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The Times' Melissa Lyttle has a love-hate relationship with her native Florida

Dead gator.


Dead gator.



Part of what she said in an interview with

I love what it is. I hate what it's becoming. Only 30 percent of the state's population is native. So the vast majority of people who live here have no real connection to the place. I'm fascinated by what draws people here. Sunshine. No state income tax. A certain level of anonymity. "The Happiest Place on Earth." The idea that paradise is a place.

And on the surface all of that sounds lovely, but there's a much deeper, darker underbelly that I've just started to scratch. Florida has always been a land of pirates and drug runners, of mermaids and misfits, of people running away from something or coming to "God's waiting room" and just waiting to die. There's a dichotomy here more than anywhere else I've known. Someone told me recently that in the U.S. Florida is almost as close as you can get to being in another country and because of that people think laws and social codes of decency and normalcy don't apply to them here. I'd buy into that theory and would love to find a way to visualize it.

[Last modified: Monday, April 21, 2014 3:32pm]


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