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Celebrity death in the swamp


I saw in the news ticker that disco diva Donna Summer died at age 63. She was known for such hits as “Bad Girls,” “Last Dance” and “She Works Hard for the Money.”

She died in Englewood, Florida, according to some reports. Other reports claim she died in Key West, Florida, or in Naples, Florida. They all agree she died in Florida, though, of cancer.

Naples is the biggest town in the southwest corner of Florida, on the western edge of the Everglades. It’s full of rich people in gated communities, complaining about the alligators in their swimming pools. Englewood is a sleepy little fishing town about 220 km north on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. People there are much poorer. I once met a bagger at a grocery store in Denver. He said he was from Englewood, Florida. I said I had once been there for vacation. He was incredulous that anyone would go there voluntarily. “There’s nothing to do there,” he said. That’s why he had moved to the big city out west.

He was right, actually. There’s nothing to do in Englewood. It’s actually a swamp, because it’s low-lying land and it gets a lot of rain from Charlotte Harbor and Lemon Bay to the south. But it’s quiet and secluded, just right for someone who doesn’t want to be in the spotlight anymore. Naples is a swamp too, just very expensive, gated-community swamp. I liked vacationing in Englewood because the density of doddering old people driving Cadillacs is lower than in Naples.

Southwest Florida has a lot of retired entertainers and celebrities, actually. “Florida is God’s waiting room,” the joke goes, because so many people go there to die. The Gulf Coast of Florida must be the “cool” corner of the waiting room, then.

Requiescat in pace, Donna Summer.

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