Oh joy, oh rapture. More growth

Image courtesy of Flickr user Gloria Manna by way of a Creative Commons license. https://www.flickr.com/photos/gloriamanna/

It’s a question of quality: The Hap-Hap-Happy News at the top of Friday’s Daily News left me with a lump in my throat.

“Economist: Emerald Coast to grow for next 15 years.”

I managed not to throw up as I read this epitaph.

It was delivered by Orlando-based economist Henry Fishkind, who predicted the Northwest Florida area would experience continued development well into the next century.

Oh joy, oh rapture.

Judging by what passes for “development” in this area, we can expect a plethora of strip shopping centers, gas/convenience stores, and fast food outlets.

This is good news – if you’re a developer, a construction worker or a taco/burger/pizza flipper. Life here along the Asphalt Coast will be splendid. The rich will get richer, and the poor will get trucked in like galley slaves to do the scutwork. Sound familiar, Destin and South Walton?

While the tiny minority that profits from this rapacious consumption clinks cocktail glasses behind the walls of “gated communities” (another word for “fortress”) the rest of us will be living in an ugly, polluted and congested hog swill that we once called “paradise.”

Somebody will surely say tome, “You got yours, and now you want to slam the door on anybody else coming here.”

Absolutely right. Truth is, you can’t put 100 people in a room that only holds 50. The 50 who got there first have every right to complain when the door isn’t shut.

The destruction of the Emerald Coast and the rise of the Asphalt Coast is a refrain heard all over this country, yet we refuse to learn that prosperity need not be a function of “growth.” Many cultures prospered without laying waste to everything around them.

What is the point of life without loveliness?

Heaven or hell? It would be nice if somebody with a sense of humor responded to our heaven-and-hell write-in being sponsored by the Lifestyle department. So far, we’ve gotten mostly Old Testament pronouncements of doom, and a couple of really bizarre letters from some nutcase in Andalusia.

C’mon, folks. We want this to be fun!

A tragedy that should have been averted: Recently four girls in New York were killed when a tree fell on their school bus.

Soon after, the Daily News received a press release from the National Arborist Association, which read:

“The recent tragedy in Laurelton, Queens, N.Y., where four girls died when a tree fell on their school bus was an accident that could have been averted had the tree received the professional care of an arborist.” The press release went on to describe all the marvelous things arborists do for people with trees.

Excuse me, but does anybody else find this press release to be a ghoulish and tasteless exploitation of an accident? Sort of like a tire manufacturer videotaping fatal accidents and saying, “They should’ve been using OUR steel-belted radials.”

Words that should be words: “Disconfect,” as in: To sterilize the piece of candy you dropped on the floor by blowing on it, assuming this will somehow “remove” all the germs.

This column was originally published in the March 19, 1997 edition of the Northwest Florida Daily News and is used with permission.

About the author:

Del Stone Jr. is a professional fiction writer. He is known primarily for his work in the contemporary dark fiction field, but has also published science fiction and contemporary fantasy. Stone’s stories, poetry and scripts have appeared in publications such as Amazing Stories, Eldritch Tales, and Bantam-Spectra’s Full Spectrum. His short fiction has been published in The Year’s Best Horror Stories XXII; Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine; the Pocket Books anthology More Phobias; the Barnes & Noble anthologies 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories, Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, and 100 Astounding Little Alien Stories; the HWA anthology Psychos; and other short fiction venues, like Blood Muse, Live Without a Net, Zombiesque and Sex Macabre. Stone’s comic book debut was in the Clive Barker series of books, Hellraiser, published by Marvel/Epic and reprinted in The Best of Hellraiser anthology. He has also published stories in Penthouse Comix, and worked with artist Dave Dorman on many projects, including the illustrated novella “Roadkill,” a short story for the Andrew Vachss anthology Underground from Dark Horse, an ashcan titled “December” for Hero Illustrated, and several of Dorman’s Wasted Lands novellas and comics, such as Rail from Image and “The Uninvited.” Stone’s novel, Dead Heat, won the 1996 International Horror Guild’s award for best first novel and was a runner-up for the Bram Stoker Award. Stone has also been a finalist for the IHG award for short fiction, the British Fantasy Award for best novella, and a semifinalist for the Nebula and Writers of the Future awards. His stories have appeared in anthologies that have won the Bram Stoker Award and the World Fantasy Award. Two of his works were optioned for film, the novella “Black Tide” and short story “Crisis Line.”

Stone recently retired after a 41-year career in journalism. He won numerous awards for his work, and in 1986 was named Florida’s best columnist in his circulation division by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. In 2001 he received an honorable mention from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for his essay “When Freedom of Speech Ends” and in 2003 he was voted Best of the Best in the category of columnists by Emerald Coast Magazine. He participated in book signings and awareness campaigns, and was a guest on local television and radio programs.

As an addendum, Stone is single, kills tomatoes and morning glories with ruthless efficiency, once tied the stem of a cocktail cherry in a knot with his tongue, and carries a permanent scar on his chest after having been shot with a paintball gun. He’s in his 60s as of this writing but doesn’t look a day over 94.

Contact Del at [email protected]. He is also on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, tumblr, TikTok, Ello and Instagram. Visit his website at delstonejr.com .


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *