No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Friday, January 23, 2009

Spam Allstars

January 22, 2009



Photobucket Alicia & Hannah

Spam Allstars

During the final weekend of the Key West Literary Seminar, there were of course other things happening in our island community. ESPN was in town to cover the boxing matches at Mallory Square as part of Friday Night Fights, The Key West Seafood Festival was going on at Bayview Park among others, but the most exciting for a music lover such as myself was yet another appearance by the Miami based funk band, The Spam Allstars.


Photobucket Jenny

The Spam Allstars are the leading band in the new Tropical Bohemia music scene that is flourishing in South Florida and that has been featured prominently recently in the New York Times and on NPR radio. In other words, they are on the brink of hitting the big time. Of course, here in Key West, we don’t need to follow the national media to know something is happening. One look at the size of the crowd at the Green Parrot Bar on Friday or Saturday night would tell you something special is happening.


It was perhaps the largest crowd ever seen at the Parrot for a non-Fantasy Fest night as the crowd packed the bar and spilled out over the sidewalk and into the streets, all to hear the amazing sound coming from the small stage. If you haven’t heard or seen this band, they are well worth checking in to, I have posted a short video from a previous appearance at the Parrot as well as a link to their website.

In addition to the Parrot and the literary seminar, Kathy & I made time to check out a couple of other fun events. The Key West Seafood Festival has grown in popularity every year and it was packed again this year as crowds lined up to get a taste of shrimp, lobster and an assortment of other tasty seafood caught fresh right here in the Florida Keys.

Photobucket Kathy, Nancy, Randy & Ron


Photobucket Betsy & Rosie


Finally we attended a birthday party for one of the adorable children who attends the Preschool. Little Rosie celebrated her 4th birthday with a beach party at Ft. Zachary Taylor, which is a wonderful setting for the kids who can run rampant and enjoy the amazingly beautiful beach and the shade of the pines. We get to attend a lot of kids’ parties and it is always fun to watch the kids interact and play. They certainly seemed to having a great time.


Photobucket Ellen


Spam Allstars website

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

KWLS- Final

January 19, 2009

Photobucket Anchee Min

Photobucket Valerie Martin, Calvin Baker & Miles Frieden

KWLS- Final

Photobucket Kathy at Custom's House

Photobucket Elizabeth Gaffney & John Burnham Schwartz

The second session wrapped up on Sunday afternoon with the traditional free and open to the public reading and panel discussions. There was a pathetic lack of coverage in the local media and thus there was plenty of space for the people that did show up. Since there was plenty of space, Kathy & I joined our friend Jaynie Royal in sticking around to the last word was spoken.

Photobucket David Nasaw

Photobucket Andrea Barrett, Samantha Hunt & Alan Cheuse

Photobucket Lauryann Jiang & Anchee Min

It was a terrific weekend, with a few soaring hi-lights led by the charming, funny and entertaining presentation Saturday evening by the delightful Anchee Min and her talented 17 year old daughter, Lauryann Jiang. They performed sections from Min’s, “Empress Orchid” and earned the lone standing ovation of either session.
Other highlights included a wonderful panel discussion between Joyce Carol Oates, William Kennedy and Russell Banks that achieved the rare feel of a front porch discussion among friends rather than some panel in a public forum and incredible readings from Samantha Hunt (“The Invention of Everything Else”) and Andrea Barrett (“Ship Fever”).

Photobucket Lauryann Jiang

Photobucket Kennedy, Banks & Oates

Photobucket Joyce Carol Oates

Photobucket Jaynie, Kathy & Seward Johnson

Of course there were even more parties. The repeats from session 1 which included dinner at the Lighthouse, the reception at the Audubon House and the Martini opening at the Customs House and there were a couple of wonderful behind the scenes parties as well. The most extravagant was at the home of the artist Seward Johnson who lives just next to the buoy that marks the Southernmost Point marker.



The Southernmost “Southernmost House” as Johnson describes it is an amazing home and property right on the point of the island where the Gulf of Mexico meets the Atlantic Ocean. The party included all of the local glitterati and all of the writers in town for the seminar. I felt slightly like Thenardier but Kathy & I really enjoyed the party and the incredible home and wonderful generosity of Mr. Johnson. He is a most jovial sort and made us each feel welcome.

Photobucket Elizabeth Gaffney's baby draws a crowd.

Photobucket Jenny & Ashley

The final party was much more typical for us, it was the wrap party for the staff, volunteers and friends of the seminar at the Love Lane compound of the seminar. Hosted by Arlo Haskell, the party offered an opportunity to unwind for those who worked so hard to put the seminar on and a chance for Mark Hedden to drink Gore Vidal’s leftover scotch.

Photobucket Michael, Bob Muens & Kathy

Photobucket Nancy, Mark & Gore Vidal's scotch.


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Literary Seminar –Take 2

January 19, 2009

PhotobucketMarilynne Robinson

PhotobucketElizabeth Gaffney & John Burnham Schwartz

Photobucket Anchee Min

Literary Seminar –Take 2

Photobucket William Kennedy & Russell Banks

The second weekend session of the Key West Literary Seminar was very different from the first, especially for me as I switched from working behind the scenes as a volunteer to becoming an attendee along with Kathy. Seeing the activities from the perspective that I have come to know over the past 15 years of attendance.

Photobucket Arlo & Samantha Hunt

Photobucket Madison Smartt Bell

Photobucket Russell Banks

This week featured an impressive array of writers including Barry Unsworth, John Burnham Schwartz, Calvin Baker, David Nasaw, William Kennedy, Andrea Barrett, Elizabeth Gaffney, Samantha Hunt, Alan Cheuse, Marilynne Robinson, Thomas Mallon, Madison Smart Bell, Valerie Martin, Francisco Goldman, Russell Banks, Joyce Carol Oates, Chantal Acevedo, Rachel Kushner & Anchee Min.

Photobucket Joyce Carol Oates

The sessions seemed to me to be more interesting and somewhat better than those from the first session. The discussions were more lively and the participants more engaged than the first session. Of course there was still the full complement of parties, dinners and receptions to enjoy.

Photobucket Barry Unsworth & Rachel Kushner

Photobucket Ashley, Kathy & Arlo

Photobucket Lyn Kaufelt

There was also a better vibe in the crowd as many in the crowd were writers themselves who had been participating in the midweek workshops between sessions. The mix just created a better atmosphere that seemed to infect the panelists. In fact the panelist even seemed to enjoy more local friendly pastimes than usual as many of them ventured out to enjoy the Key West night life. We hung out with a large group of writers at the Green Parrot where they enjoyed the musical styling’s of the Spam Allstars.

Photobucket Francisco Goldman, Rachel Kushner, John Burnham Schwartz & Calvin Baker at the Green Parrot

Photobucket Barry Unsworth

Photobucket Andrea Barrett

Photobucket Thomas Mallon & Russell Banks

Photobucket Joyce Carol Oates

Photobucket Rick & Janet

Once again, I have too many photos for a single posting so I will be posting two blogs about the second session.

Photobucket Chantal Acevedo & Francisco Goldman

Monday, January 19, 2009


January 17, 2009

Photobucket Billy Collins



Photobucket Kim, Michael & Kathy

Photobucket Joan Rivers & Michael

The week between the two sessions of the Literary Seminar passed so quickly that we hardly had time to stop and catch our breath. Of course it did not help matters that we had even more events and activities to fill the space. Not that I am complaining mind you, we are fortunate to live in a wonderful community full of art & culture and any number of wonderful choices when it comes to finding things to keep us busy.
Right off the bat on Monday evening was the first in the 2009 Friends of the Key West Library lecture series, which has moved this year to The Studios of Key West. I am a member of the board of the Friends and work each week helping take tickets from attendees of the lectures.


Photobucket Two Elenas

The series kicked off with a bang with an incredible reading from former Poet Laureate of the United States, Billy Collins. Taking tickets took on greater significance due to the overflow crowd that packed the armory for Billy’s reading. Collins is in town for the literary seminar and we were thrilled that he agreed to read as part of our lecture series. I have posted a YouTube video of Billy Collins reading one of his most famous poems.

Billy Collins will be returning once again to Key West for the 2010 Key West Literary Seminar, Clearing the Sill of the World: A Celebration of 60 Years of American Poetry in Honor of Richard Wilbur. He will be joined by the likes of Maxine Kuman, James Tate, Charles Simic, Mark Strand, Richard Wilbur and many more.

Photobucket Billy & Martha

Photobucket Writers Alison Lurie & Edward Hower greet Billy

In addition to the lecture series, we also attended a release party for the latest issue of the Key West Literary journal, “The Secret of Salt” which is published by our friend Kim Narenkivicius and actually includes a couple of my photos.

Photobucket Robert, Seava & Cricket

Photobucket Howard

Photobucket Jennifer O'Lear & daughter

The party was held during the monthly Walk on White gallery walk and included a display of the latest creations by Rick Keith & Steve King as well as the release of a new novel by local author Jennifer O’Lear. It was another wonderful evening with good friends.

Photobucket Steve King

Photobucket Elenora & Kathy

Photobucket Marilyn & Reese Palley

Finally, I had a minor brush with fame when I happened to be in my friend Christopher’s wonderful book store, Voltaire Books during a book signing for legendary comedienne Joan Rivers. There must have been 300 people there including every drag queen in town. In fact Randy Roberts, who actually portrays Joan as part of his act, was there to meet the iconic Rivers who was in town to perform a concert.

Photobucket Joan Rivers & Randy Roberts

Billy Collins website

Secret of Salt