Friday’s Weekend Column
High Heat in the South

by James Glaser
November 4, 2005

It is November, I am working out in the sun, and it is hot. At least to me it is hot. I know it is in the 80s in the shade, so I am guessing the 90s in the sun. I was sanding and painting sculpture stands for First Friday. The first Friday of the month in Tallahassee is a night that all the art galleries open up late for the public. Some have live music, some wine, and they all put on their best.

Like I said, I was working and it was hot. I guess it is just my cold Minnesota blood, because everyone down here thinks it is just great. If I get up early, like at first light, it is nice out, but as the day warms, I can really feel the heat. Somebody was telling me that now that it has gotten cold, they no longer use their pool. The 80s are about the peak of the summer heat for up north. Oh, we always get a couple 100 degree days and a few in the 90s, but the eighties means swimming weather. I was in shorts today, and noticed some people in long sleeve shirts.

One thing nice about the heat, you don't have to wait very long to do the next coat of paint. Like I said last week, I will put a couple of pieces on the stands out in the gallery, I guess one on the wall, and every week or so I will add to the group. I will be working back in the studio that night if anyone has any questions.

I think I was saying last week how small my studio is, well this week it got a whole lot bigger. My space is in the back of my building, and I have a rollup garage door that opens to a back yard. I can back my truck up to that door to unload things, but until now the whole yard looked like a trash heap. Today, the man I rent from cleaned out the whole place, trimmed the trees, and right next to my door is a concrete slab that I can build an outdoor workbench on. This is great, because I will be able to do my cutting and sanding outside and do finish work on the inside

On days I am not working on sculpture or furniture, I have been donating some carpenter time at an Arts Foundation. We had a few real cool days and it was fun framing in walls and cutting wood siding. I guess I would like to build a house down here or rehab something.

More and more I have been talking to Florida State and Florida A&M students. Some are Art majors and some are in political science. I figured that these kids would be conservative, after all, I am in the South. I was wrong though. Oh, there are a few students who worship the ground George Bush walks on, but one popular bumper sticker I have been seeing more of says, "Impeach the Bastard."

These kids worry about the war and wonder if it will get bigger before it gets smaller. Nobody wants to join the National Guard, even if they help pay for school. Most of the students I have met, are working at least one part time job, and many are working full time.

They all wonder about employment after graduation, and I advise them to find something that is in demand, be that computers or taping sheet rock. Political Science and Art majors are not knocking down the big money when they graduate, but if they stick with what they want to do, some day they will make a living with their education. They just need some money making skill until they get to that point.

All the students I have met seem like nice kids, and I am sure they make their parents proud. If they are a good example of what the rest of the student body is like, well our country's future will be in good hands.

One thing I learned today that is worrisome, Florida ranks dead last in America's high school graduation numbers. Only 51% of the high school students are getting a diploma. That's horrible. Nation wide, it is only 71%. I think Christian schools have close to 100% getting that degree and I bet most are headed to college. People tell me that education has headed down hill in Florida, ever since Jeb Bush became Governor. Before that, Florida was ranked all the way up to 45th.

I am looking forward to winter and next week I will try to get a couple photos of my work up so you can see what I am doing. It is still an adventure down here and I am enjoying it.

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