The Competitor

“Get the ball, Zander!” I screamed. From the sideline I could see my son on the soccer field running circles around the other children as he does every week. Unfortunately, he was doing it in the literal sense, orbiting the small group of four-year-olds struggling to free the undersized ball from a tangle of little legs. When the ball popped out, it landed, as it often did, right in front of my boy. He smiled from ear to ear and waited patiently for another child to take the ball so he could continue his pursuit and encirclement, throwing a few elbows and occasionally tackling, but never meaningfully playing the game.

I slapped my forehead. I did not need to see Zander score a goal or be on the winning team, but I was desperate to see him compete, to try, but his best run of the night had been west on a north-south field, dashing for the fence while the other children watched from the sideline, waiting for the ball to be returned. With the ball back in play I screamed, “You can kick the ball, Zander!” Continue Reading

Rix Happens

Chris Rix was a fine quarterback and a good man but when Florida States’ football machine suddenly went south, he shouldered much of the blame.  Here is the story.

The “Rix Happens” t-shirts were a succinct expression of fan discontent. The verb to happen implies a lack of intention, the randomness of an event. Accidents, acts of God, and yes, shit, happen. That, of course, was the point, to make Christopher Charles Rix’s name a four-letter word. The moniker even lent itself to abuse. R-I-C-K-S would not have had the same punch. X is vulgar, the rating on pornography, but also marks the spot, is a crossroads and an indicator of mystery as in X-files or X-factor, or even the unknown: solve for X.

The t-shirt was clever if mean-spirited, but almost genteel compared to what followed news articles on-line. After any article on Florida State football the anonymous comments section—the hairy anus of the internet—came streams of invective laced with expletives and unburdened by common decency, directed at a man who for much of his time as starting quarterback could not legally purchase alcohol.

In 2001 Chris Rix was the quarterback for the Florida State Seminoles. He was a freshman who burned his redshirt during Chris Wienke’s senior season, a Heisman-winning campaign that ended with a loss to Oklahoma in the national championship game. According to some reports Weinke had not been especially helpful to the younger QBs on the team, but that really didn’t matter because no freshman was going to be starting. Bobby Bowden had been the head coach at FSU since 1976 and had never named a freshman quarterback; he had never had the need. But in 2001 FSU football was about to head south and a 19-year-old kid was going to shoulder much of the blame.

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The New Black and White

Pirates were early and ardent fans of the northwest coast of Florida whose shallow bays made convenient staging areas for raids on Spanish ships and hideouts for counting and burying treasure. The Great Northwest, as the area is now known, was for generations the Forgotten Coast, occasionally “discovered” by military men whether during Andrew Jackson’s campaigns, the Civil War blockades, or the World War II training bases established in the area. More recently, the area’s beautiful beaches and low population density have led to the development of weekend and retirement beach home communities. Between the rogue seafarers and the more refined coastal dwellers were the Florida crackers.

In retrospect, “back then” causes were nobler, women were stronger, and men more dedicated. Today, by contrast, tens of thousands of advertising messages are a daily reminder that our modern conveniences, products, and services are bought with the loss of simplicity and sincerity. This notion at least begins to explain the phenomenal sales of Fiesta ware dishes and everything in Restoration Hardware stores.

Tallahassee artist Mary Adore Coloney (pronounced: colony) taps into that same longing we call nostalgia in her award-winning style of painting she calls “prismatic realism.”   Her subjects are culled from Florida’s rural and coastal roots; rustic, rugged, and strong, they are captured in a single moment, rendered in a bright, duo-chromatic scheme, and accented with native flora and fauna. Although her subject matter is from another time, her handling of the material, the colors she chooses, and the touch of fantasy she invokes convey a sense of rebirth and hope that makes her work original and fresh. Continue Reading