This will be the first Lakeland Local post ever written over Amtrak Wifi, while rolling through the seedy areas of southern Connecticut cities on the way to New York. So I will not get the chance to see firsthand tonight if TD Allman’s outsized ego will fit into a building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Allman is the author of “Finding Florida: The True History of the Sunshine State,” a sort of underbelly history of everything that has ever sucked about our beloved state. It’s been the source of much talk and controversy in Florida history/culture circles — largely because Allman’s book drips with contempt about those circles. He also, to reduce a long story to a sentence, has contempt for me. That’s because I published someone else’s bad review of FF on Blood and Oranges, the Florida History journal/blog that I started with friend and fellow writer Dan Weinfeld.
Allman berated me via email for a while, so I wrote my own pretty thorough essay about his book over on B&O. I urge you to check it out at this link. It will provide a bit of context for whatever he says tonight. And it might suggest some questions to ask him.
Allman’s appearance kicks off a remarkable year for Florida Southern College’s Florida Lecture Series, which History Department guru James “Mike” Denham organizes each year. Here’s the full line up.
In addition to Allman, the Lecture Series will welcome Gilbert King, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning “Devil in the Grove.” King’s book tells the Groveland boys, Willis McCall, Harry T. Moore story from the point-of-view of Thurgood Marshall, who took part in the legal defense of the men accused. This all took place just up the road from us in Lake County, specifically Groveland and Tavares.
And most thrilling for me, my buddies Leslie Kemp Poole (Rollins College professor) and Flo Turcotte (librarian/curator of special collections at UF) will be coming to talk about Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings famous book “The Yearling” and the celebratory events surrounding its 75th anniversary. The remainder of the speakers look equally exciting.
You are unlikely to find a better collection of intellectually rewarding, challenging and/or maddening Florida scholars and thinkers. I live 200 yards from where they’ll hold court. Not bad. At a time when much of our city leadership is, well, not meeting Mike Denham’s standard for quality, let’s celebrate Mike and what he offers us for free.
Allman’s event is tonight at 7 p.m. a Branscomb Auditorium. So maybe his ego won’t fit into a Wright building after all. If you go, tell him I said hi.