Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Floribama Flavor

I want to give you a general sense of what it's like here. I'm on the Panhandle of Florida, in Santa Rosa county. It's really different from Miami and South Florida so people say it's not the "Real Florida." The closest medium sized city is Mobile, but people say it's not the "Real South." It is some kind of in between place that no one wants to claim. But it has a certain personality, which I will now attempt to demonstrate.

Let's begin:
Strong drink is raging
What's going on here? Santa Rosa county recently got all up in a ruffle about the wet/dry vote. What's this, you ask? Well, it's a "dry" county, which means that hard liquor is not allowed to be sold in stores here. What's that I hear you wondering? Why yes, you sure can buy beer, and lots of it, every day except Sunday, and you can get your hard liquor by driving about ten minutes down the road. So it's not that you can't get drunk, it's that they don't want you to get drunk quickly or in fruity flavors. There are many perils of fruity flavored drunkenness, and the kinds of alcohol that might be mixed with jell-o.
See here, it makes women cry:
hard liquor makes women cry

The churches had a lot to say about it.

I especially like this one because if you read the tiny print on the lower sign you can see that the pastor really didn't have a choice in occupations, given his last name:
Plus that wacky backward ampersand shows their sense of fun.

Now here's what it's really about:
What it's really about

There were hundreds of these signs, posted prominently on the well-manicured lawns of the upstanding townsfolk:
Show your ideals!

The opposition (pro wet) side had only these lame signs, of which I only saw three and they were on random roadsides and not in front of houses. I guess nobody on the wet side wanted to admit who they were:
It's time!
I mean, "It's time"? That's your argument that's supposed to win against the children and crying women and God hating you? Pretty lame. That sign was actually all flopped over when I found it and I had to straighten it up before getting the shot for you.

I don't really think this guy was doing this for the vote, it was just his personal sentiment, but it applies to the topic at hand:
Whisky for my Women Beer for my Horses
If whisky is for his women and beer is for his horses, what's he drinking, milk? Or a white wine spritzer?

Clearly, these pro-liquor types were disorganized and not very persuasive. Certainly they had nothing on this bossy sign:
Right this way

What happened in the end, you wonder? Well a couple of days ago, wet won the vote at about 60%-40%. The almost silent majority will soon be drinking strawberry daiquiris to their hearts' content. And serving beer to their horses, in all likelihood. Not to worry, though:
U-turns ok

I have to say, the whole episode convinced me at how awesome those christians are at making signs. If you like them and their creative signage, you can buy your own at this handy store:
You're selling what, now?
It seems like kind of a weird thing to sell, but if you want a sign like this at home you're going to have to get your own and have him or her make it up for you:
Just wondering.
Question marks not included.

So since there hasn't been any liquor in town because of the children, what is available for entertainment? Wal-Mart has you covered:
Wal-Mart Gun Rack
Yep, that's a big old gun rack, right between the fishing poles and the soccer equipment. It's sports time!

There are also some weird accessories for hunting that I didn't know about:
Huntin' stuff
They should sell that cough muffler at libraries and opera houses, too. Duh.

And if the taste of fresh free range meat is not gas-station-cuisiney enough for you, you can fix that up right in the field:
Jerky Maker!

But Wal-Mart isn't the only place:
What's the such?
When I go to a sewing store and see a sign for "Ribbons & Such" I know that means they have cords and silvery thread and ugly iron-on doodly-bobs. Ribbon-like things. Guns & Such? What's the such? Switchblades? Crossbows? Cannons? What's like a gun?

If hunting is not your thing, there are other weekend hotspots:
Fort Walton Beach High School
What's special about a high school? Besides this awesomely weird looking mascot:

I'll tell you what's special, it's the parking lot. There are awesome things in high school parking lots come the weekend:
Car Show

Featuring such gems as:
Scooty thing
Big Dumb Truck
This one's pretty cool:
Except- it spawned!
Quick! Someone call the Dinosaur Adventure Land scientists! It's evolving!

This one has manly purple skulls airbrushed on the front which must be what qualified it to park in the disabled spot:
Orange Car

Right on top of the latest trends:
Back to the future car

A car show in a high school parking lot involves a lot of sitting in the sun. This necessitates some fancy lawn chairs:
Parking lot sitting in style

Out front there's this:
What's going on here?
Even though it looks like the drug deal pictured here went well, you can tell that you should still say no because the drugs have withered that poor little girl's head. And the cat? I have no idea.

There was a stand at the front where you could pick up your trophy. It looked to me like there were more trophies than cars, but hey, who am I to judge?
Medals aplenty
I did happen to pass by the trophy stand just as they were calling a winner named Buddy Pickle. No lie. Welcome to North Florida.

After the car show, we stopped for some barbecue:
As if it's not enough to be named Daddy's, the BBQ spot also had this sign:
Hey, that friendly patriotic pig is wearing a Hawai'ian shirt and saluting our troops! What a great guy. That makes me hungry for ribs.

There's this cool bar nearby which is in a trailer. They've got a pool table which takes up a third of the bar and they jammed a foosball table in there too. After a couple of Miller Lites, you head for this door:
Rest Rooms
Which leads outside to the his-n-hers outhouse buildings, complete with half moon cutout doors.

Now that we know what there is to do around town, what should we wear?
My new shirt!
My new shirt, of course!

And where can we find a technician to assist us in the technical aspects of looking good?
Best friends!

You're probably starting to get a feel for the area by now. I'll just flesh it out with a few more details. There's a local radio station that plays "the hits" of the last 25 years, but keeps the real classics in heavy rotation: Steve Winwood, Paula Abdul, and Taylor Dayne can be heard at least once an hour. It's so excruciatingly lame that it's almost rounded the bend into cool. I mean, who doesn't want to hear "Forever Your Girl" twelve times a day? That was the true birth of the synthesizer/drum machine/obvious-low-budget-voice-alteration genre. It's important to remember where we came from.

Keeping with the theme of modern, simple, classy aesthetics:
Klassy incarnate
Welcome to E MET MARKE
It's obvious what they sell there, "E MET MARKE" must be French for "Butcher."

Speaking of meaty culinary treats, these can be purchased in the "fancy" bread section at the local grocer:
Hot dog rolls. In the fancy bread section.
Hot Dog rolls. The ultimate fun roll, according to their tagline. The perfect bring-along for your trip to the whitest beach in the world according to me.

Creative entrepreneurs open tasteful apparel stands by the roadside in late summer:
Hurricane Ts!!!

Not to be upstaged by suburban Hawai'i, there are also creative mailboxes:
Tractor mailbox

There's also a really adorable side to this area. It may not be very urban, but there is some awesome graffiti in Pensacola:
You Are Beautiful
I don't know who does this. I think it must be a group, because you find it all over: on defunct buildings and gas stations, scribbled on bathroom walls, spray painted on old billboards. It's very sweet.

Santa Rosa county doesn't often make the national news, but did just yesterday when a popular local bar was forced to close because of a sinkhole under it's floor. No, I'm serious.

Last but not least, my personal favorite:
Boiled Penus


At 8:22 AM, Blogger xine said...

awesome!! there is a church by my old office in the ghetto that always had the best things in its marquees. like "'Crack' the Bible. Jesus is the rock and faith is the pipe." something new every week to entertain and entice crack addicts to go to church. gotta love it

At 8:36 AM, Blogger iomi said...

Holy moly! You have to be kidding me. Crack the bible?

At 10:34 AM, Blogger Patia said...

"Snuggles" hot dog buns? That's just a bit much.

And I love the last sign, too. "Boiled penus." Mmmmm.

Great photo essay! Reminds me I still have to go back and read your creation theme park one. I've been saving it.

At 2:30 PM, Anonymous Catherine "Snuggles" Ruggles said...

dude. Snuggles rhymes with my last name, so Im co-opting your photo to my tribe page, ok? Have you seen the Big 4 Penis sign in my photos? Its not as awesomely jangly as the boiled penus one, but in the same genre officially. Woooow. You are rad.
P.S. Steve Lo is my neighbor now!!

At 1:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know what I love more- the nordic mascot ot the taylot dane reference.hg

At 4:06 PM, Blogger infinitejest8 said...

I love this! Ever since the B-man told me about you and your blog, I've been stopping by. He don't never call me anymore 'cause of you, but that's OK, 'cause that means he's happy.

At 8:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I did the graffiti in Pensacola. I did it all over.

At 11:59 AM, Anonymous Kaylin said...

Haha, I go to Fort Walton Beach High School. Yeah, our Viking mascot is weird. You should see the one INSIDE of our school.


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