Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Shine on, You Crazy Sunshine State

Shrines to dead Playboy models. Castles made of petrified sea creatures. A mania for Depression-era architecture. Why is Florida so nutty? I’m not sure. I’m not even sure if it’s a chicken or egg situation—do heat, humidity, and insects the size of squirrels attract crazy people? Or do these things drive normal new arrivals nuts? Is it drugs? I’m not sure. Any insight would be appreciated.

All I can say is that Miami wasn’t quite what I expected—it was much better. I knew I’d like the deco district, and that I would find Little Havana interesting. I had no idea that so much of South Florida would be this way. I think I expected Southern California-style suburbia and air-conditioned blandness the second we left Miami proper. I definitely expected a strong redneck influence. I was wrong about all those things. Even the air conditioning. We managed to be there on the coldest day of the year. Floridians were all wearing sweaters and parkas and preparing for the Rapture. It wasn’t that cold, but we did turn on the heat in our hotel room two out of three nights.

Oh, and that clanking noise you heard? That was the sound of Florida lumbering its way out of last place on my list of favorite states. I’m not sure yet how many spots it moved up. I definitely shot past both Mississippi and Texas. After that, rankings get difficult because I’ve found at least one thing to like in every other state I’ve been to, so it’s hard to compare. I guess a better way to say it is that, on the strength of pure Miami zaniness, the Sunshine State dropped off my Don’t Like It list and onto the much larger list of States I Would Gladly Return To.

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