Key West is a place that many people have heard of, but few people(with the exception of people from Florida,Jimmy Buffet fans, cruise ship casualities,and people that make your stumbling drunk uncle look like he has drinking under control)actually visit. The Roosters and chickens are wandering the streets at all hours of the night cockadoodle doing all the live long day and if you kill one of the roosters it is a $5000 fine. There are drag queens who are admantly relgious and have been saved by Christ. There are people who came for a 2 week vacation and have now been here for 20 years. This place has every sort of degenerate you could imagine, but it also has some the kindest and gentelest souls possible. Life is measured in extremes and Key West is a prime example of these extremes. Mega rich and mega poor and home to the accidental millionaire. People that found out their house is worth millions so they order another round of beers. Some people call this place the end of the line. Older people come here to die in peace or misery or a little bit of both. I once met a man married for 25 years had two sons decided he was gay got divorce gave his wife the house and moved to Key West (calls himself the strawberry man).
Key West or as some call it Key Weird reminds me of the show Northern exposure if it became Southern Exposure and tourists flocked from everywhere to buy useless souvenirs and trinkets that nobody will wear or use (unless some sort of natural disaster takes place or their laundry machine breaks down,which ever comes first). Most of these stores seem to be run by Israeli's that sell clothes at all hours of the night and will try to get you dancing to trance music. After the dancing they then convince you must buy clothes so that their boss will be happy. I have also met an Old Indian man (never actually been to India though he is 100% Indian) who seems like some sort of Sadhu and he reads your palm for $35 and he is quite good. And he sticks out like me in Japan except for the fact that most people here stick out like me iN Japan. Most people in Key West are either very wealthy or just scraping by and live on a boat or a place called Christmas tree island. It was in Key West that I met the infamous Papa Nutrino (google him) I also saw Jimmy Buffet perform at a friends wake.
Key West has been a starting point for me in many respects and my life will never be the same because of this blessed little out of the way place that is East everything and West of nothing. The people of Key West greet me like I have lived here always even though I spent 2 and half months here 3 years ago. Yeah, they know I've been gone but they are glad to have me back no matter how brief. Key West is the end of the line and I came here for the first time chasing something that was still a ways away. If you ever get a chance and decide that your life could use a little more weirdness in it then come to Key West and you will begin to grasp the essence of this place. I would say it is the oddest place that I have been to in the United States, but there are still places I have yet to explore.
Recently I was stopped by the cops and told that if they caught someone giving me a donation for spiritual healing I would go to jail. I thought wow!, Key West is really changing and then a good friend of mine reminded me America is the one who is changing. Then I remembered a little known fact that Key West for a few hours in the early 80's became it is own country called the "Conch Republic". Viva La Conch Viva La Conch it shall come back and spiritual healers and other street performers shall be able to do their things as protected in an often forgotten document called the constitution or should I say Conchstitution.