This holiday season has been full of surprises, but none more so than the fact that Florida and Georgia are showing just how crazy they truly are. These two states have a rivalry going back hundreds of years, to when Florida’s first Territorial Governor, Andrew “Don’t Call Me That” Jackson and Georgia’s Governor at that time, whose name escapes all but a few antebellum enthusiasts, battled it out in a swamp near Gainesville. Jackson lost, 3-0, but only because he forgot that a “field goal” doesn’t involve shooting the enemy. Major unsportsmanlike conduct penalty there, if you get my drift.
Since that time, the Peach and Sunshine States have enjoyed a fierce rivalry which culminates each year in the World’s Largest Outdoor Urinating on a Stadium Signpost and Cocktail Party, which was won by the Florida “Gators” when it was apparent that the Georgia “Bulldogs” forgot to bring their uniforms to the game. This gambit was huge failure, as the Bulldogs then forgot to bring their offense as well. Still, it does not belie the fact that Florida and Georgia are not only rivals, but have distinct cultural differences.
As a 20 year resident of Florida (not Orlando or Miami, mind you) and a multi-year resident of both urban and rural Georgia, I’d like to offer some very compelling comparisons between the two states. Please, reserve your desire to burn me in effigy for after column. You can insult me during the column in the comments section.
FLORIDA POLITICS: Florida politics is essentially a combination of liberal, conservative, pastafarian, football, hockey, baseball, Ben-Gay, late night Wal-Mart runs, and people flipping each other off on Interstate 4 during rush hour between Tampa and Orlando. Every four years, this activity reaches a fever pitch, when the Republican and Democrat parties pit two candidates against each other who possess all the common sense of mangoes, but are far less palatable. Small town politics come down to one thing – you scratch our back, we’ll send federal money back to Washington an replace it with yours.
GEORGIA POLITICS: Georgia politics is similar to Florida, except for the fact that pastafarians are more widely accepted, nobody really gets hockey, and anyone who flips someone off on a Georgia interstate is likely to be shot. Every four years, radio hosts choose the gubernatorial candidate in a round-robin, winner take all game of darts at the Westin Peachtree Hotel and Hypodermic Needle Replica. Small town politics follows a simple rule – if you…nevermind, that’s too offensive to say, even for me!
FLORIDA WEATHER: Florida weather is based on this thing called the “Gulf Stream,” a body of water full of fish, manatees, and enough Presidential campaign cash to fill several large football fields. It also can affect the tides, turn water into wine, and make Donald Trump lose his hair. Yes, it’s that important. In the summertime, Florida weather becomes so predictable you can literally set your watch by it, and weather forecasters at television stations simply record one weathercast and play it over and over and over until a hurricane is within 7 time zones of Florida, then everyone becomes “live, local, late breaking…Florida’s #1 News Source for 100,000 years.”
GEORGIA WEATHER: Georgia weather is highly unpredictable, especially when the University of Georgia decides the Bulldogs will actually win a game. Georgia experiences what’s often referred to as a “wedge pattern,” in which warm air and cool air run parallel patterns down the sidelines, but the warm air manages to intercept the cool air, causing a tangle which ends in a tornado ripping through a town somewhere in Georgia. In rare instances, the tangle becomes so severe that an inch or two of snow falls in metropolitan Atlanta, resulting in the most feared word to ever be uttered from the lips of newscasters, reporters, and politicians…SNOWJAM!
FLORIDA CUISINE: Florida cuisine is a combination of seafood, meat, vegetables, toxic waste, radioactive isotopes, and overpriced menus…and often all in the same dish. It is not uncommon for patrons at local eateries removing pieces of lamination from their Spanakopita, a Greek dish commonly served in Florida restaurants because, for some bizarre reasons, people who come to Florida on vacation always want to eat Greek food. I can’t figure it out and, frankly, I wouldn’t expect anyone reading this blog to try. It’s just there! Oh, and Florida has killer grouper (when real), stone crab (when available), and shrimp (when not soaked in petroleum – check with your local oil company.)
GEORGIA CUISINE: Georgia has been dubbed the “Bar-B-Q Capital of America” for good reason. Hands down, Florida’s BBQ is some of the driest, nastiest crap ever made until you get north of Interstate 10, because you’re basically in the part of Florida that Georgia didn’t want back. Georgia also has some cutting edge cuisine, with many “fusion” restaurants figuring out ways to take 100 different combinations of “authentic” food and, using a combination of “sauces,” fail to cover up the fact its just the same Chinese food. Seriously, though, Georgia has some of America’s best food, including fried chicken, roasted pork, and an event called (this name is real, folks), “The Big Pig Jig,” which culminates in a contest in which who can produce and run the most cockamamie RV Dealership Ad in South Georgia.
FLORIDA CULTURE: Culture in Florida ranges from the arts to the mold growing in most homes and businesses. For the purposes of this piece, the focus will be on the arts. Florida’s art community is considered cutting edge and avant garde, which is wonderful, except nobody outside of South Beach, Sarasota and Gulfport knows what the hell “avant garde” is, except a long-retired font name. Fortunately, many wonderful cities along both coasts of the Sunshine State possess immense cultural attractions, such as the Castillo de San Marco in St. Augustine, the Coral Castle outside of Miami, the Southernmost Point in Key West, the Ringling Museum of Circus History in Sarasota, and Florida’s most underrated cultural incubator, the 100 yard walk of Ben-Gay Smelling Death Inside Gulfview Square Mall in Port Richey, Florida. Seriously, if you go into that place, your nose will begin to sting!
GEORGIA CULTURE: Georgia has a vibrant cultural scene, and that cultural scene contains one very important footnote – everyone who is outside Atlanta hates Atlanta, and everyone who lives in metro Atlanta (this writer excluded) hates the rest of the state. Of course, this is the direct result of the fact that most of Atlanta is considered a town of “carpetbaggers,” meaning that everyone who lives there has had at least one bag of gold shag carpet installed in their residence in their lives, while native Georgians prefer the far more fashion-sensible and practical Irish approach – wood paneling. Georgia, however, has several ballets, orchestras, and festivals all going on at the same time in the Atlanta area, choking traffic so badly that everyone there ends up getting the hell out of town for three days, only to appreciate how much they miss Atlanta culture, causing the 10 Hour Traffic Gridlock from Hell trying to get back into the city they ran from. Again, it’s that important.
Well, there’s the primary differences I can think of and, since I’ve run out of coffee and it’s getting late, it’s time for me to hit the hay, unwind, and attempt to sleep. Someday, I might even decide to roll out a sleeping bag along the Florida-Georgia border, but I fully expect to have my feet eaten by a Gator, and my head mauled by a Bulldog…and that’s before the animals get to me.