One day after the Sarasota City Commission approved in a 3-2 vote for the acceptance of the controversial sculpture Unconditional Surrender, arts organizations are making plans to exit the area, citing a paradigm shift in the cultural environment of Sarasota.
"We can see the handwriting on the wall and the poor people have spoken," said one arts maven, in the process of shuttering her prestigious downtown gallery. "The old Sarasota is gone forever. No longer does money equal good taste here. It's almost like Sarasota is becoming, dare I say it, a democracy. And isn't that just too plebian for words?"
Plans are underway to convert several Suncoast landmarks from their rich, cultural heritage into venues that are more in line with the new tastes of Sarasotans. The historic Asolo Theater, Ringling's recently-renovated 18th-century jewel box theater, is being reconfigured to host Ultimate Fighting Championship bouts.
The immaculate lawn of the Ringling Museum will be excavated and flooded to be used for swamp buggy mud bog racing. The museum's fine art collection is being liquidated to purchase velvet Elvis and poker-playing dog paintings. And the historic Ca d'Zan is soon to become Casa de Juan's Topless Cantina, Tattoos and Donkey Rides.
The Sarasota Orchestra has disbanded, the Sarasota Ballet has leapt at the chance to move to Arcadia and the Sarasota Opera, fittingly, has had the fat lady sing for the last time. The Sarasota Herald-Tribune announced that it will become exclusively comic strips, featuring the likes of Nancy and Sluggo and Beetle Bailey, but without Thursday Ticket's beloved laugh riot Squareasota by Austin McKinley, which is actually the pen name of Prisoner 3810753 in the Sarasota county jail, who writes the strip only when he has bad LSD flashbacks from his past.
Sarasota's beaches, once the pride of the area, will allow smoking, drinking, camping, pets, guns, nude swimming, ATVs and all manner of livestock to enjoy the sand and surf. McDonald's and Burger King are vying for former Suncoast hot spots like the Chart House, Euphemia Hayes and Michael's On East. St. Armand's Circle has begun preparations to turn the once-upscale shopping area into a mini-Nascar go-cart track, lined with bars and T-shirt shops.
The Sarasota Ritz-Carlton has been sold to the Super 8 motel chain and the Hyatt is slated to become a Motel 6.
The Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall has scrapped its entire lineup of orchestral offerings and Broadway show revivals and is working in conjunction with the Joyland country-western bar in Bradenton to book local country bands, although the upcoming visit by horror author, Stephen King, will take place as planned. Said a Van Wezel spokeswezel, "We have decided to keep Mr. King on our roster, since he is a local resident. And, frankly, he just scares the bejeebers out of us."
Mr. King's local status may soon be changing, though. Suncoast realtors report a tidal wave of luxury residences coming on the market, as the wealthy from Casey Key to Longboat Key flee the area in search of more money-friendly locales. Said one Longboat Key realtor, "I've got more mansions for sale right now than fleas on a coon dog's ass after a huntin' trip through Big Gator swamp. I don't really know exactly what that means, but I'm trying to reach out to my new demographic. But what I do know is that NOW IS THE TIME TO BUY!!!!
Sarasota's new society debs, Wanda Washington McFly and Tarnequa Stompecelli, visit the exhibition of graffiti and contemporary gang sign interpretations at the newly-renovated Thug Theater Yo, just prior to the start of concert by hip-hop artists, Kill Your Parents Yo.