I have just recently returned from a trip into the belly of the beast… Florida! I visited my parents at their luxury estate outside of Tampa and I have much to report. First let’s get in the mood, shall we?
The above photo was taken at Reagan International, in DC. The flight into said airport is pretty cool, as you skim right by all of the major sights. Highly recommended as a brief stopover. The older part of the airport featured some nice vintage typefaces and graphics. Yes I am a typeface degenerate. Voila:
Why can’t things look like this anymore? Woe.
Anyways, I got to sunny Florida and immediately enjoyed a fish taco and the beach. Not bad at all. It was unsettling, though, in that my parents’ place was located near a nice, scenic island covered with eight miles of beaches. How lovely. Weirdly though, in spite of the fact that thousands of people descended on said beach every day, the island was peopled only by white people. Exclusively! No black people, no brown people, no asian people, no sir. It was really really weird. Even weirder, actually, was the fact that there were always a few black people fishing on the bridge to the island, but apparently they were not allowed to actually cross. Strange.
The next day I hit the outlet mall hard. It was a steroid fuelled strip mall, in a sea of scrawny strip malls. I got some things. Bizarrely there was a Lacoste store which – quite obviously by design, for some reason – featured no mirrors! Except in the change rooms. This is a very curious design choice for a clothing store. I’ve never seen the likes of it. The next day I went kayaking with pops, which was a good time. Then I really got into the Florida groove and played some shuffleboard. Hell yes! For all you doubters, a pox on you. Shuffleboard, it must be said, rules. A very fun game. If anyone knows of an outdoor court in Ottawa let me know; I need to get down.
Pretty standard vacation fare so far, sure, but while driving around town I saw a billboard that seemed as though it had been placed there by god himself: PALMETTO GUN SHOW. Ohhhhhh yeah! How could I possibly resist? Both of my parents refused on principal to accompany me, so I set out at nine sharp to attend the gun show alone. I’ll admit it: I was a bit scared. Not scared that I’d get shot or anything, but scared that my bewildered eyes would give me away as an outsider. Nonetheless I pulled up at the Manatee Civic Centre and realized immediately that I was outclassed. 1. I was driving a KIA Rondo, not a pickup, SUV, monster truck, or camaro. Not good. 2. My attire consisted of precisely no camouflage. Not good at all.
I got into the line and noted the following sign:
That’s right folks! “All weapons must be unloaded and no loose ammo in show. This includes concealed weapon permit holders”. Oh good, the maniacs will take the bullets out at the front desk and put then in their pockets. What a perfect security system. Working hypothesis: Americans are completely insane. And sure enough I looked up ahead and saw a guy wearing a neck brace standing around the entrance waiting for his pal, with a freaking assault rifle slung casually over his shoulder, and some kind of submachine gun dangling from his waist. For real!! I was way too scared to try to take his picture, for fear of being pistol whipped or murdered on the spot. Instead I stood with mouth agape, trying desperately to comprehend what I was seeing. There was a large sign saying ABSOLUTELY NO PHOTOGRAPHS. I took that damned serious, so you’ll have to settle for my account, sans photo evidence.
I bought my ticket (no I did not get the $1 NRA member discount) and went inside. I found myself in another line, and the fellow at the little table asked me: “do you have a firearm?” No. Then I should just head right in. As far as I could tell their extreme security measures included putting a little orange zip tie on people’s guns as they entered. I got my hand stamped and turned the corner to behold… Madness!!
I can report that a gun show is just as crazy as you think it is. Imagine a flea market, or a comic book convention, or an antique market or something like that, except that every single thing on sale is either:
- a gun
- a bigger gun
- something to put on a gun
- something to advertise how much you love guns
- some other deadly implement with no purpose except killing people who don’t love guns (switchblades and so on)
- something to hold or display a gun (there is a large selection of concealed carry wear, attractive leather vests with built in holsters and such)
- a much bigger and deadlier gun