I first met Chris several years ago …. actually through Facebook! We have friends in common and
started communicating online. You know how that goes…you both comment on a post, you like the
other persons’ post, you like and/or comment on their post. Pretty soon you become Facebook friends.
And soon we decided it’s time to meet in person. We agreed to do a face-to-face at the Green Parrot.
We spent quite a bit of time talking over a few cold ones. I found him to be even more likable in person.
He has a very genuine interest in others, a huge, caring heart, the soul of a poet, massive musical talent
and a zany sense of humor. A testament to his sense of humor are his Boris the Bartender videos!
Haven’t seen one yet? Oh!, but you must!!!
Chris came to Key West from Miami. By way of Boston – by way of Miami – by way of
Ho-Ho-Kus, New Jersey. Not exactly a straight route, but it worked!!! I’ll let Chris explain:
My first visit to Key West was in 1978. I flew in actually. Air Sunshine on a DC3!
How else do you want to arrive in Key West than on a redial engine prop plane!
The next time here was March 17, 1980 for St. Patrick’s Day. The party went out of Sloppy Joe’s
across Duval to another bar … only is was as though Duval had invisible walls! No one went
beyond the invisible walls! I was down from Miami with my old friend Gonzo. We had spent the day
on the old Bahia Honda Bridge, which had JUST been closed in favor of the new bridge (that was the
very first new bridge ,then headed down to Key West. Hung out at Captain Tony’s as well and he was
there too! Later when we left, we crashed his car into a light pole on Angela, just off Grinnell at 2 AM.
Took out the light pole and the car cracked it’s battery. After that, over the years I always came to the
Keys knowing I would one day move here. That’s the difference between a Visitor and a Tourist, by the
way. The Visitor intends to move here and wants to be part of the local scene. The Tourist is just
another jackass in Irish Kevin’s.
Over the years I had several opportunities to move to Key West, however I always put it off.
Yet at the same time I was always envious of those who actually did live here. In 2008 I finally pulled
the trigger, pulled up stakes and moved from Cutler Bay, Florida to Key West. The move was 138 miles,
but it might as well have been 13,800. The Conch Republic (The Dry Tortugas to the Last Chance
Saloon in Florida City) is indeed a different country.
WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE HERE!
The town has history, to begin with. We’re not looking at a fly by night, all-of-a-sudden town.
We’re talking about a place where people lived and died. We’re also looking at a town that has a
creative atmosphere which stimulates artists. It’s a town with character, albeit not so much as back in the
day. Regretfully more and more mainlanders who move here want to turn it into their own little
New York, or Atlanta. It’s also a beautiful town, quite similar to New England towns, yet at the same time
there’s a large Bahamian influence in the architecture as well. By and large, we ride bikes here. Driving
a car is just plain stupid in Old Town. I also pretty much wear one wardrobe all year around! It’s the only
frost-free city in the continental United States. The coldest temperature ever recorded here was 42F
in the 1880’s. Best of all, I live on a tropical island which is part of a foreign country (the Conch
Republic), which is part of the United States and although it sits 106 miles from the mainland,
I can drive here.
The most important thing for others to know about Key West?
You can travel to this most unique island in the tropics, and although you are in a foreign country
(the Conch Republic), you are still in the United States. (We have the state of Florida completely buffaloed
into thinking we’re part of Florida! Shhhhhh!!! Don’t tell them!)
My favorite things to do? Hmmmm…..Well, Mike McCloud got that one down to a T in his Conch Republic
song “Where the ladies are lovely and drinkin’ considered a sport.” Key West consumes more
alcohol per capita than any other city in the U.S. On this little island there are 300 liquor licenses!
Places to see? Take a bike ride, nice and slow through the back streets of Old Town! Seek out all the
nooks and crannies! Little hideaways stuck at the end of a dead end lane. This town is beautiful!
Check out Hemmingway’s house! Also the Butterfly Emporium! Fort Zachary Taylor State Park.
The graveyard is fantastic and historical as well. Live music is flowing all the time!
The things I love, in no particular order:
Getting off the rock and out on the water! Given the choice, I prefer a sailboat;
however it’s a 60/40 thing. There is something special and magical about being on the water
here and that’s why I’ve written two songs about it this far, “Sailing” on my current CD
and “Yippie Cayo Hueso” which will be on my next CD, which itself will be entitled with my
sign off line “All The Best From Key West….Music From the Source”. Also, riding my bike around town.
This is such a bicycle friendly town to live in and, in my opinion, one of the most beautiful places to do so.
Like I mentioned earlier, take a bike ride in Old Town, off the beaten path and seek out the
nooks and crannies! One secret for locals are the Happy Hours! Ha Ha! I wrote a song about that too,
which will be on my next CD as well. Happy Hours can be different from establishment to establishment.
Some may go from 4:30 to 6:30, others from 5:00 to 7:30, others different yet. The Boathouse in the
Commodore is a favorite. Half price gourmet appetizers. Yesterday I had filet mignon skewers,
conch chowder, and marvelous Italian cheese bread and a Sam Adams holiday brew
ALL for $13.50…HELLO! For a special meal I’m a true believer in Santiago’s Bodega. I understand
they also have a great Happy Hour, so I must check that out. Their menu, which is in a Tapas format,
though entirely Mediterranean, including Spanish, in short is outstanding!
My buddy Larry Poff and I were driving back to Key West from Cudjoe Key when we saw a sign for
skydiving on Sugarloaf Key. Larry goes “We should go Skydiving!” To which I replied “No way!
I’m not jumping out of a plane!” Larry: “No?” Me: “You’ve got to be kidding!”
Larry: “Well we’ll put it on the Bucket List then” Me: “Bucket List? I’m putting it on the Fuck It List!”
Chris wants you to know….
Key West is an adult town. Sure, some people bring their kids here, but after 24 to 48 hours,
the kids are an anchor here. A glass bottom boat The Key West Chamber of Commerce may not
like me stating that, but it’s true. Key West is also an incredible music town. Walk into any venue,
pay nothing and hear some of the most amazing music on the planet. Then again, the inexperienced
may make the error of walking into a hovel like Irish Kevin’s. The vast majority of places
here offer great music however!
As I love living here, I love to share that experience with those not as fortunate,
but who also love it nonetheless. On a day to day basis I share Keys photographs
on both my regular Facebook page, as well as my music page.
Here are the links to those:
Also, for those who might be interested in seeing a blog from Key West, I also have that available
called Key West Music and Happenings, so you can keep yourself up to date
with what’s going on here on the island!
In addition, there’s the website! Here we have all sorts of fun, innovative things!
If you’d like to download songs, there are links to iTunes and CDBaby. Additionally,
with the advent of music downloading, we tend to lose artwork, personnel, and lyrics. Not here!
In the music section you’ll find all of that, plus the story behind the songs and how
they were written. Check it out and please let me know what you think!
Since the website was made, my music has also been added to Beachfront Radio’s music hut,
CD Universe, Rhapsody. Search “Key West Chris”. Also available in actual CD form at Koz’s
“Green World Gallery”, The Cork and Stogie, and The Live Bait Lounge, all here in Key West.
As for myself, I prefer the lighthearted side of life. Laughing is the basic ingredient of living well
and I do my best to stick to that format. It of course is not always possible, that’s part of life. However,
being able to bounce back in due time per the circumstance, is something that I try not to lose focus on.
Pet Peeves are dishonesty and a lack of integrity. My loves are: Creating and playing music, enjoying
time with my friends and making people laugh, living in the Keys, writing my book (“Bar Stories”),
getting on my screen play (“The Hemingway Heist”), writing my blog, posting pictures on Facebook,
and of course wonderful women!
All The Best From Key West!
Key West Chris Rehm
We love Key West and want you to love it too!
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