Only in Florida. Every week, so many Americans mutter those words while marveling at the latest insanity to come from our state that Tallahassee really ought to put the phrase on license plates. At Miami New Times, at least a third of our work is done by those crazies. Although it helps that Florida has the most liberal public records laws in the United States, there wouldn't be any arrest reports to pull unless our fellow Floridians weren't supplying the system day and night with bizarre fodder.
To celebrate surviving another year of life in America's maddening tropical penis, we've compiled our annual list of the 12 biggest Florida face-palm moments of 2013. Have at it, maniacs.
1. The candy-related duck attack. Karie Lindgren's first gesture toward the duck was generous. The Tarpon Springs woman simply wanted to bequeath the gift of candy upon her neighbor's pet bird in November. Anyone who has ever tossed bits of bread around a pond knows ducks will eat just about anything. But the animals apparently lack a sweet tooth. Offended by the duck's rejection, Lindgren got in her car, drove across the neighbor's lawn, and turned the pet bird into roadkill. Unfortunately, neither the duck's name nor Lindgren's favored brand of candy made it into the police report.
The 12 Craziest Things That Happened in Florida in 2013
2. The job application bandit. "What do you consider your biggest flaw?" is the most impossible question on a job application, really, because if you answer honestly, you'll never get the gig. On the other hand, if you say, "Oh, I'm a workaholic," the employer will know you're a bullshitter right off the bat. When Anthony Thomas filled out a job application at an Ocala gas station in July, though, he chose a refreshingly straightforward approach: After filling out the paperwork, he put his klepto card right on the table and robbed the place. Police used the accurate contact information he'd written on the application to track the perp. What was Thomas' intent? Did he want to prove that he was a real go-getter? That when he saw an opportunity, he never ceased to literally reach out and take it? Probably not. But it is very possible that Thomas' "biggest flaw" is a profound lack of common sense.
3. Bamboo Flute's just-for-fun knife attack. June is a tough time for Gainesville's Rainbow People. The annual regional hippie gathering in the Ocala National Forest is a half-year away, and boredom runs high. This past summer, an 18-year-old named Bamboo Flute Blanchard picked up a knife and said, "I wonder what it would be like to take a life." He then stabbed his sleeping father in the chest. What's more, the feral child of the forest refused to speak to police when he was charged with attempted murder. He instead responded to their questioning with grunts.
4. Trayvon Martin Halloween blackface. If the Trayvon Martin shooting was the most tragic story to come out of Florida in 2012, last year's biggest mystery is why two buddies thought it was OK for one to don blackface and dress up like the Miami Gardens teen and the other to pose as his killer, George Zimmerman. It was a couple's costume, and the photo of it went viral, causing the friends to delete their Facebook accounts.
5. The acid-tripper who wanted to chop off his penis. Psychedelic drugs can birth some bizarre desires, like wanting to stare at one of those felt black-light paintings of a giant mushroom or listen to Phish. But when 19-year-old University of Florida student Michael Silecchia tripped on LSD in April, he was not in the mood for 19-minute guitar solos. Not only had he already tripped his balls off, but he also wanted his penis removed. After declaring himself "God," he demanded that Gainesville police officers castrate him. Before he was Tasered six times and hauled away in cuffs, Silecchia attacked a female officer, striking her in the head.
6. The man who wants to be a maxi pad. Pad Gardner wants to live his life as his namesake. For research purposes, he has stocked his Panama City pad full of pads. Gardner is the proud owner of more than a thousand sanitary napkins, which he photographs and admires. The hoarding seems almost practical, considering he probably belongs in a room with padded walls. The story of Gardner's truly unique life goal broke in April, and he appears to be sticking to the plan today. His Facebook profile picture is a fan drawing of a pink pad, and his job is listed as "feminine pad at feminine hygiene products." It's unclear if Pad has found anyone willing to let him fulfill his ultimate purpose: absorbing a woman's menstrual blood overnight.
7. A naked marriage proposal goes horribly wrong. With all the ruminating and planning that goes into a marriage proposal, it's easy to overlook some seemingly insignificant details. That's why Thomas Edwards showed up at a Casselberry family's house in June and began removing his clothes. You see, in his nervousness about possible rejection and the anxiety that comes from entering into a lifelong commitment, he'd forgotten where his girlfriend lived. Common mistake, really. Unfortunately, the family Edwards visited didn't show much sympathy. Cops showed up and Tasered the naked man.
8. Twerking leads to a fire alarm. Jimmy Kimmel is a prophet. Three months after he pranked the world with his "Twerking Girl on Fire" video — the viral, totally fake clip of a chick falling onto a candle while attempting Miley Cyrus' favorite move — the ultimate twerk fail materialized in Florida. An unnamed male student twerked his way into a fire alarm at North Naples Middle School in December, which resulted in the fire department showing up and the school suspending the sixth-grader. Signs were placed in the hallways declaring the school a "TWERK-Free Zone."
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9. The butt-kissing beach flasher. This is among the more polite sex crimes of the year. Remember those cute elementary-school notes in which someone would ask you "out" and you would respond by circling Y or N? Well, in August, a flasher on Venice Beach tossed to a couple of women a crumpled-up, handwritten note that promised to pay $200 in exchange for letting him "kiss [their] butt[s]." When they didn't play ball, he dropped his towel and flashed his junk.
10. Whac-A-Mole's inventor blows up a warehouse. Central Florida is already a strange mixture of Disney iconography and pill mills, but inventor Aaron Fechter made the juxtaposition of kid-friendly and seedy even more apparent in September. While working on an experimental new fuel, Richter, who invented the arcade game Whac-A-Mole, accidently blew up his Orlando warehouse full of animatronic creatures popular at Chuck E. Cheese's entertainment centers. Smoldering bits of Helen Henny, Mr. Munch, Jasper T. Jowls, Pasqually, and Mr. Cheese himself lay among the wreckage.
11. The oxycodone-dealing mayor. We're not sure how much money the mayor of a 500-person town makes, but Barry Moore clearly thought Hampton, Florida, wasn't paying him enough. In November, the same month Toronto Mayor Rob Ford admitted to having smoked crack, the Sunshine State upped the ante by producing a mayor who dealt. Moore — who looks like someone who sells heroin in North Florida — was officially suspended by Gov. Rick Scott after his arrest. Man up, Canada.
12. The woman who brandished her baby at police. "You will have to shoot through the baby to get to me," is a line of dialogue one would expect only from a caricatured, mustached villain in a terrible action movie, not from a Jacksonville woman who covets a pink Hurley T-shirt from Dillards. After a police officer spotted Ashley Taylor Wright swiping about $260 worth of swag from the department store in July, he followed her to the parking lot. That's when she held up her 3-month-old baby and said the line that will live in Florida face-palm infamy. When the officer didn't take Wright up on the offer to shoot an infant to avenge a retail chain for two pairs of Miss Me jeans, she tossed her human shield — again, her own baby — at the officer and attempted to flee.