Off Key

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By Bob Frederickson 

From One Retirement Mecca to Another 

The Company We Keep

Did you see where Sarasota was named the best city in the nation for retirees by the financial planning website But before getting too carried away with the glory of it all, consider the company we’re in. Also making the top ten list: Bridgeport Connecticut, Albany, New York, Allentown, Pennsylvania…

 Allentown, Pennsylvania?

Yes, Allentown, that iconic, one-time symbol of U.S. industrial decline immortalized by Billy Joel in his 1982 song of the same name. Perhaps the piano man can update the lyrics to reflect the city’s newfound acclaim. I can almost hear it…

And we’re retired here in Allentown,

And it’s hard to keep a good town down,

Tonight playing cards,

Tomorrow waxing the car…

And then resting here in Allentown…


No Rhyme or Reason to Hurricane Season (…predictions at least)

This month marks the start of the Atlantic hurricane season, so of course, right on cue come the predictions from the usual assortment of meteorological oracles of climatic enlightenment and other would-be scientific soothsayers, most notably William Gray of the University of Colorado. This year’s prediction from Gray: “below average…” in terms of both the severity and number of storms expected to hit the U.S. mainland. But before you cancel your windstorm coverage, keep this in mind: last year Gray and his Colorado colleagues called for an active season. The result? One of the lightest ever.



“Let Them Eat…Crab Legs?”

Some in the twitter-sphere have tried to suggest that FSU Heisman trophy winning quarterback Jameis Winston’s shoplifting episode at a Tallahassee Publix recently is yet more evidence that college athletes need to be paid for their efforts.


It wasn’t a jar of peanut butter or a package of Raman noodles on Winston’s shopping list. No, this quarterback “keeper” that went out the front door of the store without paying involved $32 worth of crab legs tucked under Winston’s arm.

Jean Valjean stealing a loaf of bread to keep body and soul together this was not.


Speaking of Jean Valjean…

Need some bread? Here’s a tip…City Reach Thrift Shop occasionally lands a load of overstocked or marginally out-of-date bread from area grocery stores and bakeries. On a recent Wednesday afternoon, there were eight pallets of perfectly good bread from St. Armand’s Bakery free for the taking at the thrift shop on the east side of North Lockwood Ridge Road, just north of University Parkway (across from the Super Wal-Mart). So even if you don’t find buried treasure in their large inventory of clothes, household goods, books, furniture and electronics, you may still get a great deal. The free stuff isn’t available every day, and you certainly won’t find any crab legs (sorry Jameis), but if you put the store on your regular “stop-by-and-see-what’s-available” list, you just might score some free bread or dinner rolls on the way out.


Mickey Gets a Raise…

The new price for admission to Disney World? $99. So while it may be a small world after all, it certainly isn’t a cheap one.


A Sign of the Times

Bostonians are known for many fine and wonderful qualities, but the prudence and precision ofoff key pic their driving will never make the list. Which explains the message flashed on several of the electronic signs above the Mass. Pike approaching downtown:

 “Use Yah Blinkah!”

Drivers here in Sarasota – especially on Tamiami Trail – take note: this advice applies to you as well!


Mistreating the Best Among Us?

The recent Memorial Day weekend provides a stark contrast for this next item.

Recent revelations concerning the lack of respect not to mention the lack of care received by many of our veterans at VA hospitals are disheartening and worse, dishonorable.

Reports have documented cases where veterans have been kept off official waiting lists for needed treatments, surgeries or other procedures so heartless bureaucrats could make their performance statistics look better than they otherwise would.

Reporting on the still developing story has even indicated that some veterans have died waiting for treatment that they were not even officially in line to receive, even after months of repeated requests by veterans for that care.

As the Affordable Care Act is fully implemented over the coming years, how can this story not be top of mind? If this is how we treat the best among us, the most deserving, what can the rest of us expect from an impersonal government health bureaucracy untethered from the checks and balances of a free and open marketplace?

A memorable line from another popular song from the ‘80s comes to mind:

“I don’t ever want to play the part, of a statistic on a government chart…”

                                                                 -Invisible Sun, The Police


Homeless Shelter in Sarasota may be Victim of Shifting Political Sands

With two vacancies on the city commission coming by year’s end (due to Shannon Snyder and Paul Caragiulo stepping down to seek spots on the county commission), the momentum to build a homeless shelter in the city of Sarasota may have crested for the near term. That’s because the vacancies will be filled by the three remaining commissioners, two of whom (Susan Chapman and Willie Shaw) have expressed opposition to plans to build the shelter in the city.

Perhaps this at least partly explains the recent trend on the part of some downtown merchants and condominium associations toward hiring private security firms to protect their interests. Do they perhaps sense an unwillingness on the part of city government and police to meet the challenges posed by downtown’s homeless population?

So for now at least, expect more of the same as you walk the length of Main Street: lost souls hitting you up for handouts, fights over sleeping spots or stretches of sidewalk and my personal favorite, the guy who slowly, deliberately raises a middle finger to passing pedestrians with no regard to their race, creed, color or even any presumed sympathy or disgust they may have for this particular lost soul’s condition.


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