January 31, 2005

The Trip to Florida: Part VII

Finally, I went to Marie Selby Botanical Gardens in the morning. The Selby’s were a wealthy society couple who collected tropical plants and orchids. They left their mansion, gardens and estate to be incorporated as a non-profit organization. Today the garden has one of the largest collections of tropical flora in existence with an emphasis on epiphytes. Epiphytes are plants that live off other plants, and do not have roots in the ground. The Selby Garden collection contains over 6000 species in 1200 genera from 214 plant families. Many of these specimens were obtained through primary field research in Latin and South America.

The gardens also sprawl over the Selby’s estate with various examples of palms from all over the world. Wooden bridges, stone and cement pathways wind through tree lined lawns, palm copses, and various types of banyan trees. It was spectacular, and I know that if I move to the Sarasota area I will have to become a member of the gardens.

In the afternoon after I returned to Casa Mar I did a few laps in the heated pool, Made lunch, then crashed on a lounge on the beach. I don’t find the pool very refreshing because folks down here like their water at bathtub temperature. However, the Gulf of Mexico is too cold this time of the year, about fifty-nine degrees Fahrenheit. At my age the first wave that hit my crotch would cause me to have an instant siezure or heart attack.

Spongebob Squarepants is Asexual!

Stephen Hillenburg, creator of Spongebob says the cartoon character is not gay. Two evangelical Christian groups have accused spongebob of having a gay agenda in order to promote acceptance of homosexuality in America. An AOL poll indicates that 84% of AOL subscribers are not buying such blatant idiocy.

I wonder though - why not have Spongebob become a Quaker - then he could be an ordinary straight but tolerant cartoon character. Would anyone object to that?

Besides, aren't sponges asexual?


The death toll approaches 155,000! I lay on the beach here, and I try to imagine the horror of being caught in that giant wave on the beach in Phuket, Thailand.

It is sunny and warm. There is a gentle breeze, and I hear the hushed voices of other people on the beach. Why is it that voices seem so distant on beaches? There are people twelve feet from me, but their voices are soft. Their speech flows gently on the lambent breeze. Even their laughter rings lightly, like small bells in the blue sea air. In the distance, someone shouts, “look,” and I hear others call to one another.

“What’s wrong with the water?”

“There are fish flopping on the sand.”


“Look at the horizon.”

I look up in time to see a monstrous wall of water curling over a quarter mile away. It is thirty or forty feet high, and the sea bottom is exposed in front of it. I watch, mesmerized as the wave crashes into thunderous spray and foam. I get up from my chair and begin to run up the beach even though I know that I can never outrun that churning and roaring wall of white water. I look back over my shoulder and see that the swirling front of the wave has turned a nasty brown. It rushes rapidly toward me, and the people farther down the beach are swallowed by the water. Their screams are cut off instantly as they are sucked into the frothing tumult. I run faster. I am gasping for air. The air has become full of sea mist. I scream. The roar is over-powering now, like several freight trains. In an instant of excruciating pain it is over as I am slammed to the sand and smashed about. If my body is found, my bones will be broken, and I will be a swollen mass of bruised, mangled, and bloated flesh.

I am cold. I pick up my towel and head up the beach toward Casa Mar.

Give to the following in order to help reunite orphans with distant relatives, and to insure that your money is used by people with true humanitarian concerns instead of proselytizing religious zeal.

American Friends Service Committee, and UNICEF

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January 27, 2005

The Trip to Florida: Part V: Back to last Week

Today the high was eighty. It was calm, and sunny. I woke up tired because I have been going non-stop since I left Lancaster Christmas day. So, I have put off going to The Palms of Mannasota Retirement Community until tomorrow. I actually watched CNN news in the morning. Then, I put on my trunks, and my robe. Nobody wants to look at my collapsing 85-year-old body, so it’s best to cover it up when walking around. I know that’s self loathing, but I can’t help it. I’d rather walk around as the Foil Man than as Isaac Stolzfuts.

Ageism rears its ugly head in the aged Isaac!

Here’s a picture of me many years ago, performing as the Foil Man at Rehoboth Beach, DE.

Be that as it may, I walked to the beach with In Search of Paul in hand, found a chaise in a prime location only a few feet away from the gentle breakers, and settled in for a good read. At first I kept my robe on, but as the morning approached noon, and the temperature climbed, I shed the robe, put the book down, and lay back enjoying the gentle tingling sensation of the sun on my skin. I always have been a sun worshipper.

Later in the afternoon, after returning to the condo, I wrote this poem.

Sun Child

Old man whose back is broken
Your blind child staring out
Looks into the mirror
But only remembers
The sea-sparkling waves
And running bare foot on squeaking sand.

Old man whose back is broken
With your warm emerald green water-memory
Counting one to ten
Over and over,
White noise of consciousness
Trap like wanting the thing.

Old man whose back is broken
Lambent breeze caressing flesh
The child’s smooth skin
Traded for leather
Stretched parchment document
First of many layers around no thing.

Old man whose back is broken
Go back to the sea.

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January 23, 2005


Today is much colder. Right now it's 56 degrees, which is three degrees warmer than the high is supposed to be. Tonight the weather idiots are predicting a hard freeze, 28 degrees. I'm staying in today. However, I talked to Jim at the BIG NEEDLE in Lancaster this morning, and it was 10 degrees with 8 inches of new fallen snow.

So, I'll take the momentary cool snap. Later this week it will be back into the seventies and I'll get back out to Marie Selby Gardens and the lesbian and gay retirement community, Palms of Manisota.

Tsunami Victims

One-hundred-eighty-thousand and counting. Don't forget to continue giving. I am splitting my donation. Half goes to American Friends Service Committee because of there several hundred year history of tolerance and care for others, and half to UNICEF, since UNICEF will be directly concerned with care for the children orphaned by the giant waves. I haven't consicered the Red Cross since they had difficulty with helping gay and lesbian victims of 911.

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January 22, 2005

Today I’m bragging about Florida again.

I’m writing at 10:00 AM, and it’s 69 degrees, going to 77 today. I talked with Jim on the telephone at 9:00 this morning - he’s one of my straight friends at THE BIG NEEDLE retirement home in Lancaster, Pennsylvania - and he said that it was 7 degrees and they are supposed to get a foot of snow today.

I promise I won’t complain about cool weather here, not ever again!

I think I shall just go to the beach today, lie on my chaise, read and build sand castles. Perhaps I’ll take a swim in the pool.

About Mr. Bush’s speech Thursday night -

If you voted for him you thought it was wonderful. If you didn’t vote for him, it was full of dark implications for imposition of American culture on Arab nations, including a possible invasion of Iran, which by the way, Iran seems to be taking seriously since her government has issued a statement saying that such an invasion would be impossible for us to consummate. So, whether or not Mr. Bush plans such an invasion, Iran, based on the Inaugural Address and other administration intimations, believes it to be a possibility. I’m afraid the Arab world sees Mr. Bush as a Bible thumping president who kills Arabs by the thousands while he talks about God, and a “God given” American mandate to spread “Liberty” (which has now been processed through Baudrillard to be synonymous with freedom, individual rights, and American democracy specifically) around the world. His language and its implications are truly subversive to the traditional American democratic Twentieth Century institutional ideal of non-interference in the affairs of others, lest they should interfere with us first. Of course, that ideal is the exact opposite of the Neo-con position that we must first inflict pain on the other before it should inflict pain on us.

The Voice of the New Rome Speaks

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January 20, 2005

We Interrupt this Travelogue

This entry is out of sequence with the presentation of my Florida Trip Journal, but I just had to jump Back to the Present for some political commentary.

Bush! Bush! Bush! - Condoleeza, Condoleeza, Condoleeza!

Damn, it turned cold! Monday was only in the fifties, Tuesday and Wednesday low sixties and today was sixty-six. Of course, these temperatures are far better than a high of 18 and low in the single digits, which is what they’ve been putting up with at home in Lancaster. And, it snowed there yesterday (3 to 4 inches my friend Tilly said when we talked on the telephone). So, I won’t complain too much. However, knowing that this evening is also the inaugural celebration for Mr. Bush’s second term in office adds an extra chill to the atmosphere. Additionally, I read that 52 % of Americans think Condoleeza Rice will do a good job as Secretary of State. I guess that’s the same 52% that thought Mr. Bush had done a good job during his first term and reelected him to a second. No one seems to have noticed except Barbara Boxer that the esteemed Doctor participated in creating the WMD and Al Quaida in Iraq myths in order to secure an invasion of Iraq that has claimed the lives of 1369 Americans and somewhere between 15,000 and 18,000 Iraqis. Of course Dr. Rice says she’s against torture, but “personally intervened to kill an anti torture provision in a recent intelligence bill.”*

Most freightening is that Mr. Bush says he won’t rule out military action against Iran. H-m-m-m-m-m, 6 Trillion in debt and counting. When does the bottom fall out? Let’s cut taxes for the rich still more, and do away with social security for the middle class while we’re at it, so when Mr. Bush has spent us into poverty, there is nothing left for the middle class.

Wake up America!

Damn, I had managed to escape politics for a couple of weeks, but the cold weather has brought it home to me here in chilly Sarasota, Florida. I wish I had a fireplace in this condo.

For some great Bush commentary go to “Bush Inaugural Theme Song,” in Onzin :: Silly Stuff by Gene Verdere Verlaring.

* Boxer, Barbara, “I’m Not Going to Back Down,” E-mail, January 18, 2004, 10:42 PM EST.

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January 16, 2005

The Trip to Florida: Part IV

Today was another beautiful, sunny day, high of 79 degrees Fahrenheit. Of course I’ve been following the weather up home, and I know its warmed up considerably since I left Lancaster County. However, it feels tropical here, and I know its cold and damp, and probably cloudy up home. I visited the Mote Marine Laboratory this morning. I never expected it to be so large. The aquarium handles over 450,000 visitors a year. It is a teaching / scientific study facility affiliated with 3 of Florida’s universities, and conducts ongoing research projects on the Florida sea life, coral reefs, and gulf, and Atlantic sea and ocean waters. The most fascinating parts for me were the manatee exhibit, and the turtle hospital. The aquarium houses 2 Florida manatees, Hugh and Buffett in a 70,000-gallon tank. You can watch and hear the manatees. Hugh is a pretty busy guy while buffett is more laid back and doesn’t move around the tank much. Together the two huge mammals weigh in at about 3000 pounds.


The laboratory specializes in rescue and rehabilitation of whales dolphins, and sea turtles. I visited the hospitals for all three, but found The Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Hospital the most fascination. The hospital staff removes sick turtles from the wild and treats them with medication, and often surgery, in order to return them to the wild if at all possible. Some, unfortunately, are too damaged by man and / or disease to be returned to the wild. Current patients include Gillligan, Lido, and Mystic. Gilligan is an immature Loggerhead turtle who was rescued from the surf at Longboat key, last June 2004. He had to have air removed from under his shell to allow him to submerge, and he has had surgery to remove an abscess, and he is on antibiotics. His illness is typical of the Loggerheads that are treated at the Mote Turtle Hospital. Though the causes are not completely understood, more and more turtles are dying of disease similar to Gilligan’s.

Of course, you can also visit other areas, and tanks that contain exotic tropical fish, sharks, and dolphins, and I did all of these. I also spent some time in the Aquarium Gift Shop, and I bought Ruth a plastic shark in one of those glob things filled with liquid, since that seemed the most appropriate item for her. If you shake the globe, the shark and little tropical fish float around in it. It’s kind of goofy, but that’s appropriate too.

I was planning to go to “The Palms of Mannasota,” a gay and lesbian retirement community in the afternoon, but I was just too exhausted. Instead, I’m sitting on my porch in the warm late afternoon sun, feeling like an old fart,” and I mean that both literally and figuratively. The older I get, the more flatulent I become. In any event, I guess “The Palms of Mannisota” will happen tomorrow.


The death toll continues to mount and is expected to top 180,000 when all is said and done. It appears that the public is exhibiting a tremendous amount of concern over the tragedy. Hopefully that will translate into the billions of dollars necessary to rescue children and reunite them with relatives or provide foster families. Clean water, food, and temporary shelter for millions of people will have to be provided. Doctors, nurses, and other medical people will have to be brought in, hospitals and other medical facilities rebuilt and or refurbished, not to mention repair and replace damaged and destroyed infrastructure. Additionally I would hope that our fickle public is able to maintain concern long enough to provide the funding and services over the long haul because this is a task that will not be complete for several years.
Everyone shoulld consider donating. I have chosen to divide my donation between American Friends Service Committee, and UNICEF, since UNICEF will be directly concerned with care for the children orphaned by the giant waves. I explained in my last entry the reason for choosing “The Friends,” that choice primarily because the Quakers represent the best of Christian virtues and values as opposed to the evangelicals representing the worst of Christian Values.

What are those Christian Values?

I will devote a future entry to the comparison of all aspects of the two religious groups. However, the primary difference is exclusivity. Evangelicals believe that they alone are saved, they alone know God and they alone know what God wants. The other 5 billion people on Earth know nothing of God and will all go to hell. On the other hand, the Friends believe that God is not the exclusive property of any one person or group. Rather he is present in each of us and we have only to search within to find him. Of course these are broad generalizations, and it would be necessary to make a much more exhaustive investigation into both in order to have a more thorough understanding of the religious practices of each.

* “Sea Turtle Nesting Data,” Mote Marine Laboratory, http://www.mote.org/~jerris/turtles/sea_turtle_rrc.phtml, painting by Sam Whiting, 60 x 60 inches, sold in October auction, posters available from the Mote Aquarium Gift Shop. Visited Sunday, January 9, 2005, 11:31 AM EST.

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January 10, 2005

The Trip to Florida: Part III

I returned to the Ringling estate, and the Museum Wednesday morning. There are over 21 galleries in the museum, but I guess the most impressive is the collection of Rubens paintings, the largest in the United States. I also enjoyed the current exhibit titled “ Surrealism to Modernism” that included works by Picasso, Dali’, Mondrian, and others. However, even more impressive to me was the gallery housing Duchamp’s Boite en Valise, 1941, and Green Box, 1934. Both of these collections of ancillary items, and miniature reproductions of Fountain and others of Duchamp’s art works relate to and elaborate on Bride Stripped Bare by her Suitors Even. Thus, among other things, they are about human sexuality. In past entries I have written about the Duchamp connection through sexuality to my own work that has as oculus, male homosexuality. I include a list of some of those entries below.


    100103 (indirectly)
    102403 (“Duchamp and Me”)

There are more, but if you have read or skimmed through these, you have the idea.


The Ringling Museum itself is a magnificent architectural work of art surrounded by royal palms banyan groves, and vast lawns. The classical Venetian building contains a sculpture garden that is located in a huge courtyard at the building’s center. After spending 3 hours at the museum, I took the estate tram/bus to the Ca’ d’zan because of the gift shop there and bought gifts for my friends back at THE BIG NEEDLE; Jim and Peter, Myrtle, Millie, and Tillie.

It had been a busy morning and I was exhausted. I’m healthy for my age, but at 85 I do tire so easily. I drove back to Siesta Key, and my apartment at Casa Mar. Once there, I fixed myself some soup and salad, took a nap, and then read some more of John Crossan’s In Search of Paul.

Tomorrow I plan to visit Mote aquarium in the morning, and The Palms of Manasota, an all lesbian and gay male retirement community, in the afternoon.


What a horror! The death count is over 100,000 and counting. At least 500,000 injured, and perhaps as many as 3 million homeless. The magnitude of the disaster is beyond belief. I have decided that I will split my donation between the American Friends Service Committee, and UNICEF, since UNICEF will be directly concerned with care for the children orphaned by the giant waves. I explained in my last entry the reason for choosing “The Friends.” The choice was primarily because the Quakers represent the best of Christian virtues and values as opposed to the evangelicals representing the worst of Christian Values. In fact, I think I will devote a future entry to a comparison of all aspects for the two religious groups.

* “Bride Stripped Bare...” Marcel Duchamp Word community, “http://www.marcelduchamp.net/bride.htm” ©2003 Succession Marcel Duchamp, ARS, N>Y>/ADAGP, Paris. Viewed Saturday, Januray 1, 1005

*2 For more of my photographs of the Ringling Estate and museums go to “Flickr: Photos from ZacSfuts @ http://www.flickr.com/photos/41639447@N00/?saved=1

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January 05, 2005

The Trip to Florida: Part II

Tuesday was warmer with the high in the mid seventies. I went to the Ringling Circus Museum in the morning, and spent two hours going through the many varied exhibits. I understand that they change on a regular basis, so you may not be able to see my favorite, a recreation of the huge dining tent in which all the employees of the circus are eating a full five course dinner on china with silver that actually is silver, and linen table cloths and napkins.

The Circus Museum is part of a much larger complex that exists on John Ringling’s estate, and it includes the Art Museum, and the Ca’ d’ Zan (House of John), Ringling’s Venetian Palace. An open air cart / bus picks you up wherever you are on the 31acre estate and carries you to any other part you wish to visit. I moved on to the restaurant at the center of the estate and had a marvelous quiche, Greek salad, and glass of the white house wine. After lunch, I caught the bus to the Ringling mansion. It has recently been refurbished and looks much as it did when John and Mable Ringling completed it in 1927. I was most impressed with the marvelous marble baths. I guess I was so impressed at least in part because I’m a senior citizen with some of the associated bodily function difficulties. Be that as it may, everything in the Ringling’s bathrooms is made of marble; floors, walls, tub, sink, even the toilet, toilet seat, and cover.

The Ringling Mansion or Ca d’ Zan (House of John)

I had completely fatigued my poor old body, so I cut the visit short, leaving the wonderful gift shop at the Ca’ d’zan and the Art Museum housing the Ringling’s marvelous art collection for another day>

Wednesday was still warmer with a high of 77, so I drove back to the Ringling complex and spent several hours in the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art.

* “Museum of the Circus,” The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, The State Museum of Florida, Florida State University, “http://www.ringling.org/pages/a_main_frame.html,” Tuesday, January 4, 2005, 6:17 AM EST.


The loss of life in Southeast Asia is staggering, 80,000 and counting. I will contact the American Friends Service Committee to see what they are planning on doing to help. As I am so concerned about Christian values and moral values nationally - I find the Quaker values serve to represent the best as opposed to the evangelical values at the worst end of the spectrum - I will give to the Friends organization for distribution to tsunami victims. I can’t afford to give more than a couple of hundred dollars, but it’s necessary to do whatever I can. The Friends Society is located at 1501 Cherry Street, Philadelphia, PA 19192.

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January 02, 2005

The Trip to Florida & Siesta Key


I am writing this entry at poolside on beautiful Siesta Key, Florida. It is Monday, December twenty-seventh, and as I sit, basking in the sun, the temperature is 72 degrees. The cool breeze is playing with my tufted and scraggly body hair, and I feel as though I died and went to heaven.

I have one comment to make about the linked Travel Channel comment on Siesta Key. Valerie Conners rates activities available in the greater Sarasota, Florida area at only two of four possible points, and that is terribly misleading. There are so many things to do here and my future journal entries will defend my position. During the next several days I will visit The Ringling Circus Museum, the John and Mabel Ringling Art Museum, the Ca’ d’Zan (John Ringling’s Venetian style mansion), Mote aquarium, Sarasota Jungle Gardens, and the Marie Selby Gardens (largest collection of orchids in the world). I also plan on attending the symphony, opera, theater, and ballet while I’m here.


I’ve rented a one bedroom, wonderfully “retro” sixties apartment with a raftered cathedral ceiling, screened in porch, kitchen, dining room, and a living room hung with the owners original art work. There are yellow and pink hibiscuses in the garden outside my porch, and I am but a two hundred foot walk among palm trees to the extremely wide beach, which is covered in the finest powdered sugar like sand.

This evening I will sit on the beach and watch the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico. Tomorrow I will go to the Ringling Circus Museum. However, I’m getting way ahead of myself. Let me go back to the beginning.

I left Lancaster at 9:00 A.M. on Friday, December 24, 2004 headed for Sarasota, Florida. I drove 402 miles to Smithfield North Carolina, made one stop for lunch on Interstate 95, and a short stop to stretch and walk in the afternoon. I checked in at the Jameson Inn shortly after 5:00 P.M., stashed my stuff, and went out to dinner at a nearby diner. After dinner, I watched the news, did some brief stretching, read for about an hour, and turned my lights out by 8:00 P.M.

On Christmas Day, I was up at 5:00 AM, back on the road by 7:00 AM, and checked in at the Best Western Hotel, Southpoint, Jacksonville, Florida at 4:30 PM. I made one stop for gas, one stop for lunch, and 2 brief stops for a short walk and stretching. I asked the hotel concierge if there was anything open for diner and was directed to a local restaurant that specializes in holiday buffets. I had turkey, stuffing, ham, yams, sweet potato casserole, string beans almandine, rutabaga, home made rolls, pumpkin pie, and an absolutely delicious cup of coffee. I ate like a pig, and had to stroll around the hotel pool for an hour before I felt comfortable enough to return to my room and prepare for bed. I watched the news and was horrified to see the Tsunamis claiming the lives of thousands in Southeast Asia.

Sunday morning I was up at 6:00 AM and on the road at 8:05 AM. I drove the 272 miles to Siesta Key and the Casa Mar Condominium in 4 and one half hours, arriving at 12:35 P.M. It was a chilly sixty-four degrees Fahrenheit, but I couldn’t complain having left Lancaster at a sub freezing twenty-three degrees Fahrenheit. I took a swim in the heated pool, and read In Search of Paul, by John Domanic Crossan and Jonathan L. Reed until about 4:30 P.M. It’s a fascinating reconstruction of the Roman/Greek/and Judean milieu in which St. Paul lived and worked toward creation of a Christian church that was vastly different from contemporary twenty-first century Christian denominations.

In the late afternoon, I walked around the complex, and ran into the young couple staying in the apartment next door to me. I asked them to recommend a good restaurant, and they raved about Mrs. Chang’s on the Tamiami trail, and they were absolutely right. It’s the best Chinese buffet I’ve ever been to. I “pigged” on various kinds of shrimp, sushi, and dumplings leaving little room for anything else. I will definitely go back just to try some of the extremely varied table of chicken, beef, pork, and vegetable dishes.

After returning to my rented condo, I turned on CNN, and was horrified to find that the death toll from the earthquake and related Tsunamis in the Southeast Asian Pacific island nations had risen to 30,000 and was expected to go much higher.

*2 “MapQuest.Com Maps, Direction s and More,” Mapquest, http://www.mapquest.com/,© 2005, Mapquest.com, Sunday, January 2, 2005, 10:18 A.M. EST.

*3 “Siesta Key,” Siesta Key Chamber of Commerce, http://www.siestakeychamber.com/chamber.htm, Sunday, January 2, 2005, 10:56 A.M. EST.

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