An Open Letter on Behalf of Florida:
There is no doubt that the great state of Florida has seen its share of troubles as of late, and caused more than its share of embarrassment. As one of the several other native Floridians, I acknowledge that we, as a state, have let you down. For that we are truly sorry.
We have much to apologize for and be ashamed of: alligators, that enormous confederate flag off of I-75 close to the Georgia border, Casey Anthony, enabling your poor Spring Break decisions, crotchety old people, the post-Marino Dolphins, gross social inequality, the middle part of the state, Café Risque billboards, hanging chads, terrible driving, ponzi schemers, parasailing accidents, shameful politicians, people eating other people’s faces, Ozzie Guillen’s yapper, lightning strikes (thanks, Clearwater), ubiquitous foreclosures, environmental degradation, underground cockfighting, sunburns, widespread gang activity, poachers, leading the nation in staged accidents for insurance purposes, mosquitoes, parent fights at kids’ sporting events, overpriced seedy motels, tourist murders, drug trafficking, the music of Pitbull, excessive heat, unleashing invasive species, producing an incredibly disappointing generation of entitled, shiftless, narcissistic, disrespectful young people with Jersey Shore haircuts…
Even our sports teams are magnets for ire: the Heat (I’m bringin my talents to South Beach!), Marlins (Firesale!), the aforementioned sad-sack Dolphins, da U… Gator/Nole fan you’re not helping either.
Florida continues to be assailed on every front. Our fair cities are consistently atop “The Most Miserable Places to Live” surveys. Rock band Against Me! wants us to sink. Homer derisively refers to us as “America’s wang.”
It’s safe to say you hate us. That’s fine, we understand. Florida is not perfect, but we do have feelings. We’re not as self-assured as we might seem. Our swagger is more of a cover for our deep-seated insecurities. We’re constantly worried about things like Disney leaving and the sea evaporating.
Today I ask you to take a moment to consider some of Florida’s more redemptive characteristics.
- History – Florida has a rich, fascinating history worth exploring. St. Augustine is the oldest European settlement in North America.
- Culture – We’ve got all sorts of stuff going on, from South Beach to Super Bowls to the Boggy Bayou Mullet Festival in Niceville… We also have great food – tough to beat good deli, Cuban food and fresh fish.
- Outdoors – You can kayak the Keys, fish in Flamingo, canoe in Cape Coral, frog gig in Frostproof, hunt hogs in Hernando… We got it all; I’m pretty sure you can ride a manatee in Homosassa Springs.
- People – You’d be shocked at how many great Floridians there are: Zora Neale Hurston, Tom Petty, Stetson Kennedy, Dave Barry, Ernest Hemingway, Trick Daddy etc. We are nothing if not diverse.
So in closing; I’d like to remind you that there are indeed sane, decent, tremendously useful people living in the state of Florida. We can take a good ribbing, but we deserve to be treated with dignity – at least on par with the amount of dignity afforded a lesser state like Ohio.
The next time you’re reading about the latest zany incident to embarrass Florida, try to think of the bigger picture. Think of the manatees, sunshine, and beaches, citrus and good people who call this place home. I implore you to reject the increasingly hostile rhetoric directed toward us, and to help dispel the unfair painting of Florida as an unsalvageable dumpster fire/monolith of dysfunction/disheveled laughingstock.
As you’re probably going to move here at some point, I encourage you to embrace the great state of Florida and help us promote her better virtues.
The State of Florida