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!

Saturday, January 25, 2020

One Human Family

January 18, 2020

Debbie Murcasel-Powell

One Human Family

One of the things that I love about living in Key West is the amazing diversity of our community. There are people from all walks of life here and for the most part, everyone is accepting and we all get along. Even when there are vast differences of opinion, we tend to treat each other with respect, dignity and with a lot of love. This One Human Family spirit has been on display in full force this past week as there were a couple of events that really highlighted it.



 The first was the scheduled appearance by well-known evangelist Franklin Graham at the Key West Amphitheater as part of his Decision America Sunshine State tour of Florida. Graham, is a titan of the religious right and the son of the late Rev. Billy Graham who has unfortunately spent a lot of energy preaching against what he suggests are the sinful lifestyles of the LGBT community. In response a protest was organized and attended by about 200 local activists that included both Key West Mayor Terri Johnson and Monroe County Mayor Heather Carruthers.


The part that was the most satisfying was that the protest was more a show of support and love than an angry protest against anyone or anything. In fact the protesters, were respectful, loving and in some way supportive of the rights of Graham and his group to exercise free speech and practice their religious preferences. They just disagreed with what has been a core element of what Graham and his group seem to spend an inordinate amount of energy and focus preaching.




I must say that I knew personally the vast majority of the people protesting, but I also wanted to experience just what Graham and his group was all about, so I went into the rally myself. I was really surprised by a few things, mostly by how packed it was and by how many people that I knew as friends and neighbors were in attendance. The atmosphere was more like an upscale rock concert than any spiritual experience and while Graham preached his version of the word of God, the people seemed truly moved in many respects. He tactfully avoided any mention of the type of comments that had drawn the ire of those protesting and focused a lot on the good work his organization performed in assisting the Keys in the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, which was truly a good thing.

With Gwen

But in spite of seemingly saying all the right things, I personally felt ill at ease with the event. Even though it was a free event, it felt from casual observation that the whole thing was more about raising money for Graham and his ministry than about anything truly spiritual. It saddens me that so many good people can be so swayed by their religious fervor that they do not recognize why so many in their community find the message hateful and painful.

The second major event of the week saw many of the same familiar faces from the Graham protest participating in the annual Woman’s March down Duval Street. The local march is part of the larger International event that  sees millions of women and allies around the world joining together for the fourth annual Women’s March Global, a yearly Event that brings together all those who are committed to fighting for equality, justice, and women’s human rights worldwide.




The local version was sponsored by the ACLU and organized by my friends Natalia and Kathryn and featured a few hundred activists who gathered near the Southernmost House to march the length of Duval Street to Mallory Square where a small gathering and some speeches followed. I enjoy going and supporting the women who are so dedicated in their ideals of improving women’s rights and working for real change.



It was a beautiful afternoon and the march went off without a hitch. There was a tremendous amount of support and encouragement from the crowd lining Duval Street watching as the march passed by, there were also a couple of snarky comments that I heard, but the overall spirit was really positive. Our local Congressional representative, Debbie Murcasel-Powell was on hand along with her family. She was also celebrating her birthday and enjoying time in the Florida Keys.

Debbie and John

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Up On Heaven’s Boulevard

January 15, 2020

Grace Potter

Lauren Groff

Hemingway House

Up On Heaven’s Boulevard

Sunday afternoon marks the final chapter of the official Key West Literary Seminar and the transition to the second act of the two week series of events as the annual week of KWLS workshops kicks off. This year the transition was marked by a wonderful party at the home of Cecelia and Seward Johnson at one of the most beautiful properties in Key West, the house that is actually just south of the Southernmost Point. The party featured the last hurrah for most of the writers who were on hand as well as serving for a welcome event for the amazing cast of writers who were arriving to teach week-long writing workshops.

Rowan Riccardo Philips

This group included Christopher Castellani, Fernanda Eberstadt, Lynne Griffin, Lauren Groff, Claire Messud, Gregory Pardlo, Francine Prose, Krystal Sital and Luis Alberto Urrea as well as Billy Collins who was on hand for both the seminar and the workshops. The week of workshops is punctuated with an ever increasing of public events and soirees that keep us busy for a second straight week.

Grace Potter soundcheck

But before I got too deep into that, between the concluding session on Sunday afternoon, the Johnson’s party and other seminar related things, Kathy and I had VIP tickets to see singer/songwriter Grace Potter at Sunset Green. I have been a fan of hers since we first saw her some years ago with her previous band the Nocturmals at Folks Fest in Colorado. I was nervous about the timing but it actually worked out great as we were able to sneak away in the afternoon and watch her private soundcheck, which was awesome, before returning to attend the party before heading back to the actual concert.

Grace Potter

As exhausted as we both were, I am so glad that we made the effort as her show was fantastic. Certainly the best show that I have seen at that venue since it opened and we both really loved Grace. I am always happy to support Rams Head, the promoters who bring artists like Grace Potter to Key West. She is gaining popularity rapidly, for example she appeared on the “Today” show in the days leading up to her appearance here, but in Key West she was mostly an unknown quantity to most people here. So I was thrilled to see a decent and enthusiastic crowd on hand.

The rest of the week it was back to seminar related events, starting with the first of the ten week series of lectures by the Friends of the Key West Library. This week’s opener was co-sponsored by the KWLS and featured one of the authors who was at the seminar, Rowan Ricardo Philips, who gave a terrific presentation on his latest book about tennis called “The Circuit: A Tennis Odyssey” to a packed “sold-out” event at the Tropic Cinema. Every Monday night for the next ten weeks the Friends of the Library will present an author giving a free to the public lecture.

Hemingway House

Andrea, Chase and Chloe

From there, I walked over to the Ernest Hemingway House for the opening night party and dinner for the workshop participants and instructors. I always enjoy that event as it is fun to meet so many fascinating people who travel from all over the country to take our workshops. The event is where the participants first meet the instructors and the other people in their workshops and it is always a fun thing to do.


There are two additional public events featuring the workshop authors, readings and discussions held on Tuesday and Wednesday night at the Studios of Key West. I went on Tuesday night as there was a reception for the workshop attendees at Books and Books hosted by Judy Blume and George Cooper prior to the readings upstairs in the Studios. The presentations included readings from Lauren Groff, Luis Alberto Urrea and Billy Collins and Gregory Pardlo. It was an outstanding evening.

Lauren Groff and Chase

Luis Alberto Urrea