Weird, Wild Stuff

Summer is here now, but Florida Man has been in mid-season form since late last year. He is called upon by destiny to defend his crown as champion lunatic of this somehow still great nation-like thing of ours. He holds firm against stiff competition coming from coast to coast, amidst an overall bull market on scams, shake-downs and shenanigans of all kinds—and the election hasn’t even started yet. It’s like the old saying, “Never gamble with someone who doesn’t know the rules.” I might have just made that up, but I’m pretty sure I read it somewhere, long ago.

Florida Man is weird enough, but how do you make him weirder? Why, you make him a youth pastor. Consider the 39 year-old man who was arrested at a Kissimmee Starbucks on June 29. What was he arrested for, you ask? (Come on, take a stab at it.) If you said masturbation, you are correct. Naturally, it was the only kind that ever happens at Starbucks—chronic masturbation. Turns out, the pastor, whose name will be withheld because creepers get no clout from me, had been arrested, according to Folio news partner Orlando Weekly, for “similar acts at the same location.” Sorry, but as the reader, the word “similar” doesn’t cut it. We need details. Or maybe not.

Meanwhile, California looks at Florida and says, “We’ll see your chronic masturbating youth pastor at Starbucks, and we’ll raise you with jetpack-based domestic terrorism.” OK, that may be an exaggeration, but officials at Los Angeles International Airport took no chances following an incident on the afternoon of June 23. A pilot had to abort his landing after coming way too close to what he first thought was probably a bird but turned out to be a grown-ass man flying a jetpack around the tarmac of the fifth busiest airport in America.

Now because it’s California, officials were willing to give this anonymous goof-trooper the benefit of the doubt, but there is now increased vigilance because, at this point, officials have lost count of the number of times this has happened in recent years. We laugh because it’s funny, but also extremely dangerous, not to mention illegal. So, whoever you are, cut that shit out and just come to Jacksonville. We’ve got plenty of open land for you to fly around in. And if you know how to build a jetpack, I’m sure our publisher would happily buy one from you right now, so holla if ya hear me.

As mentioned, Florida Man is facing contenders from coast to coast. But we can take pride that, for now, we retain the crown for crazy with the decisive victory claimed by a man from right here in Jacksonville on June 25. Let’s call this man out by name because he damn well deserves it: Guido Reichstadter. The father of two, whose family I’ve been proud to call dear friends for many years now, literally risked his life in a brazen display of direct action, making himself instantly famous. It was a Saturday, and the Supreme Court had overturned Roe v. Wade the day before. While the rest of us were rage-tweeting or sitting in stunned silence or shouting into our local echo chambers (all of which are perfectly legitimate responses; we all process trauma differently), Reichstadter was climbing to the top of the Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge, which spans the Anacostia River in Washington, D.C. He was on IG Live the whole time, speaking truth to power from a perspective that demanded attention.

After scaling one of the bridge’s 70-foot arches, he held police at bay for over four hours, until he surrendered peacefully. This was his second such protest recently, having chained himself by the neck to the fence in front of the Supreme Court after the draft decision leaked a month earlier. Reichstadter takes the crown because his crime was not only spectacular but also 100% justified. At the end of the day, no one tells Florida Man what to do, except Florida Woman, and her basic human rights are not up for debate. Not now, not ever. We got plenty more Guidos for dat ass, so the thugs and the haters are welcome to f*ck around and find out, losers.

About Shelton Hull

Shelton Hull has been writing for Folio Weekly since 1997, but his resume goes back even further. He has written for almost every newspaper, magazine and zine in Northeast Florida, as well as publications like Orlando Weekly, Narrow GNV, Creative Loafing Tampa, Charleston City Paper, Ink19 and The Atlantic. He currently writes the "Folio Weed" column, which he created in 2018; he remains one of the widest-read and most influential cannabis writers in the world today. He also compiles material for "Weird Wild Stuff" column, and he previously wrote the legendary "Money Jungle" column for Folio Weekly from 1999 to 2009. He is a regular contributor to "First Coast Connect" on WJCT, as well as the Jacksonville Music Experience. He is a co-host of "The Contrast Project" and the "Bold City Civics" podcast. He is also a co-founder of the record label Bold City Music Productions. He can be reached at [email protected].