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the flog

This is Fine: “Un-poetry” for the modern reader

Local author and owner of independent publishing house Broken Sword Publications Santino Rivera is back in the saddle again. His newest book, This is Fine, is a compilation of his poetry spanning the six years from 2011 to 2017, celebrating his love/hate relationship with the craft in his own self-proclaimed style of "un-poetry." Sometimes irreverent and always unconventional, Rivera spews thought onto paper in a way that he hopes will make his poetry palatable to even those who hate poetry-including him.

Rivera's relationship with poetry-loathing is succinctly explained in the book's intro, where he writes, "If Rodney Dangerfield were still alive, even he would get more respect than most poets. If someone asked what 100 poets on the bottom of the sea floor was, the overwhelming response would be: a good start. Save the lawyers, kill the poets, that's most people's motto."

Rivera even goes so far as to say that this may be his last foray into poetry. Yet for someone who seems to loathe something so much, Rivera doesn't seem to have lost much steam over those six years. A writer will always write. As Rivera continued in the intro, "Contrary to popular belief, poetry is an affliction, not a talent... I tried to quit poetry many times over the course of the past couple of decades, but it never took."

What started off as Denver street poetry during college--going around with a mobile PA system in the car doing free-verse spoken word at traffic lights--morphed into a career as a journalist with an independent newspaper he co-founded. After growing tired of covering committee meetings and local softball games, Rivera pulled up his roots to begin a career as an EMT/firefighter shortly after 9/11-writing poems and stories in the back of the ambulance between calls-which later morphed into his present life as an independent author/publisher.

This makes for what one might call a wealth of experiences--all of which he draws from in his work--and makes for an …   More

the flog

EXCLUSIVE: Folio Weekly Interviews @SanMarcoTrain

Since joining Twitter in April, San Marco Train has earned the ire of an audience far from the standstill in San Marco. No matter how slowly it moves, San Marco Train seems to beat Northeast Floridians to the crossing all the livelong day. The list of locals who have succumbed to the loquacious locomotive is as long as the 5 o'clock train.

As Folio Weekly owns the right-of-way to irreverence in the 904, and San Marco Train has parked its "resplendent"-its word, not ours-caboose right in the middle of our turf, we monitored the situation from a safe distance on the Northbank, where the Train could not keep us from press conferences, laser light shows and handbell choir performances. For a time, we were content to watch from the roadside as the Train inched ever so slowly into the collective view. Truth be told, some of us delighted in the audacity of the "Train: Make America Late Again @SanMarcoTrain #MALA" signs placed at its infamous crossings, and took a perverse sort of pleasure in the Twitter battles inspired by the forced stillness which characterizes trips to San Marco.

But eventually we reached an impasse. First the Train declared war on FW, accusing us of the theft of its signs and of owning Scarface posters. Then it came after the editor. This was a bridge too far. The crossing had come down. We could no longer idle silently as the Train delighted in making the people of San Marco miss meetings, lunch dates, birthdays, kickoffs, colonoscopies, happy hours and children's recitals. It was time for action.

Utilizing sleuthing skills honed over years covering sneaks, cheats and, slipperiest of all, hipsters, we tracked down the Train wreaking truancy across San Marco and beyond. The Train was at once receptive and evasive. Patience paid off and the Train permitted our inspection of its machinations on the condition that we not disclose the location of the interview. We can say that it was conducted during rush hour somewhere along its daily …   More

the flog

Is a Local Christian School Publicly Supporting Accused Sexual Predator Roy Moore?

The letterboard sign outside a local Christian school reportedly reads, "God Bless Judge Roy Moore/Give Him the Victory." An alert reader sent the above photo to Folio Weekly via email this morning, stating that it was taken at the Conservative Christian Academy on Old St. Augustine Road in Mandarin.

Republican Roy Moore is running for U.S. Senate in Alabama. Moore's campaign has recently become mired with accusations that he preyed on teen girls in the 70s and 80s, when he was a prosecutor in his 30s.

The Washington Post reports that the youngest alleged victim, Leigh Corfman, now 53, claims that Moore engaged in sexual conduct with her, including removing her pants and shirt and touching her genitals over her underwear, in 1979 when she was 14 years old. Moore was 32 at the time. Three other women, whose ages ranged from 16 to 18 at the time of the alleged encounters, told the Post that Moore took them on dates around the same time frame, but that it went no further than kissing.

When the story broke earlier this month, 70-year-old Moore told the Post, "These allegations are completely false and are a desperate political attack by the National Democrat Party and the Washington Post on this campaign."

Additional women have come forward in the weeks since the Post published its initial report. This morning, the Today show reported that a total of nine women have accused Moore of sexual assault. There have also been reports that Moore was banned from the mall in Gadsden, Alabama (his hometown) for preying on young girls. Moore has repeatedly denied all allegations.

A man who answered the phone at the Conservative Christian Academy, who did not identify himself, said he does not know what the sign currently says. He told Folio Weekly that the sign is changed every Monday morning, and its content is a "mutual decision" by the ministry. He said that there are "various ministries" at the facility, but declined to say who specifically decides …   More

Slow, STRANGE, and Computer-Driven

Troy Eittreim considers himself a painter and a collagist. He uses Photoshop to create his work, adding images and marks layer by layer, into one smooth surface within an unified image. His work is currently on display at Florida State College at Jacksonville’s Downtown campus in a solo show, A Strange Journey.

The journey might’ve been strange, but it certainly wasn’t speedy.

In 1991, a friend presented Eittreim, a formally educated painter and illustrator, with a gift that, a decade later, would drastically alter his artistic process. That gift was a disc, and on that disc was a copy of Adobe Photoshop. The graphics editor software was new to the market, having been published in 1990. Computers themselves were also still relatively new to the market and not yet viewed as an item with a practical use in private homes.

Eittreim is an alumnus of Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). He graduated from the college in 1989 with a BFA in Painting and Illustration and a minor in Art History. Even in the late ’80s, and despite SCAD being the progressive school it is, Eittreim had only one course in computer art.

His introduction to Photoshop wasn’t entirely memorable. After the software was loaded to his computer, his friend gave him a basic tutorial. And Eittreim was lost once he was left to his own devices. He dabbled with the program’s tools, drawing shapes, filling them in, and then erasing them.

Eittreim continued to focus on painting and didn’t open Photoshop again until 1994 when his curiosity led him back to the software. There was something about the process that he found intriguing. It posed a challenge, something new and more difficult for him than traditional painting and analog processes. He developed a better understanding of the program, and advanced his digital editing skills. But, still dissatisfied with the results, he returned to painting.

In a post-Y2K world, Eittreim again returned …   More

the flog

Faith Leaders: Republican Tax Reform Bill is ‘Immoral,’ ‘Attack on American Families’

A group of local clergy and concerned citizens gathered in the unseasonable heat in Hemming Park this morning at a press conference organized to call upon Senators Marco Rubio and Bill Nelson to reject the proposed tax plan. The senate is expected to vote on the bill later this week.

Standing across the street from Rubio's Jacksonville office, they decried the Republican-drafted tax reform plan for benefiting the wealthy and harming lower-income Americans-particularly minorities, children, the elderly and working families-for raising the national deficit, and taking healthcare coverage from millions.

"[This plan] gives the richest 1 percent and corporations a huge tax cut ... it cuts the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 and eliminates estate tax that really only benefits people like our president," said Joey McKinnon of Faith in Public Life, the multidenominational faith group that organized the press conference.

Mt. Olive Primitive Baptist Church Pastor Lee Harris, also of African Americans Ministers Leadership Council, said that the tax reform bill will be particularly harmful to African Americans and other people of color. He said it is "at best" a reincarnation of the trickle-down economics of the 1980s, which "never worked."

"At worst, it is a kind of neo-slavery ... either way, it is something that people of color cannot afford," he said.

Pastor Harris believes that the bill will bring back elements of "putrid ideas" such as sharecropping, housing and economic discrimination, and gaps in wealth and health. He said that while the plan may at first seem palatable, just like the old adage about putting a frog in cold water and slowly turning the heat up until it boils, the changes to the tax code will gradually harm Americans until it is too late.

He rattled off a series of ways in which the plan will impact black America, including reducing Medicaid by $5.3 trillion over 10 years, triggering $400 billion in Medicare cuts in a …   More

THE FLOG

FOR THE PEOPLE? MAYBE.

Attorney John Morgan has been teasing a potential run for the governorship of Florida pretty much all year. The specter of his candidacy has been tantalizing for progressive Democrats who saw his deep pockets and shallow policy agenda as an ideal alternative to politics-as-usual; many considered him the party's best chance of reclaiming a spot they've not held in 20 years. The architect and chief financier of last year's successful medical marijuana vote was even touted by folks as diverse as Snoop Dogg and Roger Stone, which in retrospect could have hinted at shenanigans to come.

While candidates on both sides were steadily stacking paper and building on their bonafides, Morgan deftly danced around the issue like a b-boy on bath salts. Actually, it's been more like a classic fan dance, albeit with much bigger fans. He shows them a little, then pulls back, smiling amidst a chorus of wolf-whistles, while liberal eyes bug out, their tongues wagging like a Tex Avery cartoon. In this case, however, the full reveal was not to be, as Morgan used his Black Friday to darken the mood by declaring that he would not stand for office in 2018-maybe. Always with the maybes, this guy.

Much like the president, Morgan chose Twitter as the ideal vehicle for breaking hearts on a mass scale by not only quashing hopes for his campaign (maybe), but also launching a fusillade of verbal bombs against the state's Democratic party, which is already under siege following the resignations of Stephen Bittel and Sally Boynton Brown. These losses left the party undermanned and underfunded as it enters an epochal 2018 race that will define Florida politics for the next decade, maybe.

Morgan went a step further, though, by suggesting that Bill Nelson essentially concede his place in the Senate to current governor Rick Scott and put his energy into running for governor himself, which would torpedo the chances of actual candidates like Gwen Graham, Andrew Gillum and Chris King. "In the …   More

the flog

SHORTCHANGED

Governor Scott claimed "record spending" for education in Florida when he signed last year's (2017-'18) state budget, and he's claiming he's proposed "record spending" for next year, as well.

"We're going to have historic funding, for the sixth year in a row, for our education system across this state," Gov. Scott said Nov. 14 at his appearance at Northern Tool Company, where he was stumping for his next, and last, budget.

Are we really making "record investments" in K-12 education in Florida?

The answer depends on whether we are looking at "nominal dollars" or "real dollars." Nominally speaking, it's true that both the aggregate education budget and per pupil spending figures for 2017-'18 are bigger than the previous year's numbers. News reports indicate that the budget Gov. Scott signed on June 26 includes $100 more per student, bringing the base allocation or FEFP figure up from $7,196 last year to $7,296 for the upcoming year.

But does the $100 per pupil boost represent a significant increase for students? In real dollars, the answer is no.

In order to cover the costs associated with inflation, which are computed using the Consumer Price Index calculator from the U.S. Department of Labor, Florida would have had to have dedicated $7,313 per pupil in order to merely keep pace with last year.

It's bad enough that we've failed to maintain spending levels, in real dollars, over the course of one year. But the news gets much worse when we consider the entire past decade of per-pupil education spending.

In 2007, former governor Charlie Crist's education budget allotted $7,126 per pupil. According to the CPI calculator, it would cost $8,377.89 today to buy the same value that $7,126 bought in 2007. In real dollars, we're falling short of 2007 levels by $1,082.

In real dollars, Florida is going backwards in terms of education funding-and it's hurting our students.   More

Group HEALING Under the Roof of Yellow House

It is truly satisfying to see people find camaraderie in spaces dedicated to artistic expression. While attending the opening of Yellow House’s second exhibition, Life Under Construction, people conversed freely as they viewed the paintings by artists Princess Simpson Rashid and Keith Doles. With the overarching theme of the show centered around physical and emotional healing through art, the bonding occurring on that night added to the entire experience.

The journey of recovery can often seem like a lonesome voyage, yet Life Under Construction affirms that regaining peace of mind and body can genuinely be a communal experience.

Because the gallery is a converted bungalow, the viewer can be anywhere in Yellow House and be able to see other rooms or halls that contain pieces of art. It encourages moving through the space, and much of the artwork can be seen from multiple vantage points. This sense of connectedness deepens the nature of the exhibition as the embodiment of public healing and renewal through creative means. Moreover, this welcoming atmosphere is epitomized by the open office area; Yellow House itself effectively bares its soul to visitors.

The art of Rashid and Doles harmonizes well on a conceptual level. Their work illustrates the figurative highs and lows of regaining wellness in the midst of illness. Princess Simpson Rashid is a cancer survivor who is mourning the loss of her father. Keith Doles is caring for his ailing mother and is struggling with his own well-being. Both artists are trying to resolve their internal and external turmoil through their art.

For Rashid, the limited color palette utilized in her paintings (red, yellow, black and white) symbolize the chaotic or joyful elements of her life. One of her largest paintings in the exhibition, Cosmos, the overbearing and intense irregular structures of red epitomize “chaos that was growing in [her] body.”

Doles envisions his work and creative process as …   More

the flog

White Nationalists and Thanksgiving

It's been a busy week at good ol' UNF. Apart from the usual, students running around like headless chickens, scrambling, with lukewarm coffee and stale bagel in hand, to get those last few assignments in before Thanksgiving, some more racist shmucks have to go and gum up the works. As we head out of the library and various classes for the final time before we return from Thanksgiving break, a wonderful surprise awaits us on Monday, Nov. 20 at 8:30 a.m.-a possible White Nationalist rally. *a collective groan registers on a Richter Scale in California*

Self-proclaimed White Nationalist and former KKK member Ken Parker (a UNF student) was  officially suspended from all school activities earlier this week. In support of their fallen brother-isn't it nice seeing friends come together for a cause? Just warms the heart-White Nationalist supporters are calling for a march on campus. Gene Thorson, a known supporter of the White Nationalist movement-put up the call to action on his own Facebook page following the suspension; in his own words:

One of our brothers in Florida is under attack by the leftist scum. He us [sic] currently suspended from the school he was attending and come Monday morning he may not be a student at university of northern [sic] Florida because of his affiliations in the white nationalist. There will be a protest/rally on Monday @0830 at UNF...show them that we stand UNITED!!!

The suspension in question came as a response to Parker's posting a comment and selfie to UNF's Spinnaker News Facebook page. In the selfie, he's seen holding a large rifle and sporting Nazi/Klan tattoos-seems like a swell, level-headed guy. The official letter from UNF President John Delaney states that Parker was suspended due to the fact that he had caused a disturbance within the university community.

At least one class had been cancelled because students and faculty felt threatened by Parker's comments and picture. Parker responded to that action, saying, …   More

What Is NEO Yokio?

Neo Yokio (2017) is a production with some striking ideas embedded in its premise. Directed by Ezra Koenig (the lead singer of Vampire Weekend), the Netflix adult cartoon follows the life of "magistocrat" Kaz Kaan (Jaden Smith) as he balances being a demon slayer and a socialite in the affluent titular city. At a glance, the series seemingly satirizes the vapid excesses of high society in Neo Yokio, which is itself a bourgeois-centric version of New York City. On inspection, Neo Yokio's supposed poignant social commentary and satirical jests are severely lacking. While the show has gained somewhat of a cult following on social media platforms such as Twitter and Tumblr, there is a reason for the cartoon's generally poor reception from other audience members and critics alike.

NEO YOKIO ISN'T FUNNY
: One of the more pressing failures of Neo Yokio is rooted in its comedy. Very little humor or intrigue stems from Kaz's extermination of anti-capitalist demons, and  virtually all the cartoon's hijinks spawn from the luxury obsessed denizens of NYC. When taken out of context, some jokes are funny. Numerous clips, gif sets, and screencaps of scenes extracted from the cartoon are floating around on the Internet and heralded as proof that Neo Yokio is indeed comedy gold. A bejeweled sinister skull saying, "I see you, bitch," does seem funny [and like a snarky wave to 'ol Damian Hirst]. However, the same episode contains an overly long gag about Kaz accidently picking a midnight-blue suit to wear to a Black and White Ball. Within the parameters of the series, when each comedic antic is strung together one after another, the result is ham-fisted, repetitious and dead on arrival, jokes.

Much of the humor relies on the viewer to be acquainted with knowledge that only a New Yorker, or specifically, a wealthy New Yorker would be privy to. Mentions of the Hamptons, bespoke attire, 14th St., squash, field hockey, and the Eastside require …   More