Chris and Juliet Pack became regulars of mine when I was a waitress at Casa Tina’s back in 2008. We shared a sense of raunchy but innocent humor that culminated early on when Juliet shared some footage she’d filmed of a drunken couple having sex in a stall of the women’s restroom at a nightclub (it was hilariously terrible). Chris is a musician (and talented designer) who fronts Twisty Chris & the Puddin’ Packs and Green Jello.
The Packs spoke regularly of their party cottage just a few blocks away. I didn’t experience it till the tail end of the party era; the 1921-vintage house was purchased by the city around that time and is now the cottage campus for the Dunedin Fine Art Center. But when I finally did make it there one night after a waitress shift, I discovered a makeshift back porch/stage filled with some of the area’s best (albeit slightly intoxicated) musicians, plenty of drinks, and one of the coolest old Florida houses I’ve ever seen (the attic was all hardwood floors with dozens of windows). Chris was shirtless, on the drums; Juliet was sporting one of her signature badass sci-fi princess get-ups and handing out candy.
Today the Packs remain groovy life forces in the community, and man, do they know how to throw one hell of a party. —AS
The rest is history
History pervades Dunedin like a sweet perfume, from the Dunedin Historical Museum & Society in a former rail depot on the Pinellas Trail to Victoria Drive, a narrow winding street just off Main Street by the Best Western with gulf views and large Victorian homes draped in mossy shade. Town founders J.O. Douglas and James Sumerville chose the name Dùn Èideann (the Scottish Gaelic word for Edinburgh) after Scottish families, many of Stirlingshire, settled there. Now citizens celebrate their Scottish heritage during the Highland Games & Festival; the 48th annual edition takes place April 5 at Highlander Park on the 700th anniversary of a major battle in Scottish history, and coincides with the 50th anniversary of the sister city relationship between Dunedin and Stirling, Scotland. Interesting trivia: Dunedin was home to the first frozen orange juice concentrate, the Pram sailboat racer and the PGA (Professional Golfers Association). Stroll around and you’ll find other landmarks and surprises — such as Dunedin Brewery, Florida’s oldest microbrewery. —JG
Dunedin: The Video
Last February, a video featuring hundreds of Dunedin residents lip-synching R.E.M.’s “Shiny Happy People” started popping up all over Facebook.
“It was the 20th anniversary of Dunedin Wines the Blues and they asked the founders to commemorate it,” said Kathy Carlson, co-owner at Kelly’s/Chic-a-Boom/Blur. “I had the idea [for a music video] and emailed some key people in the community and they said yes.”
Blur DJ Gus pulled a list of the top 100 songs from 20 years ago.
“The list was pretty dismal,” Carlson said laughing. “But then we saw ‘Shiny Happy People’ and it was a no-brainer. You know from working here, everyone plays together and there is minimal drama.”
The city gave the group one time slot to shut down Main Street to film: Sun., Jan. 29, which happened to be Carlson’s birthday.
“We met at 7 in the morning, did four practices and four takes,” Carlson said. “We were done by 11:30.”
Carlson couldn’t believe the response.
“I can’t believe we got 500 people to come at 7 a.m. on a Sunday in costume,” she said. Mermaids, bagpipers, drag queens, Dia de los Muertos puppets — they were all there.
The video, called Funedin Lip Dub, has over 26,000 views today. Carlson even got a call from R.E.M. management asking to post it on their page.
“The next one will be at Honeymoon Island,” she said. “We’re thinking of doing Weezer’s ‘Island in the Sun.’” —AS