Make us your home page

The month in review here at The State You're In

9 things I underlined in a piece in the Times about always growing Florida by the always interesting Gary Mormino.

Apalachicola: '... so eerily perfect is almost feels Photoshopped.'

This giant, successful organization is built on temporary, mostly empty, largely unearned feel-good back pats, right?

What people in Florida do when it gets not hot.

Florida has more than 600 miles of beaches and over 93,000 homeless people.

The new St. Pete is not the old St. Pete, the New York Times confirms.

Florida is 'a museum of the weird that just happens to have a lot of electoral votes':

Host Brooke Gladstone says this as if these two things are unrelated when of course they are not. What Will Greenlee says about open records is irrefutable but also sort of an unsexy nonstarter in this ongoing conversation about the "weirdness" of the Sunshine State. What author and McArthur genius Karen Russell, meanwhile, says about the seasons, the way they don't change here, or at least the way they don't change here in the same way they do elsewhere, is worth some consideration.

Stand Your Ground is in the news again because of course it's in the news again and will be for as long as the law exists: …

Full Story

13 things that happened in January that would've been called SO FLORIDA had they happened in Florida

1. A woman was arrested after stabbing a man with a ceramic squirrel.

2. A man was arrested after he fought with his brother over peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.

3. A man called the Swiss Cheese Pervert was arrested.

4. A woman received the wrong body after her mother's death on a Caribbean vacation.

5. Five tons of dried poop burned mysteriously.

6. A Greyhound bus crashed after a rider hallucinating on drugs attacked the driver.

7. Gas released by cows caused an explosion in a shed.

8. A python was found in a sofa.

9. Hundreds of pythons were found in a house.

10. A bag of snakes was found on a sidewalk.

11. A local mayor defended Justin Bieber.

12. A McDonald's employee sold heroin in Happy Meals.

13. One man killed another by suffocating him with his underwear.

Full Story

Beatlemania in Miami

John, Paul, Ringo and George.

Getty Images

John, Paul, Ringo and George.

Jeff Klinkenberg set for Floridian in Sunday's Times: It all happened half a century ago this month.

Full Story


Good morning. It's Friday, Jan. 31, 2014.

It's nice lots of other publications, including the New Yorker, are writing about the bodies found at the boys school in Marianna, but remember: All of this is known because of the Times, because of Ben Montgomery, Waveney Ann Moore and Edmund Fountain, and because the paper made the decision, and has kept making the decision, to spend a ton of time and money on it. Thank you if you are a subscriber for doing your part to pay for it.

Jon Silman was in Dade City yesterday for the latest hearing in the case of the Wesley Chapel movie theater murder.

It takes a lot of public money to get people to make movies in your state.

A funny thing happened on the way to medical school: beer.

"... one thing Las Vegas can guarantee: There will be no hurricanes." Tampa (Bay area) dig!

Billy Corben has a question: How is it Miami and Miami-Dade County always give money to pro sports teams but can't keep public parks clean?

Want to punch George Zimmerman in the face? If you have a nascent faith in humanity that needs tempering, Adam Weinstein says, following George Zimmerman on Twitter really does the trick. …

Full Story

It's a story about bears that's not really about bears

See the bear?


See the bear?

Set for Floridian in Sunday's Times:

Gated, guarded Wingfield North, outside Orlando in Longwood, is a collection of about a hundred houses with pillars and pools and new BMWs parked out front. Golden evening light gleams through the branches of regal oaks draped with Spanish moss. One of the selling points is its proximity to lush woods, coupled with a stated commitment to the preservation of such wild, natural beauty. Another selling point: privacy. It's set up to keep out — nuisances and intrusions, the uninvited, the unexpected. The residents of Wingfield North purchased not only an above average amount of stucco but also a perceived license to not be bothered.

"Is this a fire or medical emergency?" the Seminole County 911 dispatcher asked.

This was just after 8 at night the first Monday of December.

"Medical," the man answered. "A woman's been, I think — mauled by a bear. She's pleading for quick, quick help."

Full Story

Is Florida about to sell itself in a way it's never sold itself before?


Florida DOT


That's saying a lot. Florida is tourism. Well, real estate, too. "I'm just sellin' orange juice," former Gov. Claude Kirk once said. Now current Gov. Rick Scott, who likes a round number, wants to lure 100 million tourists with 100 million bucks. Last year's Visit Florida budget: $63.5 million. The year before that: $54 million. Before that: $34.9 million. Before that: $31.9 million. Before that: $28.5 million. All this doesn't include the fancy, $2.8-million, South Carolina-like welcome signs that are coming to a few key state-border mile-markers. The Sunshine State is the Sell-Me State.

I've been doing some reading about the '20s of late.

Here's something I underlined in Frederick Lewis Allen's Only Yesterday: …

Full Story


Good morning. It's Thursday, Jan. 30, 2014.

The chairman of the Republican Party of Florida quoted Eminem. But people like Charlie Crist.

The panther people? They wanted to talk about the state of the cat. Just not with Craig.

Dan Sullivan billed this on Twitter as "your fun Florida story for the day." It all started at Thee Crazy Horse ...

Sometimes the public schools in Florida make me so, so disappointed, and also very fearful for the future. Alarmist Debbie Downer or no?

"You two are a joke, have a nice life." Click. Pretty Plant City, actually.

But "distracted" is the word of the era in which we happen to live!

The Florida Humanities Council's 2014 Florida Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing? Janet Burroway.

It's the second driveway fatality in Sarasota County in January.

A paraplegic man stole a car from Ford of Ocala.

Who is George Zimmerman?

Full Story

What's the Williamsburg, Brooklyn, of Tampa?

Deadspin's Tim Burke says it's ... St. Pete. Fightin' words in these parts. What do y'all think?

Full Story

Allow me now to re-roll my eyes at this vigorous debate

What do you want it to be?


What do you want it to be?

Florida's one of the worst places in the world. No it's not.

Full Story


Good morning. It's Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014.

David Jolly and Lucas Overby, the Tampa Bay Times says, are speaking pablum to a cadre of science deniers who are more interested in protecting their own ignorance or economic interests than ensuring a future for the planet.

Make sure you read Ben Montgomery on the 55 bodies of dead kids found in the ground at the Marianna boys school. Make sure you read (if you haven't already) For Their Own Good. It's part of Florida's story.

Here's a good headline: Florida lawmakers want more giant snakes banned.

The stat of the morning? The percentage of people in Florida living in poverty in 2012 was 17.1.

Consumer confidence? I guess.

Not such a good decision for Plant City's top cop.

Property virgins?

Real winter weather in Florida. People are confused.

Full Story

Going on five years of such important work

Not quite.


Not quite.

Part One of For Their Own Good ran in April 2009. Here's Ben Montgomery with his latest reporting on the boys school of Marianna:

TAMPA — Researchers from the University of South Florida said this morning they have exhumed the remains of 55 boys who died at a scandalized state-run reform school in the Panhandle town of Marianna.

That's 24 more than the 31 the Florida Department of Law Enforcement found during a cursory investigation in 2009 on orders from then-Gov. Charlie Crist. FDLE relied on incomplete school records and did not use ground-penetrating radar to map the cemetery.

The number even exceeds USF's earlier prediction of 49, which was based on ground-penetrating radar.

Among the unidentified remains — many of which appear to have been buried unceremoniously, somewhat haphazardly and at varying depths — anthropologists found artifacts they hope to date and compare to school records to help determine the identities of the boys buried. …

Full Story

It should say interesting

The national "autocomplete" map.

The national "autocomplete" map.

Saw this thanks to Craig Pittman on Twitter.

Full Story


Good morning. It's Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014. Apologies for the delay.

Sort of an interesting juxtaposition on the bottom of the front of today's Times: Jeff Klinkenberg's appreciation of author Patrick Smith, whose book about old Florida is a classic, and a Bob Trigaux column on how and why the state is losing its luster for the rich.

Speaking of that, Florida's losing 30,000 millionaires last year, here are some of the things I underlined:

1. ... Florida lacks what states with the highest concentration of millionaires have: a source of wealth creation.

2. ... proximity to rich, powerful and highly educated metro areas ...

3. Florida lacks cities with such high-end capacity to generate wealth ...

4. "It's easier said than done to create wealth there," he suggested. And most millionaires in Florida created their fortunes elsewhere before moving here.

5. Other states are starting to generate more millionaires. Case in point: North Dakota. The state ranked 29th, just ahead of Florida, by density of millionaires ...

People in Florida come November will vote on medical marijuana.

Radel! Fiercely contested special election!

The word(?) of the day is ... "sickmentally."

Snow in Florida!?! …

Full Story

R.I.P. Patrick Smith

... a thousand words a day or sometimes a chapter after supper.


... a thousand words a day or sometimes a chapter after supper.

The Merritt Island author of A Land Remembered is gone. For a certain kind of reader, his most famous book is the greatest story ever told, right up there with the Bible, the Times' Jeff Klinkenberg wrote a couple summers back.

Full Story

Did you read over the weekend what the Times' Ben Montgomery had to say about the veracity of the pirate José Gaspar?




Do if you didn't:

José Gaspar is real, and there is proof.

Head up to the University of South Florida, to the library in the middle of campus. Take the elevator to special collections, and ask for the only known copy of History of Gasparilla and Ye Mystic Krewe, circa 1935, in public circulation. It's the size and shape of an old high school yearbook, handsomely bound and dedicated to "those who have perpetuated the celebration inspired by the gay and daring buccaneer." Save a few missed years, that gay buccaneer-inspired party has played out in Tampa since 1904, and, of course, continues today. …

Full Story