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THE SPECKTATOR

Florida Gov. Rick Scott has more than 34,000 followers on Twitter (@FLGovScott), a more than acceptable number in relation to the state's population (New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, for example, has 73,400+ followers and Illinois Governor Pat Quinn more than 21,600).

What's strange about Scott's Twitter account, however, is the number and type of people, businesses and organizations he follows (click on photos above).

Where Cuomo and Quinn follow less than 400, Scott follows more than 25,000. Some are to be expected like Lou Dobbs, Team Romney and First Lady Ann Scott. Others are just plain amusing: Elephantsfarting, Oprah Quote, i have never voted, I'm a Panda and multiple colon cleansing businesses (is the No. 1 in the state obsessed with #2?).

There are the curious...

Scott, who The Palm Beach Post referred to as a "near teetotaler," follows Top Brass Vodka. And one certainly wouldn't expect a governor who rejected funding from the Affordable Care Act for programs including public education about teen pregnancy to follow Farrah Abraham, who appeared on MTV's 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom.

And then, there's the just plain disturbing...

Of the Twitter accounts Scott follows, one is a a porn site—and not just any old porn site but a teen porn site. That's "teen," as in "teenager," as in "not yet an adult," as in "probably still in high school."

"Following," for those of you not familiar with Twitter, is not a passive process. In order to follow a person or company, one has to physically go to that page and click "follow." Scott's 34,100-ish followers, on the other hand, followed him without him (read: a staffer) lifting a finger.

Sure, we can give Scott the benefit of the doubt: perhaps his office uses some automated program that follows any Twitter account that follows him or his account was hacked. But someone on his staff should monitor everyone who follows him. Any offensive or questionable account …   More

THE SPECKTATOR

I've always wondered who came up with the names of streets in Jacksonville.

I'm guessing the city planner who dreamt up Peter Pan Place and Snow White Drive on the Westside was a fan of fairy tales, while an Ivy Leaguer must have named Harvard, Princeton and Yale avenues in Ortega.

These thoroughfares, I assume, were named by the Department of Redundancy Department:

Lane Avenue

Boulevard Street

Circle Drive

Court Street

Lane Circle

This one, however, defies explanation. Even for the City of Jacksonville.

Noroad

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THE SPECKTATOR

His Twitter name is Alvin Brown. His Twitter handle is @jaxmayorbrown. His Twitter profile photo is of Mayor Alvin Brown. He posts about budget matters, City Council members and ribbon-cutting ceremonies. He has more than 1,100 die-hard followers. But the person behind @jaxmayorbrown is not the Mayor Alvin Brown.

Affectionately referred to as "the fake mayor" around town, @jaxmayorbrown pokes fun at the real mayor and city government in general through his witty tweets. One of the most interesting aspects of this parody account is the fact that only a handful of people know the person behind it (and, no, I am not one of them).

Though his real identity remains a mystery (we do know he's a him), the fake mayor did agree to an exclusive interview with The Specktator — via e-mail, of course. 

What are the most pressing issues facing our city?

How to reach the next level. How to become more effective and efficient.

What do you think is the biggest misconception about Jacksonville — by residents and the rest of the country?

Misconception? Hold on … let me grab my dictionary.

What do you consider the most significant barrier to Jacksonville's growth and becoming a world-class city?

Mayor Brown doesn't see barriers, only opportunities.

Why did you choose to make such a big investment in Downtown?

In order to reach the next level, we need a vibrant downtown. One that is a destination, not a pass-through.

Do you plan to run for re-election?

I thought I was mayor for life. Is that not the case?

Would you consider running for governor?

I fully expect a "draft Mayor Brown" movement. What Floridian doesn't want to take our state to the next level?

Any interest in applying for the pope gig?

Catholics from all over the world have asked me to throw my mitre in the ring. Naturally, they want to take their church to the next level.

What's with all of the sports events coming to town …   More

THE SPECKTATOR

Here's an interesting Fakt: Oktoberfest — the real one, in Munich, Bavaria, Germany — actually starts in September and runs until the first weekend in October.

So for all intents and purposes the multi-week event takes place almost equally in September as it does in October.

That's probably why the Germans don't even call it "Oktoberfest." Rather, they refer to it as "die Wiesn," a colloquialism for "Theresienwiese," the fairgrounds at which it's held.

But we Americans have no problem changing a centuries-old tradition to better suit our own needs, which explains these local Oktoberfest events, which all take place in the month of October.

Oktoberfest at Art Walk

October 2, 5–11 p.m. (extended hours), Downtown, admission: free

nearly 50 venues, artists, street performers, etc. spread over 15 blocks

biergarten block party in Hemming Plaza

German, seasonal and local brews 

German-style grub

16+ live music venues including performances by EPCOT's Dan Witucki and Mein Heimatland Musikanten Band

 

 

Oktoberfest at European Street Cafe

October 5, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., European Street Cafe (Jacksonville Beach), admission: free

beer from Germany-and around the world

authentic German food including giagantic Bavarian pretzel

live music from The Five Hungry (1–5 p.m.)

KanJam tournament

chicken dancing

photo opps with the Monster German Wiener

** First 100 guests receive a free one-liter glass boot (to drink from, not to wear)

** Wear traditional lederhosen or dirndl and get a free beer.

 

 

Intuition Ale's Third Annual Oktoberfest Celebration

October 6, 1–8 p.m., Memorial Park, $20 in advance, $25 at the door, kids under 12 free, VIP sold out

live music from The Swinging Bavarians oompah band with Traditional Oktoberfest songs and yodeling 

slap-dancing and the chicken dance

Intuition's famous beer and special Oktoberfest …   More

THE SPECKTATOR

Given his recent negative press, Lance Armstrong will not participate in The Florida Forum as scheduled. The annual speaker series, organized by the Women's Board of Wolfson Children's Hospital, replaced Armstrong with NBA Hall of Famer Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who appears at the Florida Theatre on March 4. According to a hospital spokesperson, it was a "mutual decision." 

While some folks may be disappointed at the change in line-up, others may not even notice since the two have so much in common. For instance … 

1. Both changed their birth names: Jabbar was born Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr.; Armstrong was born Lance Edward Gunderson.

2. Jabbar and Armstrong have had books on The New York Times best-seller list: Giant Steps and It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life, respectively.

3. Both follow Tony Hawk on Twitter.

4. They've been the subjects of songs: Pearl Jam's "Sweet Lew" about Abdul-Jabbar and Sheryl Crow's "Wildflower" about Armstrong.

5. Each survived cancer: Jabbar, chronic myeloid leukemia, and Armstrong, testicular, lung and brain cancer.

6. They practice yoga.

7. Both started their own charitable organizations: Jabbar's Skyhook Foundation connects under-served youth with mentors to achieve their academic aspirations and Armstrong's LIVESTRONG Foundation empowers the cancer community to address the unmet needs of cancer survivors.

8. Each has five kids.

9. Both have appeared in highly-popular comedy films: Abdul-Jabbar in Airplane and Armstrong in Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.

10. Each received an honorary degree: Abdul-Jabbar, an honorary doctorate of humane letters from the New York Institute of Technology, and Armstrong, an honorary doctorate of letters from Tufts University (Armstrong's has since been revoked).

Let's just hope Armstrong remembers his gig was canceled and doesn't show up. …   More

THE SPECKTATOR

Just when you thought you heard the last of my obsession with Gov. Rick Scott's questionable Twitter follows, the plot thickens—or should I say, fattens.

After my original post, John Tupps in the governor's press office contacted me via email and offered this explanation: "We discovered that the account was set up automatically to follow anyone who followed our account. The issue is being fixed immediately."

I can't vouch for their removal of the automatic follow feature, but I can tell you Gov. Scott is no longer following the accounts I mentioned, including Teen Porn Sex, MTV Teen Mom Farrah Abraham and Top Brass Vodka.

While I appreciate the governor's press office taking my advice, they obviously missed the big picture: They should have checked every account he is following.

If they had, they would have discovered he also follows @TheIceHouseMan (see photo 2 in the photo gallery at the top of the page). Granted, the name isn't offensive and neither is the description. But the profile pic (check photo 3 ... if you dare) should have been a clue as to what kind Tweets a naked man in a cardboard box would post (if you are not easily offended and want to check out some incredibly distasteful comments, check out @TheIceHouseMan's Twitter page. And don't say I didn't warn you.)

My only regret in all of this is that the governor's office also unfollowed @OprahQuote after reading my post. He really could have benefited from its September 25 Tweet.

Whenever trouble comes my way I ask, "What is this here to teach me?"

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THE SPECKTATOR

Earlier this week, I made a disturbing discovery about Gov. Rick Scott's Twitter account (@FLGovScott), namely, that the state's top dog was following a teen porn website — among others that were just plain strange (@FartingElephants anyone?).

Prior to posting, I contacted the governor's press office for a comment. In my message, I only mentioned Twitter and made no reference to any of the questionable accounts he was following. No one called me back, but I received this email the afternoon it was posted.

Kerry,

Governor Scott likes to use as many ways as possible to communicate with Floridians on how to make our state better. Twitter is another example of that.

John Tupps

Office of Governor Rick Scott

Press Office

While I appreciate Tupps' response (all 27 words of it), he didn't refer to the teen porn site — or the farting elephants, for that matter — probably because he didn't even know that the governor was following them on Twitter … mainly because he didn't return my call.

The following day, I received a voicemail from Melissa Sellers in the governor's office. Before I could return the call, I received another email from he of the concise message. 

Hey Kerry,

I tried calling you a couple of times today - wanted to let you know that we discovered that our account was set up to automatically follow anyone who followed our account. 

This problem is being fixed immediately.

Unfortunately for Scott & Co., Tera Barz of Action News had already picked up on the story.

I'll have more on this story as it develops … if for no other reason than I've always wanted to say that.   More

THE SPECKTATOR

Strange things happen on March 17. Beer turns green. People start talking like the Lucky Charms leprechaun. Corned beef and cabbage shows up on the menus of local sports bars. Yes, for one day, Northeast Florida residents — regardless of their true ancestry — pretend to be Irish. While many folks couldn’t imagine celebrating St. Patrick’s Day without tossing back some pints of Guinness or shots of Jameson, alcohol isn’t necessarily a requirement. In fact, I’ve come up with 17 ways to get in the spirit — without spirits ... or stewed cabbage.

1. Find a bar with a jukebox and play as many U2 songs as possible until you run out of money — or get hit over the head with a shillelagh. 

2. Take your dog—preferably an Irish setter, Irish terrier or Irish wolfhound—to the Jacksonville Landing for St. “Paw”ty’s Yappy Hour.

3. Hop aboard the Rally Bus and head to the St. Patrick's Day Parade in Savannah. It picks up somewhere on Dunn Avenue before 6 a.m. and will get you home 13 hours later ... if you're lucky.

4. Enjoy a “smooth and creamy” mint-flavored Shamrock Shake from McDonald’s — but only for a limited time! (I’m still waiting for the ultra-limited time McRib Shake.)

5. Drive to the Emerald Isle: actually Emerald Isle Circle in a neighborhood just off Beach Boulevard and Killarney Drive. And don't miss Blarney Stone Court, St. Patrick Lane or Leprechaun Court.

6. Take in the "mesmerizing blend of traditional and modern Celtic music and dance," known as Lord of the Dance on March 15 at the Times-Union Center.

7. Hit the road in the St. Patty's Day Run 10K and 5K on March 17 at 8 a.m. and try not to think about the fact that you're running through a cemetery.

8. Watch the green fireworks over the St. Johns River at the Northbank and Southbank.

9. Stock up on Jaguars St. Patrick's Day …   More

The Specktator

UPDATED: June 21, 2013

Earlier this year, Best Chefs America announced its “ultimate chef’s guide to chefs.” Nominations were made by fellow chefs, other culinary professionals and food enthusiasts; 19 Jacksonville-area chefs made the cut.

Granted, I didn’t go to culinary school (unless you count the six-week Basics of Culinary course I took at Publix Apron’s Cooking School ... which was awesome, by the way). I’ve never worked in a restaurant (unless you count the two weeks I worked as a banquet server at Harbormaster’s ... did I just date myself with that reference?). I’m not a food critic (despite my inserting myself into any food judging opportunity in town ... Barbecue? Check. Gumbo? Check. Food trucks? Check.)  I do, however, consider myself a food enthusiastic (have you seen the size of my butt?) and, therefore, feel qualified to add five names to the list that were not acknowledged.

Chef Andrew Ferenc, On the Fly Food Truck

Best grilled cheese in town. Best chicken tacos in town. Best crab cake sliders in town. Best tomato shrimp bisque in town. And award-winning peanut butter pretzel bars that belong in a category of awesomeness all their own. I have never had anything at OTF that was not A+. Cooking since the age of 15 (and it shows), Andrew has worked at First Street Grill, Aqua Grill and Homestead. In addition to winning the inaugural and second annual Jax Truckies Competition as the judges’ overall champion and the people’s choice, OTF won Best Food Truck in Folio’s Best of Jax issue. Special shout out to Phyllis and Chef Eric.

Aurathai Sellas, Taste of Thai

“Aura” as she’s known to her devoted customers single-handedly changed my opinion of Thai food. Prior to visiting TOT, I was not a fan of the cuisine. But one bite into a crispy spring roll, and I was hooked. Matter of fact, when asked to choose my “last meal,” I'd pick …   More

THE SPECKTATOR

Earlier this week, Mayor Alvin Brown officially presented his budget to "the City Council, Sheriff Rutherford, Supervisor Holland, honored guests and [his] fellow citizens." As part of the proposed plan, Brown said he will cut $60 million in spending by closing libraries, public swimming pools, community centers and fire stations, shutting down summer youth camps and laying off Jacksonville Sheriff's Office employees.

Obviously, none of these solutions would be good for the city or its residents, but that is for people far wiser than I to dissect. My job, as I see it, is to break down the mayor's actual presentation of the budget.

That said, here are the things that I noticed while watching the 20-minute address.

1. In addition to cutting back city programs, Brown is cutting back on the use of his signature phrases "next level" (which he didn't utter until 11:20) and "effective and efficient" (first mentioned at 18:48).

2. He does not know how to pronounce "Deutsche Bank" correctly. And dude came dangerously close to "gradulating" City Council President Bill Gulliford and Vice President Clay Yarborough a la Corinne Brown's world-renowned "Go Gata" speech.

3. The mayor is also cutting back on using the letter "G." Examples include: "raisin' taxes," "tappin' into resources," "hardworkin' employees," "sendin'...pushin' ... showin' ... and partnerin'."

4. His script was at least 60 pages. I know this because I could hear him turn every ... single ... page ... since, I'm pretty sure, it was written on paper bags—probably from Winn-Dixie.

Check out the mayor's presentation in its entirety by clickin' here (you know I had to):

 

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Who is Northeast Florida's 'Best Righteous Crusader' and why?
Best of Jax ballot released on July 30 will ask this question and many others