Crossing the Line

“The Florida in my novels is not as seedy as the real Florida. It’s hard to stay ahead of the curve. Every time I write a scene that I think is the sickest thing I have ever dreamed up, it is surpassed by something that happens in real life.” — Carl Hiassen

On the right side of Interstate 75 was a billboard asking the question, “Where is the birth certificate?” A few miles down the road, a Confederate flag the size of a tennis court waved in the breeze. Yep, we were in Florida, where people see things a little differently from the folks up North.

There’s a lot to love about Florida — stunning beaches, balmy weather, palm trees and blue skies. Sarasota is a gem, a vibrant city with excellent theaters, a thriving arts community, great restaurants, and beautiful vistas.  Still, we snowbirds can  find plenty to roll our eyes about.

The  Sunshine State has no shortage of wackadoos. Odds are, when you hear a news story that makes you say, “huh?”, chances are it took place right here. There are the biggies, of course, like the tragedies of Travon Martin and Caylee Anthony. The murder in a movie theater over an argument about texting? Tampa. Beyond these attention- grabbing stories, there are plenty of others that make us scratch our heads.

Just recently, “fangate”, the less-than-original “let’s add ‘gate’ to coin a new word describing a scandal”, occurred when the two candidates for governor,  Charlie Crist and Rick Scott, squabbled over whether or not it was fair that Charlie brought a fan to the debate when Scott didn’t.

“How come he gets a fan and I don’t?”

With all there is to discuss about Florida’s future — its economic growth, its environmental issues, immigration, etc.– a fan became the focus. The current governor, Scott, sulked outside for about seven minutes rather than come into the auditorium and debate the issues while Crist  coolly smirked behind his breezy podium. Geesh! These two guys are right now in a dead heat, and not just for who’s going to be elected. They’re also tied in the dislikability category, each with about a 47% unfavorable rating from Floridians. Gee, why?

A couple weeks ago, Victor Thompson was arrested on drug charges in nearby St. Pete.  So? What’s so unusual about a drug arrest?  Just take a look at his mug shot. Seems Mr. Thompson has chosen to express his love of the New England Patriots’ Tom Brady by having the image of Brady’s helmet tattooed on his head, complete with an authentic-looking Riddell label. Now, that’s a fan! Check it out.

This week’s best, or maybe worst, example comes out of Tampa, where Dante Robeson landed in the hospital with gunshot wounds when he objected to his neighbor’s dog pooping in his yard. So much for Standing Your Ground.

Good thing we Illinoisans don’t have any knuckleheads like these. Well, except for the four governors/ felons and the former darling of news media and now convicted murderer, Drew Peterson.



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