Filtering by Tag: FLORIDA
There's a lot of this in the south end of Florida: Confederate flags and anti-Obama bumper stickers, red trucks and patriotism, hunting and swamp life living. After a while, it becomes part of the scene. The Confederate soldier descendent hawking redneckabilia at the flea market. The house painter who bleeds red, politically-speaking, that is. The stories about the time a wild hog killed a dog. Maybe they're clinging to the past, or maybe they're hoping for some kind of other future. They're wary-eyed and weary of the current United States. If you could let them secede, they probably would. Meanwhile, technology is racing past them, transforming everyone else into someone else. I'm not sure if they're close-minded or just afraid.
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According to RubMaps, Lucky Star is closed. But the day I was there, the flashing sign was spelling out O-P-E-N.
Like Dong Fang Spa, it's located in southwest Florida. Naples, to be exact.
According to Sarasota Magazine, "Naples is winning the battle for billionaires." In 2011, it had the second "highest concentration of millionaires in the country."
It also has a not insignificant number of massage parlors.
Per RubMaps, the "Masseuse Style" at Lucky Star is "Korean." Payment is cash only. There is no parking for semis. And an hour will cost you $70.
If you have never read them before, RubMaps reviews are a genre in their own right. They're, for the most part, friendly, guy-next-door accounts of visits to massage parlors, littered with double entendres ("my rod"), acronyms (HE = happy ending), and human insights ("She had a bit of a bouncy personality"). Frequently, they comment on house technique ("shew as [sic] trying to churn out some butter") so others can decide if they'd like to patronize the place.
Asian massage parlors, or AMPs, dot the southwest portion of Florida. They can be found in the area's many strip malls, tucked between home improvement stores and quickie grocery marts. It seems as if they are always open, yet it is hard to spot customers entering or leaving.
Dong Fang Spa is located in Fort Myers, Florida, on a busy thoroughfare called South Tamiami Trail. Other than its name, it is unremarkable.
According to local news outlets, the establishment was busted for prostitution several years ago:
"At one point, the detective grabbed his penis and asked, 'What about this?'
Yu again asked if he was the police, to which the detective replied, 'No.'
Yu stated she would take care of his penis for an additional $80.
At that time, the takedown signal was given and Yu was placed under arrest and charged with prostitution."
Down at the bottom of Southwest Florida, it can feel as if the one percent has eked out its own private orange grove. Take a drive along the coastline, and you will find yourself dodging Maseratis, Ferraris, and Lamborghinis. There's a glut of millionaires and billionaires, wealthy folks who can afford to buy second houses, and the immigrants who service them. Many of the homes have been built inside gated communities: mechanically-mapped imaginary moats wrapping around plots of land cut off from the rest of the world by gates and fences. Half the year, the place is besotted with the so-called snowbird population fleeing the snow up north. The other half of the year, it's humid and deserted. In the margins, there are bears, bobcats, alligators, turtles, dolphins, otters, pelicans, panthers, egrets, and rays. Take a walk along the beach at sunset, and you'll see how many of the high-end condo towers are mostly dark. These days, their owners can't be bothered. It's just nature and some tourists and what you get when you live in one of the United States that makes you feel like you're about to fall off the end of the world.
Over time, the elderly of Florida joined together and kicked all of the young people out of Florida. It was inevitable, but no one had seen it coming. The old people had seemed so incapable: so riddled with disease and constitutionally weak. Instead, they had been executing their plan all along. With the young people gone, they could revel in the pleasures of their broken down bodies under the sun, on the beaches, while the palm fronds waved at them in the breeze.
Time: 7 minutes
Word count: 83
Baconfest was a total bust. Several hundred people walking around a parking lot. Also: a climbing wall and a bouncy castle. There was not even that much bacon. I ate a "pork belly salad," which is an oxymoron and not technically bacon. I eyeballed some bacon wrapped dates but didn't bite. There was a guy dressed up like a piece of bacon, a girl in a cow suit, and some large male in a hamburgers and fries shirt that was too tight. A waste of money, time, and calories. Oh, I almost forgot. My husband had this chocolate froyo with bacon on it which was not bad.
We had a good time at the swamp buggy races. We got lost several times on our way there, something that probably happens increasingly the closer you get to the everglades. Honestly, I'd gotten this event confused with an event in the other direction -- the redneck yacht club. I was expecting girls flashing their boobs and mayhem. This was more like NASCAR in miniature. The swamp buggies were strange, long contraptions, made to float and not built for glory. In between their dashes around the swamp, teen boys in small jeeps had their own races in which they sank so low in the water, I thought they might drown. (They didn't.) One swamp buggy racer flipped, but I don't believe he was hurt. There were many rebel flags and lots of BBQ. In the VIP tent, I had a chance to talk to this year's swamp buggy queen. She was very sweet. It's part of the annual tradition for the winning racer to pick up the swamp buggy queen and jump into the swamp with her at the end of the day. I asked if she was worried about that. She said, no, not really. Except, she added, someone said there was an alligator in the swamp, and she wasn't too sure about that.
What's more interesting than the subdivisions of affordable suburban tract homes in Florida that went to apocalyptic hell in the wake of the Great Recession are the mega-mansions worth many millions that to this day sit in a state of lush green decay like concrete block Miss Havishams. Once upon a time, you can see by their Zestimates, they were worth $1M, $2M, $3M and more. In dated photos on listings that have long since expired, before banks came along and foreclosed on them, you can see them at their thousands of square feet glory: the many-tiered tray ceilings with custom lighting, the acres of travertine set on the diagonal, the luxury showers that accommodate three at a time. Today, they are worth half their previous values or less than that. Tucked between neighboring homeowners that wish they didn't exist, their filmy windows gaze blankly at those who bother to peek over their dilapidated gates. Inside, you wade through the flooded swamps that were their manicured lawns, peer inside at their ceilings falling from leaks that make puddles on their granite counter tops, gaze into the putrid vats that used to be their swimming pools with spas and wonder where, when, and how it all went so wrong. The families aren't totally gone: the aluminum baseball bat left on the greening lanai, the stuffed yellow duck forgotten in the dust, the box of letters filled with unpaid bills from banks looking to collect and Happy Father's Day cards addressed to a head of household who must have found, to his surprise, his American Dream had fell to rot, and who, not knowing what to do, simply left.
A visit to Thomas Edison's estate in Fort Myers, Florida, the lab in particular, is of interest to the average writer. The lab is chockablock with things: test tubes, a darkroom, straps and wheels, desks and work spaces, burners and corks. Looking at the orderly mess of it, the writer is jealous. Here, the inventor makes manifest what only exists in the writer's mind. This is a place that says, I am working. It indicates, Serious things are happening here. It reminds, This is mine and not yours. The writer's lab resides within, and so, invisible to others, its boundaries are crossed, its time squandered, its experiments foiled. Oh, but to have an Edison lab in the head.