An unexpected lecture: Carl Hiaasen’s bizarre inspiration

Michae Baisden/Opinion Editor

Baby Jesus with a GPS. A threesome with a couple of gators. And a woman caught shaving a delicate area while driving.

All these stories and more have inspired Carl Hiaasen throughout his career as an investigative journalist and novelist.

On Monday, Feb. 25 I found myself at the Mary Ann Wolfe Theatre, required to attend “An Evening with Carl Hiaasen.” I was prepared to take a minimal amount of notes and play ‘Bejeweled’ on my cell phone.

But to my surprise, this event, part of the Student Government Association’s Biscayne Bay Campus lecture series, was much more engaging than your professor’s lecture. Hiaasen made the audience laugh, finding humor in the everyday absurdities of South Florida, a place he calls home.

Florida is currently number one in political corruption and in Medicaid and identity fraud cases.

Oh, and nativity scene thefts.

Yes, people are actually stealing baby Jesuses from their neighbors’ yards. So much so that Floridians started to put GPS tracking devices on their Josephs and Marys.

The lecture continued on with hilarious odd stories about mayhem in South Florida.

A woman had a messy accident when she hit a truck while trying to shave her bikini area while on her way to see her boyfriend in Key West.

In another case, police found two alligators in a man’s trailer bedroom. After confronting the man, bloody with puncture wounds, the police searched his place and uncovered the gators who were hidden under blood-stained sheets.

Police informed the man that he could not sleep with an endangered and protected animal and took the reptiles away. But like any die-hard Floridian, the man insisted that these alligators were his and he could do with them what he pleased. So, he took them to court.

Luckily, the courts weren’t as delusional as the gator lover.

You couldn’t ask for more ridiculous occurrences, and of course they happen in Florida.

Writing novels was Hiaasen’s way to cope with the crazy characters and unbelievable realities.

“I had to start writing novels to stay sane,” said Hiaasen.

Hiaasen has more than 15 novels, two of which were made into feature films; “Striptease” and “Hoot.”

But beyond his own personal stories and hilarious news clippings, I learned that journalists are absolutely necessary for this democracy, whether it’s producing satire or investigative news.

I could care less if people believe this industry’s dying.

If journalists aren’t in the back of those town hall meetings with paper and a pen, holding the government accountable, then who will? Who else will be the public’s eyes and ears to the important local issues?

There’s also a more creative way to gather news and execute it.

Just look around, and don’t limit yourself or your sources.

“I learned to think outside the box, go that extra mile and explore creativity,” said senior journalism student Jessica Roiz. “You have to see that your surroundings is where the news is.”