By Michael E. Miller
By Allie Conti
By Keegan Hamilton and Francisco Alvarado
By Jake Rossen
By Allie Conti
By Kyle Swenson
By Chris Joseph
By Michael E. Miller
Giulianti again threw that loaded word into the discussion. "What is your incentive?"
No limousine luncheons or valet service or silver-plated golf carts. "Our incentive is to stay there a long time and collect our management fee and be part of this city," Painter said.
But Giulianti wanted to talk about food. Guidant's proposed menu, she said, was far more sophisticated and contemporary than was currently available at the restaurant.
Activist Howard Sher, who says he golfs at Orangebrook every week, stood up and said it had improved significantly since JCD Sports took over. He wanted to know how many commissioners have eaten at Orangebrook within the past month.
"The point is, we wouldn't," Giulianti said dryly. Ouch.
The city could keep things as they are, the mayor said, or it could have a country club "where we won't be humiliated." While visiting other cities, Giulianti's fellow mayors have shown off fine restaurants and gleaming golf courses. If only there were such a place where she could take visiting dignitaries. "I don't even want to invite people to Hollywood because I get embarrassed," she said.
In the end, JCD won the contract, with only the disheartened Giulianti voting against the firm. Tailpipe was about to offer her half of his meatball sandwich, but the look on her face said the 'Pipe had her only at goodbye.
Rolling With Rocky
The smart money was on Rocky until a kid in pigtails spilled the beans.
"Those kids are renting hamsters!" she said to her mother.
This was a couple of Saturdays ago at the Second Annual Hamster Derby in the Oakland Park Petco. Tailpipe happens to know that large amounts of cash were hanging in the balance in the gambling pipeline. There were bookies out there sweating bullets.
You see, children had been invited to bring their furry little rodent pets to compete on an eight-foot-long and four-lane-wide plastic chute with elevated sides. You know the drill. Hamsters in plastic racing spheres. It was very much a mixed bag out on the track. Some hamsters shot forward; others ran in the wrong direction entirely. Some were either confused or else, in passive resistance to the day's activities, lay down and gnawed on their own limbs.
But Rocky, a puffy, tan-and-white racing machine with a skinny face, had this heroic far-seeing look. "He runs all the time," said Rocky's owner, a shy little girl with missing front teeth. "Allthe time!"
But what about those rented ringers, straight from the Petco hamster cribs?
Not to worry, Rocky fans. In the end, the little sparkplug pulled ahead, easily beating out Cookie, Henry, and Fluffy. Rocky's owner beamed a prideful jack-o'-lantern smile.
As the gambling world settled back into the serenity of knowing the oddsmakers are always right, parents packed up the rodents and children. "Teddy Bear's new name is Loser!" said one disgruntled hamster owner.
"Well," her mother said, "let's get Loser out to the car."
Revenge of the Sturgeon
It must suck to be a sturgeon. People catch, smoke, and eat you. They steal your eggs and call 'em caviar. In Florida, you're so overfished and abused that Florida terms you a "species of special concern."
But this year, the fish whacks back.
"A sturgeon hit a 9-year-old and knocked her unconscious," reports Maj. Bruce Hamlin of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission. "An adult had his arm broken, and a guy was knocked off his Jet Ski and could have drowned." Overall the wily creatures have recently injured eight people on the Suwannee River in North Florida, Hamlin adds, "and all of these have been pretty serious injuries that could have resulted in death."
Nine-year-old Cheyenne Russ was knocked off a boat and bloodied in August so badly that she needed three layers of self-dissolving stitches. The cut "missed her jugular vein by a fraction of an inch," according to an article in the High Springs Herald. "It was a big fish; he made me fall in the water" was all the little girl could say.
Old folks, it seems, really ought to stay home.
Sturgeon can grow up to eight feet in length and weigh about 200 pounds. Unlike snapper or mahi-mahi, they have an exterior bone structure that Hamlin calls "armor plated." When they hit you, it hurts.
The "strikes," as Hamlin calls them, were particularly dangerous because until recently people zoomed (way) down (upon) the Suwannee at speeds of 30 to 40 miles per hour. The gulf sturgeon, which spawns upstream, jumps up to five feet high.
In past years, there have always been just one or two such strikes a year. The problem was made worse this year by low water conditions. "It limits where you can travel, so your odds of getting it are greater," Hamlin explains.
A week and a half ago, the state spent $1,400 to post signs on the river warning boaters to slow down.
Slow down, knucklehead, or get whacked by a 200-pound fish built like a tank.
As told to Edmund Newton