Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Black Caesar's Clan : A Florida Mystery Story

If you follow my @jshbookclub account on Twitter, you're already aware that I regularly highlight old, musty, dusty, forgotten books from the Project Gutenberg site. I was surfing its cobwebbed corridors today and made a nice find - it's Black Caesar's Clan : A Florida Mystery Story by Albert Payson Terhune.

Now, Black Caesar, you may recall, is a legendary Florida figure who was one of the very first subjects discussed here when I started this blog in the summer of 2013.

(To recap, Black Caesar was an 18th-century African pirate who served as one of Blackbeard's right-hand-men aboard the pirate ship Queen Anne's Revenge. Caesar was one of the surviving members of Blackbeard's crew following his Captain's death during battle in 1718, although his loyalty to Blackbeard in the end proved his undoing. Exciting as his legendary exploits are, he wasn't one of the nicer pirates. Some accounts tell of a harem of at least 100 women which he kept on an island called Caesar's Rock. He allegedly left the island to go out a-pirating, got held up in traffic, and many of his prisoners starved to death.)

Terhune's book was published in 1922, and makes for some swift, action-packed reading. Sure enough, Caesar's Rock figures into the story, and if you have even the slightest enthusiasm for pirate lore and/or Florida quasi-history I suggest you check it out.

I love the conclusion to his foreword, which is such a succinct presentation of the JSH Book Club philosophy I think I'm going to steal it:

Understand, please, that this book is rank melodrama. It has scant literary quality. It is not planned to edify. Its only mission is to entertain you and,—if you belong to the action-loving majority, to give you an occasional thrill.

Perhaps you will like it. Perhaps you will not. But I do not think you will go to sleep over it.

Terhune, pictured above, is often confused by people as being the creator of Lassie; in fact, he authored a series of novels about a collie named Lad.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Jupiter Island

There are many locales in Florida where the celebrities and the super-rich congregate, but perhaps none so gorgeous as Jupiter Island. It's a thin barrier island off the coast of Port St. Lucie, and it's here where you'll find the lavish homes of Celine Dion, Alan Jackson, Lee Trevino and Tiger Woods. (That's Celine's place pictured directly below.)

It's also where you find the amazing Blowing Rocks Beach. It's dotted with beautiful old weathered rock formations, and is now a nature preserve where loggerhead, leatherback, and green sea turtles call their home.

Better break the piggy bank if you want to join this elite crowd - according to Zillow, homes there go for between one million and 45 million dollars.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Edgar Watson

For a guy about whom so much has been written, we really don't know much about the enigmatic outlaw Edgar J. Watson. He was extremely tall, red-headed, and possessing, they say, of unnaturally small hands and feet. He was born in Edgefield, South Carolina and though I've not heard anyone else voice this theory, he may in fact be the same E.J. Watson who was secretary of the Chamber of Commerce and head of agricultural affairs in Columbia, SC.

Somewhere along the way, Watson found his way down to the end of the line: Florida. Here, it's said, he began a lifelong murder spree (whose victims included the actor Quinn Bass) that necessitated his fleeing the state. And so, he headed out West, where a man could theoretically operate with less intrusions from the law. Here, he hooked up with the infamous female outlaw Belle Starr in Oklahoma, and, some say, killed her too. As the story is told, Belle became aware that her friend Watson was wanted for murder, and he became aware that she became aware, and well, dead women tell no tales, he thought.

Belle was apparently ambushed while riding her horse, and was shot repeatedly at a distance and at close range, by buckshot. The shooting scene was very close to Watson's home, and the tell-tale footprints at the scene were found to be the same size as Watson's abnormally small boot size. He was tried in court, but the case was dismissed for insufficient evidence. The death of Belle Starr remains one of the greatest mysteries in Wild West lore.

And so, still facing a nationwide manhunt for his Florida murders, Watson made the decision to return to Florida. This on one hand seems like a stupid thing to do, but on the other hand Florida might have been for that very reason the last place the authorities would think to look for him. As another man once said to another Watson, "the culprit always returns to the scene of the crime."

Watson was an expert at agriculture (which also lends credence to the idea that he may have been the same E.J. Watson who held an official position in that department in SC) and began farming deep in the Everglades. Reportedly he had great success with every crop he planted in the swamps, against all odds. He earned enough from his sugarcane and livestock ventures to invest in state-of-the-art equipment to manufacture cane syrup and rum. So rich and powerful became he in such a short time, neighbors on Chokoloskee Island began referring to him as "Emperor Watson".

Then he got in a drunken argument with another landowner in Chokoloskee - a man named Adolphus Santini - and cut his throat with a knife. He didn't sever the jugular, however, and to his shock, Santini survived and lived to tell the police. Watson paid Santini $900 to drop the complaint, and astonishingly, he did. The local police, seemingly unaware that Watson was already wanted for murders in Florida, let him go since Santini no longer wished to press charges. Law was a funny thing in those days.

Locals began to notice that each season, a new crop of farm workers would arrive at Watson's plantation, but then disappear, only to be replaced by different ones the following year. Maybe Watson was so hard to work for that he couldn't keep good help. Or maybe, some began to theorize, Watson was killing them all at the end of the season so he didn't have to pay them. Bones, in fact, were found on his property, but forensics was in its infancy and there were no known identifiers to the skeletons that could link them to the missing migrants. Gradually the rumors took on a life of their own to the point where it was simply regarded as a certainty that Watson was a serial killer, and that working on his chamber-of-horrors plantation was a guarantee of death.

Then, in the fateful autumn of 1910, right after the hurricane swept through the region. Two men (including another outlaw called Dutchy Melvin) and a woman, all employees of Watson, were found murdered on his property. By this time everyone instantly knew to suspect Watson. Watson, for his part, blamed yet another local outlaw - a man named Leslie Cox - and asked the sheriff of Fort Myers to deputize him so he could hunt Cox down. The sheriff didn't believe Watson's story, and denied the request.

Watson visited Smallwood's Store and purchased ammo which he loudly admitted he planned to use to assassinate Cox. According to legend, the woman at the store deliberately sold him ammo that had been ruined by flooding during the hurricane. When Watson showed up at the boat dock, he found a posse of locals who were fed up with him. Watson, not knowing his ammunition was wet, fired into the crowd and the gun wouldn't go off. He dropped the rifle and reached for his revolver, but he was too slow. The posse immediately shot back and gunned him down on the spot.

He's buried in Fort Myers Cemetery, Lot 8, Block 6. Was he really a serial killer, or just an eccentric who didn't know the value of the sayings "Play Well With Others" and "Keep Your Powder Dry"? We may never know.

Also of interest: this letter which purports to be from Watson's grandson and claims his ghost still walks around Florida. I'm especially curious about this assertion he makes:

The most peculiar thing happens to a person once they've entered the city limits of Everglades City, Florida. It is almost as if that proverbial "black cloud" just suddenly hovers over your head. Only, it is not a "black cloud"; it is more like a big black hat.

Smallwood's Store still exists, by the way, and operates as a historical museum of the period. The stories of hauntings there are numerous. Whether it's Watson's ghost or the ghosts of the many he killed, no one knows because no one's thought to simply ask.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Joe Peppy, the Singing Bartender

You never know what's going to send my mind spinning into an obsessive flurry of research down a rabbit hole. Like right here, see. This is an advertisement for the rather clunkily-named Mac Mascioli's Dolphins Locker in Hialeah, taken from the May 2, 1970 edition of the Miami News.

Looks like an interesting enough place. I wouldn't mind going back in time and checking it out. Remind me to do so sometime next week when I find the time. But what interests me most about this ad is the spectre raised of one Joe Peppy, Dade County's greatest singing bartender."

And so it was, my curiosity piqued, that I've spent the last hour combing the interwebs for more information about Mr. Peppy. And found, exactly, nothing. You'd think being the greatest singing bartender in Dade County would have warranted some kind of write-up somewhere, sometime, that I could find online. But no. Nothing.

Well, hang on, not exactly nothing: I did find this link wherein a bunch of oldsters are sitting around a forum talking about the good old days in Hialeah. And lo and behold, we find one random commenter making this random comment:

My favorite Italian restaurant in the 80s was the one in The Circle in Miami Springs named "Joe Peppy's." The owner/chef was a friendly, heavy-set man who used to come out of the kitchen every half hour to say hi to the patrons and ask them how they liked the food. He made great mussels marinara.

This sounds like it could, just possibly, be our man.

I'm tempted to spout with wrath like the detective in Barton Fink who, after all Barton can remember about Mad Man Mundt is that "he liked Jack Oakie pictures," and rant, "Usually we say 'anything you can recall might be helpful, but I'll be honest with you, that is not helpful." But I'll take what I can get. So the singing bartender went on to open his own joint, let's postulate, and he made great mussels marinara. Okay. But did he sing?

Even in a restaurant operating under his own name, that Peppy still was adept at staying under the radar, it seems. There is only one other online reference I can find to indicate that this Joe Peppy's restaurant ever existed. It is found here on a foodie forum where someone called "MiamiDon" drops this datum:

I used to order a dish called "Veal Dante" at Joe Peppy's Italian Garden in Miami Springs over twenty-five years ago. It was presented as a golden, breaded sphere about four inches in diameter, wrapped in foil. The waiter would peel back the foil, and cut it open, and ladle on a Marsala sauce. The bulk of it was mostly thinly sliced veal, but there were mushrooms, peas and cherry tomatoes, too. Evidently the lightly breaded sphere was fried, and then wrapped in foil and baked. I can't for the life of me figure out how they made it hold together for the first step.

I have found a variety of "veal dante" dishes online, but none that seem to match my recollection. Unfortunately, the restaurant closed.

Trying another approach, I researched Mac Mascioli's Dolphins Locker and found... nothing. Nothing but the same lone advertisement from a 1970 newspaper.

I'm leaving this casefile open (but of course, they all are open forever, really, aren't they?) If you know anything about this singing bartender, do file a report.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

The 51st State

There's been a lot of talk in California about splitting the state up into pieces, and now Florida is getting in on the Mitosis craze: the southern half of Florida wants to break away from the northern half.

According to the Orlando Sentinel:

Back in October the City of South Miami passed a resolution suggesting that Florida should be split to create the 51st state. Now, the city has taken it one step further and is requesting a committee be formed to investigate the possibility of splitting the state in two.

The original resolution passed with a 3-2 vote at the city commission meeting on Oct. 7. It outlined the City of South Miami's concerns about global warming, the rising sea level and the impact that they could have in South Florida.

According to Vice Mayor Walter Harris, who proposed the original resolution and its successor, Tallahassee isn't doing enough to meet South Florida's concerns. On Tuesday Harris brought a second resolution to the floor reiterating his previous points and calling for the Miami-Dade County League of Cities to create a committee to see if creating the state of South Florida would be possible.

"The creation of the 51st state, South Florida, is a necessity for the very survival of the entire southern region of the current state of Florida and this cannot be accomplished by one municipality alone," the resolution reads.

Well, okay, I guess this sounds pretty good to me, but two issues immediately enter my mind: is the rest of South Florida really behind this? The plan shows the dividing line starting in Pinellas County, including Tampa and St. Pete as part of the new state, then crossing fairly evenly to include Orlando and Cape Canaveral.

And do we have to call the new state "South Florida"? Can't we come up with some something snazzier? Maybe call the new state "Miami". Or "The Everglades." or "Calusa".

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Boot Hill Saloon

Without a doubt, the place to be during Bike Week in Daytona is Boot Hill Saloon, located at 310 Main Street. Not just for the beer and the biker-bro camaraderie, but for, of course, the bikini contests.

However, the Boot Hill Saloon has another claim to fame: it's allegedly one of the most haunted places in Florida. It's unclear when and how it all got started, but for many years now bargoers have reported objects moving by themselves, toilets flushing spontaneously (do ghosts use the bathroom?), and the jukebox coming to life and playing music even while unplugged. Then again, maybe everyone's just drunk.

Then again again, the Boot Hill Saloon is located right across the street from Pinewood Cemetery, which is also legendary for hauntings, and it's not much of a stretch to surmise that maybe spooks from over there come wandering over here, perhaps to watch the aforementioned bikini contests.

The bar, whose very name is a reference to cemeteries, has been instrumental in preserving and maintaining the once-abandoned graveyard. They've held fund-raisers during Bike Week and Biketoberfest in order to raise tens of thousands of dollars toward its upkeep.

Some have tried to do guerilla "ghost tours" on the grounds, but that's strictly a no-no and you must now actually pay to enter its closed gates. According to an article in the Orlando Sentinel, "Some pay to enter because the cemetery is one of the few places on Main Street quiet enough to talk on a cell phone."

Star Island

One of the most exclusive and coveted places to live in Miami Beach is this lovely little island served by a single causeway, known as Star Island. I'm not sure if the name predates its current status as a refuge for celebrities, but it's well known for being home to such luminaries as Gloria Estefan, Rosie O'Donnell, Don Johnson, Sean Combs and Shaquille O'Neal. However, unscrupulous tour guides and realtors have exaggerated the island's celebrity stories, and have made false claims about Julio Iglesias, Madonna, Sylvester Stallone and Elizabeth Taylor also living here.

Some scenes from the Sylvester Stallone film The Specialist were filmed on Star Island, which may have inspired the myth that he lives there. (Though Stallone did attend the University of Miami, his home is in Beverly Hills, California.)

The Chadwick Beach Cotton Mouse

The Chadwick Beach cotton mouse (Peromyscus gossypinus restrictus) was a rare subspecies of the cotton mouse (Peromyscus gossypinus) that was known only on a small area of Manasota Key.

Fifteen specimens of the Chadwick Beach cotton mouse were captured by a researcher in 1938, and in so doing, he may have contributed to wiping out the very tiny species. They soon vanished, though deforestation and predation by cats have been alternately blamed. The mouse is now presumed extinct after extensive surveys in the 1980s failed to find a single example of it.

It was smaller and paler than the common cotton mouse - so named because it likes to build nests from wild cotton - and had a white/pink belly. It also differed from common cotton mice with its smaller dorsal stripe.

As Florida becomes more and more populated, there's no telling how many more species not even discovered have come and gone, with mankind oblivious and unaware.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Sawgrass Tiki Bar

Add this to my growing list of so-called "Tiki Bars" that most certainly are not, at least by my rigorous definition. St. Petersburg's Sawgrass Tiki Bar is, sadly, just another hipster/hippie joint dressed up with some tiki masks.

I knew something wasn't right the moment I walked in and the music they were playing was Red Hot Chili Peppers or something that sounded like it. So much for Tiki ambience.

The drink menu had only a few cocktails listed. I've belabored this point before but I'll belabor it again because that's what belaboring is about: My position is that any bar that doesn't have a specialty cocktail list is immediately suspect, and to be avoided. I've never met a bartender yet who says "we can make you anything" who really could. And that's where the specialty-cocktail drink list comes in - even if I don't order anything off it, I want to see it be there. Because it proves to me that these people are really bartenders and not just randomly-assigned pourers of liquid.

Having house-specialty mixed drinks shows me that, at least, someone was enough of an artisan to come up with these ideas. It also shows me that there are drinks that even a novice bartender there might have fixed often enough to be familiar with. Feel me? If you don't make Mai Tais very often, I don't want you fixing my Mai Tai, capish?

I ordered something called a "Missionary's Downfall" which the menu states contains rum. I didn't taste any. It came in a tiny glass that was almost entirely ice.

The bar seems less concerned about cocktails and far more focused on Kava (not my scene), Kratom (not my scene), Hookah (not my scene) and reggae/jam band performers (not my scene.) I won't be back.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Lee Harvey Oswald in Florida

On my Unusual Kentucky blog, I've delved into the curious connections between the JFK assassination and the city of Louisville; you may peruse those here and here if you wish to go down that rabbit hole. But as we'll see, there are plenty of Florida connections as well.

This blog post, like the aforementioned Kentucky ones, will assume you know the backstory to the general JFK assassination story and the characters who populate it. That being so, your mind may instantly assume that because of the role Cubans played in the drama, that Florida would be a natural spot for related conspiracy activity. And it appears your guess isn't far wrong.

At this link we find the texts of various declassified government files that a diligent seeker located on the National Archives database. One of them is ONI (Office of Naval Intelligence) casefile 173-10011-10157, which is in itself a relaying of an FBI report about "13 uniformed men seized in Florida, accused of planning attack on Cuba". I've done zero research on this so far, but am pretty sure this is one of David Ferrie's secret paramilitary camps where mercenaries were being trained for a planned invasion of Havana and ousting of Fidel Castro, all financed by Clay Shaw.

Another is a CIA document (104-10004-10235) in which a man named John K. Kaylock says he met Lee Harvey Oswald in Punta Gorda, Florida on October 2, 1963. And still another (179-40010-10186) is called "Jack Ruby in Florida". Ruby was always traveling around, ostensibly on business amongst the burlesque-club circuit (of which Florida is and was very well-represented) but of course he was working for a number of different people on a number of different projects with a number of different motives. The Mafia? The CIA? The Cubans? Probably all of the above.

Two different FBI reports exist investigating the relationship between Marina Oswald and her business manager - one James Martin - but interestingly, both reports came from the Tampa office. (Oswald and Martin both lived in Dallas and have no connection to Florida so far as I know.)

A 1967 FBI document (180-10020-10293) from a W.A. Brannigan to a W.C. Sullivan has the tantalizing subject header "JFK; CASTRO, FIDEL; DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA; OSWALD, LEE HARVEY".

Silvia Odio, a Cuban-American woman in Dallas, was paid a mysterious unexpected visit by two Cubans and a man calling himself "Leon Oswald". These men asked her to help them prepare a letter to solicit funds for an anti-Castro organization in which she was involved, the Cuban Revolutionary Junta (JURE). Odio testified that one of the Cubans identified himself by the "war name" of "Leopoldo" and that "Leon Oswald" was in the Marine Corps and was an excellent shot. She testified that the men told her that they had come from New Orleans and were about to leave on a trip for somewhere else. After seeing Lee Harvey Oswald's face on TV after the shooting of Kennedy, she realized he was "Leon." Silvia's brother Cesar was a city manager of Miami for eleven years, and she later moved to Florida herself. Her father was a Cuban refugee who was jailed for a failed assassination attempt on Castro in 1962.

Then there's this, which tells of a journalist's source claiming that Lee Harvey Oswald was in Florida to attend a speech given by Bobby Kennedy at Homestead Air Force Base in the summer of 1963. Oswald, in fact, was in Miami at the time, but doing what exactly is uncertain. There are FBI dox (180-10029-10313) from the Dallas office to the Miami office, in fact, about Oswald's activity in Florida. Considerable efforts were made by agents to learn more about Oswald's involvement with the Tampa chapter of the Fair Play For Cuba Committee but nothing conclusive was learned.

Most interesting of all to me, however, is the strange case of Kerry Wendell Thornley.

In 1959, Thornley was in the Marine Corps, and served in the same radar unit as Lee Harvey Oswald. They had a sort of combative friendship, often arguing about politics, and philosophy, and discussing books like George Orwell's 1984. After the two were reassigned to different units, Thornley learned of Oswald's autumn 1959 defection to Russia in the Stars and Stripes military newspaper.

In February 1962, Thornley wrote a book called The Idle Warriors about his experiences with Oswald. Because of this, he was called to testify before the Warren Commission in 1964. After he'd moved to Tampa, he was hounded by Jim Garrison, who was convinced of Thornley's complicity in the conspiracy. Thornley's physical resemblance to Oswald caused some speculation that he was one of the "fake Oswald" doubles that were going around. These accusations were eventually dropped by Garrison's successor.

Thornley, who spent two years living in New Orleans, encountered a creepy pair who called themselves Gary Kirstein and Slim Brooks, who claimed to have inside info on various matters conspiratorial. He later became convinced these men were Howard Hunt and Jerry Milton Brooks, and believed that Oswald had been a deep-cover agent involved with MK-ULTRA. Anecdotes about the revelations of Kirstein and Brooks filled his writings for the remainder of his life, and he published handmade zines from a garage in Atlanta for the rest of his days.

As an impressionable lad and avid reader of his works, visiting Thornley was top of my to-do list when I moved to Atlanta in 1984. Though Thornley was well-known for his paranoia, he openly used his actual street address on his zines, not a post office box. I found the street, a cul-de-sac called Lookout Place, on a map and went there to say hello. But a young man answered the door when I knocked, and said Thornley actually didn't live in the house, he lived in the garage. "He's probably sleeping right now," he said, "but you can try him."

I knocked on the garage door, and the man himself emerged. Though he was groggy from being awakened, he immediately remembered me from mail correspondence, and we chatted a few minutes; mostly about a theory he had about a conspiracy of clowns - like, actual circus clowns - driving cross-country abducting hitchhikers. He loaded me up with back issues of all his zines and broadsides I'd missed, and made some rumblings about needing to get back to work. I thanked him for his time and excused myself, wondering if I'd just had a brush with greatness or a meeting with a madman. Both, maybe?

(And though I was a fan of Robert Anton Wilson's Illuminatus! trilogy and the Discordians, at that point I had no idea that Thornley was actually the founder of the Discordians, under the pen name "Omar Khayyam Ravenhurst" - something I didn't learn until many years later.)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Radio Enciclopedia

Of late I've been fascinated with this oddball little radio station from Cuba - 530 on the AM dial - that often plays some truly wacked-out cheese: easy listening, muzak, swing, jazz, antiquated afro-cuban, 1940s-1970s pop, light instrumental disco, lounge, exotica, "Space Age Pop" and generally uncategorizable stuff like eerie, trippy organ versions of classic rock songs. Everything from Benny Goodman to Mantovani to Esquivel to Celia Cruz to Vangelis. In short, damn close to what I consider Pulcova Club material.

I originally thought getting to hear this Cuban station was one of the happy little perks of living in Naples, but after doing some googling, I find that DX'ers with average equipment can, when the skies are clear on a late moonlit night, pick this station up as far away as New Mexico and Missouri.

Though in many ways, Cuba is gloriously in a time warp by American standards (just look at their wonderful old cars and buildings) the station actually has a website and a live-stream. You can listen by visiting mms://media.enet.cu/radioenciclopedia - type it directly into your browser if clicking the link doesn't work, and it should bring up Windows Media Player or whatever your device uses as its default. I love it, but I actually find it more fun to listen to on a terrestrial radio with the added spooky romantic effect of all the static and other broadcasts gently echoing in the background and occasionally bleeding through.

Friday, March 13, 2015

#digitalart #abstract

I'm actually not into "digital art" or "computer art" at all; I've long lamented the sociological state of things where people twiddle around with gizmos for a few minutes, slap out something that the computer mostly was responsible for, not the person, then hangs it in a gallery and calls it "art".

Having said that - ah, the inevitable "having said that"! - I've found myself playing around with making crappy little migraine-inducing swirly things on MSPaint, and dumping them to Twitter in much the same way a guy who lives in an old house drops his used razor blades down the mystery slot to nowhere, then walks away without giving it another thought.

For me, the key is that I'm making these on MSPaint, the world's worst, stupidest, most primitive graphics program, one which is usually not associated with the creation of works like these. It has no effects, no settings, no nothing; basically it's a slate with a pencil tool and a few brush tools, and about the most one can usually hope to achieve on it is something like this.

But I've managed to perform a hack of sorts, one that enables me to get abstract textures and intricacies one can't often coax out of the dumb program. Despite my use of the #digitalart hashtag, I don't take these seriously as "art" at all - I'm just fucking around with it. Having said that (oops, I did it again!), I may use one of these trivial contrivances as book cover art eventually.

Some people are actually enjoying them, which I honestly hadn't expected. But don't think you'll see me hang up my paintbrushes in favor of slaving over a hot laptop anytime soon. I'm still a Stuckist at heart, and you know what the Stuckists say about such things.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Garden of Undisclosed Delights

It's a beautiful thing when a man finally, after a lifetime's search, finds that especial watering hole that previously only inhabited his dreams. A secret exotic den that can become his home away from home, his second office, his base of operations. And my base of operations has lately been this majestic old-timey Asian bar that personifies completely the wonder and splendor that is Interzone.

For security purposes, the whereabouts of my fortress of solitude must remain classified; but if you ever want to drink and think with me, I'll take you there. As everyone from Dick Cheney to D.B. Cooper knows, undisclosed locations should stay undisclosed.

The place is like traveling back in time to the 60s/70s, and their menu appears not to have changed since then. It reads like an encyclopedia of "old people's drinks" that were already old-fashioned when our parents were young. The Tom Collins and its ancestor, the John Collins. The Stinger. The Jack Rose. The Rob Roy. The Rusty Nail. The Clover Club.

They also list drinks that are classic 1970s staples, and so clearly dates their menu to that time, such as the Pink Squirrel and the Harvey Wallbanger. (Though the Harvey Wallbanger is said to have been invented in the 1950s in Hollywood and named after a popular local surfer, there is in fact no mention of it anywhere in print until it appears in a 1971 issue of Sports Illustrated.)

I'm systematically going down the line and trying every single one of their wares; once the fact-finding mission is completed in totality, I'll file a report. But early favorites so far are their Blue Hawaii, Pina Colada, and something called a Tahitian Scorpion. I can also report that this establishment carries fried banana bites, which I now declare to be the ultimate Floridian bar food, countermanding all previous policy papers issued on the subject by this bureau.

The mere act of writing this, dear reader, already has me in a mood to take a road trip and call a business meeting at the secret stronghold. Be seeing you.