The phenomenon of Florida Man

around since 2013

florida man beerI’m not convinced that men in Florida are, per capita, any weirder than fellows in Oklahoma or Maryland or New York. Yet the notion of the Florida Man has been around since 2013. The meme calls attention to Florida’s supposed notoriety for strange and unusual events.

This narrative is explained HERE. “On May 12th, 2015, the Miami New Times published an article titled How Florida’s Proud Open Government Laws Lead to the Shame of ‘Florida Man’ News Stories, which cited the state’s Sunshine Act as a possible cause for the bevy of ‘Florida Man’ news stories.”

The paper “noted that freedom of information laws in Florida make it easier for journalists to obtain information about arrests from the police than in other states and that this is responsible for the large number of news articles.

“All we have to do in most cases is call the police department and ask for an arrest report, and the cops are required to give it to us. Nowadays a lot of cops simply email the reports, and some departments even post arrest records online. Some of the more dedicated weird-Florida-news reporters go through batches of arrest reports at a time.”

For instance, here are 60 examples posted in 2018:
Florida Man attacked during selfie with squirrel
thousands of gun owners in Florida planning to “shoot down” Hurricane Irma
Florida Man gets tired of waiting at hospital, steals ambulance, drives home
Florida Man breaks INTO jail to hang with friends
Florida Man denies drinking and driving, says he only swigged bourbon at stop signs

Here’s a list from Huffington Post and a description in the Urban Dictionary.

In fact, the phenomenon has engendered some reflections. It turns out that people from Florida are (slightly) better at guessing if a ‘Florida Man’ story really happened in Florida.

I’ve been to Florida twice, both to conferences in the 1990s. Once, I was in Miami during a muggy October. The other time was in Orlando, but no, I never went to Disneyworld or Universal Studios.

FL Florida – first two letter. The traditional abbreviation was Fla. Capital: Tallahassee. Largest city: Miami.

FM Federated States of Micronesia. Capital: Palikir. Largest town: Weno. It is “a sovereign, self-governing state in free association with the United States of America, which is wholly responsible for its defense.”

For ABC Wednesday

Mark Knopfler of Dire Straits turns 70

“Two men say they’re Jesus”

Mark KnopflerMy Mark Knopfler discography is scattered throughout my collections. The first albums were by Dire Straits, the LPs Dire Straits (1978) and Love Over Gold (1982). One of that first batch of CDs I purchased included Brothers in Arms. I was hardly alone. “The album is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the first compact disc (CD) to sell a million copies, and it has been credited with popularising the CD format.”

After the first Dire Straits breakup, Knopfler formed The Notting Hillbillies in 1989, a country/folk band. It put out but one album, Missing…Presumed Having a Good Time (1990), which I’m quite fond of. Last Exit to Brooklyn (1989) is a movie soundtrack, all instrumental. All the Roadrunning (2006) features duets with country music singer Emmylou Harris.

Though I’ve never heard On Every Street (1991), the final album by Dire Straits, I’m quite fond of a cover of The Bug. It was written by Mark Knopfler and recorded by Mary Chapin Carpenter in 1992; her version got to #16 on the country charts.

The group Dire Straits was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2018.

Some Mark Knopfler songs:

Money for Nothing – Dire Straits, #1 for three weeks in 1985.
Feel Like Going Home– The Notting Hillbillies
Why Worry– Dire Straits
Railroad Worksong– Notting Hillbillies. A song I knew from my childhood.

Beachcombing– Mark Knopfler and Emmylou Harris
Private Investigations . Moody and atmospheric.
So Far Away– Dire Straits, #19 in 1986. Brothers in Arms’ first U.K. single, before it became an international smash. In the US, it was released as the third single, after the album had already gone to #1.
Twisting by the Pool– Dire Straits, #105 in 1983. In between Love Over Gold and Brothers in Arms, the band released a four-song EP of old-school rock and swing cuts.

Will You Miss Me– Notting Hillbillies
This Is Us– Mark Knopfler And Emmylou Harris
Blues Stay away from me– Notting Hillbillies
Walk of Life– Dire Straits, #7 in 1986.

Romeo and Juliet– Dire Straits. A lovely piece with references to other songs. The single didn’t chart in the US.
Your own sweet way– The Notting Hillbillies
Sultans of Swing– Dire Straits, #4 in 1979. Their debut single was described as “a masterwork of precisely pointed guitar, a ringing rhythm section and late-night cool.”
Industrial Disease– Dire Straits, #75 in 1983. A reflection of the decline of British industry, and the anxiety and ailments it caused. “Two men say they’re Jesus; one of them must be wrong.”

Preachers, politics, and the Christian Left

“This need not be our normal.”

Love thy neighborPeople of faith have been, and ought to be involved with small-p politics, in terms of feeding the hungry, but also pointing out injustice, opposing immoral wars, and the like.

I’m fascinated that the Washington National Cathedral, the closest thing the US has to a national house of worship, issued a strong statement about the White House resident. “The racial overtones are clear, and they are building,” says Bishop Mariann Edgar Budde. “This need not be our normal.”:

The new DC Archbishop, Wilton Gregory, and the only black archbishop in the nation, said 45 is “diminishing our national life,” by attacking non-white members of Congress. “I have stressed that I am a pastor and fellow disciple of Jesus, not a political leader,” Gregory, the former archbishop of Atlanta, said in a statement to the Catholic Standard. “There are, however, sometimes, when a pastor and a disciple of Jesus is called to speak out to defend the dignity of all God’s children.

“Our faith teaches us that respect for people of every race, religion, gender, ethnicity and background are requirements of fundamental human dignity and basic decency,” Gregory said. “This include newcomers to our country, people who have differing political views and people who may be different from us. Comments which dismiss, demean or demonize any of God’s children are destructive of the common good and a denial of our national pledge of ‘liberty and justice for all.'”

You can tell these comments were made reluctantly, lest their intentions be misunderstood, their parishioners offended, their sincerity attacked.

Someone, I wish I remembered who, noted recently that Paul Tillich, one of the most important theologians of the 20th century, said c. 1960 that we should declare a 100-year moratorium on the use of the word “God.” “He’d simply grown weary of people dropping the name to support their utterly non-scriptural, usually bigoted, fundamentalist agenda, and wanted time for the air to clear, and to let real theologians set the record straight.”

I’m not crazy about the term Christian left, because it seems to suggest a primarily electoral agenda. Still, John Pavlovitz lays it out correctly. “The loudest people get to write the story that everyone hears, the one they come to believe is the only story. In this way, they get to define what is true for those looking on, who may not hear anything else.

“Right now there is a story being written about Christians in America; a story saturated with cruelty and absent of compassion, and because the authors’ volume is so great and their profile so high and their political position so unrivaled—that is becoming the singular story. It is becoming true for all of us.

“But that is not our story.” And he goes into great deal about what IS an alternative narrative. This important to me personally, because those louder, more Politically connected, but less spiritually compassionate have been a stain on my faith for WAY too long.

Finally, an old IRL friend of mine said recently, “You know, Roger, so many ‘good’ people who claim to follow Jesus Christ also support racism in this country. Do they really think they won’t burn in hell for their greed and bigotry?!” To which I can safely answer, these things are WAY above my pay grade.

Arranging flowers: a Les Green specialty

Les Green used to arrange flowers at a store on the South Side of Binghamton called Costa’s

Les Green.Carol PowellHere is my father with my bride Carol in March 2000. This is Les Green in his element, arranging flowers and the accouterments thereof.

He used to arrange flowers at a store on the South Side of Binghamton called Costa’s. He worked out of there when his regular job was slow, but even when he was working full time. He was VERY good working with his hands, a gift he did NOT pass down to his son.

For several years, he arranged flowers and did decorations for something called the Debutante’s Ball in my hometown, which was geared towards the black community. Often, my sister Leslie and I would accompany him. Now Leslie had an eye for this work, but I was there primarily to schlep stuff. I was a pretty good schlepper.

He also worked on at least two weddings of my mother’s cousins in New York City in the 1960s. I gather he was doing similar things when he moved to Charlotte, NC in 1974.

He decorated the assembly hall at my then-church in Albany in May 1999 for Carol’s and my wedding, showing great energy and resolve. It wasn’t until the end of the reception that she shared with my shocked new mother-in-law that he had prostate cancer. Or more correctly that he was “living with” the disease.

When I referred to Carol as my bride in the above picture, I wasn’t kidding. We’d been married less than 10 months at the time. This was dad arranging his church in Charlotte for a surprise celebration of my parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. Carol and Leslie and Marcia helped; I’m sure I moved some items.

But what was evident to Leslie and Carol and me for sure was that he was moving just a little bit slower than he did 10 months earlier. He needed a couple more breaks. About five months after this picture was taken, my father would be gone.

Two types of photos look like Les Green in my mind’s eye: him with his guitar, and him arranging flowers. Even 19 years after he passed, he’s still a very real presence.

Songs with a person’s name in the title

you’re my pride and joy, et cetera

Lady Jane
Lady Jane
When I think of “A song you like with a person’s name in the title,” female names first came to mind for me. Last week, I linked to Levon, so I know there are male names. Oh, I have all of these songs in physical form.

Denise – Randy & the Rainbows, #10 pop, #18 RB in 1963. This was covered, as Denis, by Blondie in 1978.

Eleanore – the Turtles. #10 pop in 1968. Their record company wanted another “Happy Together”, so the group gave them one. It has the same minor to major transition, and very similar – though lovely – harmonies. I LOVE “you’re my pride and joy, et cetera,” a throwaway line if ever I heard one. (It rhymes with “better” or more correctly, “betta”.)

Lady Jane – Rolling Stones, #24 pop in 1966. It was released as a double-A side single with Mother’s Little Helper (#8). It was on the album Aftermath, which I thought was the band’s first very good album, rather than some hits plus cover song filler.

Layla – Derek and the Dominoes, #10 pop in 1972. When I lived in Colonial Arms in New Paltz, NY in the early ’70s with the Okie, our neighbors Howie and Debi had named their cat Layla. My wife prefers the unplugged Clapton iteration. (1992).

C’mon Marianne – Four Seasons, #9 pop in 1967. Another Jersey Boys hit, right after the “solo” Frankie Valli hit Can’t Take My Eyes Off You “The song sported a riff which The Doors also appropriated in their 1968 single Touch Me.”

Proud Mary – I’m a fan of both hit versions. The Creedence Clearwater Revival original, #2 pop for three weeks in 1969, and the Ike and Tina Turner cover, #4 pop, #5 RB in 1971.

Peg – Steely Dan, #11 pop in 1978. “The song’s guitar solo was attempted by seven top studio session guitarists‒including Robben Ford and recurring guitarist Larry Carlton‒before Jay Graydon’s version became the ‘keeper’.” The backing vocals of Michael McDonald are clearly identifiable.

Veronica– Elvis Costello, #19 in 1989. It is from my favorite Costello album Spike. The song was co-written by Costello with Paul McCartney and features Macca on the Höfner bass. “In 2004, Entertainment Weekly voted it one of Costello’s top ten greatest tunes.”