In fact-checking yesterday’s post, Hiaasen’s Nature Girl Release Date: November 14, 2006 , I ran across a 60 Minutes interview with Hiaasen that is especially interesting and has the secondary benefit of suggesting a new slogan for my scandal-plagued home state:
I was also reminded of a Carl Hiaasen-Warren Zevon factoid.
Consequently, this morning’s Heck Of A Guy Blog entry is a Hiaasen Bonus Post, consisting of these two blogworthy items.
Florida: Wonderful, Weird, Wacky Florida
Perhaps the most dependably enjoyable literary subgenre in my reading repertoire is one I have designated Florida-Style Weird Crime. The nomenclature is, as always, important. Florida-Style Weird Crime, for example, is not precisely identical to Weird Crime In Florida because, occasionally, Florida-Style crime might take place in New Jersey, Telluride, or Chicago.
But Florida is indeed special, and no one presents it with the flair and style of Carl Hiaasen. This is no small accolade, given the number of talented authors who operate in the same literary geographic region. Hiaasen, in fact, collaborated with Elmore Leonard, Edna Buchanan, Dave Barry (who typically writes comedy but also wrote Big Trouble in 1999 which could be mistaken for a Hiaasen book written during an especially mellow life stage), and nine other local writers to write Naked Came The Manatee in 1997. A partial list of other authors includes Michael Connelly (author of The Lincoln Lawyer; see The Lead-Off Book For The Summer 2006 Reading Season), James W. Hall, John D. MacDonaldd, John Katzenbach, Charles Willeford, Laurence Shames, Les Standiford, and Randy Wayne White.
It has been said, in fact, that Hiaasen’s main character is always Florida. And why not? Consider this excerpt from a 60 Minutes interview.
“Are these stories true, or inventions of your imagination?” asks Kroft. “Professional wheelchair thief.”
“True,” says Hiaasen.
“School board candidate whose legal residence turned out to be a tool shed,” asks Kroft.
“True,” says Hiaasen.
“The U.S. attorney who bit a stripper during a table dance,” asks Kroft.
“It’s real,” says Hiaasen. “True.”
“A South Florida mayor who tried to hire City Hall workers to kill her husband,” asks Kroft.
“Yup. Yup,” says Hiaasen. “I believe she’s gotten a new trial since then. But there was testimony that she solicited for a hit man in City Hall.”
“All those are true,” asks Kroft.
“I wish I’d made them up,” says Hiaasen, laughing. “I wish I made them up.”
And if you think he is exaggerating, there are plenty more examples in a folder he keeps in his office that’s filled with South Florida news clippings.
“The court had ruled it ‘Gators In Bed is Bad Idea,’” says Hiaasen, referring to one clipping. “This was a story about a guy who was sleeping with two full-grown alligators. And a court ruled that he had no constitutional right to sleep with an endangered reptile. And that happened in Florida.”
“Was he sleeping with them?” asks Kroft. “Yes,” says Hiaasen.
“In what way?” asks Kroft. “In the way that you’re suggesting with your eyebrows,” says Hiaasen.
“That’s a good one,” notes Kroft.
“Here’s a guy who was stealing medical equipment, He surrenders. It’s — he was unhooking patients from their heart monitors and stealing the heart monitors. This was in West Palm Beach,” says Hiaasen, referring to another clipping. “That’s quite a crime when you think about it. The guys on a heart monitor. ‘Excuse me while I take the machine.’”
The transcript of the entire 60 Minutes interview is well worth a read and can be found at
60 Minutes Interview With Carl Hiaasen
Carl & Warren
In Hiaasen’s Basket Case, the plot involves a rock group, Jimmy and the Slut Puppies, whose biggest hit was Basket Case. It turns out that one of Hiaasen’s buddies was the late Warren Zevon (he of Excitable Boy and Werewolves Of London fame). Warren wrote and recorded a complete version of Basket Case as a track in his last album, My Ride’s Here. Hiaasen and Zevon also co-wrote two songs, Seminole Bingo and Rottweiler Blues, that Zevon recorded on albums. Way Cool.