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summer 2009

Key West

Land of Perpetual Sunsets

Key West’s sunKen treasure:

The Atocha Visit Buffett’s Waikiki Beachcomber Restaurant

plus Meet Key Largo’s ParrotHeads www.tropicalattitudesmag.com

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Tropical Attitudes

SUMMER 2009


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contents summer 2009

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36

Features

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Buffet Corner by Brian Berusch Long-Time Music Venue Re-Invigorated as a Buffett Outpost

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Sail Away by Douglas King Soozou Handbags

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Key West by Mark E. Ward Land of Perpetual Sunsets

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King

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Films of the Keys by Douglas The Florida Keys Make Movie Magic Atocha by Mark E. Ward Finding Adventure In The Hunt for Atocha’s Treasure

Tropical Attitudes

SUMMER 2009

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departments

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Soak Up the Sun Changes in Latitude Product Review

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On Tap Yo-Ho-Ho, and a ‌

26

30o/30o Monserrat

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Coral Reefers How a Zoology Student Veered in to Stardom

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12

In the Changer Chang es in Latitude Music Review

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48

On the Shelf Changes in Latitude Book Reviews

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Parrot Primer by Marcus Webb Jimmy Buffett and his literary idol, Mark Twain, share a dream

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Pirate Stories by Colin Woodard Hunting down the pirates of the Florida Keys

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Phlocking Together Key Largo Chapter

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www.tropicalattitudesmag.com

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letter from the editor

Sometimes I just want to get away from it all. Don’t you? Just leave behind the mess of day-to-day life, jump in a plane or boat, and take off for some beach where I can sit with my toes in the sand, a drink in my hand, and where I don’t get any strange looks for wearing a tropical shirt in the middle of winter.

if you can relate to this dream, then tropical attitudes is a magazine for you. Our mission statement, if we thought about it long enough to write one down, is to create a forum where we can explore, discuss and learn about the wonderful places on this big blue ball where we can escape to. From tropical paradise to the pages of a wonderful book. From the adventures of pirates to Parrot Heads. From cool waves to sound waves from the music that makes us all want to dance and drink. These are what Changes in Latitude is all about. We take our inspiration from the king of the Parrot Heads, the head of the carnival, the master troubadour, the captain of the pirates, Jimmy Buffet. He has created a lifestyle in his music, which lets us know we can get away from it all. That the madness from Wall St. to Pennsylvania Ave. does not need to consume us. That we need not let the turkeys wear us down. We are the Fruitcakes! We are the ones your parents warned you about! We are pirates looking at forty! For us, Margaritaville is true north, so we set sail and plot our course accordingly. We hope you will join us. In fact we ask that you share with us your own adventures. Changes in Latitude is your magazine. We want to hear from you and learn about what you are doing. We would like to see your photos, learn about your adventures, and find out how you are helping to make this messy world a little more fun. You can write to us at ???? or visit us at www.ChangesinLatitude.com, or join us at changesinlatitude.ning.com. So without further ado, we welcome you to the premier issue. In these virtual pages Mark E. Ward explores the history of Key West. He also tells a fascinating story about one of the largest shipwreck finds off the coast of the Florida — the Atocha. Marcus Webb reveals the inner fantasy life that Jimmy shares with one of his favorite authors, Mark Twain. You will also read about the history of rum—along with a few drink recipes to try yourself—and learn about the island of Montserrat, the inspiration for the song “Volcano.” We hope you enjoy this inaugural voyage and will join us as we set sail on a cruise to escape the madness.

Cheers, Doug King

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contributors “Interviewing Michael Utley of the Coral Reefer band was inspiring in the sense that he demonstrates how far someone who considers music his sole passion can go,” said contributor Brian Berusch. Living in Hawaii has its perks: Berusch was able to sit with Utley at a recent Waikiki gig to chat about his time with Buffett. Brian writes for Islands, Modern Bride and Wine Enthusiast, in addition to publishing the online magazine

Editor-in-chiEf douglas King Managing Editor marcus Webb contributing Editors mark e. Ward Brian Berusch collin Woodward

www.BonHawaii.com Production ManagEr robert thompson

Brian BeRusch

coPy Editor christian ziebarth dEsign & Layout crisally soto donaville herrick

Mark E. Ward is an Orlando-based writer/producer with a passion for adventure.

Writing for Reader’s Digest, Hawaiian Style, Popular onLinE dirEctor tyler Waylett

Science, FunWorld and various travel magazines, Mark has explored deep shipwrecks, piloted NASA’s shuttle simulator, lived in undersea

contributing PhotograPhErs skip o’donnell

laboratories, conquered theme parks and soared in gliders and hot air balloons. In this issue Mark explores Mel Fisher’s discovery of the Nuestra Senora de Atocha, one of the richest shipwrecks ever found in US waters. He also walks back through the history of Key West revealing the events and people that have made it one of the quirkiest places on earth.

Mark E. WaRd

advErtising/ circuLation dirEctor david Blankenship saLEs rEPrEsEntativEs ian thompson

PubLishEr douglas King Laura Byrne Paquet fell deeply in love with the quirky island of Montserrat in 2005—so much so that she inspired her

PrEsidEnt mark loeffler

extended family to visit, too. Between them, they’ve now made three trips and have eaten their weight in People’s Place rotis. Her articles have appeared in more than 80 publications— including National Geographic Traveler and Islands—and she has written 11 books. She blogs about ways to travel like a local at FacingTheStreet.blogspot.com

Laura Byrne Paquet Colin Woodard is an award-winning journalist and author of, most recently, The Republic of Pirates: Being the True and Surprising Story of the Caribbean Pirates and The Man Who Brought Them Down.” He traveled across the country and dug in archives in Britain and the U.S. to unearth the Golden Age Pirates story, which, he says, is stranger

copyright 2009, infoswell media, inc. (951) 256-4350. all rights reserved. no part of this periodical may be reproduced without the written permission of infoswell media, inc. neither the publishers nor the advertisers will be held responsible for any errors found in the magazine. the publishers accept no liability for the accuracy of statements made by advertisers. ads in this publication are not intended as an offer where prohibited by state laws. tropical attitudes is published quarterly for $14.95 per year by infoswell media, inc. 41700 ivy street suite d, murrieta, ca. 92562. postmaster: send address changes to 41700 ivy street suite d, murrieta, ca. 92562. printed in the united states

than fiction. He lives in Portland, Maine and can be found on the web at www.colinwoodard.com

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Tropical Attitudes

SUMMER 2009

Colin WoodaRd

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2

1

“Fins to the Left!” “Fins to the Right!”

Tropical Brain Freeze You’ll Love!

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Shades For a Trip Around the Sun!

Soak Up the Sun

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Tropical Attitudes

SUMMER 2009

Get Your Fins Wet! Island Style!


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Mango Tequila Chicken Madness!

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“One Tequila, Two Tequila ...�

I Blew Out My Flip Flop! Switch it Up!

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Nothing Like a License to Chill!

1. Fiji Frozen Concoction Maker lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. 2. iEncore iphone App This is the ultimate accessory for Jimmy Buffett concerts. www. appstorehq.com 3. Maui Jim sunglesses look trendy and get the best protection. www. mauijim.com 4. landshark lager lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. 5. Jumbo Chicken Wings lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. 6. Margaritaville Tequila Gold lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. 7. switchflops Instanly customize your look with the switch of a strap! www.switchflops. com 8. Margaritaville party Cooler lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing. www.tropicalattitudesmag.com

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on tap

Yo Ho Ho, and a. . . Written By cheryl chee tsutsumi

drink recipies that will make your mouth water and have you chanting yo ho ho and a...

Excerpted from “The New-Wave Mai Tai� (Watermark Publishing, 2008) www.bookshawaii.net

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C

CoNTRARy To populAR BElIEF, RuM WAsN’T lINkEd To pIRATEs uNTIl THE 18TH CENTuRy. Rum wasn’t part of the loot taken by the infamous 17th-century buccaneer Henry Morgan because it was not being produced on a large scale in the spanish outposts in the Caribbean that he raided. While the spanish did have sugar plantations there, rum production hadn’t grown as it had in the British colonies because spanish winemakers and brandy distillers, predicting serious competition from less expensive rum, were doing their best to prevent it. Consequently, pirates found a lot of wine and brandy in the villages they plundered, but no rum. It was only when their attention turned to British holdings that they discovered rum, which from then on became closely associated with them and their high jinks on the high seas. British buccaneer Edward Teach (1680-1718), immortalized as Blackbeard, earned notoriety not only for his barbarous deeds, but for his great fondness for rum. one of his favorite concoctions was gunpowder mixed with rum; he would ignite the cocktail and drink it while it burned and popped. The phrase “yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum” can be traced to late summer 1881, when 31-year-old Robert louis stevenson was vacationing with his family at a cottage in Braemar in the scottish Highlands. Although the young writer’s career had not yet taken off, he knew the makings of a good story when he came across it. one cold, rainy afternoon, stevenson saw his 12year-old stepson, lloyd osbourne, painting a map of an imaginary island with watercolors. A plot began to form in stevenson’s mind as he studied the sketch, and he scribbled “Treasure Island” at the top right-hand corner of the paper. Within three days, with lloyd’s input, he had written the first three chapters of what was to become a literary classic. Two weeks later, stevenson’s friend, dr. Alexander Japp, took the initial chapters to young Folks magazine. Intrigued, the editor agreed to publish the story, and, encouraged by that commitment, stevenson finished it within two months. Treasure Island appeared as a weekly serial from october 1881 to January 1882, but, interestingly, it didn’t receive much notice until it was republished in book form in 1883. It was stevenson’s first successful novel, and the words of the pirate Billy Bones became ingrained in every reader’s head: “Fifteen men on the dead man’s chest yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum! drink and the devil had done for the rest yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!” Composed by stevenson, the ditty doesn’t make much sense, although historians think it was based on an old sea chantey.

Bama Breeze My brother Jimmy’s recording of “The Bama Breeze” was his homage to coastal dives, particularly the famous Flora-Bama on the beach at the Alabama – Florida state line. He sent me a little love both when he changed the lyrics to call the bar owner “lulu” and when he asked me if I wanted to play the bar owner in the video. I mused for just a second, thinking… hmmm… a woman who owns a bar, drinking a beer, jumps up on the stage and sings with the band. It wasn’t much of a stretch! I had crazy fun shooting the video but I’m glad I have my day job! Now I enjoy this drink at my own “Bama Breeze” bar on the beach at lulu’s. 2 ounces Absolut® Citron vodka 1 ounce Coconut rum Juice of ½ fresh lime ½ ounce simple syrup 2-3 ounces cranberry juice 1. Fill tall glass with crushed ice 2. Add vodka and rum 3. squeeze lime juice into glass 4. Fill with cranberry juice 5. Add simple syrup to desired sweetness 6. stir 7. Garnish with fresh lime slice Makes 1 Drink

LuLu Clue: To make your own simple syrup: In a small saucepan, bring ½ cup water and ½ cup sugar to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. When cool, pour syrup liquid into a storage container. This will keep, refrigerated, for a long time

www.tropicalattitudesmag.com

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on tap

Lemon Wedge 1 Tbsp. sugar 1 ¼ oz. Jose Cuervo Oranjo tequila 2 oz. passion-orange juice ¼ oz. dark rum

Pakini Mai Tini

Embassy Suites – Waikiki Beach Walk

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SUMMER 2009

Rub lemon wedge around the rim of a martini glass. Put sugar in a saucer and run the rim of the glass through it to coat it. Mix tequila and passionorange juice in a shaker. Shake and strain into the glass. Float dark rum. Sink a maraschino cherry as the garnish.


1 oz. mango purée 1 oz. rum ½ oz. coconut rum 2 oz. pineapple juice 2 oz. orange juice

Mango’d Mai Tai Blues Hukilau Sports Bar & Grill

8 fresh blueberries 1 oz. sour mix ½ oz. dark rum

Pour the mango purée in a 12ounce glass. Put rum, coconut rum, juices, five blueberries and sour mix in a shaker tin with ice. Shake vigorously. Gently empty contents into glass and float dark rum on top. Garnish with an orchid and remaining three blueberries. www.tropicalattitudesmag.com

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on tap

1 oz. Matusalem Platino Light rum 1 Hawaiian vanilla bean, crushed

Smooth Shredder

¼ oz. rock candy syrup or simple syrup ½ oz. orange curaçao Juice of fresh lime Juice of fresh Meyer lemon 1 oz. Black seal Dark rum

Pour light rum, vanilla bean, syrup and orange curaçao, in order, into a Collins glass. Almost fill with equal parts of lime and Meyer lemon juices. Add dark rum. Do not stir! Garnish with a sprig of mint.

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Koloa Rum


In a mixing tin, muddle: 6 to 8 fresh mint leaves 5 to 6 chunks fresh pineapple 4 to 5 fresh lime wedges 1 Tbsp. raw sugar 2 tsp. candied ginger 1 tsp mango purée

Then add: 1 oz. Myers’s rum ¾ oz. Bacardi White rum 1 oz. pineapple juice 1 oz. liliko‘i juice 1 oz. guava juice

Mai Tai-Jito

½ oz. Captain Morgan spiced rum

Rim a large martini glass with more raw sugar and/or candied ginger. Add ice to the mixing tin, shake well and strain into the glass. Float spiced rum. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Duke’s Waikiki, Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach www.tropicalattitudesmag.com

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Long Time Music Venue Re Invigorated a

Buffett OutpOst neW life and excitement have come to the famed BeachcomBer hotel in WaiKiKi, haWaii. Written By Brian Berusch

B

BEsT kNoWN As THE VENuE WHERE HAWAII’s

who enjoyed paying gigs on Waikiki’s “strip” has been

BEloVEd doN Ho usEd To CRooN To THE

dwindling. so Buffett designed his place specifically

MAssEs, THE BEACHCoMBER NoW ENJoys

for bringing those musicians back to Waikiki. It’s only

sTRoNG TIEs To ANoTHER MusICAl lEGENd.

fitting that the stage at Buffett’s venture is in the same

EARlIER THIs yEAR, “JIMMy BuFFETT’s AT THE

place where Ho rooted his dinner show for upwards

BEACHCoMBER” opENEd WITH A BANG. THE

of 30 years. (If these cave-like walls could talk, they

sECoNd-sToRy VENuE sEATs 500 (AlTHouGH

would probably sing a lengthy Hawaiian ballad.)

IT soMETIMEs FEEls lIkE 1,500). BuFFETT’s

To the rear of the performance room is a winding

Is oAHu’s HoTTEsT NEW spoT FoR loCAl

bar with no fewer than five bartenders spinning

MusICIANs, sTIFF lIBATIoNs, ANd IslANd-

bottles, pouring mai tais, blended drinks (a Buffett

INspIREd CuIsINE.

specialty), and of course, the salt-rimmed margarita.

part of the Beachcomber’s $21 million renovation,

The staff refers to this bar as a literal “hot spot”; under

the 21,000 square foot facility includes buffet stations

a plate glass floor is a flowing stream of lava (actually

set up throughout the dining room, around a pool,

water under-lit with red lights) that winds through the

against the upstairs lanai that looks over the bustling

room.

kalakaua Ave., and even inside a faux cave that bridges the restaurant to the bar and performance space.

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one glance around the venue, and it’s clear: In the midst of an economic recession, when restaurants

Ever the promoter of live music, Buffett rose to

and hotels are shuttering, Buffett has opened the door

meet the challenge here in one of his favorite tropical

for a new generation of musicians to hone their chops

locales. In recent years, the number of live musicians

in the limelight of Waikiki.

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SUMMER 2009


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S 22

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SA

ail

way

soozou. environmentally aWare. socially conscious.

That’s Pia Kuhlemann, founder and designer of SOOZOU. She’s a creative businessperson who is in tune with the times and makes doing the right thing both fashionable and fun. written by douglas king

The concept behind soozou’s product line is simple: create

and beyond, and would otherwise have ended up in a landfill

environmentally friendly, trendy, weatherproof bags and

somewhere. The sail makers were delighted to oblige, and

accessories. kuhlemann’ s objectives were simple as well:

both alliances and friendships were born. Next, kuhlemann

reuse local resources and produce her items locally, using

collaborated with the kokua kahihi Valley Community Health

labor that could benefit from employment and from learning

Center in providing a place where she trained and supervised a

a new skill.

group of immigrant women to sew the soozou bags. “For these

To achieve these goals, kuhlemann was inspired to contact

women, who often speak little English and lack job skills, this

local sail makers, and pitch the idea of recycling old (in some

is possibly their only income-generating opportunity,” notes

cases damaged) sails that had traveled the waters of Hawai‘i

kuhlemann. www.tropicalattitudesmag.com

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each

bag

is

handmade

and

unique in that the material comes from one particular sail. once that sail has been recycled into a bag, another sail is found and new bags are created from its material. Each piece is one of a kind and will vary in color, texture, and decorative stitching. “We believe little imperfections give each item its

character

and

we

treasure

this. subtle irregularities that do not detract from the quality or appearance of a soozou product only add to its charm—handmade with

love

kuhlemann.

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SUMMER 2009

of

course!”

says


Products

include

tote

bags,

shoulder bags, reusable shopping bags, and cosmetic bags. large grommets with customizable and interchangeable straps alÂŹlow a variety of rope styles and colors as well as several ways to loop the rope for total versatility. soozou artwork and graphics are hand-silkscreened. Each bag has a printed map of the Hawaiian Islands as an indication of its heritage and certifying that each bag was made (and sailed) in Hawai‘i.

SOOZOU 808/ 258. 7627 www.soozou.com www.tropicalattitudesmag.com

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300/300

Monserrat written by laura byrne paquet

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SUMMER 2009


“I don’t know where I’m a gonna go When the volcano blow.” -“Volcano,” Jimmy Buffett, 1979

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30o/30o

P

pARRoT HEAds HAVE A BIT oF AN AdVANTAGE oVER oTHER TRAVElERs WHEN IT CoMEs To THE CARIBBEAN IslANd oF MoNTsERRAT: uNlIkE MosT pEoplE, THEy’VE ACTuAlly HEARd oF THE plACE ANd HAVE FoNd IMpREssIoNs oF IT. AFTER All, JIMMy BuFFETT RECoRdEd HIs CHEERy AlBuM VolCANo IN GEoRGE MARTIN’s AIR sTudIos MoNTsERRAT IN 1979. But when most non-Buffett fans find out I’m going to the small British overseas territory (I’ve been there twice), they usually have one of two questions: “Where on earth is Montserrat?” or “Wasn’t it destroyed by a volcano or a hurricane or something?” I’ll deal with the simpler question first. Montserrat is a small Caribbean island, 27 miles southwest of Antigua. As for the natural disasters, well, yes, Hurricane Hugo devastated the island in 1989. Air studios was among the many structures severely damaged; Martin eventually had to close it. And in 1995, just as Montserrat had begun to rebuild its hospital, a library and the main legislature building, the soufrière Hills volcano rumbled to life. After two years of shooting plumes of steam and ash into the air, the volcano erupted, burying the capital city of plymouth under layers of boulders and ash known as “pyroclastic flow” (contrary to Buffett’s lyrics, the Montserrat volcano spews this stuff rather than lava). To this day, the southern half of the island lies abandoned. The volcano continues to glow—and occasionally to spit, as it did in January 2009, showering much of the island with fine, sticky ash. I know this doesn’t exactly sound like a ringing endorsement of the place so far, but bear with me. The northern half of the island is still very much inhabited; in fact, Martin just built a new cultural centre there. As far as experts can

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SUMMER 2009


predict, that area will remain safe even if the volcano has another major eruption, since any future pyroclastic flows will very likely follow their predecessors into the abandoned section of the island. And although roughly two-thirds of Montserrat’s pre-volcano population of 13,000 emigrated to the u.s., the u.k and elsewhere after the 1997 eruption, 4,700 people doggedly stuck it out. What made them stay? The same things that make Montserrat one of the most appealing destinations in the Caribbean: peace, safety, civility, secluded beaches and rainforests filled with birdsong. From what I’ve heard, Montserrat was quiet even before the volcano erupted. But today, “sleepy” doesn’t even begin to describe the place. outside of public celebrations, such as Festival in late december and st. patrick’s Week in March, major social events range from church bazaars to bingo games. There are no traffic lights. No stop signs. No billboards or Hard Rock Cafés or little switzerland jewelry shops. There are just two gas stations and the same number of ATMs. What you will find are goats and chickens by the thousands. At any given moment, most of them seem to be on the one main road that winds around the island, giving a whole new meaning to the term “defensive driving.” Montserrat once marketed itself with the slogan “The way the Caribbean used to be.” For once, the ad folks hit the nail right on the head. If you’re nostalgic for the days when the Caribbean was the haven of scuba divers, beach bums and assorted gentle eccentrics, Montserrat is your piece of paradise. Buffett certainly thought so. He cruised down there in 1979 on his yacht Euphoria II when he needed some inspiration for his next album. Gazing out at the island from his boat one day, he focused on the then-dormant volcano and got the idea for the song that’s now a Buffett concert standard. He apparently slid into the local scene

on shore just fine, too, partying late into the night with new beach buddies. When I first visited Montserrat, it took me a little while to adjust to the instant camaraderie on the island. Most people recognize each other’s cars, and when they see a vehicle they know—even a rental car—they beep and wave. Although countless people explained this custom to me, I couldn’t help thinking, “Why is that driver honking at me? Am I doing something wrong?” Given that I was driving on the left along narrow, twisting, unlit roads, and that I hadn’t driven stick for years, it wasn’t an altogether unfounded assumption. shortly after I arrived, I became the object of a group intervention when I got my car stuck in the entry drive of one of the gas stations. A couple of days later, I stalled the car on a hill during a downpour, and half a dozen people ran out of a nearby grocery store to help me restart the wretched vehicle. Within a few days, I’d met so many Montserratians that a chorus of beeps followed me wherever I went. I eventually got used to it. By the end of the week, people were even cheerfully observing that my driving was getting better. so where did I go, when I managed to keep the car on the road? one of my first stops was the Montserrat Volcano observatory, at the top of a hair-raisingly steep road in Flemmings (664-491-5647, www.mvo.ms). A small theatre there shows a sobering video of the volcano’s eruption and after-effects. you can also get a good look at the volcano from mounted binoculars.

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30o/30o For something a bit less cataclysmic, check out one of the half-dozen hiking trails recently cut through the island’s dense rainforest. you can go on your own, but it’s much more fun to go with a guide from the Montserrat National Trust in olveston (664-491-3086, www. montserratnationaltrust.ms), who can point out hard-to-spot birds and intriguing flowers. If beaches are more your thing, 30

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Montserrat doesn’t have many, but the ones it has are worth the visit, as they’re largely deserted. I’m partial to Bunkum Beach, where a creek cutting across the dark volcanic sands is strewn with gorgeous stones polished to gem-like smoothness. For those who prefer white sand, the only option is Rendezvous Beach on the northern tip of the island. There’s no road to it, so to reach it you face either via a long, steep hike

or a short boat trip from little Bay Beach. Most visitors to the island rent villas and make many meals at home, so the restaurant selection is small and fairly casual. Tina’s in Brades (664-491-3538) is one of the more upscale places—it has tablecloths—but even there a huge lunch won’t set you back much more than us$10. one of my favorite spots to grab a bite is the people’s place


“The way the Caribbean used to be.”

on Fogarthy Hill (664-491 7528). Hit this hilltop hole-in-the-wall early if you have your heart set on one of the huge, juicy rotis, redolent with curry. Whatever restaurant you choose, always call ahead to make sure it’s open; owners usually close early if customers are thin on the ground on a particular night. That’s just one example of the island’s laid-back vibe, which I suspect is the main thing that keeps

Montserratians and visitors alike devoted to the place. little seems to raise the locals’ eyebrows; when Air studios was up and running, they nonchalantly danced the night away with Mick Jagger. “It wasn’t like he was stevie Wonder,” one man explained with a shrug. But one brush with fame did rattle another resident. years ago, over drinks at Jumpin’ Jack’s restaurant (which has since closed),

an expat Briton confided to me that she’d stopped renting her house to musicians after a stint as keith Richards’ landlady. When she went to check on the place mid-rental, Richards answered the door stark naked. put her off the rental idea for life.

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Key West

Land of Perpetual Sunsets Written By marK e. Ward

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“the Keys…that long chain of islands off the tip of Florida… culminates here, at the southernmost point of the U.S.”

L

Key West

lIkE THE ColoRFully CosTuMEd CHARACTERs THAT

came to call the island, “Cayo Hueso” (Isle of Bones) because

AMusE suNsET CRoWds AT MAlloRy squARE, kEy WEsT

it was littered with human remains from Calusa battles. The

ITsElF Is AN EClECTIC MIx oF quIRky pERsoNAlITIEs

English translated “Cayo Hueso” to “key West,” and the name

ANd suRpRIsING FEATs, sET IN A TRopICAl pARAdIsE

stuck.

THAT HAs ATTRACTEd AdVENTuRERs FoR CENTuRIEs.

The region gradually developed thanks to the nearby Florida

AT EACH sTAGE IN ITs dEVElopMENT THE REGIoN HAs

straits, which, as the northern-most sea passage from the Gulf

dEFIEd ExpECTATIoNs - ANd TRAdITIoN -HANdlING

of Mexico to the Atlantic ocean, saw centuries of transatlantic

CAlAMITy ANd TRIuMpH WITH EquAl VERVE. Add

trade sail past its shores. Early settlers made a living off the

To THAT ITs BAlMy WEATHER, pARTy ATMospHERE

frequent groundings of wayward ships, salvaging precious

ANd lAId-BACk ATMospHERE, ANd IT’s No WoNdER

goods from the reef-stricken vessels.

kEy WEsT Is oNE oF AMERICA’s MosT BEGuIlING CoMMuNITIEs.

the united states by spain and the first permanent occupancy

The area was originally inhabited by the Calusas, a fierce

of key West began, backed by a small naval depot established

tribe of Native American Indians. The first European to record

to combat piracy. despite good intentions, the city began on

its existence was spanish explorer ponce de leon, who sailed

a sour note as an English developer became the victim of the

past the keys in 1513 on his quest for the fountain of youth.

state’s first land scam.

He never ventured ashore, but others followed in his wake and

34

In 1822 ownership of Florida was officially transferred to

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John simonton purchased the island on January 19, 1822


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from spaniard Juan pablo salas, who had acquired it as a spanish land Grant in 1815. What simonton didn’t know was that salas had already sold the property to a lawyer named John strong, who then flipped the parcel to yet another buyer, George Murray. The messy beginning left the island’s ownership in doubt for years. It wasn’t until May 23, 1828, that Congress finally ruled simonton to be the legal owner. Another pivotal judgment shaped the city’s fate in 1828. That year Congress designated key West a “port of Entry.” This meant that all property wrecked in nearby u.s. waters had to be taken to the port for processing (thanks to the 1825 Federal Wrecking Act). The city thus became THE go-to place for anyone in the business of salvaging the region’s stranded vessels. In a few short years, key West grew from a remote tropical backwater into a bustling seaport with serious business prospects. Thanks to its natural deepwater harbor the city quickly became the largest port between New orleans, louisiana, and Norfolk, Virginia, further enhancing its role. sponge harvesting by Bahamian fishermen and cigar manufacturing by Cuban refugees bolstered business on the island, helping increase growth by 300 percent between 1840 and 1850. The u.s. Army contributed to the city’s growth investing in the construction of Fort Taylor in 1845, a process abruptly halted by the devastating hurricane of 1846. In what could be considered key West’s “katrina,” widespread devastation left the city in ruins. of 600 houses standing in key West before the hurricane, all but eight were destroyed or seriously damaged. The storm surge submerged the lower streets under eight feet of water. despite its near-obliteration, the city rebuilt and the Army completed work on Fort Taylor just in time for the outbreak of Civil War. Although key West was legally part of the Confederate state of Florida, the city played an important role in the war as the center of the union’s blockading forces in the Gulf of Mexico. In a time of terrible national loss, key West profited greatly from its remote

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and strategic position, as ships from many nations were seized

united states. While this important link helped retain some of

and brought into key West’s harbor for dispensation. By the

the city’s regional importance, in the 1870s key West began

war’s end key West had substantially grown while avoiding the

losing its leading role in the sponge and cigar industries as

damage suffered by its northern neighbors, making it Florida’s

companies moved to the west coast of mainland Florida.

most populous city.

The turn of the century brought new promise to key West

In 1866 peace returned to the country and key West became

as business tycoon Henry Flagler began engineering a massive

the hub for the International ocean Telegraph Company. The

railway project designed to link mainland Florida with all of

firm’s underwater telegraph cable line connected Havana,

the keys. Flagler completed his “railroad that went to sea” in

Cuba, to punta Rassa on Monroe County’s west coast to the

1912, ushering in a new era of tourism and related business

“colorful Key West remains what it has always been: a haven for artists, sun worshippers, pirates and partiers” to key West. But as the novelty wore off, the city’s population declined due to fewer opportunities and the onslaught of the Great depression. The city of key West was forced to declare bankruptcy. Then, on labor day, 1935 a deadly hurricane destroyed most of key West, killing hundreds of residents and leaving Flagler’s railroad in tatters. once again the people of key West overcame disaster and in the late 1930s, an overseas highway replaced the lost railroad with an incredible 126 miles of paved roads and dozens of bridges. The expected increase in tourism was sidetracked by the outbreak of World War Two. Instead, key West enjoyed a defense industry boom. The u.s. Navy brought much-needed activity with massive expansion plans, including an enlarged submarine base. Thanks in large part to the military’s investment, the population more than doubled between 1940 and 1960. In the years following WWII, key West not only grew in size but its national stature was elevated as president Harry s. Truman adopted the city as his preferred vacation destination. This led to the establishment of the “Winter White House,” now a popular attraction known as the “little White House.” Even before president Truman discovered key West, author Ernest Hemingway had been enjoying its charms and writing such classics as “death in the Afternoon,” “For Whom the Bell 38

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Tolls,” “The snows of kilimanjaro” and his Nobel prize-winning “The old Man and the sea” in his two-story house at 907 Whitehead street. All told, Hemingway wrote an estimated 70% of his lifetime’s work in the upper floor den of the converted garage, in back of this house. The other most celebrated American author

enchanted

by

key

West

was

Tennessee Williams. He became a regular visitor to key West in 1941 and allegedly wrote the first draft of “A streetcar Named desire” while staying at la Concha Hotel in 1947. Williams bought a house there in 1949 and listed key West as his primary residence until his death in 1983. Today, The Tennessee Williams Theatre acts as his tribute on the campus of Florida keys Community College on stock Island.

gingerbread

mansions

and

tin-roofed

can explore the city’s offerings.

More recent artists continue to find

conch houses, the island offers a break

It seems fitting that today’s ocean

their niche in key West’s island charm.

from typical u.s. cityscapes. The vibrant

travelers arrive at Mallory square, where

Jimmy Buffett first visited after a Miami

artistic community, sidewalk cafes, open-

much of key West’s history was written.

gig fell through and so instead he joined

air bars and Caribbean influenced cuisine

once the chosen anchorage of pirates, in

a friend for a weekend in key West.

underscore the sensual nature that sets

the days before u.s. rule, it later became

He clearly resonated with the city and

key West apart from the American norm.

the base for anti-pirate campaigns in

decided to stay and play. soaking up the

million

the 1800s. Mallory square has been the

sun and fun of key West, Buffet practiced

adventurers visit each year, drawn by the

center of the ship salvage and wrecking

his signature laid-back tropical style and

city’s array of one-of-a-kind attractions.

industry as well as the assembling point

his musical career took off. His song

From

of American forces during four wars.

“Margaritaville” has come to virtually

days and Fantasy Fest to daily offerings

define the island.

at nightclubs, saloons and restaurants

celebration at Mallory square appeals

the first of his “Margaritaville” restaurants

there’s something for every taste.

And

to so many from the jugglers, mimes,

in key West.

when visitors are ready to crash, there

musicians, psychics and street artists

are hundreds of hotels, motels, B & Bs

hustling to make a living to spectators

artists and just those seeking inspiration

and guesthouses to chose from.

Then

seeking the perfect end to another day in

in the sun, for decades people have

there are the modern-day versions of

paradise. perhaps the best part of sunset

found solace in key West’s distinctive

those

in key West, however, is imagining the

tropical charms. With palm-lined streets,

cruise ships arrive in port so passengers

From

national

In 1985, he opened

figures

to

famous

Today

more

annual

early

than

events

maritime

three

like

Hemingway

visitors,

where

Maybe

that’s

why

the

sunset

promise of what’s yet to come. www.tropicalattitudesmag.com

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tHe FLORIDA Keys Make Movie Magic Written By douglas King

W

WHAT MAkEs THE FloRIdA kEys suCH A FAsCINATING loCAlE? Is IT THEIR ColoRFul HIsToRy, BlENdING EVERyTHING FRoM TRuE pIRATE TAlEs To THE lEGENdARy sITE oF THE FouNTAIN oF youTH?

Is it the impressive engineering feat which connects them? (one of the longest bridges in the u.s. links the keys to the u.s. mainland.) or, does the keys’ appeal grow from the cast of intriguing characters who have ventured south to either hide out from society or make a home in a location that can be both magical and mercurial? perhaps it is the combination of all these elements that gives the keys their “unique mystique.” But whatever the source of the appeal, it’s not surprising that filmmakers would descend upon the tiny chain of islands and use them as backdrops for some great (and not-so-great) movies and TV shows. From the short-lived 1993 television series starring Fisher stevens--taking its name from the chain of islands—to such famous classics such as “key largo,” the Florida keys have lured a long stream of cinematic visitors to their isles. James Bond visited the keys in “license to kill.” Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines found key West the perfect place for retirement from cold and windy Chicago in “Running scared.” dozens of movies have used the keys as either the setting--a surrogate locale for some other tropical location--or as a character in its own right. From schwarzenegger and Jamie lee Curtis in “True lies” and sigourney Weaver and Jennifer love Hewitt in “Heartbreakers” to Michelle pfeiffer and Robert Redford in “up Close and personal”…key West has seen its share of stars, while becoming a star in its own right. our cinematic journey begins in 1942 with the film “Reap the Wild Wind” starring John Wayne, Ray Milland, and paulette Goddard. Filmed in part in the keys, and other locations in Florida, with underwater scenes shot at santa Catalina Island in California, the film is set in the 1840 Florida keys and tells the www.tropicalattitudesmag.com

41


story of two competing salvaging companies, one run by a feisty female (played by Goddard) and the other operated by an unscrupulous pirate (played by Raymond Massey). Goodard’s character falls in love with Wayne’s character, who is the captain of a ship she must rescue during a storm. A love triangle forms between Goodard, Wayne and Milland who plays a lawyer for the company Wayne’s character worked for. A dangerous love triangle forms with deadly results. The keys play a central role in “Reap” as the film is centered around the very real role of salvage companies and the service they provide for ships that plied the sea lanes between the Carolinas, the keys, and Cuba in the old days. Many a fortune was made (and lost) in shipping of cargo. The film is not far from history with its emphasis on pirating, back-stabbing, and nefarious characters. (of course, it’s unlikely that any real-life salvage ship operator was ever as lovely as paulette Goddard.) The next big Hollywood movie set on the keys is 1948’s “key largo.” In an interesting twist of filmmaking, Howard Hawks filmed a climactic shoot-out scene on a boat for “To Have and Have Not,” but was unable to use it in the final film and offered it to director John Huston. Houston did not ultimately use Hawks’s original footage in his classic Bogart and Bacall film “key largo,” but he did happily borrow the basic idea. (He had been having difficulties coming up with a satisfactory ending.) “key largo” as the name obviously implies was set in the keys and was set during World War II—changing from the original Maxwell Anderson play which was set during the spanish Civil War. The film follows Frank McCloud (Bogart) as he travels to key largo to honor the memory of a friend who died during the war. His friend’s widow, played by Bacall, opera tes 42

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a hotel that is taken over by mobsters lead by Edward G. Robinson, who take refuge in the hotel during a hurricane. Houston and writer Richard Brooks actually completed the script in a hotel in key largo. The script was filled with post-war disillusionment and the main mob character, Johnny Rocco, played by Robinson, was modeled after real-life gangster lucky luciano who was deported to Cuba. due to Houston’s other Bogart movie “Treasure of the sierra Madre,” which had been filmed on location, and having gone over budget, studio boss Jack Warner insisted that “key largo” be filmed entirely on the studio sound stages, with the exception of a few exterior shots of Highway 1 during the opening scenes. All of the exterior hurricane shots were actual repurposed stock footage used in “Night unto Night,” a Ronald Reagan melodrama made at Warner Bros. Hurricanes are always a danger for the Florida keys. In the film, the 1935 hurricane which devastated the Matacumbe key is described. This hurricane was one of the worst hurricanes in u.s. history up to that time and many of the victims were World War I veterans who were building the Florida keys portion of u.s. Highway 1. during the production of the film two major hurricanes, less than a month apart did go directly through the Florida keys. Now we jump back in time for a moment to1944, when Humphrey Bogart and lauren Bacall starred in the classic film “To Have and Have Not.” The story was set on the French colonial island of Martinique in the Caribbean, during World War II. What is the connection with the keys? In 1958, the same basic plot was reused in “The Gun Runners” starring Audie Murphy…and set in the Florida island chain. For those who may not recognize his name, Murphy was America’s most decorated combat soldier in World War II. After the war he became a movie star. In this film, the action is transplanted to the early days of the Cuban Revolution, with Murphy playing a charter boat captain entangled in a gunning-running scheme. The Internet Movie database says of the film, “sort of a seagoing film noir with bad girl, smarmy villain, and the ‘innocent’ drawn into wrong side of law by circumstances.” While certainly not as well-known nor successful as “To Have and Have Not,” the film is worth noting here. Actor Robert Wagner was the next major actor to venture to the keys for the 1953 film “Beneath the 12-Mile Reef,” a story about a father and son team that dives for sponges off the coast of Florida. The film was not a huge success but it does show a side of the keys that is to this


day still a controversial subject—that of sponge harvesting. director John Frankenheimer brought Warren Beatty and Eva Marie saint to the keys in 1960 to make “All Fall down.” Here, the keys provided only the background to a film about a brutal womanizer (Beatty) who moves to the remote locale where he hopes to enjoy the tropical life – including the pretty women. Beatty’s character becomes intertwined with Eva Marie saint’s character and they each bring out the best, and sometimes the worst, in each other. The real allure of the keys has to be the sea. And back to it we go in “92 in the shade” a small film made in the 1970s with peter Fonda playing a young drifter who returns home to key West to open a fishing charter business. plans run afoul when a rival fishing captain takes exception to Fonda entering his territory. The quirky characters are played by a great cast: Harry dean stanton, Warren oates and a very young Margot kidder. They do their best with a film that could have been much better. one reviewer said the film played like and instructional fishing film. Another small “B” movie is 1980’s “Cuba Crossing,” the tale of an adventurer who gets caught in a plot to kill Fidel Castro. Vintage key West, before the developers made it a haven for yuppies, serves as the backdrop for what could have been a fine film -- if it only had a budget. The subject matter was controversial for its time, but today this film is a simple footnote in film and real life history. during the ‘80s and ‘90s everyone seemed to want to go to key West. Billy Crystal and Gregory Hines played Chicago cops in “Running scared” who decided to leave frozen Chicago and open a bar in key West. Arnold schwarzenegger nearly destroyed the seven-Mile bridge during a daring car and helicopter chase in “True lies,” James Bond had some underwater adventures in “license to kill,” and Michelle pfeiffer visited the keys on her way to becoming a newscaster in Miami. A great line from “Running scared” occurs when Crystal’s character danny asks Hines’ character, Ray, “What the hell are we doing in key West?” Ray responds, “It’s as far south as we can go without having to speak spanish.” Two final films where key West plays a more significant role are “CrissCross” and “Zeus and Roxanne.” “CrissCross” stars Goldie Hawn as a single mother who strips at a local topless bar to pay the bills. The action also involves drug-smuggling. set in 1969, when tourists hadn’t yet mobbed the keys, the film captures some of the area’s

geographic beauty while also showing the dark underbelly of the free-loving, drug-zonked hippie era. “CrissCross” was shot on location. All of the locations are the real deal including the Eden House, a lovely hotel that now is home to the only museum in the world related to this tiny film. “Zeus and Roxanne” was actually filmed in the Bahamas, but takes place on a Florida key. steve Guttenberg plays a widowed composer. With his son and dog—Zeus—he moves next door to an attractive marine biologist (kathleen quinlan) and her two daughters. Zeus brings the two families together and romance blossoms between the two parents. Meanwhile the dog and a dolphin—Roxanne—also share an interesting connection. Island life plays a large role in this predictable but cute film which is geared for kids. The plot nods to environmental issues and portrays ethnic characters in a nonstereotypical manner. In all, the keys have had their fair share of attention from Hollywood – but not as much as the major cities like las Vegas, New york, los Angeles, or even the other famous island chain… Hawaii. It’s been a long time since the golden era of movies set in the keys. In fact, this minigenre probably hit its zenith with Bogart’s “key largo”…back in the days when Harry Truman was president (and used to vacation on the keys). But this enchanting venue may someday enjoy a cinematic comeback. Without a doubt, there are many more romantic, exciting, and intriguing stories yet to be told in…and about…this legendary chain of tropical islands. www.tropicalattitudesmag.com

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Finding Adventure

In The Hunt for Atocha’s Treasure Written By marK e. Ward

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N

NoTHING EMBodIEs AdVENTuRE lIkE THE sEARCH FoR losT TREAsuRE. pERHAps THE MosT AdVENTuRous TAlE oF TREAsuRE HuNTING Is MEl FIsHER’s dIsCoVERy oF THE 17TH CENTuRy spANIsH GAllEoN NueSTRA SeñoRA dE AToChA IN THE FloRIdA kEys, WHICH lEd To THE RECoVERy oF HuNdREds oF MIllIoNs IN Gold, sIlVER ANd pRECIous ARTIFACTs. As WITH ANy Good AdVENTuRE, THE sToRy oF “THE AToCHA” BEGINs WITH A dARING JouRNEy THAT MEETs A TRAGIC FATE - — FolloWEd, IN THIs CAsE, By REpERCussIoNs THAT RING ouT FoR CENTuRIEs. It was the fourth of september, 1622, when a spanish flotilla of 28 ships left what is now Havana, Cuba for the motherland, carrying the spoils of the New World. The “flota” carried one of the richest cargos ever sent to sea, including silver from peru and Mexico, gold and emeralds from Colombia, and pearls from Venezuela. After a day at sea, the fleet was entering the Florida straits when it was overrun by a terrible hurricane. The next morning eight ships were lost, strewn about from the Marquesas keys to the dry Tortugas, just west of what is now key West. Among the lost vessels was the much-prized Nuestra Señora de Atocha — “Almirante,” or rear guard, of the flotilla. Carrying the names of the holiest shrines in Madrid for divine protection, The Atocha had been built for the spanish Crown in Havana in 1620. she was rated at 550 tons, with an overall length of 112 feet, a beam (or width) of 34 feet and a draft (or depth) of 14 feet. she carried square-rigged fore and mainmasts, and a lateen-rigged mizzenmast. Her high sterncastle, low waist, and high forecastle were typical for the day. despite her ambitious design, she managed only one successful voyage to spain. on her second, ill-fated attempt

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she carried an eye-popping cargo of 24 tons of silver bullion in 1,038 ingots; 180,000 pesos of silver coins; 582 copper ingots; 125 gold bars and discs; 350 chests of indigo; 525 bales of tobacco; 20 bronze cannons; and 1,200 pounds of worked silverware — plus many personal items, unregistered jewelry, and other objects being smuggled to avoid taxation. The entire lavish cargo and 260 souls were lost when The Atocha went down. Just three sailors and two slaves survived by clinging to the top of the mizzenmast; the only part of the ship that remained above water. Rescuers tried to enter the submerged wreck, but couldn’t open the hatches. At 55 feet, the depth was too great to work through so they marked the site and moved on to rescue people and treasure from other foundering vessels including The Santa Margarita and Nuestra Señora del Rosario. A mere month later, a second hurricane ripped over the same site, erasing any sign of Atocha and her sister ships. The loss was devastating to the Crown and for the next 60 years spanish salvagers searched for The Atocha and her precious cargo. But never a trace was found. The specifics of her loss and resting place gradually morphed into the stuff of legends. Enter legendary treasure hunter Mel Fisher, who seemed destined to unlock Atocha’s mysteries from the time he was born, 300 years after her 1622 loss. Fisher’s dreams of treasure allegedly began during his Indiana childhood while reading books like Robert louis stevenson’s Treasure Island. displaying an inventive and adventurous streak even at a young age, he reportedly made a working dive helmet out of

a bucket, some hose line, and a bicycle pump. After serving as an engineer in World War II, Fisher followed his sense of adventure to California where he married dolores Horton. The two shared a passion for undersea adventure and opened one of the first dive shops in the world. Through Mel’s Aqua shop in Redondo Beach, California, they trained more than 65,000 for the emerging sport of scuba diving. Inspired by rumors of treasure off Florida’s midAtlantic coast, the Fishers and many of their friends moved to sebastian, Florida, in the mid-‘60s to work a wreck site near Fort pierce known as “Colored Beach site.” It was here that Fisher and his partners uncovered thousands of gold coins, unleashing a veritable undersea gold rush. With so many would-be treasure seekers jumping into the business, the state of Florida was forced to write legislation governing the discovery and division of treasure in its waters. In search of new adventures, the Fishers turned south to the Florida keys in search of the lost spanish fleet of 1622. In 1973, they found three silver bars and matched the weights and tally numbers found on the Atocha’s manifest, which had been transcribed from the original in seville, spain. This indicated they were close to the main wrecksite. In July 1975, Fisher’s son dirk found five bronze cannons whose markings further confirmed identification with the Atocha. Tragically, just days later, dirk and his wife Angel, with diver Rick Gage, were all killed when their salvage boat Northwind capsized during the night. A pall was cast over the entire search effort but the work continued.

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“If anyone has seen Mel Fisher, tell him he found the big pile.” over the next decade, more items were discovered but Atocha’s main cargo remained hidden. Meanwhile, expenses grew — often running as high as $1,000 a day — so Fisher became expert at persuading people to work for a piece of the action. To keep morale high, Fisher charmed his crew with stories of past successes and frequently brandished his signature slogan, “Today’s the day!” one of Fisher’s many partners was Ian koblick, president of the Marine Resources development Foundation. koblick remembers meeting Fisher in Fort lauderdale in 1982 where the MRdF leader offered his 145-foot salvage vessel to help with the search for a percentage of the find. koblick recalls, “He told me he’d been working the treasure trail and asked us to take a section of it and systematically excavate it. so we brought our Golden Venture to the project with her diving compressors, decompression chambers and two submarines.” The ship also had a nine-foot deflector, which was capable of dusting a 20-foot deep, 40-foot wide pit in about 10 minutes. koblick described how the work progressed. “I had a crew of about 18 and we worked 12 hours a day, seven days a week,” he said. “Two divers would go into the pit and search it with a magnetometer, then when the pit had been searched the divers would come up, the boat would move 30 feet and a new pit would be blown and the process would start all over again. We found gold and silver coins, a sword, and a stunning emerald cross and ring, but the real motherlode wasn’t found for another two years.” That fateful date was July 20, 1985, when kane Fisher, captain of the salvage vessel Dauntless, radioed the key West office with the big news. “put away the charts; we’ve found the main pile!” Crewmembers described the find as looking like a reef of silver bars. As the news fanned out over key West, people began looking for Fisher, who was out buying a pair of dive fins. one local radio station announced, “If anyone has seen Mel Fisher, tell him he found the big pile.” Within days, markings on the bars were matched to the Atocha’s cargo manifest, confirming beyond a doubt the source of all that treasure. A mere two weeks after the initial find, the crew had discovered 65 pounds of gold including 77 bars, seven disks, and seven chains

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in addition to 3,000 Colombian emeralds, 1,041 silver bars and boxes of coins numbering 3,000 to a box. News of the find struck chords around the world, attracting media attention, curious onlookers and pop culture icons. Jimmy Buffet visited and sang praises to the crew while seated on a pile of silver bars. The discovery even prompted a movie based on Fisher’s life called, Dreams of Gold, starring Cliff Robertson and loretta switt. As items came up from the ocean bottom, estimates of the wreck’s value soared from $200 million to $400 million including 127,000 silver coins, over 250 pounds of gold bars, and hundreds of items of jewelry, silverware, crucifixes, and gold coins. Among the most tantalizing discoveries were a solid gold belt and necklace set with gems; a gold chalice; a gold chain weighing more than seven pounds; and a horde of contraband emeralds including a 77.76 carat uncut hexagonal gem traced to Columbia. In addition and perhaps more interestingly, countless articles were recovered that provide insight into 17th-century life, including rare navigational instruments, military armaments, native American objects, tools of various trades, ceramic vessels, galley wares, and even seeds and insects. Raising the loot was just the beginning. Fisher’s archaeological team, led by duncan Mathewson, dove into the task of recording the details of each find. That process continues to this today at a former key West Naval station building. Fisher purchased the site to operate a research center and conservation laboratories. It is also where 85,000 artifacts from the spanish galleons Nuestra Señora de Atocha and Santa Margarita are now on permanent display at the not-for-profit Mel Fisher Maritime Museum in key West, Fl. Fisher died in 1998. But thanks to his discoveries and donations of artifacts and treasures, the story of his adventures lives on, as does the legend of the 1622 fleet. As his longtime friend, historian dr. Eugene lyon, explained: “people need symbols, and the Atocha is a kind of symbol — a symbol for great adventure, great striving, tremendous persistence and a dream which was realized. It’s also a tremendous cultural accomplishment by those people who went out and persisted, found the shipwreck and recovered it.”


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Coral reefers PHOTO CREDIT: AP PHOTO

The Study of Coral how a zoology student veered in to stardom Written By Brian Berusch

T

THE MUSIC WORLD MAY BE FULL OF COOL CATS, BUT VERY FEW ANIMAL ExPERTS EVER BECOME MUSICIANS. Well, here’s an exception. What began as a distracting itch nearly 40 years ago has blossomed into a lifelong pursuit for musician Michael Utley. Originally, before he was bitten by the music bug, this keyboardist and self-proclaimed “product of the Nashville and Memphis rhythm and blues scenes” had planned to spend his professional life studying the creature habits of, well, creatures. Born in Nashville, yet having spent the majority of his adult life in Los Angeles, Utley studied zoology during his college years. Having always played

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piano and worked in bands to pay bills, he decided to “take a shot at the music thing” — just to satisfy the urge without any future regret. In addition to animals, Utley had been studying the chops of Ray Charles, Alan Toussaint, Jerry Lee Lewis and Booker T. and the MGs. He moved to Memphis, and eventually on to Miami, where he fell into a studio house band gig, honing his skills in the Dixie Flyers. The band served as the rhythm section for many of Atlantic Records early stars of the 1970s. Utley found himself laying down tracks with Rita Coolidge, Kris Kristofferson and Jackson Browne, to name a few. “I have great memories of working with Kris


[Kristofferson] and Barbara [Streisand] on “A Star Is Born.” It was a really amazing experience,” says Utley. In 1973, Utley was cutting an album for the upand-coming Jerry Jeff Walker in Miami, when a mutual friend introduced him to a relatively unknown singersongwriter (“What we used to call them back in the day,” says Utley). His name was Jimmy Buffett, and he’d been traveling the country with an acoustic guitar and a sizeable songbook. Directly following a stint at L.A.’s Troubadour venue, famous for upstart folksingers, Buffett asked Utley to join him at the ABC-Dunhill studio, for the cutting his second album. The product of this session was Buffett’s “A White Sport Coat and a Pink Crustacean.” It put Buffett on the map as the Gulf Coast balladeer. Over the next two decades, Utley played on every successive Buffett album, and produced 10 of them. In the final months of 1975, Buffett had officially formed a tight crew of musicians he dubbed “The Coral Reefer Band.” Although Utley had already toured and played studio gigs with them, he didn’t officially commit to being a fulltime “Coral Reefer” until 1981. “I love Jimmy’s songwriting,” Utley shares. “I’m also very big into the producing aspect of Jimmy’s work. He’s very giving, and really lets us voice our ideas. It makes for a great working relationship. He’s very open.” Buffett’s diversity and openness to all kinds of music led his band down some unexpected roads, but it’s all been part of the adventure. In the mid-1970s Utley got the opportunity to sit and play with one of his longtime idols, Dr. John. Of course, over the years there have been numerous highlights outside of the Coral Reefers, much of which Utley achieved due to his reputation as a topnotch producer. In 1988, Utley was invited to join rock luminary Roy Orbison for what was hailed as “A Black and White Night”: a live recording session, captured on video, with Orbison and Utley. The session included performances by Jackson Browne, T-Bone Burnett, Elvis Costello, Tom Waits, K.D. Lang, Bonnie Raitt and Bruce Springsteen. But of all Utley’s musical adventures, it was a slightly less star-studded event that struck a homerun with the keyboardist. Nearly three years ago, Buffett and the

Coral Reefer Band were invited to play a benefit concert in Chicago for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. “New Orleans is the most northern point of the Caribbean,” Utley is famous for saying. “Its music is real similar.” The specific venue for this benefit was the Windy City’s famous Wrigley Field. Utley had been a Cubs fan his entire life. Having followed the team throughout his childhood, he noted the honor it was to walk out on to the infield at Wrigley, waving at the cheering crowd, where he sat many times as a child. When chatting about the evolution of his playing style, Utley speaks candidly about the education he’s received in his years behind the keys. “I was an R&B player from Memphis, and I quickly learned the New Orleans thing,” he says. “Real obscure calypso stuff, the works. Now with Jimmy I’ve expanded in to this Caribbean thing. I’m always learning new things. In fact, I learned something new tonight!” adds Utley. The interview for this story took place moments

The music world may be full of cool cats, but very few animal experts ever become musicians. after Utley left the stage for a gig in Chicago. He was subbing for Duane Clark at a corporate event, playing in the Sacred Hearts band, a tribute to Jim Belushi’s Blues Brothers. When not touring with Buffett, Utley has put most of his time into a project called “Club Trini,” an instrumental band fronted by himself and steel drummer Robert Greenwich (a fellow Coral Reefer).. The material is mostly original, although live shows are peppered with Buffett classics. Club Trini has released six albums to date. Themes revolve around an obscure form of drumming (that Greenwich learned in his native Trinidad. On the horizon, Utley is looking forward to getting into the studio this spring to work on new material with Buffett and the band. The group traveled together to Hawai’i in February to mark the opening of Buffett’s first signature restaurant on O‘ahu, as well as perform a few gigs around neighbor islands. There will be a new tour this summer; and plenty of “new things” to learn along the way, Utley shares.

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In the Changer nadirah shaKoor alBum: nod to the storyteller

NAdIRAH sHAkooR HAs oNE oF THE ClEANEsT, puREsT, MosT loVEly VoICEs to be found in today’s popular music scene. she has spent most of her career singing backup to Jimmy Buffett with the Coral Reefers (since 1995) as well as Al Jarreau, Madonna, and Janet Jackson. Now is time for shakoor to shine in her own spotlight. Nod to the storyteller is a wonderful collection of songs from songwriters like Buffet, fellow Coral Reefer Mac McAnally, and Arron Neville. shakoor also sings two of her own original compositions, “Give Henry the Receipt” and “open.” “Give Henry…” is a toe-tapping jazz tune. The piano and jazz are wonderful complements to shakoor’s voice and humorous lyrics. “open” is a more soulful song of a love affair which picks up and carries the listener on a pleasure-cruise of melodic waves and tempos. The cover versions of Buffett’s classics such as “Margaritaville,” “son of a sailor” and “Volcano” offer a new twists on old favorites. ““son of a sailor,” especially. About midway through, it kicks up into a double-time version; a listener can imagine Tine Turner-esqe, leather-clad dancers providing backup dance moves. (Maybe it’s just this reviewer.) shakoor’s take on “Margaritaville” sounds like it was recorded live; the track has a playful charm to it. shakoor adds her own special touches and lyrics on a few songs -- and if you listen carefully, you can hear a pirate call from Buffett himself. This is a great album to have playing at your next parrothead party or trip to the beach. Any respectable parrothead should have a copy of this oh-so-enjoyable album in his or her collection. As Buffett would say, it “offers a paint job and sails” on some classic songs, while providing some glimpses into the true talent of this lovely woman. We can only hope that her future releases will include more original songs.

Presented By:

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04.23.09 TWC MUSIC PAVILION AT WALNUT CREEK - Raleigh, NC

08.11.09 VERIZON WIRELESS MUSIC CENTER - NoblesVille, iN

04.25.09 FORD AMPHITHEATRE - Tampa, Fl

08.13.09 DTE ENERGY MUSIC THEATRE - deTRoiT, mi

05.14.09 CRICKET WIRELESS PAVILION - phoeNix, aZ

08.15.09 TOYOTA PARK - bRidgeView, il

05.16.09 MGM GRAND GARDEN ARENA - las Vegas, NV

08.23.09 BOARDWALK HALL - aTlaNTiC CiTy, NJ

05.19.09 SLEEP TRAIN PAVILLION - CoNCoRd, Ca

08.26.09 NIKON AT JONES BEACH THEATRE - waNTagh, Ny

05.21.09 VERIZON WIRELESS AMPHITHEATER - iRViNe, Ca

08.29.09 ALPINE VALLEY MUSIC THEATER - easT TRoy, wi

06.18.09 SUSQUEHANNA BANK CENTER - CamdeN, NJ

09.03.09 NISSAN PAVILION - bRisTow, Va

06.20.09 SUSQUEHANNA BANK CENTER - CamdeN, NJ

09.05.09 NISSAN PAVILION - bRisTow, Va

06.23.09 POST-GAZETTE PAVILION - piTTsbuRgh, pa

09.26.09 LA CIGALE - paRis, FRaNCe

06.25.09 COMCAST CENTER - maNsField, ma

11.14.09 AMWAY ARENA - oRlaNdo, Fl

06.27.09 COMCAST CENTER - maNsField, ma

11.17.09 JOHN PAUL JONES ARENA - ChaRloTTesVille, Va

07.05.09 SHEPHERDS BUSH EMPIRE - loNdoN, eNglaNd

11.19.09 AIR CANADA CENTRE - ToRoNTo, oNTaRio

08.06.09 RIVERBEND MUSIC CENTER - CiNCiNNaTi, oh SUMMER 2009 Tropical Attitudes 08.08.09 TOYOTA PARK - bRidgeView, il

11.21.09 MOHEGAN SUN ARENA - uNCasVille, CT 11.24.09 MADISON SQUARE GARDEN - New yoRk, Ny


russ KunKel alBum: chateau Beach - rivage

IT HAs BEEN sAI sAId oF Russ kuNkEl THAT HE Is “THE MosT FAMous dRuMMER THAT pERHAps you HAVE NEVER HEARd oF.” As a session artist and touring musician, kunkel has laid down the tempo and beats for such rock royalty as James Taylor, Carole king, Carly simon, Jackson Browne, Crosby, stills, and Nash, and more—including, let’s not forget, Jimmy Buffett. Chateau Beach is a not simply covers but complete re-inventions of many of the songs that kunkel first provided the original drums and percussions to. As the liner notes say, this album is what smooth Jazz wants to be. like a day where the ocean is like glass, this album puts the smooth in smooth jazz, and the easy in easy listening. songs include Carole king’s “so Far Away,” James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain,” with a hint of Arabian and Indian influences through the beautiful orchestration of the violin playing, along with Taylor’s “Mexico.” other songs included on the eight-song album are, “lovely day,” “Carey,” ““doctor My Eyes,” “Just a song Before I Go,” and “don’t let Me Be lonely Tonight.” kunkel produced the album along with Jay oliver—who also played keyboard—while also providing all drums and percussion. selected tracks feature the work of Joe Walsh on slide & electric guitar and peter Mayer on guitar. This is the type of album you put in the Cd changer and leave on continuous play. It easily becomes the soundtrack for a lazy day around the house, at the beach, or as the background for work, with a guarantee that you will not feel stressed no matter what comes your way. As a reviewer you always want to come up with some apt words or neat phrase that captures the essence of an album, but in this case I think Chateau Beach is best served with a quote from the liner notes: “This music’s purity of intention to relax you, lift your soul, and take you away is hypnotically irresistible.” It really cannot be summed up any better, and once you listen to this captivating album you will never again say you do not know Russ kunkel.

Live From Key West

noW availaBle!

In February of 2009, Jimmy Buffett and Mac McAnally played an inpromptu show at the Margaritaville Cafe in key West, Florida. The theme of the evening was key West songs, and also included a performance of a brand new song - A lot To drink About. Watch the video on the Coconut Television now! This digital download is now available at Mailboat

tracK list 1. i heard i Was in town - live from Key West (audio mp3) 2. migration - live from Key West (audio mp3) 3. a lot to drink about - live from Key West (audio mp3) 4. a lot to drink about - live from Key West (video mov)

Records! Tracks included are audio mp3s of three songs from that performance (I heard I Was In Town, Migration and A Lot To Drink About and a Quicktime .mov movie of A Lot To Drink About). Buy IT NoW! www.tropicalattitudesmag.com

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On The shelf the neW Wave mai tai author: cheryl chee tsutsumi

THE oNly THING THAT Would HAVE MAdE REVIEWING CHERyl CHEE TsuTsuMI’s Book BETTER Would HAVE BEEN A sAMplING oF EACH oF THE 53 “NEW WAVE” MAI TAI RECIpEs sHE sElECTEd To INCludE IN ITs pAGEs. of course I may never have finished the review then, and I would not have been able to share with you how teriffic this book is and why should you have it. The New Wave Mai Tai is a collection of some of the most interesting derivatives of mai tai created by a variety of bartenders who work in resorts and bars across the Hawaiian Islands. There is something for every palate from the traditionalist to those radicals who prefer their rum with a bit of champagne. The mai tai, Tsutsumi points out, has not always received the respect it deserves. pop culture personality Joe Bob Briggs once claimed that a mai tai was nothing more than “a combination of cough syrup, pancake batter and the automatic transmission fluid from a 1973 oldsmobile Toronado.” How he knew this, one can only wonder. But it certainly does not describe any of the fine drinks profiled in this book. Nearly every recipe comes with a lovely photograph of what the finished drink should look like. A complete list of ingredients and drinks is included. The first part of the book is fascinating as well (and an excerpt in included elsewhere in this issue) describing the history of rum -- from its creation, through the years of piracy

138 p. trade paperback $15.95 Watermark Publishing www.bookshawaii.net

and rum –running, until today, as well as a section detailing Hawaii’s connection to the beverage. Next, one learns the origins of the mai tai, including the story of don the Beachcomber and Trader Vic. Tsutsumi has does an excellent job of collecting and relating the history and stories about this cocktail, so the book is far more than a mere bartenders’ recipe guide. Before you throw your next parrothead party, consider reading The New Wave Mai Tai and experimenting with a few of more exotic possibilities. And, of course, always drink responsibly.

a high and Beautiful Wave author: John Wythe White ANy “pIRATE” THAT HAs lookEd AT 40 (As THIs REVIEWER Is doING NoW) kNoWs THAT THERE CoMEs A TIME THAT you REFlECT on your past, present, and future, wondering where did it all go, what do I have now, and what the heck am I doing? Author John Wythe White captures these emotions in an excellent read about one man who, through serendipitous circumstances, finds himself retracing a journey of self-realization that he started 30 years earlier. The book’s main character is oakley, who visits kaua’i’s now-famous counterculture commune, Taylor Camp, in the 1960s. years later, he returns in an attempt to discover what he left there -- and to learn what elements of his current life he must abandon. Chapters alternate flashbacks with contemporary first-person accounts. The wild adventure includes surfing, pot-smoking, existential conversations, draft-dodging, and much more, as oakley searches for himself and for peace. White, whose work has been published for years in Hawai‘i-based magazines and newspapers, does a splendid job of creating his characters and weaving his tale. The writing style is lean but descriptive while the dialog is spot-on and believable. The reader learns a great deal about what life in Taylor’s Camp must have really been like, and for that reason alone this is a very worthwhile read. While perhaps not as revolutionary or profound as Catcher in the Rye, A High and Beautiful Wave will certainly entertain and inspire any reader who enjoyed the former. The book’s subtitle says, “It was a great ride—while it lasted,” and likewise this book is a great read—while it lasts.

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320p. trade paperback $14.95 Mutual Publishing www.mutualpublishing.com


crazy sista cooKing cuisine & conversation author: lucy anne Buffett NoRMAlly A REVIEW oF A CookBook Would BE ABouT As INTEREsTING As REAdING A REpoRT oN BulGARIAN CoMBINE HARVEsTERs. But then Crazy sista Cooking is anything but a normal cookbook. It’s a memoir, a humor book, a recipe file, a revelation of secrets, and a tasty pastiche of personalities and personal histories…all tossed into a tasty literary stew and simmering with delicious fun. lucy Buffett, owner of lulu’s at Homeport Marina, is the author/chef/raconteur; and yes, she’s the sister of Jimmy Buffett. In this volume she has created not only colorful collection of cuisine concoctions, but an altogether entertaining read as she prefaces most chapters and 309p. Hardback $29.95 Wimmer Cookbooks www.crazysistacooking.com recipes with humorous and interesting asides and secret tips from the kitchen. There is certainly something for everyone in this book, beginning with cool cocktails, super starters, mouthwatering gumbos, cheeseburgers ready for paradise, a kid’s menu, delectable desserts, and so much more. What makes this such a delightful read is not only the well-written step by step directions for each menu item, but all of the various liner notes, asides, tips, and historical items that pop up throughout the book. A perfect example of this is within the pages of Gumbo love chapter. Following lulu’s “day After Thanksgiving Turkey Gumbo” recipe is a fascinating story of the history of the Buffett family recipe. The beginning of the book is filled with interesting essays by the author as well as an introduction by brother Jimmy, and husband Mac McAleer. lucy shares her food philosophy, 10 things she absolutely knows about cooking, plus10 ingredients for a happy life— words to live by. While this is a cookbook full of recipes, this book could, and should, be read page by page for enjoyment. There are so many great hidden treasures sprinkled throughout the pages that you begin to feel like you have spent the day in the kitchen, listening to the cook “talk story” as she mixes the ingredients for a sumptuous meal…a meal prepared with loving hands and loving attention to the diner. There is so much more to this book than all of the dozens and dozens of recipes that anyone who likes great food will enjoy this volume, but anyone who enjoys good southern living and hospitality will also surely feel at home.

the repuBlic of pirates author: colin Woodard THE REpuBlIC oF pIRATEs Is A WEll-WRITTEN ToME ABouT THE MEN THAT lIVEd, F FouGHT ANd dIEd duRING THE GoldEN AGE oF pIRATEs, a period that lasted only a decade, from 1715 to 1725. The 11 chapters focus solely on true pirates (outlaws) and not individuals like Henry Morgan or William kidd who were privateers (marauding seamen who had legal commissions to attack vessels of their country’s enemies). The tale begins in 1696, when a mysterious sloop enters the harbor of Nassau, then continues with the story of samuel Bellamy, aka Edward Thatch—the man who would become Blackbeard. The story wraps up with the last years of Woodes Rogers -- the one man who volunteered and succeeded in pacifying the pirates of the Caribbean. In Woodard’s book, as he relates in his prologue, “no dialogue has been made up, and descriptions of everything from cities and events to clothing, vessels, and the weather are based on primary documents.” To accomplish this feat, Woodard spent countless hours researching documents in Britain and America. The result is a superbly created book that is not only factually accurate, but a fine and fascinating read. While filled with historical fact, Woodard’s writing style is easy to read and engaging. It is readily apparent that Woodard is as interested and excited about the subject matter as an author can be and his striving for truth and accuracy is appreciated. (Ed. Note: It is one of the reasons Woodard was selected to also author the pirate stories department of this magazine.) ultimately this is as factual account as there may ever be of the men who built the Republic of pirates in the Caribbean -- and the one man who brought it 383p. Hardback $27.00 Harcourt, Inc. www.HarcourtBooks.com

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parrothead primer

escape artists Jimmy Buffett and his literary idol, marK tWain, share a dream:

aBandoning “civilization” for an unspoiled paradise on the Water Written By marcus WeBB

H

HEy, doEs ANyBody kNoW THE dIsTANCE FRoM JACksoN IslANd, MIssouRI (WHERE ToM sAWyER ANd HuCklEBERRy FINN plAyEd AT BEING pIRATEs)… …to Margaritaville, where Jimmy Buffett placed his booze-soaked ode to lost love? Turns out, the distance between Buffett’s Margaritaville and Mark Twain’s island is basically zero. How’s that again? on a map, Mark Twain’s boyhood hometown of Hannibal, Mo. is over a thousand miles from Buffett’s adopted hometown of key West, Fla. But in the imaginary geography of American popular culture, these two addresses are next-door neighbors. so are their creators. The connection may not be obvious at first glance. Mark Twain was the first great authentic American voice of American literature. Inventor of unforgettable characters like Tom sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, Twain was the guy who took the voice of the common man – or boy — and turned that voice into fierce, funny, morally powerful art. Twain’s novels, stories, satires, and essays blend human drama and social criticism. (plus heaping helpings of laugh-outloud comedy.) Buffett, on the other hand, is a very contemporary kinda guy. A laid-back pop musician. A gifted singer-songwriter who’s been busted for drug possession a couple of times (the charges never stuck). A “vagabond in flip-flops” who

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is indelibly associated with booze, bikinis and tropical bliss. or at least tropical dissipation. Twain was born in 1835, well before the American Civil War. Buffett arrived on the planet more than a century after Twain, in 1946…one year after the end of World War Two. Twain grew up in the world of antebellum slavery, paddlewheel steamboats, and coal-powered railroads. Jimmy grew up in the era of pax Americana, Elvis, and Cadillacs with tailfins. so how can these two very different guys be close neighbors who occupy, in any sense, the same artistic zipcode? Well, look a little deeper and you realize something important. Jimmy Buffett and Mark Twain are a couple of American originals…and brothers under the skin. It’s not just that Twain and Buffett were both born and raised in the south (Twain in Missouri, Buffett in Mississippi and Alabama). Also, the similarities go well beyond the fact that both are best-selling writers of tropical travelogues. (Buffett’s New york Times numberone seller “A pirate looks At Fifty” self-consciously echoes Twain’s 101-year-older book, “Following the Equator.”) At the deepest level, the important connection between Buffett and Twain is a common dream. They both love a very specific kind of adventure. They’re both passionate about escaping “civilization” to find a lost


Huckleberry Finn,” set in the paradise of unspoiled nature. This south before the Civil War, 12paradise is always located on the year-old Huck runs away from his water. hometown. This innocent hero okay, so Twain’s idea of goes rafting down the Mississippi unspoiled Eden is a wide, powerful River with a runaway slave named river…while Buffett’s notion of Jim. Huck and Jim both seek the paradise is a tropical beachfront. same goals: freedom and a new And, yes, Twain favored rafts life. and steamboats, while Buffett is Buffett’s short story “Take more partial to seaplanes with big Another Road” follows the travels old pontoons on them. of modern-day cowboy Tully Mars But whether the setting is a (whose initials just happen to river or an ocean, and whether the be the reverse of Twain’s). This vehicle sports a paddlewheel or drifter and dreamer abandons pontoons, the underlying dream his hometown of Heartbreak, is the same. It’s just you and the Wyoming, traveling on a horse shore and the sky and the water. named Mr. Twain. like Huck and That is the powerful, central Jim, Tully is looking for freedom image…the common vision that and a new life, too. fuels their fantasy lives. In fact, Tully says that he actually And their real lives, too. Twain’s has Huck Finn in mind (also Tom “Following the Equator” is his truelife narrative of circumnavigating sawyer, Becky Thatcher, and other the globe by steamship. His Twain characters), as he heads colorful adventures range from for the Mississippi River himself. shark fishing in Australia to Tully is hoping to find that the old Mark Twain spirit of freedom and diamond mining in south Africa. adventure is still alive and well on Buffett weaves an equally the Big Muddy. colorful tale in “A pirate looks At In the end, Huck and Tully both Fifty.” His real-life story includes get what they want. plane crashes, partying, fishing, and fantasy pirate lifestyles in the Caribbean and south One of Jimmy Buffett’s leading literary heroes and enduring influences is America. (“pirate” Mark Twain. Even the most casual consumer of Buffett songs and fiction also contains half-a-dozen fond can’t get very far in the Parrothead oeuvre without running into explicit references to Twain’s “Equator.”) echoes of, and admiring references to, this great American writer. Come to think of it, the same dream — paradise sort of. on the water — also fuels the Back in 1884, Twain decided art of both Twain and Buffett. that Huck should end his epic Anyone who peruses Buffett’s journey by vowing to start yet short story collection “Tales from another adventure. The famous Margaritaville” quickly discovers last lines of Twain’s novel read: that Mark Twain’s most famous “But I reckon I got to light out character, Huck Finn, has a for the Territory ahead of the rest, modern-day literary cousin: a because Aunt sally she’s going Jimmy Buffett character named to adopt me and sivilize me, Tully Mars. and I can’t stand it. I been there The parallels between Huck and before.” Tully are powerful and obvious. Huck’s final words are In “The Adventures of

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parrothead primer

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deliberately echoed in the last paragraph of Tully’s story. Author Buffett writes: “Tonight life is grand and I am tucked in my sleeping bag, staring up at the stars on the banks of the Mississippi River, the bookmark of the American continent. This side is the West and a mile away [on the other side of the river] is the East and tomorrow is another adventure and I am starting to like my new life.” But it’s not all fun and adventure. Beneath the romantic wanderlust of both Twain and Buffett lies a far more serious sensibility. Beneath the clowning is a grownup perspective that knows right from wrong. Beyond the jokes are the voices of two adults who are willing to ‘fess up and take responsibility for their actions. The artistic climax of “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” comes when Huck wrestles with his guilty conscience. It seems poor Huck has been brainwashed by the racist church ministers of his day. These pious frauds have drummed it into Huck’s head that slavery is sanctioned by the Bible and is morally right. According to this moral code, helping an escaped slave like Jim to find freedom is simply stealing. It’s not only morally wrong; it’s a mortal sin. If Huck decides to help Jim escape from slavery, he knows that he risks

going to Hell in the next life. Wanting to do the “right” thing (or what he has been taught is the right thing), Huck tries to convince himself to turn Jim into the authorities. And, he almost does it. He really tries to do it. Huck writes a letter to Jim’s owner that will result in the slave’s recapture. But then something wonderful and amazing happens. Huck’s basic humanity rears up and overpowers his sunday school lessons…overpowers the law…overpowers his fear of damnation…and overpowers the entire force of the old south’s slavery-based “civilization.” Huck knows that if he decides to help Jim escape, he will literally be condemned to the Infernal Regions for all eternity. Huck bravely rips up his letter anyway, no matter the cost to himself. In seven of most electrifying words in all American literature, Huck tells himself: “All right, then, I’ll go to hell.” powerful stuff. Fast forward nearly 100 years. Even the most ardent parrothead would admit that it’s too much of a stretch to claim that Jimmy Buffett’s signature tune, “Margaritaville,” rises to Huck Finn’s level of moral courage. After all, nobody in Margaritaville risks his eternal soul to help a runaway slave escape from a cruel and barbarous fate. still, Buffett’s pop masterpiece concludes with its narrator facing, and acknowledging, the truth about his own moral failings. “some people claim that there’s a woman to blame,” Buffett sings. “But I know it’s my own damn fault.” The singer-poet of the tropics knows something else, too. He knows who his literary forebears are. He knows that even today, Mark Twain speaks to his soul…and to the soul of every pirate dreamer who loves freedom and yearns for a lost paradise of natural beauty amid the sea, shore, and sand. In “A pirate looks At Fifty,” Buffett mentions the 12 books that he would take with him to a desert island. Top of his list, numero uno, is “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Fade out to the sound of “Take Another Road” (the song this time, not the short story). The lyric says: Follow the equator, like that old articulator sail upon the ocean, just like Mr. Twain Never look back, this is my plan Run my pony in the sand somewhere, somewhere

somewhere, Mark Twain is chuckling. And humming.

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pirate stories

Hunting Down the Pirates of the Florida Keys KEy WEST, piRATE REfUgE, bEcAME bASE of ThE nAvy’S piRATE hUnTERS Written By colin Woodard

P

pERHAps IT’s NoT suRpRIsING THAT kEy WEsT, CATAlysT FoR “MARGARITAVIllE” ANd MECCA FoR pARRoTHEAds the world over, has become a pilgrimage site for pirate enthusiasts as well. The “pirates in paradise” festival attracts thousands of scurvy dog wannabes to the island every November, while former philadelphia 76ers owner pat Croce’s pirate soul Museum claims to have the largest collection of authentic pirate artifacts on display anywhere in the world. pirates, it seems, have become part of city’s identity. pirates were in fact instrumental in the American settlement of key West, but not the Golden Age swashbucklers celebrated in popular culture. The self-declared rebels who led the great outbreak at the beginning of the 18th century — Blackbeard, sam Bellamy, Anne Bonny and Calico Jack Rackham – generally gave the Florida keys a miss. But a later — and far more brutal – generation of pirates did use key West as a sanctuary, and soon attracted the attention of the united states’ most famous pirate hunter. Today, many Americans identify the Caribbean with beachfront vacations that offer frozen drinks and tiki-themed shopping developments at the foot of

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every cruise ship terminal. But 200 years ago – in the aftermath of the Napoleonic wars and the War of 1812 – American travelers to the region feared they would be robbed, tortured, and murdered before their feet hit dry land. Never was the Caribbean as dangerous as in the years between 1816 and 1825, in large part because of collapse of the spain’s New World empire. spain’s colonies – Mexico, Venezuela, Colombia, Cuba, Argentina — were in revolt. Their nascent governments were handing out privateering commissions (permission to attack enemy vessels in wartime) to virtually any denizen who applied for one. “Adventurers and outlaws from all over the world flocked to these provinces…ostensibly to serve against spain, but in reality attracted by the prospects of plunder,” 19th century historian Francis Bradley recalled. The pirates – many of them u.s. citizens – quickly moved from attacking spanish vessels to assaulting anything that moved. Between 1816 and 1822, they overwhelmed more than 3,000 vessels in the Caribbean, looting their cargo and frequently torturing and murdering those onboard. “Families bound for the West Indies in merchant vessels disappeared from the face of the Earth,” one observer later wrote. “often the only clue to the fate of the passengers and crew would be the charred hull of their vessel drifting about the Gulf of Mexico.” The pirates operated from wild stretches of the Cuban, puerto Rican, and Mexican coasts. local authorities were unable –or unwilling – to patrol these waters. The pirates also Early Key West Circa 1826


laid ambushes from the Florida keys -- mosquito-plagued and largely uninhabited in those days -- which had only just become part of the u.s. “When they are in the [harbors] or in the neighboring keys in small boats they call themselves fishermen and when at sea in small schooners call themselves coasters,” Havana merchant Jose Maralla reported. “It us very difficult to seize them there in flagrante.” Their attacks were horrific. In June, 1819, the merchant brig Ann of scarborough, England was overtaken off the keys by a pair of sloops commanded by Henry Neill, a fast-talking Irishborn New yorker with a “much pockmarked” face, tattoo-covered arms, and a long criminal record. Neill, who’d stolen his sloop and $10,000 from pensacola merchants and had spent the spring participating in “the most shocking crimes” in Havana, mutilated the captain and his mate, then forced both to beg for their lives before stabbing them to death. The cook and another crewmen were also executed when they refused to join the pirate’s crew. Photo # NH47384 Commodore. David Porter, USN Neill and his men made off with the Ann’s cargo, a parcel of coffee which they later sold in Charleston. In June 1820, captain William symmonett’s schooner primrose was anchored off south Florida when it was hailed by a small black cedar-built schooner. . The newcomers invited his crew to dinner, only to toss them in the hold. The 17 pirates – who had a privateering commission from the Mexican province of Texas -- forced symmonett at knifepoint to guide the vessel to key West. At Tavernier key, the pirates ambushed another schooner, and thoroughly plundered both vessels in key West’s harbor. After threatening them for days with drawn daggers, symmonett and his crew were set adrift in an open boat in the Gulf of Mexico. It took them 13 harrowing days to return to key West. such attacks infuriated the u.s. public and in 1823 president James Monroe ordered a robust response: the dispatch of a special fleet of pirate-hunting vessels under one of the u.s. Navy’s most celebrated officers, Commodore david porter. porter, a veteran of the naval campaign against the Barbary pirates, knew conventional warships were ill-suited to engage outlaws working from small boats. so he oversaw the purchase of a variety of small craft that could pursue pirates anywhere. He assembled swift Chesapeake bay schooners, low-draft rowing barges, and even one of the first steam-powered tugs. Technically, porter commanded the West Indies squadron, but the newspapers dubbed his task force “the Mosquito fleet.” porter was quick-tempered. According to his son, he “would flash up like powder at anything he considered the least insulting.” This characteristic eventually proved his undoing. The u.s. Navy’s newly commissioned pirate-hunter chose key West as his base of operations. Centrally located at the intersection of the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida straits, the obscure island made an ideal site for a naval depot. The harbor was “large and commodious,” the shrubby forests supported a “great abundance of deer,” and the eastern end was covered in “celebrated salt ponds” said to be capable of producing enough salt to meet the demands of the entire nation. While frequented by Havana fishermen, its only permanent inhabitants were a handful of families who’d moved there over the past three years and were living on the oceanfront. The campaign cost many lives in pirate battles, but also from other causes. porter’s men would spend weeks at a time cruising the Gulf of Mexico and the Cuban coast in open boats -- and on their return, they “would look not unlike the freebooters they went in pursuit of.” In key West, dozens perished from yellow fever. The disease proved even deadlier than the pirates, who fought desperately to avoid the hangman’s noose. Although porter won his battle against the pirates, he was undone by his own arrogance and high-handedness. He infuriated key West residents by acting like a military dictator, arbitrarily seizing their livestock and real estate to support his rapidly expanding naval base. despite being ordered not to provoke foreign authorities, porter invaded Fajardo, puerto Rico, destroyed the fort’s cannons, and forced the spanish governor to apologize for insulting one of his officers. “There is no doubt that our persons and our flags will be more respected hereafter….by the people of puerto Rico,” porter wrote his superiors. They disagreed. porter was hauled before a court martial, which ordered him suspended for six months. Furious at the insult, the scourge of the pirates moved to Mexico, where he took command of that country’s navy. key West’s naval base remained operational, however, ensuring that the island wouldn’t become a nest of pirates. porter’s onetime pirate-hunting headquarters finally closed in 1974. www.tropicalattitudesmag.com

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phlocking Together

Pirates on the Water Parrot Heads

Of the Upper Keys

the tropical attitudes parrot head chapter of the month is

pirates on the Water of the upper Keys

P

pIRATEs oN THE WATER, Is A kEy lARGo CluB

FouNdEd IN 2004, whose theme is “party with a purpose.” The club, with a crew of approximately 200 members, is made up of fun loving people that enjoy the key’s life style of Jimmy Buffett music, island living, and share a love of the ocean and boating. A requirement of the club is to own something that floats, if you don’t have a boat, no worries, a koozie or noodle will do. The pirates, a little more laid back than similar charitable clubs like Rotary and the lions, serve the community

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and participate in many events to raise money, food, or volunteer their time to help those less fortunate. over the last couple of years, the pirates have done several beach cleanup’s, assisted the Chamber of Commerce in several of

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Tropical Attitudes

SUMMER 2009


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their own events, collected canned goods at all their general meetings and happy hours for one of the local food banks, collected several

Quick Facts

thousand dollars for Relay for life, The Wild Bird Center, Hospice, kIss

yEar startEd:

(kids in special situations) and more. In 2008 the club raised a total

1234

of $22,000 for various charities and put in 1,250 volunteer member

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hours. In 2006, pirates on the Water, was accepted as a member of pHIp, the national organization of parrot Heads in paradise, with over 275 registered clubs in the united states, Canada and Caribbean.

nuMbEr of MEMbErs:

From

favoritE charity: Rostrud tat. Ut ulpute modolore del ulla facidunt ex exeriustrud

MEMbEr of thE yEar: Lorem Ipsum

all of the registered clubs, pHIp has raised over $2.7 million dollars in

PrEsidEnt:

charitable donations in 2008.

Lorem Ipsum

pirates on the Water is open to anyone wishing to “party with a www.tropicalattitudesmag.com

65


phlocking Together purpose.�

yearly

dues

are

$36

per family or $24.00 for a single membership. A portion of the dues goes to support parrot Heads in paradise (pHIp), local charities, and covers some of the club expenses.

To learn more about pirates on the Water, please visit their website at www.piratesonthewater.com To submit your chapter for consideration please contact: lorem Ipsum 123 lorem Ipsum lorem, Ip 12345

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It s 5 oclock somewhere

go online www.tropicalattitudesmag.com 68

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SUMMER 2009

go online to suBmit your parrothead photos for a chance to Be featured


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Tropical Attitudes  

Living the Island Lifestyle

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