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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our ninth calendar year
    PCR #407  (Vol. 9, No. 2)  This edition is for the week of January 7--13, 2008.

The Keys To A Great Vacation, Part Three  by William Moriaty
"The Bucket List"  by Mike Smith
The Audio Philes Top 20 Albums of 2007 pt. 1: #20--11.  by Terence Nuzum
How I miss Avant-Garde cinema  by Andy Lalino
DVD Review: "Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster"  by ED Tucker
The Critic's Choice .... Writers 1 Hollywood 0 .... Back And Still As Strong As Ever .... Batman 3 Superman 1 .... Free Time On Their Hands .... All First Timers (almost) .... Licking James Bond .... And The Oscar For 1978 Should Have Gone To...  by Mike Smith
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The Keys To A Great Vacation, Part Three

Monday November 19, 2007
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Undeniably mid-century modern, the Blue Marlin Motel at 1320 Simonton Street still evokes an image reminiscent of the Space Race, the Cuban Missile Crises and the Fab Four.
One of the gems of Googie architecture in Key West is the Santa Maria Resort at 1401 Simonton Street.
The futuristic design of the rooms of the Santa Maria Resort.
This beautiful office building on Simonton Street masterfully incorporates tropical foliage that enhances its mid-century modern lines.
The Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Gardens on Stock Island features an incredibly streamlined 1964 structure on its grounds.
The N.O.A.A. Weather Forecast Center at 1315 White Street is a great example of mid-century modern meets nautical.
A worm's-eye view of the Key West Light House on Whitehead Street.
A bird's eye view from the Key West Light House looking south down Whitehead Street. The U.S. 1 intersection of Whitehead Street and Truman Avenue looms in the lower foreground while the azure tropical waters of the Atlantic are in the upper background.
A view down the arched corridors of Fort Zachary Taylor.
An overview of Fort Zachary Taylor.
Jet skis slice through the waters where the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico meet during sunset along the beach of Fort Zachary Taylor State Park.
First stop. Marathon. Karen and I went to D'asign Source to visit our friend Dead Stoddart who we would be having Thanksgiving dinner with on Thursday.

After visiting for about half and hour, we continued our journey southward to our final vacation destination of Marerro's Guest Mansion in Key West. Once there, affable owner John Diebold almost immediately gave us the news about the resident cat Cheesetta. It appears that Cheesetta was in declining health and after a certain amount of time never returned to the Guest Mansion. Cheesetta will surely be missed!

Karen and left our room long enough to walk up to Mallory Square and spend part of our evening dining on the outstanding Cayo Hueso Cuban fare at El Maison de Pepe's (now Chef Pepe).

Tuesday November 20, 2007
Tuesday morning I found myself walking through the Truman Annex to one of my favorite places on the planet - - Ft. Zachary Taylor State Park, In addition to having a haunted fort and Key West's best swimming, Ft. Zach has possibly the finest display of native plants on the island. Lastly, this is the place to watch the setting sun - - it has nowhere near the crowds and crazed revelry of Mallory Square.

I went back to our room and got Karen so that we could have lunch at another favorite "haunt" of ours in Key West, Kelly's Caribbean Bar and Grill. Once lunch was over, I changed into my jogging outfit and visited another favorite Key West landmark, the Key West Cemetery. This beautiful necropolis is probably the most quiet and solemn piece of real estate on the Island of Bones. Open to the public, this cemetery is in its own right one of the city's best attractions.

I capped the evening off having bangers and mash at an Irish pub with Karen, largely in honor of my visit to that island nation a year earlier.

Wednesday November 21, 2007
Readers of this column will recall in last week's edition that I spent the morning out at Big Pine Key. Once I got back to Key West and our room, Karen was in a mood for sushi, so we walked down Simonton Street to a restaurant attached to the Santa Maria Resort that presumably served it.

Karen walked away disappointed, but I walked away elated. I was elated in that the majority of mid-century modern buildings I had hoped to find to make the subject of this column were located on the very street that we walked in search of sushi! Karen was understandably disappointed when she found out that the restaurant would not open for another month.

When I beheld the Googie and mid-century modern architecture along Simonton Street I was slack jawed. It was all that I thought that Key West of the late 50's and early 70's should look like! The Blue Marlin Motel was the quintessential the mid-century Florida place of lodging while the Santa Maria Resort evoked futuristic elegance.

I knew I would have to "scope" out these gems further for photo shots, so after a stone crab lunch, I jogged down to the South Beach section of Key West to further investigate.

Thursday November 22, 2007
Thursday morning was drab and cloudy. A hot and humid Thanksgiving Day morning with light rain mixed with sun light moving rapidly off of the Caribbean waters of the Atlantic. I decided that if I could survive it, this would finally be my day after four previous visits to jog the island from end to end, and am proud to report that at the age of 52, I indeed completed an 8-mile run!

I started out my run that morning south on Whitehead Street starting at Mile Marker 0 down to the southernmost point at the corner of South Street. I then proceeded eastward along Atlantic Boulevard, then South Roosevelt Boulevard near George Smathers Beach and the international airport. I paused long enough to admire the swift currents between Key West and Cow Key and then ran westward the entire length of Flagler Avenue. Strangely, Flagler Avenue had me thinking that I was jogging down another Flagler Avenue, that one being Miami's.The tropical style mid-century modern ranch houses and plazas, many Latin surnames lining this major east-west roadway in Key West has a much different feel to it than the old part of town with its often nautical-themed and Victorian houses from the late 1800's.

Once back from my long jog, Karen and I went to a Thanksgiving dinner by Dean Stoddart and his wife Anna Maria. We had a delightful evening discussing one of my favorite subjects, astronomy, with Anna's father who taught astronomy on a collegiate level, and was once a member of the U.S.S. Requin, a decommissioned submarine that was a tourist attraction anchored in downtown Tampa.

Friday November 23, 2007
This day would mark Karen's birthday, our last full day in Key West, and marked the day that I would go to the Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Garden and finally photograph some of those great mid-century modern buildings along the South Beach.

Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Gardens:
I had last been to this gem of the Keys in June 2004, a little over a year before it was ravaged by Hurricane Wilma. I was amazed and delighted that the Gardens had recuperated so well that it appeared as if it was never even damaged at all. Most surprising was stumbling upon a 1964 Googie style building sitting on the south side of the property - - incredible! My mid-century modern photo shoots would unexpectedly start right here! I even found the time during my visit to the Gardens to call my dear friends Harry Wise and Susan Hughes and wish them a belated Happy Thanksgiving.

Most people go to Key West solely for the revelry. I go for its incredible history, its tropical vegetation, its Caribbean waters and particularly, its old houses found generally from White street west to Fort Zachary Taylor State Park and Mallory Square.

As many fine books have been published about these unique houses , I sought out to expose those structures that comprise amongst one of my favorite types of architecture - - mid-century modern. Being a tropical beach resort community, Key West not too surprisingly, still has a fair, yet dwindling amount of these structures.

The first of these, outside of the chance photo taken at the Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Gardens, the first planned photo to be taken was that of the 1970 N.O.A.A. Weather Forecast Office at 1315 White Street. From there I traveled down South Street then over to Simonton Street where the remainder of the photo subjects were.

I snapped the photos that I needed of the Blue Marlin Motel, the Santa Maria Resort and several other unnamed mid-century modern marvels along Simonton Street and South Street. My mission accomplished and my vacation virtually over, I decided to to relax and watch the setting sun along the beach at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, but not before making impromptu visits to the Key West Light House and Keeper's Quarters Museum and the Dr. Nancy Foster Florida Keys Environmental Center.

After walking the arched walkways of the Fort, I headed out to the beach and caught the last beautiful glimmer of day light as our 2007 vacation also faded into history. Tomorrow morning, Karen and I would take the long trip back home to Plant City and face up to what state of decay our house was in. Not quite a trip to look forward to after tasting a bit of paradise, but we made it back home safely and still had each other and that's what truly matters the most.

Next week - - The Fabulous Architecture of the Tampa Bay Region -- Part Five

"La Floridiana" is ©2008 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.