August 20, 2007


In his second inaugural address in January 1995, Governor Lawton Chiles spun cracker wisdom about a "Cook Shack" in the woods into popular Florida mythology in a couple paragraphs. After his election-winning comment that the "Ole He-Coon walks just before the light of day" in his 1994 debate with Jeb Bush, nobody thought anything would top that. But sure enough, people forgot about the He-Coon once the Cook Shack came along.

You could scour the Earth for every would-be Karl Role and James Carville and you wouldn't find a single consultant who would know a Cook Shack from a Radio Shack. Lawton was always Lawton:

I have 200 acres of woods north of Tallahassee where I have an old log cabin. I wanted to build a cook shack out back -- wood poles, tin roof, screened sides, and an old stove.

I've been trying to get a permit for over a year. "You must have plans," they said. But, a cook shack is unusual; there are no regulations for one. So they ask: "Does it have a stove?" YES. "Does it have a toilet?" YES.

"Well, the closest things we have is a single-family residence; so it needs steel tie-downs; it must withstand Andrew-type winds, etc."

The cost went from $15,000 to $65,000.

I've concluded the Lord gave me this problem so I could understand why people hate government so much.

Mr. Speaker--Mr. President--every member of the Cabinet, I respectfully request your help on this. Let's set a goal to reduce the present rules and regulations by 50 percent within two years.

We got to Jubilee Plantation at sunset. Perfect time to catch a stray coon or turkey gobble.
The trail to the Cook Shack.
I think we're gettin' close.

Lightning strikes again.
The supply shed.
Here a turkey, there a turkey.
A hot tin roof.
The view from the door of the "living room"-- the cabin with the fireplace.
This shot makes me think of a Grimm fairy tale.
"Since November 8th, I've had a chance to walk in the woods and ponder the mood of the people."

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