Sunday, February 28, 2010

Guess the good cops slept in?

I have over 10 years professional event planning experience where I had to work with various law enforcement agencies on logistics. Concerts, sporting events, political functions, religious events. I understand and respect the challenges they face, not only in the performance of their regular duties but especially when it comes to working large scale special events. And not for nothing, my dad was a cop. I present this background to (hopefully) illustrate that I'm not someone who gets bent out of shape and starts screaming at police officers when something doesn't go my way.
With that, I'd like to present a series of interactions with Tampa police officers this morning that can best be described as highly disappointing.

Today was the
2010 Gasparilla Distance Classic, a marathon that winds through the streets of downtown Tampa. I had a work assignment this morning, to pick up guests staying at a hotel and drive them in a courtesy shuttle to the start point of the race. I arrived at the hotel at 5:00AM and transported one load of passengers (approximately 10 people) from the hotel with no problem. Here's what happened next:

  1. I drove north on Florida, turned left on Kay, left on Tampa and attempted to access the hotel again from Laurel Street, which is the access point the hotel had been allowed to use in the past. An officer stopped me and said Laurel was closed. I explained to him what I was trying to do and he advised me to try Ashley. I told him Ashley was closed because of the run. He told me it was still open at that point and that the police would let me through.
  2. I drove south on Tampa and was unable to turn on any streets that would let me cross Ashley due to barricades. No police officers were present to talk to.
  3. I drove north on Florida again and stopped at the (blocked) entrance to I-275 South and spoke to the officer who was stationed there. I explained my dilemma and asked for assistance. His reply: "I don't know what's going on anywhere else. I'm just responsible for here". This would be the first officer to use the words "not my problem".
  4. I went back to Laurel Street and talked to the first officer I had spoken to. He called someone on the radio who gave him clearance to allow me to go through.
  5. When I got to the intersection of Laurel and Doyle Carlton, an officer told me he would let me through, "but once you're inside, you stay inside". I told the officer that inside was a sold-out hotel, where guests would be attempting to come and go, many of whom were participants in the race who were expecting shuttle service. This was was the second one to say the words "not my problem" and advised me to call the Tampa police department.
  6. I called the Tampa PD non-emergency line and asked to speak to someone coordinating traffic control for the run. I was transferred to an operator who told me to speak to officers on site. I tried to explain I had done that and that I had been told to call. I was then told to stop yelling. There was some back and forth where we argued whether or not I was yelling. Those calls are supposed to be recorded. I would love for a supervisor to listen to the recording and let me know if I was least initially. Eventually, after lowering my voice to barely above a whisper and still being interrupted and told to stop yelling I did become frustrated and did indeed yell. It was obvious I was getting nowhere with this person and if I'm going to be accused of something, I might as well earn it. I was hung up on.
  7. I called back and spoke to a different operator who apologized, saying they had no info and that a supervisor would be in at 6:00AM and that they would ask the supervisor to call the hotel to offer some assistance. In the meantime, I was advised to talk to the officers on site.
  8. I drove to the corner of McInnes Place and Tyler and spoke to the officer there. He told me to go back to the corner of Laurel and Doyle Carlton and ask them to contact Corporal Atkins (it may have been Adkins).
  9. I drove back to the corner of Laurel and Doyle Carlton and encountered a different officer who said "I don't know a Corporal Atkins (Adkins) so I don't know how to call them" and that I should call the Tampa PD non-emergency line and ask for assistance. I attempted to explain the situation, including the run-around I was getting and was told "I don't know what to tell you" and "not my problem" for the third time. I was also told "this happens every year, you shouldn't be surprised". When I answered that yes, the race happens every year and streets are blocked off every year, previously an access point, specifically Laurel Street, had been made available, I was told, "things change". These two statements, at least to me, would seem to contradict each other.
  10. I gave up, parked the van, told guests that I was not allowed to leave the property via Laurel Street (the officers let me pass through in my personal vehicle without even flagging me down to ask me where I was going) and I went home.

I understand police officers have instructions to follow that make things inconvenient for some people in order to maintain control and safety for the benefit of the greater good. And as I stated before, I'm not someone who gets upset with police officers for doing their job, even if I happen to be one of those inconvenienced. What's troubling about this situation is that in addition to following orders, I know that cops are also trained to use their own common sense and discretion when necessary. I suppose it can be argued both ways whether or not that took place here. What can't be argued, and what is truly upsetting and disappointing is the complete lack of cooperation on behalf of so many that I encountered. Keep in mind, I wasn't demanding some sort of immediate action to resolve my personal problem and being refused. I was asking for some kind of help on behalf of several people to resolve a situation and being refused. I was shocked to hear "not my problem" the first time. I couldn't believe I heard it three different times from three different cops. Not your greatest moment, TPD.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Baseball season is almost here!

Another great photo from Andy Gray
Ah, spring! When a young man's fancy turns to the timeless tradition of going to a ball game, dancing like some sort of jackass and ruining a good time for someone else. Ah, spring!

What a welcome!

In spite of living here for over half of my life now, there are still lots of places in Tampa Bay that I've never visited, places that other locals take for granted. This amuses and horrifies my friends:
"We should go over to (insert name of place here) and (insert name of activity here) some time."
Yeah, I've never done that...
"(insert sound of a record scratching and appalled gasps here) What?!?"
Every time I mention some place I've never been or some thing I've never done, they take it upon themselves to make sure I get to experience it right away. Don't get the wrong idea; this is much a benefit to them as it is to me as it's an excuse to go do something that's fun and/or delicious, so everybody wins.

Such is...or was...the case with The Colonnade, a seafood restaurant on Bayshore Boulevard that has been around since the 1930s. I'd driven past it several times and always assumed it was way out of my league, at least partially because of where it's located, since everything located on, near or even associated with Bayshore Boulevard is out of my league. Turns out I was being silly (imagine that). Turns out it's a nice restaurant but not stuffy. I should have known; my friends themselves are nice but not stuffy. It reminded me a lot of The Captain's Table, the long-gone restaurant where I worked as a lad back in Benton Harbor.
The shrimp (I was told I had to have the fried shrimp, as in when I considered looking at anything else on the menu, a butter knife was brandished threateningly in my direction) was great, it came with the good kind (creamy, not vinegar) of cole slaw and a baked potato (lately, I don't know why, but I've been defining a good meal as something that could be served with a baked potato). Plus a basket of fresh baked mini-muffins. This one was particularly excited to see us...

(Psst, muffin; you're going to want to get that looked at if it lasts four hours or longer)

Prices are very reasonable and the view of Old Tampa Bay is breathtaking and unique unless you live in one of the mansions up and down the rest of Bayshore, in which case, you eat at restaurants that don't even put the price on the menu (I don't). The other thing is, when you take all the factors into consideration, downtown Tampa has staggeringly few dining options for people who want seafood. Rick's On The River is a great place but it's nice to have an option if you're looking for some place that isn't quite that casual.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

TBT* not necessarily TBTrue*

This is the cover of yesterday's (Wednesday, February 23rd) TBT*:

The TBT* ("TBT" stands for "Tampa Bay Times" but don't ask me what purpose the asterisk serves; I don't think there is one) is an off shoot of the St. Petersburg Times newspaper. It's a snarkier, tabloidier digest version of the regular paper. The big, surly looking fella on the cover is Mike Stuben and this story is obviously related to the incident last week when big fella film director Kevin Smith was embarrassed publicly when he got booted off a Southwest Airlines flight for being "a safety risk", in that someone determined (after he had already been seated) that he was too large to occupy a single seat on the flight. Smith was upset and vented his anger at the situation and Southwest by firing off several "F you!" messages via Twitter. So here we are a week later and the TBT* shows us a picture of another large, angry guy who seems to be saying "F you" and he's not even on the plane yet. Geez, where do these pissed-off fat guys get off, huh?

The problem is Mike Stuben is not pissed off. I've known Mike personally for over ten years and the word that would probably best sum up his overall demeanor would be sweet. He's just a sweet guy. Relentlessly affable with a self-depreciating sense of humor, always willing to poke fun at himself first before taking shots at someone else, and he loves sports, especially University of South Florida athletics. The truth of the matter is, Mike would probably like nothing better than to sit next to you and probably yack your ear off about the exploits of Marquel Blackwell or Chucky Adkins or some other USF athlete the whole time. Honestly, I don't know how they got a picture of him not smiling, unless the photographer started singing the UCF fight song just before taking the picture.

So what's the gist of the article that accompanies this cover photo? Well, what you find on page 16 (of a 22 page publication) is that Mike runs a web site ( that's "dedicated to making travel less expensive and more comfortable". Included among tons (HAW!) of tips for saving money and getting stuff for free (a Mike Stuben specialty) is an article he wrote back in January about the issue of oversize people and air travel. Some highlights:

  • "...little trick I learned with my years of flying Southwest was very simple - only make eye contact with someone who you wanted to sit next to you. Eye contact was often a subliminal invite to sit down next to me. If I knew every seat would be full, and I was going to have someone in the middle seat next to me, I would make sure I only made eye contact with thin, attractive women. This was before I was married, now I only look at my wife."
  • "Getting stuck between two passengers is the worst possible place to be. You end up uncomfortable, maybe even in pain, and you feel bad for those two unlucky people who you are making uncomfortable and possibly angry."
  • "When you get to the gate, head up to the counter and with a smile, inquire if the seat next to you is currently open. If the gate agent says yes, I politely ask them if they could try not to put anyone in that seat, since I am a big guy. Most gate agents are glad to try, since that is the best for everyone, but if a flight is full, then there is nothing they can do. Sometimes they choose not to help because they are having a bad day or are just mean. Take it in stride. There is no benefit to getting angry at this moment."

The tone and content don't exactly match the picture of the glowering man-giant above, do they?

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tell me who in this house know about the 'quake?

The last time I saw Nostradamus, he was predicting that he could successfully steal the Red October submarine from the Russian navy...

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A little free marketing advice

Hi Dinosaur World.
I love you. You are what I wish the world could be. Namely, infested with dinosaurs.
I recently came across a brochure advertising your attraction. Here it is...

Not bad. Colorful. Eye-catching. I'm intrigued. But do you mind if I tweak it just a tad...?

Now that's what you call an attention getter, a trend setter and a serious bed wetter!
And you're welcome.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Next stop, baseball season!

The first unofficial event of any new Rays season is fan fest, when the Rays throw open the doors to the Trop, let us average jamoke fans run around on the field, get some autographs and (hopefully) buy some tickets. It's a lot of fun. I haven't been in a few years, not because I didn't want to go, just because there always seemed to be some sort of scheduling conflict. But I was able to squeeze in a visit yesterday. And here are some pictures.

It never ceases to amaze me what soda and beer merchandisers are able to do with their displays. Here's an entire stage and backdrop made out of Pepsi products. What's weird about this one is I couldn't tell that was supposed to be a baseball jersey until I saw the photo.

The top o' the Trop

Me and Cowboy Troy, who is best know for his work with country stars Big and Rich. He was there promoting his album "Demolition Mission: Studio...". Check it out if you dig hick hop.

Rays dugout. The floor will not be this clean again until November.

Motivation in a variety of languages.

Hey Rays, you've got mail!

One last image of good ol' Aki. Good luck in Pittsburgh.

This was the prize swag of the day. It's the official Rays (actually, we were still Devil Rays then) line-up card from a game played against the Detroit Tigers on May 30th, 2007, a game we won 5-3. We got it for making a donation to the Rays of Hope Foundation, the team's official charity organization. This is an actual, game-used piece of baseball history! At some point, somehow I dropped it in the team store. As soon as I realized it was gone, I panicked and started searching the store like a mother looking for her lost child. Actually, I think I might have knocked down some mother looking for her lost child ("Outta my way, lady! You can always make another Tyler or Brittany later! I've lost something valuable!!"). But an observant store employee found it and saved the day.

And here we have the first official baseball hot dog of 2010. Standard 4/1 (that's a quarter pound if you're not a concessions geek) with mustard, onion and some 'kraut (
no ketchup, thank yew). It tasted great. It tasted like...victory.

Sunday, February 21, 2010


The senate has released a report accusing pharmaceutical manufacturer GlaxoSmithKline of hiding the increased risk of heart attacks for users of their diabetes medicine, Avandia. How much of a risk exactly?
• "FDA scientists estimated in July 2007 that Avandia was associated with approximately 83,000 heart attacks since the drug came to market."

Just to put that number in perspective, 83,000 is exactly 83,000 more heart attacks than should be caused by something the FDA considers a medicine.

Good job once again, U S Food and Drug Administration.

Friday, February 19, 2010

a Violin, a Canoe, and the Universe

Let's wrap up the week on a nice note, shall we? This is a story (actually two connected stories) from one of my favorite artists, as well as one of my favorite people, Rebecca Zapen. She originally posted it as a note on her Facebook profile but I enjoyed it so much that I wanted to share it with others. I asked her if that was cool and she said yes. So here you go. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. I think you will...

a Violin, a Canoe

Valentine's Day found me with a most unusual gig: to play violin while riding in a canoe on the Hillsborough River, as a Valentine's surprise for a lovely young lady. Following the gig, the Universe had a beautiful surprise in store. I arrived at Wilderness Park Morris Bridge with violin in hand, and wearing my typical classical violinist black attire, drawing looks from the microfleece-clad paddlers. Next to arrive was Kevin, the canoe paddler du jour from Canoe Escape Inc, driving a school bus with a canoe loaded on a trailer. The tricky thing was to bring my violin onto a canoe and feel confident neither violin nor bow would fall overboard. The violin was insured, but the bow (costing about the same amount as the violin) was not; insured or not, you really don't want to fall in a river with your violin on a chilly winter day. Kevin paddled upstream effortlessly for 30-40 minutes. I knew my arms and shoulder were going to be exhausted by the violin playing alone, but I felt way too spoiled just sitting there and being paddled around, so I did pick up a paddle from time to time. We were surrounded by such beauty. After essentially being cooped up for 3 months since Joel's birth, it was amazing to be on this gorgeous river, surrounded by the cypress trees. We saw a few stunning birds, no alligators though. As various paddlers passed us and learned about the surprise (a girl in black with a violin on a canoe kinda stands out on the Hillsborough River), they'd let us know how far back the lovebirds in the blue kayaks were. Kevin tucked us away behind some trees and finally our two Valentine's Day lovers came paddling along. Cue the violin playing "O Mio Babbino Caro". The young lady said to her fellow: Isn't that sweet; she's playing for her boyfriend. The gent said, No, she's playing for us. She didn't believe him, but then she noticed we were following them down the river. Her face registered shock, and then as she realized the music was just for her, she shed a tear and gave her man a kiss. It was very sweet. We followed them down the river for about 30 minutes, with me serenading them on the violin. When we arrived on the shore, there was a little crowd clapping. Our young couple went over to a picnic blanket strewn with rose petals and enjoyed a meal of Chinese food. I was rosining my bow, getting ready to continue playing for them during their meal when I hear the girlfriend exclaim, "Menage a Trois?!". "Menage a Trois, the wine....", the boyfriend offers, knowing I can't help but hear their conversation. I look up and say, He didn't pay me for that!

and the Universe

After the lovely couple had finished their meal and we had said our goodbyes, I made my way back to the parking lot, walking with two older married couples. We were stopped by a man wearing cargo pants, a tee-shirt, and a black sequined bow-tie held to his neck by a piece of elastic. He asked if any of us were a notary. It became clear that he was a groom and this was to be his wedding day, but was lacking an officiant. One of the gentlemen said, You've got two Baptist ministers here. I said, And I've got a violin. We walked over to a tree where the bride and a few friends were gathered, and right then and there a wedding ceremony was assembled. The minister went to his car to get his bible, and I got out my violin once again. The bride had beautiful sky blue eyes and very short silver hair, and carried pretty pink daisies. It was tender watching them exchange their vows, occasionally changing a word here and there in the vows offered by the minister to better address each other. As we were exchanging hugs and thank yous all around, one of the friends told me that this really meant the world, as the bride is very ill and it is uncertain how long she might live. I had known throughout the impromptu ceremony that this was a very magical day, that the coming together of these people, the minister, and myself at exactly the right time had an element of bashert -- it was meant to be. I thought of my tune "Dolores" that day, as I was reminded once again: Every day is a gift.
A video of the wedding from a friend of the bride:

I want to thank Rebecca for letting me share this here. Learn more about her and her music, including upcoming appearances (in canoes or otherwise) at her web site.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Riddle me this

Ah, what have we here! An instruction not to use this door. But is that not another door right there to the right of the one with the sign posted on it? Perhaps I could just use that door and proceed as originally planned. But that's too easy an answer. Surely, what they mean is they would like us to avoid what is behind the door and use some other, unseen in this photograph, door and navigate a different path entirely. Otherwise, why would they both be shut? Right. That must be it. Only some smart ass would assume that "other door" means "other door serving the same purpose, since they're right next to each other and are, in fact, two halves of the same door". Very well. I shall turn around and find another way to my destination. It's somewhat inconvenient but I respect your request for me to avoid whatever it is that lies down that hallway behind the door in question.

Unless some dumb ass just neglected to take two more seconds and draw an arrow indicating that the door on the right is just fine. Oops. Sorry.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Is that subliminal misogyny in your building or are you just happy to see me?

This is the home of The Woman's Group here in Tampa. They provide obstetrics and gynecological care to women. These are things I don't really know very much about, which is okay because I don't really need a detailed understanding of them. But what I would like to understand is why they let the architect who designed their building make it look like it's got a great, big, wide-open, gaping mouth. Or something.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

An open letter to Jennifer Aniston

(Any of you people who know people who know people, please do whatever you can to get this to Jennifer Aniston's people. Thanks!)

Dear Ms. Aniston,
How's it going? Good, I hope.
I'm fine.
Or rather, I was fine...until I saw some behavior attributed to you on the cover of a magazine I saw while waiting to pay for some groceries. Now I am not fine. Now I'm disturbed and dismayed. I realize that it's possible for a magazine to publish something that isn't true and that you're not necessarily responsible for that. However, it is a pretty reputable grocery store and I have not been able to determine via the internet whether or not this particularly outrageous behavior is not not true or not. Here's the magazine cover I'm talking about:
One item in particular, which I have blown up here (pardon the blurriness, it's a digital picture I downloaded off the internet. I didn't actually buy, or even read the magazine):
Exactly. "$9000-a-night love suite". ??? indeed!
Jennifer (can I call you Jennifer? I feel like I can, because that's your name), sweetie, they saw you comin'.
I don't know where this is alleged to have taken place (again, didn't bother to read it) but how in the world did some place justify charging you $9000 a night? How do they justify it among themselves? ("This is a pretty nice suite we got here. I think we should charge eleventy zillion dollars a night!", "That's ridiculous, Ted", " about...$9000 then?", "Yes. That's much more reasonable.")
Listen Jen (can I call you Jen? It's kind of a natural shortening of Jennifer. Is that cool?), I know you're in Hollywood and it's easy to get kind of a skewed perspective about what goes on in the real world where the rest of us live, so trust me when I tell you that even if there was a jacuzzi filled with unicorn tears and a lava lamp with real lava in it, there's no way some hotel suite should cost 9000 damn dollars a night.
Let me guess what you really got for your money:
  • A bedroom
  • Living area
  • Some sort of kitchen facility
  • A bathroom with a fully functional flush toilet
  • Some other stuff

Am I right? Of course I am.

But I'm not here to make you feel bad. Au contraire, Jennifaire (see what I did there? Wordplay!) I'm here to make you feel good! I'm here to give you an alternative at a considerable savings to you. Because guess where you can find everything listed above: My apartment. BOOM! My apartment has all of the amenities listed here. You can come, stay as long as you like, I'll head over to the Holiday Inn Express so you have the privacy to do whatever you want (please don't break anything) for the low, low price of...get ready...$800 a night! That's less than 10% of what you've allegedly been paying! I'll bet you had to pay for meals while you were there, didn't you? Well, if you stay at my place, you can have full run of the 'fridge. And if you had seen what I bought at the store where I saw this magazine, you'd know you were in for a treat (hint: the neat round spaghetti you can eat with a spoon and two flavors of fruit-at-the-bottom yogurt!). How can I afford to do this? Because I'm a nice guy and just one night at that rate pays my rent for the month and gives me a little walkin' around money to boot.

The offer is open all the time and I don't need much advance notice to pack up and vamoose (if I forget something, I'll just come back and get it. I'll knock before I come in though).

Give me a call.

- Clark

PS: We'll need to talk about the cat situation.

PPS: Yes, there is a cat situation.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day!

Roadside Valentine's Day gifts...
...When you care enough to pull over.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Added bonus

I went to see one of my favorite performers last night, Rebekah Pulley (it seems that if you want to be one of my favorite performers and your name is Rebekah or Rebecca or some other variation, you're starting out on the right foot) at one of my favorite funky little venues, New World Brewery in Ybor City. She's also one of my favorite people because she's as nice as she is talented and I will never pass up a chance to see her play if I can help it. She was part of a multi-band bill last night and I got there early. Sometimes it's not great to arrive early if you don't know the other bands because it's 50/50 at best whether or not they're going to be any good. I shouldn't phrase it like's 50/50 at best whether or not you're going to like them...and when I put it like that, it's probably more like 20/80, to be honest. So I was very pleasantly surprised to find that I really did like the first band, a group called Red Shepherd out of Nashville. A bunch of super nice guys ("Go ahead and burn copies and give 'em to anybody you want", said bassist Rett Wood about their cd, titled "Blue Skies") who sound great and put on a great show.

They're currently on their first tour and if you have a chance to see them play, you should.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

I am a fugitive

I don't know why, but about two months ago I happened to look at my driver's license. Good thing I did, because it was due to expire on my birthday, which was last week. I made a note to get it taken care of before that, put it back in my wallet and went about my business. About two weeks ago, I saw my reminder note and sat down at the computer to take care of it. And that's when I found out that "as of January 1, 2010, Florida law requires identification, proof of date of birth, proof of residential address, and proof of social security number" and that must be taken care of in person.
I never got the memo.
Well, that's annoying but no big deal. My birthday was still a week away. I gathered up my paperwork and tried to make an appointment.
Not so fast.
My birth certificate, which came from Memorial Hospital, the hospital what birthed me and all, wasn't adequate. "A birth certificate must be issued by a government agency. Hospital birth certificates cannot be accepted."
All right, I went back to the computer to find out how to obtain a birth certificate issued by a government agency. Imagine my surprise, in the year 2010, when I can get the entire Beatles catalog, a Walter Payton rookie card and pizza from any one of dozens of restaurants delivered to my home with a sufficient credit card balance and a working mouse, that I could not request a birth certificate issued by a government agency, in this case The State of Michigan, on line. Nope! Instead I had to sit down and write a check (Jesus, do I even have a checkbook any more?) for $26 to The State of Michigan, put it in a stamped, addressed envelope (Jesus, do I even have stamps and envelopes any more?) mail it off where I presume a little old man in a green eyeshade and sleeve garters will process it, send a note via pony express rider to another office where a prehistoric bird will chisel out my birth certificate on a stone tablet and then look at the camera muttering "I hate this job" while I wait for it to be sent back to me, which is what I'm doing now, a week after my birthday and two weeks after I started this process. I'm passing the time between fruitless trips to the mailbox by praying that I don't get pulled over for something stupid.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Pink tent update

Okay, I didn't really know much about the pink tent and the "Fair Squares" they were serving, but Tommy Duncan of Sticks Of Fire filled me in:
"What's sold inside of that tent is also pink, and proceeds go to a worthy charity: The Florida State Fair's new signature food is a fluffy, deep-fried goodness with pink powdered sugar topping. A portion of the proceeds this year will benefit the Susan G. Komen For the Cure charity.Find out more about Fair Squares at"

But wait! There's more!

The Florida State Fair is raising money in support of Breast Cancer Awareness and has listed five (5) items on for bidding that will close on or before February 15, 2010. One hundred percent of the proceeds from these auction items will be donated to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation.

Item 1: 2009 World Champion Yankees Autographed Pink Bat: Link to Ebay Auction:

ITEM 2 -- Autographed Pink Guitar. Link to Ebay Auction:

ITEM 3 -- “The Animal” Batista Autographed Wrestling Chair. Link to Ebay Auction:

ITEM 4 -- Saline Implant Breast Augmentation Surgery.* Link to Ebay Auction:

ITEM 5 -- Upper or Lower Bilateral Blepharoplasty Eyelid Surgical Procedure.* Link to Ebay Auction:

Tuesday, February 09, 2010


A while back I introduced you to Manny The Dancing Dominican. And now, please give a warm welcome to Victor The Puerto Rican Cowboy. Giddyup!

Pardon my absence please

Sorry I haven't been around much lately. I've been doing some stuff, some of which has been a lot of fun, some of which has been unpleasant and some of which could result in exciting news (for me, at least) in the very near future. Also, I have been writing for a couple of other sites (and earning a wee bit of extra scratch in the process! Hey, this being a professional writer stuff is kinda fun!) and there's only so much time in a day and so much typity-type-type in my sausagey fingers. Things should get back to normal soon and I'll get back to padding the big, dumb ol' purple blog with some arbitrary silliness. In the meantime, if you must know what else I've been working on...

Friday, February 05, 2010

Pink tent

This is a tent at the Florida State Fair. They're selling something called "Fair Squares". I have no idea what they are. All I know is that as soon as I saw it, I immediately thought of my friend Gail Worley, author of The Worley Gig and lover of pink things. Some day, I'm going to New York and we're going to hang out and eat at the good restaurants tourists don't know about. She's also promised to take me to the site of the original CBGB. If things go well, maybe I'll run into David Byrne and Jill Jones while I'm there. If she comes to Tampa, I'll return the favor by showing her the good hole-in-the-wall Cuban food places and a trip to Skipper's. Maybe I can introduce her to Rebekah Pulley and Rebecca Zapen.
I'm shamelessly posting this here, hoping she will see it and re-post it as "Pink Thing of the Day" on her site. Whether she does so or not, she's great and so is her blog. I recommend you check it out often.

Feast your eyes (and your ass will follow)!

Why do we look forward to attending the state fair so much every year? The exhibits? Sure. The rides? Sure, sure. The celebration of agriculture and the importance it plays in all of our lives? Sure, sure, sure. The people watching? Oh, you betcha!
But mostly, we look forward to going to the fair so we can find out what new awful-yet-glorious greasy concoction the evil geniuses who work the midway will be shoving into our ever-gaping and grateful maws.

This year, the pre-fair anticipatory buzz has been about deep fried butter. I didn't encounter that (yet) but I did come across this monstrosity...

Is that what you think it is? Why yes, you closeted little Homer J. Simpson you, it sure is! It's your greatest dream and your worst nightmare: A bacon cheeseburger with two Krispy Kreme donuts substituting for the hamburger buns (the lettuce, tomato and onion is there to make it healthy).

Much, much more fair foolishness to be found at Sticks Of Fire.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Bow wow wow

THIS is what we're upset about now? President Obama may or may not have bowed to Tampa mayor Pam Iorio upon meeting her when he arrived at Mac Dill Air Force Base last week. Yep. This is what we're upset about now. Previously, he's bowed to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and Japan's Emperor Akihito. Now, if he's not looking for a quarter he dropped on the tarmac or preparing to head butt her, he's bowing to the mayor of Tampa! What the hell, people?!? He's a serial bower! He's got a problem and it's gotta stop! He's weakening our nation! AUUUGH!!!
No less an authority on all things stupid than conservative radio talk show host Todd Schnitt has weighed in on the situation. "You shake the mayor's hand, you can give the mayor a hug, you can even give the mayor a kiss on the cheek if you want. But bowing is considered a sign of weakness," says the man who has apparently never seen a martial artist bow to his opponent before trying to kick a hole in his thorax and who I would guess would not be thrilled to see Obama give Newark mayor Cory Booker a peck on the cheek. Schnitt says he's fielded numerous phone calls to his show agreeing with his opinion. Well, if there's a more accurate cross section of individuals who represent the core beliefs of this nation as a whole than the people who would call in to a conservative talk show, I don't know what it is. Of course, it's possible that he's fielded numerous phone calls from people who think the "wacky" stunt he pulled that injured a firefighter back in December on his other radio show (where he goes by the alias MJ...hey, don't act like you wouldn't change your name to Mary Jane or whatever MJ stands for if your parents named you Todd Schnitt) was brilliant too.

Look, we all know where this is coming from. For eight years, liberals used George W. Bush as a never-empty pinata, taking great delight in every gaffe or slip-up unfortunate enough to be caught on tape. And there was a whole lot of it caught on tape. Conservatives were understandably hurt and insulted and now that the other side has a guy in the White House, it's payback time. From that extremely narrow perspective, they're right. However, on a bigger scale, which is kind of how we should be looking at things these days (in my humble opinion), it's childish, pointless, stupid and counterproductive. I'm not saying you have to like everything the guy does. I'm not saying you have to like anything he does. Dissent is healthy. But if you're a dissenter, do you really want to waste your time and energy on something this dumb? Think about it; he might listen to you and go back to fist bumping instead.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010


I don't know how many birds are in your neighborhood or what they eat, but I'd advise you to start parking somewhere else.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Do they let you have koozies in jail?

The people who live in South Tampa, particularly along Bayshore Boulevard, were so upset about the drunken revelry of Gasparilla last year, particularly the peeing and puking aspects, that there was serious talk (any time rich people talk, it's serious) about drastic changes, possibly even eliminating it. But a parade route change that ended the parade further north in downtown, rainy weather and a "zero tolerance" for general assholery by an increased police presence all combined to keep the festivities at a more civilized level and everybody seems pretty pleased.
Still, when you hear that an event results in three times more arrests than there were the last time it happened, whether it's a parade of pirates or a redneck's nuptials, you can kind of understand why some people might still be hesitant to attend in the future.
There's probably more tweaking in order but the event doesn't seem to be on the chopping block any more. Which means the mayor will continue to surrender the key to the city when they invade again next year. Smart move, since apparently some pirates are eight feet tall.

And you gotta believe that certain local businesses will lend whatever support they can to keeping Gasparilla round. And I don't mean bars, restaurants, bars, hotels, bars and hotel bars either. Because what Black Friday is to retailers, Gasparilla must be to bail bondsmen. Can you imagine? I bet they have to hire temporary staff and everything. Plus who else would stand to benefit from hundreds of people getting arrested...?
Clever marketers, those lawyers. I wonder how many of them live on or near Bayshore?

Monday, February 01, 2010

It's a living

At my *real* job, I frequently have to deal with crew members from cruise ships. They're...interesting. They're all foreign, with names that have lots of Xs, Zs and what looks like an upside down question mark. They tend to wear sweaters that Cliff Huxtable would have passed on. They all smoke and no two smell alike, even though they all smell awful. I realize this sounds xenophobic and maybe even a little bit racist, but I don't mean it to be...and I don't see how it can be since I don't even have have an idea what country these guys are from. They all kind of look like extras from the scene in Marion's bar in "Raiders of the Lost Ark". Asia? Eastern Europe? I honestly don't know. The kind of place where everybody smokes all the time and goats are treated both better and worse than you would expect? Probably somewhere like that. The kind of place where the flag is a buffalo. And I don't mean a piece of cloth with a picture of a buffalo on it, I mean the flag is actually a buffalo. Every time one wanders through a village, everyone has to stand up and salute. Yes, that kind of place. I realize that last part sounds overtly xenophobic and racist. I'd apologize but that's kind of what I was going for.
These gentlemen engage in quirky behavior that can make dealing with them a challenge...
" that guy smoking an onion? It looks like it. And it damn sure smells like it. Either way, tell him to put it out! No smoking...and no produce in here!"
But sometimes I learn interesting things from these guys. For instance, I learned last night that "Wiper" is a job on a cruise ship. No, not, I'm sure it's not asses. Other stuff. It's a guy's job to wipe things on a ship. Do you think Wipers get together after a hard day and talk shop?
"You should have seen this surface I came across today. It had some kind of oily residue on it. So I was like, 'aw man, they're gonna want somebody to wipe that' and then I just went ahead and did it. Such is my life, that of a Wiper."
And not only are there wipers, there are "Assistant Wipers"!
"You're looking good out there, Xz¿zxz¿zx. You really help wipe things. But while you've got potential, I'm just not sure you're ready to move up yet. I'll review your performance again in six months."