Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Sunday, September 26, 2021

Something to look forward to, shortly: The “Dali & Mass Culture” special exhibition at the Salvador Dali Museum.

The St. Pete Times ran a great in-depth look at the commercial applications of Dali’s works, and includes a fantastic image gallery. I especially like the Dali-crafted 1944 Vogue cover.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/26/2004 09:20:54 PM
Category: Florida Livin', Pop Culture
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It’s quite the identity crisis: Despite being, geographically, the deepest part of the Deep South, Florida’s regular population influxes from Northern and Midwestern states call into question just where it fits in the national sociopolitical picture. Diane Roberts argues that, despite the tendency of transplants to cling to their non-Southern identities, many of their reasons for coming to Florida only reinforce the state’s traditional Southern-ness.

Being a transplant myself, from New York — deep in Yankee territory — I’m very familiar with the reluctance of Floridian emigrants to consider themselves as Southerners. I suppose that’s true for other parts of the South where transplants settle, but it seems acute in Florida, perhaps because it’s still seen as something more of a frontier state (a holdover from the 1920s land boom).

Part of it is intra-state perceptions. I know that the South Florida metroplex (Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties) generally considers the rest of the state to be cracker country. Orlando is looked upon as even more tourist-dominated than the rest of the state. And the Panhandle is pretty much an extension of neighboring Alabama and Georgia.

I always felt that the Tampa Bay area was where the uncertain border between old-time cracker Florida and the transplant-colonized Florida was drawn. You don’t have to go too far north of Tampa Bay to heard distinctly Southern accents dominating. But head south to Sarasota and further, and you’ll find more and more pockets of Midwestern stock. (Of course, there is no clear dividing line.)

Roberts’ main argument against the notion that Florida has somehow been transformed from Southern to Northern:

Immigrants to Florida absolve the state of its own history, through ignorance or else a desire to embrace more romantic, tourist-friendly, versions of the past. The solid citizens of the heartland carry their values to Florida, but they also imbibe Southernness, as demonstrated in their reluctance to pay fair taxes or, as Martha Barnett puts it, “invest in our infrastructure or education.”

Basically, people coming here from Michigan or Pennsylvania won’t consciously associate themselves with the established, traditional culture, and so retain their out-of-state identity as a point of pride. But the traditional sociopolitical structure that favors lower taxes (as compared to other parts of the country) as a permanent incentive is too tempting to not embrace, even for those raising families. In essence, lower taxes become the main compensation for relocating to Florida, and in turn inject a distinctly Southern sensibility into these former Northerners/Midwesterners.

I also really like Roberts’ characterization of Florida’s Cubans, who are often pointed to as proof of the state’s un-Southernization:

But the Cubans are arguably the most Southern people on Earth. Cuba was a plantation society, a slave society. Fidel Castro mounted a rebellion that destroyed the landed class, and now Florida Cubans talk about him the way the Daughters of the Confederacy talk about Gen. Sherman.

The exiles understand the Lost Cause. They romanticize defeat so heavily you can almost hear the theme music from Gone With the Wind playing in the background.

Now, Cubans aren’t indistinguishable from Faulkner characters or even denizens of rural North Florida. They do, however, manifest so-called “Southern” traits: piety, obsession with honor, chastity, violence, manliness — sound like anyone you know? Far from being an exotic incursion into Florida, the Cubans fit right in.

Pretty spot on.

When speaking of my current home state, I’m fond of summing it up thusly: The South is north of us. It’s terribly oversimplified, but seems to fit. I think Roberts’ point is that, as distinct as Florida’s demographics have become over the past half-century, deeper historical patterns — basicaly, what makes the engine run — remain and keep the state rooted in its native region, whether we want it to or not.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/26/2004 09:12:29 PM
Category: Florida Livin', Political, Society
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jeanne genie
It’s pretty much over. It’s still raining, and enough wind is kicking up to swing that loose storm drain gutter and make some unsettling noise. The weather should remain shitty for the next couple of hours, and get only a little better tomorrow, and the storm surges should cause headaches around the Bay. But overall, Tropical Storm (nee Hurricane) Jeanne has come and gone.

I just took a walk outside, largely to get at least a little fresh air. The damage in my little nook here is minimal: Lots of plant debris was blown about, most of the small trees have acquired new angles, and wetness everywhere. I saw a few more storm drains downed, and what appeared to be part of an air-conditioning system crashed into a far parking lot (no car got damaged from it, from what I could see). Otherwise, it’s looking okay.

As usual, the fatigue factor was more mental than anything else. I avoided watching the weather updates more than a couple of times, because that’s a sure way to amp up your anxiety level needlessly. But just having to coop myself up all day was wearing. And since rainy days always tend to depress me, it’s been a real downer of a day.

So, Round Four of Florida’s little hurricane year is largely in the books. I’m not looking for a Round Five.

I do think that a couple of changes need to be made, as far as Florida’s identity:

- With this much storm activity, in addition to the higher-than-average precipitation we got before the hurricane season even began, I feel it’s time to remove the “sub” from the sub-tropical designation of the peninsula’s geographic region. We’re as good as tropical, baby — start planting the rainforest fields in Plant City!

- The state’s tourism folks won’t like it, but it’s time to call a spade a spade: “Sunshine State” is laughably dead. Long live “Hurricane State”.

What else? A couple of bloggers found ways to make lemonade from this lemon of a day:

- Stacy at Sekimori has come up with a drinking game, dubbed “FALL DOWN”, that relies on the on-the-scene TV reporters during major storms getting pelted with stuff and blown down. Funny concept, but it’s no Three-Man. (Found via Jeff at Side Salad.)

- Mr. Bill at SoHoTampa is trying to scare up a “Good Riddance Jeanne”/Sunday Night Bucs game party tonight. It’s a natural inclination around here to punctuate a hurricane with a celebration afterward (or even beforehand). It’s tempting, if only to get out of the house and salvage something out of this day. But I’m not wild about driving in this still-windy mess.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/26/2004 06:40:20 PM
Category: Florida Livin', Weather
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I just got my first tangible sign of real damage from visiting Hurricane Jeanne. Above is a picture of the storm gutter above my apartment, over my patio. I guess the day’s rain and wind finally overloaded it, and it broke loose. It’s since swung down perpendicular and is hanging on the edge of my patio window, just out of sight except for regular gusts that swing it back over.

Nothing major, but definitely noticable, as I was sitting in my living room when it happened. I don’t think it can do much damage: It’s just aluminum, so it doesn’t have enough heft to come through the screen. If I could reach it, I’d try to pull it down just to eliminate it as a possible projectile. But if this is the worst I get, I’ll take it.

By the way, it seems Tampa Bay’s special Providence that protects it from hurricanes and tropical storms has come through again, mostly. A TV report just told me that Jeanne took a turn over Polk County, going slightly further northwest than originally expected. That means the center of the storm will only brush northern Hillsborough, instead of coming into downtown Tampa. It also means Jeanne will spend more time over land, and thus will lose strength a little more quickly. We’ll still get plenty wet, but apparently it’s being somewhat minimized.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/26/2004 01:14:08 PM
Category: Weather
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With Jeanne in town, it’s a good time to look at the whack rumors that blazed through Florida during the weather crises, and why they spread.

The gas-rationing one was really noticable here during Ivan’s time, and massively contributed to my foul mood that weekend. I lucked out by gassing up the very night before; but all the traffic holdups caused by idiots piling six cars deep into pump cues really got on my nerves.

So what’s the social dynamic behind these crazy stories?

“Natural disasters are a major incubator for rumors,” said Gary Fine, an expert on the psychology of rumors at Northwestern University in Chicago. “They work so well because the events are both important and ambiguous, and often in times of great stress people lose their critical ability.”

Rumors tend to start early after the disaster when information is scarce and emotions are raw, Fine said. And in those situations, people might not be inclined to believe what the government is telling them.

“In the midst of things, people are looking for any kind information about what’s going to happen next,” Fine said. “So a neighbor will tell them something that they’re just speculating or guessing about, and the person who hears it takes it as fact. We’re searching for any kind of news we can get our hands on, and we’re not very particular about what the source is.”

Not very particular about the source — wow, that sounds like the Web/blog news phenomenon! Except there’s generally no crisis that merits it.

I think I’ll get the early jump on the rumor mill for Jeanne. This is a blog, so I’m sure the story will be disseminated widely in short order. Let’s see, how about this:

I hear a bunch of alligators escaped from Lowry Park Zoo thanks to the storm, and are marching all over town. Some have been sighted as far south as Kennedy.

(I’m counting on people who’ve never seen the gators at Lowry Park to swallow this. If you’ve ever seen how fat those bastards are, you’d know they could never waddle more than a block before collapsing into hibernation.)

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/26/2004 09:04:10 AM
Category: Society, Weather
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It’s not unusual to see a fetish party in Ybor City. It is rather unusual to see two of them, in separate locations, on the same night.

But that was the case last night: Both The Masquerade and Circus Bar (formerly Club Czar; I was unaware of the changeover) were crawling with latex-clad, chain-bedecked freakie-deakies, and there was plenty of spillover all over 7th Avenue.

It was quite the sight. It served as a perception corrective: As much as you might think some of the outfits on display in Ybor are over the edge, seeing a Gimp lookalike strolling down the street makes you realize how tame everyone else really is.

I did not attend either party. They were both open to the public, and I was handed a free drink card for the Masquerade show while I was killing time in the little hole-in-the-wall karaoke bar next door. But it was a little too out there for me last night, and anyway I wasn’t dressed for it (even though I was wearing mostly black). I likely wouldn’t have been able to take any pictures, which would have been the main reason for indulging. Maybe next time.

Two fetish parties in one night, only a couple of blocks apart? Must have been the Hurricane Jeanne-induced drop in barometric pressure…

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/26/2004 08:48:48 AM
Category: Florida Livin'
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blue jeanne
I had hoped to place an embargo on all hurricane-related talk on this blog, especially after Ivan was kind enough to give the Tampa Bay area a pass. Like many others here, I’ve experienced more than enough hurricane-alertness fatigue; while it’s not as bad as getting nailed, it’s wearing, and it takes its toll.

But, because Hurricane Jeanne is insistent on coming at us from the east, I guess I have no choice but to acknowledge it. And I might as well post something about it while I still have power flowing (and while I’m awake, thanks to the howling wind).

Right now, the TV is telling me that Jeanne should be in the northern part of the Bay area by 2PM. It’ll be passing directly over areas like Ybor City, Oldsmar and New Port Richey (but not me in St. Pete). We’ll be getting wind speeds of around 60 miles per hour, and plenty of rain and the dreaded storm surges. That means the threat of flooding, as usual.

Currently it’s looking fairly ugly outside, although not exceedingly so: Lots and lots of wind gusts, but only light rain so far. I’m really curious to see how it gets in a few hours.

I’m not sure if an evac order is in effect for me; it probably is. But I’m not going anywhere. It’s already too late, really. So I’ll sit back, enjoy the ride, and hope the juice keeps flowing.

Jeanne is something of a surprise. With a storm that hits the Atlantic side, you don’t expect much when it comes across to this side (relatively). Things didn’t really start to hit preparation mode here until yesterday afternoon. But since this is our fourth serious go at this, I don’t think most people hit the panic button. Bottled water sales were brisk, but otherwise, things were fairly normal. I even went out to Ybor last night, and despite the windiness, plenty of people were out clubbing.

This had better be the last storm we get. I’m so over all this.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 09/26/2004 08:24:19 AM
Category: Weather
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