On October 7th South Miami officials passed a resolution with a vote of 3-2 to split Florida in half, and make South Florida our nation’s 51st state. I say it’s about time. As my faithful readers know, I grew up in Hollywood, Florida, and have borne the scars ever since. Yeah, most of them are from mosquito bites I shouldn’t have scratched, but the others are deeply etched in my psyche and impossible to eradicate—kind of like the cockroach that once emerged from under our sofa dragging the roach motel (“roaches check in but they don’t check out”) behind him with one leg.
I empathize with the local politicians. South Florida and North Florida are as different as alligators and crocodiles; they may seem the same, but I assure you they are not. For one thing alligators are memorialized with a state highway (Alligator Alley), and crocodiles are celebrated in song (Crocodile Rock). South Florida has beautiful waterways; white, sandy beaches; and, most recently, the woman who set her boyfriend on fire in retaliation for his throwing away her spaghetti dinner. North Florida spawned the beloved phrase “Don’t tase me, bro,” educated the man who asked Siri how to dump a body, and….umm….who knows? The only things I remember about northern Florida while driving in and out of the state during summer vacations were the violent thunder storms and blinding rain that hit as soon as we were in sight of the “Welcome to Florida, the Sunshine State” sign.
Miami’s Vice Mayor Walter Harris states that the pols in Tallahassee don’t understand the environmental concerns of the south. This is probably true—for unless you live it, you can’t possibly comprehend it. One danger facing South Florida is the rising sea level due to climate change. In the north they may think this means better surfing. But southerners know that it won’t be long before way-too-revealing itty-bitty swimsuit-wearing tourists will be forced inland and, like the walking dead, wander downtowns in search of beaches that have been swallowed by the ocean.
Those northern bureaucrats also don’t have to manage the Everglades, where pythons the length of three Jane Lynches or four Kristen Chenoweths and capable of swallowing an entire deer whole slither around at will. Although police in the north did recently have to arrest a naked 500-pound man who couldn’t fit into the cruiser—so who’s to say where the real weirdness lies.
Miami’s Mayor Philip Stoddard went even further than Harris, expressing his frustration this way: “It’s very apparent that the attitude of the northern part of the state is that they would just love to saw the state in half and just let us float off into the Caribbean. They’ve made that abundantly clear at every possible opportunity, and I would love to give them the opportunity to do that.”
If the north is actually sharpening its saws, they might find another willing participant in Colin Woodard, who in late 2013 wrote the book American Nations: A History of the Eleven Rival Regional Cultures of North America. Woodard suggests that America can be divided into The Left Coast, The Far West, El Norte, The Midlands, Yankeedom, Greater Appalachia, New Netherland, Tidewater, New France, and The Deep South.
Where does South Florida fit into his vision of America? Nowhere, that’s where. While Woodard includes the northern counties of Florida in The Deep South, the southern counties are only mentioned in a parenthesis floating in the Atlantic that reads (Part of the Spanish Caribbean).
To this I take exception. Yes, the north has St. Augustine and the Fountain of Youth and lays claim to the oldest jail, oldest wooden schoolhouse, oldest drugstore, and oldest house. But South Florida trumps that with the oldest oldies and so much more!
Would not America be much less rich without South Florida’s Monkey Jungle, Parrot Jungle, Jungle Island, and the JungleQueen Riverboat? In fact, any citizen of this swampy landmass could enclose a patch of ground and proudly create his or her own Lizard Jungle, Anole Jungle, Assassin Bug and his sidekick Masked Hunter Jungle (lovely), Hag Moth Jungle (lovelier), Horse Lubber Grasshopper Jungle (one of my personal favorites since we basically had one of these attractions in our backyard, and I could tell that spring had sprung when the odor of these grasshoppers’ “spit” filled the air), Spiny Backed Orb Weaver Jungle (another “favorite” that appeared everywhere in our yard. Empty “orbs” of these spiders were the most frightening because you never knew if the spiky, dangerous creatures were crawling up your arm or your back).
So you can see that South Florida could more than hold its own as the 51st state. But two questions remain—where would the border be drawn and what would the new state be called?
Mayor Stoddard has designated a dividing line along Brevard, Orange, Polk, Hillsborough, and Pinellas counties. This area includes the South Florida Water Management district; Lake Okeechobee, a major source of the state’s water; and Disney World. The politicians’ plan may sound foolish, but they’re no fools.
But what to name the new state? As a fan of anagrams, I wondered if scrambling the letters of South Florida would provide any possibilities. I was not disappointed:
- Hairdo Flouts: if there’s one thing I remember from my time in Florida, it’s women—and men—flouting their hair. Of course it was the time of luxurious locks ala Farrah Fawcett and young Shawn Cassidy.
- Hi Fraud Tools/Hi Fraud’s Loot: Since South Florida is a hotbed of illicit activity, I thought either of these might fit the bill.
- Ooh! Tidal Surf: I was never a surfer chick, but the high number of bronze bodies that ride the waves puts this one in the running.
- Dilators of Uh…: It must be the hot sun (or maybe number 2 above) that fries so many brains, but South Florida has more of than its share of wide-eyed, lights- are-on-but-nobody’s-home residents.
- Oh Adrift Soul: for the poetic-minded
- Uh…Adrift Solo: for the truly lost
Or, simply, as my daughter Jenny suggested:
- Crazy Town
Creating a new state takes an act of Congress, so I implore you to write your congresswoman or man and register your vote to make South Florida the new star on our flag. With your help, this nation may just become a little crazier.