Posts Tagged ‘Florida’


Razor Girl, by Carl Hiaasen, cover(Razor Girl, by Carl Hiaasen. Knopf, 2017, $35.95, 333 pp.)

If you need some relief from the sociopath in chief, from the relentless, surly glob of suet that Grant Brisbee describes as the “walking embodiment of the seven deadly sins,” here you go.

Carl Hiaasen delivers some welcome and extremely funny not-quite-escapism in Razor Girl, which in many ways is a typical Hiaasen novel. (In this context, “typical” is a very good thing.) It’s set in Florida, and it abounds in grotesque characters, grotesque incidents, amusing, well written dialogue, and laugh-out-loud passages, the funniest of which involves the side effects of a “male enhancement” product and a blood pressure cuff. There’s also pointed political and social commentary, and, as always in Hiiasen’s novels, sympathetic central characters with decidedly casual respect for the law.

The title character in Razor Girl, Merry Mansfield, is based on a real person who, like Merry, engaged in a common criminal scam involving deliberate auto accidents. What’s not common about Merry and the actual criminal is that they engage(d) in this scam while shaving their . . . well, no need to go there. . . .

The central male character is Andrew Yancy, a former detective who was busted to “roach patrol” (health inspector) after assaulting an ex-girlfriend’s husband with a mini-vacuum cleaner. Here, Yancy wants to gain reinstatement by investigating the disappearance in Key West of Buck Nance, the patriarch in the highly staged “reality” TV show, Bayou Brethren, which follows the misadventures of a supposed clan in the Florida panhandle that runs a rooster farm.

Shortly, we meet a variety of well drawn, seedy characters, including Martin Trebeaux the founder of Sedimental Journeys, a company that illegally dredges sand in one place and then sells it in another; Brock Richardson, an entitled, grubbily materialistic Miami lawyer who’s made a career of hustling product-liability cases; Lance Coolman, the sleazy agent who represents Buck Nance; and Buck’s super fan, idiot racist, homophobe, and career criminal Blister Krill, who’s so obsessed with Bayou Brethren that he’s had Buck’s nickname (from the rooster farm), “Captain Cock,” tattooed across his shoulders.

Without giving anything else away, we’ll note that while this is a comic novel, there are a lot of characters and the plot is fairly complex, so you need to pay attention as you read, which is one of the book’s strengths: Razor Girl is much more than just a collection of funny characters and incidents — it’s well plotted, and its author never insults the reader’s intelligence.

Highly recommended.


Words are cheap. Especially the words of politicians denouncing bigotry and racism. Anyone, no matter how bigoted and racist they in fact are, can denounce bigotry and racism.

What matters is action. What you say is far less important than what you do.

Republicans have loudly and publicly denounced racism of late. But let’s take a look at what Republicans have done over the last half-century.

Following the Civil Rights Act of 1964 — noted optimist Lyndon B. Johnson said the Democrats would lose the South to the Republicans for “a generation” — the Republican Party adopted its “southern strategy,” pandering to racist southern whites who fled the Democratic Party in the wake of the Civil Rights Act.

At about the same time, Richard Nixon, according to former top aide, John Ehrlichman, proclaimed the disastrous “war on drugs,” which has devastated millions of American lives, as a way of targeting “blacks and hippies” without appearing overtly racist.

One particularly egregious aspect of that “war,” instituted under Ronald Reagan, was the disproportionately vicious penalties for possession and sale of crack cocaine (used predominately by blacks) versus the penalties for possession and sale of rock (powder) cocaine (predominately used by whites).

To mask their racism, Republicans have routinely used, and continue to use, “dog whistle” code words that racists understand to refer to blacks and hispanics: “law and order,” “tough on crime,” “coddling criminals,” “welfare queens,” “welfare cheats,” “zero tolerance,” “super predators,” “illegal aliens,” etc., etc. Through use of these and similar terms, Republican politicians can pander to racists — who recognize the users of these terms as kindred spirits — without appearing overtly racist themselves.

And last but not least, Republicans have for decades been attempting to make it more difficult for poor working people — disproportionately black and hispanic — to vote.

  • They’re dead set on keeping voting on Tuesday, a work day, which makes it inconvenient for working people to vote.
  • They’ve also reduced early voting, notably in North Carolina, which again makes it less convenient for working people to vote.
  • They’ve restricted the number of polling places in black and hispanic areas in several states, notably Ohio, North Carolina, and Florida, making people wait hours to vote, and outright stopping others, who can’t wait, from voting.
  • They and their propaganda outlet, Fox “News,” have created the myth of voter fraud at the ballot box (while all but ignoring the very real problem of easily hacked electronic voting machines) in order to place unnecessary burdens on low-income voters. The most prominent burden is voter i.d. laws in over half the states, which make it inconvenient for the poor (again, disproportionately black and hispanic), who often have to rely on public transit and pay fees, to obtain the necessary i.d.
  • They’ve purged voter rolls in several states resulting in the disenfranchisement of at minimum tens, more likely hundreds, of thousands of eligible voters. A voter purge in Florida in 2000, targeting black voters, was almost certainly responsible for the election of George W. Bush.
  • They’ve engaged in wholesale racial gerrymandering to reduce the influence of black and hispanic voters. There’s nothing subtle about the way this works. The GOP, which has controlled redistricting in most states since 2010, packs black voters (and here in the Southwest, hispanics) into a few overwhelmingly black or hispanic districts, thus diluting their influence in other districts that would, but for the gerrymandering, be in play. The Supreme Court recently ruled that such gerrymandering in two congressional districts in North Carolina is unconstitutional, which one hopes is a sign of things to come.

In the wake of the Charlottesville domestic terrorism incident, some GOP elected officials are denouncing, or at least distancing themselves from, Donald Trump’s racist apologetics.

Yet virtually all of them, from state representatives to U.S. senators, have engaged in and supported the cynical, anti-democratic, racist activities and practices outlined above.

Judge for yourself how sincere they are.


Best State Ever, by Dave BarryBest.State.Ever., by Dave Barry. (New York: Putnam’s, 2016, $27.00, 229 pp.)

Every now and then I take a break from reading science fiction and heavy nonfiction and dive into some fluff, something purely humorous with no pretensions of substance. Which brings us to Dave Barry’s latest, Best.State.Ever.: A Florida Man Defends His Homeland.

When I saw the book’s garish cover, given that I’ve always enjoyed Barry’s writing, my fascination with the weird and grotesque, and Florida’s well deserved reputation as home of the twisted and demented — it’s the only state with its own Fark tag — I went “Oh yeah!” and picked up the book, which covers Barry’s travels to various oddball Florida communities (yes, that is a bit redundant) and tourist attractions.

Barry doesn’t disappoint. In Best.State.Ever., despite its being a very slight book — 229 pages, but with wide page margins (that is, a lot of “white space”), a lot of deliberately tacky, low quality photos interspersed with the text, and very wide leading (space between the lines) — Barry delivers the goods. Parts of the book are funnier than hell, and the book is not entirely substance free: Barry delivers occasional insightful political and social comments along with the humor.

Here’s an example, regarding a trendy nightclub in Miami:

Hanging over our heads are speakers the size of Porta-Potties. They’re emitting the musical stylings of tonight’s celebrity DJ, who is known as Alesso. I am not going to get into my usual rant about ‘celebrity DJs,’ a concept that utterly baffles me inasmuch as we’re talking about people who are playing recorded music, which does not require any more musical talent than operating a microwave oven, in the sense that you could train a reasonably bright Labrador retriever to perform either task, yet somehow these DJs are international celebrities who jet around the world getting huge sums of money to play recorded music THAT THEY DIDN’T EVEN RECORD AND MEANWHILE REAL MUSICIANS WHO CAN PLAY ACTUAL INSTRUMENTS ARE STARVING.

Yep. Nailed it.

If you’re looking for some light reading, check out Best.State.Ever. It’s the funniest thing I’ve read in ages.

Recommended.


“11. Tampa Bay Rays
Main Broadcasters: Andy Freed and Dave Wills
Ratings (Charisma/Analysis/Overall): 3.9, 4.0, 4.0

Representative Reader Comment
‘I would have given them a 4 but the audio always sounds like Freed is a DJ at a strip club with [the] combination of his voice cadence and the audio inside the Trop [Tropicana Field].’

Notes
For those of us who harbor suspicions about Florida and the tastes of those who willingly inhabit it, it’s not surprising to find that a reader is compelled to reference a strip club when attempting to characterize the audio quality of Tampa Bay’s radio broadcasts. Indeed, the strip club would appear to represent a particularly flexible and widely applicable metaphor wherein Florida and its residents are concerned.”

 

–Carson Castulli, “2016 Broadcaster Rankings (Radio) #20 -11

(for more on Florida, check out our favorite Twitter feed, Florida Man)


I love writing these posts — they practically write themselves, and I chortle all the way through the writing process. I delight in the sick and grotesque, and, as you’ll see, religion really delivers the goods.

So, here it is, the best of religion since the beginning of the year.

(This post will be a bit shorter than our previous Joy of Religion post. We’ve omitted the items about religious parents killing or seriously harming their children by denying them medical care, because such items are so common and so depressing.)

Anyway, here goes. Enjoy!

  • There are a lot of good atheist videos on Youtube from ex-Muslims. One that we particularly like is Things Muslims Should Know About Apostasy. About 30 seconds in, check out the crybaby Islamic judge wailing about “insults” to the prophet. Like all too many PC leftists and Christian fundamentalists, Islamic religious extremists believe that they have a right not to be offended. They don’t. It’s a binary choice:  either you have the “right” not to be offended or you have the right to free speech. As is blindingly obvious, if everyone has the “right” not to be offended, no one will have the right to free speech. And if only some have the “right” not to be offended, you end up with tyranny.
  • A recent piece in The Guardian, The shelter that gives wine to alcoholics, provides yet more evidence that the religious approach to addictions enshrined in Alcoholics Anonymous is utterly useless, if not actively harmful, and that the secular harm reduction approach produces much better results. (The rate of recovery via AA is no better than the rate of spontaneous recovery.)
  • The always entertaining Rev. James David Manning of ATLAH Worldwide Missionary Church has proclaimed that “God is gonna put a cancer in the butthole of every sodomite,” and that “every sodomite will have a flame coming out of his butthole,” necessitating “special ass asbestos diapers.” Do check out the video — Manning’s words only hint at the power, at the magnificence of his performance.
  • If you’ve ever doubted how misogynistic Mormonism is, check out Rape victim could be punished under BYU’s ‘honor code.’
  • For yet another testimony to the salutary effects of religion upon individual judgment, see Woman says rapture was coming, God told her to crash car into Walmart.
  • And finally, via Florida Man, in an item which seems like it must have a religious connection, though the article doesn’t mention one, we find Florida man charged with soliciting sex with dogs on Craigslist.

Stay tuned. More to come.


Hi folks,

It’s been a good year so far for Internet weirdness. Since we know you want the entertaining stuff, we’ll start you off with the useful stuff instead. Think of it as digital broccoli.

If you’ve been wondering what Glenn Greenwald has been up to since he left The Guardian, wonder no more. He’s working as one of the co-editors (along with Laura Poitras and Jeremy Scahill) of The Intercept, the site funded by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar. In addition to being the platform for release of further documents from Edward Snowden, The Intercept is an excellent source of news/analysis on terrorism, and government spying, persecution of whistleblowers, and suppression of dissent.

The Free Thought Project is the place to go to for news of police brutality and corruption.

And now what you’ve been waiting for . . . . .

It’s a bit late in the day for this one, but it’s been a while since we ran an Internet crap post, so . . .  There are all too many “best of [insert year]” lists every December, and it’s generally best to avoid them. But, speaking of insertion, there’s always Deadspin’s annual What Did We Get Stuck Up Our Rectums This Year? list. It’s compiled from hospital emergency room reports and includes items inserted not just in rectums but in all orifices. As a bonus Deadspin includes links to previous years’ lists.

Then there’s cracked.com’s 23 Most Devastating Insults from All History, presented here in de-slided form courtesy of clusterfake.net’s deslidifier.

And if you think all of the “country” crap on the radio sounds alike, you’re right. Saving Country Music has a good piece on the topic, Mashup Illustrates How Many Country Hits Are All the Same Song.  It contains a link to Nashville songwriter Greg Todd’s Mind Blowing Six Song Country Mashup, in which Todd took six country hits from the last few years, tweaked their tempos and pitch in Pro Tools (recording and editing software), and combined them all into one song, including a “3 guitarists, 1 solo” section and an over-a-minute concluding section where all six songs play at once. Not to be missed.

Finally, we have two weird-new items from–where else?–Florida:

No one trolls like the shock troops of atheism, Satanists. Fresh from the Ten Commandments/Baphomet statue controversy in Oklahoma, Satanists succeeded in having a holiday season display put up in the state capitol in Florida. Of course, Christians couldn’t stand this, and one of them was responsible for this piece in the Tallahassee Democrat, Woman arrested in attack on Satanic Temple display. As a bonus, the article includes photos of the wonderfully cheesy display and of the woman who vandalized it, and who looks about like you’d expect someone wearing a “Catholic Warrior” T-shirt to look.

And–yes!–on the second day of January, we already had the Weird New Story of the Year: Guy Trashes “Spiritual” Girlfriend’s Car After Granny Dildo Sex Prophecy. We doubt that anything will top this in the next 11-plus months, but if anything does, there’s no need to guess its probable state of origin. As fark.com noted when linking to the story, “This is why we have a Florida tag.”

For now, that’s all folks.

Y’all come back now, ya hear?