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Posts Tagged ‘T.D. Allman’

Excuse Me!?! … I’m Looking for the “Fountain of Youth”

July 22, 2015 | by


Michael Smith, Fountain of Youth State Park, Journey No. 1: Entrance, 2012, C-print, 22 1/2" x 32 1/2"

Head to St. Augustine, Florida, north of the Mission Nombre de Dios and south of the Vilano Bridge, and you’ll find it, as advertised—the Fountain of Youth. It’s open to the public from nine to six daily. Children’s admission is cheaper than senior citizens’, which seems cruel—what need have the young for more youth? T. D. Allman sets the scene in his illuminating history, Finding Florida:

You’ll know you’ve almost reached your destination when you find yourself peering up at an ancient-looking arch. Across the top you’ll see displayed, in Ye Olde English–type lettering, an inscription. It reads: FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH. The lettering is meant to evoke long-vanished times of chivalry and derring-do, but one detail marks it as indubitably Floridian: the sign is made of neon tubing. In the gathering subtropic twilight, the FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH sign glows and sputters like the VACANCY sign on a state highway motel. According to press releases provided by the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, which is what this venerable tourist attraction currently calls itself, this is the very spot where “Ponce de León landed in St. Augustine in 1513 searching for a Fountain of Youth.”

There is one minor hiccup, though. “Juan Ponce de León never visited and never could have visited St. Augustine: St. Augustine was not founded until forty-one years after his death, in 1565.” Read More »

What We’re Loving: Foam, Florida, Fiction Binges

January 24, 2014 | by

Mothers News2

I received my first issue of Mothers News this week—and now I wonder what I’ve been doing with my life. A free monthly broadside out of Providence, Mothers News is hyper, delirious, and weird. And, I now realize, essential reading. The eight-page rag is best known, and rightly so, for its comics—with regular strips by C. F., Michael Deforge, Mickey Z, Brian Chippendale, and others—but all the content is of a piece. This issue manages, for instance, a column devoted to foam (“What do we know about foam?”—quite a bit, it turns out); a top-ten list that includes a brief excursion into the etymology of “hoist by my own petard”; and an announcement that the UN has designated 2014 the International Year of Family Farming and Crystallography (IYFF 2014 and IYCr2014, respectively). There’s also, of course, the Ambrose Bierce Memorial Word Jumble and a coveted ad from the Lon Chaney Society of New England. —Nicole Rudick

I’ve been dipping into T. D. Allman’s Finding Florida: The True History of the Sunshine State, whose bright jacket belies its sharp dressing-down of our twenty-seventh state. In Allman’s telling, Florida is, and always has been, an accursed microcosm of the American dream—from its geology to its politics to its economics, everything about the place invites delusion, violence, and disaster. Some critics found this too apocalyptic, but I think Allman’s gloom is a valuable corrective, and he’s far from humorless; even his bibliography has fizz. (“Where the Boys Are [1960]. Groovy LA starlets play beach blanket bingo in Fort Lauderdale.”) You can read Florida, longlisted for last year’s National Book Award, as an erudite complement to Florida Man, a Twitter feed that lists the frighteningly constant stream of follies coming from the Sunshine State. The latest: “Florida Man Arrested for Beating Uncle with Toilet Seat.” —Dan Piepenbring

Over the long weekend I went on a New Yorker fiction binge and read every short story I’d missed in 2013. Among the gems I’d somehow overlooked: Tessa Hadley’s impeccable “Bad Dreams,” Thomas McGuane’s “Weight Watchers,” and “The Christmas Miracle,” by Rebecca Curtis, which is simply the funniest short story I have read in a year. It’s easy to carp at The New Yorker, because it’s an institution, but forget that and read the stories first. From week to week, they are often as interesting, as much fun to read, as anything in the magazine. —Lorin Stein Read More »