I am on a mission. A mission that makes perfect sense for anyone living in a state surrounded on three sides by water.
My mission? Catch fish.
Ever since Dad patiently taught my brother and I the mechanics of using a rod and reel, how to use bait and the proper way to clean a fish, I've been -- pun, intended -- "hooked" on fishing. About the same time, my grandfather and uncle introduced me to lake fishing, Georgia-style. And later, my father-in-law , who had a lake house, invited me to join him on his boat, and that ramped fishing up to the next level.
Fun times, and I caught my share of bass, crappie and bream. Although my brother Ron always seemed to catch more. He just had that special fishing mojo.
But somehow, in the middle of family and career, relocations and changing times, the old fishing pole got relegated to the back of the closet. It's mostly been there ever since, a sad-looking lure still attached and gathering dust.
But as I watch the endless parade of boats coming and going on the IntraCoastal, the line of rods and reels along the beach and off the overhanging bridges -- not to mention the fact I live 50 feet from the IntraCoastal itself -- I decided the time has come to re-tool, re-hook and re-jig.
First things first, I need to get educated about Florida fish and Florida waters. Since, I don't have access to a boat, I'll be trying my luck off the banks. So I ask .... what kind of fish are lurking in the IntraCoastal? What kind of bait to use? Top water, or go deep?
If you know, shoot me an email, please. In the meantime, here's John Candy's idea of how to fish from the movie, "Armed and Dangerous":
When people describe the Village of North Palm Beach, this comes up with some regularity: "Mayberry, RFD."
The Village mayor, Robert Gebbia, referenced it in my recent interview. Others have used it as an apt comparison as well.
It's easy to see why. Like the Andy Griffith TV show, it's a everybody-knows-everybody kind of place. A suburban oasis where residents gather in a park for food trucks and chili cookoffs. Where the city celebrates Heritage Day with parades. A good place to raise a family, and feel safe.
In many ways, it's the American dream. The America Joshua Logan immortalized in his classic film homage to 1950s Labor Day, "Picnic." The America that only seems to exist anymore in a Norman Rockwell painting.
Any yet that same idyllic America still thrives in the almost six square miles that mark the Village boundaries. Go a little north, a little south and there's a whole different vibe once you leave the city limits.
Is it perfect? Hardly. Neither was "Mayberry." Remember all the scraps Opie and Barney got into, not to mention Aunt Bee. And "Picnic" was hardly that for Bill Holden, who put a kink in the whole "Neewollah" Celebration (watch the movie -- that's "Halloween" spelled backward).
But having lived here almost two years, I can say it is a special place. Maybe even unique among Florida cities. Thankfully, the Village leadership want to preserve that. But at the same time, keep it relevant for future generations.
That's good, because at the end of the day, the Village isn't a TV show, or a movie, or something to be locked away in a time capsule. It's just people -- committed to preserving "the best place to live under the sun."
By the way, mark your calendar for April 2. That's the Heritage Day celebration that will mark the 60th anniversary of the Village. Sheriff Taylor would be proud.
'The truth is out there."
So the Fox TV series, "X Files," would have us believe.
Since the alleged crash of a flying saucer in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947, UFOs and their occupants have been firmly entrenched in our culture. Unexplained sightings, government conspiracies, crop circles, cattle mutilations, Hanger 18, Area 51, the Majestic 12, alien abductions, ancient aliens, secret bases and just this week, astronauts reporting "weird" music on the moon ... on and on and on.
The subject of countless books, movies and TV shows, and serious scholarly debate, the first question we ask an ex-President is "Where is the government hiding those space ships?"
As much as many of us want to believe we are not alone, and UFOs are real, there is that one little word that keeps popping up: P-R-O-O-F.
Physical, undeniable, black-and-white evidence. Like if only an alien would drop his wallet and we could check the address on his driver's license. Something like that.
There's also the question of why. Like, why would aliens navigate billions of light years to make designs in corn? I suspect if there are aliens, they would probably take one look at us and say, "Clean up your own mess -- we ain't had breakfast yet."
That's not to say we can't enjoy all the entertainment it generates, like "X Files" and the guy with the wild hair on the History Channel series, "Ancient Aliens."
Early in my newspaper career, I worked alongside a reporter who specialized in investigating conspiracies. His name was Jim Marrs, and his primary focus at that time was the JFK assassination (his book, "Crossfire," was one of the source books for Oliver Stone's movie, "JFK").
Among his many books is one called "Alien Agenda." It takes a thorough look at just about every aspect of the UFO/alien phenomenon. Whether you buy what he's selling or not, it's a fascinating read.
Proof or no proof, UFOs aren't going away. Not so long as people want to believe we are not alone on this tiny blue planet, that there are other civilizations who can save us from ourselves, benevolent beings from "2001: A Space Odyssey" who will elevate us to a new glorious chapter of existence.
Well and good, but first, how about teaching us how to do those cool crop designs?
Welcome to Gerry Pronounced Gary, Version 4.0.
Over the years, this same blog has appeared in various other forms, all under the same title. Blogs may come and go, but I've discovered mispronounced names are for life.
And it's not just my first name. "Barker" is a challenge for people as well. More often than not, it comes out "Baker." It's the double whammy. Even my high school language teacher called me "Jerry Baker."
When they do get "Barker," right, the next question is always, "Any relation to Bob (the game show host)?"
Not that I know of.
At the very least, it's a conversation starter.
Names aside, I've staked out this digital real estate as "free range space," where any and all topics that are not rude, crude or socially unacceptable are fair game. That could include everything from discussions of 1950s B-monster movies to the latest discoveries in quantum physics. Funny or serious, whimsical or philosophical, let's mix it up, okay?
So again, welcome. Let's see where this goes this time around.
Yes, I know it's spelled like "Jerry." No, I don't know why it's pronounced "Gary."