Rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture.
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Florida Keys Journal: The Lignumvitae Channel
photograph of "Hurricane Memorial" by Hallie Cohen
Lignum Vitae is a kind of hard wood, whose Northern most
appearance may be in the Florida Keys and which ironically finds a use in manufacturing the edges of cross country skis. It’s also the name of a passage in
Islamorada where the bay meets the ocean. When you cross the Lignumvitae Channel
you come to Robbie’s Marina which is a popular gathering place and market.
There you can rent a kayak to explore the intricate lattice work of waterways that run through the mangroves where
houseboats sporting aphorisms like "I'm on an all rum diet, so far I've lost three days," share parking spaces with ospreys, iguanas, and an occasional crocodile.
This is tarpon country and you see driveways and houses named after this powerful fish. A little further north at Cross Indian Channel you will find monuments to
Ponce de Leon, the Cuban Rafters, and a armada of 14 Spanish ships carrying
gold from Peruvian mines that was nearly totally destroyed by a hurricane in
l733. The coral reefs that surround the Keys can be treacherous to ships in
stormy weather and interestinglycoral
from the Windley Key fossil quarry was used in one of the areas most
famous and heart wrenching local monuments, the Florida Keys Memorial. Known
locally as "the Hurricane Monument,” it commemorates the hundreds of people who
died on Labor Day of l935 when a storm with 200 miles per hour winds hit the area.
Many World War I vets encampedin
Matecumbe and working for the WPA perished along with the dream of a Key West extension of the Florida
East Coast Railway. Inhabitants of
the Keys have always lived dangerously and the environment's very vulnerability to the
onslaughts of nature may account for its fragile beauty.
Francis Levy's debut novel, Erotomania: A Romance, was released in August 2008 by Two Dollar Radio.
His short stories, criticism, humor, and poetry have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic, The Village Voice, The East Hampton Star, The Quarterly, Penthouse, Architectural Digest, TV Guide, The Journal of Irreproducible Results, and other publications. One of his Voice humor pieces was anthologized in The Big Book of New American Humor (HarperCollins). He is presently the Co-Director of The Philoctetes Center for the Multidisciplinary Study of Imagination (philoctetes.org), where he supervises roundtable discussions on topics as varied as “The Psychology of the Modern Nation State” and “Modern Traffic Theory, Behavior, and Imagination”.