Did you know that the first flag to fly over Florida's capitol after admission into the Union read "Let Us Alone?"
Yes. That's right. Neither did we.
But thanks to a blog that Slate is starting with the help of Tampa Bay Times Reporter Craig Pittman, there will be plenty more where that came from.
All this month Pittman will be running a Florida blog for the website, highlighting all the strange and spectacular things that make this the best place to be a journalist.
From the inaugural post:
As that line on the first state flag demonstrates, Florida has been weird and contradictory and mule-headed for a long, long time. To me, it’s the most fascinating state of the 50, a place where the past is constantly tripping up the future even as new arrivals are always trampling what came before them.
We are the state of second, third, and fourth chances, the state where tragedy often wears the mask of comedy. When O.J. Simpson was acquitted of double murder, where did he go? To Florida, of course—and promptly got in trouble for driving his 30-foot powerboat too fast through a manatee protection zone.
Pittman tells WLRN that this month long project will be exploring a multitude of topics, including a search for the geographical 'ground zero' of Florida weirdness.
"All different kinds of people end up here. You have the young and the old," he says. "There's Santeria sacrifices left on courthouse steps in Miami. The State Capitol just got voted the most phallic building in the world."
And the list goes on.
Aggregator exposers like recent BuzzFeed posts and the Florida Man Twitter handle already give us a sense of where to find the strange headlines we are notorious for. But most importantly, this series will try to provide some amount of cultural analysis to figure out why we get these strange headlines.
Floridians are already uneasy about our reputation, and we could use something or somebody to stick the blame on. For example, according to a recent poll by WESH in Orlando, 50 percent of respondents feel that the George Zimmerman trial will "make the state of Florida look bad to the rest of the nation."
Oh, heck. If we can't beat them, let's just give into it. At least for the rest of the month.