Last April in this space I announced that I was considering producing the Amelia Island News Wrecker, a satirical newspaper devoted to good naturedly spoofing the island, its history, businesses, government and anything else in my sights and said the target date for publishing it was Shrimp Festival 2015.
Well, I made it, even beating my self-imposed deadline by two weeks. The “free” 20-page tabloid News-Wrecker hit the streets this week and can be picked up in island pubs, restaurants, businesses and selected shops, establishments that were carefully chosen as those that wouldn’t toss me and my newspaper bundles out the door.
The tag line for the paper is “Amelia Island’s sacred cows make the best burgers” and its purpose if to produce laughs without resorting to obscenities and vulgarity, however, it will probably be criticized by some for what they may perceive as “bad taste.” But, I’m taking the high road and a mature approach to the paper’s critics with a well thought out and carefully crafted “OH YEH!” response.
The idea for the newspaper was motivated by my lifelong devotion to “Mad Magazine” and the “National Lampoon” along with inspiration from the Onion, a national print and online satirical publication. While writing and editing the stories for the Wrecker I embodied Canadian poet Margaret Atwood’s notion “that everyone else my age is an adult whereas I am merely in disguise.”
This inaugural issue of the News Wrecker includes a front page story on how the Fernandina Beach City Commission has decreed that the daily sunset will now alternate between the east and west sides of Amelia Island and the how the town’s shabby South 8th Street has being declared a “scenic highway for the vision impaired.”
Stories inside range from how “tree huggers” are squeezing the life out of the island’s century oaks, an illegal immigrant Powerball jackpot winner moving next door to resident author John Grisham, and how everybody participating in this year’s Shrimp Festival parade will be issued a bullwhip.
If you are sitting next to someone in a pub reading the News Wrecker who thinks the articles are authentic, then you should probably move down a couple of stools.
The response so far has been overwhelmingly positive and from the feedback I’ve received the self-deprecating ads are generating as many guffaws as the absurd stories. Advertisers range from the downtown Hampton Inn & Suites and The Amelia Island Hospitality Group to Second Amendment Outfitters and Amelia River Cruises among others.
The News Wrecker tabloid parody pokes harmless fun at our small but vocal liberal and far right wing populations, local governing bodies, news gathering organizations, the Shrimp Festival, and other area sacred cows with inside page headlines reading “Trident Submarine Fired On From Ft. Clinch” and “T-Ray’s Unveils Hamburger for Left-Handed Folks.”
Joining me in producing the paper was a very patient and talented Kathy Warner, who currently spends the majority of her time volunteering for the Nassau Humane Society and Nassau County Extension. Without this brilliant, very tolerant and modest lady’s help I’d still be puzzling over how to assemble the paper. She also created the paper’s website, which unlike the print version, will be in full color and available Friday, May 1. If it proves successful, and I have the energy, I’ll publish another just prior to next year’s Shrimp Festival as folks have already begun sending me suggestions for future stories and it has been fun grinding island sacred cows into hamburgers.
Folks interested in advertising or who have story ideas or are seeking abuse can contact me here or at email@example.com. If you hate the publication I have no doubt you’ll let me know that too.
Wait! Don’t I know You? While dropping off a handful of News Wreckers to the 1120 South 14th Street’s Doo Wop Diner, a lady in her late 60s approached me and asked who I was and who published the paper. When I identified myself and told her I was the editor and publisher, she let me have it with both barrels saying: “I don’t like you or anything about you. I don’t like anything you write. You don’t like Obama, you don’t like Democrats, and you don’t like women.” She then turned to leave but paused and asked if she could have another copy of the paper for a friend. I gave her another one and took that opportunity to defend myself saying: “I do so like women.”
Speaking Of Strange Things: I created a Limited Liability Corporation for the News Wrecker with the appropriate state organization in Tallahassee and this week received a mailed notice with a return postage paid envelope from something called “Florida Sate Compliance” saying I should remit $84.00 to them via check or credit card, payment for materials that I should post in my workplace. In the upper right hand corner in bold capital letters was written “LABOR LAW COMPLIANCE NOTICE and the letter went on to say: “Your business is required by law to post current compliant Employment Law Posters in workplace.” The notice also stated that “Failure to comply with posting regulations can lead to fines up to $17,000.” The notice gives the appearance of being a state agency so I looked this outfit up and discovered it is not a government entity of any kind but a newly formed corporation created in November last year and is NOT affiliated at all with any state agency. A call to the state’s Registration Section of the Division of Corporations assured me that this outfit’s plea was a scam and should be ignored. So if any newly formed companies out there get a similar letter, contact the state at (850) 245-6051 and don’t waste money on these scammers. Any ideas on how these conmen can be put out of business?
Fast On Her Feet: Anybody who has ever heard the pretty, personable and perspicacious Laura DiBella, the new Nassau County Economic Development Board Director speak, knows she is good on her feet. She is also really fast on them too as she just took first place for the second year in a row in the women’s category of the Seven Mile Bridge Run in the Florida Keys, with a blistering 42:55 time, a feat that made headlines in newspapers around the country. Congratulations to the speedy Ms. DiBella, whose energetic professional efforts are fast making Nassau County a tempting place for businesses to set up shop. The articulate Ms. DiBella provided a snapshot of her organization’s progress during this past Tuesday’s Fernandina Beach City Commission meeting by describing the key industries she is enticing to take a look at relocating here and reasons why they should, factors that made the folks in the audience feel justified by their decisions to call Nassau County home. Companies she is currently talking to employee between 25 and 510 people and include the healthcare, education and energy sectors. She has also enticed folks to take a look at the closed 14th St. movie theater. I can’t imagine a better ambassador for our county.
Clang! Clang! Clang! Goes The Trolley: Local entrepreneur and investor Ernie Saltmarsh made a proposal to the city commissioners this past Tuesday for a pilot trolley route that would take passengers in a loop from downtown, to Main Beach on Fletcher, up Sadler and then down South 8th Street with 19 stops saying local businesses are willing to contribute and asking would the city kick in some funding as well? Ernie is suggesting a $3.00 fee if business and city subsidies are mixed in, as without it he says a per ride ticket would be an exorbitant 7-10 bucks. City Manager Joe Gerrity and the commissioners gushed over the concept and all agreed to a trial date between this coming Memorial Day to Labor Day. Day long passes and residential tickets are among incentives being considered says Ernie.
Emotions Still Heated At The Firehouse: Local Firefighter Union leader Chett Lyncker told the commission this past Tuesday that so far in the department’s squabble with the city “nothing has happened but a shuffling of chiefs and that the issue has now been escalated to the national level as, according to Lyncker the situation continues to deteriorate with declining morale eventually going to have an impact on public safety. Commissioner Robin Lentz chimed in on the side of the firefighters harshly questioning City Manager Joe Geritty who snapped back and defended his actions saying he “considers the issues resolved. Morale doesn’t turn around in a snap,” he testily responded while also claiming that a nationwide search for a new fire chief is progressing with a number of applications already received. Geritty, who has seen his support on the commission deteriorate the past few months, doesn’t look or act happy and it appears to many that his days as city manager may be numbered. Commissioners Pat Gass and Johnny Miller, two of his supporters, are not much help with the voices in the head of Ms. Gass acting confused while Mr. Miller is preoccupied with liberal global issues and is currently asking anyone who will listen to send him money for his trip to Washington, DC so he can save the world from plastic bags.
Overheard At Wednesday Night’s Crab Trap 50 Cent Wing Night: “If the ban-the-plastic-bag folks have their way, it’ll be interesting to see how kids coming home from school carnivals and fairs will transport the goldfish they won as they’ll need to get home fast if they have to carry their newly acquired prize in a paper sack.”
Affordable? Forty-one percent of small businesses surveyed have frozen hiring because of the Affordable Healthcare Act known as ObamaCare. Almost one-fifth (19 percent) answered “yes” when asked if they had “reduced the number of employees you have in your business as a specific result of the Affordable Care Act.” Another 38 percent of the small business owners said they “have pulled back on their plans to grow their business” because of ObamaCare. Source: CNBC.com
Drinking, Dining & Dancing: I’ve been invited to join Steve and Donna Raszkin of A Taste of Wine By Steve at their 4924 First Coast Highway location this evening beginning at 5 pm. for their weekly Friday wine tasting and to distribute copies of the News Wrecker to wine sippers, so come join us for some interesting wines and a few laughs until 7 pm. I’ve heard that the Centre Street Courtyard Pub has been sold but that piano man John Springer is still limited to just Thursday evenings, a move that the new owners should definitely reconsider. I’ve heard the new owners are considering a name change and new concept but every time I’ve ever been in the Courtyard when John is at the keyboard, the place is packed with folks eating, drinking, singing and having fun so why not capitalize on that successful format or maybe the new owners are similar to the former one and consider customers a nuisance. If not, they need to figure out a formula that satisfies all parties. I’ve heard very strong rumors from very reliable sources that the building that housed the short-lived Palate and was once home to Bonito’s, at the corner of Centre and South 7th Street will soon be occupied by Ciao, with an interesting new concept and that Ciao will stay where it is on the corner of its very successful Centre and South 3rd Street location.