Middle Class Death – A Local Perspective of Cape Coral, Florida

Great Recession hit most communities hard, especially those areas designated as semi-rural and being under constant development. Cape Coral Florida was marketed during the economic real estate boom as an idyllic family friendly and safe environment. At that time, prior to the real estate bubble, it was regarded in some realty circles as the second most up and coming city in the USA. Construction and over development was abundant in the creation of this middle class mecca. New homes featured all the amenities that were uncommon for the area’s indigenous blue collar demographics. Gated communities with sprawling manicured lawns secretly sequestered rows of identical cookie cutter homes giving rise to routine, mundane and often culturally devoid repetitive days. Paradise can no longer be marketed by such cheap ploys and gimmicks. Real estate brochures referring to lazy summer days by the poolside, drink in hand while earthly concerns melt away under the hazy sunshine – All are remnants of a dead past. This was southwest Florida’s answer to the infamous Wisconsin Death Trip.

Great Recession

Although the words macabre, mythic, enigmatic and unsettling may be a far cry from adequately describing life in Southwest Florida at first glance, further examination, closer inspection and a local perspective can shed much of the eerie quiet facade behind this picturesque community. Would any outsider wonder why locals and the unfortunate souls who call this place home, sarcastically refer to Cape Coral as “Cape Coma” and the adjacent city of Fort Myers as “Fort Misery”?

A second home for all

Today, Cape Coral is now marketed as a paradise ONLY to potential second home buyers, vacation home shoppers and possible retirees. The previous booming economic forecast of growth reflecting both business ventures, job stability and industry expansion along with a haven of family friendly communities has met a timely demise. Facing a rising 13 plus percent unemployment, dismal service (food & retail) ONLY low paying jobs, limited choices for higher (college) education and an absolute dismal cultural offerings makes this lazy city a choice for the dumbed down zombified masses of unemployed proletariat. Demographics consist of the highly conservative, born again indigenous southwest Floridians OR the droves of idiotic northern investors, who between sun and fun at the beach, schedule aimless sightseeing tours of every short sale and REO foreclosure. No doubt, the excessive mix of sun and tanning oils has decimated the few brain cells remaining as they search for their own personal slice of warm paradise, hawked by cheap circus sideshow salesmen know as Realtors. The movie Glengary Glen Ross comes to mind. In fact, just inquire about purchasing property and you will face a deluge of solicitations from Shelley “The Machine” Levene clones.

Three common themes

Great Recession

Driving down one of the central roads in Cape Coral you are bombarded by faded images on billboards that “paint” a visual depiction of this sleepy community. Most billboard advertisers will of course market their message or product to the masses of indigenous locals who will constantly see these very same images on a daily basis. In a sense, it reflects a subtle marketing technique that borders on indoctrination. Cape Coral is awash with three central themes: the flag reinforcing patriotism and the unquestioning respect for authority and mass indoctrination of group think nationalism. Even though your community has been pillaged by the likes of NAFTA or Free Trade agreements, resulting in outsourcing and downsizing (loss of jobs) and continued government reluctance to address the housing market crisis – Don’t despair your an American in America. The symbols will help reinforce this central theme.

Great Recession

Another central theme marketed by these ghastly billboards which continue to plague these ghostly roads, is of course cheap beer. Why question and rationalize the social and political issues that plague our redneck enclave, when one can simply crack open a “sixer” and drown those proverbial deep thoughts, effectively subduing any notions of serious cerebral discourse. Instead one can have a rousing visceral drunk laden experience belting out verses from Mustang Sally. Now, all you wanna do is ride around Sally

Great Recession

The third billboard you will find in abundance is geared towards the bread and circus mentality. Give the peons and serfs cheap entertainment as a distraction technique to avoid opening your eyes to dismal reality of the social, financial, cultural and political woes that continue to plague communities like Cape Coral. Further exacerbation is gained upon closer inspection which reveals that these so-called casino’s are not of the Las Vegas, Atlantic City or Foxwoods level of beautiful decadence. No, these are depressing store front units that operate inconspicuously inside one of the thousands of faceless strip malls. Many of the patrons are senior citizens who spend there days gambling away there meager social security and veterans savings for the chance of winning……..gift cards. Yes, you can almost here Pat Sajek and Vanna White exclaim in gleeful bliss, “Big Money”

Entertainment – Fun Fun!

Recent actual free entertainment included a fun filled family fest of walking in the heat to celebrate the opening of………a road.

Great Recession

You deserve a break today…

The McDonald’s fast-food chain may have been responsible for at least half the jobs created in the United States in May 2011 according to Market Watch.

“McDonald’s ran a big hiring day on April 19 — after the Labor Department’s April survey for the payrolls report was conducted — in which 62,000 jobs were added ”

Perhaps the trend was started in Cape Coral. At least this video regarding the disastrous job market choices available can testify to such a claim.

Can you spare a dime?

The great economic depression II has casualties everywhere. We have all seen the depressing statistics and explosion of tent cities in places like Fresno and Sacramento California. However, most were unaware of these modern day shanty towns and subsequent arrival of modern-day Hoovervilles in Cape Coral. Victims of job losses and foreclosure they are forced to survive in makeshift tents fashioned out of everyday discarded items.

Another uncommon indicator of overall quality of life in a particular area, is the crime factor. In particular the type of crime is even more important then the frequency of overall crimes. The type of crime eludes to the social factors prevalent in a given area which can be broken down in terms of ethnic or racial lines, social pressures as well as economic status. In terms of Cape Coral we find crimes that equate with the lower social and economic stratum of society. In one such instance, we have a couple in North Fort Myers who have been arrested for cutting up shopping carts from at least six different stores and scrapping them for money. “Back door” scraping is a common blue collar crime in these parts. In a similar such operation involving metal salvaging, thieves are responsible for stealing aluminum drain skimmers.

Considering Florida’s hot and humid climate, air conditioning is not only a mandatory luxury but also a means for quick cash. In this instance, we have another couple guilty of stealing AC units from a residential home. I read in a similar case, a couple had been stealing such units from several empty rental units and selling them in order to pay their electric bill. Even the local churches are no longer safe from the salvaging thieves who steal in order to resell the valuable cooper wires contained inside these units. This adds new meaning to those fire and brimstone sermons considering Florida’s summer heat. Apparently, stealing used cooking oil is another hot crime in southwest Florida as well. Restaurants get money back for the used cooking oil, which is collected by a recycling company. Thieves are well aware of this opportunity to make some quick greasy cash. Finally, if for some godforsaken reason you end up in southwest Florida, make sure you don’t harm the alligators as this unfortunate soul was arrested for allegedly killing alligators for dinner.

Great Recession

If your still sold on the proverbial summer paradise, that every Realtor loves to boast about in their presentations along with the endless displays of picture laden brochures – Then by all means, indulge in the decadence of southwest Florida lifestyle. I did have a HOME to sell to you! Incidentally, today while driving on Del Prado blvd, I passed an F150 with a confederate flag bumper sticker and the word “YEEHAW” etched proudly on the rear window. In summation, I would be justified to use a Log line for a potential screenplay about SWFL: ” It’s military culture vs Jerry Springer culture” – Just remember Dante’s Divine Comedy and the line about hope and you should fair well.

All hope abandon ye who enter here