Our dumb state
Yet another installment of our semi-regular compendium of idiocy
Published: December 2, 2010
Sit back. Relax. You won’t feel a thing.
A small prick to the arm and the warm Southern realities begin coursing through your veins in a cocoa butter-scented anesthesia that blurs paradise into paradox and sours the wafting scent of orange blossom til it evaporates into plumes of exhaust. You could be forgiven for going numb at this point, for lying down in front of the oncoming bullet train and entertaining callous notions of invincibility. You are, after all, in Florida, where skin cancer is a like a picture on a postcard and institutional stupidity is (barely) funded by the state. You are getting very sleepy.
But it never really takes, does it? You find your eyes are propped open with toothpicks and the overwhelming absurdities dance before your pickled retinas. In a moment of panic, you forget who you are, where you are, when you are. A cast of slightly broken characters parading around in headline-ready vignettes. Over there, holy-rolling George Rekers rubs up against a rent boy in an elevator. Over here, billionaire politico Jeff Greene helps Lindsay Lohan slide down a cocaine staircase onto a coral reef-bound yacht. Out in the sticks, Pastor Terry Lewis strikes a match in the direction of a volatile global religious conflict and twirls his overgrown mustache. You look for a car to get away in, but you can’t afford it. Naturally, you call your grandmother who kindly offers to sell your baby and float you $9,000. It’s just business.
And it’s all business in Florida. Just ask Gov.-elect Rick Scott, who erased more than $1.7 billion in Medicare and Medicaid fraud with the lint – and $73 million – lining his deep pockets. Ask Sen.-elect Marco Rubio, who tucked a scandal involving the Republican Party’s Amex card away in the back of his wallet by speaking softly and waving a big Cuban schtick. Ask Amway fat cat Rich DeVos who, in the middle of the Great Recession, deftly shanghaied the City of Orlando into building him a $480 million Magic dream house.
Or better yet, look into the nearest mirror and ask yourself, “How did I get here?”
Our vanity – or futility – often finds us doing just that during the compilation of our semi-regular compendium of the scrotal state’s most unnerving irregularities, slapping the insides of our elbows to find the right vein that’ll help us make it all go away. The clattering voices and swishing eye-rolls that come with national notoriety create such a din that we can’t even find a peep of reason anymore; our false optimism is popped like a party favor from a celebration we don’t remember at all. And there we are, lying prostrate across a peninsula where headlines and grumpy retirees come to die.
“This is Our Dumb State,” we sigh, with enough booze on our breath to set it alight. And, once again, it’s time for us to own it. Anyone got a needle?
It’s hard enough to raise a child in a state that treats public education like a poor people’s virus, but throw in the simulated distraction of electronic agricultural chores and you’re bound to run into some weeds. Back in January, Alexandra Tobias, a 22-year-old from Jacksonville, was simply going about her bored-mom business of chain smoking and adopting lost pink cattle on the Internet when she was rudely interrupted by the crying of her 3-month-old son, Dylan. Like any good unemployed mother worth her weight in FarmVille corn, Tobias threw down her imaginary gunnysack and apron, got up from the computer and ran to the boy with her arms wide open. Then, she took those arms, grabbed the baby and shook him – ostensibly to see if there were any pixilated seedlings trapped in his diapers that she could use in her game – and maybe, just maybe, smacked the infant’s head against the computer.
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