Dear Tea!

I remember the epic drive down I-95 to Florida from Boston, for the class-aspirational sojourn to Disney (where we camped! Camped for Pete’s sake! And I touched a languid armadillo that sought shade under our pickup truck camper! It was amazing!) I remember the desperate need to stop at South of the Border, that sombrero-shaped tourist trap where I’d beg for my parents to buy me small horrors like “Mexican” jumping beans, rubber snakes, or resin paperweights in which tiny scorpions were hermetically sealed! I remember stopping a a very racist-named chain restaurant that was trying to rebrand with a tiger rather than a horrifying racist portrayal of a human being as it’s logo and mascot—of course at age ten I didn’t really understand all of this—but when the waitress asked me if I wanted grits, I asked, “what are Gree-it’s,” to the delight of my parents whose accents were equally illegible to the waitress. Trips to Disney were such a big deal for south shore folks too, like a sign that you’d made it and could afford manufactured joy for your children…

So many memories are sparked by your post—but most of all I wanted to ask, remember our Dirt Bike Gang song, “I Need Mickey?” I wrote the lyrics in tribute to the large footprint Disney held in your mom’s psyche…that promise of escape & magic.

Love you so much and thanks for bringing a spark of hope & queer radical lineage to the young people of FLA.

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This is SO how I think of Florida, having only been there as a kid. A fave memory is going to Solomon’s Castle, a tourist attraction in the woods with a sort of outsider art feel, silver castle structure all built by one man who also does metal sculpture, I think it has been there since the 80s at least. Their current website is a perfect reflection of the vibe. No credit cards, the castle was not air conditioned when I went as a child, there is a sort of pirate’s boat restaurant floating in a river, the family of Solomon is giving the tours, etc.

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