Off Key!: From Wine Glass Assault to Reversing Comedy’s Halt

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By Bob Frederickson

An attempted carjacking in Sarasota recently featured an unusual instrument of persuasion: a wine glass, lifted from an outdoor dining table at a downtown restaurant, smashed and then used to threaten a driver who was ordered by the upwardly mobile, bike-riding assailant to turn over the keys to his sports car.

The man refused, instead throwing the keys into the middle of the street, spooking the perp who fled the scene as he had arrived: on his bike.

He was quickly tracked down by police (so glad they haven’t been defunded yet, no?) who escorted the would-be social climber to one of Sarasota’s less than luxurious 1-star accommodations: The SPD Grand on Ringling Boulevard.

Laugh of the Day …

Two mice were shooting the breeze. The first says to the second: “Have you gotten your Covid shot yet?”

 Second mouse’s reply:

 “No, I’m waiting for them to finish the human trials.”

And speaking of laughter …

Enter Les McCurdy who recently announced the re-opening of his eponymously named comedy club downtown.

Based on early results, he expects to tap into a large audience of folks looking to laugh off the experience of being under virtual house arrest for the past year-plus.

McCurdy told WFLA news recently, “We’re probably going to do twice as many patrons as we even hoped we were going to do, so it really goes to show us that people are ready and comfortable.”

Double, Double,

Toil and Trouble …

… Could it be a real estate bubble?”

That’s the question a lot of folks are asking around town lately as they ponder if and when housing prices will come crashing back to earth as they did after the last bubble popped back in 2008.

Back then prices in the area had actually peaked in the spring and summer of 2006 when the median price of a home in the Sarasota/Manatee market reached a high of $353,000. The median price then fell to $153,700 by May of 2011, according to figures the Florida Association of Realtors reported at that time as the housing market was mired in the depths of what has come to be known as the Great Recession.

Interestingly, median prices today are just now back to levels last seen during that 2006 peak with the current median for Sarasota County reaching $380,000 last month with Manatee not far behind. So, I guess all the folks back then who were saying “no worries, the market will come back…” were right. Kind of…

Because really, did anyone expect it would take 10 years to get there? Something to keep in mind when listening to the advice of realtors, TV pundits and, yes, even newspaper columnists.

There is one key red flag that was flying high back in 2006 at the last top that’s missing now, however. It concerns inventory. In February of 2006 the number of homes for sale locally was way up and moving higher. Way higher: 7,000 homes for sale by April of 2006, an 83-week supply!

 Compare that to today’s supply: now just several weeks … a mere 913 single family homes for sale in Sarasota and Manatee counties, according to Multiple Listing Service data as reported on June 11. Add in an influx of deep-pocket investors and syndicates (like Black Rock) and affluent expatriate lockdown refugees from high-tax states with heavy-handed, control-freak governors and legislatures (like New York, Michigan, New Jersey and California) and the real estate landscape in these parts looks to be significantly less dire than it did back in 2006.

But please, don’t take my word for it. If you’re in the market to buy or sell today, do your own research. And that’s good general advice these days when it comes to just about anything you see, hear or read in the media.

Nun’s Habit Seals her Fate …

Leading by example wasn’t in the cards for an L.A. nun who carried a habit beyond the one topping off her religious vestments. It seems she liked to gamble, and not with much luck it would appear. Her losses totaled $835,000 in funds she allegedly embezzled from St. James Catholic School in Los Angeles where she served as principal.

You might say the betting odds for getting away with her larceny were long from the start … I mean even though she skated by for almost 10 years here on this mortal plane, how was she planning to explain away her transgression when she returned to the home office at the end of her earthly run (assuming the particular elevator she boarded didn’t move in the opposite direction)?

“Without the knowledge and authorization of St. James School or the administration, defendant Sister Kreuperused diverted funds … to pay for expenses that the (religious) order would not have approved, much less paid for, including large gambling expenses incurred at casinos and certain credit card charges,” according to her indictment documents.

I mean, lying to the boss is never a good idea, but it’s an especially bad bet when that boss is all knowing and all seeing.

Clyde Butcher Summer Warehouse Sales Returns

Acclaimed nature photographer and local treasure Clyde Butcher has announced the return of his annual summer warehouse sale to be held July 24 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at his Venice Studio, 237 Warfield Ave., in Venice. Last year’s sale was a virtual event due to the pandemic.

“Last summer we cleaned, sorted and organized our studio during the downtime due to the pandemic. In the process we found all kinds of things we had tucked away or thought we had sold,” Butcher wrote in a recent message to his followers.

… Worth the trip, even if it’s just to take in some of the startlingly rich and detailed large format photographs on display that capture the grandeur of southwest Florida and beyond as seen through Butcher’s unique lens, which somehow manages to capture both the objective and subjective essence of his subjects.

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