Saturday, November 24, 2007

Fake Driver's License Franchises, Palm Beach Style

Recently floated here from Haiti? Moved down from New York with a suspended license? On the run from Georgia police for marrying your 11 year old cousin? Not problema papi. We have just the solution for you and yours.

This thanks to Homeland Security which since 911 ironically makes it extra difficult for illegal immigrants and felons to get driver's licenses, giving birth to a new kind of fronts and on line sites that allow just about anyone to get an international driver's license. The real thing is indistinguishable from the bogus, even to traffic cops. The police have no way to check out foreign driver's licenses and can only go through the International Criminal Police Organization. So they rely on pictures of licenses from different countries distributed (I swear to God) by beer companies. God bless coronas once again for their contribution to Florida society.

But back to the advice column... if you are dodging INS or the FBI, don't stress yourself out by standing in line at the local DMV where they might expect you to take a sign test at the very least. Here's all you do....

Head for Palm Beach county where certain Delray Beach stores are selling the "international driver's licenses". If you missed the $99 "international driver's license" sale, advertised in Spanish just across the street from the Lake Worth Police Department, don't worry. You can bet a certain Check Cashing Stop will be have their annual holiday driver's license discount sale.

Federal Trade Commission reports a fake license sells for $65 to $350 and despite their best efforts, remain available in hometown storefronts or on the Internet. Check out the International Automobile Driver's Center
which offers "international driving documents" including a photo, and $75 for next-day delivery, according to the application. Tallahassee could learn from this.

Almost as easy as terrorists getting their pilot's license in Florida... and you don't even have to pass a road test.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Christ of The Abyss

Disneyworld is politely requesting visitors to refrain from scattering the remains of their dearly departed within the waters of Pirates of the Caribbean. Ditto for your late Uncle Harry playing one last round of golf at the club unless you plan a midnight memorial service with the utmost stealth. As cremations increase, so does that human spark of creativity in planning unique and unforgettable grand finale moments. In case you were curious, although Florida law does not specifically prohibit the scattering of dear Aunt Jane in your own rose garden, to do it anywhere else requires specific permission or it becomes a misdemeanor violation. Scattering over public lands or fresh water is not usually permitted, and may require specific permits. Certainly there are logistics in scattering your husband's ashes, such as not to be so insensitive as to leave telltale mounds, and to remember to turn away from the wind so as to not get a mouthful of Grandma. National parks may require permits, and each has their own criteria for allowing ashes to be dispersed.

But be encouraged,
if you are a Gator fan you can climb the stairway to heaven directly to the Swamp. For some time University of Florida has allowed die hard (no pun intended) fans and alumni to spend all of their eternity in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. What's next...Gator Nation orange and blue urns? Who knows they probably already sell them in the book store.

But for those who want a truly unique farewell, there is always the eternal call of the sea. Maritime funeral services provide for a number of memorial arrangements to include biodegradable urns, wreaths, eulogies. One of the most favorite sites for disposal of ashes in Florida, is the Christ of the Abyss located 6 miles east-northeast of Key Largo, Florida. It is a 9 foot statue of Jesus Christ standing on the bottom in approximately 25 feet of water in John Pennecamp State Park, the only underwater park in the world.

Now why on earth would scuba divers want to jump in that?

But it gets better. The next time you lay on South Beach sands you may want to think about this eerie scenario before you take a carefree topless dip in the waves, or go deep sea fishing.

I would be referring to "Direct Sea Burial option for Uncremated Remains", offered by the Navy as well as certain private maritime funeral businesses. Coffins
must be made of metal, extra sand weighted to go down feet first so as to sink rapidly and permanently. Where exactly do they do this? They dispose three miles out from land, in water no less than 600 feet deep, the Gulf Stream...a fisherman's trolling grounds. Yet I am expected to recycle to keep our water safe and clean?

Not to mention this information should lead us all to have certain dismaying second thoughts when strolling the beach to see what the tide has brought in....for that unusual shell just might belong to somebody's mother.

Sigh, somehow Mahi Mahi for dinner just does not sound quite so enticing tonight.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Weston Dog Etiquette...Bark and We Shoot You?

Just the other day I was remarking to a coworker that nothing ever happens in our west Broward development, otherwise known as Weston. Zero crime for the most part, top rated schools, architecturally controlled homes along with lawns kept lean and green, thanks to the most diligent group of code enforcers this side of the Tallahassee line. It's all part of this Arvida developed community-city which boasts it ranks the highest median income in Florida, ranking number 13 nationwide in the U.S. 2006 census. So safe, so planned, so very Stepford.

Alas, I may have spoken too soon. It appears that for what is probably the only time in Weston's history a police officer was forced not only to draw a gun, but fired twice, striking the subject, who was seriously injured and is now hospitalized. You might wonder if this was done to halt a run away armed burglar, murderer or rapist....certainly all of which might justify such deadly force. But no, the culprit had not robbed a bank or broken into a home.

The perpetrator, otherwise known as Fred, had been barking at the ducks in his backyard. Yep, ducks. Not too horrific a crime unless you happen to live in Weston where the police get called at the slightest Westonite complaint, and dog barking happens to rank up there with seriously overgrown ficus hedges. When the police officer investigated by going around back the home, Fred ran out an open screen door "lunging" at the officer, resulting in the officer shooting the 11 year old (yes, 11) epileptic dalmatian twice.

Fred underwent surgery, remains in guarded condition. His owners are not thrilled, and are planning on filing a law suit. Hopefully, if indeed he survives, Fred will have learned his lesson about violating dog etiquette standards in Weston. But I am a little worried about my yapping chihuahua, which is probably silly because he is too small to be shot.

They probably would just taser him to death.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Gypsy Chickens of Key West

I had so wanted to share my new recipe for garlic chicken with you, stolen from my favorite Cuban restaurant Don Arturos in Ft. Lauderdale, but changed my mind, as well you just might after checking out the chicken crisis in Key West.

I've always loved the Keys, accompanying my parents there every other weekend so my father could fish out in the Gulf while my mother taught me how to steal lobsters out of season. It wasn't until I was an adult that I had a chance to check out Key West, a nation by itself. Definitely a lot more fun cruising the bars than just trolling for dolphin. (I don't mean the Flipper variety so please don't start sending me hate mail). Although I usually reserve my energy for writing our legislators and current administration about human rights violations, the Keys hold a special place in my heart. Actually, this is about animal rights.

I would be talking about Chicken Rights y'all, specifically the Key West variety of chicks and roosters, otherwise known as the infamous Gypsy Chickens. Apparently these poultry terrorists have made themselves so unwelcome to some of the residents to the point that the city has had to relocate hundreds (poultry, not people), causing opposing human camps to take sides in the battle of the chicken. Leading the rooster army would definitely be The Chicken Store, a shelter providing care and rehabilitation for chickens, even arranges adoptions. Check out their gallery of feathered adoptables....hey, they don't bark and couldn't be as difficulty to housebreak as a chihuahua.... and you don't want to miss the bumper stickers which I didn't have the nerve to put in this post, but loved them none the less. Truly the Chicken Store folk of Key West have led the battle which may never be won as you can see from their petition circulated in an effort to put a halt to the chick haters.



To: the City Commission, City of Key West

We, the undersigned, hold dear the heart-stoppingly beautiful wild chickens of the City of Key West and ask they be preserved here forever.

Not only are they an established 175-year-old historical feature of this island city, but also they perform a valuable service by eating scorpions, ticks, cockroaches, termites, snails and other pests.

We respect and honor Gallus gallus, the Chicken, for its many gifts to humanity, which include: the Salk polio vaccine and other life-saving serums, life-sustaining foods not only for us and our children but also for our pets, and sentinel service to forewarn people against the threat of mosquito-borne diseases such as encephalitis, dengue and malaria.

Truly, the City of Key West would not be the same if its streets were silent and devoid of the proud Conch cocks and their beautiful feathered ladies with chicks in tow. Please hold them fast in your hearts, and let there be one place in the world where the deserving Chicken may live safe and free - in the amazing, unique, unparalleled City of Key West.


It couldn't be said anymore eloquently than the Society for Chicken Love put it, "The chicken has suffered an un-measurable amount of injustice. .... Has a chicken ever attacked a man? Has a chicken ever locked a human in a wire cage? Has a chicken ever forced abortion on a woman and then ate the aborted fetus? Has a chicken ever defrocked a human, basted him with barbecue sauce and thrown him on flaming coals? .....No one should have to live like a slave or prisoner food object just because they were born a chicken. Chicken oppression must stop!"

I spoke to Kathy of the Chicken Store just recently, and sad to say that the Chicken Store is presently looking for a new dwelling for their poultry orphanage. If you get a chance to travel down A1A make sure you put Kathy and her gypsies on your list of places to visit...only don't go in there smelling of chicken fingers.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Mickey Rourke and A Mint Green Vespa Give Inspiration

I want one, I really do....a vespa,
not a Mickey.

Ever since I saw one in Roman Holiday, I have wanted my own vespa scooter. There's a Vespa store off Federal Highway that always has the most adorable scooters parked outside, all in the pastel colors of your choice, of course. I wonder if that's where Mickey bought his mean green machine but he probably went to the one off Alton Road in Miami Beach. I don't know how safe they are (vespas not actors), especially when driven under the influence, something a certain green vespa driver has probably done a zillion times before.
It's even said Mr. Rourke drives with his chihuahuas... who knows, maybe they are drunk too. My chihuahua justs acts like he's drunk...chasing the squirrels on my screen saver, attacking t.v. canines on the Dog Whisperer.

Back to vespas....they drive vespas if you go over to the west coast to Sanibel or Captiva Island but I can't imagine negotiating one on I-75 or the Palmetto. Not with the way South Florida drivers attack the roadways with the same gusto Bush showed invading Iraq, cruising while simultaneously polishing fingernails, reading the paper, or finishing a bottle of Captain Morgan, a la Mr. Rourke.

My favorite hated roads to take note of, with the kraziest baddest ass drivers in Dade & Broward county are as follows:

1. First place goes to The Palmetto Expressway (826) for having the most seriously deranged roadsters on the planet, with close seconds to 49th street in Hialeah, and anywhere on Flagler Street. These are my people, do I need to say more....

2. Second place would be 595 in West Broward for the rudest, most aggressive, own the road mentality idiots. I do believe they live in my Stepford hometown development otherwise known as Weston, although I do not include myself in that group, of course.

3. Third place is I-95 in Dade or Broward for the wildest ride to be had if you enjoy being tailgated, cut off or flipped off, and where you will sit for a full day if there is an kind of any accident. Bring your portable potty and food supplies if you travel on this sucka.

Feel free to send in your own personal favorites. Or just take the little poll off to the side, hope you can find it in my messy side post closet.

In the meantime I will explore timeshares on Captiva where one day soon my cute aqua blue vespa waits for me....
where if I indulge the call of the Captain (or a nice merlot) I would at least have the sense to leave my scooter sans chihuahua leaning against a shady palm.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Birds and Ghosts in Ft. Lauderdale

Just this morning on my way to work in my little town of Stepford, I joined a few cars pulled off the road as we drivers stopped to stare at a most peculiar site. Across the lake, easily covering the backyard of an entire home was an assortment of ducks, egrets, ibises, snake birds, each standing in formation with his own group, all with heads craned left, focusing on the exact same spot in the horizon. Not one of them moved so much as a feather, and whatever mesmerized this feathered flock was not visible to any human one of us. There were about one hundred birds in this strange assembly which seemed to increase until they ran out of room on the land, standing in the shallow water... all standing, waiting, and watching.

After giving up trying to use my cell phone camera which works only when it wants to, I drove off wondering and praying it was not some kind of omen. I had always heard birds represent spirits in the life or death process, often seen as the guiders of souls into the world, as well as out of it. Interestingly enough, in one of the oldest cemeteries in Ft. Lauderdale, Evergreen Cemetery, there was a recent sighting of a rare bird exciting all the bird watchers in the county.

When I read the story I had laughed a little uneasily, for I knew that cemetery well, having at one time enjoyed driving past it...the peace, the trees, and the silence on a side road off the 17th Street Causeway in east Ft. Lauderdale. It has beautiful giant trees, and looks as if it has been there forever. People are always taking quiet walks or biking alongside the big iron fence on the one way road. One afternoon I was midway down the road when suddenly a man in a suit walking his dog caught me by surprise, seemingly appearing in front of my car from nowhere. I slowed when veering away, thinking I had better pay more attention to the road and not my CDs, when he turned and deliberately gave me a strange look. When I looked back in my rear view mirror, muttering about idiots who don't look where they're going, he was gone. I assumed he must have somehow walked very quickly inside the gates.

But the next day, when I came to that exact same spot, I was spooked to find there was no gate there; it was much further down. I never felt quite the same about the cemetery again, always wanting to look, but yet afraid to.

Who knows...
but I can't stop thinking about those birds watching and waiting....

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Sound of Zippers

Truly I am not one to jump into the political arena of Florida hoopla. But this time I just cannot resist after having caught these headlines this morning in Broward's Sun Sentinel about a sex sting in the Sears' (yes Sears) men's room in Daytona Beach. See highlights below or click on Sears for the direct link if you think I'm making this up. ************************************************************************************

Operation set in the men's room at Sears The Orlando Sentinel

About six to eight officers spent most of Thursday visiting the bathroom stalls, looking for such signals — which include toe tapping, excessive zipper noises, certain hand gestures and eye contact, according to the reports. The chief said he wanted to combat the sexual misconduct in the public bathrooms, especially as holiday season approaches and the mall will be packed with families shopping.
You can get arrested for engaging in excessive zipper noise? After laughing hysterically, I picked myself up off the floor to seriously wonder if this was even possible. In an era in which O.J. Simpson walks around freely just down the road in Dade county, a few counties up the road in Volusia county there are men being arrested for unzipping too loudly, or too frequently, or perhaps too suspiciously. At Sears no less.

Imagine ten cops staking out a bathroom, presumably on a witch hunt for gay guys in a store bathroom... and at a store with the ugliest ass jeans on the planet. Not likely gay guys would so much as buy their jockeys there; certainly I would not.

But then I remembered something that happened in Ft. Lauderdale just this summer, when the mayor, Jim Naugle proposed the city spend $250,000 on a specialized timed men's Robo John which would automatically open after a specified time. All this to rid Ft. Lauderdale Beach of its many "gay men cruising for sex in public bathrooms, scaring away tourists" (Naugle's words, not mine). Even though the police pointed out that there were less than five bathroom beach arrests in the last few years, and some included women, Naugle stubbornly insisted the numbers were wrong. Eventually Naugle was removed from the Broward Tourism Development Council after inflammatory comments that included blaming gays for the rising number of AIDs cases in the county. But he is still mayor, and he has his supporters. Certainly not I.

In a state where crime is through the roof, and just last month alone a record number of murders and rapes occurred in South Florida, how paranoia can be raised to the point of insanity by elected or appointed officials is frightening.
The voiced concerns have far less to do with the dangers lurking in men's bathrooms and more to do with intolerance for the gay lifestyle, infused into a hatred that blames them for any perversion. That could be my father, your son, brother or boyfriend in those bathrooms....and that could be their lives being torn apart all because they tapped the foot of the man next to them or played with a zipper, demonstrating a total lack of male bathroom etiquette.

If I were a gay guy I think I would head for the women's bathroom because you probably stand less chance of being arrested in there.

Speaking of gay people, check out the
Florida Gay Men's Chorus which sounds pretty good. Their holiday performance is almost sold out. Sounds amazing doesn't it... considering they spend all that time cruising in the men's room at Sears...or down at Ft. Lauderdale Beach trying to corrupt tourists.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Uno Dos Tres, Cha Cha Cha

I have just managed to do the impossible.
Get my aviation license? Climb my first mountain? Nope, better than that.

My husband has just gone to his first dance class with me, a beginning latin style dance class offered at the local middle school. So far we have covered the cha cha, rumba, and side step, and although I suspect my beloved would have preferred to stick pins in his eyes, he has agreed to attend the next class as well. He was surprised that there were not floor diagrams to assist with the intricate (his words, not mine) cha cha movements; if anyone knows where or even if, such a tool exists please let me know. Practice has been hell on my toes. We are just beginning, but the end result will be worth it.

What men don't realize, that women have always known (isn't that so typical with sooo many things by the way?) is that one of the sexiest things a man can do is to dance well. Up there in the top five. Check out this site for on line
dance instruction.

Things were going so well, and it was so much fun we even discussed line dancing at Round Up here in Davie. My son enjoys dancing there, maybe not so much for love of country western as love of the many females who abound there (Wednesday night is Ladies night). He is at that happy hunting age.... I could say much more but it had better be from a continent or two away. Maybe if I ever move to Cuba I could write a tell all book.

The closest I have ever gotten to Cuba was to stand on that marker down in Key West, the one all the tourists take a picture by, saying "90 miles to Cuba". Actually if I think back to the 1970s, I do remember one time fishing in my father's boat way out in the Gulf stream when we approached by Cuban gun boats. My father grabbed his own gun (this is south Florida folks & he had a
real permit not like the rubber stamping docs of today) , opened the throttle, and didn't stop until we were back in Marathon. That was probably my last shot at going to Cuba. I know there are illegal ways to travel to Cuba, like via Jamaica or the Bahamas.

But you have to think twice when you know what the U.S. State Department has to say about unauthorized travel to Cuba:
The Cuban Assets Control Regulations are enforced by the U.S. Treasury Department and affect all U.S. citizens and permanent residents wherever they are located, .....Transactions related to tourist travel are not licensable. This restriction includes tourist travel to Cuba from or through a third country such as Mexico or Canada. U.S. law enforcement authorities have increased enforcement of these regulations at U.S. airports and pre-clearance facilities in third countries. Travelers who fail to comply with Department of Treasury regulations will face civil penalties and criminal prosecution upon return to the United States.

I'll wait for the day when I can legally take off from Ft. Lauderdale airport.