In early January, while flipping through its newspaper, management at the Fernandina Beach News-Leader was alarmed to discover that I had been writing a weekly column (Dave’s World) for it the past two years and promptly told me to knock it off. But not because I deserved a break after devoting 15 minutes and a six-pack a week providing its readers with analytical, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalism free of charge.
Nope. They claimed my musings were “too heated” telling me that some “30 subscribers (people who apparently misunderstood that their subscription didn’t actually require them to read the column) had cancelled their subscriptions” because of my comments, apparently putting a serious dent in the paper’s circulation numbers.
In other words they chucked it because they got the impression from their readers that my commentary was about as interesting as a bucket of hair despite my crack research staff, reliable Hammerhead Beach Bar sources and being fueled by vast quantities of premium beer. I now have empathy with Seinfeld’s TV character Cosmo Kramer who was fired from a company where he was never employed or compensated.
However, a large outpouring – which can only be described as lots more beer – of folks told me in person, through emails, phone calls and slurred speech that they found my smoke-filled, alcohol-drenched, barbeque-stained column “just mildly awful” and have encouraged me to continue it through a blog, which I recently bought at Best Buy and am currently assembling right here in public.
Called, www.davescottblog.com it will contain items consisting of reflections on various local, regional or national incidents, ranging from the most scenic locations on Amelia Island to stare at a cell phone and our islander’s favorite peacock recipes to excerpts from David Yulee’s prison diary and accounts of enraged Norwegian tourists who can’t find lutfisk on T-Ray’s Burger Station menu.
Items will also be devoted to local restaurants, bars, cook-offs, musical events and any other free wine, beer-soaked, finger-licking, rib-sucking, chili-slurping, hot wing happenings I think would be of interest to me and a handful of friends that my first wife would never have allowed through the front door.
So, if you have ideas you think I should pursue, want your restaurant’s or bar’s events and specials mentioned, or have complaints or can’t stand me or what I write, contact the Fernandina Beach News-Leader. No, just kidding, contact me at email@example.com.
The building at 1214 Beech Street behind’s Central Park’s baseball diamonds that was once home to Captain Van’s grocery store and the last place on the island to serve entire fillets of smoked mullet and then became the short-lived Breakaway Café is coming to life once again, this time as Cutthroat Red’s Trading Company, an antique and consignment shop. About 10 years ago when I was visiting the island and staying at the Florida House I phoned an order of mullet and Cajun boiled shrimp in to Capt. Van’s. I arrived to pick it up and was told it would be about a half hour or more and that I should go in back and chat with the owner. Walking into a cluttered office I spotted a big man in coveralls and a nautical cap sitting in an overstuffed swivel chair and asked “Are you Captain Van?” The man smiled and drawled, “What’s left of him.” It was one of the most interesting visits I‘ve had on the island and during it Van told me how he settled here in the late 1940’s from South Georgia where he grew up on a farm. Eventually he purchased island property, including some ocean front, and when his father visited here for the first time his anxious son drove him out to the beach, pointed to the dunes and said proudly “Daddy, I own that land.” His Georgia farming father looked toward the sand, watching as the waves washed onto the beach, turned to Van and said sadly, “Son, you can’t grow nothing in that.” Van died about six or seven years ago and I wish I had spent more time with him.
The Crescendo Amelia Big Band is really big (19 pieces plus multiple singers) in more ways than one. It’s a big hit every where it performs particularly at Sandy Bottoms the first Tuesday of each month 7-10 pm where the venue’s stage and large dance floor perfectly accommodate the musicians and dancers. The Big Band doesn’t demand big bucks, but it’s still got to be paid and because it’s big, management at Sandy Bottoms is initiating a small ($5.00), but well worth every musical toot cover charge, starting Tuesday, February 4. Hey folks, if the band brings along its usual three vocalists that’s only 22 cents an entertainer for your fin, a bargain at four times the price and if I didn’t think it was, I’d say so. Call ‘em at 310-6904.
Put this in the file of ideas that are fun to think about but probably won’t fly: In the early 1800s Fernandina Beach was a rowdy, hedonistic town, chock-a-block full of pirates, smugglers, cutthroats and thieves where merchants traded in slaves and booze and brothels and gambling prospered, prompting President James Monroe to call Amelia Island a “festering fleshpot.” So, while other American cities like Williamsburg, VA; Santa Fe, NM; Gettysburg, PA, etc. capitalize on their heritage by turning their communities into historical replicas reflecting their past, we may be sitting on an untapped gold mine here. It may not be particularly appropriate for family vacations but just think of the envy you’ll generate when you boast to your pals at the neighborhood tavern in Hoboken, “Hey guys, I’m leaving Friday for a week at the Festering Fleshpot on Amelia Island.” Well, if it doesn’t work as a theme park, maybe it’s a good name for a fondue restaurant or at least a cocktail at the Palace, Hammerhead, Green Turtle or Florida House Mermaid Bar.
Our son’s family dog, Molly, ate so many of the Pajama (Dave) Life Beer Bones over the holidays she was expelled from obedience school, became homeless, was sent to rehab at the Humane Society, and is now attending AA meetings on a regular basis. However, if your pooches can handle their booze then treat them to some solidified beer shots by emailing stunning blonde attorney Zan Maddox at firstname.lastname@example.org, calling her on 556-1759 or visiting the Fish Bowl at 14 South 6th St. downtown. They are bow-hic-wow delicious.
All you eagle-eyed, alert readers who pointed out that I was wrong when I wrote that Louisiana is the only state named after a king, I meant “French” king, because as everybody knows many other states are named after European kings including New Mexico, North Dakota and Utah. History books tell us that Louisiana’s first settlers – Louis Armstrong, Terry Bradshaw and Billy the Exterminator – were watching Duck Dynasty with Tom Jefferson when they saw Napoleon Bonaparte, hard up for Francs, which he needed to wage war on countries that didn’t speak French, hawking Louisiana between the Sham Wow and Slap Chop pitches. Having looked all over Versailles for things to sell on EBay, as well as turning over every sofa cushion in the Louvre looking for centimes, he found Louisiana sitting in a closet as good as new and never used, and put it on the market. Tommy J. was hooked by the sales pitch when Bonaparte proclaimed, “But wait! There’s more!” and held up bobble-head dolls of Louis XVI, Marie Antoinette and a toy guillotine. Look it up.
One of the most convincing incentives for me to shop locally was a headline on the front page of the Jacksonville Times-Union recently screaming “Leaders respond to movie melee” where it reported on possible remedies for preventing a recurrence of a riot or “near riot” by some 600 teens and young adults on Christmas Eve at the Hollywood River 14 movie theater, an indication to me that the River City Shopping Center may be a place to avoid. Call me a “wuss,” but I traditionally try to shun riots or even near riots and places where they are likely to breakout, another good reason not to cross the bridge and stay on the island to shop. Where were the parents of these young folks during this Christmas Eve melee?
Responding to requests, Steve Raszkin, the Steve in A Taste of Wine by Steve, has initiated a Wine Education Seminar January 22 at 6 p.m. for $15 a person, which also includes, in addition to the instruction, a variety of cheeses and French Burgundy. Steve will start you off with wine basics such as how to tell the difference between the legs in your glass of red wine and the legs on the Hammerhead gals on Bikini Sundays as well as etiquette, including tips on how to be the life of the party when you plop Mentos in a bottle of your host’s Dom Perignon White Gold Jeroboam Champagne and answering the age old question of: Wine shots or Jell-O shooters, which will impress her the most?” To reserve your space call ‘em at 557-1506.
Restaurant round-up: Townies Pizzeria & Deli currently at 1721 South 8th Street, will be opening the first week in February at a new location on T.J. Courson Road in the old KFC site in front of Winn Dixie and its menu will expand to include soups and some pasta dishes I’m told. Call ‘em at 277-4755. For folks that want a quick and really inexpensive lunch or dinner, American Legion Post 54 on at 626 South 3rd St. is now serving lunch 11 am-1:30 pm with prices just 4-6 bucks and dinner from 5-7 pm for only $7-8. Pam (Big Red) LeClair, who has been fixing meals since she was six in her granny’s East Tennessee kitchen, is doing the cooking and the menu is fixed with mostly sandwiches, sides and a drink for lunch and a hot main course, sides and a drink at dinner. A health inspector showed up right after they started serving in December and couldn’t find a single violation. If eaten Pam’s cooking so know the food is good , but my favorite legion attractions are the Jane Fonda targets in the men’s room urinals. Call ‘em at 261-7900.