Move over Dickie Anderson. Your “From the Porch” column is no longer the most incoherent and amateurish regularly scheduled piece of babble printed in the local bi-weekly News-Leader. With a single swat Joe Palmer’s Friday, November 27 “Cup of Joe” outburst smacked you off that pedestal.
While Ms. Anderson’s self-indulgent and high-schoolish column is an incomprehensible and harmless word jumble, Palmer’s virulent rant reads like an urgent plea for admission to anger management rehab or an alert that he’s gone off his meds.
A few words into Palmer’s November 27 “The same old road to perdition” I thought I was reading one of the Amelia Island News-Wrecker parodies, but soon realized that this guy, who in a column a few weeks ago actually described himself as a “southern humorist,” was dead serious.
Joe Palmer: “Knock, knock.”
Respondent: “Who’s there?”
Joe Palmer: “#@(*&^%$!*, ya’ll.”
Let’s take a look at this alleged “southern humorist’s” November 27 “Cup of Joe” column.
Let me make it clear that I am not condemning Palmer’s opinion nor am I agreeing with it. My issue is the malicious, shallow and tasteless way he expressed himself. His topic was the relocation of 10,000 Syrian refugees into the U.S. He disagrees with those who oppose their relocation here as vehemently as a militant, street-corner preacher shouting about hellfire and damnation. However, even the most crazed religious fanatic argues in more calm and reasoned tones than Palmer’s demented reaction to the anti-refugee crowd.
And he didn’t waste any time blasting those he opposes. In his first paragraph he attacked folks who object to the U.S. relocation of Syrians as “…demagogues, racists, fear mongers, and crazed nativists screaming bloody murder for Lady Liberty to give the finger to foreign refugees fleeing death, etc…..” You can almost see the wild look in his eyes and the spittle coming from his mouth.
But if you think that was harsh, you ain’t read nothing yet. Because of Donald Trump’s comments on immigration he referred to Trump as “a liar, con man, a racist and above all else, a thoroughly despicable human being” and then added: “Many of his churlish disciples are violent people.”And in case his readers might think he was being a little too easy on The Donald, he said that Trump: “…..is not the legitimate face of America but its filthy opposite end.” WOW! I haven’t witnessed an intellectual debate this deep since my first grade friend Jimmy B. had his mouth washed out with soap for calling a classmate “pooh-pooh head.”
But wait, there’s more, much more. If you think Palmer dislikes Donald Trump, just wait till he gets to Sean Hannity, Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio, the governor of Texas, west coast farmers, Breitbart, and Mother Goose. OK, he didn’t actually mention Mother Goose, but I’m sure that’s only because he ran out of space.
The unhinged “humorist” compares folks that oppose the relocation of the refugees to the U.S. to those who placed Japanese-Americans in internment camps following the 1941 bombing of Pearl Harbor, ironically adding: “Malice grows more belligerent each day.” He made that comment just before he asked: “How long before we start rounding up our doctors, lawyers, school-teachers, shopkeepers and neighbors and putting them in concentration camps too?” Concentration camps? Shopkeepers? Doctors? Hey? What? Huh? I’m totally lost here. Maybe News-Leader Publisher Foy Maloy can explain. What’s your humorist talking about Foy? I think I missed the punch line.
Oh, and following his criticism of the Texas governor’s comments involving refugees, he asks “Do you see a pattern here? You’re stupid if you don’t.” It’s not often I read editorials where a writer calls his newspaper’s readers “stupid.” In fact, until this one, I’ve never, ever read a column where the writer called his newspaper’s readers “stupid.” But, maybe I just don’t understand southern humor. You must be wetting yourself with laughter Foy, particularly after your “humorist” wrote: “Let’s just establish the Fourth Reich and get on with it.” Yep, this guy’s a laugh a minute.
I don’t know about any others who may have read this thing, but by the time I reached the end of it, the News-Leader’s self-proclaimed “southern humorist” hadn’t produced a single yuk from me. I didn’t say to my wife, Linda: “Honey, you’ve got to read this…it’s hilarious.” Nope, that didn’t happen.
Near the end of this catechism of hated Palmer challenged his “stupid” readers saying: “Call me a liberal, a pacifist, a hippie, whatever. I honestly don’t care.” Joe, I don’t know if you are any of those things, but I do know what you are not, and that’s a humorist, southern or otherwise.
Because I’ve owned property on Amelia Island since 2002 I subscribed to the News-Leader when I lived in Atlanta so I could keep up with what was happening with taxes, zoning, etc. Before moving here about five years ago, and while in Atlanta I read a Palmer column I disagreed with and emailed him jokingly saying: “Your recent commentary is an example of why you shouldn’t drink before you write your column.” The man does not take criticism well. He responded to me with a barrage of obscenities and let me know that he doesn’t drink, and made it very clear that he failed to find anything humorous in my comments.
By the way Foy, do you or your editor at the News-Leader ever bother reading this stuff before it’s printed? Just wondering, as I can’t imagine your subscribers clipping it and mailing it to others, and urging them to sign on, or advertisers clamoring for space anywhere near Palmer’s honey wagon.
Foy, you and your southern “humorist” might want to take a look at Florida Times-Union columnist Mark Woods’ comments (Refugees haven’t been the problem, T-U, Sunday, November 29) on the exact same topic that appeared just two days later. Woods agrees with Palmer’s viewpoint, but does so with reason and logic. He makes a lucid argument, cites attributable sources as well as verifiable statistics, and displays respect for his readers as well as those who disagree with his analysis.
Whether I agree or not with either of these guys on the Syrian refugee issue isn’t my point. If a writer wants to persuade me to consider his or her position on a topic, they’ll have a better chance of doing so with a well thought out, reasoned argument, and showing me respect, rather than producing a disjointed, venom-spewing piece where hate is the coin of the realm, and the author says I’m “stupid” if I don’t agree with his view. And that’s no laughing matter.
Speaking Of Persuasive Arguments: If you haven’t already done so then I suggest you read the comment in last week’s blog from Mr. Don Howard who applauds the Veterans Administration hospitals for their efforts. Don, who served as a pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps, knows what he’s talking about as he is a disabled vet who has experienced firsthand treatment by those employed at the Veterans Administration. I was critical of the VA last week, calling it corrupt and inept. Don, who I have known since he was Vice President of Human Resources at National Data Corporation in Atlanta, disagrees with my view and what he says makes a lot of sense. Here’s part of it: “I Applaud the comments re ex-cons life prospects after incarceration, not so much the sweeping indictment that the VA is ‘inept and corrupt.’ It’s the government, what do you expect? (Here it comes) HOWEVER my experience and that of the vet’s I drive from Sarasota to Bay Pines (St. Pete) as a volunteer a couple of times a month (for the past 12 years) is quite different. My patients are happy with their docs and the treatment they receive from them and the staff, and the many volunteers like me who donate their time to help their fellow vets. Of course there are whiners and hard to please folks here just like everywhere, and certainly the quality of care is not as good as a well run private sector health care delivery. In my experience though the genuine caring shown by paid staff and volunteers, most of whom have served in the military themselves, far exceeds what you may find in many if not most civilian operations.” Don goes on to provide examples of the VA’s professionalism, staff, research and overall care. It’s worth a read and has certainly given me pause to reflect and reconsider my position.
Speaking Of Poor News Judgment: This past Sunday I had to wade through four pages of the Florida Times-Union sports page crap about the Jacksonville Jaguars, one of the worst teams in the NFL, before I found a story describing Florida State University’s 27-2 victory over the University of Florida Saturday evening, a game that everybody in the state was talking about before and after it was played—well, everybody that is except the clueless folks employed in the Times-Union sports department. And the wretched Jaguar’s football team hadn’t even played the game they would eventually lose to an even worse San Diego Chargers team. Geez Louise, if the Florida Times-Union Jaguar acolytes aren’t paid by the word or employed by Jaguar team owner Shad Kahn, then why else would they continue this mindless nonsense? But wait, since this is the same newspaper that Joe Palmer said he once worked for things are starting to come together…..
Pajama Life Is Also A Caring Life: Add “caring and generous citizen” to the long list of complimentary adjectives used to describe local entrepreneur, boat captain, and town character PajamaDave Voorhees. Dave and his pretty blonde fiancé Zan Maddox headed up last Friday’s downtown Fernandina Beach Black Friday activities by blocking off the section of South 2nd Street in front of their Pajama Life shop and paying out of their own pockets for: bands, stage rental, setting up a miniature golf course, providing free cup cakes, cotton candy and hot chocolate as well as organizing and judging the downtown Pajama competition that saw close to 50 entries. Oh, and speaking of contests, the Downtown Holiday Window Decor competition that is part of the Dickens on Centre starts today with folks asked to vote online by going to ameliaislandchristmas.com. PJDave’s South 2nd Street window is an innovative miniature town that appears to be experiencing what appears to be a blizzard with swirling snow, a Santa and his reindeer flying across the sky and more. He gets my vote. So the next time you see these two pat ’em on the back, tell ’em thanks and buy ’em a beer.
“Old” Friends: Once a month I meet for lunch with good friends Cal Atwood and Joe Murphy at a different Amelia Island restaurant where we sample the fare of local chefs and discuss anything we feel like talking about, and we have lots to discuss as our collective ages number 246 years, so there’s a deep well of information, experience, opinions and BS to draw from. This past Wednesday we decided on Joe’s 2nd Street Bistro and I consider it one of our best choices so far. If you like macaroni and cheese, lobster, and shrimp, then get over to Joe’s as owner and chef Ricky Pigg has created an innovative three-cheese penne pasta combination of all of these, but bring a friend because this is a real “Pigg Out” special that’s heavy on the shrimp and lobster and is only $13.00. Joe selected the chicken and Andouille wontons ($8.00) while Call ordered the shaved prime rib sandwich ($14.00) with horseradish sauce, melted Swiss cheese, and a side of fries, and both said they were more than pleased with their choices. This cozy, white linen table cloth bistro also offers a wide selection of beers and wines and has a liquor license for those who want to get in the spirits of the season. It’s also only one of four downtown restaurants where — if you sit on the upstairs balcony — you can enjoy views of the harbor. Between bites I asked these two guys, who are only modest when asked about themselves, how their respective charitable organizations did during recent fund raising events. Joe Murphy told me that the local charity he works with, the 5th Annual Navy Seal Foundation Charity Golf event sponsored by the Amelia Island Charity Group and the Amelia Island Club held November 7, exceeded its $100,000 goal and raised more than $130,000 for support and assistance to the Navy Special Warfare community and its families, while Cal said the 14th Annual Marine Corps League Golf Tournament played October 24 pulled in $80,000. It is now the “Calvin ‘Cal’ Atwood Marine Corps Tournament,” having the World War II Iwo Jima veteran’s name added this year to honor the 92-year-old Amelia Island icon for his efforts in raising money for the event the past many years. All money raised is used by the Marine Corps League of Nassau County to assist area families in need and one generous island resident, who requests anonymity, donated an 18-wheeler full of new toys estimated at some $50,000 that included 130 brand new bicycles. Having lunch with these two guys is not only fun, but an honor.
Drinking, Dining & Dancing: In the “I told you so department” chain pizzeria Papa John’s, next to the closed 14th Street movie theater has apparently shuttered as former employees have announced on social media sites that they are getting no response from the eatery owner for their final paychecks….a situation that does not make for a very happy Christmas. Why would anyone frequent one of these formula chains when we have home grown pizzerias like Tony’s, Townies, Arte’s, Ops and Moon River? Want to run a restaurant and bar? Well, Beef O’Brady’s, at the corner of South 14th Street and Sadler in the Publix Island Walk shopping center is for sale for $295,000, an established 2,700 square-foot eatery that has been on the scene for the past 15 years. It hasn’t closed so you can come in a take a look at how it’s doing and try their 12-ounce $1.00 happy hour beer from 5-6 p.m. then a $1.99 pint till 7. Ok folks, the best wine tasting event of the year in my opinion takes place this evening as Steve and Donna Raszkin of A Taste of Wine By Steve conduct an inside and outside Champagne and sparkling wine event with some 11 vineyards featured for just a $5.00 tasting fee at their 4924 First Coast Highway location. And the popular holiday Holly Nog is back at $11.95 a bottle. Call ’em at 904/557-1506. Local restaurant and food critic Karen Miller was kind enough to choose me as her dining companion for a taste of Townies menu selection earlier this week and, of all the items we were offered at the T.J. Courson Road location, I was most surprised with the wings, particularly the spicy ones with a rub that are slow cooked in the oven so there is a noticeable lack of grease. Ms. Miller’s column, “The Eating Scene“, appears in the monthly Amelia Islander Magazine and Townies will be featured in next month’s issue which will appear the first week of January. Both Tony’s, next to Publix in the Island Walk Shopping Center, and Townies, tell me that they deliver more wings than pizza on college and NFL football weekends, with their pizzas running a close second. I’ve eaten at both locations and give ’em both a thumbs up for their flappers and hot pies. Want to get into the holiday spirits? Then try Slider’s featured seasonal cocktail — “The Grinch” — with dark rum, peach schnapps, blue Curacao, Sprite, orange juice, and sour mix.