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THE SPECKTATOR

With my football knowledge limited to recognizing little more than a touchdown is worth six points and Tim Tebow looks better with his shirt off, I'm certainly not qualified to say whether or not the Jaguars new uniforms will help them play better. And considering my closet is filled with Oscar the Grouch T-shirts and Old Navy flip-flops, I really don't have any business offering my opinion on how the uniforms look either. 

But here are my observations anyway about today's unveiling of the 2013 uniforms.

1. The uniforms are black. Again. But this year, the jerseys use a pointy font!

2. Apparently, the designers are fans of Bob Mackie as the uniforms also feature "over-the-shoulder details" and "embellishments down the leg."

3. That said, I have to give credit to Nike Creative Director Todd Van Horne for keeping a straight face while describing the uniforms, especially when using phrases such as "claw-inspired" and "speed stripe." He also described the helmet as the "crown jewel" of the new look without so much as cracking a smile. 

4. Clearly the new gloves were designed specifically for Blaine Gabbert. Putting the Jags logo on the palms is a much more subtle way of helping him find a receiver than "Throw the ball here, Blaine!" with a big fat bullseye.

5. According to the new logo identity, we are now the "Jags," which is actually a good thing since half of the people who live here can't pronounce "jaguars" anyway.

6. When asked about his thoughts on the new uniform, Justin Blackmon referred to the new logo identity placed over the heart in homage to the fans: "...the patch right there on the right, over the heart." Uh, Justin, your heart is on your left, not your right, unless, of course, you meant stage right. 

But don't let my thoughts influence you. Check out the the entire press conference and photos for yourself (or just forward to 4:42 to hear Blackmon prove …   More

THE SPECKTATOR

At some point during your residency in Northeast Florida, you've probably marveled at works by famous and upcoming artists at the Museum of Contemporary Art or oohed and aahed at dinosaur exhibits and planetarium shows at the Museum of Science and History. But have you come face to face with a 2,400-year old rug made out of cat hair — that is cursed? Or learned how to properly load gun powder into a Civil War-era musket? 

Didn't think so. Which is why I sought out some lesser-known museums in the area that may prove to be just as educational—and entertaining—to you and your family. And some even have gift shops!

Amelia Island Museum of History, Fernandina Beach

Mission: "To bring alive and preserve the area's rich history, from Timucua Native American tribe to Spanish and French explorers, from the lawless spirit of pirates to the dignified air of Victorian-era residents..." 

Permanent exhibits: Civil War and the Florida Railroad, Spanish missions of La Florida, Timucuan Village 

What you might learn: David Levy Yulee, an Amelia Island lawyer, was Florida's first U.S. senator and the country's first Jewish senator

Beaches Museum and History Park, Jacksonville Beach

Mission: "Dedicated solely to preserving the history and heritage of Florida's First Coast beach communities including Mayport, Atlantic, Neptune, Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra beaches and historic Palm Coast"

Permanent exhibits: a 28-ton 1911 steam locomotive, the Heritage Garden and extensive photo archives

What you might learn: Some historians believe the first permanent, year-round Native American settlement in North America was located in the area now known as Atlantic Beach in 3570 BCE

Florida Agriculture Museum, Palm Coast

Mission: "Preserving Florida's agricultural past and [encouraging] conservation of heritage livestock including rare Florida Cracker cattle and horses"

Permanent exhibits: original …   More

THE SPECKTATOR

For a month, Public Defender Fourth Judicial Circuit Matt Shirk's name has been in the local press almost as many times as Miley Cyrus' (coincidentally, both earned their headlines for making asses of themselves). An investigation conducted by The Florida Times-Union uncovered allegations of questionable hiring and firing practices, inappropriate email exchanges with female employees and the consumption of alcohol in his office, not to mention “Showergate" and "Badge-gate," all of which are currently under investigation by a special prosecutor appointed by Gov. Rick Scott.

But personal and career implications aside, Shirk may have financial woes to contend with were he to lose (or resign from) his position. According to a jacksonville.com database using information provided to the Florida Commission on Ethics, Shirk’s net worth is the fourth lowest of the 184 public officials, including judges, city council members, sheriffs and school board members from Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns counties.

Here are some of the more interesting financial tidbits I found while spending way too much time searching for familiar names...

Public officials with the lowest net worth 

Jesse Davis, Baker County School Board: ($700,000)

Terry Wright, Putnam County School Board: ($63,768)

*Charles Van Zant, Clay County School Board: ($11,480)

Matt Shirk, Public Defender Fourth Circuit: $13,676

*Mark Miner, St. Johns County Commissioner: $14,381

Public officials with the highest net worth 

*W.C. Gentry, Duval County School Board: $32,194,174

Lori Boyer, Jacksonville City Council, $8,837,916  

Fred Lee, Duval County School Board: $7,435,254 

John Thrasher, Florida Senate: $6,820,548 

John "Jay" Morris St. Johns County Commissioner $4,739,754 

Etc.

48 officials of the 184 in the database are worth more than $1 …   More

THE SPECKTATOR

No sooner than the winners of Folio Weekly's Best of Jax 2013 are declared, then the grousing starts.

"Their food sucks." "That place is lame." "She's an idiot." No doubt, readers all over Northeast Florida are bitching that their favorite restaurant/bar/wacko didn't win (and what do you want to bet 75 percent of those doing the complaining didn't even vote?). 

I, for one, don't agree with all of the winners (if you can call being named "Best Wacko" winning), which is why I've created my own Best of Jax awards. Realizing that we are entitled to our opinions, I'm not disagreeing with voters, per se. Instead, I have taken the existing categories and put my own twist on them, allowing me to recognize my own favorites—without insulting other readers.

Local Hero ... Who Not Only Isn't a Billionaire but Doesn't Even Get Paid for His Valiant Efforts to Make Jacksonville a Better Place

Mike Field, co-founder of Jax Truckies (winner of Best Local Trend and Best Facebook page in the Best of Jax 2013 poll) and Jax Cash Mob

Local Zero ... Excitement 

Jacksonville Jaguars

Local Wacko(s) ... on Twitter

NAME(S) REDACTED (um, hello ... they're wackos ... do you think I'm actually going to name them?)

Best TV Morning Show ...That Aired the Night Before But I Record It and Don’t Watch Until the Next Morning So It’s Technically a “TV Morning Show” to Me

“Project Runway”

Best B&B in Jacksonville ... and by “B&B” I Mean “Bread and Butter”

Orsay

Best Bartender ... Who Shares My Last Name

Billy Speckman at European Street Cafe, Riverside

Best DJ ... Who Actually Plays My Song Requests 

DJ Chill Will 

Best Bookstore ... for People Too Lazy to Drive to a Bookstore and/or Who Like to Shop at 4 a.m.

Amazon.com

Best Facebook Page ... for Posts About Real Life That Will Make You LOLOLOLOL

Tie: Amy Lee and …   More

THE SPECKTATOR

National Hug Week is over, and my personal quest to hug it out was a success. I didn't keep an official tally, but I'd say I averaged 10 embraces a day, which, according to the Hug for Health Foundation's daily hug prescription, puts me well on my way toward personal "growth."

In all honesty, it wasn't that difficult for me as I consider myself a "hugger" anyway. That's not to say, however, the holiday was without challenges, like having to hug folks with garlic hummus breath or funky-smelling dreadlocks (which I did). And then there were the people who stayed in the embrace so long it became awkward. Or the guy who said, "That wasn't a real hug!" then came at me full-frontal for a more satisfying one. (Looking on the bright side: If it weren't for these experiences, I might never have realized that "hug" is an anagram for "ugh.")

The fact that National Hug Week coincided with The Players Championship was a major bonus for a stalker such as myself since it gave me a legitimate reason to hug Adam Scott, Luke Donald and Jonas Blixt. Unfortunately, they were out of arms reach — literally — all week, so I had to fill my celebrity creeper quota by hugging other athletes, a country music star and local media personalities (check the photo gallery above).

More than anything, National Hug Week made me more aware of hugging the people I should be hugging every time I see them: my friends. Up until this week, the friends I see the most are the ones I hug the least, probably because I see them all the time. Because of this experience, I'll hug the people who mean the most to me the most.

And I promise my cats, Fonzie Ann Mildred and Puddy Frederick Renaire, that I will do my best to hug them less. As you can see in the photo gallery, they're not big fans.   More

THE SPECKTATOR

Watching the little ones return to school this month, I can’t help but think back to when I was in grade school. I loved almost everything about school with the exception of math, mainly because I am terrible with numbers. 

My best (and favorite) subject was spelling, which is pretty convenient given my career choice—but also incredibly frustrating when I repeatedly see words misspelled around town. Here, then, are the 10 most important people, places and things every Northeast Florida resident should know how to spell.

• Mathews Bridge: The bridge which connects Arlington and Downtown was named for John E. Mathews, a Florida legislator 1956-1970. He spelled his name with one "t," and that's the way you should spell the name of the bridge. And he doesn't own it either, so leave the apostrophe out.

• Philips Highway: It's not totally your fault if you spell it with two "L's" since some street signs and maps are still spelled wrong due to an error made decades ago on a post office zone map. The family of Duval County Judge Henry Bethune Philips for whom the road was named have been fighting to get signs corrected for years, but some "double L" versions remain, which only confuses residents further.

• Prime Osborn Convention Center: Built in 1919 as a railroad station, the building was converted into a 265,000-square-foot convention center in the mid 1980s. It was named for Prime F. Osborn (no "E," thank you very much) III, former chairman of CSX.

• St. Johns River: The river does not belong to St. John, therefore, it does not need an apostrophe. Likewise, don't put one in St. Johns County, St. Johns Bluff, St. Johns River City Band or St. Johns Town Center.

• Lynyrd Skynyrd: There's really no logical explanation as to the spelling other than it's a bastardization of the name of some band members' high school gym teacher, Leonard Skinner, who gave long-haired male students a hard time. In other news, The …   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

Lynyrd Skynyrd and Limp Bizkit formed in Jacksonville—albeit decades apart—and became extremely successful in their own genres including appearances on RIAA's top 100 albums. On April 27 and 28, the iconic bands will return to their hometown to perform as part of Welcome to Rockville at Metropolitan Park. But that, dear readers, is not where the comparisons between the long-haired, good ol’ boys who introduced the world to Southern rock and the angry young men with tattoos who pioneered nü metal end.

In addition to the run-ins with the law, reports of drug and alcohol abuse, and breakup/reunion/breakups that go hand in hand with the business rock and roll, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Limp Bizkit have more than a few not so obvious similarities.

1. Both have been referenced in "Weird Al" Yankovic songs: Limp Bizkit in "Angry White Boy Polka" and Lynyrd Skynyrd in "Trapped in the Drive-Thru."

2. Each had a member involved in a public sex scandal. I'll let you Google those stories for yourselves. I don't need that kind of stuff showing up on my search history.

3. They've recorded songs that are long enough for a DJ to make a bathroom run and squeeze in a catnap—assuming, of course, radio stations still employed actual DJs who actually selected and played actual songs anymore. The original recording of "Freebird" clocked in at 9 minutes, 22 seconds, though, with live versions nearing 15 minutes; Limp Bizkit's "Everything" is even longer: 16 minutes, 26 seconds.

4. Both were part of tragic accidents during their heyday. A teenager was crushed to death at a Limp Bizkit concert in Australia in 2002. In 1977, a plane crash in a wooded area in Mississippi killed Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines, Cassie Gaines and assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick. Other band members and crew suffered serious injuries.

5. If name meanings are to be believed, Fred Durst and the late Ronnie Van Zant were destined to be lead …   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

Having watched "The Bachelor" since its debut in 2002 (feel free to judge—unless you watch "Dance Moms" or "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo"), I think the latest season was the most boring ever. The tedium did serve a purpose, though, since it gave me time to re-imagine the show with local personalities handing out the roses.

From a musician to a chef, an NFL player to a news anchor, the eight bachelors* in the above photo gallery are my local candidates for "The Bachelor" season 18. As you will see, not every one of them was selected based on their looks (how many of them would you like to see in the show's frequent "shirtless bachelor working out or running down the beach" scenes?) or accomplishments (one of them isn't even old enough to have a driver license ... guess his dates' parents would have to drive the convertible Ferrari). But each has a certain something that would make it a show worth watching.

* Disclaimer: To the best of my knowledge, each of these gentleman is a true bachelor (i.e., not legally married), a "fact" that I researched on the Internet and/or by texting friends of friends of people who might know them. In the event that any of them is married, I apologize profusely to the gentleman in question, his wife, his family and potential bachelorettes.   More

 
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What was the 'Best Scandal' in Northeast Florida over the past year?
The Best of Jax ballot released on July 30 will ask this question and many more