Fun:Florida

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A peninsula to the South, it's very vulnerable to climate change.
Ships! Spaceships! Palm trees!
Florida?! But that's America's wang!
—Homer J. Simpson
The F State
—Chuck Shepherd, editor of News of the Weird[1]
Well I been movin' down to Florida.

I'm gonna potty train the chairman Mao.

I'm gonna make the governor write my doodoo a letter, child.
—Butthole Surfers

Florida is The Evil Mouse Kingdom COVID's favorite state The Gunshine State,[2] and hangs chad-like, proudly over the Caribbean from the United States' abdomen. It is also the least explicable of the weird states, being the only state so honored with its own tag by Fark.com. For example, part of the coast is referred to as the "Redneck Riviera" but also features gay pride gatherings every Memorial Day weekend.

Florida is the only American State where the farther north you go, the farther "south" you get.[note 1] Thanks to an influx of immigrants, tourists, and Jews retirees from New York City, Florida used to be a politically competitive state and was commonly considered a "bellwether" in national elections. It is also the easiest place in the US to get OxyContin.[3] Coincidentally, Rush Limbaugh lived there Florida is ranked 49th in mental health funding in the United States. The state is becoming more and more of a red state as of 2022, with Democrats barely even trying in the mid-term election which means less bullshit campaign ads from both parties for Floridians to listen to. The state isn’t officially considered part of the Bible Belt, but it really should be. Miami-Dade County Schools, the third largest school district in the US and part of the liberal east coast, was one of the school districts that publicly resisted atheist campaigns to cease distribution of Gideon New Testaments in the 1980s, and if you drive the streets of Downtown Sarasota late at night you’ll probably have the road to yourself because most of the businesses close earlier than businesses in Dallas which really is considered Bible Belt.

Explanation for the alleged high incidence of weird behavior by Floridians can be blamed on Flakka… or Bath salts… or the air… or the fact their state is constantly on fire... or the fact that it's getting battered by ever-increasingly devastating hurricanes… or something.[4] Of course, the real reason is just that Florida has uniquely comprehensive transparency laws that make it really easy for news agencies, bloggers, YouTubers, and virtually anybody who knows how to use the internet to get access to police reports, so weird stuff is just reported much more often there.

Since the early 2020s, Florida has been known around the world as DeSantis Land due to a serious push in the Florida House to officially change the state’s name heavy criticism and praise of Governor Trump 2.0.

Demographics[edit]

He knew my ancestor's doodoo.

Due to its geographic location, it is home to both large numbers of retired Americans from northerly climes, and (the descendants of) disenfranchised Cuban businessmen who were pwned by Fidel Castro in 1959. Also flying cockroaches big enough to need their own runways.

Cubans voted for Trump twice even though he lied to them about his illegal deal with Fidel Castro in 1998, when he sent employees to the island against the embargo and against federal law.[5] South Florida Cubans wanted the "wet foot, dry foot" policy removed; they dont like that a bunch of young blood comes to Miami and take advantage of all the things their taxes pay for. (They very quickly learned what it means to be an American.)

Retirees[edit]

Retirees in Florida are required to submit to the following provisions prior to being allowed past the Florida state line checkpoints:

  • New Florida residents above the age of 64½ are required by Florida Statute to wear enormous sunglasses that cover their already enormous coke-bottle trifocals. While not in use and at night time, they are required to be displayed conspicuously on the front seat of their Crown Victoria (or other large vehicle as deemed appropriate by local law enforcement).
  • Per the aforementioned article, all new Florida residents of the specified age are required to drive a vehicle no less than 20 feet in length and maintain speeds no more than 10 (ten) miles per hour below the posted speed limit. (This statute is temporarily lifted if the driver is en route to a bingo game and has proper bingo identification)

Foreign residents[edit]

As of FY2010, all resident aliens will be required to pay a state entry and exit tariff in the amount of 20% of their gross income. Conversely, all illegal aliens will receive a scholarship to the University of Florida, a (non-transferable) all-access pass to Café Risque (with multiple convenient locations along I-75), and a yearly stipend of no less than 20% of the average gross income of all legal citizens residing in the state.

Key West thinks they are a foreign country, the "Conch Republic." But they aren't.

Exports[edit]

Central Florida papers once described Jacksonville as an industrial city that sweats, and pretty much smells that way. This is a city that could use a shot of municipal-strength deodorant. On the other hand, local advocates countered that the city’s rotten egg stench was the “smell of money”.
[6]

Florida currently leads all other states in the Union in exporting Cuban sandwiches, sunburns, hurricanes, Publixes, "Chek" sodas, fundamentalist textbooks, and mild invectives hurled by old timers about how gas used to cost a nickel back in their day.

Regional breakdown[edit]

Florida's genetic and cultural makeup is fascinating to many people. Sans the geography, you could say the Sunshine State is a microcosm for all of the various social and political divisions within America.[7] The Panhandle is home to Tallahassee, the largely forgettable capital, populated by a bunch of angry ideological plutocrats who won their seats mostly by gerrymandering. The Panhandle is very much like the rest of the Deep South, hence why Republicans control the state legislature and largely ignore the peninsula. Many Floridians see the Panhandle as an alien construct that should be ceded to Alabama (the western third even has the same time zone as Alabama). About its only saving grace is that Tallahassee is home to Free Shoes Florida State University and the historically-black Florida A&M University, both of whom pride in their heavy research activity and their high standards of education. FSU even leads Florida in external STEM funding. What is it doing perched up in the North and why isn't the rest of the Panhandle taking after it? We have no fucking idea. It is also home to some shockingly nice beaches around Pensacola, which is home to the Blue Angels, a fun beach and downtown area, and way too many creationists.

Now head to the peninsula and you get North Florida, which is part of the Bible Belt, but less wingnut than the Panhandle. North Florida includes Gainesville (home to the University of Florida), Daytona Beach (home to the Daytona 500), and Jacksonville (the largest city), which controls Duval County. Jacksonville is also the largest city in the US by surface area. Despite being located in North Florida, Jacksonville is a cultural melting pot, with a significant Muslim minority, a bunch of Asian, African, European, and Hispanic immigrants, and (at one point) an African American Democratic mayorWikipedia all next to a large naval presence.

Head down the rest of the peninsula and you get Central Florida, represented most of all by the Interstate 4 corridor connecting Orlando with Tampa Bay. Central Florida is more reminiscent of the Midwest (say, Michigan, Illinois, and Ohio), has booming tourism and tech industries and growing non-white populations, and perfectly represents the Purple to the North's Red and the South's Blue; it has voted for the presidential candidate who won the state as a whole in every election from 1992 to 2012.

Central Florida is also home to The VillagesWikipedia, an extremely large [note 2] and fast growing [9] planned retirement community. This community is very conservative, and thus it is a frequent must-stop location for Republican presidential candidates and other conservative politicians on the campaign path.[10] After the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, anti-face mask and anti-vaxx Boomers flocked to places like this seeking the "freedums!" of the hands-off COVID-19 policies of "Ron DeathSantis", thus helping endanger Florida's previous "swing state" status.[11][12][13]

South Florida historically was considered the blue stronghold of the state, with Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach having a diverse variety of immigrants, tourists, retirees, and college students who largely dislike and oppose the Panhandle's grip on the state. However, in recent years Orlando and Miami seem to have switched places, as Orlando is getting increasingly blue and in 2022 elected Maxwell Frost,Wikipedia a Bernie Sanders-endorsed progressive who is also the first Gen Z U.S. representative, while the Latino population in Miami (especially the Cubans) is getting increasingly conservative.

West of South Florida and south of the I-4 corridor of urban Central Florida, you get Southwest Florida. This part of the state is a conservative and fundamentalist stronghold comparable to the Panhandle, in both the urban and rural areas. As a matter of fact, Lee County is one of two counties in Florida with a major state university (Florida Gulf Coast University) and a track record of consistently voting Republican (the other is Escambia, home of the University of West Florida and Pensacola Christian College). Interestingly, FGCU's eagle mascot and use of palm trees in their logo eerily resembles PCC, and the student populations of UWF and FGCU closely resemble each other. The beach communities make up a vast retirement mecca, with the average age of the residents in many towns along the coastal strip reaching into the sixties.

Inland from there is the "Florida Heartland", a mostly agricultural region (sugar and citrus especially) and the last remaining island of the deep South outside North Florida, hidden away near Lake Okeechobee. The wealth gap between the coastal and inland communities can be staggering; the city of Naples has the second-highest concentration of millionaires in the US, while in the same county, the town of Immokalee has long been infamous for ghoulish poverty, such that it was featured in the 1960 CBS documentary Harvest of Shame about the struggles of migrant workers (most of whom are of Mexican or South American heritage).

Politics[edit]

State Politics[edit]

The current governor is Ron DeSantis, a Republican, who narrowly defeated Democrat Andrew Gillum in 2018. A frequent Trump acolyte, DeSantis is in many ways your typical hard-right Republican: he dog-whistled about Gillum (who is black) on the campaign trail,[14] he signed an anti-"sanctuary city" bill (even though Florida didn't have any sanctuary cities),[15] he supports open carry, he shifted the state's Supreme Court to a conservative majority,[16] and he attempted to obstruct the implementation of a ballot initiative (passed by an overwhelming majority) that would have restored voting rights for ex-convicts who have served their time. He did, however, break from the national GOP's anti-environmental stance, in no small part because defending the state's sugar industry when the runoff from the sugar plantations around Lake Okeechobee was causing toxic algae blooms on the coasts (which badly damaged their tourism and fishing industries) was political suicide. He appointed a chief science officer, created an Office of Resilience and Coastal Protection, signed an executive order assigning $2.5 billion for water quality and Everglades restoration work, and — in the ultimate heresy — spoke the words "climate change", a far cry from his predecessor Rick Scott banning mention of it within state agencies.[17] The previous governor was Rick Scott, a hard-working former CEO of a large hospital network. Rick Scott is notable for spending over seventy-three million dollars of his own money on his campaign. He was elected and reelected despite having committed the largest Medicare/Medicaid fraud in the US and the largest financial fraud in Florida history.[18] In 2018, facing term limits keeping him from running for governor for a third term, he successfully unseated incumbent Democrat senator Bill Nelson, who had been the only statewide Democrat in elected office in Florida. However, his victory was very narrow, at just a 0.12% margin.[19]

The previous governor of Florida was Charlie Christ Crist. Charlie was a moderate Republican, and as such his views seemed rather wishy-washy depending on who talked to him. Notably, during his campaign as a Republican for US Senator, he was staunchly anti-abortion, though after becoming an independent he was pro-choice. When he tried to challenge Scott and return to the governor's mansion in 2014, he did so as a Democrat. To his credit, however, Crist did a lot to help the Florida education system and the environment, particularly the Florida Everglades. Crist was at one point considered a possible running mate for John McCain during the 2008 presidential election, and one must wonder whether the election would have turned out differently if he was a vice-presidential candidate instead of that crazy moose-shooting hockey mom.

Despite having had more registered Democrats than Republicans until 2021,[20][note 3] the Florida Democratic Party is almost legendary for its incompetence at mounting an effective opposition to the state's hard-right Republican leadership.[22][23] Committed to a centrist platform and terrified of even the slightest whiff of progressivism out of a mistaken belief that Florida is a lot redder than it actually is, the state Democrats share some of the blame for allowing the GOP to hold the governorship uninterrupted since 1998.[24] Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, whose tenure as chair of the Democratic National Committee saw her lead the national party to defeat against an '80s yuppie villain caricature, represents Florida's 23rd Congressional District. No wonder the ex-Republican Crist ran for governor in 2014 as a Democrat; his center-right politics were right at home in the state party. That said, in 2018 Florida Democrats nominated Andrew Gillum, the Bernie Sanders-endorsed progressive mayor of Tallahassee, for governor in a major upset against a field of moderate "establishment" candidates, including Gwen Graham (the daughter of former Governor and Senator Bob Graham), Philip Levine (the mayor of Miami Beach and a former marketing mogul), and Jeff Greene (a billionaire Palm Beach real estate mogul), even though Gillum was outspent by a wide margin.[25] He lost by a nailbiter to Ron DeSantis, and by the next election they went back to trying to re-elect Crist (because if what you're currently doing isn't working, apparently the only other option is to reuse an earlier failed strategy). Crist would be defeated by over 1.5 million votes, and the overall election results showed how far to the right Florida had shifted in just four years, with even Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Osceola going red.[26] However, left-leaning groups in the state argue that factors such as voter suppression, disillusionment, and loss of faith in the state Democratic Party depressed voter turnout in the 2022 midterms.[27]

Federal Politics[edit]

Florida, geographically part of the American South, is usually regarded as a red state. However, it's arguable to say that it's more of a purple state, having voted for the winner in every Presidential election since 1928, save for the 1960, 1992, and 2020 elections, all three of which were decided by four points or less.[28] Furthermore, since 1992, all of its elections were decided by five points or less — with the lone exceptions of 1996, where Bill Clinton won by a decisive (albeit not overwhelming) 5.7 points, and 2004, in which it was 5.01%. It turns out the large number of Medicare/Social Security-receiving senior citizens, young college and university students, Latino immigrants, and South Beach/Keys-dwelling gay folk in the more metropolitan areas of the state are sufficient to garner more votes than the traditional conservative remnants of the Confederacy that live in the Panhandle, Jacksonville area, and Southwest Florida. Or, maybe, Florida is just bipolar. Even the conservative areas aren't very selectively conservative. It is considered a key swing state due to its large and growing population, and thus receives a lot of attention during the summers and autumns of election years.

These inherent contradictions were most especially, and most infamously, found in 2000 when hanging chads and weird recount rules required the 2000 U.S. presidential election to be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court in the court case Bush v. Gore. Controversial at the time were that then-governor Jeb Bush is one candidate's brother, and that then-Secretary of State Katherine Harris went on to work for President Bush-the-Lesser after the court decided to prevent a recount.

Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services[edit]

The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is one of the most feared organisations in the state. Any act, no matter how minor, seen as injurious to true Floridaness can be investigated and punished by this department, and any complaints to them will lead to your sudden and unexpected appointment with the local alligator population. Beware the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services! Maintain your ideological vigilance and keep your precious bodily fluids in a condition of peak Floridanity, for your very lives depend on it! Be pure! Be vigilant! Behave!

Weirdness capital of America[edit]

South Florida is where America goes to fall apart. It is our national case of jock itch. Even O.J. Simpson unraveled down here. I was watching the O.J. doc and after O.J. fled to Miami to avoid paying civil suit damages from murdering two people, his former agent was like, “Ugh. Fucking Florida. That’s where O.J. REALLY turned evil."
—Drew Magary[29]

In the last decade or so, Florida has developed a reputation for "news of the weird", dethroning wacky California for the title of "craziest state in America". It began when Fark created a "Florida" tag to pin on weird news stories from Florida, mainly because the volume of such stories got so great that it became a running joke,[30] but it really took off when the "Florida Man" Twitter feed began in 2013, supplying a steady stream of crazy Florida stories to the other 49 states.[31] Many explanations have been cited for this, from the Bermuda Triangle to the large number of old people and alligators to the state literally sitting atop the mouth of Hell.[32]

The truth is more mundane. A number of famous American humorists, such as Dave Barry[33] and Carl Hiaasen, are from Florida, mining much of their comedy from the state's eccentricities. Furthermore, American Media, a company that publishes many of America's big tabloid newspapers (National Enquirer, National Examiner, Globe, Sun, and Star), is based in Boca Raton in South Florida, while the Weekly World News (a spinoff of the National Enquirer) was based just a few towns over in Lantana. It's also the third-largest state by population, which means a lot more weirdos per square mile. Most of all, though, Florida has very strong open-records laws requiring that all government records, with very few exceptions, must be available to the public and anybody who asks for them. These laws create a great deal of government transparency in Florida, but since they also apply to police records, mugshots, and arrest reports, lurid stories that might get squashed in, say, Ohio due to the police refusing to give out sensitive information can easily find their way into newspapers in Florida. In other words, Florida probably isn't any weirder than any other state, it's just far more honest about it.[34]

Famous Florida Men (and others)[edit]

  • Allen West
  • Rick Wiles
  • Marco Rubio, dehydrated senator and a 2016 presidential candidate.
  • Jeb Bush, governor during the Great Derailment. He later ran one of the saddest presidential campaigns in recorded history. (They shoulda known that a GOP lifer like Jeb! was doomed the moment he set foot in that viper pit.)
  • Voldemort Rick Scott, drug tester-in-chief
  • Katherine Harris, secretary of state during ibid. Her husband lived with a chronic pain issue which led him to commit suicide. (And its name was Katherine Harris)
  • John Thrasher, former Speaker of the State House and Chairman of the Florida Republican party. He concocted the largest tax cut in Florida history as Speaker, and as Chairman, the party swept the Florida Cabinet races, picked up four U.S. House seats, won a U.S. Senate race and delivered a two-thirds majority in the Legislature. It also survived a nasty gubernatorial primary and won a tight victory in the general election. Thrasher is now President of Florida State University. (The position is not filled by student election.)
  • Roger Stone, got in car accident in Fort Lauderdale that he believed was meant to kill him
  • Terry Jones, a very naughty boy
  • Kayleigh McEnany, one of Trump's cheerleaders press secretaries.
  • Victoria Jackson, former comedienne and current nutjob. She appears to actually be dumber than her SNL characters. "I have gay friends doe!"
  • Casey Anthony, possible murderer
  • Ray Lewis, possible murderer
  • George Zimmerman, convicted killer found not guilty of murder
  • Brad Meltzer, conspiratorial thriller writer. One of his books pushed the Washington, D.C. street design conspiracy theory
  • Ted Bundy, serial killer
  • Gerald Stano, serial killer
  • Ottis Toole, serial killer
  • Dexter Morgan, fictional serial killer
  • Dr. Kent Hovind, serial killer (of science) and convicted tax cheat
  • Mickey Mouse, "stand your ground" proponent[35]
  • Rush Limbaugh — born in Missouri, but moved for the Oxycontin golf
  • Lou Pearlman, convicted Ponzi schemer and '90s boy band mogul.
  • Debra Lafave, convicted sex offender who was caught boinking a 14-year old student
  • Rudy Eugene, zombie convicted face-eating cannibal
  • Austin Harrouf, zombie convicted face-eating cannibal
  • Pat Boone, zombie pioneer of vanilla rock n' roll for your pastor (which he stole from more-talented black artists). Also once exposed his "little Richard".
  • Vanilla Ice, rap's equivalent of Pat Boone
  • Paul Reubens, actor who showed his Pee Wee in a theater in Sarasota
  • Fred Durst, unpleasant front man of Limp Bizkit
  • "Rachel from Card Services"[36]
  • Nick Cruz, dick head who decided to kill 17 of his classmates and staff at his school while injuring several more.
  • Scott Beierle, mass shooter and self-described incel
  • Cesar Sayoc, proud kookmobile owner who tried and failed to assassinate multiple left-wing Trump critics with mail bombs
  • Have even less talent than these people but still want to be on TV? Not to worry, COPS was originally filmed in Florida. You will need to be dumber than the average Floridian, which is actually a bit of a challenge; a keggo burr shuh helpya wi'dat.
  • Donald Trump (despite his New York upbringings and transparent desperation for validation by the city's upper crust). Trump is President Florida Man, so it makes sense that actual Florida Men consider his residence there a positive.
  • Richard Littlejohn, odious Daily Mail columnist despite moaning about Britain going down the toilet has made Florida has permanent home.
  • Wally Gator, fictional cartoon alligator that acts much like a very different apex predator. Most likely from Florida.

Gallery[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. This common phrase references the fact that the southern, peninsular part of Florida tends to resemble the northeast in its politics and social fabric, while the northern, panhandle part is more like the rest of the American South.
  2. 135,638 as of July 2021.[8]
  3. Note that party registration isn't always indicative of how a state votes, as many voters don't update their party registration even as major political shifts like the Southern Strategy occur. As an example, until 2022 there were more registered Democrats than Republicans in Kentucky.[21]

References[edit]

  1. The Weird Decade by Bella Stander
  2. We know who really rules the Gunshine State by Catherine Rampell (February 22, 2018 at 7:53 PM) The Washington Post.
  3. The 'Oxy Express:' Florida's prescription drug abuse epidemic
  4. Flakka is wreaking havoc on Florida April 30, 2015 New York Post.
  5. How Donald Trump's Company Violated the United States Embargo Against Cuba. Newsweek. 29 September 2016.
  6. "5 Reasons for Jacksonville's Smell" Metro Jacksonville 10.12.15.
  7. Here's the Miami New Times to give their own breakdown of the state.
  8. "Population surging in The Villages thanks to new homes at the southern end", staff report, Villages-News
  9. "The Villages, a retirement community in Florida, was the fastest-growing metro area over the last decade." by Audra D.S. Burch, New York Times, 2021 August 12
  10. "Who would The Villages back in a Trump-DeSantis clash?" by Hannah Critchfield, Tampa Bay Times, 2022 November 27
  11. "How Florida turned red: Changing population, weak opposition, aggressive Gov. Ron DeSantis" by John Kennedy and Zac Anderson, Tallahassee Democrat, 2022 November 17
  12. "The Democratic Party’s Broccoli Politics" by Michael Grunwald, Atlantic, 2022 November 10
  13. "Letters to the Editor: My friend could take The Villages for just one year", Tampa Bay Times, 2022 December 4
  14. Dartunorro Clark and Ali Vitali. "Gillum responds to 'monkey this up' comment: DeSantis is joining Trump 'in the swamp'." NBC News, 29 August 2018 (recovered 30 August 2019).
  15. "Advocates say Florida governor's 'sanctuary bill' politically motivated." NBC News, 16 June 2019 (recovered 30 August 2019).
  16. Garrett, Ashley. "DeSantis Judicial Appointments Set to Give Florida Supreme Court Conservative Majority." 90.7 WMFE, 25 January 2019 (recovered 30 August 2019).
  17. Green, Amy. "In Florida, a New Governor Speaks the Words 'Climate Change'." WLRN, 30 April 2019 (recovered 30 August 2019).
  18. Stephen Barrett's Insurance Reform Watch, "A Skeptical Look at Rick Scott (etc.)"
  19. Scott defeats Nelson in Florida Senate race after bitter recount fight
  20. Florida just keeps getting redder. Politico. 26 October 2022.
  21. Historic party flip: More voters now registered as Republicans in Kentucky, Brandon Robinson, WYMT 15 July 2022
  22. Florida has made a right turn since 2020. These four factors explain the change. CNN. 1 November 2022.
  23. How Florida turned red: Changing population, weak opposition, aggressive Gov. Ron DeSantis. Tallahassee Democrat. 17 November 2022.
  24. Iannelli, Jerry. "Five Stories That Show How Incompetent Florida Democrats Are." Miami New Times, 21 May 2017 (recovered 23 May 2017).
  25. Nilsen, Ella. "Who is Andrew Gillum? Meet Florida’s history-making Democratic nominee for governor." Vox, 29 August 2018 (recovered 29 August 2018).
  26. Florida Election Results, Politico
  27. Don't call Florida a red state yet: Left-leaning groups say their voters stayed home. NPR. 28 November 2022.
  28. 270ToWin: Florida
  29. Magary, "Why Your Team Sucks 2016: Miami Dolphins", Deadspin (8/03/16 at 1:38pm).
  30. Fark's collection of Florida stories
  31. Florida Man. Real life stories of the world's worst superhero!
  32. Welch, Hanuman. "More Proof Florida is Actually a Hellmouth: Man Shot and Killed Over PlayStation 4." Complex.com, 18 November 2013 (recovered 11 June 2015).
  33. Wolf, Colin. "Humor writer Dave Barry explains why Florida is so weird." Orlando Weekly, 5 May 2015 (recovered 11 June 2015).
  34. Munzenreider, Kyle. "How Florida's Proud Open Government Laws Lead to the Shame of 'Florida Man' News Stories." Miami New Times, 12 May 2015 (recovered 11 June 2015).
  35. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2WMLV1UeuM
  36. http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2013/07/ftc_disconnects_rachel_from_ca.html