Greetings from the Gulf: June

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The S.S.S. isn’t here just to blow a lot of smoke

By John Morton

Citizen’s ar-REST! Citizen’s ar-REST!

It was 60 years ago when Gomer Pyle chased Barney Fife down the streets of Mayberry, telling the world he was taking matters into his own hands. Google it if you don’t remember this episode of the Andy Griffith Show – it’s a classic.
But an antiquated notion? No, not at all, if you plan to join the S.S.S. In fact, you should practice bellowing out those very words, as it will be your battle cry.
If C. Everett Koop was here, I’d have him and Woodsy Owl ride in on Joe Camel for this one.
Folks, with a smoking ban finally coming to life on Siesta Key’s public beaches (see article on page 6), enforcement will have to come from us all. And the Siesta Smokeout Squadron will be front and center, serving as the community’s watchdog. Remember how the Guardian Angels practiced vigilantism in the late ‘70s on the New York City subways? We’re talking about the same thing here – but don’t worry, you won’t be forced to wear one of those silly raspberry berets for which they were known. No, I was thinking more along the lines of magenta.
Now, as much as I’d love to give violators a good swift kick in the ashtray, this will have to be done without violence. Last year, when the Florida Legislature voted to allow local governments to enforce such a ban, I suggested the creation of a Facebook page of shame where you can post pics of people puffing away on Siesta. I still like this passive-aggressive idea.
Yet you must be comfortable with engaging in a bit of name-calling. “Yo, butthead!” will be how you address our enemy. It’s in the manual.
Stomping out beach smoking may not be easy – especially in flip-flops – but we can do it!

Meanwhile, since we are already policing our prized beaches, we need to confront these dopey diggers who are leaving giant holes in the sand. They are ankle busters for us and graveyards for the sea turtles.
Oh, get this – the recent phenomenon of digging as deep as you can and photographing your pathetic paleontology has been traced to some moronic TikTok challenge.
(Author’s note: I just learned that the TikTok crap that shows up on your phone is directly associated with your algorithms. Lordy, do I need to get to church!)
Then there are those annoying electric bikes that still illegally blast down our beach. That sunset tour still thrives, and our local sheriff’s substation sergeant says he has yet to catch the participants doing anything illegal. He’s even conducted secret surveillance, but says they are always pedaling when viewed.
Put your phone on video and document this activity. I can’t think of better evidence than a grinning octogenarian, pedaling once or twice every 100 feet, cruising along at 25 mph. It’s something I see all the time.

Finally, if we are going to talk the talk we must walk the walk. A beach cleanup is set for June 8 (see details on page 4) and another for the morning after the Fourth of July. These outings will reinforce our mission when we see the hundreds of cigarettes mixed into our quartz paradise.
And a reminder: Debris of the non-tobacco variety is still being sought by the tremendously trashy Dave Skaggs. His truck is at the public beach parking lot Saturday and Sunday mornings, awaiting contributions. What he does with all the junk is amazing – check out his website at

(John Morton is managing editor of Siesta Sand.)

John Morton
Author: John Morton

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