Off Key! June

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From Tongues Wagging on Main to Things that Never Change…

By Robert Frederickson


Yup. That’s the name of a new downtown business.    

And while the name may have some Sarasota dowagers clutching their pearls while swooning from a case of the vapors, perhaps Lady Braidentown and her BFF Sarah Sota-Noseinaire should lighten up a bit. After all, the place is just trying to satisfy an altogether natural yearning …

What kind of yearning you ask? Well, of course, a burning, churning, passionate yearning for … hot dogs.

 Yes, hot dogs. Prepared in a variety of regional styles from across this great land.

 So doggoneit, wiggle your buns on down to 1544 Main St. and indulge your lustful desire for … again … hot dogs … nothing more, nothing less. Just hot dogs … naked or dressed as you wish to satisfy your own personal culinary fantasies.

Oh, one more thing: please don’t harass the help with your tongue-in-cheek questions and comments: There is no secret menu …

Okay, that’s enough. I’m walking a fine line here …

Tiger Woods a partner in UTC golfing venture

Tiger Woods’ driving skills may have abandoned him at times over the years, and no, we’re not talking about his motoring travails out on the highway, the most recent of which landed him in an L.A. hospital with a broken right tibia and fibula that ended any chance of a return to the PGA tour this year.

Rather, we’re referring to his drives off the tee that can be spectacular examples of power and grace when he is in top form, but far less formidable – when with even the slightest fractional misalignment of body and club his swing goes awry, leading to a loss of confidence and in some well-publicized cases a fall from the leader board.

Worse, the forces brought to bear in the uncoiling of kinetic energy involved in driving a tiny white ball 475 yards down a fairway have left Woods with recurring back problems that have at times left him unable to compete at all for several long stretches, even requiring surgery prior to an eventual return to form.

 Tiger’s short game has remained comparatively consistent over the years though, which brings us to the news of an innovative putting attraction opening later this year at the UTC Mall on University Parkway. Woods is a newly named partner in the company behind the project, marketed under the name PopStroke.

Tiger isn’t just a passive investor though. His company TGR Designs is developing the layouts for the company’s decidedly upscale approach to golfing entertainment.

This attraction is about as far from putt-putt golf as Tiger himself is from your average weekend duffer; there will be beginner and more challenging courses on tap and the ability to order drinks and food while out on the course from an on-site bar and restaurant that’s also available for relaxing after the day’s round is carded.

If you’re interested in a sneak peek at what will be opening here later this year, a PopStroke has been open in Fort Myers since late 2019. It’s located at 5331 Six Mile Commercial Ct. in Fort Myers. Or visit

Social worker pushes Sheriff Judd’s buttons

A Polk County social worker was upset with a moving company she and her husband had hired after workers on the truck informed her they were unable to accept a check the woman had offered in hopes the workers would unload the family’s belongings and be on their way.

After their refusal she decided to force the issue by prostrating herself in front of the truck’s wheels while holding her 18-month-old infant in her arms.

The Sheriff’s Department was subsequently called and officers had to physically drag the woman from beneath the semi, after which she was promptly arrested.

 Now, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd has never been one to mince words. He once famously answered a reporter’s question about why his officers had fired 47 times at a fugitive who had shot one of his deputies by saying “…because we ran out of bullets.”

 He has mellowed considerably since those days, but still he couldn’t resist putting his spin on this latest incident at a recent press briefing.

 “She has a college degree with a designation of ‘child welfare scholar,’” he said, raising his hand to his cheek in a spot-on Jack Benny impersonation. “Did you hear me? And she had an 18-month-old on her lap underneath a semi-truck that was running. Why? Because she was mad over a civil complaint.”

 Like I said … not one to mince words.

Quote of the Day

“A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take everything you have.”

–- Thomas Jefferson

Making the grade

Of all the amenities this area has to offer, perhaps the most important during the past year has been one I hope you didn’t need to avail yourself of, though I suspect many of you might have or at least know of some who did.

I’m talking about the laudable level of hospital care available here in our little corner of the world.

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently rated 4,500 hospitals nationwide on five criteria: mortality, safety, readmission, patient experience and timely and effective care.

Only about 10 percent of those hospitals received the highest rating offered: five stars.

And get this — three of them happen to be located right here in our own backyard: Sarasota Memorial, Doctor’s Hospital, and Lakewood Ranch Medical Center.

 World-class beaches are great. And five-star restaurants as well. But hey, in times like these, great hospitals and all dedicated professionals who staff them are perhaps the greatest blessing this area has to offer.

Bumper sticker of the day

“Prayer … The world’s first wireless network.”

Parking paradox continues for Sarasota

Captain Ahab had his white whale. Tom Brady had Eli Manning. And Sarasota’s City Commission has paid parking.

For as long as I can remember, the city has struggled – unsuccessfully – to operate a paid parking plan that even comes close to covering the costs to administer it. And the red ink seems destined to continue for the foreseeable future with a new hit to the balance sheet added recently.

 Commissioners agreed last month to continue through year’s end a program begun last spring with the onset of COVID-19 that provides no-fee outdoor dining permits to downtown restaurants.

The permits removed at least 36 prime downtown spots from the city’s parking inventory, setting them aside for restaurants to use for al fresco dining.

But of course, that meant they wouldn’t be able to generate parking revenue for the city, revenue which not only funds the parking department’s day-to-day operations but a portion of which is earmarked for paying off parking bonds issued to fund the spate of downtown parking garages built during the past several years.

The estimated added losses for the “free” parking permit extension? It’s $130,000 for 2021.

 This comes after the original installation of paid meters downtown a decade ago ended in an epic flop with citizens and business owners showing up at commission meetings in the immediate aftermath of the rollout wearing bags over their heads; one commissioner even suggested the meters be taken to a local gun range where citizens could take out their frustrations by blowing them to smithereens with shotguns.

The city took a $500,000 hit that go-around with the manufacturer refusing to offer more than pennies on the dollar for their return.

The next go-around in 2018 went better, but red tide and then COVID-19 turned what were perhaps overly optimistic revenue expectations to begin with into complete pipe dreams.

Year-to-date, the city has lost between $123,000 and $150,000 on its parking program, according to reporting by the Sarasota Herald-Tribune. And that’s before the $130,000 “free-parking” continuation is added in.

John Morton
Author: John Morton

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