Life in the Fabulous Florida Keys – there are certain things we take for granted here that just aren’t available anywhere else on the planet. So as we continue to enjoy the sun and fun of summertime surrounded by our pristine and unaffected-by-the-oil-spill-waters (Hear that, BP, NOAA, and the American Media?!?), let’s all pause a minute or two and reflect on why we came here, either as a visitor or a resident (or somewhere in between).

As the Weekly’s resident curmudgeon, I’m not much of a “count your blessings” kind of guy. But even a jaded character like myself can now and again look around and see all the good stuff we have. Here’s a short list of some of my favorite Keys things… because in the words of Mike Puto, “Ya gotta love it!”

1) Playing music. Yeah, I know, I do this as a job. And I know that it’s not necessarily a Keys thing. But it’s not just a job – playing music is my passion, my life, my raison d’etre. For those who don’t play, I couldn’t even begin to explain what it means to be able to pick up an instrument, sing, and create music out of thin air. Writers with far more talent than I will ever possess have struggled with written descriptions of the essence and importance of music. Here are a few of their thoughts on the subject:

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” – Aldous Huxley

“Without music life would be a mistake.” – Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

“Music can change the world because it can change people.” – Bono

“If I were to begin life again, I would devote it to music. It is the only cheap and unpunished rapture upon earth.” – Sydney Smith

“It is cruel, you know, that music should be so beautiful. It has the beauty of loneliness, of pain: of strength and freedom. The beauty of disappointment and never-satisfied love. The cruel beauty of nature and everlasting beauty of monotony.” – Benjamin Britten

“Music expresses that which cannot be said and on which it is impossible to be silent.” – Victor Hugo

“Writing about music is like dancing about architecture.” – Elvis Costello or Laurie Anderson

2) Playing music here. Yeah, I know – it can be quite a sweaty proposition hauling around all the equipment needed to put on a performance this time of year (and reinforces just how much a musician needs a fan). But there is a real upside. The places I play are some of the coolest (in a hip island sense) joints around. Sparky’s Landing, Cabana Breezes, Dockside, and the Sunset Grille are all awesome waterfront locations where I get to perform music harborside or seaside. The views are incredible, the people great, and each location has a well-stocked bar to help us all avoid the perils of dehydration. Alternatively, the Key Colony Inn offers me an indoor respite from summer’s warmth, plus a chance to play my piano material that I don’t get to play in other places. To be able to make my living performing music in a tropical island setting like this is truly a wonderful thing.
3) Palm trees and shorelines. Ever since I was a kid growing up in Florida, I’ve loved the fact that we lived close enough to the tropics to have palm trees. At latitudes as southern as ours, we are blessed with the more tropical vegetation like coconut palms.

Nothing says “tropical” as much as these tall graceful trees. Throw in the full spectrum of additional tropical attractions like orchids and banyan trees, and our islands are resplendent with greenery suitable to an island paradise.

Put those palm trees on a beach, and we’ve exponentially increased our Island Paradise quotient. Waves lapping on shore… sea breezes blowing through the palms… a sunset and a cool tropical beverage… we don’t have to go far to experience these things. We live here (or are plotting how we one day will). Of course, a shoreline means water, and water means things like boating, fishing, diving, snorkeling… you know, ya really do gotta love it!

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Break out the holly and mistletoe – Christmas is once again upon us! Friday, July 23 is Christmas in July at the Brass Monkey, and I’ll be there as your MC along with Freddie Bye and the band, and the usual cast of Monkey characters, to celebrate the holidays. Ho ho ho.

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