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Stories from Jacksonville

New Jax Witty

Articles, reviews, advice, and legitimate research to go along with some back-handed comments. Think of us as Jacksonville's mother-in-law.
  • Is Regulation The Problem With Jacksonville?
    I got into an interesting conversation with a gentleman about why Jacksonville has not yet attained the stature that it should have as a metropolis of one million residents. We kind of went back and forth for a time, both of us mentioning what might be wrong, when he came up with government regulation. He claimed government regulation was the number one worst thing with living here, even though I often look around and wonder whether there's any regulation at all in the city. 
    I suppose it was my fault for bringing up government. He’d asked why I thought some people who move to Jacksonville become disillusioned and leave. One of my arguments was the overt corruption in local government: the Browns, the JEA sale debacle, and the weekly revelations of people in power taking advantage of their positions. The obvious old boys' club, political machines, and general consensus that the rest of us have no power all add to the mentality (for me) that many people in Jacksonville seem to be stuck in some kind of political time warp, maybe from the 1920s.

    But my rider didn't think most of that was really the problem in Jacksonville. He thought that too much government regulation drove people from town. He agreed that being minor league and having a boring downtown kind of hurt, too, but a strong arm government that made it nearly impossible to add a new kitchen to his home is what really got his goat. Technically, he lived in Neptune Beach or Atlantic Beach, but maybe Duval County handles all the building permits the same way. I am sure that building inspector cause headaches for some people in Jax, but I was slightly hard-pressed to agree with the guy that it was a major problem.

    My view of cautious support for regulation was reinforced by one of the man's own arguments. He said he had a friend in another state who wanted to build a private airport on his land. Since he lived in the low-regulation county, the officials just asked him if he owned the land. When he said yes, his request was approved. I wonder if his neighbor then went to the same government entity with a request to install anti-aircraft guns on his own property. Really, my rider thought it was a good example of how our local government ought to act to say that people who want to build their own backyard airports should be free to do so. Maybe the example friend should add a hazardous waste dump, a rooster farm, a casino, and a gentlemen's club for good measure. Zoning and building codes exist for a reason, and that reason is exactly the example used in an argument against those codes. Most of us aren't very good at determining what will drive our neighbors completely insane or drive property values way down, so we rely on local government to figure it out.

    So my rider probably didn't want to have to upgrade his shoddy electrical circuitry. I understand. It's expensive. But when you live 30 feet from someone whose wiring could catch fire at any moment, you kind of hope the government might suggest an upgrade if the owner wants to add a new kitchen that will probably tax the electrical output even more.

    In the end, responsible government regulation is probably one of the most important functions of a local government. We want to live in a civilized society, which means regulation is as important as policing and firefighting. How many of your neighbors would have three pickup trucks in the front lawn if it was allowed? The answer in Jacksonville is, “all of them.” One pickup is obviously cool, but you have to draw the line somewhere. How many landlords would allow unlivable conditions? Same answer, and you know it. I don’t claim to know where the line is, and I’m sure those members of the old boys’ club have their own versions of the rules, but the hope is that all of us benefit from some kind of standards in regulation. I reserve the right to change my mind if I get in trouble with local building codes while replacing my AC or windows late this year, but until then, I certainly can’t say that Jacksonville has too many regulations.


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  • The Last-Minute Valentine's Day Guide: Jacksonville
    So, you're supposed to book something romantic in Jacksonville, but you put it off until the last minute. Worse, you hate calling restaurants. Sure, you could seek out some national chain restaurant that doesn't take reservations and tell her everything else was booked. Or you could try to be a little more creative (though she probably won't appreciate that anyway). Here's what I did.


    First, I tried searching for events in Jacksonville, but Eventbrite and other sites had dumb events. That was a few days before V-Day, but I was disappointed and stopped my search. There isn't really a good, go-to, local events page in Jacksonville, so I figured I'd try again on February 13th. But I got busy, so early on Valentine's Day, I was still without a reservation or plan. 

    I'd been told the Lemon Bar was good, and it probably would have been fine if the weather was nice, as my wife can finish work early enough to get a table with a beach view...not sure if you can actually see the ocean. But 60s and rainy isn't good for all that, so it was back to the drawing board. 

    I used Tripadvisor to find the top Jacksonville restaurants in her favorite Italian category. All that allowed online booking were booked, and I got the idea that I wasn't the only guy doing this. But this wasn't my first rodeo, so I expanded the search to fancy restaurants. Again, no dice. 

    So I expanded my original Valentine's Day in Jacksonville search. Again, Eventbrite and its subpar listings. A local momblog claimed to have the ultimate guide, but she fell short on the couples section of her article. Then I found the dinner theater, which I figured to be one of those family shows that are kind of annoying but wholesome and predictable. So, safe. But even the safe option of some Elvis in 1969 was sold out. Well, there were single seats available, but what's more depressing than sitting alone with strangers on Valentine's Day, unless you're a serial killer or swinger on the prowl, I suppose. 

    Since neither my wife or myself are either of those, it was time to move on. I found a website that had some kind of Valentine's Day specials listed for local restaurants, and one of the places that Tripadvisor had deemed full-up actually had an opening. But that was one of those bougie places that probably required a suit and tie, and I wasn't yet THAT desperate. Except there was only ONE other restaurant on the list with available reservations. And only two time slots. So I booked that bad boy. 

    $65 a person for some kind of three course meal and dessert. It will make the wife happy. Escape Restaurant and Bar. I'll write a review of the experience and link to it. But if you're a restaurant that normally has empty seats in Jacksonville on Valentine's Day, let me know. I can add your contact information here so that other guys who wait until the last minute can connect with restaurants that have last-minute availability, whether there's a special menu or not. 

    Obviously, it's better to have a plan early. Maybe even hoard the reservations like it's gasoline during a hurricane, and then cancel based on weather or traffic or how much you want to spend. Anyhow, I wish you the best the V-Day, and I hope that if you waited too long to book the reservation that your special lady is still impressed with you dragging her to Olive Garden at 4:30 to beat the rush.

    And if you plan on a wine, beer, or hard liquor tasting, be sure to get a Lyft or Uber. 




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  • Jaguars in London Has Precedence (And it Worked)
    I grew up in Milwaukee, near where the Packers played. When my family moved to a new house near County Stadium, I lived just a few miles from Packer home games. Yes, home games in Milwaukee for the Green Bay Packers. The Jacksonville Jaguars are going from one to two games in London, and it's being done for the same reasons as the Packers playing in Milwaukee. The real question is whether it will work out for the Jaguars as well as it did for the Pack.


    Basically, Green Bay couldn't support an NFL team and needed a new stadium, so it moved games to Milwaukee from 1934 to 1994. Between two and four home games were played in the big city each year. During that time, some Milwaukee businesses tried to acquire a competing team in the other football leagues. Luckily for Green Bay, these attempts were blocked, partially by keeping games in Milwaukee. You've probably heard a lot about how perfect Green Bay is as a small market, but without the help of Milwaukee fans and (later) Brett Favre, the team probably would have folded years ago. Like before ANY (official) Super Bowl wins.

    Green Bay updated the stadium and eventually got fans from all over the state (and country) to accept the importance of seeing games in Green Bay. Maybe Chris Berman's redundant Frozen Tundra quote helped as much as a winning team. The point is that the franchise was able to survive in spite of being a small market, though it did take help from a larger market. That said, there was still a long tradition of pro football in Green Bay. The longtime rivalries against much larger markets drew national attention, and winning records with Super Bowl appearances certainly didn't hurt.

    I don't know if the plan is to string Jacksonville along until London is approved to have a team in the NFL's next expansion. Or maybe the plan is really to invest heavily in Jacksonville's downtown as the area grows. The problem is that if the fans just get upset and stop watching or attending games, the team certainly will leave, and that would put Jax back into the realm of a total minor league city when it comes to sports. Granted, I personally don't care all that much, since I'm a Packers, Bucks, and Brewers fan, but it does seem that a metro area of 1.5 million should be able to support a single pro franchise. If not, we'll be stuck in the same boat as Columbus, Austin, and Providence as large metro areas without a pro team.

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    Thanks for reading. See more of my content:

    Satisfamily - Articles about being happy as a family
    Passive Ninja - Web Design in Jacksonville
    McNewsy - Creative Writing
    Educabana - Educational Resources
    Brave New Church - Church Website Design
    Voucher School - Pros and Cons of School Vouchers
    Luthernet - Web Design for Lutheran Churches
    Sitcom Life Lessons - What we've learned from sitcoms
    Mancrush Fanclub - Why not?
    Epic Folktale - Stories of the unknown
    Wild West Allis - Every story ever told about one place
    Educabana on Teachers Pay Teachers (mostly ELA lessons)
    Real Wisconsin News - Satire from Wisconsin
    Zoo Interchange Milwaukee - Community website
    Chromebook Covers - Reviews and opinions

    Brian Jaeger - Resume (I'm always interested)

    Contact Me