Kick ass carl Hiaasen

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Carl Hiaasen

For all those who care about Florida.

You just cover a lot of territory and you do it aggressively and you do it fairly and you don't play favorites and you don't take any prisoners. It's the old school of slash-and-burn metropolitan column writing. You just kick ass. That's what you do. And that's what they pay you to do.

—Carl Hiaasen


1. Welcome to South Florida

2. Murder and Mayhem

3. See It Like a Native

4. Rules Are Different Here

5. The War on Drugs

6. Tourist Season

7. A State of Chaos

8. Cops, Courts, and Lawyers

9. Candidates with Convictions

10. Our Leaders on Parade

11. Stormy Weather

12. Tax Dollars at Work

13. Ralph Sanchez and Other Subsidized Sports

14. Choked on Growth

15. Vanishing Florida

16. The Everglades and Big Sugar

17. Wild Kingdom

18. Small Victories


Since 1985, Carl Hiaasen has written some 1,300 columns for the Miami Herald, all of which I've been privileged to read as a single body of work, though choosing among them to create an anthology of reasonable length meant eliminating far more than I would have wished. While many great columns had to be omitted because of limited space, those gathered here represent some of Hiaasen's finest writing as an advocate for realistic growth and decent government in Florida. Taken as a whole, this collection constitutes a history of sorts, chronicling a decade and a half of the issues, struggles, and personalities affecting the development of the state and the welfare of its residents. Individually, each column provides the distinct pleasures associated with reading Carl Hiaasen—inspired outrage, hilarity, incredulity, and passion—in language brilliantly wielded against two targets in particular: hypocrisy and greed.

While fans nationwide can find his novels anywhere, Hiaasen's biweekly columns have thus far been essentially inaccessible after their appearance in the Herald or one of the other papers through which his work is syndicated. Even ardent fans would find it difficult to search archives for past columns, especially those from five or ten years ago. This anthology was therefore originally intended to answer the need for a more permanent record of Hiaasen's career as one of the country's most influential and articulate journalists. But what also emerges from the collection, most significantly for those of us who care about Florida's future, is a clear picture of Carl Hiaasen's continuing role as an uncompromising and eloquent defender of this state.

I'm indebted to many people at the Miami Herald for their time and generous cooperation—to Lory Reyes and Michael Clark of the research department; Doug Clifton, former executive editor; Sam Terelli, general counsel; Jim Savage, head of the investigations team; Dave Satterfield, former city editor, now business editor; Bob Radziewicz, assistant city editor; Gene Miller, associate editor for reporting.

I must also thank Anthe Hoffman, Janette Johnson, and Melanie Almeder for their help and encouragement throughout this project.

Information concerning Florida's real and projected growth was condensed from Hiaasen columns; various editions of the Florida Statistical Abstract (compiled by the Bureau of Economic Research and Development at the University of Florida); Florida in the Twenty-first Century, by Leon Bouvier and Bob Weller (Washington, D.C.: Center for Immigration Studies, 1992); and South Florida—The Winds of Change, edited by Thomas Boswell (Miami: Association of American Geographers, 1991).

—Diane Stevenson

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