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the flog

Heavy METAL

When Donald Trump began making noises about pushing for import tariffs on foreign aluminum, it created a stir, maybe even more than normal. Any tariffs will only increase costs to the consumer, affecting a wide range of products across the board. Whether any of this has any impact on Stephen Harlan's resale prices is unclear, but since all that stuff is trending upward anyway, it probably doesn't matter. Harlan buys his sheets of aluminum in bulk, and uses them to create some of the most visually affecting art seen anywhere these days. In this area, he's exclusive to Phillip Anthony Signature Gallery in St. Augustine, and he will be there in person all weekend (Friday, March 30 through Easter Sunday, April 1) to debut some new pieces and to confab with collectors.

Stephen James Harlan was born in Minnesota, but he didn't stay there long, living in California, Washington DC and Maryland before settling in Wilmington, North Carolina a decade ago. But it was a childhood spent in Fort Myers that made a permanent influence on his life and art. Scenes of the beach and the ocean recur in his work, with the bright, almost psychedelic colors commonly associated with southern Florida. It's like a virtual Parrothead Fantasia, evocative of lazy days and busy nights.

Harlan made his name painting abstract images in California, but it was only fairly recently that he happened upon the style with which he is associated today. He creates the pieces using computers, decked out with special software that allows insane amounts of detail. The colors are added one pixel at a time, with his 21-inch monitor representing maybe a square inch of the finished piece, so a piece that sells at the size of a coffee table, say, would be the size of a school bus if presented at the same size it appears on the screen. The art is then reproduced onto large sheets of shiny, aircraft-quality aluminum, although you can get them on canvas, as well, if you like that matte look. Either way, to see …   More

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Trump Trade War Could Screw Over the Florida Orange Industry

The pending Trump trade wars could bode poorly for American workers in numerous industries. 

In response to Trump's threatened tariffs on European Union exports of steel and aluminum, the EU has drafted two lists of American products to which it could add a 25 percent tariff. Five types of orange juice are on Part A. The items on Part A could be targeted immediately; those on Part B could be subjected to tariffs after three years, Politico EU reports.

Though most of its production is consumed domestically, Florida is the world's second-largest exporter of orange juice.

Politico EU also reported that a senior official said the list was for "stakeholder consultations."

The two lists comprise a total of 6.4 billion Euros, or 7.8 billion dollars, worth of American exports.   More

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Professor: Next Generation Knows Better than to Pay Attention to the NRA

On March 24, millions of Americans across the nation will participate in March For Our Lives. According to the March For Our Lives website, the event has been "created by, inspired by, and led by students across the USA who will no longer risk their lives waiting for someone else to take action to stop the epidemic of mass school shootings that have become all too familiar." In other words, today's young people are tired of living in what they see as a dystopian world awash in guns created by past generations. This generation will be the one that brings rationality to insanity and finds a way to protect both the Second Amendment and human lives.

Can they do it? Will these "kids" be able to produce meaningful policy outcomes that have eluded previous generations?

Not if the NRA has anything to do with it. An organization founded to improve marksmanship, promote gun safety and encourage environmental conservation, today the NRA is arguably the most powerful interest group in the nation. Time and again, the NRA has marginalized gun violence cessation efforts on behalf of their gun manufacturer masters. Bogeymen such as Michael Bloomberg, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are catnip for eager buyers who believe that, at any moment, firearms and ammunition may no longer be for sale or, even worse, confiscated. Never mind that the Supreme Court and an overwhelming majority of Americans support gun ownership and do not support an outright ban on guns. NRA dogma teaches gun owners the Second Amendment is under threat and even the most modest concessions will lead society down the slippery slope toward a fictional 1930s-style German gun confiscation program.

In the real world, there is seemingly no end to the number of polls and statistics that indicate Americans support tighter restrictions on purchasing and possessing firearms. From universal background checks to regulating sales of certain firearms to increased mandatory waiting periods, pollsters, interest …   More

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Verse, CHORUS, Verse

The awful atrocities committed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on Valentine's Day stand out as the year's most wrenching national tragedy (so far). But they always say that every cloud has a silver lining, and the political story of the year, without question, has been the stirring response mustered by the survivors of that mass shooting, who rose up with one voice on behalf of their fallen classmates to do what no one really thought would be possible, under any circumstances: effect real, substantive change in the nation's gun laws, in the midst of an epochal election cycle.

There's been a cultural shift, as well, with America's youth motivated and acting to drive policies like never before. These activities are culminating, for the moment, with the March For Our Lives, being held on Saturday, March 24 in Washington, D.C., with satellite rallies scheduled for dozens of other cities around the nation, including right here in Jacksonville. Much like the Women's Marches of the last two years, these promise to be seminal events that further catalyze the so-called Resistance, while galvanizing a whole new generation of activists. Power To The People, and all that.

On the night before the march, there will be a number of poetry readings in the relevant cities, at which writers and laymen will raise their voices in defiance of this disturbing trend toward hyper-violence. These readings are being coordinated by 100 Thousand Poets for Change. The organization, founded eight years ago by Terri Carrion and Michael Rothenberg, runs as many as 500 events every year, in 100 countries around the globe.

Here in Northeast Florida, the locus of their focus is Babs' Lab in Riverside, the latest creative effort from the indispensable Ms. Barbara Colaciello-actress, director, teacher and general facilitator of the city's performing arts scene for two decades now. Colaciello is working in conjunction with the roving poet performers Bards & Brews, whose emcee, …   More

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The Perception of ANNIHILATION

For the past five years, modern cinema has seen a resurgence of the cerebral sci-fi. Science-fiction that can be thrilling, terrifying and thoughtful all at once. The survival of a stranded astronaut living on potatoes (The Martian), a linguist learning the nuances of alien language (Arrival) and a look into the dystopian future of sentient androids (Blade Runner 2049)-these films engage and stimulate us on a level we rarely acquire. They reach out, grab our attention and toss preconceived notions of what is, and what could be, to the wind. They create.

As part of this renaissance, writer/director Alex Garland is one of the leading minds. With his 2015 look into the future of artificial intelligence, Ex Machina, Garland set the tone for what science-fiction could be. And, with the premiere of Annihilation, Garland continues to push those same boundaries.

Based on Jeff VanderMeer's best-selling Southern Reach Trilogy, Annihilation puts Lena (Natalie Portman) on an expedition into the mysterious and misunderstood anomaly that has been labeled the Shimmer. In the wake of a catastrophic event, the Shimmer has encompassed an area of coastline and surrounding swampland, constructing an iridescent border around itself. Left under the control and guard of a governmental shadow organization, led by psychologist Dr. Ventress (Jennifer Jason Leigh), the Shimmer-and the world now contained inside of it-have become the subjects of investigation, experimentation and conspiracy, being labeled as "environmental disasters" and quarantined off from the rest of the unsuspecting world.

As experimentation and exploration of the anomaly continue, one thing becomes clear: If you go in, there's no coming out. That is, until lone expedition member Kane (Oscar Isaac) returns home without the knowledge of those guarding the border or his wife, Lena. With Kane seemingly wiped of all memory and now afflicted and dying of an unknown sickness, Kane and Lena are swept up by the …   More

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Jacksonville Pastor Calls for a Fast to Fight GUN Violence

In response to American gun violence and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting in Parkland, Jacksonville's Reverend Ken Jones, who hosts "Truth is Holy" on 91.7 FM, has called for a 72-hour fast. He's encouraged listeners to his show and anyone who'd like to join in the fast, which began Tuesday at 7 a.m. and will end Friday morning, to participate.

Fasting, Jones says, is about "denying the flesh" in order to "feed the spirit."

"When I am spiritually strong inside, I can bear the infirmities of the weak," Jones says.

Jones bases his call for a fast on Biblical precedent. In the Old Testament, Jones says, "Esther called for a fast and saved a whole nation from annihilation."

Jones also says he predicted the Parkland shooting on his radio show two days before it happened

"It's prophetic, because I said we got to do something to address this violence, I said it on my show on the 12th, and this shooting occurred on the 14th. I ask God, 'What are you trying to tell people?'" he says.

He doesn't call himself a prophet, but says his mother did before she passed away a few years ago.

Asked why mass shootings have become an integral part of the American landscape, Jones says, "People in America feel a very heightened anxiety. The average person who owns a gun does not just have one gun. People who own guns have 15, 20, 30 guns."

According to a BBC story, the day after the Parkland shooting, American civilians own more than 270 million guns, far more than any other country, per capita, on the planet. The Guardian reported in November that just three percent of Americans own 133 million guns.

Meanwhile, The New York Times pointed out in June 2016 that people in England were only as likely to die from gunfire as Americans were from falling off a ladder (about one in a million), the Japanese as likely to die from a gunshot as Americans from lightning-approximately one in 10 million.

Nations with strong gun laws have low rates of …   More

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GRIOT Emeritus

It's been 40 years now since Wyclef Jean and his family emigrated here from his native Haiti, going from Croix-des-Bouquets to Brooklyn in the late 1970s. He arrived there as a child, at a time when New York City was going through musical shifts that would quickly spread around the world. Punk rock and disco were just beginning to yield market share to the first generation of rappers and DJs; within 15 years, he and his friends would themselves be central players in that scene, and today he's regarded as an elder statesman, looking outward to new musical ventures.

One of these ventures occurs on Saturday night, March 10, when Wyclef Jean performs at Daily's Place, in collaboration with the Jacksonville Symphony. Conductor Courtney Lewis will lead the musicians in support as Wyclef runs the gamut of his vast musical output. The three-time Grammy winner released his ninth and 10th solo albums last year, including Carnival III: The Fall and Rise of a Refugee.

Wyclef Jean is best known, of course, as a member of the Fugees, among the best-selling rap groups of all-time, two decades after their commercial peak, moving at least 22 million units since 1996. He is also remembered for his highly controversial candidacy for president of Haiti in 2010, which began and ended under somewhat bizarre circumstances and occurred in response to the catastrophic earthquake there in January of that year, one of the most deadly natural disasters in human history. Jean remains highly active in the internal politics of his homeland. He exchanged emails with Folio Weekly recently.

You are known for ripping many, many mics on the daily. But exactly how many mics? Is there a set number of mics to be ripped on the daily, or does it change depending on your schedule?

Well, the idea of ripping mics on the daily is a penmanship exercise of rhyming where we write 16 bars a day at least. So, all the way up to today, every day, I have 16 bars in my head of new content.

Have you …   More

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LOVE Your Library

In the ever-evolving age of technology society now finds itself, it is important to remember why it all began: a need for communication. If you want to get technical, perhaps you could say it was the cave paintings of our Neanderthal ancestors or the great Rosetta Stone of Ptolemy that brought us language, and you would be absolutely correct. But, for most of what we consider modern history, it boils down to one thing: paper. Roll it up and call it a scroll, or bind it with leather and call it a book. Walking into a library or bookstore is akin to entering a temple or cathedral, lets us experience the  the peak of nostalgia. An almost reverential silence is palpable, and the familiar scent of paper-from magazines, books, newspapers, comics, 'zines-hits, opening a floodgate of memories. We figuratively (or literally, truth be told) embrace the volumes as if we're greeting old friends.

Paper by itself can't do much, but add some ideas, a lot of words, a few characters and a plot, then you have a story. Whether you're recording the inner workings of an atom, playing out a drama set in the Antebellum South or thrilling with the tale of a lone astronaut living off nothing but potatoes on Mars-thanks for that one, Andy Weir-it's important to remember that for every one of these stories, there's a reader, an audience.

Technology is great, fantastic even. If you want, you can buy and sell books on Amazon or browse the selection of books at the local library, all from the comfort of your couch and Slanket. But there really isn't anything else like crossing the threshold of an actual library. Forgive the romanticism and cliché, but a trip to the library is probably the cheapest vacation you can take. For nothing but the fact that you have a "local" address, you have instantaneous access to the minds and thoughts of thousands-if not millions-of people who decided that knowledge and creativity are worth being recorded in the lexicon of human …   More

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Black Panther = Black EXCELLENCE

 

Black Panther showed the importance of fatherhood, strong women, individual and collective identity, responsibility to help others and the need for leaders to rise to the challenge while thinking of the good of all.

As I walked into the theater with my daughter, I didn't know what to expect. I read the Time magazine article about the film, which left me intrigued by the direction of the movie. The article spoke about the Black Panther character's birth during the Civil Rights Era. Also, the variety of roles the majority black cast could shed light on what it's like to be black not only in America but the world, and how those perspectives can be very different based on birthplace and exposure. I expected hidden gems mixed with subtle revelations to be present. In the scene where M'Baku (Winston Duke) challenged T'Challa, the Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) for his throne, hearing the phrase "Show him who you are!" made me sit on the edge of my seat; the line was razor-sharp, cutting the tension. The throne of Wakanda was T'Challa's birthright, and everyone knew it.

Just then, I looked at my daughter. Her eyes were glued to the screen, while my thoughts lingered between the past, present and future. On a regular basis, I tell her who she is, followed by an always remember knowing there will be times when life will challenge her knowledge of self. At those times, she'll have to rely on what I've put inside of her. Identity is crucially important in the development of anything, even more so in the rearing of a child.

There's responsibility in the self-realization, too: After recognizing who you are and what you've been called to do, it's equally essential to walk in the full authority of your role.

"Stand up, you're a king!"

How many times have we waited for someone else to permit us to walk in an authority that we've already acquired? Leadership roles are often coveted and criticized. But leadership comes with responsibility, and it helps to …   More

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Bill sows seeds of discord between Nassau County and Rayonier

A dispute between Nassau County and Rayonier, the largest local property owner, over a land use agreement within a 24,000-acre development site known as the East Nassau Community Planning Area, which stretches from A1A in Yulee to the state line, is being waged in Tallahassee, where lawmakers decided Tuesday to give round one to the local government with a decision by the Appropriations Committee to strike language from proposed legislation that officials maintained would have shifted the financial obligation for funding parks and recreation from the developer to local taxpayers at an estimated cost of $25 million to $50 million.

State Senator Aaron Bean, a Republican who represents Nassau and part of Duval counties, filed the amendment to change the bill after being lobbied by County Commissioners who traveled to the state capitol last week and this week to petition lawmakers about a "very bad" public policy.

While Bean was able to persuade his colleagues to change the bill, he recognized in remarks that the dispute had soured the Public Private Partnership and he'd be "buying fancy coffee" to help broker a peace treaty between local government and Rayonier.

"No one likes to put their dirty laundry out for everybody to see," said Bean.

Today the state House of Representatives is scheduled to hear companion bill HB 697. Representative Cord Byrd, a Republication from Neptune Beach who represents Nassau County, filed an amendment to delete language that, officials maintained, would relieve Rayonier from funding requirements for recreation. He, too, was lobbied by commissioners to make the change.

County Attorney Michael Mullin, who spoke to the committee from the public podium, according to a live stream of the discussion on the state senate website (flsenate.gov) and insisted that Rayonier, through its subsidiary Raydient Places + Properties, slipped language into the bill that would have "eviscerated" the local agreement that was years in the …   More