If museums are places where art goes to die, then Churchill’s is the place where art goes to get sloppy drunk, make a loud, hostile scene, and end up akimbo under a table, staring into its dark, gum-ridden underside. Then die.
For all its regular crowd of artists and writers and creative hangers-on, the porch still isn’t Soho, or Greenwich Village, or even Coconut Grove. But it isn’t Hialeah, either.
Reflecting television’s ability to both mirror and influence America’s middle class, in 1957 Lucy and Ricky Ricardo moved from Manhattan, where they had lived since 1951, to the suburbs. Rob and Laurie Petrie arrived in 1961, Samantha and Darren Stevens in 1964, Michael and Carol Brady in 1969. Helen and Morty Seinfeld moved there in 1989, but its unlikely their son Jerry or his pals are leaving the city anytime soon.
Florida drives always take longer than they are supposed to. We took the back roads to Venus from Miami and paid two hundred dollars for what Jacque Fresco refers to as a brain enema. At the end of the drive there were two guys from Toronto wearing yoga pants, a Pittsburgh pair, one with a furry beard, the other with fur boots, one milky white youngster from Copenhagen, and a statuesque couple with hardly identifiable accents. We were greeted by a man with a ponytail who opened a large gate that read The Venus Project. Suddenly, a compound of dome-homes (perfect for withstanding hurricanes), lush non-native greenery, hungry raccoons, and one sleepy alligator surrounded us as we made awkward introductions.
Approximately one fifth of all elephants in North America are in the Sunshine State. A hundred out of 475.
African or Asian—a mix—and like many people and beasts, they mostly came south for the weather.
According to John Lehnhardt, Executive Director of the National Elephant Center (NEC) outside of Vero Beach, it is easier to keep the animals in a warmer locale because they do not have to be brought inside when the temperature approaches freezing. The elephants adjust because Florida more closely parallels their native tropical climates. And it doesn’t hurt that they have acquired a healthy taste for the Florida Valencia oranges that grow on the former citrus grove where the facility is located.