People often try to tell me California is the weirdest state in the union. No way, I always reply: Florida is. By far.

I find more weird stories there than from any other state, even though California (with about 37 million residents) has twice the population as Florida (with about 18.5 million). One of their newspapers even has a recurring feature called “FloriDuh” — they know the weirdness that permeates the state.

This week’s (almost!)-all-Florida edition (the second such in True’s history) had two stories where a picture is worth 1,000 words. I’ve got them for you, following each of the stories involved from the 23 May 2010 issue.

Paging Alfred Hitchcock

“I literally thought it was the end,” says Jeanine Magaro, one of the “victims” of a “crazy bird” that is “terrorizing” residents around Chase St. in West Palm Beach, Fla. “I was like, ‘Aahhhh!'” (Aahhhh? “Aahhhh!” OK.) She runs from the bird, but “it stays with me,” she said. “I still see his shadow.” She drew a “composite sketch” of the bird so others can watch out for it. A reporter said the sketch was “apparently created by a 5-year-old” and notes the bird appears “pregnant with multiples.” (WTVJ Miami)…Which isn’t all that bad. The reporter could have accused the “victim” of having multiples — personalities.

The “composite sketch” the “victim” made of the “crazy bird” terrorizing Chase St. Please use extreme caution if you see this bird.

Ticket to Ride

Ashlee Lineberger, 31, of Englewood, Fla., sent in the fee to renew her driver’s license. But when her new license arrived in the mail, she noticed her street address had been replaced with “EAT ASS” printed on the official document. Lineberger and her husband got the “runaround” from DMV officials on the phone, so they went to their local office — where they were told they could get a new license if they paid another fee. They took the document to the media, instead. Embarrassed state officials called to apologize, and to offer a new license for no charge. “Imagine if I got pulled over by a cop and had to show this ID?” Lineberger said. “I probably wouldn’t be getting out of that ticket.” (WTVJ Miami) …Are you kidding? The cop wouldn’t be able to stop laughing long enough to write it.

She finally got a great photo on her driver’s license, and now this! Ashlee Lineberger’s official Floriduh license. When the blonde beauty complained, DMV officials flipped her the bird.

The Last Time I “Picked On” Florida

I mentioned above that there was a previous Florida-only issue. The other was in October 2005, and led to a some grumbling from Florida-based readers. A couple of examples:

I’m almost embarrassed to be living in Florida after your last issue. I realize that every state has its share of ‘weird but true’ in the news, but I feel picked on in this issue. It doesn’t mean I’ll stop reading This is True — I’ve been a faithful reader for years — but some balance would be nice. –Diana in Florida

How about a little geographic diversity? All of the stories were about incidents that happened in Florida. Not all of us here in the Sunshine State are as idiotic as those mentioned in the articles. I’m sure the rest of the country has their share of morons. We just seem to have the best examples. At least this week, anyway! –Kathy in Florida

“Diversity”? “Balance”? Well sure: how about twelve years of issues with none being Florida-only before I do just one that’s Florida-based? (And at least I waited almost five years to do another! Hell: I could practically do one a month.)

I sure don’t remember any Londoners whining about my all-U.K. edition after I visited there. Kathy even says above that Florida has “the best examples of morons,” and she’s surprised that I can fill one issue with those examples?! One hopes that most Floridians will have a sense of humor about it, since if they can’t laugh there’s simply no alternative but to cry….

To be sure, not everyone in Florida grumbled. For a bit of balance for our gals above, I offer this from their neighbor:

Regarding your all-Florida issue: it’s about time the rest of the country was warned about this state! Thanks for a long-overdue acknowledgment of the real Florida. –Charles in Florida

You’re welcome, Charles!

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47 Comments on “FloriDuh

  1. That’s nothing dude: read about Nub City.

    (I’m a life long Florida resident and I still enjoy living here, even though we’re chock full of WTF).

    And big chunks of it at that! Amazing article you linked to. -rc

  2. This is the comment I added when I shared this on Facebook, which is pretty much the opinion of most of the people I know!

    More news from the Sunshine State – the home of the chad havoc in the 2000 election! Spoiler alert: Don’t read this if you don’t have a sense of humor/amusement/amazement or appreciate a little bewilderment (I really wanted “bemusement” to be a word so I could end with it above!) Here, for your reading enjoyment. I love this state, and these stories cracked me up!

    But I also think Kathy, mentioned above, wasn’t complaining; I think her comment was tongue-in-cheek.

    Could be, but Kathy didn’t complain when I first published her letter in 2005. She’s still a Premium subscriber, too, so she clearly has a sense of humor! -rc

    • “I really wanted ‘bemusement’ to be a word…”.

      Isn’t it?

      It is: “To cause to be bewildered; confuse.” –American Heritage. -rc

  3. I grew up in Florida and while I’m now a California resident (28 years), I still love Florida and go back for a visit now and then. I love the Florida weirdness stories. FloriDuh is right! Although, until you pointed it out, I would have said California is the weirdest state. After all, California is the granola state – full of fruits, nuts and flakes (like our politicians!)

    Keep on keeping on!

  4. Loveline with Dr. Drew (and at the time Adam Carolla) used to have a segment called “Germany or Florida” where they posted a strange story and people would have to guess where it came from. Seems these were the top 2 places in the world for weird.

    Yeah, I’d have a lot more stories from Deutschland if I could read German! -rc

  5. I wonder what it is going to take to get Topeka on that list?

    When you see particularly weird stories (you’ve been a reader for a long time, Cory: you know what my requirements are!), send them to me. I’m sure if you’re diligent you’ll see an upswing in Kansanity. -rc

  6. I don’t understand the first example. It sounds like you are making fun of a woman for how she described her bird encounter (“Aahhhh!”) and for her lack of drawing skills. But making fun of individuals because they are relatively inarticulate and don’t draw particularly well seems churlish, at best. Surely there’s something else in that first example that qualifies Ms. Magaro to be a target of mockery beyond those two things? I’d hate to think that Randy has given in to his impulse for intellectual superiority and bullying.

    You don’t understand the first story?! Wow. The woman thinks a bird is going to kill her (“I literally thought it was the end”), describes herself as a “victim” of a “terrorizing” menace on Chase St. and you don’t understand it? Well, I’m afraid I can’t help you. Maybe someone else can. -rc

  7. Florida, the Rodney Dangerfield of the 50 states (57, according to some). And then there’s Florida’s new motto, established in 2001: “If you think we can’t vote, just wait til you see us drive!”

  8. Just wondering if you should obscure the driver’s license DOB and any other privacy information? I know she took it to the media, but I wouldn’t put that out on the web if it were my details.

    To answer the broader view, Florida may have more than its share of induhviduals, but California’s nuts are louder.

    She apparently personally released it, and I found it on web sites and it appeared on TV in her area, so apparently she isn’t terribly concerned. At least it doesn’t show her home address. Still, I went ahead and blurred it out on my copy. -rc

  9. Offended because your home state is featured in “This is True?” I’d feel honored if Randy dedicated an entire issue to my current home state of Oklahoma or my birth state of Texas. From my experience, you can find dolts in ANY locale, and most of the time no searching is required. :o)

  10. You ought to do an “all-(state)” each week; next week could feature nothing but stories from Illinois. Better yet, how about one from Iowa? I remember a news item from Iowa of a guy who got arrested because he was trying to have an “intimate interlude” with a ewe in the hay-loft of a barn! Baaaa! Baaaa!

    It’s hard to do an all-anything issue. The only way I can do it is to have enough stories to choose from within a brief time period (since I will only use recent stories), which means a big population, significant weirdness, and a lot of newspapers covering that population. Meanwhile, I have to ignore all the great stories from other places, so in the long run it would make for a lesser-quality publication. But yes, it’s an amusing idea! -rc

  11. I have actually seen a bird “attacking” someone, apparently trying to defend a nest that was near a sidewalk. Certainly nothing indicative of “the end” though!

  12. The reason londoners don’t complain about an all uk edition is it just confirms their prejudice that the rest of us are dullards and yokels.

    We’re blessed with the happy talent in Britain of despising someone more the nearer they are to us. Even an all-London edition would cause barely a murmur.

    “HA! look at what this dolt in Dalston did!” would be the cry from the coffee bars of Islington. “What a bloody shower!”

    At least Florida is warm and dry.

    To be fair, no Brits at all complained — stiff upper lip and all, I suppose. I just said London since I spent so much time there on that trip. (There, and the Isle of Jersey.) -rc

  13. I see why so many people love Florida; you can sell your TV since you’re living in Comedy Central. The entertainment value of the locals and snowbirds is immeasurable. If you can maintain the right attitude, you could enjoy a combo of “Animal House” and “Dumb and Dumber” 24X7.

  14. To paraphrase Dennis Miller (back when he was funny), it’s the few rotten million of us Floridians who spoil it for the other eleven.

  15. If the DMV printed her license that way, that must mean that someone entered “EAT ASS” as her home address. This raises two questions.

    1 – Shouldn’t the DMV try to figure out who typed “EAT ASS” into the computer, and reprimand that person? Good software should have an “audit trail”, which means that even if everyone in the office denies responsibility, the administrators should be able to figure it out. (Then again, I don’t know if the Florida DMV uses “good software” or not…)

    2 – When the DMV put this license in the mail, how was the post office able to deliver it? I know that some types of mail can be delivered without an address – such as “Santa Claus, North Pole” or “Mr. President, White House” – but I wouldn’t have guessed that Ms. Lineberger’s home qualifies. Maybe there’s a major street in Englewood named “E” or “East”, and another one named “ASS” – and theese streets intersect? (E at ASS) But that seems unlikely too.

    The DMV said they’re investigating. One would hope their software had an audit trail. As for delivery, apparently the envelope didn’t use a window to the license, but had a different mailing address. It’s not unusual for there to be a different mailing address for licenses: mine, for instance, gets delivered to my PO Box even though my street address is shown on the license (presumably so the cops can come find me if I fail to pay a ticket). -rc

  16. I’m British, but currently spending four months in South Africa (just married a South African girl). And ye gods, this place could supply an all-SA *month*.
    There’s Julius Malema, who in a press conference shouted at a journalist for asking uncomfortable questions (“This is a revolutionary house! Don’t undermine blacks here, you bloody agent!”) (Not to mention the many remixed disco versions of his outburst that emerged within days.)

    Then there’s Bheki Cele, the police commissioner – or “general” – who likes wearing what I’m assured are referred to as “pimp suits”.

    And the ANC interview that let to the catchphrase “Don’t touch me on my studio!”

    It’s a weird place.

  17. RE: Ticket to Ride. Good to know I don’t have the worst luck in the world with stuff like that.

    Several years ago, my employer (Wal-Mart) officially shortened my name to CHR WAL. I had to sign for my check that way before they managed to fix it, and nobody ever explained how that happened.

    The DMV changed my middle initial from “N” to “M”, and they wouldn’t fix it unless I paid the fee, so I decided to leave it until my license expired. Unfortunately, I didn’t even think about it at renewal time, and so it’s still wrong. Plays hell with background checks, and I’m not sure what would happen if I had any legal issues.

  18. After living in Florida for 14 years, I moved back north, but have many wonderful and wacky stories of life and people in that state. Just months after moving there, I was riding my bicycle on a country road and spotted a paw print that looked like the biggest dog track I ever saw. A second look revealed that it was a cat track, not dog. Sure enough, the paper had a story about an escaped African lion. It was re-captured several days later. A nice introduction to the state, but not my only unusual story.

  19. hmm, I started subscribing in March and you’ve had a lot of stories from PA. I guess I “should” complain, but I think it’s funny.

    I can totally sympathize with Ashlee. She should come try and deal with PA’s DMV. It’s like talking to a wall (a very incompetent wall). After screwing up my drivers permit, my car registration, my title, my camera card to get my license, I got a letter in the mail telling me that the license I finally ended up getting is missing the authenticity seal on the back. I figured, oh well, if it’s illegal they’ll get over it, I’m sick of going out of my way to fix their errors. They couldn’t get one thing right (including my address, they kept putting it in wrong and finally the guy at the title service had to submit a form saying I ‘moved’ so I could get my correct address put on my paperwork) I complained, but I got a form email in response. They just don’t care.

  20. Re. Ashley’s DL: why is she smiling? Do people in Floriduh smile when they are stopped by police?

    Anyway, good job! and have a nice day!

    No, which is why you want to smile in your license photo: makes it harder to get a perfect match. -rc

  21. No, which is why you want to smile in your license photo: makes it harder to get a perfect match. -rc

    Why, Randy, you old anarchist, you…

    I agree; never pass up any chance to interfere with the System. It exists to SERVE us, not CONTROL us. (I think Robert Heinlein made a similar observation in his book, “Friday”.)

  22. I lived in FL for 28 years which included the 2000 election recount. I have never seen such a cluster-___. Every recount says we got it right in the end but that isn’t good enough for many Flori-duh residents.

    Maybe you should do an all-Colora-doh! (ala Homer Simpson) issue. Then nobody could accuse you of picking on Florida when you do an issue on your state.

    I have had Colorado-based stories here and there, but with barely over 5 million residents, it’d be pretty hard to fill an issue with all “recent” Colorado stories. But I’ll keep my eye out! -rc

  23. So… Is there a state or province that you have NOT featured? And if so, do they get a special discount of “Get out of Heck Cards”?

    As a youngster, I lived in Phx, AZ. And we did have “Attacking Birds” during mating season. They would power dive down out of the top of a 5 story tall palm tree, to attack you, thinking you were about to molest their nest or chicks, which were some 50 feet above your head…. (Not even the fabled RC, an ex-rocket scientist, could do that! But explain it to the birds.)

    Women, who commonly wore big “Marge Simpson” hairdos, back then, feared them. My mother zonked one dive bombing bird with a full shot of water from a high-powered hose nozzle. You should have seen that soggy birdie trying to get back to the nest! He never bothered her again!

    I’ll bet your mother didn’t think she was going to “literally” die from the attack, though! -rc

  24. “It’s hard to do an all-anything issue. The only way I can do it is to have enough stories to choose from within a brief time period (since I will only use recent stories), which means a big population, significant weirdness, and a lot of newspapers covering that population. Meanwhile, I have to ignore all the great stories from other places, so in the long run it would make for a lesser-quality publication. But yes, it’s an amusing idea! -rc”

    Amusing idea, yes…and do-able, if you want to do it. Just relax your standards a bit. Perhaps you could do “special editions”, and if you have to use dated stories, so be it..I doubt most of us would mind.

    I think we would love editions like that, BUT if the time requirement for YOU is more than you would want to put in, don’t do it. I am sure you already work harder than a lot of us — I will NOT ask you to work harder than you already do. If it would detract from your usual excellent work, don’t even consider it.

    To “relax my standards” would, indeed, impact quality, as I suggested. If I happen to have enough stories to do an all-something issue (and it doesn’t have to be locational; I could do an all-political issue, for instance, such as my all-Clinton sex scandal “fornigate” special), I’ll do it. That’s how this week’s came to be: I saw I had a backlog of good Florida stories. But I won’t manufacture a special just for the heck of it, since lower standards just doesn’t make for high quality. -rc

  25. The Floridinians should be honored that they have enough weird stories to warrant entire issues. I live in North Carolina — nothing ever happens here. The local news station dedicated their “BREAKING NEWS” segment to a politician that cheated on his wife here for a month. That was the big news. He wasn’t even an important politician.

    I should move to Florida.

    The Carolinas have had their share too, Kyle. Here is an early example. -rc

  26. I’ve lived in Floriduh for 18 years and it’s every bit as weird as noted. I live with Miss Road Rage who is as bad as the other drivers on the roads who run stop signs, cut people off and get in front of you to slow down. The snow birds are the worse and I’m getting my hunting license this year since I’m so tired of them, maybe if I wait at the state line I can stop a few. I think I’ll go north and drive slow just to piss them off.

  27. To George in Lacey, WA. This is the Sunshine state, we have a lot to smile about. Sorry you cannot smile for your government. Oh, when the picture was taken, she wasn’t being stopped by the police.

    As for picking on Florida, maybe it is all the snow birds that moved down here that make it so funny.

  28. Do you ever get any stories from other “duh” states, like Minneso-duh? Neva-duh? Just curious.

    Sure: there were several Minnesoduh stories in True’s first year. -rc

  29. This is unfair.

    I am sure that most people cannot draw a better picture of a bird. Also, this picture does what it needs to do. I don’t know anyone in Florida who would not head for cover if they saw a bird that looked like this.

    As far as the mistake which resulted in the words on the driver’s license is concerned, you are being overly critical of our DMV workers. This must be the first time that such a typographical error took place. You can’t possibly think that there are a number of drivers just waiting to tell some traffic cop their address?

  30. The snow birds are the worse and I’m getting my hunting license this year since I’m so tired of them…

    WW’s comments make me think of that slogan, “If it’s Tourist Season, why can’t we shoot them?”

    But I’m not so sure it’s the snowbirds as Florida natives are just as rednecky as south Georgia. In fact, the way to tell the difference between GA and FL accents is that Florida’s is stronger. Yep, I grew up just east of the Okefenokee and got out of there at first chance. I figure when I die and go to hell, that’s where I’m gonna be sent back to. Then again, St Peter might look at those early years and say go right on inside the Pearly Gates, you already spent your time in hell.

  31. If this is a typo then please tell me what they really meant. If it were accidental then it likely would not have been spelled correctly.

    I suspect there is someone who will / should be dismissed from their job over it. there is no excuse.

    I’d start by looking for someone who she has offended in the past no matter how trivially.

    After all we have teenagers feeding Police officers hamburgers laced with pot these days.

    I’m sure they made it to this is true a couple years ago…

  32. For what it’s worth, the news media site, Fark, has a special “Florida” tag, none of the other states are special enough for that.

  33. After the comments by John in Florida, you could easily “rest your case”, Randy. He made it for you. Typo? Seriously?

    “I meant to put in 1284 Main St., but it accidentally came out EAT ASS.” Yeah, his boss would buy that. -rc

  34. Maybe it is just us in Australia (possibly because of the recent uncovering of Mossad using fake Ozzie passports), but if I were Ashlee Lineberger, I’d be a bit worried about identity theft – her real address can be grabbed online (just had a look to confirm it) to complete a fake id. At least not all the licence number is visible.

    And I think you’re right for picking on the bird artist Randy. If you can’t draw something that looks like any known bird – living or dead – then why think that your sketch is ever going to clarify a threat to anyone? Magpie swooping becomes a problem around the city here every breeding season – these birds have been known to take an eye out. But I don’t think there have been any fatalities….

  35. How about a Canadian focused issue? Bob and Doug Mackenzie and Red Green were not created in isolation. Us Canucks have our share of fools as well.

  36. Wrong, David! Canada may have a few fools, but you cannot count them for full credit. Most of them have second homes here in Florida. They just fit in better.

  37. I was born and raised in the fine state of Florida and I can assure you that at least half of us are just a little off centered. Perhaps it from chasing gators off our porches or dodging the boa constrictors people turn loose in the suburbs, Whatever it is, we find it charmingly demented and we are neither changing our ways nor moving to another state.

    Hanging chads, anyone?

  38. Interestingly enough: 75% of the people in Florida are not from Florida. Hmm, could that explain a lot?

    Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! We finally have a winner! Correct! Florida simply attracts weirdos! 🙂 -rc

  39. As a first-time visitor to Florida, I was somewhat intimidated by the “mega” aspect of stores and shopping centers. Everything seemed to be “super-sized.” When my father asked for Corn Flakes for breakfast and there were none on hand, I decided to go get him some.

    I drove to what looked like a very large grocery store (do not remember the name). It turned out to be one of those “discount” centers where vast quantities of merchandise are stored on enormous overhead shelves, with a few representative samples at ground level. The place covered many acres of area, the ceiling was at least 50 feet high, and little kiosks were placed every hundred feet with someone sitting there, presumably to assist shoppers in need.

    After a while wandering around like an ant in a garage, I finally spotted what I wanted: a skid of Corn Flakes wrapped in clear plastic, sitting on a shelf about 30 feet off the floor. There were no boxes at ground level, and I could see no means of gaining access to the upper shelves.

    So, I walked up to one of the kiosks and said to the store person: “I found what I wanted to buy in a skid wrapped in plastic about 30 feet up, but there are none at ground level. How do I get it from up there to down here?” The store person looked at me for a long moment, then said: “I don’t know — maybe you should ask someone.”

  40. So you have to beg for service, for store personnel to do the obvious? Sounds familiar. In a similar vein, I’m irritated by the cattle meandering aimlessly through the aisles. My bad; I should refer to them as customers. It’s so commonplace for them to park their carts diagonally, blocking the aisle while they take up any remaining space to inspect whatever it is that they’re looking for, that I simply wait patiently for them to complete their monumental mission.

    I’ve had a few times when said customer will finally pick up what they were hunting for, straighten up, look at me, and haughtily instruct me, “Saying ‘excuse me’ would have worked.” Indicating that they were already aware of my presence and their obstruction.

    So my reply has been, “I’m sorry; I wasn’t aware that I needed your permission to pass.”

  41. Seems like the last few comments have gone from finding humor in Floridian eccentricities to complaining about our pet peeves (cattle in the isle…).

    Personally, I am with Kyle from NC, thank goodness for the weirdness of humanity, it keeps us from being bored. I am glad I live where people are not all of the same mold.

  42. Uh oh! I’m one of those native Floridians who now lives elsewhere-with 12+ yrs “abroad,” as I do indeed live in a different “country” at this point. You have no idea what East Tenn is like, or your year’s worth of content would be covered quite handily.

    Seems that native Floridians are both the worst complainers about our home and its biggest advocates.


    “As my Mama says: ‘If you’re born with Florida sand in your shoes, you’ll always come back.’ ” And I sure hope so!

    My theory is that it’s all the people who came to Florida from elsewhere who make up the weirdo group. Growing up there I never found people doing “stupid” things; quite practical and down-to-earth folks, really.

    Or maybe it was just the company I kept… 😉

    And they do say the heat takes its toll, you know.

    FWIW, a native Floridian living “up north” in Tennessee’s opinion.

  43. Floriduh is the best! I’m a 51-year-old native and I think I emailed you a “Go, Randy!” when you published the 2005 Florida Issue. Yes, we natives are the state’s biggest advocates …but also keenly aware of exactly where we live. Keep up the good work!

  44. I am a 64 year old many generation Floridian. I have been around the block and no place is as crazy as Florida. From the recent film seen on TV of the 11 year old dragging home a 6 ft gator to the cattle we chased over Hiway 98 and back again, encouraging “civilians” along the way to help us out to the calls from the cops asking if we heard gunplay last night (nope, just the cop doing his target practice) and oh yes, one of my doctors called me over at the bank and whipped out his new treasure, a gun he was waiting on a VP to open the vault and let him lock it up. Nobody even looked up when he pulled out the gun. Oh yes, you think Calif is as crazy as Florida? C(ome) A(nd) L(ive) I(n) F(lorida) used to be the abbreviation of CA and it is because they are running second to us in every way. At least the crazy ways.


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