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Sideways in Sarasota … and in Bradenton this Friday night

In 2007, I wrote a column — see below — that later launched my book — Sideways in Sarasota — a compilation of newspaper columns from my Reality Chick days at the Pelican Press.

The Village Bookshop in Bradenton’s Village of the Arts is kindly hosting a book signing event for me this coming Friday night, March 6, beginning at 6 p.m. C’mon on out, say hello, buy a book, get my million-dollar (NOT!) signature, and get a glimpse of one of the most wonderful bookstores I’ve been in … in, well, nearly forever! iI hear they have a kickin’ open mic session beginning at 8 p.m. — I might say a few introductory words to get things going.

Sideways in Sarasota …

When I first moved to Sarasota from Boston, I missed the infatuating combination of a world-class, Euro-chic city hobbled by a massive chip on its shoulder.

But I came across a few things in those early days that helped me bond with Sarasota and that remain favorites to this day.

C’est la Vie – the popular French café on Main Street, with its outdoor seating, unobtrusive waiters, and usually a smattering of at least one other language being spoken, made me feel like I was on Newbury Street all over again.

The croissants at CLV are far better than any I ever had in Beantown. Remember the scene from When Harry Met Sally? You know … the restaurant scene? Yes, the croissants at C’est la Vie are that good.

Another CLV fave is the truly decadent Le Mans sandwich – a pâté-slathered baguette, a few cornichons tossed in. Heaven.

The cappuccinos, sadly, could be better, but that’s a city-wide problem. I’ve yet to find a place in SRQ that serves a cappuccino the way it should be – sensuously smooth, creamy, served with a real spoon.

While scarfing down croissants, I discovered the Creative Loafing newspaper which fed my serious jones for the reverse (sometimes perverse) snobbery that runs rampant in Beantown.

Bostonians are known for being snobs — no matter what their background or bank account, no matter what the situation. Any Bostonian worth any salt always finds someone else to look down their nose at. No better example exists than the sneering jeer, “Yankees Suck!” which Sox fans yelled (and still yell) despite years of repeated trouncings by the Yanks.

Creative Loafing gives me that same defiant dose of big-city diss I just can’t live without. And, though I’m way too uncool, not to mention way too unyoung, to appreciate the full force of CL’s hyper-hipness, I really dig the weekly horoscope … and Cooper’s Levey-Baker’s spankin’ sly writing style.

But the thing that really made me start to fall in love with Sarasota the way I’d been in love with Boston was, of all things, a crab.

One day in that first year of living here, biking over the bridge to Siesta, I stopped at the top because the bridge was up. As I leaned over the railing, peering down to the water, I saw something I’d never seen in my life:

A blue crab, swimming sideways.

Photo courtesy of U of Florida IFAS Extension website

Photo courtesy of U of Florida IFAS Extension website

He was so lovely and brave. Out there all alone, vulnerable to the vagaries of open water. Swimming surprisingly fast. Oblivious to the cacophony on the bridge above him — the exhausts, rattling engines, bells clanging; the exasperated drivers coming unglued from the five minute delay in getting to the Daiquiri Deck.

That blue crab just kept swimming his funny little sideways crawl, buzzing through the water like nobody’s business … intent on his journey, not his destination.

That’s something I think people come to Sarasota for – they can stop thinking about where they’re going, because if they’re in Sarasota, they’re already there.

Over time, I’ve come to see the blue crab as a symbol for Sarasota’s odd dichotomies and evolving, slightly schizo, personality.

They’re both rare beauties. A little bit endangered, a little bit sideways.

A whole lot special.

Posted on March 4th, 2009Comments RSS Feed
2 Responses to Sideways in Sarasota … and in Bradenton this Friday night
  1. John W. Perkins
    March 5, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Moving sideways is neither moving forward or backward. It’s not progression or digression.

    It’s going nowhere at a great expenditure of effort.

    Or, going nowhere with littel to no effort.

    The destination is the same.

    Nowhere, really.

  2. Thanks for the repeat shout-out, MC! I still remember when this was first published, I got an excited call from a friend who works at the Art Center who was jazzed about it, and I had no clue. Ha!

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