Saturday, November 15, 2014

Naples Island

So, there's this island I cross over every day to get into downtown Naples, and wondering what it was called, I consulted the maps online. I found nothing.

As you may know, I cannot abide unnamed islands.

But as luck would have it, by searching for information on the condos located there, I find that their websites state they're "situated on Naples Island just a few blocks from downtown Olde Naples". So there you have it.

Whew. I can relax now.

Truly-Nolen 1955 Packard

The Truly-Nolen pest company, better known for their mousemobiles, also has this lovely restored classic 1955 Packard in their auto arsenal, seen parked on the streets of Naples.


Sighted at the Tin City complex: a coin-operated mechanical bull what go by name of "T-Bone".

Friday, November 14, 2014


There are several cities in Florida that seem like perfectly nice places to me, but I just don't have any strong feelings about them one way or another. Venice is one such place; Port Charlotte another. And then there's Naples. To me, Naples was always just an especially clean and upscale stretch of the Tamiami Trail; just another spot you passed through on your way to Miami. I'd always presumed it to be mostly elderly white people with immaculate lawns and used-only-twice boats in their driveway - kinda like Sarasota to the tenth power.

Turns out that Naples may end up representing to me the heart of Florida, though the old boy may be barely breathing. More than any other Florida city - even Miami - it seems to combine aspects of several other beloved cities, and sum up the best of what I like about the Sunshine State. But unlike other places that have numerous subcultures competing for control of the city's identity - like, say, Tampa - it doesn't feel erratic or uneven here. It works. (Or, at least, that's my naive and bright-eyed viewpoint of it so far. I may get cynical and discouraged in a few weeks, check back later.)

Naples also is of prime strategic importance to me and mine. It's like sitting in "the gangster seat" in a restaurant (you know, a rear corner seat facing outward to the whole joint, so no one can sneak up on you from behind) by being located at the very end of the drivable gulf. Marco Island is the end of the Gulf Coast unless you're taking a boat. From there, Florida descends into undeveloped swampland and the Ten Thousand Islands, all the rest of the way down the state till you hit the Keys. But Naples is just a hop, skip and a jump from Miami to the east, and is still an easily doable drive back north up to "the peninsula" to continue conducting business in Clearwater and St. Petersburg.

Best of all, Naples is ass-deep in excellent restaurants, something that's been sorely lacking during 2014, my "lost year" surrounded by lackluster eateries in the Gulfport area. Did I say "best of all"? No, wait, what's really best of all is that Naples is also a big cigar town. None other than my personal hero, the maestro himself Rocky Patel is headquartered in Naples, and has his world famous swingin' BURN club here. You can expect a report shortly.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


Among Interzone's less glamorous attractions, it bears the status of being the sinkhole capital of the world. (Well, maybe. I just made that title up but I feel certain it's true.)

Yesterday in Holiday, FL, a huge sinkhole appeared in someone's driveway, swallowed their car, and is still growing. Because of its proximity, the home has now been condemned. Six other families have also been evacuated while officials assess the sinkhole's potential for further expansion. Unfortunately, because the sinkhole is on private property, the insurer of the home will be stuck with the check for paying someone to do a geological survey and responsible for remediation of the problem.

And now, a second sinkhole has appeared in front of another house in the same neighborhood, and at this hour I'm hearing a third sinkhole is possible nearby. You just never know where one is going to strike next, and it can happen literally anywhere in Florida. Kinda keeps a person on their toes at all times. Well, that, and the panthers, gators, bears, pythons, and zombies. Ain't we got fun!

But Holiday's sinkhole problem didn't start here. A month ago, a 30-foot one opened up in the middle of Blue Marlin Boulevard causing traffic snarls.

Two weeks ago, a sinkhole closed down a highway in Port St. John. Four weeks ago, a woman in Ocala was forced to evacuate her home when a sinkhole appeared beneath it. A month prior, a sinkhole erupted in the middle of the airport runway at Jacksonville Naval Base, causing planes to have to divert their flight. Then there's the one that opened up in the street on 15th Avenue in St. Petersburg, and a hundred-foot-wide one that struck in Madison.

Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow you may sink.

Pirate Woman

"Ladies can be captains," sang Adam Ant in "5 Guns West", and here's one now. This fetching statue of a female pirate can be seen outside The Beach Haus at Gulfport Beach.

Schakolad Chocolate Factory

I've always got my ear to the ground for the local fancy chocolate places, and when I beheld Schakolad Chocolate Factory in downtown St. Petersburg, I heard a rumbling. Though it may have been my tummy. Or the traffic.

You know the drill: rows and rows of exotic truffles, bark, fudge, what have you. Their prices are actually cheaper than any of the other such places I've been, and the quality is top-notch. And they're right down the block from a Bubble Tea place and a cupcake shop (and a cigar shop), so make the hipster stretch of Central Avenue your one-stop-shopping center for the best in bad things.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Jacksonville Owl Attacks

Owls aren't normally known to attack human beings, but at least one or several of them in Jacksonville haven't gotten that memo and are going on the rampage.

In something that sounds straight out of Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, various news reports state that at least six people have been directly physically attacked by owls and numerous more terrorized in close calls over the last two weeks.

According to the First Coast News:

Eight- year-old, Sophia Forte, said she had an owl ordeal of her own 2 weeks ago.

"It flew down and hit my inside my eye and inside my hair and on my forehead," She said, as she described what she says happened to her.

Her father told us he wound up in the emergency room, but she is OK now. So far neighbors told First Coast News the bird has hurt 5 kids plus Weyer. The bird of prey has people on their toes and it has them freaked out.

"They're nervous," Frank Forte said. He told FCN his daughter was attacked. "They're going outside...the kids are going out with helmets on. Umbrellas. Even when I go take the garbage out at night. I got a cardboard box over my head."

Animals exhibiting atypical behavior seem to be on the rise. Bears are rarely aggressive enough to break into someone's home, but it happened in Florida recently and also in Canada, where a bear forced its way in through a window. And in Bieszczady, Poland, a bear killed a human for the first time in 50 years.

In North Carolina, a family dog abruptly changed personality, forced its way through a screen door, and mauled a toddler. In Montana, a police dog also inexplicably changed personality and attacked its master. Another police dog snapped in Humble, Texas recently.

In Norwich, England, two cows went insane and ran amok to such an extent they had to be shot. A third cow nearby was found dead of unexplained causes.

In Michigan, a group of schoolchildren were attacked out of nowhere by an unprecedented huge swarm of angry bees. A similar incident occurred in Texas, and at a funeral in Pakistan. Out-of-the-blue clouds of angry wasps killed a Mayor in Montreal and almost killed a policeman in Brookhaven.

A formerly calm pet cat went rogue and attacked its owner, resulting in a bizarre police standoff.

And in Cumbria, England, thousands of people are reporting pets going haywire and attacking them, leaving people whose job it is to explain such things without an explanation.

Is something, or an amalgamation of somethings, affecting animal behavior? Or are they all just simultaneously deciding it's high time to overthrow their hairless-ape overlords once and for all?

Friday, November 7, 2014

Trident-Tailed Sea Monster

There's a video that's been making the rounds on the Internet for quite some time, purporting to show a Florida "sea monster" with a three-forked tail. The creature gained nationwide attention after being featured on the TV show MonsterQuest on the History Channel.

It almost certainly seems to be a mere manatee, but there's just no getting around that manatees do not possess trident tails. This obvious drawback has baffled skeptics who, against the evidence, still insist it just must, somehow, be a manatee.

Well, in this case, the skeptics may be right. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission discovered a manatee likely to have been injured by a boat propeller (and possibly more than once) at some point in the past, with its tail deformed into three separate parts. Because of the unusual shape of the manatee's tail, it leaves a very distinct triple wake on the water’s surface while cruising just below it.

Elks Lodge Neon Sign

It's the Elks Lodge on 2675 66th St N, in that part of St. Petersburg that most people generally do not consider to be St. Pete; that vague sprawling space between Pasadena and Kenneth City.

The 1930s neon sign is glorious, but seems oddly mismatched to this post-Colonial style building.

Big and Little Talbot Islands

Little Talbot Island can be found 17 miles northeast of Jacksonville, on the A1A. It's 2,500 acres of state park property, with Big Talbot Island and Long Island nearby. Despite the nomenclature, Little Talbot Island is actually larger than Big Talbot Island due to erosion and nature's shifting whims of sand deposition.

Despite its rustic swamp-beach island appearance, amenities include a full–facility campground, beachside picnic pavilions, bath houses, boat ramps, nature trails, a playground for children, and a rental facility for bicycles, canoes, and other gear.

Big Talbot and Little Talbot are two of only a handful of barrier islands that still remain undeveloped in Florida. The Native American Timucua tribe were, so ethnologists say, the first humans to inhabit these islands. When the French arrived here in 1562, these islands were claimed as colonial territory. However, England and Spain claimed the islands as well, and in 1735, General James Oglethorpe named the Talbot Islands in honor of Charles Talbot, Lord High Chancellor of England. (I'm still trying to find out what the Timucua called them, and suggest we think about renaming them back to that.)

Wednesday, November 5, 2014


I think the problem of Twitter will probably never be solved.

It should be simple, right? It's nothing but a bunch of humans hurling tiny bites of text in a neverending stream. But it seems no one can ever conclusively determine how to do it right. Even if you manage to juggle your tiny bites of text in just the perfect way to satisfy (or at least not alienate) the people who follow you, some of them will be in a bad mood and you're going to piss them off no matter what you tweet. And who ever decreed that trying to please your followers is all that noble a goal anyway?

My good friend Sak recently made the decisive step to create a separate Twitter account - Saks_Snax - for her food-related content that is voluminous enough to warrant its own space. (Strange as it may seem, there are many joyless mal-aligned cranks on Twitter who find tweeting photos of food annoying. For many of them, it seems, Twitter is a place better suited for gossiping, arguing, and posting "funny" memes. In other words, Facebook Jr.) And I have several other Twitter pals who wisely keep a separate account for their "public" work/business face while they let their hair hang down on a more personal account. Still others keep a totally private locked "secret life" kind of account to really let their freak flag fly.

Me, I've never really bent over backwards to try to please the wildly diverse group of people that make up my Twitter followers. Because it ain't possible. Hippies, farmers, Christians, Muslims, nudists, artists, tea partiers, computer geeks, luddites, I gots all kinds of acquaintances.

But it's true that I've always held myself back from using Twitter to push the very things I am known for, in the interest of not wishing to appear spammy. Some people are only interested in my books and not my paintings; some only know me from the heyday of my theatre work and nothing else. Others follow me because they're fellow cigar enthusiasts, and still others just follow me because I'm such a suave cutie-pie.

Having said all this, I think it's high time I expanded my content into a second channel, like the CNN.

So, here's what. Go to and you'll find the great lost secret entrance to the Jeffrey Scott Holland art mines. My regular account will still be regular - just shootin' the shit with buddies and yappin' about whatever pops into my cabeza - and the new account will be no-nonsense no-holds-barred not-safe-for-work dissemination of cultural artifacts. (I'll also hype other cool creators of stuff I like.)

The Ghosts of Flight 401

On December 29, 1972, at 11:42pm, Eastern Air Lines Flight 401 and its 163 passengers crashed in the Everglades. It was the first crash of a wide-body aircraft and at the time, was the second deadliest single-aircraft disaster in the nation.

A landing gear indicator light had blown in the cockpit, and the crew busied themselves with the problem. In so doing, they failed to notice they were allowing the plane to go into a gradual descent. In the darkness of the night and without visual reference over the swamp, they realized their error far too late, as the black box cockpit recording reveals the Captain saying, "Hey! What's happening here?" just seconds before impact.

In the aftermath of the disaster, spare parts salvaged from Flight 401's crashed Lockheed L-1011 were used on other planes. According to some sources, Eastern Air Lines employees on those flights using 401's spare parts began seeing ghosts of the dead Captain Loft and his flight engineer Don Repo.

The ghosts of Loft and Repo seem to have an unusual fixation on galley ovens. In one anecdote, a flight attendant observed the ghost of Repo fixing a galley oven; Another attendant claims to have seen Repo's face looking out at her from inside the oven on board Tri-Star 318. She ran to get two colleagues to see the apparition, and they saw it too. One of them, so the story is told, had been a friend of Repo's and recognized him immediately. All three say Repo's head in the oven spoke, and warned them, "Watch out for fire on this airplane."

One of the vice-presidents of Eastern Airlines even claimed he sat next to Captain Loft's ghost on a plane, and that the ghost then vanished right before his eyes.

John G. Fuller, in his 1976 book The Ghost of Flight 401, collected and compiled these anecdotes. Eastern Air Lines CEO Frank Borman was not happy about the ghost stories and decried them as "garbage". For a time, he considered suing Fuller and his publisher for libel, but decided in the end that would only provide further publicity for the book. He was no doubt even less thrilled when the book become a made-for-television movie in 1978.

The Flight Safety Foundation, on the other hand, seemed to take the matter very seriously, and commented on the phenomena: "The reports were given by experienced and trustworthy pilots and crew. We consider them significant."

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Coyote Space Program

This display was on the sidewalk outside some antique mall in Ocala last week. Who can say it isn't beautiful?

The Roseate Spoonbill

The Roseate Spoonbill (Platalea ajaja) is common in South America, Central America, the Caribbean and Mexico, but in the United States it can only be found in one place - the Gulf coast of Florida. Once you see these big white headed seabirds with pale Pepto pink rear ends, magenta underwings, and a beak resembling those flat wooden dipping spoons that used to come with old people's ice cream, you'll never forget it.

The pictures above were taken at a great distance from the Williams Pier in Gulfport, so to the right I've filched, for your edification, a pic from Wikipedia.

Rusty Steampunk Sculpture

Lacking any other frame of reference for this rusting conglomeration of gear-like and tinkertoy-like structures, located across the street from the Gulfport Public Library, I shall declare it "steampunk" and be done with it.

Abstract Bird Statues

When it comes to public art, I like mine the beakier the better. So when I spied this grouping of bird statues in St. Petersburg, I was well pleased.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Something About October

I've been a busy bug these days, too busy living the life to blog (or for that matter, tweet) much about it. Though I see no special reason why October should be my "busy season", I can't help but note that last year my blog output dwindled inexplicably in the month of October, just as it has this year. Maybe it's the weather messing with me, maybe the red tide, or maybe it's just my biorhythms.

Then, too, consider that this hillbilly loves to eat. And last October, I was in Jacksonville, a city about which there are many things I adore, but its restaurants just aren't among them. For this reason, I couldn't wait to get the hell out of Dodge and my enthusiasm was therefore diminished somewhat. This October, I've been in Gulfport, another city whose decent dinner houses I can count on one hand. And yes, I'm chompin' at the bit to get outta here and move on to the next installment of "Jeffy Goes to Florida". If it weren't for my beloved Starbucks (the only coffee joint I know of around here that opens at 5am) I don't think I could survive.

Meanwhile, I've been working on - as usual - more projects than I can possibly keep up with. I'd rather throw a thousand dull darts to hit the carnival balloon than three sharp ones. Some people put all their hope, faith and effort into just one sharp dart. I don't like those odds.

Among those projects: paintings. Lots of 'em. Where these works are bound, I'm not certain. There have been some vague talks with some vague people about mounting my first art exhibition since moving to Interzone, but we'll see. These days I'd rather hang a painting in a bank or a hotel lobby (or better yet, your living room, dear reader) than a gallery or museum.

I'm also planning to extend my twitter broadcasts to a second channel, a separate account that delves deeper into my art, music, photography, fiber creations, what have you. For those who would much rather see art than see what I smoked for lunch or drank for dinner, now's your chance. More about that in weeks to come.

The theatre angle, on the other hand, isn't going so swimmingly. May I take this space to apologize for every time I (hyperbolically, I promise) spoke of Louisville theatre people as being a bunch of commitment-phobic lackadaisical flakes?

I'm telling you, from what I have assessed so far, Florida's theatre scene is so pronouncedly tepid it makes Louisville seem like paradise. I held auditions for a stage production of a short play adapted from my pirate novel The Seventeenth Island , and I wasn't thrilled with the results. The actors conducted themselves admirably in their thespian skills, to be sure, but despite everyone wanting to be an actor, few were willing to commit their time to it for the necessary seven weeks. Makes me long for Louisville, where at least some actors willfully and gratefully dedicated their entire lives to the cause completely, utterly and unquestioningly. (In many ways in that respect, theatre production is a lot like BDSM, or a multi-level marketing program.)

I haven't given up on the pirate play, mind you. All in time. I may stage The Bartender as a play first, since it has far fewer characters and requires far fewer actors to deal with. And I haven't given up on the four almost-finished pulp fiction novels I've been rolling around in the sand with for the past year. Or this blog either.

Let's roll.