I wrote this article for Tom Tanglos to help him promote his invention.
From the dawn of time, people have been injuring themselves. When Oog the caveman pulled a muscle bringing down a mastodon, he may have had Oogla his wife smear some grease on his shoulder and give it a rub. This reactive approach to health concerns was the norm for thousands of years. It wasn’t until the late 20th century that advancements in medicine, as well as understanding the need for proactive health care gave birth to the explosion of health consciousness. Unlike Oog, modern humans have the knowledge and foresight to properly treat injuries, and take precautionary steps to prevent them from happening.
Most people need look no further than their own family to find cases of ailments or injuries that require rehabilitation, especially among those family members who are very active or getting on in years. Much like Oog’s family, we are still prone to injuries from falling, or from diseases that rob us of our youthful resilience. Diabetes, for instance, can cause poor circulation, which in turn leads to all kinds of problems. While modern medicine struggles to find permanent cures to these afflictions, we must deal with them as best we can. During this waiting period, medical experts agree with the adage of “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” and exercise is generally accepted as perhaps the best preventative action we can take to keep ourselves healthy. To that end, certified personal trainer Tom Tanglos has developed the “Biocushion”, a device that offers measurable results for persons who need low-impact strength conditioning.
Anyone who has been injured knows that the recovery period is often much worse than the injury itself. Physical therapists employ well meaning but often tedious and painful exercises, such as squeezing a pillow between the legs to strengthen and condition muscles after a fall or hip replacement. The trouble with pillows, however, is that they don’t offer any sort of information as to how the muscles being used are progressing. The Biocushion allows users to instantly see and monitor their progress at a glance as they perform exercises. Hip replacement patients, for instance, can see the amount of force generated each time they work the physician/therapist assigned muscle group. The Biocushion is not only for legs, however. It can be used as an isometric training aid for almost any muscle group, such as the neck, arms or back, and is extremely useful for those patients who have arthritis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, soft tissue injuries and a host of other ailments.
Today, lengthy hospital stays are rapidly becoming a thing of the past, and that’s a good thing, given the skyrocketing costs of health care. In many cases, patients are sent home and given a recommendation for physical therapy, which can also be rather expensive. The Biocushion is revolutionary in that it can be used at home under the guidance of a therapeutic professional. Once an exercise regimen has been established, the patient can monitor their own progress from home and report results to the therapist on their next visit. This, obviously, is a good thing for patients whose mobility has been compromised by an injury, as it precludes many trips outside the home. Even the simplest obstacles, such as curbs and doors can be major roadblocks for recovering injury patients. By using the Biocushion at home, patients can perform a complete and measurable therapy session without adding unnecessary stress caused by traveling even a few blocks, and it won’t cost you three dollars a gallon for gas.
Nobody wants to be injured and go through physical therapy, but it does happen. One of the truly amazing aspects of the Biocushion lies in its usefulness as a preventative device. Strong muscles are less likely to be injured and generally require less rehabilitation when they are fit to begin with. The Biocushion is an excellent tool for keeping nearly all muscle groups in shape. Indeed, if a patient knows in advance that surgery is necessary, such as, say, a knee or hip replacement, using the Biocushion for a few weeks before surgery can drastically reduce the amount of time necessary for rehabilitation and recovery.
The Biocushion is not solely intended for use by senior citizens and injury sufferers. Anybody who wants to strengthen their muscles/joints can benefit from it. Some typical ailments it is particularly useful for include hip replacement, chronic low back pain, tendonitis, muscular imbalance, balance and gait issues and many more. Amputees will find the Biocushion very useful for strengthening after surgery.
Using the Biocushion will not transform the patient into Arnold Schwarzenegger; it is not going to produce ripped abs or buns of steel. It will, however, strengthen joints and muscle groups that are most commonly injured by those involved in sports and by senior citizens. By means of a patented gauge process that measures pounds per square inch, patients can immediately see results and can accurately report to their health care professional information vital to their situation from the comfort and privacy of their homes.
Oog and his family found their medicines by hunting and gathering, trial and error. We don’t have to do that today, but we do have to pay for our health. After reading about the benefits of the Biocushion, one would expect it to be a pricey apparatus available only to those with deep pockets. When Tom Tanglos invented the Biocushion, he knew that it was a simple, yet invaluable device that could be used in a seemingly endless variety of applications, and he wanted it to be available to all who need it. A complete Biocushion system can be had for less than $250. Just one visit to a physical therapist can be much more expensive and intrusive. A patient with a Biocushion can, under the guidance of a therapist, perform a wide variety of strength training exercises in the comfort of their home at a fraction of the cost of actual visits. This does not mean that the Biocushion is a substitute for therapeutic visits. The Biocushion should be considered as an extra tool to augment physical therapy and help speed up the recovery process. Exercising in your own home at your own pace is infinitely more preferable to mastodon grease rubbed on a sore shoulder.
There is much more to the Biocushion than is described in this article. If you are a person who has suffered an injury, or if you are a person who wants to try to help prevent one, you owe it to yourself to find out more about this health enhancing product. It can have a tremendous impact on your health as well as save time and, more importantly, money. To learn more about the Biocushion, you can call Tom himself at 386-671-7764, or go to www.biocushion.com to see exactly how it works and see for yourself how easy it is to use.
Thursday, June 14, 2007
I wrote this article for Tom Tanglos to help him promote his invention.
Posted by J. Michael Held at 8:56 AM
Friday, May 25, 2007
This is a short story I've been working on for some time. It is a work of fiction, although there are kernels of truth in it. This is the first part; the second will be posted soon. Please let me know if you like it, and if you're a publisher, don't hesitate to contact me!
I think Jack Webb helped me to become a good American. I never met him, but I wish I had. There was just no messing around with Jack. I used to watch Dragnet on an off white, plastic-shelled television, long before we had a color set. His monotone, staccato voice trilled from what my Mom called “the idiot box”, and it positively commanded my attention. When Joe Friday spoke, I listened, because there was no bullshitting him. I secretly prayed I would never have to face him. I knew without question that if I ever had to confront Jack Webb, he would know my crime, he would see my depravity, and he would make me feel utterly worthless, as I ought to.
Jack Webb didn’t use profanity. He didn’t need to. Sometimes he didn’t have to say anything at all. When he gave his look of utter contempt and disgust, with narrowed eyes and a small harrumph to a drugged up hippy who was too stoned to realize he had killed a baby while high on acid, Jack Webb was absolutely righteous in his indignation. I watched that show and swore to myself that I would never, ever use drugs.
I didn’t live in a big city. The gritty, black and white streets of Dragnet didn’t look anything like Normal, which was in color. It was a small town in the middle of Illinois, the home of Illinois State University. I suppose if the college hadn’t been there, it would have been not much more than a farming town, because once out of the city limits, it was overalls and farmers and corn fields. Lots of corn fields. If you weren’t downtown, it was pretty dull.
Money was tight in our family in those days. In fact, it was nonexistent for the kids. My brother and I didn’t have to wear potato sacks for shirts, but we never had any money. We would ride our bikes down to the campus and look at stuff in stores that we couldn’t buy. One store, “Mother Murphy’s”, had all kinds of weird stuff in it, some of which I thought was a little dirty. I remember seeing a poster that had a picture of a woman wearing a skirt standing at a urinal, peeing like a man. The store always smelled like incense, and there were hippies there. I knew all about hippies from Jack Webb.
I remember one particularly lucky day in my penniless childhood when I hit the jackpot. I had ridden my bike to a friend’s house without calling first, and nobody was home. It was very hot that day and I was taking my time riding back, aimlessly cruising neighborhood streets. I wasn’t in any hurry, and was absentmindedly trying to see how slow I could go without having to put my feet down. Cracks in the pavement had been filled with tar, and it was bubbling in the heat. I pretended that the black tar in the asphalt was really lava, and if I had to put my foot down, I’d start sinking into the earth and die a horrible, painful death. No one would know, unless a person in a house happened to be looking out the window as I was sucked into the street, but it would still probably be too late for anyone to save me. Such were my musings on that day. As I was looking down, lost in this daydream, I saw a glint of light on something in the road. Snapped back to reality, I put my feet down, backed up a couple steps, and looked again. Shining so brightly, it hurt to look directly at it; there lay imbedded in the tar a coin. A quick move of my head allowed me to see it was a silver dollar, laying right there at my feet. Eisenhower was smiling at me.
I immediately panicked. I sat there on my bike, in the blistering heat of the afternoon, and didn’t move. In the wink of an eye, a thousand thoughts rushed up at once. The first, of course, was that I was rich, and the second, immediate thought was that somebody would yell at me if I bent over to pick it up. I tried to casually turn my head and look around, but I probably wasn’t very stealthy. I was sweating like a buffalo. So I bent over and acted like I was tying my shoe, and pulled the coin from the hot goopy tar. Both the coin and the tar were hot, but it was worth the pain. Anybody watching me would have thought that I had picked up a fire ant; I had to flip it between my hands to try and cool it off. I could feel its sweet heat in my pocket. I pedaled away from there as fast as I could.
In those days, you needed a medium sized paper bag to carry all the candy you could buy with a dollar, and if you were lucky enough to have that problem, it would still take a while to eat all of it. If somebody I knew saw me, like, an adult, which was a distinct possibility, they would know that I shouldn’t have any money. I had to be stealthy. So I rode straight home to get my brother. I didn’t really want to share my booty, but we would be less conspicuous if we were together. I found him three blocks before home, told him the situation, and we took off down the main street as fast as we could go, jumping cracks in the sidewalk where tree roots had burst through the concrete. We rode straight to Hendren’s Market on School Street, which was on the outskirts of the campus. We bought fifty cents worth of candy. We each had a sack, crumpled and sweaty, wrapped around our handlebars as we rode past the park to downtown. We stopped near the student union, where the bowling alley and pinball machines were, parked our bikes in the rack, and sat down on the grass to feast.
As we sat having a contest to see who could fit the most Pixie Stick powder in their mouth, we watched the college kids walk by. Some of the students looked like normal (no pun) people, but some of them looked like the crazies on Dragnet. Hippies. Jack Webb said they were dirty and smelly and stupid. Worse, they were not real Americans. They didn’t know how to do the right thing, just complain and make trouble. Hell, I was just a kid, and even I knew that if a man had long hair, there was something seriously wrong with him. Real men had flat tops, which was the haircut my brother and I sported.
As we sat there, we noticed a hippy guy walking toward us. His hair hung to his shoulders, and he had a full but scraggly beard. He was wearing a poncho-like shirt and bell bottomed jeans, with a thick leather belt and a large brass peace sign buckle. He had rings on almost all of his fingers and a wide bandana wrapped around his head. He looked like the pictures of Navajo Indians from my social studies book. He was ambling, just strolling in the sun and smiling at everyone he saw. Whether they acknowledged him or not, he kept on smiling and walking, turning his head in all directions, looking at everything as if it were the first time he’d been able to see. My brother and I looked at each other, and then back at the hippy. We were going to be directly in his field of vision.
With a motion that fit into his gait, he waved at us like the pope blessing an audience. “Heeeyyy…” he said, smiling. Again, my brother and I exchanged glances, but said nothing. To us, he was a hippy. To him, we were kids with blue powder on our chins, gawking. We kept watching him as he walked past, strolling and waving at everyone he saw, until our reverie was broken by the realization that we still had a lot of candy to eat.
Like I said, it was dull in Normal, unless you had money. My brother and I still had five dimes left, so we took a break from eating candy, and went in the student union to watch the bowlers and play pinball. When we had spent the last of the dollar, we rode around town a little while, hoping to find more money. After all, if it could happen once, maybe it could happen again. It was about four o’clock, so we figured we’d better start home. Dinner was promptly at six, and if we weren’t there, we didn’t get to eat. We still had plenty of time, but we wanted to get closer to home.
Normal Park was about halfway home, so we decided we’d ride there, eat our candy and check out the creek, then go home. The park had a playground and a swimming pool, and we spent a lot of time there during the hot summers. There was a creek that snaked through an adjacent cornfield and the park, so if you followed the creek, sometimes you were in the park proper, and sometimes you weren’t. The creek was the best attraction at the park, although the swimming pool was a close second. The cool thing about the creek was that it was always different, and always free. There were places where one bank was really high, and the other was low, and if you were feeling particularly Evel-Kneivel-ish, you would see if you could jump it with your bike and stay dry and fracture-free. There were muskrats and frogs and bones and cool looking rocks and weirdly shaped bottles and unknown, scary looking animal tracks in fresh mud. In short, it was a perfect place for a kid to have a good time for free. We were good at finding fun like that.
We followed the creek for a while, and then sat down on a high bank to finish our candy. We couldn’t take it home, nor could we have any sign that we had been eating candy. At best, our dad would lecture us about wasting money, and at worst, we’d have to share it with our sisters. We ate the rest of the candy, and used a rock to dig a hole in the dirt so we could bury the wrappers. As we were finishing off the cover up process, we saw a body.
It was lying on the other side of the creek that we were on; we could see it through the undergrowth as plain as day, maybe ten feet from the creek bank. We whispered hoarsely about the best way to get closer, as if yelling might wake up the dead person. We finally made our way close, and then we realized that it wasn’t a body. The person was alive. It was a man. In fact, it was the same hippy we’d seen earlier that day. We knew it, but he didn’t. We were terrified, because he had noticed us. He had been lying on his back in the grass when we first saw him, but now he was propped up on one elbow. He still had the same smile, and the same wave. “Hey”, he said, moving his arm in an arc. He looked exactly like the stoned hippies on Dragnet. He wasn’t threatening in the least.
My brother and I bolted as fast as we could go. We splashed through the muddy creek, crawled up the embankment like we were escaping from hell, ran to our bikes, and rode toward the police station that was on a hill just beyond the park. When we got there, we burst into the lobby, and ran to the desk, muddy and hyperventilating. I told the desk cop, as calmly as I could, that there was a drugged out hippy lying in the park, acting all weird. He and another cop asked us to show them where he was. I was both terrified and exhilarated. I had to point out the bad guy to the cops. I felt like I was a helpful kid on Dragnet.
We left our bikes at the police station door, and walked with the cops toward the hippy. When we got close enough to see him, the cops told us to stay back. We, of course, let them walk a ways toward the hippy, and then circled around them to a bend in the creek that was littered with cement sewer tubes that weren’t big enough to crawl in, but big enough to afford us cover while simultaneously offering a perfect view of the confrontation. We couldn’t hear what was said, but we could see.
The hippy was lying on his back, arms splayed, with one knee toward the sky when the cops walked up. The cops apparently said something as they approached, and the hippy sat up, smiling. He waved. He sat for a few seconds while the cops talked, looking at them and always smiling. The cops must have told him to stand up, because he got to his feet. One of the cops had his hands on his hips during the conversation, and the other kept his hands to his sides, gesturing now and then, pointing toward the park. The hippy shrugged a few times, always smiling. My brother and I watched intently; we were sure somebody was going to pull out a gun. Then one of the cops put his arm on the hippy’s shoulder, and turned him around, handcuffing him. They stuck their hands in his pockets and we couldn’t see what they pulled out. The hippy was still smiling. He nodded his head “yes”, and then they all started walking back to the police station.
It was starting to get dark, but there was no way we were going anywhere until the hippy was in the station, and unable to identify us. We watched them until they were all the way up the hill, practically at the police station door. Right where our bikes were. If that hippy ever saw those bikes again, we thought, we were doomed. We could never ride them again. Once the cops were in the station, we ran up the hill to get our bikes.
On the way home, we tried to convince ourselves that we had done the right thing. Hippies meant drugs, and drugs were bad, and there was no doubt that whatever it was that the cops pulled out of that guy’s pockets was drugs, I just knew it. Jack Webb would have been proud of us.
When we got home, we didn’t tell anyone what had happened. I ate dinner, as usual, watched Dragnet, and was sent to bed, as usual. I had a room in the basement with a bunk bed that I shared with my brother. There was a small rectangular window in our room, but being a basement window, the restricted view it offered was ground level. The window was small, and we could squeeze in and out of it, but it was too small for an adult. In the daytime, we had an excellent view of the backs of the evergreen shrubs that my Dad took great pains to take care of. From the front, it looked like a green rectangular block, but from behind, we knew it was several bushes neatly trimmed to appear from the front as one whole shrub. My brother and I would play back there, because the bush was almost hollow inside, and we made matchbox car race tracks in the dirt. It was one of many forts we had. It was an excellent place to hide, because adults couldn’t fit back there.
It was my week to have the top bunk, and as my brother and I lay there, we talked of the episode of Dragnet that we watched earlier. At the very beginning of the show, Joe Friday and Bill Gannon walked up to a house with a shrub much like ours, only the yard on the TV was much bigger. Somebody had called the cops because a man was trying to eat the bark off a tree. And there, in the flowerbed in front of the house, a body was laying face down, head buried in the dirt in front of the shrub. When Joe and Bill pulled his head up, we saw that his face was painted two different colors, right down the middle, dark and light. He was incoherent as Joe and Bill snapped at him. He smiled a lot and behaved as if he wasn’t sure what was going on. He didn’t look anything like the guy we had seen earlier in the day, but his demeanor was exactly like the hippy we had turned in to the cops. All smiles.
I don’t know how my brother felt when he saw the freaky guy on the TV, but I could feel my skin crawl. I thought it was a dead guy, but when Joe pulled him up, he was alive. He had dirt and wood chips on his shirt, and I couldn’t help thinking that he must have had them in his mouth as well, but he never spit anything out. How long had he been lying like that? How could he breathe? And his face was two different colors. He was hopped up on drugs, of course, that’s how he could do it. The implicit lesson I learned right then was that drugs made people do crazy things, superhuman things, like breathe while buried. By the end of the episode, the guy with the painted face (his name was “Blue Boy”, we learned) had died of a drug overdose. Joe Friday said it was acid, and just the name of it made me think of every cheesy horror movie I’d seen where someone inevitably falls into a vat of acid and is completely disintegrated. Why in the world would anybody swallow acid? Joe intoned that Blue Boy had started out smoking grass, which was a gateway drug to the hard stuff like acid, which is what finally killed him. My brother and I agreed before we fell asleep that we had done the right thing by turning the hippy in. We had undoubtedly saved many lives. We both fell asleep content, knowing we would have made Joe Friday proud.
I dreamed about hippies that night. It was one of the most terrifying dreams I’ve ever had. In retrospect, nothing really scary happened in the dream. I mean, I didn’t get attacked and eaten by a monster or anything, like my normal dreams, but I woke up sweating and panting just the same.
In the dream, I was in my bed, just as I was when I had fallen asleep. But the small “kiddie” type baseball lamp on the desk was on, and I was the only person awake. Our desk sat just below the window. My dad had built it; it had spaces for two chairs, and it filled the gap between the closet wall and the wall that separated our room from the den. We would stand on it when we wanted to crawl through the window in the summer. The lamp was a cheap ceramic thing, shaped like a cartoonish boy smiling with huge teeth, and holding a bat. The shade had various MLB team logos on it. It was the picture of childhood tranquility, but something was very wrong. I wasn’t supposed to be awake, and the light wasn’t supposed to be on.
I was sitting up in bed, with the covers pulled up to my waist, when I heard crunching noises outside the window. Something brushed up against it; I could hear it. Something alive. Fear ran through me to my stomach like a cold drink on a hot day. I heard, and felt a shuddering feeling in my ears, like when water comes out of them after swimming. My entire body felt like rubber as I looked at the plain curtain covering the window, just above the grinning baseball lamp, burning when it shouldn’t have been. Then the curtain moved, and the same hippy we had turned in to the cops poked his head through. I tried to yell to my brother, but no sound came out. I knew the window was too small for him to climb through, but as I watched, paralyzed, he slid right in, like a snake through a paper towel tube. He looked at me and smiled. I couldn’t move at all. Then another hippy came in. And another. The first hippy greeted them all with a nod and a smile as they came in. He waved his arm like the pope, welcoming all kinds of hippies into our room. Within ten seconds, it was filled with smiling hippies. They weren’t doing anything but milling about, like zombies, smiling at each other and saying “hey”. My heart was pounding so hard that I couldn’t hear, and I wondered why everyone else in the house couldn’t hear it as well. Looking down at them from the top bunk, I could see dandruff and bugs in the parts of their greasy hair. They stopped milling about, and then, one by one, they all turned their heads up to look at me. They stopped smiling. And as they looked, their eyes opened wider and wider. I tried to scream again, but I was mute and frozen.
I woke up breathing like I’d just run a marathon. I was drenched with sweat. The lights were off again, and I could hear my brother breathing. As my heart slowed down, I could even hear our dad snoring faintly from upstairs. I was safe. I fell asleep again, and by morning, the world was right again. I remembered the staring hippies, and still felt a chill from them, but it was just a dream.
Later that summer, long after the hippy incident had passed, I remember needing to ask my dad a question. I found him in the family room, watching the white plastic TV. My dad rarely watched television; he mostly just watched the news. I went up to him and started to speak, and he shushed me right away. Now, when my dad made the shush noise, that meant to stop talking immediately. He was serious, and was intently watching the TV, so naturally, I looked to see what was holding his interest. And there on the screen was a sight that literally made my knees go weak. It was a hippy on the screen. He was wide-eyed and crazy looking. His expression was exactly like the ones on the staring hippies from my dream. Exactly.
I could faintly hear the voice of the newscaster droning on about bodies or something, but I wasn’t listening. I was miles away, nearly fainting from fear. I remember my mother reading me a book once, called “Watership Down”, in which a frightened rabbit had frozen in fear, too frightened to move or to even save itself. It had gone “tharn”, as the book said. I had gone tharn looking at the TV. I didn’t know why the face was on the screen. I only knew that I recognized that look. Blood had been rushing around in my head, so much so that I couldn’t hear, but I did catch one thing the announcer said before I fainted. The hippie’s name was Charlie Manson.
* * * * *
Part Two of this story coming soon. Be sure and comment if you want to see the rest of it! Read more!
Posted by J. Michael Held at 1:56 PM
Tuesday, May 8, 2007
This article is being considered by several publications in my area. To see pictures of the tree, click here.
We have all heard this saying: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it”. We know that it is a warning to learn from our mistakes, something some people never seem to do. It’s kind of negative, though, and as part of an ongoing series about the history of the Flagler/Volusia area, let’s change that adage a bit to remove its negative connotation just enough to get you out to experience some of the things that shaped our little corner of the world. “Those who do not remember the past should get out and see it, because it’s right here”.
Many people in this area are transplants from another place, and many newcomers are taken aback by the differences in Floridian plant life from that of the northern climes. There are no palm trees in Washington DC, but they make a big deal out of the cherry blossoms there. Collinsville, Illinois produces upwards of 60 percent of the world’s horseradish, but they don’t have mangrove swamps. New York has oak trees, but they don’t have southern live oaks. And right about now, you might be wondering what the heck this has to do with the history of this area? Read on to remember the past, then get out and see it because it’s right here.
I mentioned horseradish and flowering cherries above, but I could also have thrown in alfalfa, nectarines, dates and mangoes. Like many of Florida’s citizens, these floras are transplants. In fact, there are over 20,000 different plants that were introduced to America by one man who is silently honored here in Volusia County with a most fitting memorial. Near the Flagler County line stands a living monument to David Grandison Fairchild, a man who, by any stretch, could arguably be the most influential man in US agricultural history. If you follow Beach Street north, you will find the Fairchild Oak, located directly across from the entrance to Halifax Plantation on the “loop”.
The Fairchild Oak is a massive thing, nearly 100 feet tall with a canopy that spreads 220+ feet in all directions from the trunk. Its trunk diameter is over 20 feet, which makes its circumference almost 63 feet around. You can’t wrap your arms around it no matter how much of a tree hugger you are. In preparation for this article, I tried to find out (as closely as possible) the age of the Fairchild Oak. I had seen estimates from 200 to over 800 years, and that seemed like a pretty large gap. I mean, can’t you just cut off a piece and count the rings? Since I’m not a botanist, I asked one so I could provide you with the answer.
Live Oak trees are not actually oaks. They are evergreens, and are only found south of Virginia. They have been here for a long time, but how old is the Fairchild Oak? I asked Dr. Francis E. Putz of the University of Central Florida for his advice. (Just so you know, Dr. Putz has a PhD from Cornell, and a post-doctorate from Oxford. I hear those are pretty good schools). According to Dr. Putz: “Unlike many other species of oak, live oak does not set down readable annual rings, so even with a core sample, aging a tree is difficult…200-800 years is a big spread, but live oaks are capable of surprisingly fast growth, but then can persist for a long time...I'd rather doubt the 800 year estimate, but could readily accept 400”. So there you have it.
Let’s assume that the Fairchild Oak is 400 years old. When the seedling of the Fairchild Oak first popped out of the ground in 1607, it would be five more years until the King James Bible would be published. William Shakespeare was alive and writing plays. Leeches were routinely used medicinally and the Spanish Inquisition was focusing on condemning Protestants as heretics. Closer to home, Jamestown, the first English settlement in modern America was founded, although St. Augustine already had a church and a school by then. These things we know second hand by reading history books, but the Fairchild Oak is a contemporary of all these events and more.
A sign at the site of the tree reads, in part: “This live oak has withstood hurricane winds, fires, droughts, wars and the follies of mankind.” The text of the sign seems to focus on the negative, as if the tree bears mute witness only to natural hardships and the foolish things people do. Why not do something positive? Take a picnic lunch and let the kids play beneath the shady canopy of the venerable oak. Explain to them how old the tree is and how it is a living relic of an antiquated time. Maybe you’re searching for that perfect place to profess your love for another. The Fairchild Oak’s majesty positively exudes romance with its silent might and lush surroundings. Just a few steps from the real world, the site allows lovers to forget the ordinary and concentrate on each other. What could be more natural and conducive to love than people at peace?
For all of this romanticizing, it is still just a tree, and there are those who would treat it as such, as if it were a nuisance. Indeed, plans are in the works for a golf course and subdivision in the heart of the forest surrounding the Fairchild Oak. There is an organization dedicated to protecting the stand of forest that contains it. Contact them at http://savetheloop.org/contacts.html. Like any living thing, the Fairchild Oak will eventually die, and Volusia County will be diminished by its passing. However, if the tree does not die of natural causes, the county will be guilty of the greatest folly the tree has seen, and Volusia County will forever be stained with the mark of greed. We will be morally bound to hang our heads in shame if the Fairchild Oak dies by the hand of man rather than the hand of nature that created it.
For at least 400 years, the Fairchild Oak has stood, and it still stands today, ready to welcome gazers, lovers, thinkers, children and anyone who appreciates the simple wonder of nature. So turn off that TV and video game, pack that picnic basket, put on your walking shoes and take a stroll through the antiquity that lies almost in your back yard. Stand in awe of nature and see for yourself that it will work wonders for your soul for the price of nothing. Read more!
Posted by J. Michael Held at 3:51 PM
This is my first article published here in Florida. (Click the title of this article to see the "Decodence" website). It will be in the June 2007 issue of "My Bliss" magazine, a local publication in Volusia County. Woo hoo!
Things handed down from generation to generation have a great deal more value than something you bought yesterday. In fact, things from the past can often make us feel better about the future. Why? Because it’s not just their age that makes them special, it’s the story that accompanies them, the history behind them, that connection to a past we never knew and a chance to pass along a bit of now to the next generation. In Ormond Beach, there is a store that specializes in stories. Let’s have a look.
Known for its mild climate and white, compacted beaches, the city of Ormond Beach has been a destination for tourists for over 100 years. In the late nineteenth century, it was the “in” place to go, especially if you happened to be fabulously wealthy. The likes of John D. Rockefeller and Henry Flagler, founders of the Standard Oil Company, were so impressed with the area that they devoted huge sums of money to invest in railroads and hotels to make the area accessible and suitable for tourism. In 1902, some of the first automobile races ever were held on the beach, and with the arrival of the fledgling American Automobile Association, the area soon became known as the “birthplace of speed”. Rockefeller himself was so enamored with Ormond Beach that he spent the better part of his last 23 years there until his death in 1937 at 98 years of age.
What heady times those must have been. After WWI, America enjoyed an unprecedented spurt of prosperity and optimism. The Kaiser had fallen, industry was growing at a frenetic pace, and Americans were free to enjoy themselves as never before. Pondering those days of yore immediately conjures images of Alvis automobiles and flapper girls, speakeasies and spats. Al Capone ruled Chicago while everyday Americans benefited from electricity and a newfound appreciation of all things “modern”. In the world of today, we haven’t perfected the time machine, so it would appear that those bygone days are lost to us. But, suppose there was a door you could walk through that would instantly whisk you away to another time, a time of romance and vitality, of danger and exuberance. And suppose you could stay for a while, and soak, no, drink in the experience of life as it was nearly a century ago. If you look in Ormond Beach, you will find that there is indeed a portal to another time, waiting to be explored. Decodence, at 23 W. Granada (just west of the Granada Bridge) specializes in authentic art deco items from one of the most celebrated periods in history.
Do you remember the original “King Kong” movie? Have you heard of prohibition? Do you know what Bakelite is? (And no, it’s not diet food.) All of these seemingly unrelated things share a common thread: Art Deco. You’ve probably heard the term before, but do you know what it is? It was both a style of design, and, literally, a world wide movement that influenced everything from film to architecture to home furnishings for about 20 years, from the end of WWI to the Great Depression. It was so prevalent that you have seen it all around you, and you might not even know it. For instance, everybody knows that King Kong scaled the Empire State Building, but did you know that the famous structure is an example of art deco? The era that spanned the years 1915 to 1933 witnessed an explosion of creativity, although there were those who sought to put a damper on some of the fun Americans were having. Prohibition reared its ugly head, but that didn’t stop the production of sleek and stylish bar accessories, used on the sly by a generation enjoying the newfound prosperity and optimism of a world at peace and a burgeoning economy.
And what about that “bakelite” stuff? You can’t eat it, but you can admire it. Bakelite was the first incarnation of what we now call plastic. Not entirely synthetic, like modern plastic, bakelite contained some organic components, namely, wood flour. It looks like plastic, but shines like glass. It has a depth of texture that evokes a time when household knick-knacks and necessary items (radios) were produced not only for their use, but for their style as well. The art deco movement sought to bring some pizzazz to the ordinary. Vibrant colors and streamlined designs are the hallmarks of art deco, and it’s quite possible that your grandmother had a bakelite radio or bakelite napkin holders. Imagine sipping a martini mixed by hand in a shaker and decanted into one-of-a-kind metal glasses that were manufactured during the prohibition era. Now that’s a shot of irony, with a twist of nostalgia.
To walk into Decodence is to walk into a bygone era that still looks as relevant today as it did 95 years ago. But make no mistake: Decodence isn’t a musty antique store filled with junk from an old barn loft, but it isn’t a museum either, although every piece in the store is of museum quality, and looks exactly as it did as the day it was made. It is a showcase of what once was, and in many ways, of what still is. Signed, original Picassos adorn the walls and china from the Queen Elizabeth fills the showcases. How about a clock or an original Herman Miller table? Dressing tables that women would have sat at and applied their makeup trying to emulate Betty Boop are among the treasures to be found here. Bar accoutrements, kept full by the likes of Al Capone and used in speakeasies are here too. Indeed, all sorts of items from an age when glamour was defined are collected in Ormond Beach.
All of this talk about art deco may seem a bit hoity-toity, but have no fear, because even though you’ve passed into another time, there is a friendly guide to help you during your stay. Much like Mr. Peabody and his “Way Back Machine”, your host at Decodence is the ever jovial George, knowledgeable and gregarious, and always ready to answer your questions, get you a cup of coffee, or regale you with historical tidbits regarding every piece in the store. Authenticity is never an issue; all pieces are proven to be original and there is an extensive reference library available at the store to convince any doubters. And if George doesn’t know the answer to your question, he’ll find it while you browse.
Don’t feel that browsing century-old items makes you a fuddy-duddy. A person that succumbs to nostalgia belies their love of history and, more importantly, stories. A piece of art deco is a tangible link to our collective past. The people of our past weren’t any different than we are today, in that they appreciated function coupled with design, but for them, unlike us, it was completely new and exciting. The magic of this period didn’t die, though, and it can still be worked, quite effectively on those with an eye for simple beauty. To see art deco is to look into the face of optimism, and who couldn’t use some of that? Read more!
Posted by J. Michael Held at 10:25 AM
Monday, May 7, 2007
Hello, and welcome to my "serious" blog. Here you will find those writings of mine that I have managed to get published or that are pending publication. I know it's going to start slowly, but I have every hope that it will soon become too large for me to handle. If you're looking for a "fluff" blog, I have one of those too. You can find it here or at the link on the right side of the page, or in my profile.
Thank you for visiting, and please feel free to comment. Read more!
Posted by J. Michael Held at 2:28 PM