Posts Tagged Florida

My #Breaking Bad Thing (celebrations, predictions and spoilers)

If you’re a man, you’re spending this weekend reading about and watching clips, streaming reruns and having conversations about the TV show “Breaking Bad.” Even if you are not a man, surely you have seen us, hunched over our laptops and iPads, awkwardly craned in obtuse angles, with eyes on our screens, scooping food into our mouths in a manner such as to avoid dripping crumbs or salsa onto our devices and/or bed sheets.  Like Walter White (the sociopathic, everyman antihero of the TV Show) we will not be denied this. This is the Breaking Bad weekend that we will remember years hence, in the form of TV shows and authorless Internet articles titled The Top 25 TV Villains and Best TV Shows of All Time clip shows on VH1.

To celebrate this historic occasion, I have bought a bottle of Pinch (the kind Walt swigged in the penultimate episode) and I’m encouraging my son (20, a man, but something of a teetotaler) to take shots with me tonight during the show’s finale. He’s dressing in a hazmat suit. I’ve shaved my head and I’ll be carrying around a mock-up IV drip while my cat has been painted a shade of radiant Heisenberg blue. If you’re a man, you get it.

It’s worth noting that I don’t do shit for football or baseball teams, I don’t belong to any professional organizations, don’t go to church and I’ve never been a card-carrying member of a political party. Breaking Bad is all I have.

What will happen?

Part of Breaking Bad’s appeal is that  it’s a shared cultural moment at a time when we’re so fragmented, so pulled in divergent directions, that it’s the one thing we can all safely worry about together: What will happen to Walter White?

An intimidating, confusing health care law is being implemented, the Tea Party is threatening to let the government shut down and default, the NSA may be reading my e-mails, Lake Okeechobee could overflow any day and in the meantime its waters are killing the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie Rivers, oh yeah, and people are shooting the hell out of each other everywhere you look. So Breaking Bad, as harrowing as it is, is only a fiction, a diversion, an entertainment made for its time.

During a recent conversation, a man-friend of mine asked me what I thought might happen. I told him it was futile and counterproductive to guess.

“They have a staff of the most brilliant writers in television sitting there for weeks on end, creating this puzzle. Why am I going to sit here and conjecture for a few minutes on what these writers have made their life’s work to create. Let it just flow over you and enjoy the ride.”

He chastised me for missing the point of a cultural moment like this. “Part of the fun is everyone trying to guess.”

I disagreed. Until I found out there was money to be made if I could guess whether or not Walter White will die tomorrow night.

Esquire Weekly did its Breaking Bad thing, an entire issue devoted to the show. As part of their coverage, there were pictures of women in their underwear of course, but there was also an article about BetOnline and its taking odds on the question, (odds are high he’ll die).

What will happen.

I’m not a betting man. I’m not comfortable spreading money around. Just yesterday, I was standing in line at Subway calculating if it made more sense to buy the 6-inch at $3.75 or to splurge for the five-dollar footlong. But this weekend, I’m celebrating Walter White. I’m putting down $50 (the maximum bet allowed) on Walt staying alive. Real men put it on the line. There are no half-measures. All or nothing, baby.

Walter White has already been punished for his crimes. He spent a year in Siberia, New Hampshire, alone with his thoughts and cancer and DVDs of the worst movie you’ve ever seen Dustin Hoffman in. It was torture — sure a small price to pay for the thousands of lives he’s wrecked, the murders he has committed, in the name of his family and ego — but it’s punishment nonetheless. (If you believe Stephen Marche’s take on the show, we all live with the blemish of being subjects of the marketplace, whether it be crystal meth or tomatoes picked in Immokalee — so who the hell are we to sit around in judgment.) At any rate, Walter has sat out his sentence and now, it’s time for his comeuppance, his final play. In the final episode, these things will happen:

–       Walt will rub his bald head.

–       Jessie will cry.

–       Todd will kill that uptight symbol of corporate hypocrisy, Lydia, then violate the corpse.

–       Todd, that symbol of the dead-eyed, unflinching American consumer, will be killed by Jessie, who will tea-bag him. (Google it, it’s what gamers do when they kill people on screen.)

–       Walt will use an M-60 to kill the neo-Nazi dirtbags.

–       Walt and Jessie will reconciliate. They’ll “cook” something together — maybe Meth, maybe those jalepeño/onion burgers you can buy in packs of four at Costco. They’ll share a few laughs. Jessie will get a sack of cash and he’ll use it to buy stock Virgin Galactic. A flash-forward scene shows him and Sir Richard Branson high fiving just as they lift –off into outer space.

–       Walt will remotely detonate a nuclear weapon in the city center as a diversion, while a splinter branch of Yakuza ninjas kidnap his wife and kids and whisk them away to a secret resort in Guadalajara where Walt (who was in cahoots with the ninjas all this time)  will join them in a tearful, final scene. They will group-hug. Walt Junior will make a wisecrack, “Hey Dad, you’re breaking my ribs, bad.” They all laugh. Freeze frame, roll credits.

… So there you have it. Go place your bets and may you and yours enjoy the rest of your Breaking Bad weekend.


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Sen. Mike Bennett injects politics into LeeSar grand opening and gets it wrong

The opening of the LeeSar regional service center on Winkler Avenue in Fort Myers, Fla. is the kind of news practically anyone, regardless of their political inclinations, would be excited to hear. The facility creates about 100 new jobs in the area, helps to hold down health care costs and already plans to expand, thus creating even more jobs. Here’s NBC-2’s coverage, and Florida Weekly will print a photo spread from the event in next Wednesday’s paper.

It was jarring, at least to this journalist, when former State Senator Mike Bennett took his opportunity at the podium to bash government at an event that up to that point had been a politics-free celebration.

“This is what happens when you get government out of the way,” said Sen. Bennett, pointing to the brand new 205,000 square-foot building. “You can bring a project on time, under budget and that’s what happens when you get government out of the way.”

The problem is, the project received quite a bit of government support to get it off the ground and keep it under budget. The Lee County Industrial Development Authority, which falls under the Lee County Office of Economic Development (government) issued the tax exempt bond. LeeSar has also recieved FIRST Initiative incentive funds from Lee County taxpayers for creating jobs. One can only assume that builders had to work closely with inspectors and plans reviewers in order to turn around the project in a remarkable 12 months — it’s government that issues the Certificate of Occupancy.

Sen. Bennett served the maximum allowable number of years in the Florida Senate and is currently a shoe-in to become the next Supervisor of Elections for Manatee County. Last year, he argued against making it easier for people to vote, citing how hard it is for people in Africa to make it to the polls. According to, he said: “Do you read the stories about the people in Africa? The people in the desert, who literally walk two and three hundred miles so they can have the opportunity to do what we do, and we want to make it more convenient?” Politifact exposed the line about Africans walking hundreds of miles to be absolute baloney, which is exactly what the former senator’s comments at the LeeSar grand opening were as well.

ImageState Senator Mike Bennett

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Developing the cold-bloodedness necessary to garden

This week’s #FloridaWeekly presents a primer on gardening (out this Wednesday.) Now is the time to start growing in Southwest and South Florida.

Roger Williams relays his conversations with the folks at Worden Farm and Millisa Bell, The Unruly Gardener with his usual expressive charm and erudite finesse.

Below however, is a far less civilized account of local gardening adventures: a brief description of my fight to keep my green bean saplings and tomato and pea seedlings safe from the hungry mouths of snails. This violent account will not be appearing in our pages, thankfully, for the sake of our young readers.

I could swear that the first snail I plopped into the pickle jar gurgled. Its tiny mucocutaneous mouth twisted — a sphincter emitting a fart-squirt like you might hear out of a mustard bottle. There was froth. I looked away. The humanity…  The molluskity.

I dumped another five or so in the rubbing alcohol reservoir during the following two minutes — looking for signs of pain or struggle. Fortunately, the rest fell shell-side up; so if they did writhe and gurgle and call out to me with their muffled mustard-fart screams, I did not hear.

Gardening, it turns out, is war. I’m also on the lookout for hornworms and cutworms and stink bugs and leaf-footed bugs. I’ll soon recruit the help of a coffee grounds/eggshell mixture, a phalanx of ladybugs and a pair of long, sharp scissors. But tonight, the pickled isopropyl death-trap commands the battlefield.

The Maglight scanned for another minute or so, snail shells clanking like cubes in an empty rocks glass as I moved. Shaken not stirred, I am licensed to kill. Beware creatures who might dare to eat my food.

The label may say, “Kosher,” but this is as trayf as it gets.

What are you growing this season? How goes your war?

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Dane Eagle gets all “Joe Arpaio” with new mailer

@daneeagle, candidate for Florida state representative for District 77, embraces a hard line on undocumented/illegal immigrants. His latest mailer accuses them of “skirting our laws and tearing this country apart.” Over the top or just the right message to capture a majority of Lee County’s voters?

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Are we in too much of a hurry to bother with the truth?

You’re being lied to. Sometimes, you’re repeating the lies, making you look as ignorant as the original liar. Often, even after you find out your lie is a lie, you cling to it anyway.

James Holmes, the gunman at the Colorado theater, is a member of the Tea Party.

No, sorry, that’s a lie. Turns out, he’s a registered Democrat.

Oops, that’s a lie too. Pick the lie that fits best into your narrative and run with it though. That seems to be what’s happening to modern American discourse.

As pointed out here, both ABC News and Breitbart respectively reported the two lies above then took a while before coming out with half-hearted corrections. That’s a few weeks after reporters from CNN and FOX lied to us about the Supreme Court verdict.

“‘Lies,’ that’s a bit harsh, Osvaldo,” say you. And you might be right, I’ve made a bunch of mistakes in my career, and so have the folks I edit. They’re not lies as much as they are errors. However, it’s true that today, factual errors just don’t carry the stigma they once did for reporters. We’ve all collectively shrugged our shoulders and said, “Eh, what’cha gonna do? Staffs are minimal, workloads are onerous and mistakes, they just happen.” The press has been getting it so wrong lately, and failed to do enough to correct the problem, that journalism’s ineptitude is becoming epidemic. At some point, we have to stop giving those charged with getting us information free passes when that information is wrong and news outlets’ attempts to correct themselves are insufficient or nonexistent. Particularly with outlets that handle breaking news, there are checks and balances that can and should be implemented to avoid major errors. If there are ways of circumventing errors and journalists don’t implement those methods (regardless of whether its due to miserliness, the ambition to be first or laziness) then those mistakes begin to take some of the pernicious attributes of lies.

Maybe by calling these errors lies, perhaps we’ll be more careful not to make them. It’s a tricky proposition, because held to this standard, I’ll inevitably be a liar myself somewhere down the road.

But then, sometimes, the public wants to be lied to. Take for example, the biggest lie of last week. It’s a lie that’s so big that it became The Daily Beast’s Meme of the Week. I heard it first from a colleague, a smart and savvy business man, who said in response to President Obama’s visit to Southwest Florida that he was pretty mad at the president for saying that he hadn’t built his business. “I don’t know, I worked real hard to build this business and create more than 50 jobs,” I’m paraphrasing, but you get the gist. A few hours later, another guy — an avowed but convivial Obama hater — popped his head in my office, “Hey, just remember, small business didn’t build itself. The govenment built it. Ha!” Mitt Romney has been repeating the lie too, telling a crowd last week in Massachusetts that the president’s “you didn’t build that” remark “…wasn’t a gaffe. It was his ideology.”

Well, Romney was only half right. The line wasn’t a gaffe. In the context of what the president was saying, it made perfect sense. And it’s hard to construe what was said as You didn’t build your business the government did it for you. But that’s what a lot of liars would have you believe. Here’s what the president said:

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business. you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

Perhaps the president’s line was placed awkwardly, but it’s clear that the president was referring to roads and the Internet when he was telling small business owners that they didn’t build that. He didn’t mean that they had not built their businesses. I encourage you to read the entire speech and some analysis by Jake Tapper here.

Mitt Romney and his advisors know the president didn’t mean that business owners don’t build their own businesses. The other guys — the brilliant colleague and the convivial hater and the guys from Crowther Roofing (see below) — maybe they’re just not paying attention. Maybe they just picked their narrative and are sticking with it. Perhaps they don’t have time for the truth. Regardless, they’re spreading a lie, which is, well, kind of like lying. And it’s time we stopped giving that kind of thing a free pass and started asking for accountability, from our journalists, our politicians and everybody else.

Always good for anti-Obama rhetoric, the Crowther Roofing sign on Metro Parkway in Fort Myers jumps on the “you didn’t build that” bandwagon.

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