When many South Floridians read this, the reaction is going to be, "This guy is more deranged than Scott Stapp." This January, I am packing up my things and, like a snowbird flying backwards, heading to Minnesota to take over as the new music editor of the Twin Cities alt-weekly City Pages (a sibling paper to New Times). I'll be overseeing their music blog, Gimme Noise.
I'm sad about leaving such a Vitamin D-rich part of the world, but this is a good thing. I grew up in a small town on the outskirts of the Minneapolis-St. Paul metro area, so this move is a homecoming.
Although I managed to do two years in Fort Lauderdale without getting a tattoo, this place did turn me into a local in a hurry.
Exhibit A: The Shorts
SunFest is a bit of a mixed blessing for West Palm Beach. The upside being that you can enjoy an extremely eclectic lineup of mainstream and lesser-known acts along the waterfront for an extended weekend. The downside being that it's May and hot as hell already when the thing happens. SunFest 2010 set New Times reeling a bit to begin with when the Flaming Lips let the world know they wouldn't make the trip with one day notice. Not a huge deal -- except we had DECIDED TO PUT THEM ON THE COVER that week. Anyhow, I still made it out to cover the festivities, and dressed the way I typically did -- jeans and a T-shirt. And while the sweat dampened through every molecule of those black Levi's during Nas and Damian Marley's set, I thought to myself, "There's got to be a better way." I headed to City Place after and purchased a pair of shorts for the first time since Bill Clinton was in office, and there were more to follow. I was so messed up by the heat that day, that I initially dated my review "March 2" and didn't notice the problem until a commenter noted, "* May 2nd."
Exhibit B: The Shades
No, I wasn't foolish enough to move to Florida without sunglasses. But I didn't have the correct ones until the night of Steve Aoki's "If It's On, It's Neon" event at Club Cinema in Pompano Beach. Calendar Editor Mickie Centrone and I were covering this over-the-top excuse for barely legals to fill their bodies with a wealth of substances not found in the ingredients of Flintstones Vitamins, and we wanted to look the part. Fortunately, Sports Authority was open late, and had two pairs of neon yellow-green and black shades. If there were ever a time that you could get beaten up for not wearing enough neon, this was it. Since then, I've been walking into walls because that $9.99 pair of sunglasses has barely left my face.
Exhibit C: The Captain's Hat
This was more of a direct cultural influence than any sort of supply for survival. (Beer coozies for impossibly sweaty bottles probably could've been a whole section too.) With all of the sea-faring bars in South Florida, and the pervasive boat culture that seeps into everyone's life -- even those who probably get poorer by merely gazing upon certain yachts -- it's unsurprising that photographer Ian Witlen and I could get our hands on captain's hats quite easily at the Fort Lauderdale West Marine. It was a last-minute decision before we headed to the Port of Miami to begin coverage of the 2011 Kiss Kruise. And ever since, I've never had so many people address me with a salute. Who knew?
Although I can't pack these items along with me, I sure wish that all of the marvelous New Times staffers, freelancers, photographers, musicians, publicists, venue owners, and everyone who let me swim in their pool over the past two years were built into this new arrangement too. There are too many great folks who greeted me with warmth and friendship during the past two years for me to thank everyone by name, but I'm beside myself with gratitude.
Thank you for reading, commenting, and contributing to County Grind, which ultimately is giving back to the vibrant -- and arguably growing -- music community here in South Florida. Over the next couple weeks, I'll continue summing up the year and give you more details on the plans for the music section for the future.
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