Weird Wild Stuff

Words by Shelton Hull 

We’ve all probably visited the Florida Welcome Center on I-95 at least once, but it’s unlikely that you were there on July 6, and that’s good for you because it was the scene of a major drug bust by the Florida Highway Patrol and Nassau County Sheriff’s Office. After arresting a man and a woman for illegal window tint, a subsequent search revealed they were using their car as a mobile meth lab. Similar busts have happened all over Northeast Florida, usually in motel rooms, mobile homes and apartments, but this was unusual, even by Florida standards.


Speaking of Florida, and speaking of meth, there is an island in Port Orange, near the Dunlawton Bridge (aka Port Orange Causeway), that has gained a measure of local fame for hosting squatters. The island featured a welcome center, a trampoline and other amenities, including an actual four-story treehouse. Local authorities are working to clear out the area, but apparently a lot of people really like the place but not at night.


Tech companies are going apeshit with their intellectual property lately, notably Twitter changing its name to X, even though Zuckerberg owns the trademark to the 24th letter. Apple has added to this wave of madness by attempting to trademark the image of an apple, specifically the Granny Smith variety (which is the best-tasting apple, and we’ll tolerate no debate on that subject). This is bad news for the Fruit-Union Suisse, based in Switzerland, which has used an apple for its logo for the past 111 years. They’ve had no luck so far, but time will tell. Speaking of the Zuck, the rumored shoot-fight between him and Elon Musk has drawn interest from all over the world. The UFC has offered to host their fight in Las Vegas, and they have even gotten an offer from the Italian government, which is willing to make the historic Coliseum in Rome available for the two legendary jackasses to resolve their dispute inside. No word on if the fight would take place under traditional gladiator rules ( i.e., to the death), but we certainly hope so.


The late rapper Takeoff was one-third of The Migos, one of the most successful rap groups of the past 20 years. His murder in November 2022 was one of the most jarring tragedies in the history of hip-hop, in no small part because he was just an innocent bystander. Tributes were made all over the country with the latest one setting a record for the largest tattoo ever made. A group of tattoo artists based in Atlanta used a piece of silicone skin as their canvas. The final product measured 7.395 square meters or roughly 24 square feet. Fans of Takeoff can go to the shop and have it duplicated on their own body, but of course it will be much smaller.


The bison population in America has dwindled from over 50 million in the 1800s to less than a million today. Most of the remaining bison are concentrated on public lands and parks, such as Yellowstone, where a tourist woman got a bit too close to one on July 17. She was lucky to escape with her life because bison average about 10 feet long and weigh nearly 2,000 pounds. Fortunately for the bison, its victim was not a member of the Dutton family, in which case it would be doomed.


If you ever tried to find parking Downtown during the Jaguars’ playoff run last year, you will probably appreciate why we’re shocked that this particular crime didn’t occur in Duval. It was actually Cincinnati (which we spelled correctly on the third attempt) where a man was arrested for scamming over $2,000 from folks trying to park for a soccer game in July. He got himself a neon vest and a bunch of orange cones, then posted up and pretended to be running a parking lot on the site of a food bank. He sold spots for about $40 each. The man was confronted by police but escaped before he could be detained, and we hope that he is never found.


We’ll finish this column where we started — in Florida. Our lack of a state income tax makes our state very appealing to folks from other states, who can come here and stack paper, which usually ends up being used to start a business or left for their heirs to inherit. Of course, “heirs” could mean all kinds of things, as we learned recently from a Tampa woman who died in November at age 84. Since she left no family behind, she chose to leave everything to her seven Persian cats. It’s unclear how much money they will receive, but the cats will continue to live in her 4,000 square foot home. With median prices in Hillsborough County hovering just under $500,000, averaging about $295 per square foot, the house is probably worth at least a million and probably more. No word on what the cats’ names are, but you can bet that they’re probably really cute. (If the cats are looking for a butler, they can call me at the “Folio” office.)

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].