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Socotra House Publishing: Purveyor of Glib Words to the World

Socotra House Publishing is a small press dedicated to publishing and distributing the historical works of Vic Socotra, a non-mortal fellow who captures American and military history with aplomb.

Postcard From The Swamp #14

Swamp Postcard

I swear, you could not make this stuff up. no one would believe it. The address by the President drowned out the 140 MPH winds slamming Puerto Rico, right across the old Navy base at Roosevelt Roads.

Mom always said, don’t work on the other side of a bridge from where you live, and avoid living on islands.

I think she was right.

Screen Shot 2017-09-20 at 8.57.35 AM

Copyright 2017 Vic Socotra

Life & Island Times: A Few Parting Irma In(s)anities

Yes, another major hurricane is pushing its way westward across the Atlantic, perhaps it’ll make it to the US east coast. But if that occurs, it’ll be next week. So, let us briefly relax and review.

I used to think that the full moon brought out man’s inner crazy. While the police departments and the medical community have copious statistics that bear this out in terms of police calls reporting bizarre behavior, ER visits and such, Hurricane Irma graced us with some unusual crazy. Or maybe it was just Floridians doing their Floridian thing.

First, here are selected images of Florida storm humor that need no further explanation:




A sign langauage interpreter in Manatee County Florida used gibberish during storm emergency update press conferences to warn of monsters, bears and pizza, including the phrase “help you at that time to use bear big.”


In response to a 22 year old Florida man’s launching of a 56,000 member Facebook group entitled “Shoot at Hurricane Irma” (intended as a joke he later claimed), Florida law enforcement felt compelled to ask the public not to do so. For your information, Florida is a Stand Your Ground state.



Meanwhile down on Big Pine Key they posted this warning to looters. I believe they are serious here.


And lastly, as I discussed in an earlier post, there was at least one fellow who decided he needed to get severely Irma’d at Key West’s Southernmost Point. Thanks to the webcam across the street I can prove that I am not making this up.

Right before

Just after
For the video go to http://www.weathernationtv.com/news/man-bowled-hurricane-irma-waves-key-west/

Copyright © 2017 From My Isle Seat

Life & Island Times: Strung Out and Allergic

Editor’s Note: Still strung out from an evening in the ER to start the weekend. Home and fine now, just…allergic to the the cure, perhaps. Marlow sums it up nicely in the wake of the temporal storms, and the more existential ones here in the Emerald City…We are not done with hurricanes this season, even if Jose seems to have lost focus and wandered north. Reminds me of someone i know….

– Vic

Strung Out and Allergic

The famous Southernmost buoy in Key West shows Hurricane Irma damage (courtesy Gwen Filosa).

Key Westers will start returning to their island homes on Sunday September 17 2017. Power, water,
communications and sewer service remain spotty. Returninng residents were requested to bring
supplies for several days subsistence and warned that conditions will difficult.

Author’s note: I was listening to the car radio while running Hurricane Irma errands Tuesday before the storm struck the Florida Keys, when a thirty plus year old pop song came blaring forth. Addicted to Love became a raging hit in no small part due to the music video that rocketed it to the top of the charts. It memorably had slicked down, mannequin-appearing models who mimed playing a rock band’s instruments. This song’s hypnotic groove snarkily reminded me of today’s strung out politician-hypnotists and their subjects who are or should be allergic to their groove.

We are the allergic ones

Their lights are on, but they’re not home
Were their minds ever their own
Their hearts don’t quake, their voices don’t shake
One more talking point, they think, is what it’s gonna take

We can’t sleep, we can’t eat
There’s no doubt, the crap we’re in is deep
Some folks are hungry, others can hardly breathe
More than just posturing and schmoozing is what we need

They like to think that we don’t see their truthy stuff
They ‘re so full of it when they tell us they’ve given us more than enough
When are we gonna face it, they’re strung out on their own fluff

Screen shot from the Addicted to Love music video

We can see the signs, but they can’t read
Our suffering’s at a different speed
Our hearts’re breaking in double time
They blow us kisses, thinking we’ll be theirs, damn their one track minds

They can’t be saved
Adulation is all they crave
If there’re scraps they left for us
They never watch when we suffer and cuss

We like to think that we’re immune to their truthy fluff
It’s closer to the truth to say we can’t get enough
Sooner or later we’re gonna have to face it, we’re allergic to their stuff

Might as well face it, we’re allergic to their stuff
Might as well face it, they’re strung out on their own fluff
Might as well face it, we’re allergic to their stuff
Might as well face it, they’re strung out to their own fluff
Might as well face it, we’re allergic to their stuff

Their lights are on, but they’re not home
Their minds are plainly not their own
Their hearts don’t quake, their voices don’t shake
One more talking point, they think, is what it’s gonna take

We like to think that we’re immune to their truthy fluff
It’s closer to the truth to say we can’t get enough
Sooner or later we’re gonna have to face it, we’re allergic to their stuff

Might as well face it, we’re allergic to their stuff
Might as well face it, they’re strung out on their own fluff
Might as well face it, we’re allergic to their stuff
Might as well face it, they’re strung out to their own fluff
Might as well face it, we’re allergic to their stuff

Strung out Capitol city addicts shout out “Yo!” to their subjects

Copyright © 2017 From My Isle Seat/Robert Palmer

Life & Island Times: Storm Interview

Editor’s Note: The Cleveland Indians- are we supposed to say that these days?- have done something quite remarkable, and I enjoy seeing it. 22-straight victories, and they seem prepared to accomplish something Joe DiMaggio-esque in the next few as we roll into the divisional play-offs. We will see how they do. But Marlow has an account about the high inside fastball that Irma threw at his beloved Florida Keys this morning, and that is something to reach for the rosin bag for, and tap the clay from the cleats with your bat. Recovery is a bitch, even if you are not on the news any more.

I am not giving to the Red Cross this time. I am giving to Team Rubicon for Florida and the USVI.

I am not even going to start with the North Koreans and their rockets, or the idiots who thnk blowing up London Tubes is an act of free speech.

– Vic

Storm Interview

He was one of a midnight crew who never missed a fun night out on the town. Friday night happy hours after work were endless one-more-for-the-road times. No one ever got hurt at a hurricane party he was fond of saying. Last Saturday in the early morning darkness, he once again chose to stay.

He had enjoyed over thirty straight years of no-hitters in the storm game on that little island chain. No one ever chided him and the other stayers about their streaks or hanging out at near empty taverns with the other grizzled salts of the Keys, while hurricanes raged on outside. Even when declared, no curfew ever kept him at home. He never got hurt, but last Sunday was like Casey at the Bat in the bottom of the ninth of the seventh game of the World Series.

Somehow he sensed that this one would be an all night-long bus ride in a no-sleep world. He left Duval Street and hunkered down in his small place up the Keys. He chose to swing again for the fences and like Casey, he struck out.

No one couldn’t reach him for days. Some looked at his place on the NOAA imagery and saw the debris field that spewed forth from his home. Searches of social networks and bulletin boards found no mentions.

Then he appeared. He didn’t counterfeit fear or humility for the interviewer. He didn’t turn it on for the camera. He was himself – a thoughtful, slow-talking man. That’s the way he rolls. To those who knew him, he was struggling to keep to the usual routines of his now former life. There were no stems of wine to be knocked down, no laughs to be grabbed and he hit the sheets well before the curfew. He knew he wouldn’t get restful sleep but he had to try.

When asked by the PODcasting microphone guy, he said it finally occurred to him after they closed the Keys bridges that his no-hitter streak might be about to end. He couldn’t remember exactly when this thought took shape. But his description of the storm was riveting. He knew when he had to leave his soon to be surge-battered house for higher, safer ground in a neighbor’s empty, storm-spec, stilt house.

He talked about taking each hour, one at a time. There was no one around to consult for advice. Everything was now instinctual and survival training based on his long ago attendance at one such US military school.

In his neighbor’s house, he tried to start some new routines, certain things exactlty the same every hour. Yeah, some might say this was silly superstition, but sameness would lead to calmness and clear headedness.

Some say the last true superstorm to hit the Keys was on Labor Day 1935. He figured this one would miss him, since the destructive zone looked to be about 30 miles across and headed straight for Key West. But Irma threw him a slider-curveball or slurve. She veered right over him and his home plate.

At times I could sense how reflective he was. In several brief shots, he picked up his stuff and put the keepers in a small pile, while pitching the unsalvageable like a kid skipping stones across a river, so easy was his motion. Occasionally, he examined something as if it were made of crystal and could reveal the secrets of what was to come.

I saw him age as the video went on. I could feel the sadness of a suddenly old man who had desperately held onto his youth. He had squeezed everything he could out of life with his powerful hands, muscular arms, iron will and easy laugh.

There was none of the customary talk when the reporter asked him about the ravages of the law of averages regarding his decision to stay. He never second guessed others and he wasn’t about to do that to himself.

Irma threw him a high hard one inside. He bent backwards as its 130+ MPH winds smashed his house. He heard it explode he said. That is when he said to the reporter, ” STEEERIKE THREE!” The reporter was stunned into silence by this exclamation.

“I made the decision and I’m fine with it. Wouldn’t change a thing.” His words were gracious, unregretful, and unboastful. He wouldn’t bend to the reporter’s attempt to get him to say he had learned some lesson or such.

“This shows what can happen when you take risks.” That was as close as he came to suggesting that God is too tolerant with the margin of error he grants us mortals.

Hurricane Irma as she struck the Lower Keys

I wondered if the reporter had asked him if he was satisfied with his decision and then edited it out from his piece. I suspected he would have said “How am I to be satisfied? You just got to adjust yourself.” It was all about the moment with a dollop of ill chance. In the end, people must forget what led them to where they are and adjust themselves to the outcome.

What I saw was a ghastly scene of devastation that would take most of those affected many, many months, if not years, to clean, repair and recover both physically and emotionally. Amidst the harshest reality, his losses were total, but his character was not just intact but strengthened.

Copyright © 2017 From My Isle Seat

Postcard From The Swamp #13

As a function of habit lately, I got out of bed and shuffled to the living room to check on the storms. We are just looking at reporters under blue skies looking at heaps of wreckage. From what we have been hearing, a difference of just twenty miles in the storm track may have saved $150 Billion in damages. Thanks, Cuba, for scrubbing off some of the angry energy!

Our old neighborhood in Jacksonville is underwater, with the damage stretching all the way to Key West. The power of nature is something amazing to behold, isn’t it?

Almost as amazing as the President having Democrats over to dinner. The debt ceiling can has been kicked down the road to Christmas- meaning more continuing resolutions so no hard choices have to be made right now. And so, it is back to politics here in The Swamp. Hopefully they won’t be ‘as usual,’ but I am not holding my breath.

I am eager to get a copy of Hillary Clinton’s new book, so she can help me understand What Happened. I think I have a general idea.


Copyright 2017 Vic Socotra

Life & Island Times: Waters High and Risin’

Hurricane Irma destroyed many oceanfront businesses, such as this Islamorada bar. (Photo By Dan Campbell/The Citizen)

After providing documentation such as proof of residency or business ownership, Florida Keys residents started streaming back yesterday into the Upper Keys, including Key Largo, Tavernier and Islamorada. The Lower Keys, including the chain’s most distant and most populous island, Key West, are still off-limits, with a roadblock in place at Mile Marker 75 on US 1.

While the Keys are studded with mansions and beachfront resorts, more than thirteen percent of the people live in poverty. They face big obstacles as the cleanup begins. They are the ones who live on sailboats on the hook off shore or in low lying mobile home parks. These are the people who bag our groceries. They are the bus drivers, hotel cleaners, cooks, dishwashers, hair dressers, cashiers, and day laborers. They were already living beyond paycheck to paycheck. Many now have nothing left including jobs, since many small Keys buinesses have been utterly wiped out physically.

Irma shoved people beyond deparation. It may get crazy pretty quickly unless housing and income assistance arrive in the form of FEMA trailers and so on. With upwards of 25% of Keys homes destroyed and 90% having sustained some damage, Monroe County’s 79,000 people are at the precipice of a jobless and homelessness crisis. Most working class county residents did not have property insurance of any kind.

I learned long ago that good things come from adversity if we learned from the past.
After I joined the Navy I never saw much good in the flood waters when they caused me and mine to leave home.
But when the waters went down, I found that they had washed in a load of new challenges
across my family’s path. The following year we had overcome them and were stronger for it.

Damaged homes in Key West’s houseboat row (Key West Citizen)

This is one of those moments . . .

Islamorada Key trailer park wiped out by Hurricane Irma
(Matt McClain/The Washington Post)

How high’s the water?
Two feet high and risin’
How high’s the water?
Two feet high and risin’

After that first big storm we made it to dry land if we left soon enough
Cars couldn’t make it through flood waters – they just wouldn’t float
It’s already over all the sea oats by the road,
Three feet high and risin’

Well, the leaves are gone
We’ve lost the birds
Key West’s chickens are clingin
To the mahogony trees
Trucks floating by in water up past their wheels
Four feet high and risin’

Damn, come look through the window pane,
The buses aren’t coming to take us to the mainland
Looks like we’re stuck again with a lot more rain
Five feet high and risin’

Well, the road out of the Keys gonna get washed out north of town
We gotta keep heading for higher and drier ground
We can’t come back till the water goes down
Six feet high and risin’

Well, it’s didn’t stop comin’ until it was fourteen feet high and risin’
Cudjoe, Big Pine and the Middle Keys were picked clean across the horizon
Conchs will survive as we always do

Copyright 2017 My Isle Seat

Life & Island Times: Key West: Where the Sidewalk Ends

Editor’s Note: Very emotional day yesterday, shared with a bunch of shipmates who also remember. The news coverage this morning, like the eye of a storm, has wobbled back to the usual political sniping. We had two really bad things happen from the Skies over the past two week, but this is not the catastrophe we were hearing about 24 x &. Of course, I don’t have to return to a flooded house or an overturned yacht. Of course, it is better to see it than not to be able to. Marlow, a long-time resident of Key West, has an appreciation on what happened.

– Vic

Key West: Where the Sidewalk Ends

Pre-Irma Duval Street Key West

Author’s note: Key West has no phone service, power, water or flushing toilets today, even though it avoided a catastrophic blow from Irma. Not that the locals mind. By Sunday afternoon, as Irma’s winds continued to pound the island, two bars on Duval Street had already reopened. They were packed.

Meanwhile in other news, the Department of Defense announced Monday that all 10,000 people who chose to stay in the Keys during Irma might have to be evacuated until basic services come back. There are tens of thouands of Keys residents on the mianland who are chomping at the bit to go back to their island homes to see what is left and begin their island lives once again.

Key West is the place where the sidewalk ends
It is far beyond where roads begin
Its beach sand is soft and beige
There the sun is hot and bright
There Irma ground the trees bare
Leaving no shade to cool us, only the wind

Should we leave this waterless place where the winds blew everything away
Stark streets full of people’s stuff and debris
Past the gardens where our flowers grew
Shall we walk about slow
And maybe look for signs of where we should go
In this place where the sidewalk ends

Yes, Key West life is treasured and slow
But there’re no arrows that point where to go
Irma wiped clean our chalked path
But two bars just opened, they’re packed
In this place where the sidewalk ends

Copyright 2017 My Isle Seat

That Day

(Pentagon, 11 September 2001. I thought I lost my whole GDIP Budget Staff. Instead, I lost my pals in the CNO IP).

I have already been in tears this morning. I must be getting soft. Or just old.

One of the cable networks was re-running the coverage from The Day sixteen years ago on the early coverage. I didn’t mean to do it, since you already know I am a cynical old coot. But watching, I felt the fat blobs of tears running down my cheeks, watching the events of that morning.

I know, I know, I talk about it every year, in one way or another. No reason to elaborate, any more than a simple question to Dad about where he was on Pearl Harbor day, and his matter of fact response. He knew. No one forgets the big stuff. You really only have to say once to galvanize the things that change your life forever.

Suffice it to say, I will go over to Arlington later to say “Hi, I remember” to my pals who died on That Day, and remember all that happened in what followed that chaotic event. Maybe the most surreal moment was the ringside seat that night, having a drink late after getting back to the BOQ that lovely fall day colored with horror.

I stepped out on the balcony of the Fort Myer officer’s quarters where I was staying at the time, and watched the Pentagon burn.

I had worked there for almost a decade. It was pretty crazy. And visiting the graves at Arlington each year, and remembering the march down the big hill from the Old Chapel at Fort Myer to see my shipmates interred when the graves were still red with Virginia clay makes this an intensely emotional day. I will leave it at that.

We are still at war sixteen years later. I have no idea how this will end.

But do know one thing. Those bastards will never defeat us.

And if I have to go to The Show again, I will.

Copyright 2017 Vic Socotra

Life & Island Times: Brinner

Scenes in Key West as Hurricane Irma lashed the lower Keys on September 10 2017

Author’s note: Sketchy reporting indicates the Florida Keys and Florida peninsula, while pretty roughed up, dodged a bullet yesterday. Sixteen years ago, America wasn’t so lucky. The tragedies that took place in NYC, Washington DC, and a farmer’s field in Pennsylvania were horrendous. What joins those distant events to those still unfolding in Houston and Florida was how we came together as a nation, helping one another through the aftermath. America should never forget that as we carry on.
– – –

While looking online for recipes for quick hurricane meals, I discovered that brinner is all the rage. Thankfully the internet updated my woefully poor knowledge of modern food slang

Brinner is short for “having breakfast foods at dinner time.” Brinner can be all breakfast foods or a meal with dinner foods and breakfast foods. I had no idea that chicken and waffles (long a staple for me after a long night out on the town) was brinner. Savannah being Savannah, shrimp and grits is considered a brinner item.

To me, brinner is any meal that contains at a minimum scrambled eggs, cheese, bacon/sausage, and some bread product.

While I have always loved breakfast for lunch more than at breakfast itself, I am not a morning person. I tend to sleep in and require 30 to 60 minutes and a minimum of two cups of strong coffee to wake up.

Most mornings, my breakfast is that black liquid elixir, cut with some sweetener and half and half. When I am trying to be healthy, I have a cup of greek yogurt. I am too old to care if this make me unhealthy. Carpe diem!

Eating brinner came into my life when I courted W. I was shocked the first time I came to the supper table and saw a brinner casserole. It smelled divine and tasted even better. OMG!

Whatever resistance I might have had melted away. I have discovered that bacon, eggs, shrimp-n-grits and toast with jelly is a well balanced meal. I had my protein in two forms, pork and shellfish. Grits are a form of corn so I had a vegetable serving. A fruit serving came with a dollop of jelly on my toast. As an added bonus, my toast was rye, so I got fiber and grains. This is the ultimate in healthy eating.

Here is just one recipe.

Brinner Sliders (courtesy of Teri Bell via Savannah Morning News)


12 Hawaiian dinner rolls
8 large eggs, scrambled
6 slices pepper jack cheese
6 slices American cheese
½ cup butter, melted
¼ cup maple syrup


Preheat oven to 350 F. Using a serrated knife, cut rolls in half lengthwise (without breaking apart) and place bottom half of rolls in an ungreased 9×13-inch baking dish; set tops aside.

Scoop scrambled eggs onto bottom rolls. Top with pepper jack, then place meat of your choice on top of pepper jack. Top with American cheese. Carefully top with top buns.

Combine melted butter and maple syrup in small bowl. Brush all of the mixture over tops of rolls.

Bake 15-20 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and melted.

Copyright © 2017 From My Isle Seat

Life & Island Times: Season of the Wicked


Waves crash against the Southernmost Point in Key West, Fla., Saturday, last at night September 9, 2017. Hurricane Irma’s leading edge bent palm trees and spit rain as the storm swirled toward the Florida Keys Sunday morning. (Rob O’Neal/The Key West Citizen via AP)

Author’s note: Irma was so strong that national media reporters scooted from the Keys. The only images and reporting of Irma’s approach and landfall on Sunday morning were social media streamed video and local media forays into the storm.

Irma was roaring up Florida when out the corner of my eye
Caught a woman’s strong breath and tears bursting forth from the sky
She said to me “I never seen a man, who looks so worried and alone
Could you use some friends in peril calling you on the phone?
Pay my high price, I guarantee outcomes that’re nice.”
I fixed her with a glare, the blood in my veins became ice
I said “You’ve got such a pretty old timey name
Why’s hurting folks and breaking stuff your game??

Irma looked at me and this is what she said

“There ain’t no rhyme or reason for this season of the wicked
Plus I dont care much for trees with leaves
I ain’t about collecting sins-forgiven tickets
or giving needy mouths something free to feed
There’s nothing in this world that’s fair or free
No, there ain’t no rest for the innocent in this season of the wicked
Until my storm eye closes for good

Not even fifteen minutes later, after walking down the street
When I saw the shadows of storm bands sweeping into sight
And then they swept up from behind, their rain slammed my head
They made it clear they weren’t looking for a fight
They said “We’re taking all you’ve got
We want your stuff, maybe your life
If you try to make a move we won’t think twice”
I told them “you can have my things
But first you know I’ve got to ask
What made you want to live this kind of life?”

“There ain’t no rhyme or reason for this season of the wicked
Plus we dont care much for trees with leaves
We ain’t about collecting sins-forgiven tickets
or giving needy mouths something free to feed
There’s nothing in this world that’s fair or free
No, there ain’t no rest for the innocent in this season of the wicked
Until Irma’s storm eye closes for good

Well, now a couple hours past and I was sitting i my house
The day was winding down and coming to an end
So I turned on the TV
And flipped it over to the storm news
And what I saw I almost couldn’t comprehend
I saw a weather man in the surge’s grip, taking him down the street
His face betrayed he’d bet and lost, soon would be quite chilled
But even still I can’t say much because I know were all the same
Oh yes we all seek out to satisfy these thrills

“There ain’t no rhyme or reason for this season of the wicked
Plus I dont care much for trees with leaves
I ain’t about collecting sins-forgiven tickets
or giving needy mouths something free to feed
There’s nothing in this world that’s fair or free
No, there ain’t no rest for the innocent in this season of the wicked
Until Irma’s storm eye closes for good

Copyright 2017 My Isle Seat