If you close your eyes you can imagine that this garden was once a tropical jungle as imagined by some clever Floridian striving to separate more tourists from their dwindling travellers checks.
It has been carefully done over, plants native and ornamental replacing the vines and trees, the alligators, real and imaginary gone, now an exhibit of Lego animals, the orchids in bloom, and you wonder why anyone once came here in the old days.
I have never made a bagel. I have never jumped off the roof of a house to see what flight was like. I have never run a marathon or a half marathon. I have never owned a Ferrari, Lamborghini or Maserati. Or a Porsche for that matter. I have never driven a car at more than 130 miles per hour. I have never parachuted out of an airplane. I have never been six feet tall in my bare feet. I have never undertaken studies for a PhD. I have never attempted to swim the English or any other channel. I have never been to either Mongolia. I have never sat through the whole of Gone With the Wind. I have few regrets, but living on the Treasure Coast of Florida I do wish I could make a good bagel. I miss them, and they are nowhere to be found.
It is a sad fact of life that Florida has disqualified itself as a movie set for a vast number of films that will now go before the camera on the streets of some Canadian city.
No one is making films about drug runners coming ashore in teal and pink with a soundtrack by Jan Hammer, since the illicit drug of the moment is likely to be filming in the streets of Chinatown, and the Port of Los Angeles and a Wellcraft Scarab is no match for an 11,000 TEU container ship.
And for horror and noir films the simple fact is that even in the dead of winter, the palms will never look all that foreboding, and fake snow melts all too quickly, but we can hope that Beach Party movies will make a grand return, until then we just keep get along here in the heart of Margaritaville.
As a child I know the winters must have been milder, as it was never too cold to have my parents take is to Sheridan Park where my father would drag the old wooden toboggan up the chute adjacent to the stairs as we ran ahead, and smile as we hurtled down seeing how far we could go across the snow packed runway.
After an hour, when our hands were blue, the mitten clips long since defeated, he would once again smile as we drove to Louie’s for a foot long and a couple of orders of curly fries.
I’m thinking the weather changed right about the time my parents packed off to Florida, as if God had given them some Noah-like warning that winters would soon get ugly, or maybe He was just trying to help Detroit, since my step- siblings had to have certain cars, while I struggled through winter in the north in my leaky, rusting Opel.
Bob Dylan is, to the best of my knowledge, the only songwriter to successfully rhyme outrageous and contagious, which doesn’t explain why I knew I could never be a successful songwriter in this life.
The explanation is far simpler, it was when Leonard Cohen served me tea and apricots, said he hated the river even living in Montreal and said I should pack off to Florida or California if I wanted oranges, though he said, if I ever visited China, if I’d see where their oranges came from.
We’re all older now, Leonard is dead and even Bob admits he’s not sure he’s younger now, but he says, Bob that is, that I need to get over keeping up with the Joneses, because in the final analysis, we are all Jones at the end.
Hell is a place where what you least desire becomes eternally yours, or so we were told as children, well not us, not the Jewish kids, for us Hell was our mothers’ finding that copy of Playboy we stole from our father’s stash our mother didn’t know about, and which he would deny, throwing us under the bus or any large vehicle she found
If we buy into Hell, and given that ours is an aging population, many of whom have landed in Florida and Arizona to avoid the winters that are hell on the ubiquitous arthritis, and all those who have joyously consumed the evangelical Kool-Aid, when the final bell rings, they may be surprised to discover there is far, far more of a chance of a snowball in Hell.