Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Welcome to Tampa, where we seriously need to butch up

The Tampa Bay area has been my home for over 20 years. It's not perfect by any means and there are a lot of cities where I'm sure I could be just as happy as I am now, if not even more so. There's virtually nothing to keep me from moving away if I choose to do so, since I'm an adult and legally eligible ton travel freely between states. But I don't because I like it here. It's basically a small town with a lot of people living in it. That appeals to me. We have major and minor league sports. That makes me happy. We have pleasant winters. That pleases me. And of course we have more than our share of eccentrics, flakes, freaks, oddballs and weirdos. That makes me happier than I could ever possibly express.
Of course, there are drawbacks. It's hot and humid. We have earned a reputation for being a hotbed of sleazy entertainment in the form of strip clubs and the production of low-budget porn. The city of Tampa's downtown is a pathetic blend of terrible traffic, abandoned buildings, road construction, inadequate parking and precious little to do. None of these things bother me enough to make me want to move away. In fact, none of them make me want to do much about them other than complain now and then. I like the things I think are great and I hope we can work to correct the things that aren't so great, just like anywhere else I could live. The one drawback I wish we could really do something about right away is our insufferably thin skin.

We, as an area, spurred on by our local media, tend to get our panties into a much bigger bunch than necessary when someone from outside the area criticizes us for something. What happens is somebody says something less than complimentary about something local, and then either the papers or a radio station or a tv news reporter (or all three) hears about it and then come crying to us, "You guys, look what they're saying about us now!" This happens every time someone from ESPN says something negative about the Rays' home, Tropicana Field, which is admittedly not the world's greatest ballpark. It happened when my buddy Mike Lortz took comedian Jimmy Kimmel to task when he mentioned in an interview that living in Tampa was not something he remembered fondly. It happened again on Tuesday when local radio station 970 WFLA-AM brought an article in Salon titled, "Tampa: America's hottest mess" to the attention of their followers on Facebook:

National media begins trashing the Bay area... with a political spin. Left website "Salon" calls Tampa "America's Hottest Mess", claiming that sprawl rules and "tight fisted Tea Party politics" keeps the Bay area from having a livable urban center. It describes Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties as "birther country." Your thoughts?
This resulted in all kinds of butthurt, mostly from people who clearly didn't bother to actually read the article and the criticisms within:
"stupid people say stupid things."

"Again the Obama Herd of Sheep demonstrates and support Division, Anger and Hate! I am not surprised at all. It has become normal behavior for these people."

"Tampa has Ben T. Davis beach, okay its on the bay, but 30 minutes away are the west coast beaches: Clearwater, St. Pete, Indian Rocks, Dunedin, etc. Beautiful beaches! Those criticizing are just jealous." (I love this logic; the only reason anybody would ever criticize the Tampa Bay area is because they don't have access to a beach where they live)

"Stay out than (sic)"

"Don't get me started on a response to this ignorance. I just hope this guy writes a retract cause I have his #;) Tampa is notorious for its Hospitality in all aspects and besides that the city is run and supported by Democrats...the Rnc simply needs our votes and Tampa has the tools and safety for events like this I have seen the budgets, balance sheets etc and the revenue if any compared to tourism, growing businesses etc. is not comparable. maybe we don't want the light rail because in my opinion rails are antiques. We have the technology & innovative mind set to live in Tampa and have global & international relations. I am set up on a VPN in Tampa and work on the other side of the Bay. Meaning I can conduct business from any where in the world from Tampa. Yes traffic is a little hectic but that's due to rapid growth and world population. This convention will be successful and many more larger events will follow and we will continue to wow our hospitality visitors. Not to mention we have the best DJs, media personalities, etc on the Planet & thick skin so whatever this unheard of blogger / salon magazine has to say is meaningless."
(This last one is from someone named Eeryn Falk Lubcich, who is a managing partner of something called TampaHospitality and dismisses "unheard of" Salon and refutes the findings from Forbes contained within the article as "meaningless" by citing the mad skyllz of our globally superior DJ's. I believe she may actually have the thick skin found lacking in so many of our residents; comprising nearly 100% of what would be considered her head region.)   

 Christ, people. Pace yourselves! John Stewart and friends aren't even in town yet.
"Ooh, you're gonna get it, Tampa! You and your nearby beaches!"
Better yet, grow the hell up already. Criticism and scrutiny, whether you feel they're valid or not, whether you want them to be or not, are part of what comes with hosting high-profile events like the Republican National Convention. Comedians, talk show hosts and media pundits of all affiliations dump on cities like New York, Chicago and Los Angeles every single day and nobody, especially the people who live there, gives a rat's ass. Life is tough and everybody doesn't love you. Suck it up and put on a helmet or stay away from tv, newspapers, radio and the internet for the next two weeks.

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