Dedicated to and inspired by Alton Yates
In the south, you always get the feeling that you’re telling someone else’s story. Sometimes, when I’m walking downtown in the evening past Underbelly, The Daily Record, and that beautiful lighted marquee, I am reminded that it’s all my inheritance. Over half a century ago, Elvis piped rockabilly indoors for the first time, white men prepared to beat black men with ax-handles and baseball bats, and people came downtown for Mae Cohen’s. Their ghosts are here still in my hallucinations of what used to be.
Today, when it’s my turn to have a story downtown, it feels like Jacksonville struggles to grow up. Lifeblood runs through a deep lazy river that instantly meets ocean. In this way, we welcome the world. I see glimpses of it as I cross Bay Street, as it hesitantly runs its way north, as only some rivers do. The river sort of embodies Jacksonville—going against the grain and trying to escape the south.
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