tv Authors Discuss Life and Politics in Florida CSPAN March 4, 2017 10:15am-11:01am EST
to go up against hard hour with no assurance of success, to look real threat in the face, have no idea what would happen and do it anyway, that is what it felt like to leave slavery. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. now dave barry and carl hiaasen discuss politics in florida. sensenbrenner 0 will join us on in-depth tomorrow discussing his work and take your phone calls. >> welcome dave barry and carl hiaasen.
>> what was your name again. >> carl hiaasen couldn't be here but i'm in his place. >> thank you for coming, thank you to jamie. [applause] what we thought we would do in the few minutes we have left is we are going to briefly talk about our newspaper careers but first we think the festival for fitting 1,000,0001/2 people into this room with an incredible crowd. >> national park service estimate in this room. i would never see a crowd this big. most amazing incredible crowd.
huge crowd. so we are going to tell you about our newspaper careers and then talk about florida or whatever. i started the newspaper business in 1921, worked for a newspaper in pennsylvania called the daily local news in westchester, pennsylvania. a local paper. on the front page, woman beats off would be rapists. that is the kind of paper we were. i was a general assignment reporter. i wrote obituaries and covered fires and a lot of municipal meetings.
writer. >> a small paper in central florida carried to the miami herald and 76 on the city desk, worked in sunday magazine where dave and i crossed paths and work on the investigation team for a few years and in 1985 started writing a column which i still right for them having outlived all the editors and publishers who i aggravated over the years and my career got started a tiny paper in florida, and later became the prototype for usa today which is still around and you can read it but when a flight first assignments was a tv show called batman. there was a guy named adam west
to played batman and the show endeded and adam west was doing tours, he would go to shopping malls and entertain kids so i got to go, they sent me an interview, adam west in a tiny dressing room in the shopping mall watching him try to fit into leotards and i just thought this is like woodward and bernstein, the whole watergate thing is happening and i'm sitting in this closet with adam west who is wearing like a sailor because he can't fit into this batman outfit this is where i am headeded. and i went to harold in 76 and i have been there ever since, south florida person, that seemed like the logical place to end up and there isn't a better news town or news place in the country.
the material is boundless. >> carl has written amazing books set in florida, something he has remarked on many times and so true, you cannot take things up that are weirder than the things that are happening. when example, it always struck me as the one that if you wrote it in a book the editor would tell you know, that would never happen. this involved citizens crime watch meeting in a little town south of miami and the chief of police was addressing the crime watch group and they were reading outdoors at the inaugural meeting explaining how police work with crime watch and it is going really well until the chief of police is almost hit on the head by 70 pound veil of cocaine falling from the sky.
it was smugglers coming over from the bahamas and they were intercepted, about 20 of them, another would hit a church and they dropped them and forced them down in naples and set up a treatment to the everglades the next day. if you wrote a novel and had a scene where the chief of police was almost hit by falling cocaine at a citizens crime watch meeting, the critics would roast you. >> the editor would say ridiculous, don't put it in, nobody would believe it. there were times i had to clip stories out of the herald and send them to my editors in new york and convince them the fix and i'm writing is not so far-fetched. after the drug wars got started before sonny crockett came to
miami, the herald -- they tried to do it in a subdued and tasteful way, the headline was a courthouse hires voodoo staff. because all these religion am a semi religion that involves animal sacrifice and the courthouse every morning would find dead chickens, beheaded goats and things and a curse on the prosecutor and the judge. and janitors willing to clean up dismembered animals and citizenry arrived at the dade county courthouse every morning, slick with blood so the herald
actually ran it and try -- this happens everywhere. >> don't want to offends -- >> you remember the story when they got their own pr people and said they were going to make everyone think this is okay on the tv where they had a tv crew and they were going to show the efficacy and humaneness with which they did animal sacrifice. it was so -- the goat got loose in the middle of it and it backfired. it was terrible. >> there was a strong market for goats in miami it is not because we eat them. every now and then there will be a camry on the expressway. >> it does still happen. >> wildlife, we have a lot of
wildlife that interacts -- the wildlife story. and fishing in biscayne bay. they caught a 6 foot nurse shark and decided they would sell it to a bunch of restaurants on the miami river, why they thought they could sell a nurse shark, they'd get it over there or have transportation so they took the people mover which is a high-tech thing we have in miami that goes around and it is not really designed for a real life. why we call it the people mover. and and there's a shark on the people mover and it is not dead.
it was not in good shape. and the story of all -- no one would buy the shark. hands the merchants showed up the next day, he said when i first saw it it was a body, and it was just a shark. it was from miami. >> my favorite story was the guy, a trailer park in west dade. the sets were not calling the
police but the game wardens. not calling -- disturbances at the house, they knew something wasn't right and his shirt is obligate, puncture wounds all over his torso and everything is fine. everything is not find. it is a double wide, they start at one end and finally get to the master bedroom and clearly nervous and let me say there is only one bed in the house. they walk up to bed and pull the covers off and two adult alligators in the bed. the affidavit was -- the alligators were removed from the premises, quote, for their own
protection. [laughter] >> in any other state, in california, if that happens in your neighborhood, whoever has two alligators in the middle of the night, they talk about in 10 or 15 years, not in florida. this guy hires a lawyer. and two years in florida state court system. there is no constitutional right. no constitutional right to sleep with a wild reptile. it was under federal protection and they had to keep these for gators in custody in case the guy lost to the day the verdict comes on the game warden is thrown in the back of a truck and they drive them into the everglades to an undisclosed location because they didn't
want this lovestruck guy to go find them. >> those were consenting adult alligators. the current wildlife issues in miami-dade county, burmese python's, carl is the expert on snakes but they are large. they shouldn't be here, they should be in burma. they are an invasive species. people in south florida love reptiles. carl is one of them. it is like starbucks down there was a snake at 3:00 in the morning in the area. people get these things and have them in their condominiums and at some point run out of crack. we are living with a carnivorous reptile. and they let them go and they
are out of the everglades and they reproduce like crazy and with no natural enemies there are thousands and thousands of them. the state of florida decides to get rid of them and comes up with the python challenge. .. i the big thing with how you kill the python and you would think -- i would have thought the way to do it is to hack the python's head off but, no, they're very strict.
that's not how to you kill them. if you cut the snake's head off the snake keeps thinking. the brain keeps thinking. they don't say what it's thinking. holy sh. >> you have to destroy the brain and the python. the first year -- keep the numbers in mind. the estimates range in the tens of thousands, some people say hundreds of thousands out there. and we have people from all over the country come down for a month and the end of the month the total wag 68 dead pythonsment so, i'm not a biologist but i'm assuming at some time during the month, a mother python laid some eggs or whatever, produced more. the point is we lost the python challenge. >> we lose it every year. for the demographics, picture lots of people arriving with snakes and machetes and just for the demographic, if you held a duck dynasty look alike contest,
for example, and you what you gave out was crystal meth in the beginning of the thing, then you got yourself a python rodeo going on, and everybody year they try something new. they lengthened the length of time and every year there's a few pythons -- but every female python lay up to 90 eggs. 90. and they have no natural enemies. so, this is a losing cause, and i've told dave one of the great -- every presidential year -- didn't happen last year. and i wish -- but usually presidential candidates come to florida, they do a photo op in everglades. it's o'bilge tory -- obligatoriy and you pose and -- people in floor care before the everglades
so if your running for president you have go there. even jeb bush did. it's in the everglades. so you have fan fan to si that during photo op a huge crete at the snatches one of them off the boardwalk. who is the small one, michelle bachmann. she was small enough. i think that's in my fantasy. you have the this and they're gone and that's the next step in the python invasion. it's an invasion. >> if we're going to challenge a species we should challenge one we could win against. pick manatees. we all love manatees but they don't do well in florida because the not that bright. all do respect. but they are brighter than the
bolters of florida. who -- boaters of florida who are not right at all. the keep running into manatees and there's always these slow down, manatee zone and never works, the idea is we can't slow the bolters down, let's speed the manatees up. and my idea was to put motors on manatees and get them up to 60, 70-miles-an-hour and after a couple of boaters are killed by high-speed manatees they'll start slowing down. speaking of humans, we should talk about the richest source of humor in florida and especially dade county, mime dade county, is the political system. we should do after the election swear them and indict them in one ceremony. because we have the most amazing record. we -- there was a glorious
period of about -- i don't know -- six years, whatever, when the two main political candidates, the two most powerful men in dade county were known as crazy joe and mayor loco. >> they were sitting -- it's not too long ago, maybe two years ago, we had a two-week stretch where three mayors were indicted. three separate municipalitiesitn the space of two week us. a trifecta that anyone any life time -- >> they've get indicted, get convicted go to jail, and get reelected. i'm not kidding. the voters say this guy doesn't need in training. ready to go. but mayor loco was xavier suarez, who i liked, but he was known as major loco -- their
herald transcribed him at eccentric. a lady wrote a letter. a retired city employee wrote a letter to the mayor criticizing something he had done, and his response was to go to her house at 10:30 at night and pound on her door help wanted to respond to her. it was miami, she went and got her gun. , which as she told the herald it has the bullets that do real damage. so, thank god she didn't open the door to the mayor, as i recall. he stood on the doorstep pounding and she is inside with a gun and his aiders are saying this isn't a good idea. 10:30 at night. we came this close to having another mayor. ethe crazy thing he did he was pissed off the herald for something, maybe somebody i wrote or the editorial board
wrote and he was so upset he showed up in this bagrobe in the lobby at 4:00 in the morning because that's the first place the newspapers were delivered. newspapers are made of paper and have words on them. you don't see them much anymore. he was waiting for the fluke his bathrobe and security people are on the phone, there's guy in a bathrobe, it's mayor loco. but you can't -- again, character better than anything you -- we mentioned the guns. i have to tell the roy black. roy black is a famous defense lawyer in south florida and his partner -- >> oh, no, the something to. >> yeah, the dog. >> this is great. >> i stole this from a novel. his partner gets home from work, frank, walking his dog in the neighborhood, and another dog comes over. the neighbor's dog breaks off the leash and comes over and
there's a confrontation, and being a lawyer in miami and of yours you carry a gun, so frank takes out -- the two dogs are having a little confrontation and frank takes out his gun and blow away the neighbor's dog help happens, luckily to have his law partner, one of the most famous defense lawyers in the country. they tried to -- they didn't want to put him in jail. just going to tack his law license away and it was the trial of the century. roy sent helicopters up to do crime scene photos. they had re-enactments. little tape where the poor dog fell. did a psychological profile of the other dog. it was unbelievable. all because -- and this guy had a -- but that is not the only lawyer shooting a dog story i have. another one i have is a guy walking a dog and a pit bull got
away, and -- from a neighbor and latched on to his golden retriever and he pulled out his weapon -- this wills -- the pit bull is dead but doesn't get-go and the golden retriever runs down the street with the dead pitbull on his back. the dog's jaws were locked and they had to shoot the dog off the golden retriever and. and the lawyer told me this and it's a pitbull story. i said you just pulled out your gun -- he has a brief case and his gun, getting out of the car. the most normal conversation in the world to him. of course i carry a gun. so why shouldn't i shoot the dog. >> a lot of people have weapons in miami. this woman was a literary escort, which means her job was when authors came to miami, she picked them up the airport and takes them around. one time the author was
cleveland amrey, and the publisher requested she get a little vehicle for cleveland amrey, and the picked him up and took him to the rental car place. she gets the rem car. hat cleveland emery in the rental car as she is leaving a man runs up and grabs her purse and runs over and gets in another car and starts to drive. so penny get out of the car and starts screaming, yelling. a man pulls to stop next to hemorrhage pulls out a gun and fires several shots the fleeing purse thief in his car. doesn't hit him. jumps back in the -- in his car and drives off. leaving penny with no purse and cleveland amrey cowering on the floorboard. >> welcome to miami, you know. >> we don't always present the best face to tourists. >> i had a bumper sticker made up that says, come back to miami
ex-weren't shooting at you. >> this story created quite a stir abroad. a german tourist at an airport hotel was -- he checks in, spends the night, comes out the next morning and is complaining there's a terrible onor his room. goes back to his room with the hotel person and they look under the bed and there's a body under the bed. and they made a big deal about that in germany. didn't point out he was not charged for the extra occupant. >> weren't there more we january tourists -- norwegian toursis. they mean well. miami is pretty.
they don't realize they're in a war zone. they don't know what a war zone is until the get there. the interesting phenomenon about florida, when miami vice started the chamber of commerce was whining and complaining this presented -- there were 12 homicides an episode and it's not fair. they were complaining this was presenting a face of just the wild west or third world country. tourists go to -- the best thing that ever happened in bought south beach. it was incredible and lot of them were foreign tourists and getting this in syndication and were fascinated. >> with were trying to beat orlando and failing bodily, and so when miami vice came, the city fathers were really, really angry. made it look like every person in miami was a drug tealer when in fact it's like one in three. >> maybe one inthree.
>> but i wanted to also mention -- we were talking about the political system and we did -- the herald did a story once where we -- this kind of an issue that's been raised by president trump who feel is his elect was rigged even though, is a recall, he won it. but. >> we need an investigation. >> but anyway, in miami, the herald decided to do a story on absentee voters, people who vote in city of miami but don't live in the city of miami. and it turned out to be very easy locate people who lived out of the city. but the herald called them up dirk want to read you a couple of their explanations to the herald. this is people who are being told your voting in a city where you don't live. and they said stuff like: i
know -- this woman who has been voting for 13 years from not living in miami, voting in miami. know i shouldn't be doing it but toyment would to forget people, my blood. then here's another one. it's a tradition. the important things we do as a family together. they go back and vote. vote with their friends. when we moved i couldn't vote for the people i liked here. and my favorite, i i've always felt more in tune with things in miami anywhere else. i'm an american citizen. if you don't violate anything when you vote, it's my right. >> most of the corruption has been in municipal races and county races and often it's candidates themselves don't live where they say they live. >> they find out they live miles and miles away and representing a district, but we talked about
manwell voted twice in onelection and he didn't live in miami put he wasn't even alive. three times. >> there's a big controversy below restoring the voting rights to felons and we always argue who is better qualified to judge miami politicians than a front they're the most knowledge inable and informed voter wes have in south florida. the guys get out of rayford, they know. well, this election. >> we were debating where to talk politics or not. let's -- in the time we have, let's take some questions. >> oh, yeah, sure. can we do that? allowed to take questions? we'll break the rules, damnit.
shout it out. >> is that a bad thing we are doing to c-span? >> c-span is on, that's right. hi. did he say -- i think he said shit at one point. >> no, i didn't. you said it. >> well, bleep that out. [inaudible question] a guy was fend offering the bad guy with a frozen something from the freezer. >> a frozen his lizard. that's a true story. a guy had been broken into several times and for rains can't go into he was not allowed to possess a final at that point in this life. he had a big giant lizard that had passed away and he used to feed it rats rats and it died ae put it in the freezer. said why you keep thing -- his
name was claws. i asked why he was keeping it. he said because if they break in again, that's what i'm going to go after them with. he would turn off all the houstonlights and sit there with the frozen lizard. he thought if he used the lizard on the burglar, and then got rid of -- no one would believe he would kill somebody with a lizard. that's actually truism saw the damn thing in freezer. was horrifying. here's what happened. we had a cushing come through the keys knock all the power off so the freezer -- the last we saw ol' the liers sadr he tied it to the back of his boat and took it out to the sound and cut it loose. that's a true story. >> his lizard went soft. >> it happens. >> happens to be dish can't begin to toll you how quested and sick and perverted carl is
when it comes to lizards and snakes. when i got married, carl gave me as a wedding gift an egg. a mysterious little egg. and all he would say is, you better get a cage. >> tell them what happened. >> it wasn't easy to get the damn thing, and then -- my wife killed the egg. she put it in the freezer. just because i wouldn't tell her what it was. >> whatever it was -- >> what good is a surprise, miss point. some laws. it was -- illegal lizard. >> if you had a cage it would have been fine. it would have been fine. yes, ma'am. [inaudible question] >> what do we use most often for inspiration in for me it's the realization that if i don't come
up with something else to write i might have to get a real job, and that's been a life-long motivateyear for me. >> jimmy breslin is great. a friend of mine. he would always say when people asked them -- that's a perfectly good question but would answer, my mortgage is my inspiration. >> it is a job. it is a job. but you're talking about is credittive inspiration. just read the front page -- used to be just the miami herald but it's not. he whole state of florida is completely insane. a this point. dave gets the greatest eest clippings send to him and i get a fair number. they're disturbing, make you want to sleep with the lights on at night but it's good material for your next book. but real life is the best. we're in a situation now politically, one of our most famous residents in palm beach, florida. a situation that none of us -- no novelist could have -- it's like a tom wolfe and hunter thompson got together and
created what we have now. and vonnegut. you've get that from the daily stuff but by and large writing is a job a damn peculiar job. >> most people who write, i think, spend -- the image you have is something just comes to you and it's like this flash and it's so rare. it's really more like it doesn't seem that good and then the next day seems maybe a little better and then -- but it's like that. slowly adding words, not just this blinding flash -- except for stephen king. but some people can write at that incredibly high prolific -- i don't know how he does it. i don't know how a lot of these people do it. but it's pretty much tore tour -- torture for a lot of us. >> like coal mining but much harder. >> it's a weird job. ow go into a room --
>> oh, you use a room. brilliant. >> and you go in with theoretically a stack -- 500 blank page outside have the audacity to think you'll put words on it and somebody is going read commit enjoy it. you think about the nerve it takes to do that. but nerve -- somewhere your head you think i'm going to write something good enough that somebody wants to read and then the insecurity piles on with every page, and then the worst thing can happen -- we talked about this -- her in the middle of a book and you read a a really good book you feel like a total imposter and you feel like just putting a torch to the whole operation. and so that's why i don't read a lot of fiction when i'm writing fiction but it will send me over the edge. >> the other side of the coin you write something and you think it's okay and it sell as certain amount and then 0
identify 5 shades of gray "comes out and people buy and you think i could have done that. why didn't die that? >> yes? >> i want to thank you for -- [inaudible question] >> thank you. >> thank you. >> but i said this many times because people -- very sweet of you to say that and i appreciate that. that people will the me, when i was feeling depressed or -- wasn't getting along with any kid and we read your book together and it made is feel so much better, and i am always grateful but deep any heart i think i would still do it if it hurt you. because i don't really have any other useful skill. >> no other skills whatsoever. >> the cool thing about this festivals, dave and i talk about
this, he travels -- when you have a book come out and you're on a tour, we always complain and whine about being on the road and away from your family, which is hard, but this is the only chance we get really to meet the people who read the books, because it's a very isolating, lonely -- the writing is a lonely grind, and you never know how good or how bad it is when you're done and then you take a deep breath and get on the plane and good to different cities and start meeting people and getting a feedback and this is true with the kids becomes. that keeps you going, sometimes it's not a happy job to be doing but the rewarding thing is when you get the feedback and this is the only connection with get. even working for the newspaper now, unless you're a -- this is a privilege for us to get --
>> we have both written books for kids and i love the kid readers. they're different from adult readers. and they're very direct. but i don't know if you have done school groups, and. >> oh, yeah. >> 300 six graders and i'm talking about my book and does anybody have any questions, the girl in front says, do you know you have a big wet stain under both your arms? >> it was true. i did. kids or honest. but it is fun to talk to. the. they're so slick so smart, and it is a good inspiring thing to be able to do that, and we need readers in this country desperately now. readers of anything. they have to read.
knee need at least a million and a half maybe. yes? [inaudible question] >> your question was, she said v-very nice. i wrote a book that came "big trouble" and do we have any plans to make more movies out of our books. this is completely out of our hands. they give you money and you give them your book and that's the end of your creative input. [inaudible question] >> not really. i did have one interesting experience, went to rich as part of an exchange program, they send authors to improve relations between the two countries. see how well that worked out.
and they asked me in st.petersburg, the consulate -- they have a program and show american movies to russians, and they asked me if i would bring "big trouble over." usually it's white christmas with bring crosby. but they have an actual author with movie. would row dues the movie and the audience speaks some english. so i agreed to do it and i'm going around russia doing talks and one of the question is would always ask them is what do you think we think of you that bothers you? they all said the same thing. you think we're all drunk on vodka and we're all gangsters, and they didn't like the gangster thing. and then i get to st. petersburg and i have my movie and i'm remembering the plot of the movie. oh, there's actually two russians in the president of the movie and -- the plot of this movie and they're gangsters. so i had to get up in front of a bunch of russians and tell them there are russianness my movie
and they're gangsterses but i said they're sport and all the americans are stupid. but one thing just want to pass along because i lived in russia and if you ever go there there,e thing i learned, do not eat the mexican food. i say this because we were in a -- in moscow and all the restaurants open was a mexican restaurant run by russians who aren't that good at their own russian food and i it's what i late he can recognized as a weaponnized chimamanday chong -- chimichanga. it was long night for them if they were listening in on my room. >> the ritz-carlton? >> yeah. >> the presidential suite. >> oh, yeah. >> it was urine, free. i'll stress that. >> i didn't have anything to
do -- besides cashing the check i had very little to do with "strip tease" the movie. went on the set. everyone was as nice as you do be. you realize dirk said this before -- all writer know that when you turn in your books over to hollywood is like turning them -- your kid over to charles manson daycare center. that's what it is. so you go in with these very low expectations and you wish them the best, but there's a couple projects always kicking around and you're always nice to them on the phone and sometime this writers want to come dispark you say, come talk, and all you can do is be nice and hope that they get it, they sort of get it, and that the script turns out okay. in most cases the scripts do not turn out okay and the stuff doesn't get made, and we're actually better off -- you're much better off with a bad script not getting made of your books than one getting made and get thing money because then you still have to spend the rest of your life answering things like, what did they do to your book?
and i say the book is good. you went to see something different entirely. but most of them are sunrise they mean well. it's a of how thing. writing a good screen play is really hard work. has to have structure, continuity. all the thing is throw away when i write a novel. we are out of time. but thank you all for coming out. >> thanks for waiting in line, too. [applause]
>> in 1986 i moved to miami and have been there ever since, and carl and i are going to talk about it but it's good place if you want to be a humor writer. excellent place to go. >> dave barry published over 30 bucks include dave barry schlep hereto, dave bar's greatest hits and the recently released best state ever. a florida man defends his homeland. watch "in depth" live sunday from noon to 3:00 p.m. eastern.