Folks, there's a war going on, and Iran is drawing nearer in our sights. But you already knew that. Here in the Keys, most people do not. After all, there are fish to catch -- big fighting tarpon and feisty little bonefish -- shipwrecks and reefs to snorkel, and rum waiting to be mixed up in syrupy concoctions served in mason jars.
The only fishy thing about the place where I've landed is that it turns out to be the numero uno destination for fashion shoots. The languid curve of the beach-front coconut palms swooping out over aquamarine water is the perfect match for the languid curves of lingerie and swim suit models for Victoria's Secret.
This is not an entirely happy situation for me or for any of the other women who are stepping out on the beach in their well-ripened post-winter flesh. Mu-mus and billowing bedspreads fashioned into bathing burqas are suddenly de rigueur. And there's an almost magnetic force-field from all the men lolling about, sucking in their vacation-plumped guts, but forgetting to reel in their tongues.
The model on "my" beach is named Bar Refaeli or something like that. She's Israeli, and, I'm told, Leonardo diCaprio's current girl friend. She looks a bit like him, with the same underdeveloped facial features, something you might find terribly fetching on a 12 year old, but not very interesting on an adult. Okay, she's gorgeous.
She does not have the body of a twelve year old however. And she comes and goes from a small cabin 8 feet away from my own, looking alternately bored, pissed or insolent. Between shoots she seems to amuse herself by texting on her cell phone. She is, after all, very very young.
I came to the Keys hoping to distract myself and Jimfest from the woes of the world, but this, while effective, is not exactly what I had in mind.
Yesterday Jimfest opted for the pool so he could read his book without having to be bothered by Bar doing a pole dance on the nearby palm, or crouching lynx-like in the lapping surf. Moments later, there was Bar, swirling and twirling her money-maker poolside, the phalanx of primpers and posers and photogs clamboring over his chaise longue. Poor Jimfest.
This is a huge project for a Spanish department store, the Spanish equivalent of Harrod's, I'm told, and it includes video as well as still shots. Three days worth. Bar is followed about by gaggle of about 60 very important people who spend most of the day standing around, yakking on headsets and walkie-talkies, hauling cables and lights and reflectors and palm fronds and props and hair spray and lip gels. They have a noisy generator which they drive out onto this perfect beach, which is sort of a distraction. It's an army, of sorts, and it reminds me that we're assembling another army on another gulf -- oh, stoppit.
What astonishes me is how much money and time and labor goes into all of this, and with so much seriousness of purpose, all to sell bathing suits in Spain. And even though I like clothes and style, and can marvel at Bar's picture-perfect form, (see photo above) there is something very creepy in seeing a woman's body used this way -- poked and prodded into the right pose, usually a butts-up sort of thing that most of us only assume when looking for a lost earring under the bed.
Well, no news here. Butts and boobs sell everything from soap to swimsuits. But to see it all so close-up -- all these guys, gay and straight, manipulating the flesh of a woman who is barely of legal age -- in order to make money, well, it feels just a hair off of prostitution to me.
Yeah, she's here of her own free will, and making a boat load of dough, and has minions fawning over her, and Leonardo text messaging her. But the look on her face as she stands waiting to perform is as blue and blank as the ocean stretching beyond her.
Well, maybe she's happy, maybe I'm being a prig. And in the big scheme of things, none of it matters.