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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our sixth calendar year
    PCR #282  (Vol. 6, No. 33)  This edition is for the week of August 15--21, 2005.

Doors Closing and Doors Opening: Part One
 by William Moriaty
"The 40 Year-Old Virgin"
 by Mike Smith
Is Horror at a Turning Point?...Happy 50th
 by Andy Lalino
Changing Tastes Puts Column on Hiatus
 by Peter Card
Birthday Bash....King Kong DVD Update....Go Bucs
 by Matt Drinnenberg
Birthday Revisited....Get Me Clive Owen....Gas Pains....Jaws: The Story, Part 30
 by Mike Smith
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Doors Closing and Doors Opening
Part One

As I am Blessed to be entering into the half year mark of my 50th year on the planet, many profound changes have occurred in my world within only the past three or four years of this half a century gift of life.

The most profound and disturbing of these changes has been the breakup of some long-standing friendships and marriages of good friends around me, and above all else, the erosion of trust that I have placed in others. The trust that in most instances I felt would be life-long sadly came crashing down around me, causing life-altering attitudes which will never be reversed or repaired.

Doors Closing: Changes in Relationships
Of the five marriages that involved eight of some of my dearest friends, four ended in divorce within the past two years. During this two to three year period, I have witnessed the effects of what should be the Holiest of unions between two people devolve into some of the most disgusting and debasing behavior imaginable - - love and passion turned upside down. Let me tell you somethin’ folks, the dissolution of marriage is one the most far reaching and damaging events that can occur in a person’s life, the lives of those around them and the well-being of society in general.

In one extraordinarily strange example of a divorce two years ago, I found out that one of my former best friends of over the past three decades had led a double life that I was never aware of until his wife divulged that fact to me after their separation. I could have chosen to ignore her words as being weapons of spite and reprisal, but my eyes could not ignore the evidence on a cross-dresser web site that she referred me to that had photos to back up her claim. This was the second most powerful event of betrayal to occur in my life.

The fourth and hopeful final divorce of my sphere of loved ones involves a separation that has been rivaling the “War of the Roses”. I have never witnessed the degree of betrayal, evisceration, lying and sheer hatred that my best friend’s spouse has demonstrated towards him during the past half year as yet another union of matrimony gasps it last breath.

Yes, the past several years concerning my personal relationships have been strange and horrific to say the least...

Doors Closing: The Catastrophic Investment Scam
For those of you familiar with my column, you may remember a trilogy of stories I wrote about two years ago entitled “Don’t Get Fooled, Fleeced and Flimflammed in Florida". The trilogy of stories that appeared in PCR numbers 166, 167, and 168 concerned the fleecing of money my wife inherited from her mother. A relative of ours who was responsible for overseeing my mother-in-law’s estate entrusted over $200,000 of this inheritance to a Registered Securities Agent that I referred to in these articles as “Friendly Freddy”.

“Freddy” had known my relative for close to ten years at that time and my wife and I presumed that “Freddy” was on the level, so we both agreed with our relative back in 2001 to invest this inheritance into preferred shares of stock into a start-up business called PhyMed Partners, Inc. of Longwood, Florida (referred to as “FeePhyFoeMeds” in the trilogy series of two years ago). PhyMed claimed to have a series of chronic pain clinics throughout Florida.

PhyMed turned out to be, as I had suspected after a February 2003 letter to the investors from “Freddy” and opined in my trilogy about several months later, a Ponzi scheme utilizing off-shore operations from the Cook Islands and Vanuatu to act as performance bond fronts to “protect” investors in the event that PhyMed defaulted in its ability to reimburse investors. All facets of PhyMed were a fraud, all the way from its insurance and securities agents selling unregistered securities, to its virtually non-existent pain clinics to its bogus performance bonds.

Once the FBI, the SEC, and the States of Florida, Illinois, Connecticut, Ohio, Texas, California, Alabama and a host of others began to wrap up investigations into this scam, PhyMed former CEO and President James Lamar McMichael, was finally brought to justice and on August 5, 2005 pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Tampa to securities fraud. McMichael told officials that he swindled investors out of more than $15 million. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a fine of $5 million. It is alleged that all told, he swindled over 320 investors in 23 states out of between $20,000,000 and $30,000,000.

As the PhyMed House of Cards continues to tumble, I have not forgotten my dedication to ensuring that “Friendly Freddy” end up behind bars or fined or both for the role he played in pilfering almost every penny that my mother-in-law earned during her living years to try to ensure a better life for her offspring.

Three weeks AGO I swore out a four-page affidavit against “Freddy” with the State of Florida Department of Financial Regulation to put the closing pages on this, the saddest and most life altering of events I had endured during my time on this third stone from the sun.

To read more about J. Lamar McMichael and the PhyMed flimflam, link to the Tampa Tribune at: http://tampatrib.com/floridametronews/MGBRBX7D1CE.html and the Orlando Sentinel at: http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/local/lake/orl-lklbriefs06080605aug06,0,5710964.story?coll=orl-news-headlines-lake.

Doors Closing: You Can Never Go Home
No truer words spoken...

The “Haunted” House at 3016 Villa Rosa Park:
In 1986 one of my aunts, Barbara Graf, sold the house I grew up in at 3016 Villa Rosa Park in Tampa. That same year the house was bulldozed.

The In-Laws House, 1665 Parkside Drive
Within the past two years the house my wife grew up in and I lived in when I returned from Gainesville, Florida in 1990 that was located on 1665 Parkside Drive in Clearwater was demolished due to lawsuits stemming from storm water treatment pond overflow flooding. That house of memories is just that, as it now only retains the shade trees that I trimmed and sat beneath, and the thick St. Augustine grass that I would mow with my sister-in-law on hot afternoons all those years ago.

The Neatest Place I Ever Lived, 4336 Dunmore Avenue at Georgetown Manors
Now, in the year 2005, one of, if not the most favorite places I lived, Georgetown Manors off of Westshore Boulevard faces extinction due to a proposed development. In July 1973 I was eighteen when I moved with my mother and sister into this 1960’s-era set of brick facade, cinder block buildings. A Place of Setting Suns, Great Views of Airliners and Fond Memories
The three of us lived in a second story apartment at 4336 Dunmore Avenue that had an elevated view looking out at Old Tampa Bay that was about a quarter of a mile west. I witnessed some of the most incredible and brilliant sunsets in my life from that vantage point.

Being an airliner fanatic even back then, I’ll always fondly remember the parade of first generation jet liners winging their way over the Bay on their final descent northward to Runway 36 L to Tampa International Airport. viewed simply by looking out the living room window. By comparison, the Florida Air Lines and Naples DC-3’s would slowly cross directly overhead to their final destination of Runway 36R as their quiet engines exempted them from noise abatement requirements.

My more profound memories of airline operations near Georgetown included that of an Air Canada DC-8-63 that appeared to be on a death dive when approaching a summer thunderstorm black cloud just south of the runway, back in August 1973, and a beautiful close up view of a Northwest Orient Airlines Boeing 707-320 in all of its red, purple and metal glory being rerouted directly overhead to 36R while I was mowing the many grassed areas of the Georgetown complex in the summer of 1973.

A Place Where I Worked My Favorite Job
In many ways my favorite job will always be that of groundskeeper at Georgetown Manors in the summer of 1973. It was hot and sweaty work, but had virtually no stress whatsoever. Like clock work I would punch in at 9:00 AM at the maintenance shed near the main office and drive a riding mower to the respective buildings yards slated for mowing.

The mid-morning and early afternoon skies would typically be breathtakingly clear, blue and cloudless. Lunchtime was a merciful break as daytime temperatures began to skyrocket. I would seek the air-conditioned refuge of my apartment, eat lunch, drink lots of water or Gatorade and head back into the heat of the day where the smell of sea salt from adjacent Old Tampa Bay burned into my nostrils, the sun burned my skin, and the favorite aircraft of my life put on a show just for me.

As the afternoon progressed, clouds to the east that were mere slivers of white vapor after lunch developed into black walls of water blanketing the eastern sky from the northern horizon to the southern horizon and came heading west with a vengeance wreaking torrential rains and winds between 4 and 6 P.M. on an almost daily basis. The cooling effects of the rain, which made life bearable in Central Florida during those incredible summer months, tempered the brutal daytime heat. This was the paradise of Florida I treasure the most.

A Place Where Barium Clouds Evoked Eerie and Ghostly Twilight Skies
I was introduced to many wonderful things while living at Georgetown Manors. There were the barium cloud tests that were conducted at Eglin Air Force Base that produced illuminated green clouds that lit up the northwestern sky just after sunset in the fall of 1973. This series of tests were conducted while the southeastern United States was experiencing a wave or “flap” of sightings of unidentified flying objects. A former girlfriend of mine who was a religious fanatic, called me at my apartment in tears proclaiming that the barium cloud that she and her parents were witnessing from the football stadium at Robinson High School was a sign from God of the end times.

Fond Television and Book Reading Memories
In September 1973 my late sister and I watched on her small television the very first “Creature Feature” hosted by Dr. Paul Bearer. In January or February of 1974 I would meet one of my very best friends, Denis Lebrun, while watching “Voyage Into Space” on a “Creature Feature” Saturday afternoon matinee. Friday evenings became as wonderful as Saturday afternoons when ABC introduced “Kolchak: The Night Stalker”.

It was a rime of relaxing in my bed after a hot and hard day’s work reading Ray Palmer’s UFO magazines, or reading regionally produced books on Florida’s trees, or reading comic books while listening to Steely Dan’s “Countdown to Ecstasy” album on a $25.00 cheapo record player box. It was filled with evenings where Steve Petteway, the husband of my Creative Writing teacher at Robinson High School, Diane Petteway and I would spend hours on the second-story cat walk discussing black holes, mysteries of the universe and astronomy while we watched the sun slip into a sleepy red glow over the Bay.

It was where best fiend Greg Van Stavern and I launched model rockets on brisk, chilly winter days where the sky was so clear and blue you’d swear you could see forever and ever, and the resultant colors and clarity of Old Tampa Bay and the sky were so intense that it induced an overwhelming sense of gratitude to be alive to witness such beauty.

But as all good things come to an end, so did my tenure at Georgetown Manors as my mother and I ended up in Jacksonville in the late summer of 1975. Now Georgetown Manors itself is slated to come to an end. The place where I lived at one time that forged so many interests that would last life long is now about to itself be relegated to a memory itself.

The sound of that door closing is possibly the loudest and hardest to take.

Next Week: As old doors close, new doors of opportunity and fulfillment open right here in PCR!

"La Floridiana" is ©2005 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2005 by Nolan B. Canova.