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.
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.
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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