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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our seventh calendar year
    PCR #320  (Vol. 7, No. 19)  This edition is for the week of May 8--12, 2006.

The Florida Collectibles and Vintage Memorabilia Show....Charlie Carlson Summer Program  by William Moriaty
"Poseiden"  by Mike Smith
Mark Terry, a Felon?  by Mark Terry
Happy Mother's Day....Cruising to #1....Oh To Work With Jackie Chan!...My Favorite Films -- Part 19: "Slap Shot"  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!

Photo by Vinnie Blesi

Sunday, April 30, 2006 would go down as a bell weather date in my life.
Invited several months prior to the event by Annette of Hula Hula Productions of St. Pete Beach, this would be the first public unveiling of my book "William Moriaty's Florida". I got up early that morning in order to meet with my assistant Jen Thompson in order to unload the books for sale and signing as well as book related buttons and t-shirts.

Arriving around 9 A.M. at the beautiful and historic St. Petersburg Coliseum that crisp, clear day, I circumnavigated my way to Table #81 where I was assigned by Hula Hula. To my delight, I found out that my "next door neighbor" was none other than Florida Folk Hero and Florida's Man In Black, Charlie Carlson, author of "Weird Florida" amongst many other fine books. Accompanying him was lovely wife and Florida Folk Hero of the highest degree, Dot.

The ever-cheerful Jen Thompson is seen at the "William Moriaty's Florida" table before the 10:00 A.M. April 30th opening of the Florida Collectibles and Vintage Memorabilia Show.
Jen was invaluable at helping me set up the display for the table. I wanted to give the table visual excitement by massing the books in a serpentine layout placing one button (which was free with each book purchase) on each book. For the sake of Florida kitsch, I brought an empty bottle of Florida Spyce Cologne and several roadside attraction pamphlets from things as diverse as Tom Gaskins Cypress Knee Museum, Bok Tower, and the Coral Castle which I placed on the outer periphery of the table.

Shortly after the 10 o'clock "bell" rang, heralding the official opening of the event, one of the all time great Florida Folk Heroes and nationally acclaimed author Tim Dorsey arrived along with his wife and two daughters. He and his family began to unload several of his incredible works such as "Triggerfish Twist", "Orange Crush", "Florida Road Kill" and his latest novel "The Big Bamboo".

It is always an honor and a pleasure to see Mr. Dorsey, and for a person who writes such brilliantly clever, witty, eloquent and fast paced Florida noir novels, I am always in awe of his humble, demure and very affable and friendly nature. Put in layman's terms, Tim Dorsey is good people.

A close-up view of the table immediately before the Show began.
The first people to show up for the convention as attendees were dear friends Brendan McWilliams and Anna Everhart (who were featured in La Floridiana, PCR #277 at the 2005 Sanford Summit that was held with authors Charlie Carlson and Owl Goingback). They drove all the way over for the event from Orlando, and the two lovebirds, in typical Florida "tiki-kitsch" style, will be married at the Mai-Kai Restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale this fall!

As my stomach and Jen's began to grumble in hunger, we were wondering when we would be joined by our other assistant, Ska Punk musician and artist Josh Sullivan. Like the marines showing up in the nick of time, Josh passed through the Coliseum's sacred halls and delivered tuna fish sandwiches to me and the divine Ms. T.

Next on the, "Hey I know you" parade was PCR contributor Hugo Morley. Mr. Morley assists in the operation of one of my favorite restaurants Mad Dogs and Englishmen on South MacDill Avenue in Tampa. The salads, shrimp tempura, shitake mushrooms and ambiance there are absolutely superb! Becoming a victim of receding memory in advancing age, I asked Hugo to be kind enough to tell me again what his grandfather's vocation was as I thought he was a British actor. Sure and enough he was, Mr. Robert Morley, starring in the Humphrey Bogart movie "The African Queen" playing the role of actress Katharine Hepburn's brother the Reverend Samuel Sayer.

Florida's Man in White, William Moriaty (l) poses with Florida's Man in Black, Charlie Carlson (r). Photo by Jen Thompson.
Jen and I were averaging a little over one book sale per hour. After lunch time the sales pace and the attendance began to pick up. By 2 o'clock, PCR publisher Nolan Canova showed up along with fellow writers Vinnie Blesi and Terrence Nuzum. Nolan reunited with Charlie Carlson whom he had not seen since the Orlando MegaCon this past February. I then introduced Nolan to Tim Dorsey and the six of us hammed it up for some photo-ops for about fifteen minutes.

Around 3 o'clock, very dear friends Ron and Sara Melone of Clearwater graced me with their attendance and while there, we ran into old work colleague that Ron and I had not seen since our halcyon days at the Clearwater Mall Montgomery Ward store #1055 back in the late '70s and early '80s, Mr. Chris Scudamore.

What a magical day this had become!

Just as magical was the meeting of new people. On the other table next to me was Ms. Elizabeth Neily. Dressed in an old Florida Cracker period outfit, Ms. Neily is editor of the fascinating free quarterly publication The Florida Frontier Gazette jam-packed with articles by authors and Florida historians such as T. Allen Smith, Cantor Brown Jr., Jerald T. Milanich, Lester R. Dailey, Jude Bagattii and Hermann Trappman, the Gazette covers amongst many things, the history of Florida's Indian tribes, the Civil War in Florida, African American citrus magnates, Spanish Conquistadors, pirates and even an article dedicated to the medicinal use of plants by our earliest inhabitants.

The Gazette is one of the most valuable and fascinating glimpses into Florida history I have ever read, and no person interested in this State's incredible should be without it, and Ms. Neily (who can really get your attention when blowing into a conch shell!) is to be commended for her superb work on this gem of a periodical.

Two tables away I would meet a man who would rival the impact that Florida Folk Hero Harry Wise of Sanford, Florida has left on me. Two tables away I noticed an extremely dignified looking older gentleman who appeared to be dressed in a Nineteenth Century look of class and sophistication.

The lovely Bre-Elle blessed all of us with her stunningly good looks and free cups of O.J. from the Florida SunShine Tree as she graced the hallowed St. Petersburg Coliseum haunts in her Webb's City Florida Poster Girl attire.
This gentleman wandered up to my table and introduced himself. His name is Kelly Reynolds and he is the author of "Henry Plant - Pioneer Empire Builder". To the unfamiliar, Henry Bradley Plant was a railroad magnate who brought his Plant System from Daytona Beach to Tampa, connecting Florida's East Coast to Florida's West Coast. Outside of Henry Flagler, who built the Florida East Coast railroad from Georgia down to Key West, Henry Bradley Plant did more to herald dependable transportation, and its resultant growth, to Central Florida, than any other human being. For that matter I reside in the town that is his name sake, Plant City (and we are not named after strawberry plants or nursery plants that are major industry here)!

Mr. Reynolds and I spent a considerable time discussing Florida history, and I was astonished to hear that in addition to being an author, he is an actor, portraying notable figures of Florida history for the Speakers Bureau of the Florida Humanities Council.

In 1992, he began touring for the Council, portraying Florida's fiery liberal Senator, Claude Pepper (or "Red" Pepper as my mother used to call him). Now Mr. Reynolds is on his latest circuit, portraying the colorful and notable iron horse captain of industry - - now the threads of old he was sporting began to bond together an image of an man who does bore a striking resemblance to Mr. Plant! Jump back Hal Holbrook! Mr. Reynolds will give a presentation on Thursday May 18th at the Bruton Library in Plant City called "Henry Plant-Live!" that you won't want to miss.

Oh, and forgive me for using an improper salutation, he is Florida Folk Hero Dr. Kelly Reynolds, having earned his PhD in 1989 at the University of South Florida.

No "La Floridiana" library is complete without "Henry Plant - Pioneer Empire Builder"!

By 4 o'clock, things were winding down, so I left Jen in charge of the table and finally began to circulate the show myself looking at all of the incredible La Floridiana that took up every nook and cranny of the massive Coliseum that has witnessed remarkable history in its time in this premiere Florida city (the City shuffleboard across the street looks just as fascinating and Jen and Josh have threatened to take me there in the near future).

My final rounds were taking in glimpses of the incredible artworks that were made by a collection of African American men and women who sold their creations on Florida's roadsides. This collection of gifted artisans has become known as the "Florida Highwaymen".

My artistic talents pale in comparison to the vibrant paintings of Royal Poincianas and rising and setting suns bathing the skies over Florida's palm-studded wetlands with brilliant hues of orange, yellow and red. Those Highwaymen in attendance are true living Florida history and are to be honored for the legacy they have left all of us for generations to come.

As a tribute to the Florida Highwaymen, possibly the Ultimate Florida folk Heroes, here's their roster:

Curtis Arnett, Albert Black, Hezekiah Baker, Ellis Buckner, Mary Anne Carroll, James Gibson, Robert Butler, Roy A. McLendon, Johnny Daniels, Willie Daniels, Rodney Demps, Isaac Knight, Robert Lewis, John Maynor, Alfonso Moran, Lemeul Newton, Samuel Newton, Willie Reagan, Cornell Smith, Charles Walker, Sylvester Wells, Charles Wheeler, and In Memoriam, Harold Newton, George Buckner, and Livingston Roberts.

As Tim Dorsey started to pack, I gifted him with the Florida Spyce Cologne bottle and a mid-1960's tour guide pamphlet for the Orange Blossom Trail to add to Serge's Top Secret Florida Box!

5 o'clock came too soon, and all the magic that I was immersed in came to an end. But not to worry! Hula Hula promoter Annette informed me that a Florida Collectibles and Vintage Memorabilia Show will be held again on Sunday October 29, 2006 between 10 A.M. and 5 P.M. at the St. Petersburg Coliseum! Just the right Halloween Treat for the Florida Fan Boy!

Displays and people gone, the Coliseum reverted back to being a large barren building, but it also housed a new chapter in its history. One that saw me, Charlie and Dot Carlson, Tim Dorsey, Kelly Reynolds, Elizabeth Neily, Gary Mormino, the Florida Highwaymen and countless others contribute to the script work of that new chapter.

As I have always said, and The Florida Frontier Gazette states on its covers: Florida, Ya Gotta Love It!

Charlie Carlson Offers a Special Summer Program for 4th and 5th Grade Kids

Charlie Carlson will be donating his Weird Florida time to this excellent childrens' program on the following Thursdays, June 8th, 15th, and 22nd as Florida's Master of the Weird will be discussing strange legends and weird history of Central Florida.

Also, Florida's Mister Magic, Harry Wise, will be contributing a few hours of his mystifying magic and illusions for the kids.

In addition, the other session days will be spent exploring Florida archeology, Victorian culture and styles, a field trip, Native American lore and customs and at the end of each weekly session the kids will have an opportunity to make scrapbooks of their experiences and things learned, and can participate in a group skit which will be televised on SGTV.

* Space is limited
* For reservations call 407-665-2489
* Reservations end on May 30th
Kendrick McNamee-Taylor, Summer Program Coordinator

"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.