I do not think that there can ever be enough books about anything and I say that knowing that some of them are going to be about Pilates.The more knowledge the better seems like a solid rule of thumb, even though I have watched enough science fiction films to accept that humanity’s unchecked pursuit of learning will end with robots taking over the world.-Sarah Vowell

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Best State Ever: A Florida Man Defends His Homeland by Dave Barry

Dave Barry in his latest book feels the need to defend his state because it has been picked on a bit too much.  After the 2000 election debacle, the rest of the nation jumped on the chance to point out anything crazy that happened in Florida as proof of their being the idiot state.  What people don't take into account, he argues, is that the people this involves come from other states, mainly their states. People move to Florida and those with the higher I.Q's move away.  The dumb ones can't figure out how to leave.  There is also a scientific explanation for what happens in Florida and that is the weirdness factor. For example, a tractor-trailer blows its tire out on Interstate 95 and the only fatality was a shark.  The tractor-trailer was carrying sharks to New York City when it had its accident and one of the sharks was thrown during the crash, hitting no one, but still leaving Florida with a flying shark story.  Or the woman who was shaving her privates while driving and having her ex-husband handle the steering as she motored to Key West to meet her boyfriend.  The car in front of them stopped to make a turn and of course, they ran into them. Her licence was expired of course. She was from Indiana.

Barry insists that there are many wonderful things about Florida such as the weather is warm. In the middle of winter, it is still warm in Florida. He has never had to scrape frost off of his windshield. Also, the taxes are low. The government is incompetent and corrupt, but so is most ever other state and they have high taxes. Another reason is the women are amazing. For example, in Miami, the women do not leave the house unless they are completely put together and they wear skin tight clothing and heels and that's just to the grocery store.  And of course, it's never boring.

In this book, Barry takes us on a tour of Florida through some of its oddball places.  One such place is Weeki Wachee "which is the deepest natural spring in the United States, producing 117 million gallons of fresh water every day."  There is an underwater theater here for mermaids that began in 1947. In 1959 when American Broadcasting Company bought the place they fixed up everything. This was the golden age of the theater.  The mermaids were famous.  And then in the seventies Disney World opened and the crowds became fewer and fewer.  The mermaids in 2001 pulled together to save it. And now it's a historical site and the mermaids are government employees.  While underwater they do various things such as eat food or do synchronized dances.  There's also a Weeki Wachee Wilderness Cruise. Think Magic Kingdom's Jungle Cruise only with real animals. Of course, the only animals they see are some fish and one manatee.  But it's still a nice ride.  He sees an out of order Mold-O-Matic machine which when you put money in gives you a fresh plastic toy that represents the place you are at.  So he decides to use that as a rating system. He gives the Weeki Wachee three and a half Mold-O-Matic out of order machines out of five.

Cassadaga, Florida was founded in 1894 by George Colby who was a member of the Spiritualist Movement.  Today it is still filled with spiritualists, and psychics, and any number of supernatural beings.  Dave goes to a spiritualist first off, named Judy.  She doesn't use any props such as tarot cards; just a piece of paper.  She appears to be talking to a person over his shoulder and asks him about things that she "sees" but they mean nothing to him and he feels as though he is failing this reading.  Until finally she stumbles on something and they both grasp it.  Then she asks if he wants to talk to his mother and father and she pulls out a spirit box.  She tells him what she hears from it, but all he hears is static that could be anything. He also has a reading done of his dog via a picture.

Dave Barry explores the myth of the Skunk Ape and the retirement community of The Villages as well as the gun culture by going to a gun range and shooting machine guns and getting into the exclusive dance club LIV in Miami.  He also visits Spongorama and Gatorland and the wild and wonderful Key West.  Through it all, he shows that Florida is a unique place with lots to offer besides being a punchline.

Link to Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Best-State-Ever-Florida-Homeland-ebook/dp/B01BS7N74E/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1487771990&sr=1-1&keywords=best+state+ever+dave+barry


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