by Julian Spivey
“Florida Man” has been an Internet meme for a few years now because there’s an awful lot of weird shit that goes down in Florida that people do, get arrested for doing, get killed for doing, etc.
We’re not even three full months into 2019 and Esquire has already compiled a list of the 69 Wildest Florida Man Headlines of 2019 So Far. Some of these headlines are: “Florida Man Who Drove Ferrari Into Water Said: ‘Jesus Told Him To’” and “Florida Man Threatens to Kill Man With ‘Kindness,’ Uses Machete Named ‘Kindness”.
Now, most of these headlines that are so wild you’d expect to see them on satirical articles published by The Onion, could take place in any state in this country. But they always seem to come out of Florida. Maybe it’s because ‘Florida Man’ has become a part of our zeitgeist or maybe Florida is just the shithole of The Twilight Zone.
‘Florida Man’ took the Internet and social media by storm this week when a fun addition to the meme became to Google: ‘Florida Man’ and your birthdate and see which headline you got (the first one that pops up in the search engine). There literally seems to be a ‘Florida Man’ headline for every day of the year. For example, mine was (September 7): “Florida Man, Drunk and Naked, Allegedly Set House on Fire in Failed Cookie Baking Attempt”.
The ‘Florida Man’ craze that took over this week reminded me of one of my favorite scenes from my favorite television series of last year, the second season of FX’s critically-acclaimed and award-winning dramedy “Atlanta,” created by the all-around genius that is Donald Glover.
In the first episode of the season titled “Alligator Man,” Glover’s Earn is riding in a car with Lakeith Stanfield’s Darius when he mentions to Darius that his parents are driving from Georgia to Florida to visit a dying relative. Darius tells Earn to notify his parents to, “watch out for Florida Man,” which is already a belly laugh for folks in the know of the meme. Earn doesn’t know what Darius is talking about. The scene really gets great when Darius starts giving examples of Florida man, which the show brilliantly captures in vignette fashion. The show turns ‘Florida Man’ into a horror villain with Darius claiming him to be responsible for a high number of abnormal incidents in the state, but in the show’s version ‘Florida Man’ is like an “alt-right Johnny Appleseed” with the villain being a white guy intent on scaring African-Americans from visiting the state and registering to vote in the state by doing wild stuff like beating flamingos to death and eating people’s faces.
This scene is one of the best in the show’s first two seasons at capturing its unique sense of humor and sense of subversion. And, now I’m back to being sad because there’s no telling when a third season of this excellent show is going to air with Glover being one of the busiest men in Hollywood these days.
Here’s the ‘Florida Man’ scene, but be warned it includes profanity, violence and nudity if that’s the kind of stuff that turns you off:
by Julian Spivey
At the beginning of the year I began watching “Crashing” on HBOGo after a couple of years of seeing rave reviews about Pete Holmes’ show about a struggling comedian trying to make it on the stand-up circuit in New York City. I instantly became hooked.
I think I blew through the first two seasons (only eight episodes a season) in a week or two and did so in time for the show’s third season, which premiered on HBO on Jan. 20. I didn’t realize at the time, neither did fans of the show who’d been with it for three years let alone two months, that season three would be its last, with the show bowing on Sunday, March 10.
What instantly hooked me on “Crashing” was two things: Holmes’ character based on himself is such an affable, nice fellow. He’s basically a man-child with a seemingly unattainable dream, but never gives up on it. The second thing, and the most important thing, that hooked me on “Crashing” was the inner-workings and daily lives of struggling stand-up comedians. This is the finest representation of stand-up comedy life I’ve ever seen. It truly helps that Holmes is a stand-up, seemingly has numerous stand-up friends who graciously appears on the show – whether it’s the frequent guest of Artie Lange (my favorite of the guests, who was essentially a supporting character the first two seasons with health reasons keeping him from most of season three) or the occasional appearance by the likes of Sarah Silverman and John Mulaney.
“Crashing” also did relationships incredibly well – the season two relationship arc between Pete and Ali Reissen (Jamie Lee, who I hope to see on a show of her own soon) was one of the loveliest budding relationships I’ve ever seen on TV. I truly wish season three had focused on Lee’s character more than it was able to do.
Even though Holmes and producer Judd Apatow didn’t realize season three would be the swan song for “Crashing” at the time they were able to craft, along with co-writer and showrunner Judah Miller, a perfect season finale that also served nicely as a series finale.
The first season of “Crashing” saw the demise of Pete’s marriage and him setting out to achieve his dream of becoming a stand-up with the show’s title serving as a double meaning as he was crashing in his first attempts at becoming what he wanted to be, while also crashing on the couches of fellow comedians like Lange and T.J. Miller. The second season saw Pete getting more comfortable at stand-up, but still struggling to really hit it. Season three sees Pete finding his most success yet on a tour of colleges and joining the Christian comedy circuit, but it never really sits well with him. He doesn’t want to be the clean Christian comic or the guy who tours colleges, despite being good at both. He wants to be the hard-working NYC comic who does shows at The Cellar.
In the series ender “Mulaney,” he gets the chance to open a big show for superstar comedian John Mulaney, but the whole thing was a massive screw-up by Mulaney’s manager. It wasn’t supposed to be Pete Holmes opening the show, but rather a stand-up named Ben Holmes. Mulaney, who has been an absolute dick to Pete both times he’s appeared on the show – which is truly great because it reverses what we all think of Mulaney – has to relent and let Pete open for him after trying to find last second replacements and failing. Pete’s entire opening set is about how Mulaney has been a complete jerk to him, explaining the mishap to the audience. This brave moment from Pete endears him at least slightly to Mulaney, who invites him after the show to The Cellar and talks the owner into letting Pete play a set at the famed stand-up venue. This is the culmination of Pete’s dream – he’s finally made it. The series ends with him leaving The Cellar and meeting up with Ali and walking off into the night and leaving what’s next to our imagination since there will be no more episodes. I’d like to think Pete and Ali are going to make it.
It’s truly a shame that HBO was only willing to give the show 24 episodes, but you will find yourself smiling the entire time. Even though the show is now over you could be like a me and find it a bit late. I can’t recommend “Crashing” highly enough.
by Philip Price
I am so torn. I have been a fan of Michael Jackson for more of my life than I haven't. In so many instances there are "good enough" reasons to counter and dismiss the claims of Wade Robson and James Safechuck, but deep in your gut you know these guys are telling the truth; that they wouldn’t expose such private and potentially embarrassing details about themselves and furthermore - their vulnerabilities - just for the sake of hope that an appeal might pay out. I've gone back and forth for days watching interviews and reading articles from opposing viewpoints in an attempt to paint as well-rounded a perspective as possible including the “After Neverland” interview with Oprah Winfrey. While Oprah’s emphasis was not so much on the fact this was about Michael Jackson, but about the epidemic of sexual abuse and crafting a better understanding for what might be perceived as contradictory behavior by the victims, but the fact of the matter is this is still that, but with the biggest pop star ever. In the case of Safechuck and Robson the truth that comes to be revealed is not that they were forced into lying on behalf of Michael Jackson, but that they were groomed to protect him; to return his love and affection with their own only to not realize until much later in life what their entire lives had actually been in service of.
The conflict for most people of a certain age will not be that they like Michael Jackson’s music (who doesn’t?), but rather that so many memories of good things and of good times are often attached to the music MJ produced and how these new revelations of who this man might have also been in the privacy of his own home scars those memories and that music. The idea of Michael Jackson doing these things challenges the everyday idea that things are not always what they appear to be. Michael Jackson was a musical genius. Michael Jackson was one of the greatest and most talented performers and human beings to ever grace the planet and yet the world that built this performer and by virtue of those performing talents, this celebrity, may have also inadvertently conditioned him into a grown man that desired childhood so extensively that such desires crossed over into sexual ones.
There is an infinite amount of times one could go back and forth with this no matter how convincing one side or the other might be at any given moment or in any certain context, but while it is important to maintain the many layers at play here what connected with me the most was this idea of getting to know someone like Jackson, at the peak of his career no less, on a level that transcended the image the world held of him and what I, myself, might have been too blind to see was happening right in front of me if someone at the status of Jackson was so willing to take care of everything in my life. It's chilling. The general consensus prior to the release of Bad was that the guy was weird, sure, but he was also the guy who made Thriller.
As a young man who loved performing, who emulated the Jackson 5 with his own brothers, who looked up to Michael Jackson as a perfectionist performer and tried to mold body movements and shape after him in order to achieve the same aesthetic it’s difficult to even fathom what it was like to not only meet your idol, but to get to know them as a person and interact with them as if friends is nearly incomprehensible. Sometimes we’re afraid to meet our idols due to the expectations held of them when looking through the veil of celebrity, but that Michael Jackson not only fulfilled these expectations for Robson and Safechuck to then allegedly use them for his own perverse purposes is a mindfuck of a game that both Robson and especially Safechuck are very clearly still dealing with. I don’t want to believe these things could be true about Michael Jackson due to the joy his work has brought and the ambition his talent has instilled, but I can’t believe these men are lying either.
by Julian Spivey
ABC’s hit freshman drama “A Million Little Things” wrapped its first season on Thursday, Feb. 28 with an episode that gave us the answer to one of the season’s biggest secrets and potentially unveiled another one.
The series has revolved around the suicide of Jon Dixon (played by Ron Livingston), which took place in the pilot episode, and the impact on his wife Delilah (played by Stephanie Szostak) and his closest friends Gary (played by James Roday), Eddie (played by David Giuntoli) and Rome (played by Romany Malco).
Much of the first season revolved around why Jon, who seemingly had it all, would kill himself and the biggest reason came around midseason when we found out that his business was about to go under leaving his family broke. After this was revealed the next big secret for the show revolved around who was Barbara Morgan, a woman who he sent a mysterious envelope to before he committed suicide.
It turns out that Morgan (played by Drea de Mateo) was the girlfriend of Jon’s college roommate and best friend Dave. Jon and Dave were supposed to take a trip in 2001 from Boston, where the series is set, to Los Angeles, but Jon missed the flight due to a last second purchase of champagne. It turns out the flight was American Airlines Flight 11, which was one of the planes hijacked and flown into the World Trade Center towers on 9/11. Barbara was pregnant with Dave’s child and when she rebounded months later with another man, Jon, grieving with survivor’s guilt, felt she had turned her back on Dave and cut ties with her. His envelope held a microchip with an apology for cutting her out of his life years before. It seems for years Jon had dealt with this survivor’s guilt and when his company was about to go under it all just culminated with him taking his life.
The big reveal of who Barbara Morgan was just seemed rather weak to me. Though I do think there’s possibly more to her story and I’ll get to that in just a bit. But it also seemed that the show, which has been my favorite of all the new network dramas this television season, tried to up the tragedy ante by bringing 9/11 into the fold – something that too many storytellers do and just comes off as a bit trite these days. I expected a bit more out of the Barbara Morgan reveal, but it wasn’t my least favorite reveal of the episode.
I don’t like when big moments in television shows or movies feel too coincidental and the fact that Barbara Morgan’s son turns out to be PJ, the teenager that read Rome’s script in the hospital in the penultimate episode of the season, just seems to be too much for my tastes. I know we’re going to get more from this story in the next season and it might change my opinion on this, but for now it just seems to neat. Also, I suspect that PJ might not actually be Dave’s son, but potentially Jon’s.
The reveals were disappointing for me, but the remainder of the episode was nicely done with Maggie (played by Allison Miller) getting the all clear on her cancer and moving in with Gary. These two instantly became one of the best couples on television. You have Rome admitting to his wife Regina (played by Christina Moses) that he would like to have a child and her telling him that it’s something she’s just not interested in – which will certainly be one of the major dramatics of the show’s already picked up second season. You have Eddie and Katherine (played by Grace Park) considering getting back together and not going through with their divorce, but Eddie still needing to break the news to Katherine that he’s the father of Delilah’s baby, which she goes into labor with at the end of the episode. These are all good points for the second season to kick off with in the fall.