During a visit to the new 1430 Park Avenue (off South 14th Street) Story & Song Bookstore & Bistro the other day I found it to be an inviting place to browse for books, have a light lunch, a glass of wine, craft beer, or cup of coffee. Pastries are available and tables set up amid the book shelves so folks can eat, drink, browse, and read. The building is bright, comfortable, and cozy. I was delighted to meet several folks there I know and was equally pleased to see so many kids shopping for reading material.
I found a few authors I enjoy particularly Bernard Cornwell and Max Boot. However, missing, or possibly overlooked by me, were popular books by authors such as Brian Kilmeade’s “Andrew Jackson & The Miracle of New Orleans”; Newt Gingrich’s “Understanding Trump”; Karl Rove’s book on President William McKinley’s 1896 presidential victory, nationally known conservative and local resident Neal Freeman’s “Skirmishes,” and anything by George Will, Howard Kurtz or Ann Coulter. I spotted one book (“Killing England”) by disgraced Fox News commentator Bill O’Reilly, “Let Trump Be Trump” by former Trump campaign managers David Bossie and Corey Lewandowski and “Shattered” about Hillary Clinton’s ill-fated campaign.
Very prominently displayed were “When They Call You a Terrorist” and “They Can’t Kill Us All”, two books praising the disgusting hate-filled Black Lives Matter movement. Also prominently on view were “What Happened” and “It Takes a Village” by Hillary Clinton, and Obama’s “Audacity of Hope,” and more. A lady asked me if I needed help, and when I asked told me she’d never heard of Ann Coulter.
While browsing the children’s section for books for grandson, Luke, I spotted some about Barack Obama, another called “The Little Book of Activists,” and “No Truth Without Ruth,” about liberal Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. They didn’t carry Rush Limbaugh’s fun series of children’s history books that takes young readers in a time machine back to several important moments in America’s early history, where they get to meet George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, James Madison, Francis Scott Key, witness the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the burning of Washington during the War of 1812, and more. There was nothing on Donald Trump for the kiddos and the lady who handles that section said she had no idea if they even exist, but there are at least four that I’ve seen elsewhere. On a subsequent visit, Jeff Kinney, author of the popular “Wimpy Kid” series of books was a guest and he signed a copy of one of his books for grandson Luke. The place was teeming with Wimpy Kid fans, and that’s a good thing.
The upstairs area holds up to 120 folks and hosts a variety of diverse events ranging from a kids dulcimer concert and a ukulele band to readings and book signings. Tomorrow (Saturday, March 17) bestselling author John Hart, winner of two consecutive national Edgar awards for best novel, will be there to sign his books. The store recently hosted a local theater company’s performance of “Looking for Normal” about a mid-western man, who after 25 years of marriage and a couple of kids, decides he’s a woman and wants a sex-change operation.
Books favoring the liberal point of view appeared to be favored despite the owner telling me he didn’t want to promote anything that would be divisive within the community but I’m thinking that may mean no books his progressive customers may not like to see on the shelves. But, maybe I didn’t search hard enough. I hope so, because I like the store and recall how unwelcome I felt the first time I ever wandered into Asheville, North Carolina’s Malaprops Bookstore searching for Ms. Coulter’s “Mugged” and when I asked about it the clerks stared at me as if I had just broken out in open sores.
Malaprops, located smack in the middle of the very liberal Appalachian Mountain town of Asheville, did have a variety of books available supporting Antifa, others denigrating President Trump and even a children’s book titled “A is for Activist.” Whatever happened to “A” is for apple? However, there was nothing there supporting the opposite perspective, but that’s probably because Asheville is a community where Bernie Sanders won more primary votes than all of the Republican presidential candidates combined, not the case hereabouts, in fact just the opposite. You don’t find beer taps at an AA meeting either.
This part of Florida reflects moderate to conservative views at the polls (some 73% voted for Trump last November) and all statewide office holders from this area are Republicans, so I’m surprised not to see more balanced offerings. Not that it is hurting business as each time I’ve visited the store is bustling with activity and when I look hard enough I eventually uncover something I like.
My first impression of Story & Song is a good one, and I hope that the owners, Mark and Donna Paz Kaufman, have no intention of tilting their book selections one way or the other. Call ’em at 904/601-2118. You can even shop at their store from their website StoryandSongBookstore.com and sign up for their weekly email newsletter.
Things I Wish I’d Said: “His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork.” — Mae West
Bang Bang Bob! My former neighbor, Robert “Bullet Bob” Weintraub, is an example of why the federal government needs to crack down and run intense background checks to prevent people suffering with mental illness from owning or acquiring any kind of gun.
Weintraub’s Wednesday, March 14 letter to the local News Leader editor is evidence that this guy’s elevator isn’t going all the way to the top. In his comments on balancing national and local issues this pompous, local gasbag said: “Johnny Miller is as incensed as I am over the failure to get some control on guns.” Oh, REALLY!
Weintraub is my former next door neighbor who took to Facebook in November 11, 2016 to publically call my wife, Linda, and I “anti-Semites” and threaten us with a “loaded shotgun, a loaded rifle and handgun.” He added “I’ll be waiting for you and your brown shirts.” Why? Because we put a celebratory Trump sign in our yard following the Presidential election on November 11, 2016. Since it was Veterans Day, the sign was surrounded with small American flags, a display that we and other neighbors offer annually to show our appreciation. We added the Trump sign as an afterthought that election year.
According to the November 11, 2016 Fernandina Beach Police Report, this pitiable and unhinged demagogue told the cops who were investigating his Facebook threats against us that he: “….is Jewish and fears with the recent election that there will be a Nazi uprising in America against the Jewish people and feels threatened by the Trump sign.” Is this the rational and reasoned voice of a person who should own a firearm?
While it’s frightening enough to live next door to a lunatic who is armed to the teeth and threatens both me and my wife with his guns, it is equally alarming that the local News-Leader’s Editor Peg Davis and Publisher Foy Maloy provide this crack pot a forum. Since they continually print Weintraub’s hypocritical and inane gibberish I can only assume they share his chaotic and warped views.
Weintraub is a sad, pathetic, unhinged, hate-filled nut in need of serious mental health care, who should never be allowed to own a gun, and to repeat his own words: “the government needs to get control” and disarm him. The News Leader should be ashamed for continuing to print his claptrap. Wherever he lives now I suggest his neighbors sleep with one eye open.
Speaking Of Poor News Judgment: The second lead story on the front page of the Wednesday, March 14 issue of the Jacksonville-based Florida Times-Union, right under the one about President Trump firing Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, was headlined “Jaguars Posluszny announces retirement.” Yep, the fact that long-time Jaguars’ linebacker Paul Posluszny retired was judged the second most important news item of the day by those in charge of that sad paper. Apparently Syria, Israel, the European Union, the Middle East refugee crisis, Putin, and the U.S. Congress didn’t warrant front page coverage more important than a Jacksonville Jaguars football player’s retirement. I guess it will be a Second Coming headline when the team’s quarterback tosses in the towel.
I Bet It’s Illegal: With the NCAA Basketball Tournament — aka March Madness — in full swing, hordes of local folks along with millions of other Americans, will cough up tidy sums of money in bars and offices throughout the country in hopes that their NCAA tournament picks will result in a hefty payoff and lots of “atta boy” pats on the back from fellow office mates and imbibers.
According to the American Gaming Association some 70 million NCAA tournament brackets will be filled in this year, risking on average $29 per bracket and contributing to more than $12 billion that will be bet overall on March Madness. Almost all of it illegal.
The fact that betting on the teams through the popular and highly visible bracket boards posted on barroom and office walls violates federal and state laws doesn’t deter folks. They probably don’t even know they’re breaking the law. I’ve only read once about anyone being arrested or a bar being shut down because of this popular practice and that was a guy whose bar was next door to the police station on the Gulf Coast’s Indian Shores, FL. Over the years the bar owner — a good friend of mine — and the cops shared a mutual dislike of each other that finally spilled over with the owner’s arrest over a Super Bowl betting board. Charges were later dropped.
If Nassau County Sheriff Bill Leeper and Fernandina Beach Police Chief James Hurley decided to enforce these laws they’d have to call in every off duty officer to raid restaurants and bars from the Salty Pelican and Sandbar to PJD’s Beer & Wine Garden and Halftime Sports Bar & Grill among many more all over the island. Hundreds, maybe thousands of locals would be arrested including me. And where would they put us all? Chief Hurley and Sheriff Leeper would become the two most unpopular folks in the state. However, I bet they’ve both already filled out their brackets. Warren Buffet even got in on the fun offering his employees $1 million a year for life for a perfect bracket until the Sweet 16. He’s putting another $1 million in if Creighton wins the whole thing.
I’ve made my picks and I can hardly wait to see the looks on the faces of my watering hole pals when the South Dakota State (Brookings) Jackrabbits wallop the Long Island (Brooklyn) Blackbirds for the national title. And no matter what, both teams should get a special mention just for their names.
Sasquatch Sighting: The pant-suited Sasquatch, Hillary Clinton, wandered out of the swamp again last weekend to explain to a conference in India that states that supported her in the 2016 election were more economically advanced than the states that backed Trump. Hey, I thought the Republicans were defenders of wealth and economic privilege, not Democrats. Her remarks were reminiscent of her 2016 comments that some of Trump’s supporters fit in a “basket of deplorables.” She insinuated that women who voted for Trump were motivated by “ongoing pressure to vote the way that your husband, your boss, your son, whoever, believes you should.” She blamed the “backwards” parts of America where “you don’t like black people getting rights; you don’t like women, you know, getting jobs; you don’t want to, you know, see Indian-Americans succeeding more than you do.” I hope the Democrats keep encouraging her occasional sightings to snort, growl and make excuses for her dismal performance. It’s a reminder of how fortunate the American electorate is not to have a Democrat, particularly this one, in the White House.
Drinking, Dinning & Dancing: Former Fernandina Beach Parks and Recreation Department Manager Jay Robertson and his dad, Guy Robertson, are conducting the 10th Annual Rib Cook-Off at Main Beach tomorrow, Saturday, March 17. Some 59 teams from all parts of Florida and Georgia are signed up to participate, a massive increase from the first one Jay was involved with 10 years ago that attracted nine entries. Jay said that the organizers will also announce a Team of the Decade at the event. Warm weather and clear skies are harbingers of a good turnout for this fun event which also includes live music. The schedule is as follows: 10am – Event site opens to public; 10:55am – 11:05am – Wing turn-in; 11:25am – 11:35am – St. Louis turn-in; 11:30am – Dopelimatic to perform; 11:55am – 12:05pm – Baby Back turn-in; 12:00pm – Turn in remainder of ribs to community plate sales area; 12:15pm – Community plates to be sold; 1:30pm – Brian Absher Trio to perform; 3:00pm – Awards. Admission is free, food isn’t. Attention day drinkers! Beginning Tuesday, March 20 PJD’s Beer & Wine Garden at 12 South 2nd Street will open at 1 p.m. Tuesday to Friday featuring a dollar off all house wines and draft beers until 5 p.m. The fun pub is open at 5 p.m. on Mondays and 1 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The VFW Post 4351 under the Shave Bridge on Wade Place Road is one of several places I know offering corned beef and cabbage for St, Patrick’s Day for a $12 donation at the door beginning at 4 p.m. tomorrow, Saturday, March 17. Live music by Catfish is from 5-8 p.m. The others are Sandbar & Restaurant at Main Beach and the Green Turtle at 12 South 3rd Street downtown. If you’re a barista, bartender, cook, server or other hospitality worker looking for a job, then Amelia Island is your oyster. “Help wanted” signs are popping up everywhere, from the beach side’s Sliders to downtown’s Hola Cuban Cafe, offering a variety of positions and shifts as tourist season ramps up.