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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our seventh calendar year
    PCR #302  (Vol. 7, No. 1)  This edition is for the week of January 1--8, 2006.

Book Review: Sunshine Skies: Historic Commuter Airlines of Florida and Georgia....PhyMed Partners, Inc.: From the Criminal to the Civil  by William Moriaty
"The Producers"  by Mike Smith
Is Tampa's Film Community Obsessed with B-Movies?  by Mark Terry
A Shot In The Dark  by Mike "Deadguy" Scott
2005 – A Year to Forget?...Looking Ahead....Can't Believe What We Read?  Brandon Jones
Bush Is Great!!!...King Kong DVD....The Return of Dick Clark....Masters of Horror Update  by Matt Drinnenberg
Happy New Year....Passing On....Miscommunication....Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards....My Favorite Films--Chapter 1: The Buddy Holly Story  by Mike Smith
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William Moriaty's Florida
More tales from "La Floridiana" await you in "William Moriaty's Florida"! For more information simply click the book cover above!

Book Review:
Sunshine Skies: Historic Commuter Airlines of Florida and Georgia
by David P. Henderson. 2005, Zeus Press

In the 1983 movie "A Christmas Story", little Ralphie Parker received after his family's gift giving "bacchanalia" what he truly considered to be his prize desire - - a Red Ryder B-B Gun.

After spending two separate occasions two weeks ago, one on Christmas Eve, the other on Christmas Day in my own gift-giving "bacchanalia", my most prized gift this year (outside of course of my health, wife, family and friends) showed up on my door step in an unassuming large envelope bearing the words "Cafe Press".

My book, "William Moriaty's Florida" is currently printed by Cafe Press, so I was thinking that it would be silly of them to send me a complimentary copy of my own work. As I tore away at the envelope's seal with great abandon, my mind (what's left of it, that is) wandered back several months ago to a series of e-mails that transpired between me and a La Floridiana reader named David P. Henderson of Conyers, Georgia.

Mr. Henderson had seen my five-part articles on Florida's Golden Age of commuter airlines back in issues #214, 215, 216, 217, and 218. He shared with me that he had a relative who was employed by Florida commuter Shawnee Airlines of Orlando. As a result of our shared interest in this field, we communicated electronically on an "unscheduled" basis.

In a communication written as recently as December 14, 2005, David hinted that he would have his own book out on the commuter airlines of Florida and Georgia "soon".

Once freed from the bondage of its envelope, I beheld one of the loveliest sights that these two eyes had seen in years. On glossy stock paper was a Bob Garrard photo of the silhouette of a Naples/PBA Douglas DC-3 on finals to Miami International Airport in March 1983 against a blazing orange sunset with a row of silhouetted approach light towers beneath it.

Immediately I set aside all other chores and distractions and consumed the contents of this book as if it were Manna from Heaven.

Henderson's heartfelt book is undeniably one of the finest books covering Florida's aviation history.

Incredibly detailed accounts of the operations of commercial aviation's most unique aircraft, most colorful paint schemes and most interesting entrepreneurs make this book one of the most fascinating reads for the person who was ever connected on a professional level, or interested on an enthusiasts level of the 1960's to 1980's commercial airline scenes of Miami, Tampa, Orlando, Atlanta, Jacksonville, Key West, Brunswick and other locales in America's two most southeastern states.

Henderson outlines these colorful carriers starting as far back as the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line of 1914 which was founded by pilot Tony Jannus, and considered to be the first regularly scheduled airline in world history. This is then followed up with the chronological history of carriers ranging from the 1919 creation of Chalk's, to the heart-wrenching and unceremonious demise of DC-3 operator Naples/PBA on September 7, 1988. The emergence and fall of commuter heavy-weights Air Florida and Naples/PBA is painstakingly chronicled, of which Naples/PBA earned three separate chapters of its folklore in this unique book.

As I stated in the book's Preface, "This book is your ticket to meeting the people and equipment that defined the last of commuter aviation's true entrepreneurs before industry shakeouts, mega mergers, spiraling fuel costs and time and age replaced them with generic and mediocre carriers sporting the colors and personas of America's major carriers. " Henderson also brought out in this book a factor that also contributed to the doom of these indigenous airlines that I had totally overlooked in my assessment - - the completion of Florida's and Georgia's Interstate highway systems.

Henderson's book is truly a masterpiece, told with heart and wit and backed up with tireless research complete with fleet information and passenger statistics as well as incredibly rare photos of these commuters at the ramps and in the air of Florida's and Georgia's airports. Amongst my many favorite photos are the one of Henderson himself, posed at the age of twelve in 1979 at Atlanta Hartsfield (now Hartsfield-Jackson) International Airport; his father boarding an Air Sunshine Convair 440 in Marathon in 1978; and a gorgeous photo he took of a sunset over the Seven Mile Bridge of the Florida Keys taken from a Naples/PBA DC-3 in 1981(that alone is to me worth the purchase of the book!); not to be overlooked are photos of a Red Carpet DC-3, and an Atlantic-Gulf Vickers Viscount, both of which were fixtures at the St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport when I lived about a mile away from that facility from the mid-seventies to mid-eighties. In addition, the book is filled with rare and incredible airline timetable covers and promotional pieces and photos.

This book should not be limited to just the collector and interests of the regional aviation niche. It is possibly the only journal of its kind to showcase to the world a rich yet fleetingly forgotten history endemic to an era and location that produced some of the most magnificent, rare and unique sights in the realm of commercial aviation. A history that we will never known again.

They are undeniably gone, but David P. Henderson's book "Sunshine Skies: Historic Commuter Airlines of Florida and Georgia" eloquently breathes life back into those tropically painted Marco Island Airways Martin 404's; those soothing sounds of the Naples/PBA DC-3's; those wild colors and exaggerated nose-down approaches of the Shawnee and Air South Martin 404; and the stories of America's last independent civil aviation entrepreneurs.

"Sunshine Skies: Historic Commuter Airlines of Florida and Georgia" is available by linking to Cafe Press.com.

PhyMed Partners, Inc.-- From the Criminal to the Civil
You may recall in a column titled "Doors Closing and Doors Opening, Part One" my recounting in PCR #282 of "The Catastrophic Investment Scam" that occurred to my wife and I as well as our relatives as a result of our being flim-flammed by a Florida Registered Investment Advisor to place the money of my mother-in-law's trust into stock belonging to a start up medical arts and pain relief clinic company called PhyMed Partners, Inc. It was pointed out in that article that the U.S. Government brought criminal charges against PhyMed Director J. Lamar McMichael in August of 2005.

Yet a new chapter on this sad event came to light while conducting a web search on the firm a few days back. It turns out that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission brought civil charges against PhyMed Directors J. Lamar McMichael and his wife Nancy that included three counts of fraud and one count of selling unregistered securities. To the letter, everything I stated in earlier editions of this on-line column about this scam have basically been validated in the SEC's 29-page complaint warrant of October 17, 2005 filed against the McMichaels. A summary of their activities by the SEC can be found by linking to http://www.sec.gov/litigation/litreleases/lr19434.htm. The 29-page complaint warrant itself can by read by further linking on that page to "SEC Complaint in this matter" link.

In November 2003 I stayed up until 3 A.M. preparing over 200 pages of documentation to submit to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission on this sordid and life-altering ordeal. I mailed the package to the SEC headquarters in Washington D.C. before departing with my wife on an 8 A.M. flight to Nashville, Tennessee that same morning to see kin for Thanksgiving.

Over two years later I feel vindicated in my reaction to the PhyMed scamola, and now feel that the lack of sleep that night in helping bring justice to the robbing of my mother-in-law's life savings (as well as the countless others this guy and his wife rear-ended in a similar fashion) was not only my duty, but worth the loss of sleep and aggravation.

Those of us who were flim-flammed by these blood-suckers will probably never get back a dime, but this reaffirms my faith that the good always prevails in the end...

The watershed that comprises Tampa Bay will be in the topic of "La Floridiana's" next column, slated February 27, 2006. Be there!

"La Floridiana" is ©2006 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 ©2006 by Nolan B. Canova.