The Old Man and the Commission

Posted: July 24, 2007 in Uncategorized

I had to rewrite an AP headline because I thought they could have done better. I’m talking about the short piece on A2 in yesterday’s Chronicle about the insurance agent who won the annual Ernest Hemingway look-alike contest in Key West, Florida.

I’ve always enjoyed hearing about this contest. It’s not so much that I’m a fan of Hemingway but that the contest just sounds so fun. Silly too but I mean that in a good way. Or I could say in a Duval Street way which also means silly. And fun. And weird. This year’s winner, Larry Austin, as stated in the article, was “a 10-year veteran contestant”. Persistence pays. I’m thinking it took the 10 years for him to become properly seasoned.

I’m talking about this because I was in Key West in April for a week. I can’t tell you the number of old guys I saw there with a full head of perfectly gray hair and a full, perfectly groomed gray beard everywhere I looked because there were so many of them. I didn’t know if they were locals, visitors or both. Probably both. I guess looking like Ernest Hemingway in Key West is like sporting mutton-chops in Memphis or Las Vegas.

I also want to mention that the contest is held at Sloppy Joe’s on the wilder end of Duval Street. I was there a few times that week but didn’t realize that it was so old that it was a favorite hang-out of Hemingway’s in the 1930’s because it is so dark, loud and busy. That and the fact that I was usually a bit disoriented by the time I shuffled into this place when I should have probably been in bed. Just one more thing: The Duval Street/Crowd cams I have linked in my blogroll are mounted outside this very same place.

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