Thursday, November 30, 2006

Treasure Island

I was born in Chicago and spent the first 20 years of my life in the Windy City.
Treasure Island, Florida is my current home.
I have lived here since spring 1998, after living near Annapolis, Maryland for over 28 years.

When I first moved here, I thought that this was definitely my little slice of paradise. There’s a beautiful beach within 100 yards of my dwelling. There were magnificent sunsets, and scantly clad women roaming the beach during the daylight hours. It seemed like heaven to me.

I took a job as a bartender at a Treasure Island Restaurant/Night Club. Until September 11, 2001, business flourished. There were many tourists and many more snowbirds visiting from October to May. Albeit, most of them were older than dirt, but they spent money and tipped well.

Women of my age, or older are not “my bag”; menopausal women do nothing for me. Plus they usually call me a sarcastic old bastard, which I am, but don’t want to hear it coming from a woman. Hey, I may be a chauvinist!

”I go for younger women, lived with several awhile.
Though I ran them away, they’d come back one day.
Still could manage to smile.
Just takes a while, just takes a while.”
Jimmy Buffett – “A Pirate looks at 40”

Getting back to Treasure Island! The shit really rolled downhill when they passed the “no smoking law” in Florida, taking effect in 2003. Most of our European tourist business ceased to exist; Orlando and Disney World probably have suffered the most, but Treasure Island lost a lot of European tourist. My club’s business immediately dropped by 30% in sales after the smoking ban went into effect. The law was enacted to protect the employees from second hand smoke. Yet, more than 75% of the Bar and Restaurant employees smoke – it’s just goes with the job and general atmosphere.

To top it off, Treasure Island elected a new Mayor in 2003. This was the kiss of death. Our two former Mayors had been pro business, where as our new Mayor was pro development. Both ex-mayors have subsequently moved off of Treasure Island. Hell, we had more homes than residents already. The Mayor said that the tax revenue brought in by the new condos would lower our property taxes. In actuality, a 6% rise in property taxes has occurred in the past two years. Many of the new Condos lie vacant, bringing in no tax.

At this same time the city passed an ordinance prohibiting new structures no higher than 5 stories tall. Read this as - no profitable Hotels. The powers that be scared the locals into thinking that we would become another Clearwater Beach, with hotels covering the coastline. In fact, two of our major hotels have turn into condos and/or time shares. They now call them Condo Hotels. Six of the Mom and Pop motels have sold out to developers, who are now building Condos on those properties.

I blame this all on the Real Estate Whores wanting to make a quick buck. They have turned my paradise into a nightmare. I still have the sand on the beach, the beautiful sunsets and the laid back Jimmy Buffett style of life. What I don’t have is the tourists, especially the female tourists, that might want a roll in the sack with a local Treasure Island Pirate.

The Beach Bum

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