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Dave Barry on Florida, Palm Beach: ‘The Ellis Island of stupid people’


A resident of Miami since the 1980s, Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist Dave Barry says that he’s long considered it his duty to defend not only his adopted city but “all of Florida, including Palm Beach” from its international reputation as the center for Grade-A weirdness.

But as the former Miami Herald columnist told the audience at Thursday’s Gulf Stream Council Boy Scouts of America Friends of Scouting Pacesetter Luncheon at the Kravis Center, some goofiness is harder to defend. And yes, Palm Beach County, he’s talking about us.

“It’s your fault,” Barry said, referring to the 2000 presidential election and the fact that “every other state managed to figure out who they voted for.” He recalled weeks of giddy news coverage, during which the count went “to Gore, then to Bush, then back to Gore, and then briefly to William Shatner,” where every night viewers were treated to “Palm Beach County election officials squinting at a piece of cardboard that looked like it had been gnawed on by weasels.”


These observations are, he says, in loving jest, like the similiarities between Palm Beach and Miami-Dade counties, such as senior citizen men with bad eyesight, behind the wheel of “two Oldsmobiles welded together,” who use their spouses as passenger seat navigators or “seeing-eye wives.” The irony, Barry notes, is that even with the rise of the “Florida Man” stereotype, much of the weirdness that occurs in the Sunshine State is imported from elsewhere, as visitors wait until they get within our borders to act dumb.

“Florida,” he said, “is the Ellis Island of stupid people.”


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