Ugly Betty

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Undeclared

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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.
  • Sawgrass Village Shopping Center Road Rage
    I guess folks with expendable income show up in their Mercedeses and Lexuses (Mercedes and Lexi?) to the Sawgrass Village Shopping Center on Valentine's Day. At 1:15 on Valentine's Day, it was if there was a senior citizen convention at the shopping center. One of them nearly made a citizen's arrest on me, just before another one nearly crashed into another patron of the NY strip mall. Overall, there were too many mini and mega SUVs vying for the same parking spots, presumably occupied by shoppers looking for that perfect gift to curb the whining before it even happens.


    I would like to apologize to the lady who was going the right way in the one-way parking lot. I came down the up aisle, and no one was coming, so I went for it, and then this lady showed up. And there was plenty of room for us to pass, but she gave me the multiple light flash and the horn, along with flailing arms. Like I'd just run over her shih tzu or something. Maybe she was just ornery because she keeps trying to convince herself that her Toyota Avalon is the same thing as a Lexus. Or maybe she always gets upset on Valentine's Day because her husband would rather play golf than deal with her rantings about the horrible drivers in the Sawgrass Village Shopping Center. Or he already traded her in for a shiny new model who is actually a model. I am truly sorry, lady I don't know from Ponte Vedra, for making your exit from the Publix parking lot so stressful. However, now you have a new topic of conversation to bring up at the next fundraiser you attend. I am sure all your acquaintances you call friends would love to hear about how you nearly died when a driver came barreling down the wrong way at 5mph right at you. Maybe if you hurry back to Publix you can ask to see the parking lot surveillance video and have a warrant issued for my arrest.

    Oddly enough, even with the horrible road driving conditions in Jacksonville, most of my closest calls (or people getting angry at me for non-close calls) have happened in parking lots. Really, there is no standard: some one-ways, some stop signs, some grids. Area parking lots are like a microcosm of Jacksonville street planning, with the added bonus of empty shopping carts. And this lady’s anger in a parking lot was probably the result of years of having to deal with the roads in Jax, wishing that her weekly trip to Publix and Peterbrooke was an oasis from idiots on the road. So, I’m sorry.
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  • Formerly Fuscillo (or Fuccillo) Nissan
    I was looking for a deal on a synthetic oil change, and I'd used the Money Pages magazine for such a deal before with Southside Kia, when I came across an even better price at Nissan of Orange Park. When I looked at the ad a little closer, I saw the phrase, "Formerly Fuscillo Nissan," which got me to wondering what happened to the Fuccillo business, and whether it was Fuccillo (like the other dealerships in Florida) or Fuscillo (like the ad says).


    For about two years, Fuccillo Nissan had these wild commercials on TV, stating that the savings were HUGE. Lots of giveaways, like cruises, too. And, lest we forget, the very pretty spokesmodel who looked like she was heading off to her high school homecoming dance in the dress her father specifically said she could not wear. At one point, when I had out-of-town guests at my house and a Fuccillo commercial came on, the guest asked when hookers started selling cars. 

    Besides the eye candy, I always enjoyed the ads because it seemed like they just had one of the porters or salesmen standing there with a smartphone capturing people saying previously unrehearsed statements about a few cars on the lot, usually in windy conditions. Like something a small town car dealership might have thrown together back in the 1970s. It was as if a new car dealership wanted to give the impression that it was, in fact, a seedy used car lot, and that amused me. 

    I worked at a new car dealership back in Milwaukee, and I can tell you that the salesmen might be dressed in monkey suits, but they aren't really your typical banker or lawyer types. That said, most car dealerships want to project the image of being professional, so the guys wear suits to sell cars. And have miniature offices and business cards. I was a 17 year-old porter who washed cars, but the salesmen were the ones who came back to swear at us and make fun of the stupid customers they'd swindled. Those were the guys who taught me that I could never really be a salesman. Anyhow, I kind of liked Fuccillo because it owned that brashness that I knew existed at car dealerships. The problem might be that people want to pretend like they are buying their cars from honest businessmen in suits who run professional commercials on TV. 


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  • 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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    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
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    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