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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our eighth calendar year
    PCR #354  (Vol. 8, No. 1)  This edition is for the week of January 1--7, 2007.

2006: The Year in Retrospect  by Will Moriaty
"Little Children"  by Mike Smith
The Top 10 Movies of 2006  by Mike Smith
An Open Letter to the Publishers of Creative Loafing  by Paul Guzzo
A Message from PUTZO, the Clown Who Loves Lousy Fandom!....Don Dohler is Gone  by Andy Lalino
What A Swinger....So Does Billy Preston Own "Get Back"?....Don Dohler....Indy 4....Whatever Happened To..? Chapter 1: Tim McIntire  by Mike Smith
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2006: The Year in Retrospect

I will never forget what my T.R.E.E. Inc. Vice President, Bob Scheible, exclaimed several years prior to his retirement from the workaday world:

“I’ve never lived longer and never worked harder!”

No truer words could have been spoken for my fifty-first year on the planet during the year 2006.

Florida Department of Transportation
In my professional life there has never been a busier year…

Starting in April 2006, I would manage eight tree planting contracts for the Florida Department of Transportation totaling close to a one and a half million dollar budget. Heretofore over my fourteen years with the Department one or two such contracts per year created extra work for me, but from May to November 12 to 14 hour workdays were practically commonplace.

Although two such contracts remain for me in the next two months, and I am currently crafting a third contract, I definitely know that I can not endure such rapid fire work again. But these eight contracts nevertheless comprised wonderful opportunities to accomplish many incredible things without all of the grief and politics that typically come with the territory of my more common work of coordinating with local governments and private corporations and entities.

I viewed these contracts as the final fulfillment of the talent that I have to offer the Department. I know that in completing them I have reached my own “Peter Principal” there and that there are very few innovative, creative or pleasurable options left for me as far as progressing myself financially or professionally.

Tampa Bay Reforestation and Environmental Effort, Inc. (“T.R.E.E. Inc.”)
2006 was my busiest year ever for my non-profit tree planting organization. 2006 had a record 51 planting projects, an increase of 17% over last year’s previous record 33 projects.

T.R.E.E. Inc. was fortunate enough to have a second tree planting project funded by Esurance, the on-line auto insurance company of San Francisco, California. The planting event was known as the “Esurance Temple Terrace Tree Planting for Preservation” event which occurred on October 28th.

Just as many government jobs in Florida have been “privatized”, so have the lives of those connected with T.R.E.E. Inc. as the nursery primarily used for the growing of trees for T.R.E.E. Inc. has become an operation where the emphasis is that of a growing operation for a cooperative of friends now growing and selling native plants in their retirement years.

This, along with the Esurance projects has resulted in a redefined use of the nursery warranting large-scale reductions of certain varieties of plants in order to make more room for the for-profit operation. I wish Bob Scheible, Cliff Brown and Debbie Butts the best in this relatively recent undertaking.

For 2007 I plan to keep T.R.E.E. Inc. levels of plants at the nursery at bare minimums and plan to place more emphasis on the opportunities afforded by Esurance. I have already contacted them about a large scale planting project for the Orlando market in the fall of 2007.

On Florida Arbor Day of last year I participated in the celebration of four cities. Three of the cities I directly participated in were Dade City, Orlando and Winter Park. I plan beginning this year to limit my direct participation to one city per year, and in addition, plan to significantly reduce the amount of T.R.E.E. Inc. projects in 2007.

“La Floridiana”
Needless to say, all of this frenzied activity has adversely effected my ability to stay on a dependable schedule with this column in 2006. Both frequency and quality suffered, particularly between the months of April and November as a result.

I had set out in December 2005 to complete one column per month, but other pressing responsibilities resulted in a more erratic, less dependable frequency although a total of 18 columns were produced. My personal favorite columns for 2006 were the “Fabulous Architecture of the Tampa Bay Region” in the late fall, followed by the three part series on the Tampa Bay watershed produced in the early part of the year.

I plan in 2007 to again limit myself to twelve columns or less, but plan to place emphasis more on Florida and less on personal matters.

2006 Highlights

Weight Loss:

I didn't think anyone, mainly myself, could lose weight after the age of fifty, but it can be done. It takes sacrifice, such as limiting greasy fried foods and sugary soft drinks, but I went from a size 36 in September 2005 down to a size 32 by February 2006. Of course in my advanced age, most guess the worst with “are you sick or something?” to explain this reduction, but no, this was due solely to diet discipline and exercise. The good news for those fifty and over - - yes, you too can get a good figure back by sticking to a sensible diet!


As busy a year as 2006 was, it also saw short but wonderfully memorable vacations, some of which I will always treasure.

Most memorable was the extended weekend I had at Anna Maria Island in August. This wonderful beach front community in Manatee County seems to be the last vestige of a Florida vacation community that is not overrun with high rise condominiums, over-crowded traffic or a cacophony of fast food joints. It is real Florida, and it is relatively real close, residing at the southern mouth of Tampa Bay just west of Bradenton.

Anna Maria Island contains elements that harkens back to coastal Florida as it was in the 50’s through the early 70’s. The Magnolia Inn that we stayed at in Bradenton Beach was a fabulous 1920’s structure within walking distance of several wonderful restaurants. When night time fell here, it was pitch black and starry. The early morning rising of the constellation Orion over Sarasota Bay coupled with a warm and gentle easterly breeze will burn in my mind as one of my favorite moments frozen in time.

Even now in winter’s chill as I survey Orion, I can almost feel that warm coastal breeze caress my face and scintillate my senses.

Also enjoyable was my weekend at St. Pete Beach in June where I also visited Egmont Key for the first time. Conditions were brutal but the landscape was gorgeous and the company was wonderful when dear friend Susan Hughes circumnavigated Rock Springs Run via canoe back in April. Also enjoyable were July sojourns to Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando and Marie Selby Gardens in Sarasota.

The mother of all vacations in 2006 was my trip with my wife Karen Cashon to her ancestral home of Ireland. I spent one week there, primarily along the northwestern coast of the Republic of Ireland as well as one county in Northern Ireland over an eight day period. Ireland is indescribably beautiful and the people are very warm and friendly. It would literally take weeks for me to write about the many incredible natural and man-made sites that I saw when visiting that wonderful land.

Regrettably, unlike the years where Karen and I typically go to Key West for vacation, I never felt rested (with the exception of my one week vacation in April to North Carolina to see my brother-in-law) as Ireland required so much driving time and miles to cover in such a short span.

Art Litka’s Halloween Village

Another notable 2006 series of events was my introduction and subsequent visits to the Halloween Village created by Sanford, Florida residents Art Litka and his wife Treena Kaye.

At the urging of my dear friend Harry Wise, I first visited Art’s incredible creation in July along with Harry Wise, Nolan Canova, and Charlie and Dottie Carlson (see PCR#329 http://www.crazedfanboy.com/npcr06/sanford_summit3_pcr329.html). I visited again in September in order for Nolan to conduct interviews with both Misters Wise and Litka, and also that month made a night visit along with my wife Karen Cashon, and our friends Harry Wise, Susan Hughes and Beth Blechschmidt (see PCR #337 http://www.crazedfanboy.com/npcr06/laflapcr337.html).

Florida Collectibles and Memorabilia Shows

Another enjoyable event was the Florida Collectibles and Memorabilia Shows in April (see PCR # 320 http://www.crazedfanboy.com/npcr06/laflapcr320.html) and November at the St. Petersburg Coliseum where I was a featured author.

In these shows I sold copies of my book “William Moriaty’s Florida” (http://www.lafloridiana.com/) along with book-related paraphernalia while enjoying the company of nearby attending Florida authors Charlie Carlson, Tim Dorsey and Kelly Reynolds.

Helping me at the event was St. Petersburg native Jen Thompson. At the November event best friends Denis Lebrun and Susan Hughes even manned my table when Jen and I went to lunch. In addition fellow PCR writer Andy Lalino paid a visit as well as “Esurance Temple Terrace Tree Planting for Preservation” participant and local mover and shaker Grant Rimby.

2006 Lowlights

Shin Splint II

In early August the shin splint in my left leg (see PCR #221 http://www.crazedfanboy.com/npcr/laflapcr221.html) recurred and I found myself almost lame until it healed by early November. I am pleased to report that I am basically back to full health although the moths of inactivity adversely effected my stamina.

The Passing of Tom Begley

You may recall my mention of Tom Begley in PCR #275 (http://www.crazedfanboy.com/npcr/laflapcr275.html).

A neighbor and good, possibly a best, friend of Sanford magician Harry Wise, Tom passed away in November from pneumonia after suffering from years of various physical ailments. Although this flamboyant and unique man was a mystery wrapped in an enigma to me, I will always be grateful to Tom for what a good friend he was to Florida’s Mister Magic.

May you rest in peace Tom.

A Manuscript becomes Manifest After 23 Years

My father passed away in December 1983 at the age of 63. The final 14 years of his life was devoted to the study of archaic graphics by the indigenous peoples of North America. His research was so esteemed by the Huron Indians that it was reported by him that they made him an honorary member.

When I visited my brother-in-law Tommy Winnett in April he showed my the collection of my father’s writings that he and my late sister acquired in January 1984 not long after my father’s passing.

I agreed in that April visit to review his works and hopefully pass them along to an appropriate party that might benefit from them. In December Tommy made good and I received a 15 to 20 pound box filled with reel to reel tapes and hundreds of pages of manuscripts. After spending close to three hours dedicated to sifting through the chaff, I collected about 40 pages of coherent and comprehensive manuscript which I assigned the titled of “The Archaic Graphics of Early Americana” which I sent to the U.S. Library of Congress’s Copyright Office on December 20, 2006 for Registration.

Although the relationship with my father was lukewarm at best, I felt he was at least owed that bit of immortality in the records of America’s Library of Congress. This would truly bring a final closure to me twenty-three years after his passing.

He was a brilliant yet aloof man. He could talk and write a blue streak and never come to the point. As I did so many years earlier I poured over his multitudinous words and sadly found no punch line.

To be blunt, 2006 was too much of a blur…

I do not want to repeat a year where I was so busy that I virtually had no time to relax and enjoy my many wonderful blessings (and college football for that matter!).

"La Floridiana" is ©2007 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 ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.