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The Follies of Florida Man

I've spent half a century (yikes) writing for radio and print—mostly print. I hope to be still tapping the keys as I take my last breath.

An anonymous wit is having enormous fun with a Twitter feed that catalogues the exploits of men in Florida who seem to have only a few active brain cells.

The go-to place for loony goings on was Lantana, Florida-based Weekly World News, where headlines such as “I Was Bigfoot’s Love Slave” or “Ancient Photo of Jesus Found” enticed shoppers at supermarket checkouts. But, Weekly World News closed shop in 2007; they probably couldn't compete with the likes of Alex Jones and Fox News.

Elements of Imbecility

But all is not lost; others have stepped in to fill the void left by defunct supermarket tabloids.

@_FloridaMan seems to have retired but in its prime it revealed the deep pool of nuttiness that exists in the Sunshine State, tweet by tweet. The difference is that the Weekly World News output was fictional whereas @_FloridaMan dealt in real news stories.

He (we assume it is a he) snipped headlines that detailed the bizarre behaviour of fellow citizens. Most tweets began “Florida Man” and had several common features:

  • The hallowed police blotter, which no longer exists, is a rich source of stories of crimes that were just not thought through;
  • Outlandish and highly unconventional sexual activity;
  • And, of course, the ever-popular overindulgence in alcohol and other substances that send the mind squirly.

The truly dedicated Florida Man will try to combine elements from each category.

Following is a small harvest of tales of woe caused by monumental idiocy.

  • “Florida Man Seeks to Wed his Apple Computer.”
  • “Florida Man Accused of Urinating in Middle of Street, Directing Traffic.”
  • “Florida Man Impersonates Police Officer, Accidentally Pulls Over Real Police Officer.”
  • “Florida Man Who Had Sex with Dolphin Says It Seduced Him.”

Some Florida Man Classics

James Raines, 40, broke into a home in Ocala in the early hours of the morning. He was not wearing a stitch of clothing. He bit one of the occupants but was overpowered and held until sheriff’s deputies arrived. He was taken to hospital where he died a short time later. A drug overdose was suspected.

Anthony Berden, 19, was arrested while wandering around a Cocoa-area park. He was dressed as a dinosaur and carried an air rifle and multiple magazines.

Michael Blevins, 37, of Deltona was cleaning his gun when it discharged. Three days later, when he changed his shirt (Pee-yew), he noticed a bullet hole in his arm and checked himself into hospital.

Joshua James, 23, arrived at a Wendy’s drive-through in Loxahatchee at about 1:30 a.m. After he was served he reached into the back of his truck, picked up a three-and-a-half foot alligator and hurled it through the restaurant window.

Joseph Anthony Corrao, 45, was visiting Busch Gardens in Tampa. He leaned into an animal pen and picked up a couple of flamingos. When his mother told him to stop harassing the birds he put one down so harshly that its leg was almost severed. The bird, called Pinky, had to be put down. When asked what Corrao’s motive might have been police replied that’s “the question of the day.”

Gender Parity

You’ll have noticed the singularly masculine nature of these bozo eruptions. So, here comes Donna Byrne to represent the distaff side.

Polk County police received several 911 calls about a woman on a horse trotting along a road in what seemed to be a dazed state―the woman not the horse. NBC News committed a near-criminal pun by reporting that Ms. Byrne “. . . may have to pony up after police busted her for riding a horse down a busy highway while intoxicated.”

And, just to prove that Ms. Byrne’s adventure is not a one-off we have Mary Esther of Okaloosa County. The 28-year-old was driving along a street when she decided it was a good time to pray. Of course, you can’t commune with the Almighty with your eyes open. Ms. Esther blew through a stop sign and smacked into the front of a house.

Why Florida?

Is there something in Floridian water that turns ordinary folk completely batty?

Florida lawyer Roy Black thinks that a polarized society is the springboard for so much madness. He told The New York Times that the state is home to extremes of wealth and poverty as well as people who are very liberal while others are very conservative.

Florida is also party central and home to many immigrants from Cuba, South America, Central America, and Haiti. The mixture seems to create a unique stew of lunacy.

Florida writer Carl Hiaasen has fed off this mess of pottage for years. His humourous books deal with sleazy characters, crooked politicians, and rapacious developers. They are also peppered with hilarious stories from the state’s police records. Steve Kroft of CBS’s 60 Minutes quizzed Mr. Hiaasen about fact and fiction in his books.

The following are true:

  • Professional wheelchair thief;
  • School board candidate whose legal residence turned out to be a tool shed;
  • A U.S. attorney who bit a stripper during a table dance;
  • South Florida mayor who tried to hire city hall workers to kill her husband.

Mr. Hiaasen says the standard answer to “Why Florida?” is that “if you took the continental United States and you tilted it a little bit all the sludge would drip down the peninsula.”

Barbara Highjack of the South Florida Sun Sentinel has another explanation. She says the creator wanted mankind to have a sense of humour, and so created Florida.

It all adds up to the state getting the unflattering nickname of FloriDuh.

How About Some More Florida Man Headlines?

You know you want them:

  • “Florida Man Run over, Killed after Dog Pushes Vehicle’s Accelerator.”
  • “Florida Man Arrested for Calling 911 After his Cat Was Denied Entry into a Strip Club.”
  • “Drunk Florida Man Tries to Use Taco as ID After his Car Catches Fire at Taco Bell.”
  • “Florida Man Tries to Walk Out of Store with Chainsaw Stuffed Down his Pants.”
  • “Florida Man Enters Wrong Home, Tries to Kick Everyone Out.”

Bonus Factoids

  • Of course, Florida is not the only place where whack-jobs live.
  • Dr. Horace Emmett of Cambridge, England believed he had unlocked the secret of eternal youth. In a lecture at Magdalene College in 1889 he told the assembled students that the trick was frequent injections of the dried and ground up testicles of red squirrels. The treatment was so effective, he claimed, that he could―um―“visit” his wife daily. He died eight weeks later from a cerebral hemorrhage.
  • The soccer pitch in Darlington, England was flooded after heavy rain in 1999. To help dry things up, the club bought 50,000 worms to irrigate the waterlogged pitch. The worms drowned.
  • Russian Tsar Ivan the Terrible’s son Dmitry died of a stab wound when he was only eight in 1591. The bell that was rung to mark his death was put on trial for treason, found guilty, and banished to Siberia.
  • Donald “Chip” Pugh of Ohio was on the lam, wanted to answer charges of vandalism and arson. He thought the image on his arrest warrant was unflattering so he texted another photo of himself to police along with the message “Here is a better photo that one is terrible.” Armed with a better picture, Pugh was arrested. Where? Oh no, in Florida.


  • “@_FloridaMan Beguiles With the Hapless and Harebrained.” Lizette Alvarez, New York Times, May 10, 2015.
  • “Steve Kroft’s Interview of Carl Hiaasen.” CBS 60 Minutes, April, 2005.
  • “ ‘Florida Man’ On Twitter Collects Real Headlines about World’s Worst Superhero.” Robert Siegel, NPR, February 14, 2013.
  • “The 47 Wildest Florida Man Headlines of 2015.” Jack Holmes, Esquire, December 30, 2015.
  • “10 Most WTF Florida Man Stories of 2016 (So Far).” Melissa Locker, Rolling Stone, October 17, 2017.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Rupert Taylor

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