A good story comes with a good setting, and Craig Pittman, a Tampa Bay Times reporter, sets the scene for some of Florida's wildest stories in his latest book, Oh Florida!: How America's Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country.
Pittman says Florida has gained a reputation for producing some of the nation's most bizarre stories, like alligators battling pythons or unique government positions titled "mermaid." But Pittman hopes to link these stories to the rest of the world.
"There's a lot of stuff that happens here that influences the rest of the country," Pittman said.
Some of the consequences of these stories result in real national initiatives. Pittman mentions a few, such as cameras in the courtroom and public defenders.
"A lot of people don't realize this. They don't think they're products of Florida, but they are," Pittman said.
Pittman is also a product of Florida. He grew up in Pensacola where he recalls his parents pointing out crazy stories they would find in the papers.
When Twitter came along, the journalist started using his keen eye for the absurd to tweet his favorite stories under the hashtag #OhFlorida.
"When you grow up in Florida you never suffer from an irony deficiency," Pittman said.
Pittman's latest book was released on July 5. The day prior to its release, WLRN had a chance to speak with Pittman and recount one of his favorite stories. Listen to the interview below:
Pittman's book is now available in hardback and e-book. He'll be at Books and Books in Coral Gables on July 29.