Hemingway Home: Past, Prose, & Polydactyly in Paradise

Mike Coté

Mike Coté is a writer and podcaster focusing on history, Great Power rivalry, and geopolitics. He has a Master’s degree in European history, and is working on a book about the Anglo-German economic and strategic rivalry before World War I. He writes for National Review, Providence Magazine, and The Federalist, hosts the Rational Policy podcast, and can be found on Twitter @ratlpolicy.

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2 Responses

  1. Burt Likko says:

    For me, one of the really charming things have always been the rainwater collection basins on peoples’ roofs. Key West (and all of the other Keys) have no natural source of fresh water, so it can be 1) piped in from the mainland, 2) desalinated on nearby Stock Island, or 3) collected as rainwater. This being Florida, it’s not clear that a lot of people in Key West are really aware of how precious fresh water is there, beyond its utility to hold freezing temperatures and make Bahama Mama Cocktails out of the slushie machines much more refreshing.

    I believe the T-shirt shops are mostly apolitical. They sell the F Joe Biden stuff because the tourists buy it. They sell tickets to drag shows because the tourists buy them. If it isn’t outright illegal and tourists want it, you can buy it in any of a dozen functionally identical T-shirt shops on Duvall Street. Which, who am I to talk, I still have a “Check Out My Rooster” T-shirt from my last visit that my then-GF bought whilst we were enjoying the effects of multiple sweet rum drinks. I’d have preferred a “Conch Republic” T-shirt (not just for the politics but just the whole “This is a place apart” vibe) but what we got fit the mood at the moment and that’s sometimes okay too.

    There are quite a few elegant houses like Hemingway’s, although this one is preserved in a particular way for this particular purpose and I agree is quite romantic. It’s also a change of pace from the sometimes-tacky hustle underway two blocks away.

    Most disappointing, though, was the proliferation of sargassum, on the beaches and in the air. There’s not a lot the locals can do about it and I noticed differences between people explaining where it comes from. A certain kind of Conch will say it blooms because of effluvium from cities in northern Brazil. Others say it’s always bloomed naturally in the Gulf, but because of detergents and climate change it now periodically explodes into stinky superblooms visible from space. (They are both correct, if incomplete.) When I was there, we found only one beach that wasn’t shut down from the nasty stuff.

    But I’d totally go back given the chance. Three of the major airlines fly directly into Key West if you don’t want to drive down from the mainland on that long bridge. If you do drive, though, keep an eye out for the adorable Key Deer!Report

  2. John Puccio says:

    Really enjoyed this piece. Key West and the Hemingway House are on my bucket list.

    Had hoped to run into Mike Leach there, but alas…Report