Tag Archives: Miami Herald

Ms. Language Person Talks Newspapers

My favorite humorist, Dave Barry, who used to work for the Miami Herald, along with hundreds of other people who now used to work for the Miami Herald, used to devote a column from time to time to questions from readers to Mr. Language Person.  I would give you examples, but I’m prohibited from doing so.  You have to subscribe to the Miami Herald yourself and look it up. 

I know this because I subscribe to the Miami Herald myself, and the latest subscriber update I received from them informed me that if I violated any of their policies, they were going to rebuild the Bastille,  build an extra-deep dungeon (possible due to state-of-the-art technology unavailable in 1370), place me in a cell and feed me boiled cockroach soup for the rest of my natural but short life. 

Okay, here is what they really said:  You may not reproduce any part of this content, blah, blah, blah.  It was so Draconian I was afraid to even quote anyone, which seemed to Fakename to be a sort of self-defeating policy on their part.  What about, “I read it in the Miami Herald” would be bad?  Especially since subscribing is free…oh wait.  No more. 

So far they haven’t billed me, but it’s now $1.99 per month. 

Now the good news is, I know for a fact that they do not have an army of researchers combing other newspapers or Internet sites, or for that matter, combing their hair for instances of plagiarism or (politely speaking) unattributed quotes.  So I could possibly get away with calling myself Ms. Language Person and not get sued.  But Fakename is not into stealing intellectual property.  She IS into having the freedom to quote people and to playing on words.

We are in that interim period where newspapers on paper are indeed dying.  No more smell of newsprint, holding it in your hands in the morning over a cup of coffee.  I get that.  But I am kind of an interim person.  I’m willing to give up the newspaper, as long as you don’t  mess with the library and the paper books.   I’ll have to go all Fahrenheit 451 on you if that happens.

The “Forgotten” Coast

This term refers to the Gulf Coast of North Florida, stretching roughly from Carabelle to Mexico Beach, and includes probably more well-known locations like Appalachicola and St. George Island.  St. George, if you ask me (and I realize you didn’t), is the best beach in Florida…maybe the world.  But if you also ask me, the Forgotten Coast is not nearly forgotten enough…by the developers.  Having paved over every inch of South Florida’s beaches, they have now set their sights on the only remaining waterfront property in the state.  The first to fall is Carabelle, which used to be a (quote) “quaint fishing village”, and soon will be Boca Raton North, with condos and marinas for pleasure boats as far as the eye can see.  Gone will be those unsightly shrimp boats and messy fish houses.  Just don’t blame us when you can’t get oysters in Manhattan. 

The incomparable Carl Hiaasen of the Miami Herald has spent a lifetime chronicalling the disappearance of Florida as you know it, or as you think you know it.  Now then.  Time for a disclaimer. 

I actually have a job, which is in the business world (although some fail to see my relevance).  I’m on the Board of Directors of the local chapter of a national, indeed international, organization related to commercial property management.  In certain cases, growth and development contributes to my employment security and potentially to my personal bottom line.  Some of my favorite people are in the construction industry.  Plus you know how the saying goes:  birds gotta swim, fish gotta fly, and developers have to build.  [Another disclaimer:  Please, please don’t correct me here.  I said that on purpose.  Kinda takes away from the joke when you don’t get it, ‘k?]

At the same time, I’m also on the Board of Directors of a local environmental organization with a very narrow focus:  protecting a lake that I live near from….developers.  And I have to say this:  they are a relentless bunch.  The Lake is fairly well-protected, but if there is an ordinance that can be misinterpreted, a definition that can be misunderstood, a rule that can be ignored until you get caught…these guys and their lawyers are the masters.  Take the following example: 

A developer went in near the lake and clear-cut an area illegally, so they could essentially make a “pasture” where there used to be a “forest”.  Then they put in a bunch of goats, and put up a sign on the highway saying they were in the goat cheese business.  This is so they can claim the “agricultural” property tax rate, which is cheaper than the pre-development rate.  (That won’t work, but good try.) So then they got caught by the County, who said they had to replant the trees.  So they did.  And the goats promptly ate them all.  Carl Hiaasen, where are you? 

Therefore I lead a sort of schizophrenic existence.  I’ve learned more than anyone should have to know about zoning codes and stormwater regulations, and I’ve been exposed to terms like “urban infill”, which you should only have to hear if you’re an urban planning graduate student or a local politician. 

I am amending that flower-child sort of poster that says, “Take Only Memories, Leave Only Footprints.”  I want you to visit Florida…really I do.  St. George Island would be a great place to start.  So please:  take only memories, and leave all your discretionary money behind.  And also, be sure to check the bathroom and the balcony and the drawers in the bedside tables for any unnecessary condos you may have left behind.

News From Florida

It dawned on me today that sometime last month I had an anniversary.  I’ve now lived in Florida for ten years.  Like most people in Florida and California, I’m from Somewhere Else.  Being from Somewhere Else gives you the right to tout the good stuff about your state, and disclaim the rest.  As in, Hey I’m not from here!  It’s not my fault!

If states were ranked by the number of crazies in it, Florida would be up there somewhere at least in the top 20, and Dave Barry of the Miami Herald does a good job of reporting on the crazies in Miami.  But, you have to remember that Miami is in “South Florida”, which is technically a different state than “Central Florida” or “North Florida”.  Which is along the same lines of New Orleans being a different state than Louisiana, New York City being a different state than New York, and Chicago being a different state than Illinois. 

Speaking of Illinois, I am voting it in a dead tie with Louisiana for craziest politics.  (New York is a distant third.)  For craziest overall, I still have to go with Wisconsin, where people routinely wear hats that look like wedges of Swiss cheese.  Not to mention they once elected a pro wrestler as governor.  Or was that Minnesota?  I routinely get my Midwestern states confused, except for Iowa where I used to live, briefly.   Don’t even ask me to point out Michigan on a map. 

And now for the news from Florida.  Our Governor, Charlie Crist (Governor Charlie as we all like to call him) announced this week that he is running for the U.S. Senate, even before he finishes his first term as governor.  Governor Charlie is extraordinarily popular, with approval ratings (depending on which poll you look at) somewhere in the 70% range–higher than Obama, in any case.  And this, in spite of not having done anything I can think of.  But he’s very photogenic, and he talks good, as we say here in North Florida. 

Governor Charlie is fond of calling himself The People’s Governor.  He is fond of saying “the people are the boss”.  He calls the Governor’s Mansion “The People’s House”.  (To which one letter writer to the local newspaper said, if he doesn’t stop saying that, I’m showing up one night with my blankie and my pajamas.)

As far as I’m concerned, you can go ahead and start calling him Senator Charlie.  Or as one pundit put it, If he runs, he wins.  Did I mention he’s a Republican?  Kinda, sorta.  The Republicans aren’t fond of him, especially since he appeared onstage with Obama in Fort Myers, and also took the stimulus money–unlike his “principled” colleagues in say, Louisiana and South Carolina.

In other Florida news, today’s newspaper reported that a woman in Melbourne is suing a pet cemetary.  When her squirrel monkey, Mighty, died of cancer in 1994, he was buried in this cemetary and she became so upset by the condition of the grounds that she had his remains moved.  Now she is suing the owner of the pet cemetary for the cost of the original burial and the cost of moving Mighty’s remains to the tune of $500.  The cemetary owner says she was unreasonable, expecting him to clean up immediately after several hurricanes in 2004 and expecting him to mow the grass weekly. 

Well, you know, it’s very hard to commune with the spirit of your dead monkey when you have to wade through knee-high grass which might be full of snakes, chiggers, mosquitos, and poisonous toads.  This is Florida.  And did I mention?  I’m not from here.