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THE SPECKTATOR

Christmas is next week; so is Kwanzaa. As a rule, I avoid participating in major holidays (I’m counting the days until National Grilled Cheese Day, though). But that doesn’t mean I don’t imagine the presents I would give. Here, then, are some gifts I would hand out to some well-known locals and businesses. I mean, it’s the thought that counts, right?

Mayor Alvin Brown: I can’t decide which he needs more, a thesaurus or a sense of humor

 

Mrs. Mayor Alvin Brown: what does one get an invisible woman?

 

Fred Durst: a trip in a time machine back to 1999 when anyone actually cared about Limp Bizkit

 

Blood Alliance: as much A-negative blood as they need so they can stop stalking me 

 

Capt. Sorensen of Firehouse Subs: a restraining order against me 

 

Public Defender Matt Shirk: a good divorce attorney, preferably one who has never worked at Whisky River and doesn't like to take showers

 

Jaguars QB Blaine Gabbert: a one-way ticket ... anywhere, really

 

Grandpa’s Cough Medicine: a night off (seriously, do these guys play every event in town or what?)

 

Times-Union restaurant writer Gary T. Mills: a year of home pest control service because having to write about roaches is bad enough

 

Riverside Publix: a parking lot that does not promote grocery shopping rage

PGA player Jim Furyk: a mulligan for his closest-to-the-pin loss to Jaxson de Ville at a recent  Jags halftime event (though, as a high-ranking member of #TeamFuryk, I like to think Jimmy did it on purpose just so everyone at the game could get a free order of Papa John's cheesesticks)

 

Action News sports anchor Dan Hicken: a ladder to come down from his pedestal

Musician J. Dash: a major recording contract, Grammy Award and official fan club that I can be president of

U.S. Rep. Corinne Brown: a hat, duh

And finally to downstairs neighbors: heavy-duty earplugs (unfortunately, Bose Noise Cancelling …   More

THE SPECKTATOR

‘Tis the season to camp out in front of “big-box stores,” get into fist fights with strangers over the last [insert product here that might get you a black eye … but you’ll save 25 bucks!] and refrain from strangling employees who don’t know anything about what they are selling—and, quite frankly, don’t care. The good news is it doesn’t have to be that way.

Buying local (or “GoLo” as its known) eliminates the mass hysteria, risk of bodily harm and apathetic employees associated with shopping at national chains. Plus, it keeps more money in Jacksonville: for every $100 spent at a local business, $68 stays in the city through payroll and taxes; the same $100, when spend at a national chain, returns only $29 to the community. Not to mention, the fact that “indie” businesses make Jacksonville a more interesting place.

We asked readers to submit their favorite local businesses, and we were so overwhelmed, we had to break the list into two part. Part one is retail stores (all busisness are located in Jacksonville unless otherwise noted).

So this year, make a commitment to turn ho-ho-ho into lo-lo-lo! And if you favorite isn't on the list, share it in the comment section.

1st Place Sports

Annabelle's, Orange Park  

Aqua East, Neptune Beach and St. Augustine Beach

The Art Center Cooperative

Ashes' Boutique, Jacksonville Beach

Avondale Artworks

Avondale Gift Boutique

Avonlea Antique Mall

Beachside, Jacksonville Beach

Bead Here Now

Beau Outfitters 

Bob Ham Eyewear

The Book Nook

The Bookmark, Neptune Beach

Boutique Unique, Neptune Beach

Carla Shoes and Accessories, Ponte Vedra Beach

Chamblin's Bookmine

Chamblin's Uptown

Charm

CoRK Arts District

Corse Gallery & Atelier

Cottage by the Seaside Shoppes, Jacksonville Beach

Cowford Traders

Design Additions

Edge City

Espling Jewelry

First Street …   More

THE SPECKTATOR

Here's something you won't hear about from Visit Jacksonville: Of the 50 largest metro areas in the U.S., Jacksonville is ranked 37th in health and fitness, according to the American College of Sports Medicine's American Fitness Index.

Despite a higher percentage of city parks, public playgrounds and recreation centers than "healthier" cities, Jacksonville has a significant number of "improvement priority areas" including the incidence of obesity, asthma and coronary heart disease, number of smokers and death rate for diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The I'm a Star Foundation is one local organization that is not taking this news sitting down-literally or figuratively. In support of its mission to empower young people to become solution-oriented leaders, I'm a Star Foundation hosts Let's Move Jacksonville December 8 at A. Phillip Randolph Heritage Park. In addition to free healthy snacks, exercise tips, workshops and live entertainment, the event features an attempt at the World's Largest Flash Dance record with the "I'm a Star Slide." Participants of all ages can help "slide obsesity out of Duval" by learning the steps and coming to the event. Or just coming to the event.

Check out this video of the "I'm a Star Shuffle," then learn the steps below.

 

 

 

  More

THE SPECKTATOR

Between the non-stop Black Friday ads and premature Christmas displays, it's easy for folks who don't work at Hallmark shops to forget about Thanksgiving. While I try to avoid traditional holidays celebrations (which reminds me, check out my blog next week to read about my commemoration of America Recycles Day!), Thanksgiving is one of the few I even acknowledge.

Of course, there's the all day gorgefest that usually starts with eggs Benedict and home fries for breakfast and ends with a midnight trip to the kitchen for leftover turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes, but there's something to be said for a day that encourages us to be grateful.

I am most appreciative for my friends and family and my health. I am also thankful to call Jacksonville home. I dedicate this post to everyone who complains about living on the First Coast—and remind them that moving is always an option.

1. One of the biggest complaints about Jacksonville is there's nothing to do. Clearly, these people have never opened a Folio Weekly (have you seen our calendar of events?); visited Jax Events', Downtown Jacksonville's or Visit Jacksonville's websites; or (shameless plug alert!) listened to my weekly events wrap-up on WJCT's First Coast Connect. There's always something to do if folks would stop complaining and start paying attention.

2. How many times have you heard someone bitch about Jacksonville traffic? Clearly, these people have never been to Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, New York City or Boston. People in live in those cities know traffic. As a matter of comparison, D.C. commuters spend an average of 67 hours a year sitting in traffic, while Jacksonville drivers are idle for 11 hours a year. In fact, we are ranked 45th in traffic congestion in the country.

3. I've never understood why people grumble about the humidity in Florida. Sure, it's unpleasant to start sweating two seconds after you walk outside inthe summer, not to mention drive in a sauna on wheels. …   More

THE SPECKTATOR

In case you missed my ramblings on First Coast Connect on WJCT this morning, here’s what’s coming up this weekend and beyond—Around Town!

Thursday, Nov. 21

"Bad Seed," through Nov. 24, Limelight Theatre, St. Augustine 

The Kennedy Assassination at 50: The Enduring Mystery," 7 p.m., Mandarin Community Club 

Interfaith Thanksgiving, 6 p.m., Congregation Ahavath Chesed Temple 

Friday, Nov. 22

Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash, 8 p.m., Florida Theatre 

Saturday, Nov. 23

Zoolympics Run/Walk 5K, 8:30 a.m., Jacksonville Zoo 

Holiday Cookie Tour of Homes, noon–5 p.m., Amelia Island 

Intuition Ale Works Third Anniversary Celebration, noon–9 p.m., Intuition Ale Works

Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, 2 p.m., Microsoft Store, St. Johns Town Center (advance tickets required)

Riverside WineFest, 6–9 p.m., 5 Points

Cirque Dreams, 7:30 p.m., Florida Theatre

Misc.

Be a good neighbor and donate your gently-used sweaters, jackets and blankets to the Mister Rogers Neighborhood Sweater Drive through Nov. 30.

Yours truly rocks the mic on WJCT's First Coast Connect every Thursday around 9:45 a.m. Tune in. Look out.

If you have an event you would like to be considered for inclusion, email pertinent information to kspeckman@folioweekly.com.   More

THE SPECKTATOR

A local grassroots organization hopes to increase the number of women on the Jacksonville City Council in 2015 when nine seats open because of term limits. PBS NewsHour co-anchor and managing editor Judy Woodruff introduced the initiative called “9 to 15” at WJCT Studios earlier this month.

According to an article on WJCT.org, Woodruff said many women don’t choose to run because no one asks them or encourages them to run. I immediately thought of Audrey Moran, Nancy Soderberg and Deborah Gianoulis as contenders, but, as I am wont to do, I also came up with some not-so-obvious candidates to run as part of the Outside the Box Party (don’t worry, folks, I will not be throwing my ballcap into the ring). 

1. Ashley Greene: Granted, she's a big Hollywood star now, but the actress best known for playing Alice Cullen is a Jacksonville native, and by 2015 may be ready to pull an Arnold Schwarzenegger and run for political office. Her experience battling with vampires and werewolves, albeit fictional ones, more than qualifies her to handle unruly council members.

2. @kristinbcb: As the first female member of the Bold City Brigade, she has proven she can go toe-to-toe with the guys and, as a rabid Jaguars supporter, she has tenacity, loyalty and vision. And based on her Twitter post, she's not afraid to drop an "F" bomb which would make the minutes far more interesting to read.

3. The Dancing Lady in 5 Points: Few know her name but anyone who travels through 5 Points at lunchtime knows her moves. Kind of like a sign spinner without a sign, she promotes Larry's Giant Subs by getting her groove on with enough enthusiasm and sheer joy, she could make the most curmudgeonly member (you know who you are) crack a smile. Not to mention, she knows a thing or two about hams and turkeys. 

4. Rep. Corrine Brown: Of course, she would never step down from her fat paycheck and geting to hang with President Obama on Air …   More

THE SPECKTATOR

At a recent Duval County School Board meeting, the Jacksonville Progressive Coalition presented 1,600 surveys of which 92 percent of the individuals surveyed were in favor of changing the name of Nathan Bedford Forrest High School. I do not disagree with the idea, considering Forrest's unspeakable war crimes during the Civil War, including the execution of surrendered soldiers, and his post-war co-founding of the Ku Klux Klan. However, I would like to bring to your attention that Forrest High School isn't the only place in Jacksonville with a name that might be perceived as offensive.

bb's: The popular Southbank restaurant—with the drool-inducing dessert case—shares its initials with innocuous abbreviations like "bearded bro," "best buddy" and "bulletin board." But others found on Urban Dictionary ... are far less savory.

Burro Bar: “Burro” is a synonym for “ass," so Burro Bar = Ass Bar. 

Broad Street: While I personally don’t have a problem with it, the word “broad” is considered by some to be degrading to women. Some less offensive replacements might be: Lady Street, Gentlewoman Street or Female Street (that's "Femella," as you may have learned in Latin class, preferably not in a school named for a war criminal).

Felch Avenue: If you really want to know why "Felch" is a horrible name for a street, check out its definition on Urban Dictionary. Consider yourself warned. Seriously.

Jaxx Sports Sports Bar: Besides the fact that adding a second “X” to "Jax" serves no real purpose, Tristan Jaxx is the name of a gay porn star. He has an, ahem, lengthy filmography with titles including “Fleet Week,” "Best Men," “Endless Crush” and others not appropriate to repeat here.

Nero's: Nero was a Roman emperor. He also seduced married women and young boys, killed innocent people for no reason, castrated slaves ... oh, and murdered his mother. He's also …   More

THE SPECKTATOR

For 11 years, WJCT has honored the memory of Fred Rogers (aka Mister Rogers) by collecting gently-used sweaters, jackets and blankets for local residents in need. The Mister Rogers Neighborhood Sweater Drive runs through the month of November with donations  being accepted at WJCT Studios and all VyStar Credit Union and Two Men and a Truck locations.

Getting residents neighbors to donate the the Sweater Drive is the whole point of this blog post, so feel free to stop reading and begin collecting your donations if you have no interest in the remainder of this completely self-indulgent (yet educational) post. 

1. Pennsylvania: Mister Rogers was born in Latrobe (home of Latrobe Brewery, original brewer of Rolling Rock), and I was born in Aston.

2. Puppetry: Mister Rogers voiced many of the characters in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe including King Friday XIII, X the Owl, Daniel Striped Tiger and Lady Elaine Fairchilde. As a child, I had a Mickey Mouse ventriloquist dummy and performed at family functions until Mickey broke his neck (translation: the rubber band that attached his head to his body snapped). For the record, I am still trying to master the phrase: "Please pass me the butter" (sounds like "Hlease hass ee the utter").

3. Ministry: Fred Rogers earned his divinity degree from the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and was ordained by the Presbyterian church. I received my credentials of ministry from the Universal Life Church Monastery, a non-denominational ministry, via the Internet (I can legally perform marriages, by the way, if anyone is interested).

4. Cardigans: We both love cardigan sweaters, though, my mom didn't knit any of mine like his did (she did crochet some lovely afghans, however).

5. College: Fred and I graduated from small, private colleges in Florida (Rollins College and Jacksonville University, respectively).

6. Piano: Both of us took lessons as children (in my case, "took" means "was forced to").

7. …   More

THE SPECKTATOR

More so than most months, November has an abundance of holidays (one might even say “a cornucopia,” if one were clever enough to make the connection between the word and Thanksgiving, which just so happens to be in November).

Veterans Day is November 11, and the first day of Hanukkah falls on the 27th in 2013. November is recognized as “national awareness month” for lung cancer, Alzheimer's Disease, epilepsy, COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and pancreatic cancer, as well as the month of Sadie Hawkins Day and Black Friday. And who can forget, November 30 marks the end of hurricane season. Allegedly.

What you may not know is November also boasts a number of lesser-known holidays like Name Your PC Day, World Sponge Month, National Fig Week, Fill Our Staplers Day and National Bundt Pan Day.

While I don’t typically celebrate traditional holidays, I do have an affinity for these unusual ones. So in keeping with November also being the month of Election Day, I’m putting it to the readers of "Folio Weekly" to decide what holiday I should celebrate this month. 

The candidates are (in no particular order):

1. Cookie Monster Day: I will visit as many bakeries as possible, eating nothing but cookies all day—while wearing Cookie Monster gear (don't tell Oscar).

2. International Drum (Percussion) Month: I will take a lesson from a highly-respected instructor for as long as he will tolerate my lack of rhythm and/or coordination.

3. America Recycles Day: I will police the streets of my neighborhood (Riverside/Avondale) picking up garbage and recycling what is recyclable and properly disposing of what is not recyclable, as well as cataloging my collection of trash.

4. International Aura Awareness Day:  I will travel to the Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp and have my aura read—whatever that means.

5. World Toilet Day: I will work to raise awareness of the global sanitation challenge ... from my home office temporarily set up …   More

THE SPECKTATOR

Ten years ago, 30 Australian friends decided to do something to raise awareness and funding for men's health issues, including testicular cancer, prostate cancer and mental illness. Their bright idea was to start November clean shaven and grow (or attempt to) a moustache (or reasonable fascimile thereof) for 30 days. Serving as walking billboards to promote the cause, they would also raise money in the process.

Today, Movember has more than 1.1 million Mo Bros and Mo Sistas, their female supporters, around the world, including a local chapter (movemberjax.com). To help promote the cause locally, as well as recognize some of the city's most famous moustaches, I am officially announcing the Jacksonville Moustache Hall of Fame. From athletes and attorneys to politicians and a pussy cat, they wear their lip sweaters proudly—and most likely, without even realizing it—supporting the Movember cause year-round, while encouraging others to do the same.

To see the inaugural class of the Jacksonville Moustache Hall of Fame, click on the photo gallery above. And if I missed anyone, let me know if the comments section below.

As for me, I would love to support the Movember cause by growing a moustache of my own but am unable to do so (thanks to the invention of electrolysis). Instead, I have decided not to shave my legs for the entire month of November. I don't think my cats will mind.   More

 
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