Saturday, October 04, 2014

Venice, Florida, Flea Market with Unusual Architecture

On a recent trip to Venice, Florida, I spotted this beguiling dome-roofed flea market.

Whimsically painted in turquoise and aqua, it looks like a fun place to stop.

I love the remnants of kitschy Old Florida, fast vanishing from our landscape of strip malls, parking lots, and neat subdivision homes where dogs are not allowed.

The dome stretches behind the front structure a good way. The sky the day I took these photos was miraculous.

Fish Depot: From the Ocean to You

Fish Depot in Boynton Beach is the best fish market in South Florida. I drive up from Fort Lauderdale with my cooler.

By the time I get there, the selection may be depleted as you see here.

You might think that this old-fashioned method of refrigeration wouldn't be as good as coolers. But that is far from the truth. People like me come from all over to Fish Depot on Federal Highway (U.S. 1).

When I lived closer, I often saw fishermen driving up with a boat on a tow to offload whatever they didn't want for personal use at the back door of Fish Depot, shown here.

If I recall right, the unusual structure once housed a neighborhood bar, way back in the early 1980s.

I like the whimsical windmill design. Kitschy structures like this once dotted South Florida, calling out to tourists making their way South on U.S. 1.

Most have fallen to wreckers and been replaced by trim subdivision housing.

Besides having the best fish, Fish Depot has this cool mural to hide the dumpster.

Why do I love living in South Florida? Let me count the ways.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Banish You Guys, A Scourge on the Language

The ugly, low-class phrase you guys has become the most common way to address listeners.

I have heard people with master’s degrees address a group of educators – all with advanced degrees – as you guys.

I have heard highly-paid business professionals of mixed gender, all in suits, addressed as you guys.

Game show announcers and media commentators with seven- and eight-figure incomes call listeners you guys.

Some of my students are so baffled by this turn of events that when I ask them not to use you guys in formal speeches, they ask, “What should we call a group of people then?”

They were surprised that the English language already has a perfectly good word for addressing a group of people: you.

Once known to every elementary school child that you was both a singular and plural form of address, this has become obscure, esoteric knowledge.

Decades ago, the Modern Language Association and the American Psychological Association acted on research that demonstrated gender-exclusive language has a constrictive effect on people’s abilities to imagine non-gendered roles and characteristics for women.

This is especially true for young children who take what they hear literally. If doctors are referred to as he and nurses as she, they assume those are the roles they must fill.

Gender-inclusive language became preferred.

Women were often told that when a word such as mankind was used, of course it included them. I am pretty sure that if the convention had been to refer to all people as "whitekind," only ignorant racists would argue that people of color should simply know that of course the word included them.

Today the word guys is freighted with traditionally masculine attributes such as watching football, drinking beer, and ogling women. So it is even more offensive to call any group you guys when it may include people born male who choose not to self-present as traditionally masculine.

I am on a one-woman crusade to stop this scourge on the English language.

I have asked colleagues to please stop referring to a group that contains me as you guys as I am not now, have never been, and have no intention of becoming a guy.

I quietly suggested to a department assistant director who supervises a small group of women, all highly accomplished and most with master’s degrees, that it is disrespectful to refer to them as you guys, as she often does as meetings.

I have edited my own speech so that this phrase, as catchy as the flu, does not disgrace my own address.

I penalize student speakers – just a little, just a reminder – who use this phrase in formal speeches.

There is a perfectly good, simple word in the English language for addressing any group of males, or females, or both, or any mixture of males, females, hermaphrodites, transgenders, bisexuals, and the coming generations of cyborgs, chimeras and clones – and that word is YOU.

It is sufficient.

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Catfish Dewey's: Neighborhood Joint with Great Service, Lots of Carbs, Less Flavor

If you are a vacationer who wants to visit a seafood restaurant where the locals go, add Catfish Dewey's to your Fort Lauderdale things-to-do list.

You will need a rented car or plan for a taxi ride that, in my experience, could easily be $30 or more.

No local restaurant has been able to equal the fried oyster po' boy at King Neptune in Port Salerno, but I keep trying.

My first choice was the 15th Street Fisheries. On this sunny South Florida Sunday, I could think of worse things to do than eat on the water.

The parking lot at the marina is small, and the line for valet parking was long.

So I turned around. I don't like crowds when I eat. I headed along to Catfish Dewey's restaurant in Oakland Park.

I figured it would be a family restaurant; all-you-can-eat catfish usually is, and I had plenty enough of that in Georgia. I don't bother with AYCE menus, because my appetite is small. Quality matters more than quantity.

The first dish was conch fritters that arrived along with my iced tea. These were perfect -- warm and tasy. Conch can be tediously rubbery. The serving was generous, probably around eight. I couldn't finish my portion.

The coleslaw arrived next, piled high -- so high, I had trouble forking it up from the small, shallow side bowl. It lacked seasoning, but I give this Florida restaurant props for the generous portions.

Some eateries skimp on the slaw, and I can't understand that. Cabbage is cheap.

The owner of an Italian restaurant once told a friend that one secret of his success was generous portions of spaghetti. "It's cheap," the restauranteur explained, and diners love you for it.

Catfish Dewey's subscribes to this philosophy.

My waitress -- and I'm sorry I didn't pay attention to her name because she deserves a shout-out -- was solicitous without being obtrusive.

This is not the kind of restaurant where the server introduces herself and acts as if you are going to be BFF from then on. You are more likely to hear, "What can I get you, hon?"

She kept my tea full, got the tartar sauce I asked for promptly, and delivered the check in a timely way without even having to catch her eye.

The oyster sandwich and old-fashioned southern greens I got (kale, I think) were also generous. There were seven or eight juicy plump oysters on the roll, lightly battered and fried exactly as the menu promises.

I prefer more seasoning on everything, so I dumped a lot of Louisiana hot sauce on them before dipping them in the tartar sauce, also not spicy enough for me. I skipped the huge role.

The greens were not the most flavorful I've ever had -- low in salt and not enough bacon or pork fat or whatever it is that makes this dish often taste so good.

Catfish Dewey's is a large dining hall with rustic red-check tablecloths and wood floor. Plenty of people were eating when I arrived toward 3 p.m.

I prefer to eat when the crowds are light, so my timing was excellent. There are always cars parked out front when I drive past, but there is more parking in the rear. Cars in the parking lot is a sign of a potentially good restaurant. I have tried a few restaurants whose parking lots are empty; invariably, people were avoiding them for good reasons.

Many Americans like restaurants with plentiful if somewhat bland servings. I cannot fault Catfish Dewey's as a seafood Florida restaurant that is easy on the pocketbook and has good service. Even though I prefer spicier food, Catfish Dewey's is an experience worth recommending among Fort Lauderdale things-to-do.