Sunday, July 19, 2009

Captain Tony International?

We noted a letter to the editor in the Key West Citizen a few weeks ago written by our old friend (and helicopter pilot par excellence), long-time Middle Keys resident Lee Cranmer (pictured at left). Lee's letter suggested renaming the airport in Key West for former Key West mayor and popular Keys character Captain Tony Tarracino. Captain Tony died in November 2008 at the age of 92.
The newly remodeled airport terminal recently opened amid the usual fanfare surrounding such openings, and not a little controversy over design, construction delays, cost overruns, and the death of at least one man in the collapse of a concrete form. Add to this another controversy over naming the airport for a still-living politician, a former county commissioner defeated in the polls last year as one of a dreaded "gang of three," and you have the makings of a proverbial "hot potato" for the present county commission.
Perhaps that's why Lee's letter didn't get the attention that it deserved. But many people we've talked with think it would be a stroke of genius. A Keys resident since 1948, Tony embodied the island's reputation as a refuge for eccentrics and renegades who had found their way to the southernmost point of the continental United States. He was friends with literally thousands of people. And he served an honorable two years as the city's mayor.
And, in contrast with certain others, Tony has now gone on the that Great Dog Track in the sky. (Tony always maintained that he did his best thinking while serving as mayor at the now defunct dog track on Stock Island.)
As we think of the many bed tax dollars that the tourist industry spends every year to keep Key West's economic pump primed, we should consider the advantage of Captain Tony International printed on every travel document, air schedule, and plane ticket having to do with Key West.You just can't buy that type of publicity. Now, you can't blame anybody for not wanting to handle a "hot potato," but can it hurt to let the County Commission know how we feel? If Tony didn't embody the best of Key West, who did? And since when was Key West ever know for political correctness? It's time Lee's idea got some serious consideration.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What's With This? III

Remember this guy? He's the reknowned "Boy Buddha" of Nepal, who first created a stir back in 2005. He emerged from the jungle, so it was said, and spent several months meditating under a tree and dispensing an occasional word of wisdom, a la the original Buddha. It was reported at that time that he attracted a crowd of 10,000 people, many of whom were convinced that he must be the actual reincarnation of Buddha himself.
It was said that he sat immobile, meditating most of the time. At night his "handlers" would cover his place of meditation with a curtain. They claimed he neither ate nor drank. A French news crew was allowed to observe him over a 48 hour period, and they reported that they did see him eating a piece of fruit.
After a few months he disappeared, only to re-emerge in late 2008, looking hale and hearty as in the photo above.
The above photo shows the boy during his appearance in 2005 at the age of 16. He seems to have cleaned himself up considerably for his second appearance. The second time he stayed around for a shorter period, and has now disappeared again.
So what's a skeptic to think? He doesn't seem that he has started a cult, although with 10,000 visitors he certainly could have started one. We're left wondering about his third appearance: when and where, and to what signifigance. What does he do when he's not "on stage"?
And what about his handlers? What's their motivation? Helpful boddhisattvas presenting the young saint to the multitudes? Or perhaps only enterprising food vendors....I mean, with a crowd of 10,000 you could sell a lot of kebabs.

ADDENDUM: "Getting It Honest" (Cynicism, I mean.)
For several years this bumper sticker was seen on the rear of a VW van parked on Southard Street in Key West. Noted, that the people of Conyers downplay this nowadays.