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Despite the Dead Calm scenarios playing in our head, we survived our Florida trip unscathed, save for the requisite lingering hangover and the lingering bronzer stains on our clothes. (Mostly from brushing up against people on crowded South Beach streets, but a little bit of it's ours. A little man-varnish never hurt anyone.)

The highlights of the trip correspond to most anyone's experiences during a three day trip to South Florida:

1. Caught enormous-ass fish. Specifically, we were awakened from a dead sleep, thrown into a rig, and found ourselves half-asleep pulling something we swore was the voodoo-animated wreck of a Chevy Impala out of the water for five minutes or so. We knew it was good when the guides looked down and said "That's gonna be a bitch to gaffe." The Voodoo Impala turned out, on closer inspection, to be a forty pound kingfish. (No lie--forty goddamn pounds of fish.) We named it DeShawn for it's girth and inability to outrun pursuers, and attempted to stuff it into a cooler before taking to the tuna tower to scope out what remains of Stiltsville in Key Biscayne. (Answer: about six houses after the hurricanes.)

The kingfish: the DeShawn Wynn of the seas. We were wearing the same outfit as her when we caught it, by the way.

2. Saw a motorcycle wreck, jacknifed truck, and guns-out arrest in the span of a minute and a half. This always seems to happen in South Florida: multiple mini-disasters clumped up into one compact, easy to manage grouping. First we passed a guy who locked up his brakes and smacked skull on pavement on the way over to Bike Week; he didn't look good and was bleeding out of several spots on his head, which you may think about the next time you strap on an oh so cool brain bucket instead of a headwrapping dork helmet, as he opted to do. Turns out the brake-locking was to avoid running into the jacknifed semi at the exit to 95 South, which took ten minutes to weave around. Oh, and just for giggles, right after the jacknifed semi we passed a female sherriff with gun out arresting someone at a light. Carl Hiaasen really doesn't make this shit up, mostly because he doesn't have to.

Shot weapons. Poorly, we might add. 6/20 does not a budding assassin make. (And, no, though this is South Florida we're not talking about 6/20 people targets.) Cue SEAL Envy.

Saw encampment of Irish travelers. About fifteen trailers all bunched up on some rent free land in the Glades, just siphoning their power straight off a utility station in the middle of Alligator Alley. Don't think we didn't think for a second about doing the same and founding the Republic of Orson right there in the swamp; only the thought of a lack of broadband access stopped us before we forked down the money for a trailer. Just seeing the setup had Brad Pitt's voice ringing through our ears: Ya like dags? A trailer. For me maaa.

For me maaa.

Indulged in football rumormongering.Specifically, we engaged in Hurricane rumor-harvesting, since the maelstrom of coaching changes and alumni rumblings have made for a brisk trade in supposition and speculation in the 305 this offseason. Talking with an alum and some serious 'Canes fans, the few best tacks we heard were:

UM's got cash flow problems. Not sure if this is just an athletic department thing, but this rumor is actually dependent on another rumor: that UM wanted to fire Coker following this season, but can't afford the buyout because of declining revenues across the board. How this gibes with the hiring of a slew of new coaches, we don't know, but if it's true and they free up a whisker's margin to fire Coker following this season, the replacement might not be a high-price name. (Erickson, anyone? Salary: bar tab.)

Coker's a terminal case. Despite strong recruiting classes, despite a national championship, despite a roster full of phenomenally gifted athletes (if not Wonderlic warriors)'s not enough if you get beat by Georgia Tech, evidently, to guarantee you anything past this year. There's little that's outstanding for Larry Coker to sell about Larry Coker to the UM faithful besides consistent success and bowl placements, which ain't enough for a fickle fanbase that rarely sells out their stadium yet expects national championships hot off the assembly line on a yearly basis. Coker hasn't done a good enough job selling himself to alumni, either, making what might be a mere rough patch for a more charismatic coach into a one-and-done scenario for him in 2006.

Coker: a festering situation?