Island Issues

Want To See A Photo Of My Cat? Or Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah

Want To See A Photo Of My Cat? Or Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah, Blah

Elderly TalkThe Austin Lounge Lizards, a group I have followed for a number of years, wrote a song called “Old Blevins,” that tells the tale of a guy who retreated from a domestic squabble to a bar only to be trapped next to Old Blevins, an incoherent, non-stop yakker, a situation that is similar to what takes place electronically on Facebook daily.

Just like Facebook, Old Blevins grabbed the fellow’s attention and wouldn’t let go as the song relates:

I could tell he had some wisdom to impart
Some story that was etched and burned and stamped
Upon his heart
Then his eyes began to glisten
‘Cause he could see that I would listen
We sat there at that bar ’til nearly three
And this is what Old Blevins said to me
He said “Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
In Tijuana blah blah blah back in 1963
Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
You should have been there blah blah blah”
Is what Old Blevins said to me
I sat there and I listened to his words
As they flapped around my head like little birds

Had he gone plumb ’round the bend
Or could I just not comprehend
His lips were writing lines I could not read
When suddenly, it all came clear to me
As he said “Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
Then crazy hippies blah blah blah blah no effect on me
Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
The great depression blah blah blah”
And he would not leave me be


If I was sitting next to Old Blevins at the Green Turtle, Dog Star, etc. and he pulled out photos of his cat, today’s lunch plate, a nephew, his long-dead parents, a recent trip to Upper Montclair, New Jersey,  his girlfriend’s cleavage (No, wait, that’s ok), said a prayer, handed me a tofu recipe, and then asked me what kind of vegetable or dog I most represent it probably wouldn’t take me long to begin edging a few stools away from what I figure is a guy who has had a few too many or is an unhinged, narcissistic loon. And so would most of you.

If that’s the case then why do we sit and stare at exactly the same stuff on our cell phones, lap tops, iPads, etc. as this river of nonsense flows through Facebook to us from our “friends?”

And speaking of friends, I noticed the other day that I have almost 300 of these “friends” on my Facebook page. I have no idea how that happened as there are no more than five people who I would actually call friends, people who if I got arrested, would probably be in the cell next to me. But in order to communicate on the Internet in real time via Facebook with people you know, who have been introduced to you, or who requested that you “friend” them, you have to accept their request or reach out and ask them to be a “friend” and the numbers quickly add up.  I scrolled through my list of almost 300 “friends” and discovered that there are many that I’ve never met, some I don’t recall, and others I’d just as soon forget. In other words these are not 300 who would fight to their death at Thermopylae on my behalf much less make bail for me.

Now I understand that folks who are entertainers, own a restaurant, a shop, or a tourist attraction, want to attract as many “friends” as possible, as it’s good for business. But why do I care about people that I have absolutely nothing in common with or are total strangers? And why do they want me to look at pictures of their cat, show me what they are eating for lunch, and insist I forward a religious or political message to others? If these people knocked on my front door with these same requests I’d find that disturbing and I’d probably call my neighbors to warn them after contacting the authorities.

And the darn thing can actually be vicious and dangerous as last week a 16-year-old student from Poinciana, a town just south of Orlando, was arrested on attempted murder charges after he stabbed a classmate over a Facebook posting.

So I’ve been rethinking this Facebook stuff and I’m considering going back to the old fashioned “face-to-face-have-a-cup-of-coffee-or-beer-conversation” and written forms of communication where no one has ever shown me a picture of their cat or attempted to stab me for my comments, no matter how disagreeable they think I may be or how silly my observations.

And if I do, it is more than likely that this final verse of the Lounge Lizards’ song will apply to me:

And my memories of that evening fuel an inner mounting fear
That I might become Old Blevins anywhere that they sell beer
And I’ll say “Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
I don’t remember blah blah blah blah blah blah
Mistakes were made
Blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah
How ’bout them Redskins?’ blah blah blah
Like Old Blevins used to say


If It Was Good Enough For Al Capone: This past Easter weekend we traveled down A1A to Jacksonville Beach where we had booked a room at the almost 90-year-old Casa Marina Hotel, a funky 23-room facility that has been renovated to reflect its past glory and is just 45 minutes and some 30 miles south of Fernandina Beach. In its heyday the classy hotel, recognized today as one of the Historic Hotels of America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, played host to the Duke & Duchess of Windsor, Al Capone, Charlie Chaplin and Mary Pickford, and was the first beach structure to boast a fire-drenching  automatic sprinkler system. Today the roof top penthouse lounge and patio have one of the area’s best ocean vistas and is the scene of live music on weekends and a DJ at other times while a Sunday brunch is usually a sold out affair. Prices for rooms and dining are more than reasonable and so are drinks in the lounge. The old black and white photos of the area in the 1920s that line the hotel walls are worth the visit. Call ‘em at 904/270-0025.


Speaking of Jacksonville Beach:  Movoto Blog once ranked Jacksonville Beach a top 10 exciting destination and it may be possible that the excitement stemmed from the fact that JAX Beach has the dubious distinction of being labeled by Movoto as one of America’s 10 most dangerous US suburbs based on FBI numbers calculated for 116 suburbs surrounding the country’s 50 largest cities. Despite the fact the late Al Capone’s last visit was in the 1920s, JAX Beach came in ninth based on homicides, violent crimes, property crimes and total crimes, per 100,000 residents. Movoto said the violent crime rate was the second worst among the top 10 and the odds of becoming a crime victim, based on 2012 statistical data, was one in 18. Even though we enjoyed our uneventful stay at Casa Marina, it was nice to get home to Amelia Island and have JAX Beach in our rearview mirror after reading about this stat.


A Drunk “To Go:” The next time you are too drunk to drive, walk to Townies, Tony’s, Arte, Op’s, or some other local pizzeria and place an order. When they go to deliver it, catch a ride home with ’em.


Baseball Bullies: The following sign posted on a fence at one of the Fernandina Beach Central Park baseball diamonds tells the entire story:  “Please remember!!! All managers, coaches and umpires are volunteers for your children. Please show respect!!!” Yep, adults have butted in and screwed up the game of baseball for seven-year-old kids to the point the city was forced to erect a sign warning them to begin acting at least as old as their children as their immature catcalls, rudeness, and unsportsmanlike conduct got to the point where one parent ousted a volunteer umpire and began calling balls and strikes himself, an act that should have gotten him banned from stepping foot near the ball ground again, ever. Hey kids, tell your folks to act like the adults they are supposed to be, let you have fun, and to stop embarrassing you. Good grief!


“I’m Shocked… Shocked To Find That Gambling Is Going On In Here:” In an interview with the Jacksonville Times-Union this week former Lt. Governor Jennifer Carroll commenting on her forced resignation because she did public relations work for the Allied Veterans of the World, which was caught up in a gambling ring says, “I was a bit naïve in how treacherous and backstabbing the political game could be.” What? This woman did work for an illegal gambling organization and was elected to the state legislature five times and says she’s “naïve” about politics?  “Stupid” is a better word.


Drinking, Dining & Dancing: You can get more than frozen yogurt at downtown’s Centre Street’s Island Time shop as it has recently started providing five kinds of sandwiches in addition to its yogurt flavors that range from the traditional vanilla and chocolate to the more exotic sea salt caramel pretzel and cupcake batter among many others. If big band music is your thing then this Tuesday, May 6 you’ll want to be at Sandy Bottoms at Main Beach to hear the Crescendo Amelia Big Band beginning at 7 pm and the first Tuesday of each month thereafter. Get there early for a seat and bring $5 for the cover charge. Call ‘em at 904/310-6904. I’ve been told that Murray’s in Yulee was looking for a buyer but nobody showed up with enough cash so that 16-year-old restaurant is now history. During their session at the Ritz-Carlton earlier this week the Texas Road House folks did some of the same things the California Pizza Kitchen people did during their visit last February and that is shower the community’s nonprofits with both financial and labor donations. It also did something not seen hereabouts that anyone I spoke to can recall and that is block off Centre St. from 2nd to Front for a private concert that could be heard all over town, but wasn’t open to locals, a move met by shrugs by many, condemned by a few and applauded by others because it was good for so many businesses that stayed open to take advantage of the crowd, and from what I saw the Palace Saloon and Dog Star cash registers were constantly ringing as were those at the Front Street’s Salty Pelican. Nancy White, a lady who blogs and writes about restaurants for the Jacksonville Times-Union, says our island’s Gourmet Gourmet makes a rare roast beef on pretzel roll with Boursin cheese, lettuce and tomato that is worth the drive from Jacksonville while also recommending several new spring dishes at downtown David’s on 8th and Ash. It’s good to see our island eateries getting positive play in the JAX daily. If you’re lucky you may be able to snag a couple of seats for the Mother’s Day celebration Saturday evening, May 10, at the Fernandina Beach Golf Club, where once again Chef Jacky Burette teams up with Steve Raszkin to produce a meal guaranteed to impress mom, starting with salmon and salad and featuring Beef Wellington, all for just $50 a person plus tax and gratuity, and that includes a bottle of one of Steve’s reds or whites so if you want a seat for you and mom, hurry as it will sell out fast. Call Steve at 904/557-1506 to book your space.

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