New Subscriber, New State, The Real Weird Florida, etc
May 16, 2023 10:35 PM
I was gonna make this an email but apparently that's not an option, so enjoy reading my rambling introduction y'all -
Hello Greg !
I'm really excited to finally be a supporter of your show. I've been listening since 2016 when I believe I heard you speak on RuneSoup (or heard Gordon on your show) and I've only now gotten to the point where I feel secure enough financially to support the creators I admire. Guess the world literally had to end first? I want to express my delight that you moved your family to (the area around) Tampa, a city I have lived in for a little more than half my life. I actually joined your Plus membership hoping to start a local meetup group, maybe now I don't have to? (still willing to host a meetup, just need to fit it into my schedule)
I was also excited to see the recent episode about Florida with Dr. Narco Longo, but after listening to it, I have to say that was about 90% bullshit and 10% actually interesting information. I know it's not really your job to call out your guests during the show, I just want you to get a better representation of what this state has to offer. I get that he was trying to do a sort of synchro-mystical interpretation of certain place names around here, but when he said something like "Opa-locka is partially a Greek word" I nearly started yelling back at my speaker! LOL !
The Greek word "Opa" is the equivalent of the English word "oops" - if you can even call that a word. Not to mention that Opa-locka is almost certainly a transliteration of a Native place name, there are lots of areas here in Florida with names like that, such as Ocklawaha. Chris Knowles does synchro-mysticism better because he doesn't try to re-interpret native words to be european words.
It's pretty egregious in my opinion to just erase the accomplishments of the pre-colombian peoples here by saying "actually the moors/phoenicians/etc got here first." There is a lot of archaeological evidence to suggest the suspiciously early presence of highly organized social groups here (Mississippian mound builders?), including mummified burials found in the Miami area. Some of those finds were literally covered up by developers in the 1980s to avoid delaying their building projects. There is even a controversy ongoing right now where developers trying to put up luxury condos in Miami are being challenged in court by the archaeologists they hired over their so-called "preservation efforts" - some of those sites may be 2000± years old. Then there's the entire thing about this state being the unceeded territory of the Creek/Seminole tribes, their resistance to US occupation and removal programs was among the most successful and tenacious of all tribes. They deserve the respect and admiration of everyone who would resist the Babylon system, and that spirit of independence perseveres here.
I know you will come to find that Florida has an intrinsic weirdness that doesn't need to be embellished with half-baked synchromystical musings. The Fortean phenomena just rolls in with the tides here, giant penguins, mystery flying objects, ghostly spanish galleons, you name it.
If you haven't visited already, I would recommend you check out Phillipe Park in Safety Harbor - not only is it a beautiful spot with loads of gorgeous old trees, it also hosts the last surviving native mound site in Pinellas county. On a clear day you can see from the top of the mound all the way to downtown Tampa. This mound is probably at the center of the stories you may hear swirling about the "indian magic" that supposedly protects the bay area from hurricanes. Also worth checking out the story plaque about Odette Phillipe, his involvement in the Napoleanic wars, and settling here. Had to be some pretty intense experiences to convince a 19th century French doctor to move as far away from other europeans as possible.
You may or may not be aware that Edgar Cayce mentioned Florida in some of his psychic messages - apparently he was convinced that "the clear water areas of Florida" would be important at some time in the future. This would have been in the late 1800s early 1900s so I'm not sure if the place we now call Clearwater had even been named at that point, but it is interesting. If psychics and spiritualists are your speed, there is an entire community founded by spiritualists called Casadega, it's up north close to St. Augustine.
The Scientologists ?! I found it mindblowing that in all the weird stuff Dr. Longo mentioned he didn't include a peep about the Scientologists and Clearwater - if you ever find yourself driving through downtown Clearwater and wonder why it looks bombed-out, it's because the Church bought up all those properties when they were cheap, hasn't done any maintenance, and just holds them now as assets. I lived in Clearwater for a while and found the deadness of the downtown area creepy, but it might be interesting to someone curious about the motives of Scientologists or their founder. Also interesting to note that there are loads of other cults calling the city of Clearwater home, one of them was in the news in the past couple years for painting their house pink (HOA violation!) and for burning incense and chanting at weird hours.
Dr. Longo did mention the Ringling Museum & Mansion, which is a great spot to visit if you want to take a day trip south to Sarasota. The museum grounds are beautiful, and if you want to tour the Ringling House I recommend the extended tour - the docents are very knowledgeable about the house and it's worthwhile to see what circus money paid for when the circus was a big deal. Check out all the ceilings painted by artists that would go on to work for Disney, and the not-so-secret liquor bar and safe.
As far as the secret tunnels go - rumor is that the Temple Terrace neighborhood of Tampa has tunnels running from some of the old houses all the way down to Ybor City. The tunnels were allegedly for transporting or hiding contraband liquor during prohibition. Temple Terrace has the distinction of being the first planned community of the US - a suburb before suburbs. It was the creation of Bertha Palmer, a widow, business woman and socialite from Chicago, who became enchanted with Florida on a visit in the early 1900s. The neighborhood was planned as a golf/orange grove community, with a central clubhouse where the members could go for meals - none of the original houses had kitchens as air conditioning had not been invented yet, cooking in the summer could get truly inhospitable.
Several of the original houses from the early 1900s are still around, including the central clubhouse which is now part of Florida College, a private Christian college located near the Hillsborough river. If you happen to visit the college and stop by the historical marker for the original clubhouse, look to the left and you may notice a small park with a few benches by the river. If you step over to the park you will see a different historic marker (not an official one) which notes the importance of this place to Billy Graham, which he described as where he first felt called to "the ministry" (whatever you may think of the man, he was certainly driven by something, perhaps this place gave rise to that in some way).
There are so many other weird and wonderful places and things to do here I simply can't mention them all at this time, but I'm sure you'll find out and build your own to-do list for Florida legend-tripping. I'm beyond excited to hopefully meet up with you and other listeners at some point in the near future! I have a final recommendation, if you are looking for something to listen to, the local independent radio station WMNF 88.5 has excellent programming. All listener supported so it leans left on most of the daytime talk programs, but if you listen to their archived shows on the website or through their app I think you'll really enjoy their DJs and musical selection - without the corporate radio garbage.
Thank you for all that you do, looking forward to good things to come, and may you find the real Florida magic.
The Earth Rim Walker