Category Archives: Jacksonville Beach

St Johns River Ferry Task Force

Update On The St. Johns River Ferry Service Task Force

Latest on the efforts of the task force working to preserve the St. Johns River Ferry. The Port Authority is meeting February 27th, and we hope to be able to convince them that we need more time to work on this issue.

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Filed under A1A, Beach Living, Jacksonville Beach, Local Issues, Neptune Beach, St. Johns River

Preserve The St. Johns River Ferry

It’s amazing, sometimes, how you can find yourself in the center of something that can really make a difference in your community. Such is the case with the task force to save, and then preserve, the St. Johns River Ferry Service.

Ferry Task Force Beaches WatchThe ferry, often referred to as the Mayport ferry, is in danger of being permanently docked. And as 13th district councilman Bill Guliford said at Wednesday night’s Beaches Watch meeting, if the service ends, it will be very difficult to resurrect it. So, led by former council president Elaine Brown, long a champion of beach community issues and beaches businesses, we are embarked on a mission to see that it is not allowed to come to that end.

Jacksonville Port Authority spokesperson Nancy Rubin says that the ferry carries an annual operating deficit of some $600,000 to $700,000, and is in immediate need of about $4 million in repairs and upgrades to the berths at either end of the short trip across the river. JPA executive director Paul Anderson has said that the continued operations of the ferry is not consistent with the port’s business model, and is not sustainable in its present form. At a meeting on February 27th, he will ask the board for guidance as to how to proceed, but he has been very clear that he hopes to return the ferry, and the associated land, to the city. The city has been reluctant at best to agree to consider re-assuming responsibility for the service. The state, which most believe should be the entity operating the ferry, washed its hands of the service several years ago. Basically, it’s like they determined that they were no longer going to pay to maintain a bridge over a waterway that connects a state highway … which the ferry does.

Ferry DockingAll of that to say that, I’ve been asked by Elaine to lead the media and PR efforts for the task force. We will have a website, Facebook presence, and other social media components to the effort. If you ride the ferry, occasionally or regularly, you can expect to see very shortly volunteers at both landings asking you to take a brief survey and sign a petition. I’ll be posting about the issue here, and producing some video pieces to illustrate the issue.

If you care about the ferry, and there are a multitude of reasons for you to do so, from its historic significance to the economic impact is has on Mayport, the beaches communities, and many other businesses that line A1A between St. Augustine and Fernandina Beach, consider signing a petition, making a donation, contacting the Mayor’s office and your representative of the City Council to make your opinion known. Do keep in mind that all e-mails sent to the Mayor and City Council are public records. If … I probably should say when … we go to the city for funding for the ferry, it will require the votes of 10 council members to get it back in the budget.

But most importantly, tell your friends. I can’t imagine the First Coast without the ferry. Let’s see that it doesn’t happen. (Pictured L-R Elaine Brown, Task Force Chair; Val Bostwick, President, Friends of the St. Johns River Ferry; Nancy Rubin, Jacksonville Port Authority spokesperson; Sam Floyd, Mayport Waterfront Partnership Chairman; Councilman Bill Guliford presenting at Beaches Watch)

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Filed under Atlantic Beach, Beach Living, City Budget, City Council, Florida Budget, Jacksonville Beach, Jacksonville City Council, Mayport, Mayport Ferry, Neptune Beach

4th Photos

Once again for the 4th of July we were at the penthouse bar at Casa Marina where the view of the fireworks is spectacular. It was a lot of run, other than the cloud of gnats that invaded our little corner of the bar right at dusk. I only lost one beer to the bugs. But it was a delightful place to have an h’or dourve, a beer or two, a cigar, and enjoy the show. The cool thing was, the h’or dourves, beer, and valet parking were all included in the price. A little steep, I’ll grant you, but last year we paid $5 less just for the privilege of being in the bar, so we kind of thought it was a deal. Nor did we need the valet parking, because our faithful Beaches Trolley got us from Florida Boulevard to 8th St. N. and back for just a couple of bucks … which also meant no worries about having a couple of beers.

2009 Beach Fireworks 1 With the tide on the beach cresting an hour before the fireworks started, there wasn’t a lot of sand, which still didn’t deter folks from having their own little shows on a very crowded beach. I can remember a couple of years nearly getting hit by bottle rockets on the beach, which adds to the value of being 25 feet above the sand on the beach. We did see some less-than-sober people in the sea oats on the dune, one flying a kite, the other climbing up to the very top of the dune to fire his mortar. We kept hoping the Jax Beach police would come by and roust them off the dune, since the sea oats are protected, but they must have been busy with more serious drunks. There were a lot of inebriated people at the beach last night, which is pretty common when the 4th falls of a weekend. Again, another reason to perch high above the sand. But the best reason was for the view when the Rockets Red Glare got underway about 9:30.

2009 Beach Fireworks 2

Now, I don’t have exactly the right lens for shooting fireworks. I was shooting with a 55-200 zoom, pulled all the way back to get as broad a view of the sky as I could, but I really need Nikon’s new 35mm f1.4 lens to do it justice. Hopefully by next year I’ll have one, bought through Broad Reach Communications. I’ll need it for shooting airplane cockpits anyway, so it’s a legitimate business expense. Still, I got pretty good results looking up into the night sky. The pier is only about a block and a half from Casa Marina, and when those big mortars go, they fill up the sky, which last night was just a black velvet canvass for the bombardiers. There was only one mishap, when it looked like one of the mortars tipped over and shot sparks off the pier into the ocean. You could see the bombardiers springing from the area in silhouette in the glow, but they quickly got things back to right, and the show continued. But it was a timely reminder of just how dangerous that business is. What’s the old saying? It’s all good fun until somebody loses an eye. With several-thousand-degree manganese and other metals and chemicals spraying around, you can see how that might be a possibility.

2009 Beach Fireworks 3I like this one because they look like palm trees hanging in the sky. There’s even one without any fronds on it, which I think must be because I got it just before it bloomed.

For 18 minutes the mortars roared and the sky was lit in celebration of the nation’s 233 birthday. It’s a little unfortunate, it seems to me, that by the time we get around to this ubiquitous symbol of the celebration of our independence that the people who have been drinking all day on the beach are sunburned, tired, and in too many cases three sheets to the wind. It seems that a portion of the population has lost sight of what the fireworks represent, and how far out on the proverbial limb our Founding Father’s were when Thomas Jefferson wrote “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” To declare independence from the British crown knowing a fight would be coming, and then learning that governing was more difficult than campaigning. But everything we are we owe to those men, and all those men and women who have come behind to defend our claim to freedom and independence. It is a wonderful reason to celebrate, to have a party, to gather with family and friends, or in some cases strangers with whom all we had in common were the place we shared. For many, though, it was just another excuse to overindulge at the beach. The good news is, they have the freedom to do that as well.2009 Beach Fireworks 4

Of course, if one needed a reason to ride the trolley to and from the beach for the fireworks, I have it for you here. Nothing like 100,000 or so of your closest friends trying to get off San Pablo Island, or at least back to their homes, at the same time. The trolley we finally go on … within two stops of where we would eventually get off, was packed, which I think is great. It was a little reminiscent of riding the Metro back from the National Mall after the 4th of July in DC, which we attended more than once. But there, it’s closer to half a million of your closest friends. We’ve ridden our bikes down to Jax Beach in previous years, and that’s kind of taking your life in your own hands as well. There are a lot of people on bicycles that ride them once or twice a year, and they might have over-indulged a bit as well. We were happy to have the trolley.

And that’s the 4th of July at the beach. Please check out the full photo set on Flickr, if you like. I may sound a bit curmudgenly about the whole thing, but I’m really not. If I thought people should spend the 4th sitting quietly at home reflecting on what the Declaration of Independence means, I’d have done that myself. I love the spectacle of the fireworks, and frankly, the people-watching can also be a lot of fun … from the 3rd floor balcony at Casa Marina.

Sig

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Filed under 4th of July, Beach Living, Fireworks, Jacksonville Beach, Life, Photographs, Photography, Photos, Thoughts

Milk Comedy and Creative Spam

I’m improvising again. This is going to be a huge amount of fun. Scott’s putting “the band” back together. 

milk Introducing the Milk Comedy Crew.  I don’t know where it comes from.  Probably something to do with the infamous “Gallon Challenge”.  You know the one.  It’s almost impossible to drink an entire gallon of milk without having it come back to haunt you … like immediately.  What ever the genesis of the name, I’m in.  We start playing August 15th at The Ocean Club Liquor Store at the beach.  8:00 PM … $5.00 cover.  That’s a Friday night at the beach.

We started working on a couple of games tonight, just trying to blow out the cobwebs and remembering how to play.

But to be on stage again with Scott and Jeff Kalish and Don G and Della and we hope John Citrone … it’s going to be a blast.  I hope I can keep up.  I’m going to give it my best effort.

Milk2a

So come on out and check us out at the OC liquor Store in Jacksonville Beach in 3 weeks.  We may actually remember how to play the games and make you laugh.   But if you come, come prepared to make suggestions and be part of the show.  Improv only works when you play along.  I hope we’ll see you there.

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Meanwhile, I got a third e-mail from “The FBI” today.  I’ve gotten a couple of these before, trying to convince me that it’s really from the FBI and that:

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Washington Dc, in conjunction with the United Nations (UN) financial department have investigated through our monitoring network noting that your transaction with Bank of Ghana (STANDARD TRUST BANK GHANA) is legal.You have the legitimate right to complete your transaction to claim your over due fund without any impediment.
We advice you to proceed with the transactions as we are monitoring their activities.Meanwhile, you are advice to follow their constitutional procedure.They have statutory   procedure, which has been examined and verified in conformity with United States financial authorities. You are hereby advised to follow their instructions while you keep us updated for more details.

It’s the latest twist on the old Nigerian money transfer scam.

Notice how they “advice” me to take this action.  You’d think these guys would find someone who could actually speak and write English for this kind of thing.  I’m being assured that it’s all perfectly legal, but for some reason the FBI wants to track the transaction.

image The even went to the trouble to copy a header from an FBI website to try to make the e-mail appear legitimate, and pasted a poorly-cropped picture of Robert Mueller at the bottom

image The sad thing is, somebody may fall for it.  I don’t know how, but somebody might.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s gotten one of these, but it’s new enough to not have shown up on Snopes yet.  So, if you’ve searched on “FBI Scam” and stumbled across this blog, rest assured that The FBI is not going to be sending you an e-mail in broken English advicing you to continue with this kind of transaction so they can wiretap and monitor the activities of the perpetrators.  It’s just never going to happen.  In your heart of hearts, you knew that.  It’s particularly true if you, like me, have never responded to one of those scam e-mails.  Suddenly, the FBI knows you have an open case going on?  Uh-uh.

But, you’ve got to give them props for trying something new.

One day, I got no fewer than three e-mails telling me I’d won a random e-mail address lottery for several million dollars.  Each. My luckiest day ever.  It almost makes me wish it were true.  But don’t fall for this ridiculous scam.  If the FBI wants to track your activities … they’re NOT going to tell you.  It’s not the way they roll.  If they want to investigate you, they don’t even need a warrant to do so any more, at least in some situations.

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Pledge got off to a slow start this morning.  John Bryan is with me in the morning.  Don’t let us down.

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Filed under Beach Living, Improv Comedy, Jacksonville Beach, Public Radio, Scams

Jax Beach 4th: People

Beach 4th Works Well, we survived another weekend 4th of July at the beach.  We go back and forth about whether to go down to the beach to watch fireworks every year, and this year we decided to get on our bicycles and brave the Friday night crowd.  The beach is a great place for people watching, and this year did not disappoint.  Unfortunately, much of the good people watching was while we were riding … and not very conducive to taking pictures.  Still, I managed to get a few.

Beach 4th

Starting with … the actual beach.  In years past, we’ve ventured down on the beach to watch the rockets red glare.  It’s crowded enough on a mid-week 4th of July, but when it’s on a weekend … there’s really no reason to bother.  People who only go to the beach one weekend out of the year choose this weekend to go, and I can’t say that I blame them.  It’s open, seating is free, the fireworks are shot from the Jacksonville Pier, so it’s an unobstructed view from almost anywhere you’d care to go.  On this day, the tide was coming in as the evening wore on, so all those folks who’d staked out spots below the high tide line kept pushing back and pushing back and pushing back until everyone was pretty much jammed up together on a 20 foot wide bit of sand.  When people start shooting off their illegal fireworks down on the beach in that kind of a crowd, well, it doesn’t seem very safe.  So we chose a different venue.

Beach 4th Hat

Of course, there was the usual compliment of funny hats and kitchy beads and light sticks and such in evidence. This “Cat in the Hat” wannabe was serving at a restaurant called “The Atlantic”, which is ocean front.  I’m not sure what a table at The Atlantic was going for last night, but given the crowds that were stumbling up and down the sea walk, I don’t know that it would have been a particularly good place to be.  By the time we got down to the beach about 7:30, there had been a whole lot of alcohol consumed, the band at the Seawalk Pavilion was croaking it’s way through the EP version of “Celebrate” (or maybe it just seemed to be going on forever), the saggy, baggy pants brigade was showing off their mostly almost clean boxer shorts, one little girl stepped on the cherry from a cigarette that someone had carelessly dropped onto the sidewalk, and thousands of bicycles were rolling through the broken beer bottles that were already lining the streets.  Beach visitors at their finest.  Needless to say, I didn’t ride this morning.

Beach 4th GirlsSo, we paid to go up to the martini bar at Casa Marina for the fireworks show.  It was about as civilized a place to watch as was going to be found, though a few drunks found their way up there as well.  They were at least drunks who could afford to pay $30 a head to get up to the martini bar.  Andie actually ordered a chocolate espresso martini, and then a second one a little later, which Jessica, our server pictured here with Andie, was only too happy to bring.  We had a little tappas, I had a couple of beers, Andie had her martinis, and the fireworks were spectacular.  I’d set up the tripod in the bar, and I burned through probably 300 frames during the show.  The best ones are, as you might expect, up on Flickr.

Beach 4th Drunk Something tells me that there was more than one person who wound up like this before the night was out.  He was passed out at the base of the steps leading up to the front door of the scenic and historic Casa Marina Hotel.  While he didn’t have a crowd around him taking pictures, I know that I’m not the only one who decided it was a shot worth getting.  Yes, he’s on Flickr as well, for all the world to see.  I wonder how coherent he was when Sterling went to roust him off the steps, or if today, he’d see this picture and wonder “Damn, was that me?  Was I that drunk?”,  Yeah, dude, you were. 

You’ll notice he’s a member of the Saggy Baggy Pants Brigade.  I wonder if that’s prophetic.

As we rode home, the traffic on Florida Boulevard was backed up almost to Penman for people trying to get off the beach.  The light at Atlantic must have been on it’s regular weekday short cycle, and they were creeping along behind the house.  It was a really good thing we were on our bikes.

I know, this all sounds kind of negative, and in a way, it is.  I’m not sure the best way to celebrate our independence is with drunken debauchery, bad bands, and mattress sales.  I’d like to think that, as I wrote a couple of days ago, the people coming to the beach to celebrate might, just might, have a little respect for the place they’re visiting.  That the wouldn’t get upset that  there were tens of thousands of people at the beach, so its going to take a little longer to get off the beach.  That the people walking and riding bikes have a right to be there too, and just because you drive a 3000 pound automobile doesn’t automatically give you the right of way.  Or that the drunks on bikes might realize that just because they’re tooting their little clown horn or ding-ding-dinging a bell doesn’t mean that everyone else on the road or sidewalk has to get out of THEIR way.  But that’s what they expect.

And then they wonder what causes the bad attitude in all those other people.

I love the 4th of July, I really do.  I love the fireworks and the symbolism and what it stands for.  I love that I live in the best, most free country on the planet.  I just wish people would spend more time reflecting on what Independence Day means, and not just use it for an excuse to get howlingly drunk.

I know, Christians have been saying the same thing about Christmas for years, but that’s another post.

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Filed under Beach Living, Holiday, Holiday Rant, Jacksonville Beach, Thoughts

Happy Anniversary

T&A Today was our second anniversary.  Two years and counting.  Unfortunately, Andie had a work thing that was “all hands” and she couldn’t get away after work, so I spent most of the evening at a wine tasting with John Bryan.  Not a bad second choice, but not exactly what I’d had in mind.  I did manage to get flowers sent to her office, so that was a good thing.  We’ll have to celebrate more completely maybe this weekend. 

Otherwise, it was just another day.  I got up and rode this morning, and I’m about to go get coffee staged for in the morning and think about getting to bed.  We have Melanie’s retirement lunch tomorrow at noon, so I don’t have to pack a lunch.

Just another crappy day in paradise.  Not much else to write about tonight, so feel free to have a poke around the joint.  I’m sure you’ll find something worth reading. 

I hope so, anyway. 

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Filed under Anniversary, Friends, Jacksonville Beach, Life

Penman Square Market and Cafe II

Chef Craig 4 We went back.  You knew we would.  And we’ll go back often.  Chef Craig was in the house tonight, back from a bout of walking pneumonia.  Not as much in the cases as the last time, but they’re planning to be closed part of the holiday weekend … so they were “a little light”, as Craig put it.  Still, there was food, it was good, and we had a very nice time.

JB 1

JB, as is his wont, brought the wine.  An interesting little Spaniard called “Hey Mambo”, and the mystery unlabeled bottle. The cork revealed it to be a ’95 Johnston Winery Helena View blend that we were afraid would turn as we drank it … but it didn’t.  It was the special reserve, and was really good. 

So yes, the food was quite good, as always.  I had a half a fried chicken with mac and cheese … but half the half chicken is resting comfortably in the fridge.

Chix and Mac 1

 Before the chicken, there was a french onion soup and Craigs’ signature spinach salad.  Andie had the turkey loaf and John enjoyed the Penne Pasta.  Nobody walked away hungry,

We’re very happy Chef Craig is back with someplace to cook.  Something tells me we’re going to have some fun at the Penman Square Market and Cafe.

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Filed under Dining Out, Food, Jacksonville Beach