Friday, November 21, 2008


Diversity, thy name is Florida...

Influenced by the deep south, the even DEEPER south known as Cuba, and an ever increasing number of transplanted residents from around the country and the world, Florida, like California is defined mostly by it's especially melty melting-pot, even if all the ingredients don't always see eye to eye.

Florida's music mirrors the state's eclectic style with genres ranging from sugar-pop boy bands NSync and O Town, to death metal mavericks Death with plenty of southern-fried rock, salsa, emo, industrial, punk, and country mixed in.

First and foremost, what do our friends at the Wiki have to say about Florida?

- Florida stole Alabama's flag and stuck their seal on it! That's pretty messed up right there...

- Florida was named by Juan Ponce de León in honor of Florida Evans, matriarch of the Evans family on Good Times.

- Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, Florida was inhabited by the native Seminole tribe who were slowly driven west off their lands as more and more European settlers arrived in the Florida colony. But hey, at least they got a college mascot named after them...

- Pensacola sits on the gulf of Mexico at the westernmost tip of the Florida panhandle.

- RC Cola will sit in a refrigerator for years before it is finally thrown out, never having been drank.

- President Andrew Jackson led the US army into Spanish held Florida, sparking the 1st Seminole war. To this day, Florida State University will not accept $20 bills for this very reason.

- That's not true. FSU will take your $20's, but they're not going to be happy about it...

- Not wishing to be forgotten, the state of Florida seceded from the union 10 days before the beginning of the Civil War, becoming one of the founding members of the Confederate States of America.

- Florida was the least populated southern state through most of the first half of the 20th century. After World War II, a rash of new residents began streaming in from the north to take advantage of the climate making them now the 4th most populated state in the country.

- As the Jewish population of New York continues to age, Florida will likely slip past The Empire State into 3rd place by the year 2011.

- All of the Otter Pop family is originally from Florida, with the exception of Poncho Punch who defected from Cuba under Louie-Bloo Raspberry's beret. He lived undetected for a short while as Rip Van Lemon before completing the necessary immigration paperwork in the mid 1970's when he reverted to his given name.

- Otter Pops actually have nothing to do with the state of Florida, and were first discovered by man in 1908 by John King Davis whilst unlocking the mysteries of Antarctica. The first Otter Pops being thawed from the side of a desolate ice cave where they then sprung to life and killed all in their wake with the exception of Mr. Davis who was left alive to tell the story, and raised a bushel of baby Otter Pops on the deck of his ship. The relocated Otter Pops thrived, multiplied, and are now willing to give their lives as tasty snack treats. To this day however, there is a primitive group of bloodthirsty Otter Pops living at the southernmost tip of our planet known by explorers only as The Ottsquatch.

- OK, I'm not sure where I'm going with this. I think I might have popped a blood vessel in my brain... Let's get back to Florida...

- Florida is known as 'The Sunshine State' in spite of the fact that Florida has a higher annual rainfall than any other state in the nation. This proves that Florida is not just a flag thief, but also a climate liar.

- Florida will be running for elected office in the near future.

Onward, to the selections!

Solo Artist: Tom Petty

If 'The Internet' was just some magical pickup truck found only in science fiction, rather than a magical set of tubes that exists in the really real world, I might have no way of determining where Tom Petty originally hails from, short of buying a book about Tom Petty, and I'm just not THAT big a fan. However, even if I had no way of knowing where Tom Petty was from, if I was forced to guess, I'd likely guess Florida.

Equal parts southern drawl, slow jazz style, and hard rocking street smarts, Tom Petty, especially in his early recordings with the Heartbreakers personifies my opinion of life in Florida... Of course, I've known Tom Petty was from Florida for a long time, so perhaps, my opinion of Florida is colored by Tom Petty, rather than the other way around...

Excuse me for a moment while I spiral into a haze of philosophical detritus, drowning in the chafe of my own misconceptions and rationalizations...

OK, back to Tom Petty. he's from... Florida right?

Hell yes he is.

It's actually kind of a slap in the face to Mike Campbell, Benmont Tench, Ron Blair, Scott Thurston, and Steve Ferrone, AKA The Heartbreakers to select Tom Petty as a solo artist, but the band all hooked up in Los Angeles, and Los Angeles isn't in Florida, and California was all out of room. Hence, Tom Petty, sans Heartbreakers is Florida's #1 solo son.

That, and none of The Heartbreakers were responsible for this.

As far as music goes, I guess I just assume TP doesn't need much of an introduction. From American Girl, You Got Lucky, Don't Come Around Here No More, Learnin' to Fly, Last Dance With Mary Jane, etc. There's a whole lot of goodness to be found here. Here's a TP&tHB track that IMO just screams Florida.

Here's Tom Petty, asking Nomar Garciaparra to stay away...

Now what would happen if you took Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, force fed them copious amounts of speed and acid, and locked them in a casket for about 12 years?

I'm thinking it would be time for a little Cake and Sodomy .
To be fair, just like Tom Petty really shouldn't be taken without The Heartbreakers, Marilyn Manson is really all about Brian Hugh 'Marilyn Manson' Warner. The thing is, Warner was born in Ohio, not Florida, but the band, Manson, Daisy Berkowitz, Olivia Newton Bundy, and later Twiggy Ramirez, Madonna Wayne Gacy, Gidget Gein, Sara Lee Lucas, and Ginger Fish became the collective Marilyn Manson & The Spooky Kids in Fort Lauderdale Florida. Before releasing their first studio album, Portrait of an American Family, the boys then consisting of Manson, Berkowitz, Gacy, Lucas, Gein and Ramirez shortened their moniker simply to Marilyn Manson. The most recognizable and alliterative of the Fashion Icon/Serial Killer naming convention adopted by all.

I was a huge fan of this album, and also really enjoyed MM's 4th full length, Mechanical Animals however my favorite Marilyn Manson tune is actually a b-side cover from the Lunchbox maxi-single, Down in the Park originally released by Gary Numan with Tubeway Army. Here's a 1995 live version.

I bet if I dug deep enough I could come up with another artist from Florida that's a 'personal favorite' style choice, but I instead tried to paint a picture of Florida's musical diversity, while completely denying the existence and Florida cred of Lynard Skynard.

So I ask myself if Tom Petty is the mid point of a spectrum with Marilyn Manson at one end, who would need to be at the other end in order to show the most variation in style?

The exact mathematical equation is Tom Petty minus the Heartbreakers plus Marilyn Manson multiplied by The Spooky Kids divided by Average White Band (Who incidentally are Scots just PRETENDING to sound like southerners) equals x or:

(TP - tHB) + (MM (tSK))/AWB= x

Since you likely aren't equipped with a popology graphing calculator, I'll do the heavy lifting for you...

x = Gloria Estefan and The Miami Sound Machine

C'mon, shake your body, baby...

I apologize... Apparently I couldn't control myself any longer...

We all know just about as much as we need to about the pop power and diva magistracy of the fabulous mizz Estefan and the Sound Machine hailing from Miami. If you feel you need to learn more, cliky the wiki...

Just to bring it full circle and close the loop on the state of Florida, Gloria Estefan, unlike Poncho Punch, actually WAS a Cuban exile, although it is unlikely she arrived in this country under an otter's beret...

See y'all next time, when we delve into the mystical world of Georgia which is neither mystical, nor an entire world... As a matter of fact, we'll barely leave one small town...

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