I'm closing in on my three-year anniversary in Florida. Before I moved here, I thought of Florida as a very hot place with lots of old people. I was correct. I thought, when I drove out of Cranston on October 28th, 2006 ,that I may never see a Dunkin' Donuts again. I was incorrect.
Now that I've been here for so long, what else have I learned?
Florida is crazy. It's not a melting pot, it's a boiling pot. And good luck if you drop it and spill hot water on your feet.
I can suffer the most agonizing and twisted news you'll see without missing a beat. A kidnapped girl locked in a shed as a sex slave in California? Oh well. Thirteen killed in Afghanistan? Seen that before. Eight people dead in a mobile home in Georgia? That'll be a Law & Order episode.
I know I sound like a jackass there, but if I my heart broke for every evil, senseless news story I read, then it would be in pieces by now. I'd go insane.
So pardon me if I lose my mind talking about South Florida. Watch the first ten minutes of the local news in Rhode Island and you get a few violent stories followed by a broken water pipe in Westerly and or a new Sonic in Massachusetts. Down here, it's murder, murder, armed robbery, kidnapping, murder, embezzlement, robbery, five drunk driving fatalities then some Viagara commercials. You might think, good, there's a break. They come back and it's four hurricanes forming in the Caribbean and a story on the devastated Florida housing market. Then you get sports and some highlights from a Marlins game attended by 50 people. That may be the most depressing news of all.
And Drew Rosenhaus is a sports analyst down here. Yeah, you read that right.
Then after a 22 minutes of death and misery, the anchors smile and promise to see the viewer tomorrow. Well, if the viewer isn't struck by a car or shot, that is.
The past few sweltering summer months have produced a dizzying parade of terrible events. Donte Stallworth kills a man driving drunk. This happens every night. Three people a day die in this area because drunk driving is a sport, a regional pastime. The movie theater down the street from my apartment was robbed at gunpoint early in the morning. A Taco Bell manager was stabbed to death in her store just ten minutes from here. Home invasions in the north Miami area are more common than thunderstorms. Gang violence is high. Old people wander off into the night and drawn in canals. A cop was caught sexually abusing another man.
And there's no coffee milk here.
It gets to the point where a murder story that would lead Rhode Island newscasts is relegated to a brief sentence.
I recently made the case that the country is going a bit nuts. Well, Florida is way ahead of the game. It's fun. It's lively. It's warm and sunny. But, damn, even a cynical newswatcher like myself can barely stomach the stories down here. Often times at work we have the games on CBS or NBC and we don't bother changing the channel. The news comes on and after five or ten minutes us tough, grizzled news vets can't take it anymore. It affects us more than stories from the Middle East or West Coast because this stuff is right down the road. We drive by fatal accident scenes all the time. We go to these stores and theaters that have been robbed.
I wanted to write a blog today about why Brad Penny can suck so much for the Red Sox yet look like Christy Mathewson in the NL. I thought about writing on Curt Schilling being interested in the Senate. But they were just little embryos of ideas until I turn on the computer, go to Talking Points Memo.com and find that the GOP of my state is calling for parents to keep their kids home the day President Obama is set to address them.
They are afraid he will indoctrinate them into socialism. How? By telling them to study hard and get good grades.
Florida certainly has no monopoly on idiotic Republicans, but this made me visibly angry for it's sheer stupidity. It made me think how crazy this state can be sometimes. From the unpredictable weather to murders to nightly drunk driving accidents and nutty politicians, we've got it all.
When I was at the Schaible Wedding, I was asked countless times how I like Florida. I always said I enjoyed it. Good weather and all that. And it's true. I wouldn't want to do this:
"I love Florida, though I do fear getting shot 20 times in Hallandale and then getting eaten by an alligator while a hurricane destroys the state, shuts off power for two weeks, depriving people two weeks of CBS's new hit with LL Cool J, NCIS: Los Angeles."
I wouldn't exactly be the life of the party, would I?
Another rhetorical question: Does this mean I want to move to some leafy suburb in Kansas or Iowa. Answer: No, not yet. Those places don't have Dunkin' Donuts.