They don’t create journalists like Jeff Klinkenberg much any more.
And they aren’t opening any new newspapers with the budget or patience to send a reporter and photographer into the backwoods any more in hopes they might find a captivating story or two.
Klinkenberg — just “Klink” to anyone who has spent more than five minutes in his gentle presence — has enjoyed a remarkable freedom to roam the back roads and small towns of Florida during more than 35 years with the Tampa Bay Times.
JEFF KLINKENBERG podcast excerpt: “Sometimes I resent a little bit that ‘Weird’ Florida has become the national narrative: hanging chads, flesh-eating zombies, bizarre trailer park crimes. It’s certainly part of Florida culture, but it’s not the whole thing.”
In the latest bound collection of his newspaper stories, Alligators in B-Flat: Improbable Tales from the Files of Real Florida, Klink once again takes readers from the flatlands of the Florida Everglades to the legendary mountains of Chesty Morgan and down deep into the water hazards of the state’s numerous golf courses.
And, of course, he is always up to his ass in alligators, mosquitoes and roadkill.
Every week in the Times, Klink introduces loyal readers to beloved Floridians such as Oil Boy and Conrad Yankee, or he’ll take us to one of his favorite places, from Mack’s Fish Camp to Gatorama — from which the book’s catchy title comes.
What ties each of these stories together is the respect Klink gives each and every one of his subjects, no matter how bizarre or how far off the beaten path their lives have taken them. No matter where you live, you’ll marvel at the stories he has to tell.