The Salt Life: Burkinis and Sarasota (by Sasha)

There are French beach towns that have said “non” concerning Muslim women who wear “burkinis” at the beach.

Mind you, this isn’t a matter of nudity or prudity; this is a concern that the women on the beach are wearing too much and so 30 French towns banned burkinis, concluding this apparel is dangerous because it is, according to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, a “provocation.”


Strange. I grew up when the bikini and topless sunbathing by women were considered provocative. But wearing too much at the beach? A provocation? A “symbol of the oppression of women”? Really?


Okay. I know there is a reason behind the French argument but it is a contorted one, so follow along: The French mayors and President aren’t saying that burkinis are too sexually stimulating; they object to burkinis because they are too politically stimulating. Burkinis are equated with religious garb that constitute an affront to France’s secular values. But then the logical leap is that every woman who dresses in full-body swimwear at the beach is an oppressed Muslim–who might also be perceived as a member of radicalized Islam and, therefore, given the series of Islamist attacks on French soil, these potential terrorists lounging on French beaches fully clothed will make other beach goers, ummm, uncomfortable.

The argument is too incredibly illogical and ignorant to even warrant a rebuttal, n’est pas?

In contrast, here in Sarasota we are a bastion of liberty—a line in the sand (ha, ha) where the individual right to cover up is recognized. We not only allow women to walk the beach wearing as much clothing as they like, but we also have doctors who advise them to cover up!

  •  There are the women who are jogging wearing their 50 SPF proof jogging suits (but what if running for them is a religious experience?);
  • There are the Mennonites who walk Lido Beach wearing ankle-length pastel dresses and bonnets (Eek! Tied to religious practices!);
  • There are the newly arrived tourists who wear jeans and loose tee-shirts (and thank their deity that they are here);
  • There are the brides and their attendants in their sweeping long dresses (Eek! many times fresh from participating in religious ceremonies on the beach);
  • There are the women who cover themselves with towels and hide from the sun beneath huge umbrellas (and pray that their dermatologist will commend them for their efforts).

Meanwhile, there are news videos of French police officers forcing Muslim women to strip off their burkinis right there on the beach in order to stay put. Huh? A government-enforced strip tease? That’s not provocative?

But today (8/26/16), at least for the moment, reason prevailed when France’s highest administrative court ruled that the burkini bans in French resorts are illegal as they constitute “a serious and manifestly illegal infringement of fundamental liberties.”

In response, at least one mayor vowed to fight on, defy the ruling, and maintain the ban in the name of ending women’s oppression.

Mon Dieu.



The Salt Life: Hurricane Preparations (by Sasha)

Hey Sarasota:  We are approaching the mid-point of Hurricane Season; the period of time when things can get serious. As I write this, a new threatening system is forming and looks to be headed this way.

With that in mind, it’s time to shop.

Yes, shop.

Since living through a derecho (i.e., an intense wind storm that can contain mini twisters) in upstate New York that downed surrounding trees, crushed my car (and temporarily my spirit), blew out our windows, blocked our doors with debris, left power lines dangling and sparking, and forced us to live on our own for a week–UNPREPARED–I’ve  become very interested in (Jack would say obsessed with) preparing for the worst.

I am no expert, but I have stayed at a Holiday Inn Express 😉 and I am an attentive viewer of Survivor, Dual Survivor, Man Against Nature, and Naked and Afraid. So I am very prepared (Jack would say very paranoid.) I have no ambition to eat off the land, distill water with plastic tubing, or ignite fire by rubbing sticks together. But with planning, I won’t have to. Whether the disaster is an electrical outage, a flood, a hurricane, a tornado, or a zombie apocalypse, what is needed in advance is supplies. Hence, you need to shop.

You have probably already stockpiled food (and remember your pet’s!), gathered your important documents (include your home owner’s insurance!), know to fill your bathtub with water, and have an assortment of batteries at hand. But if you think that makes you prepared, dear reader, you are a true novice.


So for disaster virgins, consider the following list of unique things that I have  purchased and are ready for action. [If you click on the photo it’ll take you to and we’ll make oodles of $ if you buy!]Take a look at some of the items inside Sasha’s Disaster Survival Kit:


1)  Lantern. Candles are nice, but they work so much better and are much safer when they are enclosed in a lantern. So I have stockpiled candles, a glass lantern, lighters and matches. But there are better choices.


My recommendation: The inflatable Luci solar Lantern—a little solar lantern with good lighting and lasting time—and it collapses for storage, is light as a feather, can be hung up, it floats, and is safer than anything with a flame. (This was a Christmas gift from someone who thinks I’m crazy, but let’s me be me. I adore it.) Continue reading “The Salt Life: Hurricane Preparations (by Sasha)”

The Salt Life: Older Women and Exercise (by Sasha)

Throughout Sarasota, women “of AARP age” are exercising. You can see them walking the beach, running over the Ringling Bridge, biking the roadways, pumping iron at the gym, competing on tennis courts and golf courses, and practicing at yoga studios.

Whenever my sister Cat and I see these women, we say in unison “You Go Girl!” We don’t care how they look, what they wear, or whether they are good at what they are doing. We admire them. We are each one of them.

And we can’t help but recall how much has changed for American women and exercise.

When we were growing up in the 1960s, it was a dim time for girls and “physical education” (a misnomer if any there was one). Unfortunately, these classes taught us that we as females were not meant to be physical:

  • We wore  cloth gym suits that had to be starched and ironed;
  • On our feet were ill-fitting Keds that we kept white by applying shoe polish;
  • We were graded not on what we achieved in class, but according to whether we “tried” and whether our uniforms passed inspection;
  • When we had cramps from our menstrual cycle, we were allowed to skip gym class—and we did, as often as possible;
  • We never warmed up our muscles or stretched before or after exercise;
  • Every year our “fitness” was assessed by the number of jumping jacks, sit-ups, and chin-ups we could do in a timed session;
  • Only girls were introduced to gymnastics and dance; only boys to lacrosse, soccer, weightlifting, wrestling, and football;
  • When we played basketball, we had to dribble three times then pass, and we only played half-court;
  • In the locker room, we were our own worst enemies; we judged each other (and ourselves) by cup size, leg stubble, and body fat;
  • We chose up teams and ridiculed those chosen last, and labeled as lesbian any girl who was a “jock;” mediocrity was the safest route to go;
  • We tried our best not to sweat in order to avoid ruining our hair or having to shower in the locker room;
  • We were encouraged to join team spirit (for only the boys’ teams) by becoming a cheerleader, joining the pep squad, twirling batons;
  • When we joined one of the few competitive girls’ teams, we lacked uniforms, equipment, coaches, travel budgets, and time to practice on the field or courts;
  • When we asked for more resources, we were made to feel guilty that we were taking money away from the serious athletes (i.e., boys).

Then in 1972 along came Title IX.  Continue reading “The Salt Life: Older Women and Exercise (by Sasha)”

Top 10 Things NOT to Do While Vacationing in Sarasota (by Jack)

There are lots of websites you can go to that will list things to do while you visit Sarasota and I can’t disagree with many of those recommendations. Indeed, Sarasota is a wonderful place to enjoy a wide variety of things, from the marvelous Symphony Orchestra, to the world-famous beaches, to some of the best Cuban sandwiches in South Florida. But even paradise has some dangers and some things to avoid. Below are 10 things I recommend you not do while enjoying the Sun Coast.


1. Do not go wading in retention ponds. Sarasota has built a large number of retention ponds that help control flooding and mitigate the effects of storm-water run-off. However, since these ponds are freshwater and often connected to each other through a system of canals it is not unusual to find alligators in them at any particular time. It is not a good idea to go wading in these ponds at any time of the day or night, as Matthew Riggins would tell you (that is, if he was still alive to be able to talk to you). Riggins was a not too bright alleged burglar who was breaking into homes in Barefoot Bay when he was interrupted by the police. He fled and apparently thought it was a good idea to hide in a retention pond not far away. The police found him, or what was left of him, a few days later.

2. Do not ride a bicycle. Riding a bike anywhere in Florida is a dangerous proposition. Florida ranks second in the nation in bicycle fatalities. While the Legacy Trail is a wonderful 11-mile bike path between Palmer Ranch and Venice, avoid biking on our roads. Of the 2,300 miles of Sarasota roads only 313 miles have bike lanes. If you are one of those crazy biking Europeans and insist on biking, at least avoid Fruitville Road. For some reason drivers on Fruitville have a higher propensity for running down cyclists than drivers in other parts of the city. Continue reading “Top 10 Things NOT to Do While Vacationing in Sarasota (by Jack)”

The Salt Life: Favorite Free Things/Activities in Sarasota (by Sasha)


For year ’round residents, it can be frustrating to see a wealth of activities and events that take, well, wealth to attend. But that doesn’t mean there is nothing to do if you live on a  budget. Consider some of my favorite things that are free (or nearly so.)

(1) The Herald-Tribune. Sarasota’s local (and Pulitzer Prize winning) newspaper has a great free online condensed edition. I love this paper for how it engages in powerful investigative local reporting—a rarity these days. You don’t know nothin’ about Sarasota without being a reader!!!  And with full digital and print available for about $20/month, how can anyone resist being a subscriber? With Sunday’s coupons, the subscription pays for itself. Even better is that on Thursdays, Ticket Magazine is included with the paper and this supplement offers a comprehensive list of weekend and upcoming events throughout the area.

Continue reading “The Salt Life: Favorite Free Things/Activities in Sarasota (by Sasha)”