Over the last few months there has been a desire within to change course, to start on a new journey.
One way to move ahead at times is to detach from the commitments and obligations one has entwined themselves with over the years. Having been very active in our Island City for many years, I have decided to pull back, refocus and hopefully reinvent. Perhaps events of the last few years have had a toll on me, no longer able to process the insanity of it all. COVID, war, Trump, January 6 riots, Roe v. Wade, gun violence, school children murdered in elementary schools, wealthy 1%, economic insecurity, the rise of religious right fascists, the list goes on.
So, when the publisher of South Florida Gay News informed me prior to the last edition of the Wilton Manors Gazette that there was no room for my article in that edition, I took the news as some divine intervention, a karmic calling, a clear sign that I needed to take a step back, to take a break from writing a regular opinion piece for the Gazette as I have done for the last seven or more years. And so, this will likely be my last article for now as I close this chapter to start a new one.
This journey has been nothing short of fantastic. Over seven years of articles that made people laugh, gasp, get upset, be amused, and mostly better informed of life here in our Island City. None of this would have been possible without the vision of SFGN, its founder Norm Kent and the hard work of Associate Publisher Jason Parsley. The luxury of having such a vital source of local news should never be taken for granted.
This past weekend as I looked to get lost in some binge-watching on television, to get away from everything swirling around in my head, I happened to come across the Sex Pistols series. Having been a teenager in NYC when the Sex Pistols would play at CBGB’s, I found myself pondering the memories of such a different time when the world around us was in such turmoil. A line in the show specifically caught my attention, “Do you know why nothing changes? It is because people’s minds are too imprisoned by lies, fear and misguided respect for the very institutions that have exploited them for centuries.” Think about this for a minute and you will begin to realize how true it is.
We want to believe that monopolistic corporations like Amazon, Starbucks, Meta, Apple, Microsoft, CVS, and Walmart are not just exploiting profits out of us all. Somehow we are all part of the new world of social corporatism — leading to a more efficient and better world. Our minds do not want to blame American gun manufacturers as children are murdered in their schools or that drug companies and pharmacies did anything wrong as they fed addictive drugs to vulnerable individuals while making huge profits.
Such is the same here in our Island City, after many years of advocacy by many in our community there are plenty of streets and homes still at risk of flooding after just one heavy downpour, and the quality of our drinking water is in question, Andrews Avenue through Wilton Manors lack the improvements that Oakland Park secured from the County, still no pedestrian crosswalk across Powerline Road in front of Mickel Park, not a one new entrance sign or wayfinding sign anywhere in the city — a project that was first approved so long ago its hard to remember, and to this day it's hard to imagine that the irrigation, streetscaping and tree planting could not have taken place while the state reconstructed Wilton Drive.
Our minds are imprisoned by some misguided respect for those in our municipality that we want to believe have done a great job. We allow them to offer excuses, that it’s the state's fault, it’s a county road, it's Fort Lauderdale’s water treatment facility, on and on it goes. Perhaps a more active campaign to bring about regional solutions to our drinking water problems, perhaps not dropping the ball when the county was signing agreements with cities to improve work along Andrews Avenue, perhaps a more aggressive approach to securing the necessary work to be done along Wilton Drive while the state was tearing up the roadway.
It is always easy to point a finger so I will also recognize that many in our city government, on our City Commission, on Advisory Boards and throughout our community have given much to make Wilton Manors a wonderful place to live, work and play. This strong community involvement and commitment by so many is the core of what makes life just better here.
I thank you all for this wonderful journey we call the Island City.
Sal Torre has been a columnist for the Wilton Manors Gazette since its inception. Sal has served on the Wilton Drive Task Force, Budget Review Advisory Board, and Charter Review Board, among others. Sal is currently President of the Westside Association of Wilton Manors and Secretary for the Friend of the Wilton Manors Library. He is employed with Broward County in the Human Services Division.