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Florida: The Fool’s Gold State [Bumped for the Great Stories in the Comments]

The beauty parlor is filled with sailors.
The circus is in town.

Bob Dylan | Desolation Row

The frozen rain that would not stop drove me out of Seattle. I took shelter at a friend’s house deep in the Florida Keys. No rain. No chill. Turquoise waters. Long bridges and longer sunsets. A half an hour north from Key West. Fish sandwiches, large flocks of snowy egrets, Tiki bars specializing in Rumrunners with a dark rum float. Hammocks and sunshine. Powerboats and new yachts and boat drinks and running up on plane past Little Palm Island and out into the Gulf Stream with twin Cats putting out a perfect wake.

In a word, “Paradise.” Right?

Yes. If you don’t track in for the close-up.

Because, as much as the boosters of Florida want you to believe it, Florida is no longer “ready for its close-up.” Florida is still pretty from the air and also in the middle-distance. But a close-up examination of Florida, in the Keys or elsewhere, is like a close-up of a once beautiful woman that time is beginning to dissolve into age lines, lank hair, and too many calories in too many visible places.

Like that fabled great beauty, Florida is going to great lengths to keep anybody from noticing. The brochures have increasing amounts of make-up slathered on in the form of retouching. The flab is being trussed up in Spandex or draped with new clothes cleverly cut for the “ample.” Most of all, the fact that large sections of the Keys and the Florida coastline are really quite dead is being hushed up at every opportunity, and new shades of rouge are being applied to the corpse to keep the money rolling in.

But close up, the truth is still visible. Very, very visible. Even in the soft and lambent hues of yet another Tequila sunrise it can’t be hidden. In the words of one man gazing across the bar to the person walking in from the beach, “No way I can drink her to a 10. Can’t even get to 3.”

During the storms of a season or the storms of life itself, I’ve been retreating to the house on Little Torch Key for well over a decade. Despite the rising toll of hurricanes all around it, it has remained surprisingly untouched. It’s a fine house. Comfortable and quiet even if the hum of the Highway One reaches it on days when the wind is right.

The dock behind it has a new Sea-Ray fueled up, spotless, and ready to run over to the Bahamas and the Sea of Abaco on a whim. The house has a hammock, a good stereo system, and the furniture is comfortable. A table out on the screen second-floor veranda invites writing, reading and reflection. The owner of the house wisely purchased the two lots across the canal so that no houses could block his view on the long sunsets. When I’m there, I know I’m a lucky man. But these days I can see that the luck of the Keys and the luck of Florida is running on empty.

Less than a decade ago, the water in the canal in back of the house was like that of an aquarium. Colorful fish. Waving fronds. A crystal clear prospect down to the bottom at 12 feet. Today it still has that same turquoise tint but it is murky at 2 feet and the fish are few and far between. Unless they’re dead.

In the harbor beyond the canal there were once very rigid navigation lanes where boats could come and go, but that’s been let slide now that the entire harbor area (some 25 square miles of coastal ocean) has been declared a “dead zone.” Little Palm Island, a private millionaires’ retreat just off the coast where rooms start at $800 a night and where I once had a sunset dinner with a doomed love, is struggling to replant the scenic palms that give it is name as the old ones die off or are blown away by the hurricanes.

The dive shops of Key West are friendly and engaging and full of good humor when you book one of their reef scuba dives. I imagine that’s because they are hoping that, when you actually dive on the reefs they promote, you will fail to notice that you are diving on a dead reef and swimming in slime amongst grey coral and chunks of dead sponge spinning slowly in the turbid current.

You see these same sponges elsewhere in the state parks along the coast that are desperately trying to protect things long past protecting. There large chunks of sponge are spewed onto the sand by the waves. When you first see one, it’s enchanting since you can get a close look at the fascinating structure of the sponge. Then it dawns on you that there’s not just the odd chunk of sponge on the show but whole shoals washed in from where they can no longer exist. Dead.

Other things in the Keys are not quite dead, but they are getting there on the express train.

Out on Big Pine Key there is a famous herd of tiny Key Deer, the last of their kind. They’re very small and very tame. Coming into their last remaining habitat, the law slows the road to a crawl and patrols it heavily. Large fences line the road to keep the deer off it and pathways have been put in below the highway so they can cross it safely. It is a massive and expensive effort and it is failing mightily. The numbers of this species decline every month.

The key deer are in decline for the simple reason that everything else in Florida is declining. Development powered by corruption.

Of course, development in league with corruption is the entire history of Florida for the last several centuries. Corrupt development and shady land scams founded the state and remain its core tradition. Corrupt development is, indeed, the main industry of Florida now as it has been in the past. Aside from cops of every class and insane condo speculation, it is the only growth industry of Florida.

Don’t like a law or a regulation? Is it getting in the way of your second billion dollars? Take a council member to a long lunch and show him or her how much you’d appreciate an effort to loosen the regulation “just one time.” A nudge, a wink, a fat unmarked envelope under the table and the thing is done. You are only surprised at how cheap the cost of the whole thing is.

The fences and the fines protecting the Keys deer stay in place, as do the underemployed hordes of law enforcement people hanging about. What disappears under a rising cliff of condos is the actual habitat that the deer live in and need to survive. That’s going condo. In a place where the most broken down chicken shack brings in half a million dollars for the land alone, the deer really don’t stand a chance.

This month, for example, I discovered that the entire city of Marathon had pretty much revamped their entire zoning structure to allow high-rise condo developments to burst out of the marl like dubious mushrooms wherever the funding could be found. Marathon’s going to the Full Miami plan for the future. Marinas close down. Low-cost housing is a joke. And anything resembling what was once the culture of the Keys is being washed out into the salt flats like the hundreds of rotting hulks of boats relocated there during the annual hurricane festivals. How all the people now in the Keys plus all those coming soon are going to evacuate the area during the next hurricane is no longer a mystery. With one road north that is mostly two lanes, they aren’t going anywhere.

In short, those hordes moving into the Keys in search of the Hemmingway / Parrothead / Jimmy Buffet moments of deep alcoholism to warm their declining years are going to find nothing other than old geezers pretty much like all those old geezers they left in the Northeast. It’s good they’ve got plenty of booze piled up because they’ll need it.

And, as below so above throughout the entire state of Florida.

Simply put, Florida is full. Chock full of every urban ill you can think of with more on the way.

The roads are wedged in every direction with traffic in the Miami region that’s rising up to compete with the full horror show of Los Angeles.

Sprawl continues leak out into the remaining realms of the Everglades and burst up into the sky along the beaches.

The new default state of the state seems to be that nobody except the very rich get to live next to or even near the ocean. The rest can live in the swamps or the expanding prisons. Florida’s very big on prisons and laws these days and over-supplied with the men and material to support them.

The aged to very aged demographic of the state ensures that no expense will be spared when it comes to heaping law enforcement resources up to the sky — brand new million dollar boats and brand new 12 million dollar helicopters all around –, but that nothing that has to do with education will see more than dime one.

Road repair? It is to laugh.

Upgrading freshwater resources and sewage treatment to match the hundreds of thousands of new inhabitants annually? Tell me another howler?

Yes, Florida is full. The people keep a-comin’ but the train done gone. And now we are on the cusp of the retirement years of the baby boomers, many looking to at last take some time off in the golden state of dead reefs, dead deer, dead water, and traffic stopped dead.

Too bad. She was, once upon a time, beautiful. Oh well, there are still plenty of places in Florida to shop.

If you can get into the parking lots at the malls in less than an hour. They’re full too.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • jwm April 10, 2019, 8:39 AM

    Made me feel right at home. Everyone thought So Cal was just about full. Ha. You go through a phase wherein you figure it’s going to stop, or slow someday. It will not. It’s not going to stop until they have achieved Hong Kong density. Two choices: 1) Deal with it. 2) GTFO. Every vacant lot within miles of my home has been converted into high density tenements. And they are full of Koreans, Chinese, Indians and Mexicans. Of course all these newly minted citizens are doing their best to lay the foundations of their culture of origin right here in the Southland. No one speaks English, and everything’s broken.


  • Rob De Witt April 10, 2019, 8:48 AM

    Fifty years ago and more, John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee would muse on just these things, expressed in just these terms – developers, easy money, and corrupt politics, feeding on the living host of the Florida he loved.

    I can’t remember the quote exactly, or find it handily, but sometime in the ’50s he described the decline of San Francisco in much the same fashion, the city as a once-classy lady who had been whored out by the tourist industry to the point where she was unrecognizable and no longer knew who she really was. Talk about sad.

  • Sam L. April 10, 2019, 8:49 AM

    And that fighter is FLORIDA MAN.
    Also, read any of Carl Hiaasen’s novels.

  • Richard April 10, 2019, 9:23 AM

    Such a shame. One of my aunts used to love recounting her visits to Miami in the 40’s and 50’s. Seemed like she was describing Shangra-la. Wasn’t my experience when I visited a dozen or so years ago. After a while, one major metropolitan area starts to resemble any other metro area. The one thing that left an indelible impression on me was the frequency of drivers blowing through intersections in which the traffic light was red. Not getting caught in the intersection as the signal was amber changing to red, but RED.

    The weather was undeniably appealing during the winter, though summer was pretty brutal. As for my final homestead, I’ve always been a contrarian, so I’ll be looking to settle somewhere, where everyone else isn’t heading.

  • Mike Anderson April 10, 2019, 9:28 AM

    And here I thought it was just me. Had the occasion to visit Miami a few summers back, and took the hop-on-hop-off bus tour to visit all those spots made famous in film and fiction. Aside from a few overpriced shopping centers catering to the glitterati, the whole place screamed “Nuevo Laredo,” tarted up mediocrity loaded with folks slightly more affable than zombies. I ain’t goin’ back.

  • AesopFan April 10, 2019, 9:53 AM

    “The people keep a-comin’ but the train done gone.”
    Very appropriate – have loved the spiritual it came from for many years.

    Was looking for a video to link, and discovered that the majority of hits at the top of the search using those words were “what does the line mean?”
    LOL – shows how far we have gotten from a knowledge of Christian doctrine.

    Whether this story is true or not, it’s a good one.

    The first song is the version closest to the one I know; the second is more modern.
    There are lots of choral versions and esoteric soloists, which are great musically, but I’m fonder of the traditional.

    Stephen Griffith
    Published on Dec 5, 2014
    “Mary had a baby, oh Lord… People keep a-coming and the train done gone.” “What did she name him?” “She named him Jesus.” “Where was he born?” “Born in a stable.” “Where did they lay him?” “Laid him in a manger”

    Bruce Cockburn “Christmas”

  • JoanOfArgghh! April 10, 2019, 12:28 PM

    That Florida was never my Florida: Long summer days at our fish camp on the Weeki Wachie river, river rat days. Fishing in the Gulf and skiing all the way back home, up the river, to the fish camp. Or the glories of SR19 rolling up through the Ocala National Forest, visiting Blue Springs, Salt Springs, or Silver ones. The undulating hills and horse farms of Ocala… some of those back roads are still a two-lane blacktop thrill along the Great Sandy Ridge, the backbone of North Florida. The stunning dunes of Anastasia Park, or the brave attempt of US1 to dare the waves at Flagler Beach to take it all down. So far, the waves are winning, but the run up US1 from Daytona to St. Augustine is still worth dropping the rag top and gawking at the blue water. The hidden gem of Crescent Beach is still open to cars, but probably not hidden any more.
    We stayed in Marathon and Key Largo one vacation, back in 1997. The beaches were terrible, unraked in an attempt to “save” them. Meh. Key West was just not all that. Food was awful everywhere but the Outback on Islamorada.

  • ghostsniper April 10, 2019, 1:14 PM

    I lived in southwest Florida (Cape Coral & Fort Myers) for 40 years, and I wrote the book.

    5 keys to the left of Little Torch Key is Sugarloaf Key where I designed the only school anywhere on the planet that will take in a cat 5 on one side, chew it up internally, and squirt a small breeze between it 2 front teefs out the other side. Right. I created a set of input vents along one side of the roof that channeled the wind into the dwelling, as opposed to trying to resist it like everything else does, ran it through a series of dimishing venturi’s and exhausted it out the other side of the building. Air friction absorbed by solid steel and aluminum works. I designed that building in 1985 when I was 30 years old and it is still functioning perfectly today.

    Moved to Florida in 1966 from Gettysburg and moved from there in 2006.
    In 66 you could drive on the beaches and nobody was around or cared.
    That was when only 2 people lived in Florida.
    (Fort Myers is where Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Harvey Firestone had summer mansion built side by side on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River, the very river I learned to slalom ski and where the longest sawfish ever (32′) was caught. I graduated from Fort Myers High, which was about 2 blocks from Edisons crib, in 1972)
    Then the word got out and a small explosion slow-started and never let up.
    I contributed heavily to that explosion by designing over 7000 projects spanning 47 years and still.
    At this very moment I have 3 custom homes I am designing to be built on Pine Island and 4 commercial buildings in Fort Myers.

    Just today at lunch I was discussing Florida tourism with a client that owns property there and I told him tourists are some of the nastiest animals this world has ever known. No matter what part of the world, all tourists are the same. They treat their temporary living space like its a rental car and have no regards at all about the permanent population. Because of the constant maintenance of these, these people the costs of everything is on the moon. I never realized it til I moved here to Hoosierville that almost everyone, everywhere, aspires to take a vacation to Florida. Most of the people I have met here have been there at least once and wish more than life itself to go back someday. Who wouldn’t want to live in a place where you can abandon your everyday life and it’s baggage and drop all that nonsense at the foot of others for a pretty price. Afterall, it’s only money. $40 steak dinner? Sure, gimme two! $20 parking fee at Fort Myers Beach? Hail Yeah! Where my cooler iz?

    Tourists are demanding assholes too. They want what they want and they want it right now, and they will not hesitate for 1 second to get right up in your grill about it. The doods aren’t too bad. The heat and humidity acts as a governor on their everything. You can’t even get meager wood when the T&H (temperature and humidity) are both in the 90’s.

    The wimminz though are different, specially if they are commandeering kinders. They do it for the children. They go from zero to over the top emotional in .001 seconds flat. “The nerve, they put onions in my little Jennelle’s blackened onion ring bouquet, where’s the manager? Get that asswipe over hear NOW!” “Oh, look at the palm tree!”, and all the camera’s come out and the traffic backs up again for the Aqua colored Toyota 4 door with Enterprise badges as mom and all the kids bail out and pose around the Royal Palm. Over and over and over.

    For me the traffic was the worst part. Even with every store on every corner, making purchasing potentially convenient, a round trip still takes an hour. All the signs, turn here, don’t turn there, US 41, Be Nice, speed limits strictly enforced, 10mph in school zones, the traffic lights that all say NO TURN ON RED, and the palm tree picture takers. Arrrrrgggggg!!!!! You don’t really need bread and milk afterall.

    19 June 1974 I and a friend went fishing off “The Fishingest Bridge in the World” in Matlacha, FL. A very old “swing” bridge. The bridge was down at water level, thus, any boat taller than a rowboat had to blow their horn and wait for the bridge tender to open it up. The center section of the bridge was built on a massive concrete pillar with giant steel gears powered by huge motors that would rotate the bridge 90 degrees opening up 2 passageways for water traffic. If the bridge tender walked to the shore to get a lobster sando you had to wait til he came back. I snagged a fat snookie that day and almost had him in my hands when he chewed through the wire leader to freedom. I had visions of him stretched out from end to end on my dad’s built in wood grill on the back porch but, sigh, once again my hopes were dashed. If you want to catch a snookie today you’re gonna hafta get up off some long coin and take a boat 30 or more miles out. At least, thats the way it was 13 years ago when we moved. Maybe it’s 60 miles now, don’t know. I haven’t been back. Now, I look at Florida the way Jim Morrison looked at the Ed Sullivan show. When told the Doors were banned from the Ed Sullivan Show Jim replied, “Ed Sullivan? We already did that!” In my will it stipulates that my wife is to give my 1 pound coffee can of ashes to my friend Harvey on Useppa and he’s going to use his restored civil war cannon to blow it up and over Cayo Costa to land and sink in the Gulf beyond. Maybe I’ll get that snookie afterall…..

  • BillH April 10, 2019, 1:44 PM

    Yeah. The first time I retired (’75) we started planning for coastal FL, which living in south AL for several years we had learned a good bit about. The more we thought about it, the more the stuff in the post jumped out at us, and we never did make the move. That was 45 years ago, and the area of south AL we remained in hasn’t changed all that much. It never was much to begin with, but at least it’s close to its natural state and isn’t all that infested with carpetbaggers (yet).

  • AesopFan April 10, 2019, 5:54 PM
  • MIKE GUENTHER April 10, 2019, 6:25 PM

    My brother and I go to South Florida every year just before Thanksgiving and stay until New Year’s day. We take care of the fresh-cut Christmas trees for all the Home Depots from Titusville down to Key West…60 of them in all. We actually work for the grower to make sure the Home Depot associates are properly taking care of the trees.

    It’s a pretty good gig. We have time for several rounds of golf and a fishing trip or two. Last Thanksgiving day, we went out on the “Gotcha”, a charter boat owned by a good friend of ours. Nothing like being eight miles off of Hawks Cay popping the top off a beer at 7 in the morning. As Cap’n Dave says…”You can’t drink all day if you don’t start early!”

    I know the roads in South Florida like the back of my hand, and yes they can be pretty rough traffic wise. But if one pays attention, you can jump off the freeway and take surface streets to reach your destination. I also know quite a bit about the roads on the West coast of Florida from Venice down to Naples. Traffic’s not nearly as bad over there

    I remember what Florida used to look like back in the day, too. Our grandparents had moved from Wisconsin down to Hallandale Beach. We went to visit them in the summer of ’69. We drove from San Diego, CA to Hallandale Beach not too long after hurricane Camille had gone through the gulf states. Interstate 10 hadn’t been built through there yet, so it was US route 90 along the gulf coast below Biloxi and through Mobile.

    Interstate 95 was still a four lane hwy, two lanes each direction. US 1 down to Key West was on the original bridges that used to support the railroad tracks from the Key’s to the mainland.

    I don’t remember what Dad and Gramps did one day, but they dropped my brothers and I off in the intercoastal with a 12 ft Wondercraft runabout and let us go with the warning to watch out for the Gators and not to pull up on anyone’s private property. Gramps worked for Johnson Marine and that little boat had a souped up 9hp Evinrude on it that made the little skiff fly across the water.

    Pretty good for an 11 yr old kid to have all that freedom. We stayed out for half the day fishing and just horsing around. Good times. A parent would be charged with neglect these days if they let their kids out on the water in a boat with no supervision.

    On the trip, we also had occasion to visit Carlsbad Caverns, stop in Houston to visit Astroworld and catch a baseball game in the Astrodome, SD Padres vs the Astros.

    They were still working on I-10 then, also what’s known as US route 90. You might have 100 miles of new interstate, then a detour for another 75 or 100 miles on route 90 back and forth all the way across Texas. It took three days and 1,000 miles to get through Texas.

  • captflee April 10, 2019, 7:02 PM

    Awwww, crap, Gerard!
    Our unofficial state motto has long been, “Thank God for Florida!”. If THEY stop going there, they’ll come here in even greater numbers than at present. I doubt at this point that anything short of digging tank traps on the interstate off ramps would begin to serve as a deterrent.

  • George Abnego April 10, 2019, 9:57 PM

    In 1961-62-63, my brother and I spent hours every day in the clear gulf waters, splashing around, swimming, adventuring … and almost never even saw another person … and now it’s a murky sewage dump full of red algae blooms and God knows what else. What an awful shame, a crime against nature, actually.

    If had good sense we would instantly shut down all immigration for the next 50 years, and then sterilize everybody with an IQ below 90. Pass strict anti-pollution laws, and kick out the sugar barons. But of course we won’t, and soon, a modern-day plague of some sort will show up and do it for us. C’mon, Captain Trips, I’m ready.

  • Kauf Buch April 11, 2019, 12:51 AM

    Scr*w that.
    I’m Central Gulf Coast.
    “The Water’s Fine!”

    So, move, and quit’cher b!tchin’.
    Sure, it’s a growing State.
    (Where *aren’t* potholes a P.I.T.A.?!?)

    Your eco-paradise is *still* available
    for a price
    at any of the multi-millionaire
    corrupt Caribbean islands.
    Maybe you can get a job cleaning the cabanas.

  • Groman April 11, 2019, 4:39 AM

    I first went to Florida around 1967 to stay with family friends who had moved to Delray Beach from L.I. At that time you could drive along A1A and look across the dunes to the ocean. The view only interspersed by the occasional low ranch house built along the beach. Boca Raton was a tiny community of Bible thumpers. The old two lane highways wandering across the state, farms, rivers, the Everglades, raw nature and red necks. It was a wonderful alien land to a kid from NY. Following a divorce in the mid nineties I ran into an old girlfriend back home to visit her folks. She invited me to visit her in Deerfield Beach, just south of Delray. She lived in a condo on the beach. In thirty years time the old Florida had been erased and replaced. No longer can you see the ocean from A1A. The ranch houses are gone replaced by massive condo buildings. Boca Raton is a city of transplanted New Yorkers, each one trying to out do the other. Glittering shops and expensive restaurants where a Mercedes is as common as a Ford Taurus is in the rest of the nation. Ironically, Long Island has suffered a similar fate. The farms replaced by tract housing, new money from Wall St. buying up the Hamptons and erasing its charm with massive houses designed to impress each other and dissuade the common folk getting too close.

  • H April 11, 2019, 5:26 AM

    The next post being “there’s a great future in sh*t” seems appropriate. Long about 1991, I sold a construction project at an industrial plant in the Jacksonville area. I had never done a project in Florida before, and the general field superintendent told me to make sure whatever construction supt. got assigned to take all the people he would need with him “because there’s nobody to hire in Florida except for beach bums or dope addicts.”

    How this was my responsibility inasmuch as he was in charge of, and responsible for, the field crews is another question. But anyway, we mobilized the job and soon enough, a whole buncha work got added to the scope and more people were required which meant local hires because none of our other crews were available. And it was a shit-show hiring anyone worth a crap. Nobody wanted to work over a few hours a day and even those who were willing couldn’t pass the drug screen.

    I finally told the general field superintended he was out of touch with the Florida labor market, because there was no more beach bums or dope addicts business, because the two groups had merged. I don’t expect it’s gotten any better in the intervening almost 30-years.

  • Rick April 11, 2019, 6:27 AM

    The problem with Florida isn’t Floridians, it’s the millions of people who come here from other states, me included. Everyone wants a home on the water but there’s not enough to go around so prices skyrocket out of reach of everyone but the wealthy. Our entire economy is based on tourism and building. Apartments and condo developments go up so fast if you blink you’ll miss them. The County government, having nothing to sell but influence, changes the zoning rules on a daily basis to accommodate new, zero lot line developments. Traffic may be a little better here than Miami but it’s still horrible. A 70 mile, round trip to the beach is a 4 to 5-hour trip this time of year. We moved to North Fort Myers years ago to escape traffic and development since the area we live in was zoned for Rural Community status which meant no large developments. Haha. How foolish we were. We have a 2,000 house, zero lot line community going up a half mile away and they’ve already tried for others. We’ve beaten them back at this point but time and money are on their side. Florida is a lost cause.

  • Jtampa April 11, 2019, 7:44 AM

    Let us not ignore the open door policies of our government over the last 20 years. An extremely large part of the crowding of our state is migrant influx, both legal and illegal.

    In Tampa huge swaths of the city that were for decades, working class citizens are now jammed with migrants. No one speaks in English. The neighborhoods have the look and feel of a town in Columbia or Venezuela. The population influx has been explosive and caused a huge shift. Florida’s population is now more than 20% migrant, almost 5 million people and I would argue those numbers are artificially low.

    While I have not moved most of the neighborhood has, either by just packing up and leaving or attrition. People die off but the kids want nothing to do with the old neighborhood with its trashed look and declining schools.

    Where have they all gone? Into the new sprawl of Wesley Chapel, Riverview, Gibsonton. new communities expanding as far as the eye can see as no one wants to be in the heart of Tampa except for the rich in Channelside and South Tampa.

    Why havent I moved? I like living in the city. I enjoy the Hispanic change. The neighborhood is now chocked full of restaurants open late into the evening. Although I do miss English somewhat. The Hispanic population is hard working, conservative and family orientated. And they have kids, lot’s of kids. The culture is different. They are not environmentally conscious coming from South America and it shows.

    They all have to live somewhere and they simply are not going to live on the plains of Oklahoma. They are going to choose to live where its most familiar in most cases, places like Florida, Califonia, and Texas. With them comes an ever-increasing burden on services and declining tax base to pay for them.

    Open borders has a huge environmental impact on our nation that so called “environmentalists” choose to ignore for fear of being called racists, or for whatever reason.

    So while the influx of Yankees bringing their corruption to our state has been a huge factor for decades, there is another elephant in the room that is getting worse, not better.

    Perhaps we need a wall on the Florida border for both Yankees and migrants.

  • leelu April 11, 2019, 8:14 AM

    Sigh… SoCal, 2.0

  • AesopFan April 11, 2019, 8:56 AM

    “It took three days and 1,000 miles to get through Texas.”
    Still does.
    We used to live on the Gulf Coast just south of Houston; Grandparents lived in Alburquerque.
    She called every fall to ask us to run up and visit them on Thanksgiving (they couldn’t have us for Christmas; they were already booked for some other branch of the family — every Christmas).
    With 5 kids and a middlin’ middle-class income, flying was out of the question.
    I never could convince her that driving both ways for a 4 day holiday was not even feasible.

    “there is another elephant in the room”
    Two elephants are accounted for here, but you are missing the third one: the alleged education of the native-born Floridians exacerbates the damage done by the first two, and even encourages it.

    “Open borders has a huge environmental impact on our nation that so called “environmentalists” choose to ignore for fear of being called racists, or for whatever reason.”
    Environmentalists are great hands at ignoring the very-non-environmental effects of most of their “green” enthusiasms. Every system they tout is “perfect” because they don’t ever account for the inputs (what makes the electicity for those cars, and what about the batteries?) or outputs (pay no attention to those “protected” wild birds shredded by the mega-windmills).

    Clutching at straws and grabbing dirty needles.

  • AesopFan April 11, 2019, 9:05 AM

    PS I look up things just to be sure I remember them right (yeah, I really am that old), and got this. Of course, the implicit association of straw/dry grass to straw/drinking accessory was precisely what I was after because of the other post today, but this was from someone who thought that distinction had to be made explicit.

    “It indicates desperation. A drowning man will clutch/grab at anything, even at straws (this is the (older?) usage that means ‘dry grass’ not drinking straws) in an attempt to save himself.”

    FWIW, “The idiom originated with Thomas More’s Dialogue of Comfort Against Tribulation (1534).”

  • JAMES GRAHAM April 11, 2019, 9:20 AM

    Nothing can be horriduh
    Than the state of Floriduh

    Edna St Vincent Millay

  • twolaneflash April 11, 2019, 9:54 AM

    Yeah, Florida is a terrible, nasty, awful place full of deplorable people, tourist traps, and biting insects. It’s not Hell, but on some days, Hell is jealous. Stay away. Really. Just stay away!

  • pbird April 11, 2019, 10:45 AM

    Well, now, guess I was right. Florida is one of only two states I have not visited. Truthfully, we were scared of the crime and grime.
    I’ll keep the Seattle area. What rain? Its just intermittently moist.

  • RebeccaH April 11, 2019, 10:50 AM

    My husband is so in love with Florida as a great vacation place that he bought a trailer house in a senior living community in northwest Florida so we can stay there during the winter. Or so he told me. What it really means is that we will probably end up living there most of the year in an isolated little pocket in the ugliest, most snake and bug infested landscape I have ever seen, after I told him many times over the years that I never wanted to live in Florida. Emerald Coast? Don’t make me laugh. Concrete-and-strip-mall Coast is more like it, with one highway, Raceway 98, running through it, and nowhere to go even if you do decide to take your life in your hands.

  • Rick April 11, 2019, 11:52 AM

    It’s not just Florida. I grew up on James Island, just south of Charleston, SC. It was paradise, rivers, creeks, empty sea island beaches, old forts everywhere, all the crab and oysters we could eat and more fun than should be allowed. I can hardly stand to go back now. The traffic is the stuff of nightmares, property values are through the roof, houses on every marsh island big enough to build one, thousands of docks stick out hundreds of feet through the marshes, condos, and developments everywhere. In short, it’s exactly like Florida except maybe worse. For the most part blue staters running away from what they voted for and bringing it to a nice place near you.

  • PA Cat April 11, 2019, 2:32 PM

    Only a Florida baseball team would have a gizmo in its ballpark that lights up, runs a fountain, and activates a bunch of doves, flamingos, and (but of course) marlins when the home team hits a home run. Here it is in all its kitschy glory: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfnZV9KPJ4g&ab_channel=StevieB%21

    No wonder the Marlins are at the bottom of the NL East right now, 5 games out.

  • JiminAlaska April 11, 2019, 2:41 PM

    I admit I’m smiling a bit at folks posting nostalgically about how nice south Florida was 20-30 years ago.

    Mine was the Florida of the late ’40s and the ’50s.

    I grew up in Coral Gables, then down in Naranga, then back up on Bird Road then on SW 34th Street, where our back yard ended the glades began, with nothing but glades from there up to Tampa.

    Even in the Gables there were many vacant lots where we could set up sand lot baseball games.

    Down in Naranga, our nearest neighbor had the ten acres next to us, next nearest neighbor was probably over three quarters of a mile away. I remember, when I went to Redland Elementary school, a kid that would walk to school, barefoot through the pineywoods with his shoes hanging by the laces around his neck, sitting on the steps, picking the sand spurs out of his feet before putting his shoes on to go in.

    Bird Road; we were close enough to Tropical Park, when the wind was right could hear their loud speakers calling the horse races. There was a rock pit nearby, off the edge of Bird, were we’d go swimming. We shared the pit with a 6-7 foot gator, look for her, if she was basking of the far share we’d be in the water, lose sight of her, we’d be up on the shore. We never talked about it, never made a decision to keep it a secret, but somehow the fact that we shared the rock pit with a gator was a subject that never came up talking to our parents.

    Old Tom was, of course right, you can’t go home again, but I moved to Alaska so my children could experience growing up pretty damn close to what I enjoyed in Florida. Yep the weather can be a mite cooler and the encounter stories they’d wait until long after to tell as were about bear and moose instead of alligators but they had a childhood much like the one I remember down in Dade County.

    Thanks for bringing up the memories Gerard, Florida used to be kick ass, but, in my opinion, that was 70 or so years ago. Next time you’re up here in North Pole, swing by & I draw us a coupled of draughts of my White Nights Stout and we can share “Why back in my day!” stories. -grin-

  • captflee April 11, 2019, 4:46 PM

    Hey, twolaneflash;
    Would that such tactics work to hold off the Borg. In my more naive years I misapprehended the effects of having Jim Cantore of The Weather Channel in town five times in two hurricane seasons, delusionally reasoning that seeing one small area repeatedly smote by storms might temper the ardor of the Acela Corridor folk for relocating here. Such was not the case, let me assure you. If the wrath of the angry weather gods will not suffice, I despair of a solution.

  • SgtBob April 11, 2019, 6:54 PM

    The lament of everybody who got there first. Newcomers suck.

  • Cletus Socrates April 11, 2019, 7:49 PM

    Well, don’t even to bother to check out Tybee Island, outside of Savannah. Hardly any highrises there, most of the bars are dive bars, it’s small, and many of the neighborhoods are way too quiet. No Wal-Mart, Home Depot, or Publix. And don’t get me started on that historic Savannah -it’s old!

  • rabbit tobacco April 11, 2019, 7:51 PM

    sulphur water, sinkholes, and yankees yuk!

  • Robert Moffett April 12, 2019, 5:26 AM

    My father’s family came to Florida when he was two months old in 1919. My moms family came in 42. My grandfather, who could not swim, used to drive a Cities Service Gasoline tanker from Miami down to Key West every day in the late 40s and early fifties and would leave the door partway open as he drove over some of the bridges as he was afraid of being trapped in the truck if it got knocked off the narrow two lane bridges into the water below.. I remember growing up in a coral rock 2 story house with cedar shingles on the roof and copper screens on the windows and a fireplace and a front porch. It was in Lemon city which actually preceded the City Of Miami but was swallowed up by Miami years ago and no one even knows it existed. There was no air conditioning except in the barber shop. The neighborhood was mostly white as was the school. I remember a teacher in the second grade introducing a new student, a young Cuban girl who did not speak English. She was the first Cuban I ever met.
    Soon, the city was full of people from somewhere else who did not share our language or culture. However, I often had things in common with Caribbean people I did not from people up north.
    Today my childhood neighborhood has been erased and replaced. in the 1980s my brother went to look at our old house and as he was standing on the corner he turned around in time to see a black guy walking up behind him holding a big rock over his head. I found out later that the Yahwehs had one of their headquarters 2 blocks away in the Saxon motel. The Yahwehs were a murderous black supremacy cult that had thousands of followers that hardly anyone knows about. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4167514/Former-Nation-Yahweh-church-ruins-Miami.html
    Later, my grandmother, had a guy break into her trailer and begin to beat her to death. She was saved due to my brother who was asleep in the back and heard her screaming. The person was never caught. She later died from injuries. A few years before her attack was in her trailer the weekend of the first Miami riot. Her trailer park was a few blocks from the black neighborhood. The riot started o Friday.The National Guard was called out. We could not leave and no one could come to our aid. A few blocks from us people were pulled from their cars and beat to death at a stop light. The night was lit by buildings on fire nearby and the sky was full of smoke and news helicopters in the day. At night the residents who had guns stood in their doorways and waited. I can tell you stories of my other family members being beaten, harassed and robbed by nonwhites. If you are a working-class white person South Florida is no longer a very nice place to live as you come in contact with a lot of people who are hostile and unfriendly and who ruin it for everybody else. If you have money you are insulated from a lot of problems in South Florida in your gated community and condo.
    The summers are still magnificently hot in a way that is more dramatic than any place in the country due to the violent thunderstorms. Driving over the many bridges you still get the wide sweeping vistas of tropical waters and skies that can still make you catch your breath. The drama of the hurricanes and the cool crisp autumn and winter days still make you feel glad to be alive and if you have even the smallest boat you can still manage to get out and enjoy the coast and river and Everglades and its big sky, but I have to face reality and all the millions of people that came here since I was a child are not leaving and more and more are coming. If you liked the outdoors and were a working class person it was once a paradise. I remember my father, who was a carpenter, actually leaving his small skiff anchored at the end of 62 St in North Biscayne bay a block from the American Legion which was also built out of the coral rock like my first home. Now today, the Legio and my old home have been torn down and if you are enjoying yourself and not paying somebody you are breaking the law. And if you don’t have a lot of money you are not going to be able to live anywhere that is safe for you and your family. And the city continues to pump its sewage down below the aquifer as they say it is completely safe and will never harm anything as the waters continue to decline. But I still have my memories they can never take.

  • Larry Geiger April 12, 2019, 6:41 AM

    Been here since 1953. My Florida is the one Joan is talking about. I take regular walks through the pines and cabbage palms. Stop by a small lake and have lunch. Most people have no idea where Florida is and it’s certainly not in the keys. I could mention some places we regularly go but I won’t because all of you and others would show up 🙂 My wife and I have lunch in a diner that’s like the one my dad took me to in the 50’s and early 60’s when I would ride with him to various microwave stations. After he did his work and ran the generator for a while we would go to the diner and get cheeseburgers and I would get a chocolate coke (Yoohoo. Anything in a glass bottle was a coke…). We go over to dinner where they serve catfish and gator tail. Fried shrimp and hush puppies and golden, buttery hash browns. Oh man. Then we drive for an hour on a two lane road back home without a house, condo, or tourist in sight. On a hot August day we’ll go to Alexander and float around until I’m shivering. I like to swim the edges and follow the fish through the grass. I rarely see a tourist.

  • captflee April 12, 2019, 9:48 AM

    Oh, SarntBob;
    Quite often newcomers do suck, as per Gerard’s post.

    rabbit tobacco;
    I recall a Velociman (Kim Crawford, who had a great site, “Velociworld”, but is now only to be found on Twitter) post regarding wanting to leave the Jax area, as being something along the lines of his financial situation necessitating his living cheek by jowl with “skunk water, scrub oak, and low-rent yankees”.

    I also recall that a decade ago our ‘umble proprietor suggested we all print out and save Velociman’s magnum opus, “The Man in the Lavender Automobile”. If you did not do so, Margot Darby squirreled away a copy, which can be reached via the link below:


  • AesopFan April 12, 2019, 11:49 AM

    “There was no air conditioning except in the barber shop.”
    This wonderful invention was at once the salvation and ruination of the south.
    It’s what turned Houston from a sleepy port city (Galveston was the Big City on the coast) into a megalopolis nearly as bad as Miami. If it were directly on the water, it would be as bad or worse.

    “Newcomers suck.”
    There’s newcomers who move in because they like the place as is, and newcomers who came because of what it was, but remade it into what they left — they come in all brackets of the socioeconomic scale, and so tend to beat down the first bunch from every direction.

    “Yoohoo. Anything in a glass bottle was a coke”
    I was a carhop one summer (anybody else have Burger Train in their burg?) and had an order I still remember. A little kid’s voice came over the intercom (they were new then) and asked called for “Five cokes, and make two of them Dr. Peppers.”

  • Macko April 12, 2019, 11:53 AM

    I was born in Miami and raised in Tampa. I’ve been on the road most of my life but have watched as most of the state has been overdeveloped. I have found a town that is fairly untouched by our new neighbors from the north but, they have started in on it. I plan to move there soon while it’s still old Florida. Where you ask? I ain’t sayin’

  • Anonymous April 12, 2019, 12:07 PM

    Robert – I thought that group sounded familiar.
    “He raged against ‘white devils’, said African Americans were the original Israelites who would one day return”

    I suspect this bunch recently in the news is derived from the few believers who didn’t leave after their founder was imprisoned for accessory to murder and other nasty things.

    “View the tense situation through multiple lenses and perspectives, as Christian students, Black Hebrew Israelites and Native Americans get entangled on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial”

  • emdfl April 12, 2019, 8:55 PM

    I was born in St. Pete. in ’44 and have maintained a house here all my life. Side note: on her Mother’s side our daughter was – as near as we can figure – fifth(6th?) generation native born. Me I’m only 3rd gen. Yeah, I can remember when St. Petersburg was a nice place to live as was the rest of Florida. As late as the ’60’s the Keys were still a place where “Remittance Men” were sent from up north by their wealthy relatives. Heck we lived in Key West for a year(USAF) and I’m pretty certain my wife and I were the only straight, non-swinging couple there, heh, heh. And yeah, Robert, my FLANG unit was part of the Guard who rolled into Miami’s Liberty City for the Fun and Games. The folks there were so glad to see us that our money was no good in the small Cuban-run bodegas there. Came back to St. Pete. and didn’t get back to KW again until ~2012. Didn’t recognize the place. KW and Stock Island had merged and were pretty much solid condos. Except around Duval Street and that area. The building where we had rented an apartment(for$125/month back then) was still standing.
    And for ghostsniper, I tried to get my parents to sign for me to buy four lots ($99 down and $99 per month) on Pine Island when I was 18. But they wouldn’t go for it. Said it was just swamp land,OUCH!1!!
    Parts of the state are still pretty nice if you know where to go. Away from where the damn Yankees have ruined the place – with the help of the developer-scum. I’d suggest getting away from the coast(s) and J*F*C* the Orscamdo/Disney craphole and driving around on the two-roads that wander through north central Florida. Lots of small towns that haven’t suffered the influx of the changers – Yet…

  • Larry Geiger April 13, 2019, 6:11 AM

    Went to the beach last evening. Walked with my wife. Saw about 7 other people. Probably not tourists but I don’t know. Walking on the beach is a study in perspective. You look down or close to watch and try not to step on a sharp shell. Then you look up across the waves to where the sky meets the ocean. Miles and mile away. There was a head bobbing in the white caps. Sitting on a board trying to catch a wave. So far out couldn’t even see the board. The breeze was constant from the southeast. In our face as we walked south, ruffling our hair in the back as we returned north. The breeze completely obscures all sounds. No traffic. No one talking. That’s where we go to talk about what might be coming next. In the past it was children, schools, jobs, money, college, empty nest, retirement… Now we hold hands and it’s just quiet. We pick up a shell, roll it over in our hands, and drop it back on the beach. We don’t take shells home anymore. Anyone want a shell collection? Lovingly stored in Home Depot buckets 🙂

  • Christina April 13, 2019, 11:15 AM

    My grandmother’s grandfather was a lighthouse keeper in Key West. My great-grandfather had Page’s Bakery in Coconut Grove long before the hippies showed up. I was born in the same hospital my dad was born in, in Coral Gables. My dad used to fox hunt in the area in which he still lives in the Kendall-Suniland area. I spent my childhood harvesting orchids and collecting alligator egg shells in Fakahatchee strand; hauling Mahogany, Jamaican dogwood, and Lignum vitae out of the hammocks of North Key Largo; and many years hunting for sunken treasure in the Florida Keys. I got to witness nine iron cannons being uncovered just off the coast of Big Pine Key, and I got to see Marco Island when it was nothing more than a giant indian shell mound. I never thought I would live anywhere else, but then I got to see the corrupt zoning board at work and up close, and I realized I had no say in the matter. That was the beginning of the end for me. Then came the Merielitos and the exploding crime rate. In 1987 I left south Florida for good, and wrote sometime around that time, that “Miami was a prostitute who sold herself to every John who came along.”

  • Webutante April 13, 2019, 12:27 PM

    Good Lord, Gerard. You’ve nailed Florida! I think of the state as all that and more: terminal Red Tide that comes and goes but’s only getting worse, green sludge backed up in man made channels that are killing water flow through the Everglades, the true lungs of Florida. Sugar plantations, as if we need more sugar in our culture. And a state of men loose on the prowl who have ODed on viagra and looking for love in all the wrTong places.

    Three to four days on Longboat Key just about does it for me each winter.

  • ghostsniper April 13, 2019, 1:59 PM

    Quite a collection of crackers comin’ out of the woodpile ’round here.

  • Larry Geiger April 14, 2019, 5:27 AM

    Yesterday I went out after lunch to the dutch oven table on the patio. I fired up a bunch of Kingsford briquettes in the chimney. It was sunny, breezy and about 85 degrees. Once the dutch oven was hot I threw in the onions and let them sizzle in some olive oil for a few minutes. Took them back out into their stainless steel bowl and then tossed in the brisket to brown. Slid the trivet under the meat, threw the onions back in and poured in a Coke for flavor. Put the lid on and set 10 coals underneath and 16 on top. Renewed the coals about every hour. As the breeze lightened the smell of the meat and onions began to linger on the patio. I sat in my chair and watched the palmettos sway and the mockingbirds fuss. When it was time we stepped into the “cement pond” and paddled around until dinner was ready. I suppose all those tourists and spring breakers were out doing something. I have no idea what it was though.
    Today my son is going to grill hamburgers on the patio and his wife is making a homemade apple pie for my birthday. We will play with the grand kids, ride bikes, shoot the bows and arrows, ride the ATV around, hunt anoles, swim in the pool and there will be no cold winds, no snow, no ice around.
    Firewood is all stored away. Now I need to scoop the ash in the fireplace and close the flue for the summer. I’ll get the hand truck and roll the fire pit off the patio and out to the firewood place in a week or two.

  • David Spence April 15, 2019, 7:55 AM

    I consider this to be Velociman’s Magnum Opus:

    January 20, 2009
    The Gloves are Apparently Off…
    This tidbit appears on the recently upscaled White House site:


    President Obama will keep the broken promises made by President Bush to rebuild New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. He and Vice President Biden will take steps to ensure that the federal government will never again allow such catastrophic failures in emergency planning and response to occur.
    President Obama swiftly responded to Hurricane Katrina. Citing the Bush Administration’s “unconscionable ineptitude” in responding to Hurricane Katrina, then-Senator Obama introduced legislation requiring disaster planners to take into account the specific needs of low-income hurricane victims.

    Okay. I was giving the man his day, his year, his administration. A faint breeze of circumspection had been wafting across his bow for a couple of weeks. I was going to shut the fuck up and exhibit the class the left has been incapable of showing since 1968. No more.

    Fuck him. That dandy, that piebald pimp. And his rat shack wife, who was strolling down Pennsylvania Avenue today incomprehensibly dressed like one of the terra cotta soldiers from the Imperial Tombs of China exhibit. Only with a fatter ass. And snappers that looked like they could chomp through a coconut. How often has Obama regretted those marital banns, one wonders?

    Graceless in victory, these liberals. And we know, of course, how they behave in defeat.

    This item will disappear, of course. Just like all of the snide, cheapshot, partisan, venal, juvenile, imbecilic, and unscrupulous things that have emanated from the man’s circle in the last year. And he will distance himself from it, and no word will be uttered by the press against him for it. As the ancient and apocryphal sun worshippers who stared at mighty Sol until they were blinded, so the media are unseeing and unknowing, reduced to the tactile self-comfort of the thrill upon the thigh, the flutter of the heart, the buckling of the knee.

    Partisan pissing about on the White House website, of all things. Where’s the goddamn outrage, to steal a phrase from Bobby Dole? More importantly, where is the goddamn class? But, then, we are speaking of liberals. The same bilge rats that hallooed their disdain at Bush as he was departing the city. Class. These fucking losers have no sense of history, or decorum, or protocol, or class. Just a perpetually aggrieved cohort of snot-faced, soiled pink diaper babies.

    Fuck them all. Recall, if you will, the outcry about “gravitas” in 2000. I want these precious, unicorn-sucking, rainbow-farting shitheels to show me some gravitas. Beginning with Obama. Orcs do not simply materialize around a man, after all. They are nurtured, fed, agitated and instigated. Obama sowed the whirlwind, let us see if he might reap it.

    Obama reminds me of a chorus line boy with a stiletto in his sole. All flat chest and high kick and beautiful smile and slick moves, until you move in on his turf. Which I am reasonably certain is the reins of power in Obama’s case. Not another fellow’s prick. But the point obtains, and the histrionics will be the same.

    Ah, well. My well-laid plan to inure myself to this disgusting spectacle, and ignore it, spoilt like chicken meat on an untended crab line. It’s not my fault, of course. I just became outraged that my taxes subsidized a partisan hitpiece on a venerable government website by a feral gang of tailsnapping jackals. Pardon me for wanting my fucking money back.

  • Mike Schau April 18, 2019, 5:49 AM

    Oh come on guys. I lived here since 1980 and sure lots and lots of growth but all you are talking about are the worst parts. Right now it is paradise outside. The economy is super healthy, great new governor, lots and lots to do, and yes I don’t live too far from the attractions too. Sure I would move back to Erie PA a nice smallish town, but things like dead economy, wretched weather, high crime stop me.

  • Roscoe April 21, 2019, 10:20 AM

    JoanOfArgghh!, the trip up US1 from Daytona to St. Aug is OK, but you ought to try going the A1A route sometime.