This is a column responding to a column responding to a column. Reading this opens a portal to hell. I suggest you hop in.
On Aug. 13, entrepreneur and author James Altucher wrote a piece on LinkedIn purporting that New York City is dead forever thanks to the toll of the coronavirus. On Monday in The New York Times, Jerry Seinfeld got out a flamethrower and burned down the previous piece to cheer on his city. He made some cogent and funny points, then dragged Florida into it, screaming from her dunes.
In Column 1, Altucher wrote that he has moved to Florida.
In C2, Seinfeld sarcastically called out our state’s “sharp focus and restless, resilient creative spirit.” He seized on this “enervated, pastel-filled new life in Florida” and wrote: “I hope you have a long, healthy run down there. I can’t think of a more fitting retribution for your fine article. This stupid virus will give up eventually. The same way you have.”
In C3, I am bringing back the phrase, “Oh, Mylanta!” First of all, my house is dark blue. Second, why is Florida a place to “give up”?
Many Floridians love New York. I am one of those people who says insufferable things like, “We try to get up there once a year” and “we used to love that restaurant before the sex scandal.” Even if New Yorkers are leaving in the pandemic, defending the city’s inimitable qualities is not exactly Sisyphean.
Anyway, we’re not here to talk more about New York. What I don’t get is why provincial ping-pong has to come at the expense of other states. Seinfeld also dunks on Maine, Vermont, Tennessee and Indiana. Why does New York get to be a place where dog crap is a celebrated quirk, but Florida is perpetually a punchline? There’s tons of dog crap in my yard.
Look, we know our problems. You don’t have to tell us. I’ll outline a few.
We seem to think COVID-19 is athlete’s foot. We have a phallic shape. We are saddled with the “Florida Man” trope, a thinly veiled device to make fun of people who are poor or have mental health issues. The heat index reaches 112 and people wear hoodies; it gets cold and they wear flip-flops. We finally got Tom Brady and, well. We are being pranked by God, 24/7.
Nonetheless, 21 million people live here. We have jobs and hobbies and families. We make art and food, too. Many 40-year-olds can afford to live without a roommate. We have amazing open records laws, which accounts for the juicy stories. We have wildlife and beaches and...
Comedians. For the 9,000th time. Picking on Florida is punching down. It’s pantsing the kid at school whose only friend is an oddly smooth rock.
Is it too much to ask that outliers reach past the caricature of Florida? To stop painting it as a place where bland people are banished to die at the beaks of hungry shorebirds? To give us credit for more than a variety of Margaritavilles? In turn, we will not bring up the guy in the Elmo suit outside TKTS.
Okay, the portal to hell is now open. As they say at Disney, keep your arms and legs inside at all times. It’s hot down here.