about sargassum I get a flood of questions along the lines of “I’m coming next week (month, year, century). Should I cancel?” I happily answer with something along the lines of “No way to predict; depends on the winds and currents, but, yeah, there will be sargassum. Come on down anyway. You’re not here for the beaches, right?”
I’m generally encouraging of a visit, albeit realistic, in sargassum season because I love Key West in all seasons and also because I’m cynical enough that it crosses my mind that some resort manager or tourist development type is punking me to see if I’ll tell folks to RUN and then they can get all huffy and stuff.
Gasoline: What the heck? No gasoline in the Florida Keys? Did I miss a hurricane or something? Nah. But the mainland got a rain dump of a couple feet last week, which, in turn, made it impossible to get gasoline trucks deployed from the Port Everglades distribution center. There’s plenty of gas, just no way to get it here since — once again the reminder — we live at the end of extension cords plugged into the mainland. By the time you’re reading this, voila, gas at the pumps. Another disaster recovery reminder: Keep your tank three-quarters full.
Disney versus DeSantis: Will the Mouse win?
Disney: Watching Gov. Ron DeSantis play whack-a-mole with the Mouse is darn near as good as a rousing video session with Super Smash Bros., with apologies for mixing Disney and the Mario Bros. franchise. First the governor takes over Disney World because, well, Covid vaccines and treating people with respect and we can’t have that, says the governor, so now you’re mine, so take that.
Then Disney with what have to be the world’s coolest lawyers and their King Charles III clause takes it back. And THEN the governor stomps his tiny little feet in their big white boots and says, “Well then I’ll just build a prison next door.” If it weren’t so serious, the whole debacle would be fodder for a decent video game, doncha think?
Covid: Have you noticed no one is much paying attention anymore? That includes me, in case you think I’m being all righteous. I tossed three dozen cloth masks last week and kept six or so to frame because, well, they were locally made in the early days and they’re kinda like works of art.
I still carry a mask for close quarters with strangers. Even if it doesn’t do a darn thing against Covid, I like being invisible. Amazing how folks keep their distance in my airplane row; I even get the armrest. We’re all like, was Covid-19 a three-year dream sequence from which we are awaking to find headlines like “Mouse scares actual governor”?
We ought remember though that even in Florida, where the governor pooh-poohed the idea that Covid is an outsized killer and in a state whose self-sanitizing statistics smell like sargassum, pretty much everyone, including the state, agrees that give or take a few, 7,528,420 Floridians have had Covid as of March 2, and 86,460 have died.
Which brings me to Tallahassee: Mary, Joseph and the Wee Donkey, those folks have raised political theater to an art form. No legislative session in the history of legislative sessions (including all of the King Charleses put together) is without its share of politicians run amok. That’s just how it rolls and during 40 years as a journalist I’ve covered enough elected crazies in their natural habitat to be able to shake my head at most of the theater.
But that mess up north? There are only three guiding principles for Florida’s legislative nonsense right now: (1) give our governor buddy whatever red-meat, dog-whistle thing he needs to rile up his national base for a presidential run; (2) take away any semblance of home rule for local governments, commissions and school boards; and (3) make sure the playground bully gets his way even if the rest of the kids want no part of it.
When it all gets sorted and run through the courts, a boatload of that theater won’t make it. In the meantime, it does exactly what it’s intended to do: Distract us from sea level rise; the water, electric, transportation and communications infrastructure that threatens our ability to live here; the environmental damage that’s killed our reef and jeopardized our economy, our jobs and our future; the housing that’s unaffordable and unavailable; the right to determine the future of our community at home, not in Tallahassee; the right to live peaceably and safely; and our willingness to do so as One Human Family.
Maybe I’ll wake up and the 2023 Tallahassee legislative session will have been a bad dream. Or maybe not and I’ll have to register as a blogger who has written disparagingly about the governor and his minions — with apologies to the actual Minions — and pay a big fine for having done so.