Wild Bill Wood sees the light sculptures outside the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center every day, and he never fails to be amused by the reactions of the folks who stream by the two eight foot tall projection cylinders that bathe the building after dark in an alphabet soup of lighted letters. Some are confused. Others confounded. But all are unquestionably curious. And on March 27, Wood's Wednesday night television show Paradise TV visits Caloosahatchee Manuscripts to decode the words incised by sculptor Jim Sanborn into its bronze drums.
Paradise TV is the brainchild of Fox 4 Marketing Director Brent Struense, who also serves as creative director for the station’s parent company, Journal Broadcasting Group. Journal owns 14 television stations and 35 radio stations in 12 states, as well as several newspapers it publishes under the umbrella of Journal Communications.
Like the long-running Fox 4 Morning Blend, Paradise TV is a lifestyles show, with paid segments being clearly identified as such. But since its launch on November 14, Paradise TV has taken co-hosts Carley Wegner and Wild Bill Wood out of the studio and into the surrounding community. In just five short months, Bill and Carley have visited the SW Florida Wine & Food Fest, the Walt Disney Theatre aboard the Disney Wonder (where Wood learned to trench Gangnam style), EPCOT (for the international flower festival), the Naples Art and Antiques Fair and Lakes Regional Park, where the duo rode the kids' train and peddled a bicycle made for four.
Known for his quirky, down home South Carolina sense of humor, the 11-time Emmy winning Wood is razor sharp. He not only possesses a masters degree from Northwestern University, he earned a Phi Beta Kappa key while doing his undergrad work at the University of South Carolina.
Wegner is no slouch either. A graduate of Florida State University (insert tomahawk chop here), she spent more than five post-graduate years in eastern North Carolina anchoring at WNCT, where she covered everything from hurricanes and presidential visits to homespun stories about the area's fascinating locals. One about a newly widowed Marine wife and the amazing love she shared earned Wegner a coveted D. Tennant Bryan Award.
But it was Wood who lensed the segment on Caloosahatchee Manuscripts, which sculptor Jim Sanborn also calls Lux. A gift to the city from Florida Power & Light Co. to commemorate the conversion of its power plant on the south shore of the Caloosahatchee River from oil to natural gas, the sculpture has illuminated the Davis Art Center since its installation in 2001. And as viewers will discover when they watch the episode on Paradise TV March 27th, Wood was clearly eager to decipher the mysterious words that appear on the sculptures' two bronze drums.
The western drum turned out to be the easier of the two cylinders to translate. It contains the Latin names of 500 botanicals that Thomas Edison tested in an effort to develop a local source of latex from which to make rubber so that best buds Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone wouldn't have to import the tire material from South America. Latex is produced by many flowering plants, including dandelions (it’s the milky substance that bleeds from the stem when you pick one), gardenias, goldenrod, wisteria and yucca. Although goldenrod seemed to be the most promising, Edison died before he had successfully developed a local species that could rival the South American rubber tree.
While many of the passers-by Wood interviewed during the filming of his segment on Caloosahatchee Manuscripts thought the words on the eastern drum were also Latin, Wood learned from True Tours' Tom Hall that the text actually comes from a Maskoki migration legend told by Native American emperor Tchikilli to General James Ogelthorpe during a national convention of Indian leaders held in Savannah, Georgia back in 1735. But to find out what the text says - and why its translation raises more questions than it answers - you'll just have to tune in to Paradise TV.
The segment runs on Channel 4 at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 27.