Valentine Day 2016 Sinatra Celebration


Sinatra Celebration for Valentine Day

Amelia Island Jazz Festival will celebrate Frank Sinatra’s 100 Year Birthday with a Big Band Bash on Valentine Day in 2016. This fifth annual BIG BAND BASH will be held on Sunday February 14 from 7:00 – 10:00 PM, in the Amelia Ballroom at the Omni Resorts Amelia Island Plantation.

The popular Dinner/Dance Benefit Gala will present The Dynamic Les DeMerle 17 piece Orchestra, featuring vocalist Bonnie Eisele and a special tribute, celebrating Sinatra, in honor of Frank’s 100th birthday last December 12.  WJXT-TV personality Sam Kouvaris, a Sinatra aficionado, will also be on hand to croon many of Ol’ Blue Eyes’ best known songs.
To celebrate Valentine’s Day, the music will showcase romantic tunes while paying homage to greats like Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, Duke Ellington, and Harry James, with whom DeMerle played drums for several years.

Francis Albert Frank Sinatra was born Dec. 12, 1915 in Hoboken New Jersey, overlooking the then starting skyline of New York on the other side of the Hudson River. A blue collar immigrant town, a stone’s throw away from Ellis Island at the time of Frank’s birth, the Mile Square City these days is an upscale center of shops and condominiums, with many a park and street named after its most famous resident.

A Meet And Greet the Musicians cocktail party is set to begin at 6:30 PM . Suggested dress is Smart Casual/Elegant. Tickets for the Big Band Bash are priced at $90 per person and the proceeds will benefit the Amelia Island Jazz Festival Scholarship Program.

For online ticket purchases and further information, please visit the festival website, or contact the Festival Hotline at (904) 504-4772 or email
Tickets can also be purchased at the UPS Store, 1417 Sadler Road, in the Island Shopping Center, or at the AIFBY Chamber Of Commerce, Gateway to Amelia, A1A and Amelia Parkway.

AI Jazz Festival Names Scholarship Winner

Les deMerle with talented Ryan Duncan

Les DeMerle with talented Ryan Duncan

18 year old Ryan Duncan, a gifted saxophonist from Jacksonville, will be honored with a college scholarship from the Amelia Island Jazz Festival, it was announced today by AIJF Artistic Director Les DeMerle. A four year member of the Florida All State Band while attending Douglas Anderson School Of The Arts, Duncan will accept the festival’s annual award during a special “All That Jazz” concert/show on September 20, 7:00 – 10:00 PM, at the Amelia Community Theatre at which he will also perform with the Dynamic Les DeMerle Band featuring vocalist Bonnie Eisele. For his university training, Duncan plans on joining the highly regarded music program at the University of North Texas.

“We could not be happier with this choice,” said DeMerle, “and we have no doubt that Ryan will make a strong name for himself in the jazz world ahead.” Although primarily an alto saxophonist, Duncan has proven to be equally proficient at tenor and baritone sax as well. He first began to play alto while at Fishweir Elementary School in Jacksonville and continued through Lavilla Middle School prior to entering Douglas Anderson. Given guidance from his older brother Howard, Duncan has been greatly influenced by such alto sax icons as Charlie Parker, Phil Woods, Sonny Stitt, and Cannonball Adderley. Notable trumpeters have also made their mark. “I’ve listened to and learned a lot from Clifford Brown and Nat Adderley records too,” he said. After undergraduate work at UNT, where he hopes to add Composition to his skills, Duncan plans to attend graduate school. “Currently, I am interested in playing professionally in a military band or teaching saxophone at the university level,” he added.

“All That Jazz” in September will offer a unique concert for area jazz enthusiasts. “For the first time, Bonnie and I will be presenting a show that is primarily derived from our cruise ship performances,” said DeMerle. Having recently returned home from several months of cruise contracts, most recently on the Oceana Riviera, where they visited European ports such as Monte Carlo and Portofino, DeMerle said that the band is in top shape musically and they look forward to a night of well-paced music, comedy, and ultimately lots of fun. “The ACT is a terrific facility and it will give us the opportunity to create a dazzling program similar to what you might see on Broadway or in Las Vegas,” he said. Along with Eisele the show will feature DeMerle on drums, Steve Strawley-trumpet, Don Zentz-sax and flute, Clarence Hines-trombone, Doug Matthews-piano, Ernie Ealum-bass, and Sammy Rodriguez-percussion.

2015 Performance Program

Now in its 12th year, the AIJF will take place at various locations in Fernandina Beach, FL from October 4-11, and will kick off with its annual free concert in Amelia Park on Sunday, October 4, with U.S. Navy Band Southeast TGIF. It will continue October 7 with Jump Jive & Wail, a tribute to classic dance oriented swing music featuring the Dynamic Les DeMerle Little Big Band and spirited vocalist Eisele, a Latin Jazz Night October 8 that will showcase the sizzling hot, award winning, and internationally famous Trio Caliente, both at Sandy Bottoms. 2015 headliners will be guitar legend Larry Coryell, October 9 and jazz vocalist extraordinaire Kevin Mahogany, October 10 at the Omni Resorts Amelia Island Plantation. Additionally, the always popular late night jazz jams with AIJF’s 2015 musicians will follow the headliner sets on October 9 and 10 in the Omni’s Verandah Restaurant at Racquet Park. The festival will end on a swinging note Sunday, October 11, with a Dixie to Swing Jazz Brunch, featuring former Ray Charles saxophonist, Al Waters with DeMerle’s Jazztet at David’s Restaurant.

In addition to online, tickets may be purchased at the UPS Store, 1417 Sadler Road, in the Island Shopping Center, or at the AIFBY Chamber Of Commerce, Gateway to Amelia, A1A and Amelia Parkway. A not for profit 501(c)(3) corporation, the Les DeMerle Amelia Island Jazz Festival distributes proceeds toward its scholarship program to fund college educations for aspiring jazz musicians. For more information, schedules, and tickets, please visit the website: or contact the Festival Hotline at (904) 504-4772. Email address:

Takers in a Suit


The takers have a close alliance

If it wasn’t already true before the 2008 crash of the markets and the ensuing big recession, it must be clear to about everyone by now, that the big money is on Wall Street and in Northern Virginia, more defined as the Nation’s Capital Washington DC and surrounding areas. That’s where the Takers wear suits except on casual Friday, when they pretend to be like the rest of us.

Since the riots in Baltimore last week I have been talking a bit about Givers and Takers in our current society, with Givers being those who produce value and Takers who consume value, without clearly defining the consequences. Sometimes the lines are blurred a bit because takers can be found in the entire fabric of our society. The wellfare recipient who milks the system for everything it has created to buy off guilt, is clearly a Taker, but in the total picture he’s just peanuts. As famed archaeologist Arthur Demarest explained in his book “Ancient Maya” the rise and fall of a rainforest civilization, we’re not the first society to be brought down by Takers. Takers caused the decline of the Mayan civilization too:

Society had evolved in too many elites, all demanding exotic bubbles; all needing quetzal feathers, jade, obsidian, fine chert,gold and animal furs. If we would study the Mesopotamians, the Egyptians, the Greeks, and so many other sub-cultural civilizations, we would find the same results time and again.

Nobility is parasitic, non-productive and expensive, siphoning away too much of society’s energy to satisfy its frivolous cravings.

Yes, it’s the elite Takers who are most expensive. The non producing welfare taker gets peanuts, albeit lots of them, if he works the system. But the elites get much more. And it’s the group in society’s middle, the group that produces, that gets lost in the shuffle, every time again.

For example, where did all those trillions in Fed “stimulus” go? Very little went to  producing contributors, the middle class.
No, that money helped prop up the prices of financial assets (directly in the bond market and indirectly in the stock market).
Shareholders made money. Executives got bonuses. Wall Street firms made out… well… like bandits.
It’s easy. The financial wizards arrange for a company to sell bonds – earning millions in fees for the service.
Then the company takes the money (borrowed at the lowest interest rates in history) and uses it to buy back its own stock (paid for at one of the most richly valued levels in history).
The price of the remaining shares goes up (because more earnings accrue to each remaining share) – triggering bonuses for all the insiders.
The trick is so sweet that corporate America is set to hit a new milestone this year – nearly $1 trillion in buybacks!
Everybody is happy… all the corporate nobility, that is.

The poor working stiffs are worse off than ever. Because all this insider financial gaming reduces the long-term capital formation and serious investing that creates real jobs and real wealth.

But the plain people have no idea how the money system is rigged against them. And at least they have disability.

The elites always figure out ways to crony up and control government… and to turn themselves into Takers.

King Louis XVI of France probably was a decent fellow. But he was surrounded by Takers living off a boatload of privileges.

In fact almost the entire First and Second Estates – the clergy and the nobility – lived off of privileges, tariffs, taxes, grants, rents and other entitlements.

After they took their share, there was hardly enough national output left to support the working classes.

And you think America’s hedge fund managers have a nice tax deal with their “carried interest?” Nah…

France’s elite was practically exempt from taxes. Something we’re still working on in this country.

But with so many Takers, 18th-century France struggled to stay solvent. A couple of bad harvests… and people began to starve.

“We’re hungry. We want bread,” chanted the poor women in front of the Tuileries Palace in Paris.

Hearing the chants, if you believe the popular account, the king’s young wife, Marie Antoinette, could have have benefited from better PR people.

“They say they are hungry,” they would have told her, with the advice to say something about how she cared deeply about their hunger. How she felt their pain. And how she  was working day and night with the royal court to alleviate the food shortages in France. (Evita Peron did a much better job of that 150 years later!)
Instead, the sweet but dim Austrian dirndl blurted out what must have sounded like:

“They have no bread? Well, let them eat cake!”

True or not, the story got around. And somehow it sounded true enough. Soon the mob was appropriately roused and the revolution couldn’t be stopped.

How to Get $75,000 a Year from Uncle Sam

Takers on the Loose

Takers on the Loose

The world has always been divided into Givers and Takers. Obviously I’m talking about ideology rather than economics here, but the consequences are rapidly turning into a daily diet of violent controversy.
Last week’s chapter happened in Baltimore and while the pundits and politicians were trying to lay blame in two ideological divergent ways; one blamed society and the other blames the rioters, it should be abundantly clear that neither position is going to give a solution, if there is one this late in the game.
The angle of the Whitehouse is predictable and overused: as in we need more education, more jobs, more opportunities etc. Politician’s favorites since time began.
The other major view lays the blame legally and morally with the rioters, even though this has not produced any workable solutions since I was a rioter myself in the turbulent sixties.; heart in the right place, justice embroidered on my forehead but completely ignorant of the fact that the human race will ALWAYS adopt the Nanny State first as their direction for the future, given the choice and the chance. And by God, the choice and chance is overwhelmingly in favor of the TAKERS.

So let’s analyze who should be identified as a Taker. A taker always seeks to profit from the benefits of social programs created as political ammunition. You can “buy” my vote for a price. Takers do not just show up out of nowhere; they are paid, and often paid well, to become Takers. They often advance over many years of social programming into positions of acquired wealth and even importance. Obviously Takers are not limited to rioters and crack dealers. They include administrators, bureaucrats, housing officials, certain politicians, non-profit institutions that carry payrolls, do-gooders with public money etc. etc. I’m not saying  it’s all wrong, because it’s not. But to understand the term Takers, these are people that do not produce anything that contributes to the economy of the land. They take and consume. They are the reason that 70% of the US economy floats on consumption rather than production. But that’s a story for another time.

Here is a not-so hypothetical example of a young urban man in today’s day and age, contemplating the future. He can go and apply for a job or two, work six days a week or even seven to make ends meet, apply for a mortgage and do the old fashioned thing of proposing to a girl, raising a family and work hard to get ahead in life…

or he can follow these easy, proven 13 steps to financial well-being…

1. Don’t get married to her
2. Use his mom’s address to get mail sent to
3. Buy a house with a zero down Fanny Mae mortgage and preferential interest rates, thanks to the Federal Reserves’ zero percent policy
4. Rent out house to his girlfriend who has berthed two of his kids
5. Section 8 will pay him $900 a month for a three-bedroom home
6. Girlfriend signs up for Obamacare so he doesn’t have to pay out the butt for family insurance
7. Girlfriend gets to go to college free for being a single mother
8. Girlfriend gets $600 a month for food stamps
9. Girlfriend gets free cellphone
10. Girlfriend gets free utilities
11. He now moves into the home but still uses his mom’s house to get mail sent to
12. Girlfriend claims one kid and he claims one kid on taxes… now they both get to claim head of household at $1,800 credit
13. Girlfriend gets disability for being “bipolar” or having a “bad back” at $1,800 a month and never has to work again

This plan is perfectly legal and is being executed now by millions of people.

In contrast, a married couple with a stay-at-home mom yields $0.00 dollars.

The unmarried couple with stay-at-home mom nets roughly:
$21,600 disability +
$10,800 free housing +
$6,000 free Obamacare +
$7,200 free food +
$4,800 free utilities +
$6,000 Pell grant money to spend +
$12,000 a year in college tuition free from Pell grant +
$8,800 tax benefit for being a single mother

A whopping total of $75,000 a year in benefits.

I admit that I haven’t verified the exact details above… But I’m betting that the numbers are correct… $75,000 a year a lot of money to many people.
It’s also a (possibly partial) explanation why so many show up to riot, as they have nothing better to do.

In Baltimore one out of three residents eats at someone else’s expense; 35% get food stamps. Over 85% of the kids in school get free breakfasts and lunches at school. And more than 6 out of 10 residents get some form of government support.
Of the working-age population, more than 4 out of 10 are jobless. This number is five times the official “unemployment rate.” Which just shows how worthless the statistics are. For young black men between 20 and 24, the real unemployment rate is about 60% and in some neighborhoods it is 100%.

These are the people who went on a rampage last week – Takers bought and paid for with half a century of taxpayers’ money.
Not a pretty picture, especially not when we realize that the real big money is still not in food stamps and disability.

The big money is on Wall Street and in Northern Virginia. That’s where the Takers wear suits. More about that later.


2015 Amelia Island Blues Festival Re-Scheduled

blues logoThe latest news from the Amelia Island Blues Festival is that the Board is looking to re-schedule the event to the Spring of 2016. Major reason for this move is the recurring weather problems the festival experiences during the September month. Since the inauguration of the Festival in 2011, inclement weather has created major obstacles concerning stage construction, talent line up risks and ticket holder no-shows.

Other dates for 2015 have been carefully considered but were ultimately decided against because of other events in the same time slots.
Alternatively, the Blues Festival Committee, in association with RockTenn and the newly formed Northeast Florida Blues Society, decided to provide Headline Sponsor funding for the performance of the Edgar Winter Band during the 52nd Annual Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival on Saturday May 2nd.

Also on a side note, Blues Festival President Jeff Malone is spreading his blues wings, not only as co-producer of the Ghost of the Blues Broadway Review with an upcoming show at the Florida Theatre but also by founding the Northeast Florida Blues Society, which also functions as a sponsor of the “Ghost of the Blues”.

Following press release describes the interesting concept of this show.

Ghost of the BluesGhost of the Blues at the Florida Theatre

“From Beale Street to Broadway, the Revival of the Blues”. That’s what Producer Randy Knight along with Co-Producer Jeff Malone, President of the Amelia Island Blues Festival and the Northeast Florida Blues Society have cookin’ on their “Ghost of he Blues” production, traveling nationwide with the next event at the Jacksonville Florida Theatre on Friday, May 8th, 2015 at 8:00 pm. Ghost of the Blues is a musical revue featuring professional touring musicians paying homage to blues legends that have passed on to Blues Heaven. “It’s all about celebrating the musical legacy of the Blues Pioneers that brought us the roots of American music today” adds Malone.

Act I takes place in a graveyard not far from where Robert Johnson made his deal with the devil in order to become the greatest bluesman ever. See Robert Johnson, and then progress through Blues history with John Lee Hooker and Etta James belting out the boogie and the hits that morphed the Blues into Rock n’ Roll.

Act II changes the stage into a juke joint where Willie Dixon, Little Walter, Albert King, Koko Taylor and more entertain you with a spontaneous explosion of the Blues like you would see ” back in the day” when American Blues ruled the world!

The outstanding cast is what makes the show. Starring Biscuit Miller as Willie Dixon, James Armstrong as John Lee Hooker, Stacy Brooks as Etta James, Bobby Wilson as Robert Johnson, Mud Morganfield as his dad Muddy Waters and more…

Come see and hear what it was like at an authentic blues revival, brothers and sisters of the Blues, when “Ghost of the Blues” comes to the Jacksonville Florida Theatre on Friday, May 8th, 2015. Our only appearance in Florida this season!

For tickets… or call the box office@ 904.355.2787,

Ladies’ Night May Offer Solution to City’s Budget Perils

5 Drinks in a 120 lbs body weight is intoxication!

5 Drinks in a 120 lbs body weight is intoxication!

In the closing paragraph of today’s blog Dave Scott announces that The  Palace Saloon has brought back its popular Ladies’ Night from 9 pm- 2 am on Thursday’s, where ladies can get a bargain five drinks for five bucks including call drinks, call shots, domestic draughts and house wines, a price that almost makes it worth going in drag, or if that doesn’t appeal to you guys, then you can buy your drinks for just $2.

Reading this I could not escape the thought that many patrons would leave the bar those evenings impaired, if not drunk, and if the National Trend to finance law enforcement out of arrests, property confiscations and traffic violations continues, this could be a feasible way out of budgetary problems fort the city. A quick search on the internet revealed the following chart borrowed from It shows a clearly that right at 5 drinks legal intoxication makes its entry, even taking factors such as weight and gender into consideration.

While the Beta side of my brain was doing a series of quick calculations, the Alpha side was conducting a role play interview with local police chief Jim Hurley about consequences for police deployment and budgetary opportunities.
I won’t bore you with the details of this imaginary discussion but the bottom line was that here was a real opportunity to fill the local administration’s coffers with enough dough to meet many financial targets, including underfunded pension liabilities for 2015 and beyond.

blood alcohol level chartA series of calculations showed that
• a 120 pound woman doing five shots inside of an hour (pretty much party mode behavior) hits more (0.17%) than twice the legal limit (0.08%) for operating a motor vehicle. By the way it doesn’t make a difference whether you mix up your drinks (beer, wine or hard liquor) or stay in one poison. The result will be approximately the same: you are drunk!
Now if you’re a woman of weight, say 240 lbs, the same conditions of 5 drinks consumed in one hour will bring you awfully close to that 0.08% mark. You’ll be impaired but not legally drunk yet.
• If you are a “social drinker” and use this ladies’ night promotion to have a drink every hour between 9pm and 2am in the morning and you weigh in at 120lbs, you’d still be legally intoxicated at closing time (0.10%). But if you’re 240lbs, your alcohol level would hardly show at 0.008% –
Guys on average have a 30% more resistance than women of the same weight group.

So: assuming that the Five Dollar-Five Drink Ladies Night Special is a packaged deal and you consume all five drinks, every woman under 220lbs body weight will walk out of Florida’s Oldest Saloon legally intoxicated on a Thursday night or early Friday morning.

Here are a few of the highlights of my imaginary conversation with chief Hurley:

• City police will be out in full force and all patrol cars will be commanded onto the streets between 10pm Thursday night and 3am Friday morning;
• The Sheriff’s office, in an effort to get its share of tickets, arrests, confiscations and impounds, will increasingly compete with city law enforcement for the most traffic stops conducted, and ultimately demand consolidation of effort considering that popular opinion gets louder that both law enforcement agencies should merge to gain economy of scale;
drunk driving• Considering how severe Florida’s Drunk Driving Penalties are, just 20 DUI tickets a week would bring in an easy $1 million into the law enforcement coffers. And this is only for first time convictions. Second or third conviction revenue would start rivaling Wall Street’s margins.

And talking about Wall Street, there is a parallel visible but obviously on a different scale.
Wall Street participants, (brokers, hedge fund managers,  have been making so much money off the Fed’s stimulus funding in recent years, that not only did they get renewed Government approval to selling the dangerous risk derivatives once again (remember the ones that almost took us out in 2008??), but these same guys are also driving up real estate prices in New York city to incomprehensible levels. Under the motto to keep the money rolling, financial bigwigs are now transferring some of their enormous recently acquired wealth to bigwig real estate developers who are building them safe and over the top condo castles, priced between $17 and $64 million a pop. Generations of true New Yorkers cannot afford the city anymore and are being forced out.
Not sure why I’m bringing this up in this article, but my brain has a strange way of connecting the dots. Be careful Fernandina.

And as a closing argument: The Bar Promotion, Ladies’ Night was introduced as a marketing tool for bars and lounges to get lots of ladies into an establishment on certain slow nights, because the belief is that they will attract large numbers of heavy drinking males to come and spend large amounts of hard earned cash on ladies’ drinks and their own.
Looking at the above numbers and considerations,  I think this promotion may quickly turn into a “self liquidator” as in the end only 200lbs plus females with a measure of self control, will be able to crawl up to the bar, without the constant fear of getting caught driving drunk. And even though 200lbs plus ladies deserve the best in life, they do not constitute the demographic profile the promoters of Ladies Night originally had in mind. Just sayin’.

In the meantime I think I’ll apply for a combined taxi/towing license and purchase some towing trucks with luxury passenger quarters to deliver intoxicants and their vehicles home in one clean sweep. Could be a good business opportunity for a while.

Restaurant Week 2015 Kicks Off at Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island

Love and foodThe annual Restaurant Week on Amelia Island kicks off at the Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island next week Thursday, January 15 with a dinner tribute to the Modern Southern Cuisine. The resort’s new Executive Chef Andrew Yeo has gathered a group of local Chefs/Owners of Amelia Island Restaurants to create a Tribute to Modern Southern Cuisine with each chef preparing a personal interpretation to a Southern classic Dish. Looking at the menu I am impressed with the creative potential of this theme.

The selection of Hors d’oeuvres alone shows an unparalleled journey through Southern Cuisine

• Braised Short Rib Stuffed Fingerling Potato with Chive Crème Fraiche (OMG!)

• Fried Green Tomato Panini, stuffed with Vegetables, Wild Mushroom and Spanish Goat Cheese served with Piquillo Pepper Aioli

• Beef Wellington, Blue Cheese, Sea Salt

• Peekytoe Crab Salad on Carolina Gold Hoe Cake

Hold it right here!

I never understood people who aren’t open to food. I used to have a rule: if you made a face of disgust as I described a meal, then you’d be the first that I’d make try it. Eating is key to travel, and if you’re not trying things beyond your comfort zone you’re robbing yourself of the full experience. Food is as central to culture as language or music. And above hors’oeuvres selections are as close to haute cuisine Southern style as I’ve ever seen. Can’t wait to try.

And then on to the Dinner selection.

T.J. Pelletier of the Salty Pelican prepares a Butternut Squash and Shrimp Bisque with a Southern Style Shrimp Po’Boy, while España’s Roberto Pestana is serving Panko encrusted Diver Sea Scallops over Lobster, Bay Scallop and Andouille Sausage Jambalaya.

The Ritz Carlton’s own Andrew Yeo goes all out with a Sherry Glazed Crispy Pork Belly, Tomatillo Relish, Bacon Powder, Collard Greens and Scott Schwartz of famed 29 South creates a Braised Veal Cheek on Congaree and Penn Sweet Corn Middlins, Brown Butter Carrot Mousse and Hickory Smoked Almonds.

In one  (southern) word: Scrumptious

The Desserts come prepared by the Ritz Carlton’s Sheldon Millett and consist of  Key Lime Cream, Strawberry Shortcake and S’more Chocolate Sorbet.

The evening begins with a 6 p.m. wine tasting and hors d’oeuvres and a 6:45 p.m. dinner seating in Café 4750. The cost is $68 per person plus gratuity. For information and reservations please call 904-277-1087
Our advice: Send this to someone who was raised in the South or wish they had a’been! If you’re a Northern transplant or from anywhere for that matter, bless your little heart and fake it. We know you got here as fast as you could. But this is Southern Cooking at its finest. 

NCCoA hosts Medicare Enrollment Info Session

fall colors to guide you through the maze

When colors turn to Fall we’ll guide you through the Medicare Maze


On November 24 at 9:30 am the Nassau County Council on Aging hosts a Medicare Enrollment Info Session for Seniors throughout the County. For Seniors one of the most important periods of the calendar year is Medicare Open Enrollment period.

Unfortunately, it can also be a stressful time due to the excess of information offered and the number of decisions to be made, many of which will have long term consequences. Nassau County Council on Aging (NCCOA) will help Nassau seniors navigate these waters by hosting a Medicare Enrollment Information Session on Monday, Nov. 24 at 9:30 am. This hour-long session will be held at the Fernandina Beach NCCOA Senior Center.

If you are not familiar with the annual enrollment period, it’s the time period between October 15th and December 7th when you can enroll in Medicare Advantage Plans, as well as Part D Prescription Drug Plans. During this time, you can also review or change your current Medicare plans. This period is the same across the United States, including Florida.

“Part of our mission here at the Council on Aging is to keep our seniors well-informed,” said Janice Ancrum NCCOA’s Executive Director. “We strive to get the leading experts in the field who can offer the most current information available so our clients can make sound decisions on their own behalf.

The Open Enrollment period is a time to take a step back, reevaluate your situation, and explore your options. While seniors can do this on their own, NCCOA will have two expert speakers, Janet Pitts and Sandra Taylor on hand to explain Medicare’s finer points in making decisions during this Open Enrollment Period. To get the most from the open enrollment period it’s important to know what decisions you can and cannot make.

Here is a partial list of what seniors can do
•    Change from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage Plan.
•    Change from a Medicare Advantage Plan back to Original Medicare.
•    Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers drug coverage.
•    Switch from a Medicare Advantage Plan that offers drug coverage to a Medicare Advantage Plan that doesn’t offer drug coverage.
•    Join a Medicare Prescription Drug Plan.
•    Switch from one Medicare drug plan to another Medicare drug plan.
•    Drop your Medicare prescription drug coverage completely.

Please be aware that NCCOA will only present current information during this event and not offer or give advice regarding which plan someone should choose.

Note: The Council on Aging is a 501(C)(3) non-profit agency, partially funded by government grants and donations from private individuals.  Call 261-0701 for more information.

6th Pétanque America Tournament in Full Swing This Weekend


Camaraderie and good times under the tent

Today and tomorrow will feature a souther French feel in downtown Fernandina Beach as the 6th Annual Pétanque America tournament is being played. Unusual cool weather did not stop 324 (167 teams) top Pétanque players from around the World and North America, from coming to Fernandina Beach this weekend to compete for prizes and titles in the 6th Annual Pétanque American tournament, that arguable has become the largest tournament in its field in North America. Up until this year the maximum number of competitors had been limited to 256 playing in teams of two at the River front Downtown, which can accommodate 64 courts.

Additional courts were built in Central Park this year to accommodate the courts needed for almost 70 more players in the growing event. One of the oldest players this year is celebrity chef, TV personality and author Jacques Pépin  who turns 79 next month. Jacques, who also appeared in the first year (2009) will be promoting his latest cookbook and the PBS 26 series cooking show Jacques Pépin: Heart and Soul, that began production a couple of weeks ago.

The Kings of the Game with Philippe Boets and assistant TJ Seaton

The Kings of the Game with Philippe Boets and volunteer TJ Seaton

Again this year all eyes will be focused on the performances and workshops of at least 5 current and former World Champions in this game that invites people of all ages to compete.

Today are the preliminary games, organized in such a way that every team plays at least 5 games. Organizer Philippe Boets and his crew of assistants and volunteers believe that 5 games ‘justify’ a trip to Amelia Island every November, a formula that seems to be working well, considering the large amount of familiar faces at last night’s welcome party, which was catered beautifully and plentiful by a number of downtown restaurants.

If you are a spectator, take yourself to the Riverfront in Fernandina Beach today and tomorrow. The atmosphere is truly French Riviera, food, beverages and music wise. We’ll be posting first day results later.

Lie to Me


Suppose they give an election and no one shows

Suppose they give an election and no one shows

As I’m watching yet another set of idiotic political messages on TV, dealing with Charlie Crist’s attacks on Rick Scott’s company illegally feeding from the public trough while Scott’s campaign centers around flipping Crist being responsible for 800,000 job losses during his tenure as Florida’s Governor, I wonder why people love to be lied at, better yet apparently demand it from their leaders.

We already knew about Scott’s shady past before he was elected last time and to make Charlie Crist – not the cleanest one himself either- responsible for 800,000 job losses in Florida, when the world dove into an economic tailspin after the 2008 crash on Wall Street, is ludicrous to anyone with a basic sense of economics. Yet, millions are being spent on these messages trying to sway the voters left or right.
And then my thoughts go to the local political arena and my recent encounter with one commissioner in the local halls of social exchange, the grocery aisles at Publix Supermarket and for a brief moment I actually felt sorry for a certain class of politicians in today’s world; those that chose this path in life out of the urge to create a better society.

The commissioner in question “applied” for his job several years ago with the very best of intentions, wanting to make life in this wannabe Mayberry-town better. But as we talked, I could see that he was worn out and slightly bewildered by the facts that his constituents not really want him to fix things.
I might normally have interpreted that as some kind of excuse, but he seemed especially open at that moment, so I asked him what he thought. He sighed and told me that he really wanted to put some progress and future into this town but when he thought he had an opportunity to actually deliver on most of the things he had campaigned for (reduced government, less meddling in people’s lives, plans for a solid economic future, stuff like that) he quickly learned that whenever the issue became a “tit for that” situation, requiring a small price to pay, nobody stood with him.

“And?” I asked.
He looked at me in a worn out way and said, “No one would pay even a small price or take some minimal action to get what they said they wanted.”
I could only nod as other people we both knew pushed by with their shopping carts. I felt a bit sorry for him and thought there is so much wisdom in song lyrics, softly singing inside my head Jonny Lang’s first hit:
‘Lie to me,
Lie to me and tell me everything is all right
Lie to me and tell me that you’ll stay here tonight
Tell me that you’ll never leave
Oh, and I’ll just try to make believe
Come on and lie to me’.

That brought me to another subject, but I was hesitant to bring it up. Politician or not, this man was feeling a lot of sadness and I didn’t want to pile on. But he always was a stand-up guy, and he got there himself, so I said: “You know what that means, don’t you?”
“Yeah, I do. It means that no matter what they say, they don’t really want change… they’re not willing to ‘suffer’ for it. All their slogans are just brave-sounding words. They need politicians, so that there’s always someone to blame.”

I agreed, even though it’s not often that I feel sorry for a politician, but on this occasion I had to. This man had started with good intentions. And regardless of how badly his electorate had let him down, what really pierced his heart was learning that his voters didn’t really want what they said they wanted. That made everything he was doing meaningless. It’s tough to watch that kind of realization spreading over the face of a guy passing the prime of his life.

Some politicians really do serve as “icons of blame” for a huge number of people. Regardless of which political party you love or hate, there’s always someone to blame for your troubles: The Blues are ruining the world, the Reds are ruining the world, The Tea Party is dangerous, the “establishment” is ruining the world, bureaucracy is ruining the world.

The truth of the matter is that the productive people of the world — those of us who create and supply products and services — have the ultimate say over what happens on this planet. If any serious number of us decided that we really didn’t like what politicians were doing, we could simply withdraw our support and the political systems would crash, rather quickly I would guess. But for what it’s worth, we live in a state of special interests and that’s why this mid-term election is the most expensive one in history: $4 billion dollars of empty promises and slogans!

Tuesday is another election day that no-one is really interested in even though slightly more than $4 billion dollars is spent on this mid-term, which probably get less than half of the registered voters enough energized to make it to the polling stations. And do we really think Crist or Scott are fundamentally different people. In spite of all the slogans and accusations, they are not.

And on the Federal level, to make sure that life stays in the balance of a happy status quo, Washington and the Feds predictably put out some upbeat statements about the economy and GDP last week, so we all( except for realistic economists) can sleep in financial peace, because our wise politicians and their appointees have saved the global economy and everything is fine now. Wall Street goes through the roof on credit and debt, gold is down and the banks still don’t loan, unless you bring a truck load of cash and your first-born with you. In the meantime health insurance premiums go up 10%, Florida Power is granted another 5% billing increase and we’re all scrambling to make ends meet. The price of oil is now down to a price level ($80 a barrel) at which our newly found shale oil operations cannot make profit anymore, so expect a reversal of that Christmas gift to be coming soon.
“Lie to me and tell me everything is all right.”
Yes, I pity the poor politician who seeks office, especially in a small town, to try and improve things, to come and find, that his reason for existence is anchored in a lie. People don’t want to change, they just want someone to blame. Keep that in mind when you’re voting today.

The vast majority of politicians lie, steal, and cause lots of harm, but they persist because people want them to persist.

Free Benefit Concert for Chef Thomas Tolxdorf Family

Where Once was a Wall is now light

Where Once was a Wall is now light

Several months ago Angela Wallace Pierson of Wallace Pierson Travel (formerly The Travel Agency) and myself started working on an idea for a Benefit Concert for Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island’s Executive Chef Thomas Tolxdorf, who sadly passed away in a car crash on June 7 this year.

The day we finally chose was Sunday November 9, in commemoration of the fact that 25 years ago on that day, the Berlin Wall came down. Chef Thomas was born in East Berlin in 1965, four years after the Wall was erected and cherished the day in 1989 the wall came down and his journey to becoming an internationally recognized chef really began.

The concert is performed by local band Island Vibe with a little help from well-known musicians Chris Kellam and Blistur, Jennifer Burns, Jay McPerson and others at The Green Turtle in downtown Fernandina Beach.

With the help of monster guitarist Chris Kellam and Blistur, the Fall of the Berlin Wall will be commemorated with some Pink Floyd covers, while Jennifer Burns will attach her magnificent voice to a selection of well and lesser known hit songs. Jay McPherson will treat us to some good old Allman Brothers tunes, while other local musicians will sit in as Island Vibe runs down the list of some of the most popular tunes of the sixties, seventies and eighties. The program that kicks off at 3pm also includes several auctions and raffles and offers free food.

The auction items include gift certificates for free hotel and b&b stays, dinners, liquors and spirits, a signed guitar and other valuable mementos and objets d’art. Raffle tickets can be purchased at Wallace Pierson Travel on 14th St/Courson, the Green Turtle and the Luxury Travel Show at the Ritz Carlton, Amelia Island on November 8.

Make sure to keep your agenda open for Sunday afternoon, November 9 from 3-7 pm at the Green Turtle. Free admission, free food, lots of auction and raffle prizes.

No Ottawa was not an Act of War!

Fear catapults ignorance, which turns to Hate

Fear catapults ignorance, which turns to Hate

I walked into the gym for the cardio part of my newly established exercise regime the other day, when the large flat screens reported that Terror Had Struck in Ottawa and Canada’s parliament had been evacuated. For the entire hour I sweat on my treadmill and rowing machine, the headlines kept screaming of War and Terrorism and Global Threats and more crap that the media machine and its pundits can come up with to keep people chained to fear.
Getting home I researched what was going on in Canada and my eye catches the Wall Street Journal putting out the following under the header Terror in Ottawa:

The Global War on Terror remains very much global. The war now being half-heartedly waged against ISIS and other jihadist groups is not some faraway struggle, but part of a war also being waged on Western streets.

Intentional inference? Executive order? Who allowed the Ottawa event to be escalated into making ignorant people believe it had everything to do with global terror threats?
Where do they even come off sharing this type of pure crap with us, when the truth is so much more trivial?
Why would a single crime, the perpetrator of which is now at room temperature in the morgue and no further threat to anyone, cause a whole nation and its giant neighbor to the south to panic? Yes as it turns out, a man whoclaimed the devil “put voices in his head” has killed military guard in Canada and the news reports war headlines.

Tell me is that war? Is that global terrorism? Is that anything else than another nightly TV episode of CSI or Action News reporting from Jacksonville’s Westside about deadly shootings night after night? If so than damn the torpedoes and let’s all arm ourselves to the teeth and get carry permits. Stop putting fear into the lame brains of those who believe ebola is as easy to catch as a common cold and Isis has landed on the shores of the first coast and is now claiming Canada’s parliament.

And then I calm down and wonder: Why such a hysterical and outsized response from the Wall Street Journal?
Only one reason: Because it pays to sell us fear. Actually fear is the best selling product in the world!
Don’t believe me, then take an honest look at your life and see how much of your budget these days is spent of taxes, goods, products, medecin and services that promise you safety and security. Never mind that if you would actually get entangled in a real threat, none of these products or services will do much of anything to change the outcome.

What is Avatar ?

HomePageArtA couple of weeks ago I was introduced to a young lady who was looking for a peaceful space to organize an Avatar Course at the Inn. Being that we’re located directly on a stretch of the Amelia Island beach that must be the quietest, yet not too remote, she was wondering if she could rent some rooms for several course days and have participants stay in this relaxed atmosphere. I was not surprised about this request, as we have hosted book author clubs, painters clubs, bicycle clubs and small corporate retreats over the past couple of years, as well as numerous weddings and vow renewals, all staying for the same beach qualities. Since I had only a general perception about what Avatar as a self help course entails, I asked island newcomer Gretchen Clark to explain.

Here is her answer.

Do you have areas of your life that you would like to improve?

The Avatar Materials are an awesome technology that I found out about “accidentally” and then realized: “If the whole world knew THIS, we would have a different world.”

I am Gretchen Clark. I have had over 18 years of personal experience using the Avatar tools to create exactly what I want in my life. Since 2000 I have traveled the country and guided 100’s of others in these powerful simple exercises to empower them in taking responsibility for creating the lives they love. The magic is apparent everywhere in my life. I created a highly successful Salon in Shreveport Louisiana, trained dozens of Stylists, raised my children in our dream home complete with hidden passageways, and hockey rinks. I traveled the world from the Isles of the Caribbean Ocean to the ruins of ancient Egypt, exploring every place I wanted. At age 48, I retired with immense gratitude, so I could be more available to share Avatar with the world. I know that what we need in this world is more happy people following and actualizing their dreams into realities.

The Avatar® Course, created by Harry Palmer in 1987, shows you how your thoughts and beliefs create and attract the experience of life you are living. You learn how to change your beliefs and attract new experiences. The Avatar Course is a set of tools that you can learn in 9 short days that will equip you with the ability to investigate and explore your own consciousness and experience yourself as the creator of that consciousness with the ability to change it.

Along the way, you become happier, smarter, healthier, more compassionate, more tolerant, have greater integrity and gain the power to influence others for the good. It is a win – win for you and the world. You can’t experience it by reading about it, but it is a good place to start…
Check out these books available at, or your favorite book retailer.
“Living Deliberately” and “The Avatar Path, The Way We Came.”, both by Harry Palmer

Call me to try out one of the mini-courses, and start to get a feel for this amazing, awakening work. Then sign up for a course. Avatar is taught in more than 70 countries, and lucky for us “Floridians”, all of the international courses are offered in Orlando. And since I moved to Amelia Island, I also offer Section 1 of the 9-day Avatar course, the 2 day Resurfacing® Workshop in beautiful historic Fernandina Beach.

Come and join the adventure!
NEXT COURSE: Nov 1-9 in Orlando Florida

Call for more information…
Gretchen Clark

Amelia Island Awarded “Best of Show” In Statewide Advertising Programs

horseback riding on the beachThe Amelia Island Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) won Six Flagler Awards for outstanding tourism marketing at VISIT FLORIDA’s annual Florida Governor’s Conference on Tourism. The CVB took top honors in three of 15 categories, accepting coveted Henry Award trophies during the conference’s opening night Flagler Awards Ceremony held Monday night, September 22, at the Boca Raton Resort & Club in Boca Raton, Florida. The CVB also won a Silver Award and Bronze Award, and was furthermore honored with one of just three Best of Show Awards for its marketing efforts.

“We work diligently to maintain an effective, top-notch marketing strategy and it is gratifying to have our hard work recognized among our industry peers and partners,” said Gil Langley, president and CEO of the Amelia Island CVB. “Our entire marketing team is proud to have such a great showing at the Flagler Awards this year.”

The Amelia Island CVB won Henry Awards in the Direct Marketing, Print Advertising and Mixed Media Campaign categories, and took home a Silver Award for Mobile Marketing and Bronze Award for Tourism Advocacy. The CVB’s Mixed Media Campaign entry was also honored with a Best of Show Award.
This is the CVB’s second Best of Show Award in the past three years. Additional, Flagler Awards include a Henry Award in Rural County Marketing (2013), Best of Show for the Amelia Island Visitor’s Guide (2012), and Silver Award for Special Events (2011).

As the state’s annual tourism marketing competition, the Flagler Awards recognize Florida’s travel businesses and organizations who demonstrate outstanding tourism marketing efforts. Each year, the Flagler Awards honor many of the countless individuals and organizations that help position Florida as a premier travel destination and pay tribute to the determined efforts of those who help ensure the continued success of the state’s most important industry.

In an addendum to above press release Mr. Langley noted correctly that “awards mean nothing without measurable performance“, pointing out this has been a record year for Amelia Island tourism. For the 12 month period ending July, 2014 overnight visitors were up 12.8% over the same period last year, culminating in 550,000 overnight guests.
Mr. Langley also pointed out that according to Florida TaxWatch, 88 new visitors create on average one new job. For Nassau County, this means over 200 new jobs, with one in every four private sector employees in the county working in the hospitality business now.

Overnight tourism for the mentioned period produced an economic impact of $485.3 million, while during the May-July time period, over 42% of local sales taxes were collected by tourism related businesses. This year, for the first time, over $100 million will be spent by guests on lodging alone.

Numbers that clearly justify Amelia Island’s Tourism Promotion budget moving into the ‘big spender league’ this year. “We are now part of he ‘Big Boys Club’ of destinations spending more than $1 million in advertising per year”, says Gil Langley.

For additional information about Amelia Island, please visit

Aflac Duck Tours with Amelia River Cruises

Aflac on Amelia River Cruises

Aflac on Amelia River Cruises

We’ve been seeing The Aflac Duck all a round the island and on mainland Nassau County recently: in Yoga classes, at football games, around any of the many lakes and ponds and just the other day on an Amelia River Cruise. From reliable sources we have learned that The Duck is making the rounds in our community to complete an inventory of potential supplemental insurance scenarios typical for our coastal lifestyle.

The Aflac Duck just loves Amelia River Cruises after spending a fun morning on board with Captain Kevin and Captain Kirk as they had a great time together, except for a brief moment during the Life Vest instruction, when the precocious duck obviously did not pay attention as the duck clearly does not need a life vest as he floats no matter what happens. He also has his own propulsion system consisting of two webbed feet that can move faster than the speed of light!

During the tour the Duck mingled with cruise guests young and old, occasionally muttering the word AFLAC when catching someone without sunscreen or cap as this outing was clearly focused on sun and water and the risks attached to both.
Amelia River Cruises is one of the most popular “Things to Do” on Amelia Island with several cruises every day of the week with convenient times to choose from. People can chose from the Shrimping Eco Tour, the Classic Rock Trivia Cruise, the Cumberland Island Tour, the famous Sunset Cruise, just to name a few!

Needless to say that the Aflac Duck had an awesome time checking out Amelia River Cruises  and is proud to announce that Amelia River Cruises now offers Aflac to its employees!

If you want to know more about Aflac plans for you, your family or your business please call Nancy and Bob Dervaes, your Aflac agents at 904.624.0160.

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