Monday, January 31, 2011

Tampa's biggest thing... the annual Gasparilla pirate invasion, which we just had this past Saturday. Many locals describe it as Tampa's Mardi Gras, although last night I heard someone say it's about 500,000 people and 15 murders short of being a Mardi Gras (I wish I'd written that). But it is easily our biggest festival event, and it goes something like this:
  1. People dressed as pirates "invade" and take over the city of Tampa.
  2. A parade is held, during which strands of plastic beads are thrown into the crowd.
  3. Everybody gets hammered (this step actually occurs before, during and after)
And in my now 25+ years of living in the Tampa Bay area, I have never...not once...attended. It just doesn't appeal to me  For one thing, I think I got so good at drinking that it no longer holds any challenges for me, so I'm bored with it and mostly don't even do it anymore. And my understanding from those who do attend Gasparilla is that it, like Pink Floyd's "The Wall", is basically impossible to enjoy sans high levels of toxic chemicals careening around your circulatory system. For another, after a number of years in the sports/entertainment/event industry, my tolerance for huge crowds of drunken revelers (which consists largely of two basic archetypes, both of whom smell like they have recently urinated in their pants, even if they actually haven't; the female who is angry about being ditched by her friends, sobbing and begging to borrow your cellphone so she can find them and the male who staggers more-or-less blindly from hotel to hotel in the hope of finding the one where his friends are registered), especially if I'm not one of them, has been worn down to onionskin thin. This condition has also dampened my enthusiasm for attending concerts and some sporting events as well, but flares up especially bad around things like Gasparilla. I understand that's not the case for a lot of people and out of respect for them, being as I'm attempting to be less critical of things other people enjoy that I don't particularly care for, I'm going to limit my snarky observation to just one; that being that I saw a lot more heavy mascara, silky blouses, cheap jewelry, thigh high leather boots, and flamboyant feathered hats on Saturday, a mile away from the parade route, than I saw all night long at drag queen bingo last Wednesday night. That's all.
"Hello sailor!"
(Not an actual Gasparilla pirate, but you get the idea.)

Friday, January 28, 2011

The Party of the Year: The Aftermath

It's all over now and our Drag Queen Bingo fundraiser, hosted by Team Daddy-O Alley Katz on behalf of Relay For Life and the American Cancer Society was a bigger success than I had even hoped (and I was the idiot running around calling it The Party of the Year).

Here is some of what people are saying:

"It was great!"
"I had a blast! Thanks for the invite!"
"It was so much fun! We had a great time!"
"I won...I got to run around and make a fool of myself!"
"Played bingo with a bunch of drag queens and gay guys, and still managed to get hit on. Booya!"
"Is that Clark Brooks? It is! Why, he's even cuter and more charming in person! How is that even possible?"
(I'm pretty sure I personally heard most of those things 100% accurately).
Who was there?
Well, Amy DeMilo and Lynne Austin of course. Also sighted among all the beautiful people (and everyone there was beautiful): Tampa Do-Gooder Dawn Morgan Elliott and her hubby, rock legend Ronny Elliott, community activist Mariella Smith, cancer warrior/former Oprah guest/bra boy himself Dusty Showers, comedian Michael Lortz, up-and-coming poker superstar Tonia Williams, and even Dianne Reeger, captain of our beloved "rivals" Team Go Go. They were among tons of friends and family of all persuasions, who all came out to have a good time and support a worthy cause.
How much money was raised?
Oh yeah, that's a pretty important detail, isn't it? At the end of the night, Team Daddy-O walked out with a net total $1361.00 between the proceeds from all the bingo games donated by Hamburger Mary's and the spontaneous contributions to the "Cancer Sucks" box, every single penny of which goes directly to the American Cancer Society.
Can we see some pictures?
Sure thing! Check it out...
"Now, please, don't make me say it again; the slot is where you put MONEY, okay? Nothing else!
Why yes, that IS a macaroni & cheeseburger. And if the girl who ordered it is REALLY nice to me (heh heh!), I won't reveal her name in this blog...

Speaking of hot chicks, even The 23-Year-Old made an appearance!

Amy spins while Lynn displays a pair of balls. What? It's bingo!
(photo by Dusty Showers)

When people weren't feeding their faces, they were feeding the "Cancer Sucks" box
(photo by Tina Callen)
Me, Dusty and Lynne. Ooooh, shiny!

A packed house, having a good time, fighting cancer. What could be better?
(photo by Tina Callen)

I took over for Lynne, making a point of keeping my hands visible above the table at all times.
Wouldn't want anyone to accuse me of, uh, cheating.
(photo by Tina Callen)

Of course Dusty had to molest...err, accessorize the Mary statue on the way out.
  • Lynne Austin, Mike Pepper, Roxanne Wilder, Jim Lighthall, "Chicken" and "Dead Air" Sanchez of 1010 WQYK-AM's Hooters Nation Morning Show for the publicity, including letting us come in and commandeer 15 minutes of valuable air time.
  • Amy DeMilo for being our Queen, truly gorgeous, inside and out.
  • Kurt King and his entire staff at Hamburger Mary's for making it all possible in the first place. They make themselves available for non-profit groups like ours EVERY WEEK, which is amazing.
  •  Everybody who came out (and even those who wanted to but just couldn't for whatever reason; It's okay, I understand...there's a special footnote at the bottom of this post just for you!). The fact of the matter is YOU raised all that money for cancer! I just hope you had at least as much fun as we all did.
For those who couldn't make it to the event...
I know you feel bad. I don't blame you. I know better than most how difficult it is to accept every invitation to social gatherings that come your way, even the awesome ones. If it helps you feel better, go ahead and click this link to make a donation. I'm just here to help with your healing. You're welcome.

What's next?
I don't know yet, but there will be a next...something. Oh, yes there WILL! Bwa ha ha ha ha ha ha!!!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Tonight's the night!

I've been talking about it for months now, but that ends now. The Party of the Year happens tonight and it's time to get down! I look forward to seeing everybody there.

Wednesday, January 26 · 7:30pm - 10:30pm
Hamburger Mary's
1600 East 7th Avenue
Ybor City

Yesterday, we were on the radio, thanks to 1010 WQYK-AM's Hooters Nation Morning Show. Click here if you missed it, or just want to hear it again.
Guess who in this picture is NOT wearing women's underwear

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tune in tomorrow!

Your radio, that is. You do have a radio, don't you? The tv without pictures? The computer without...anything cool? Surely you have one, stashed away for emergency circumstances that arise when the power goes out. Go get it. Tune it to 1010-AM, set your alarm clocks for 7:00AM Tuesday morning, get up, turn the radio on and listen to The Hooters Nation Morning Show, featuring special guests Amy DeMilo and me. We'll be there to talk up what everyone (well, me) is already calling The Party of the Year. Of course, I'm talking about the Drag Queen Bingo event at Hamburger Mary's in Ybor City this Wednesday night, a fundraiser to fight cancer on behalf of Team Daddy-O Alley Katz.

If you honestly don't have a radio (do NOT call me for help after we're devastated by a hurricane...not that you could), or if you live outside of the Tampa Bay area (in which case I will be calling YOU for help after we're devastated by a hurricane), you can listen live by clicking here.And if you want to experience what it's really like to see actual human beings sitting at desks and talking while wearing headphones, you can watch streaming video of the whole shebang by clicking right here.

"Gee pop, wouldn't it be just swell if somebody accidentally dropped an F-bomb?"
"Accidentally? Ha ha ha ha ha ha!"
And...if you've yet to RSVP or at least learn more about the event itself, you can do that by clicking right here.
Wednesday, January 26 · 7:30pm - 10:30pm
Hamburger Mary's
1600 East 7th Avenue
Ybor City

Friday, January 21, 2011

Cleveland's jock

Over the years, some pretty terrible things have happened in and to the city of Cleveland, Ohio: the Cuyahoga River catching on fire and a downright tragicomic sports history come immediately to mind. Stand-up comedians since the '50s have treated Cleveland as their personal punching bag. Regardless of the fact that most of the jokes are at least slightly rooted in truth, the folks who live there are understandably sick of it all, and who can blame them? People bagging on your hometown gets old, especially when it comes from people who don't even live there and they're bringing up stuff that happened decades ago. One organization in particular, Cleveland's convention and visitors bureau, known as Positively Cleveland, is aggressively defending and promoting Cleveland's image and positive attributes. How aggressively? Well, just feast your inner Beavis and Butthead on their logo... 

Consult a doctor if your civic pride lasts for more than 4 hours
Obviously, they are very excited about all the the great things their city has to offer!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Party of the Year is almost here!

One week from tonight, DRAG QUEEN BINGO at Hamburger Mary's in Ybor City to benefit The American Cancer Society Relay For Life's Team Daddy-O Alley Katz. And I'm calling it, right here, right now, this is The Party of the Year.
"But Clark, the year is not even three weeks old", you whimper. To which I reply, "So what? Thomas Edison was only three weeks old when he invented his first telephone and that didn't stop him from becoming one of our greatest U.S presidents, did it?" This might draw a response from you that sounds something like, "Not one thing in that statement sounds factually accurate in any way, shape or form and besides, didn't I read that they just opened a new Hard Rock Cafe nearby? Man, I bet they are going to have some Justin Timberlake-style parties up in that piece every week!" The last thing I say before angrily slamming down the phone is, "Yeah, well, if you get invited to any Justin Timberlake parties at the Hard Rock, you can come back and tell me about it later, which you won't* because you won't**, unlike our party to which you already are***." Having not hung up the phone properly, I hear you murmur, "They already had Styx there..." This causes me to cry out incredulously, "Styx?!? Who gyves a shyt about Styx? We have the lovely and hilarious Amy DeMilo (Miss Gay Florida USofA 2010, Miss GaYbor 2010, Miss Heart of Florida 2010) and we have the equally lovely and hilarious Lynne Austin (the original Hooters girl and one of the hosts of The Hooters Nation radio show on WQYK 1010-AM) and we might have some other cool people show up that I can't even say anything about right now. Plus prizes, plus the whole thing benefits a great cause. Styx and Justin Timberlake together couldn't touch that on a good day.****"


Double boom!
So if you haven't already done so, make plans to join us at Hamburger Mary's in Ybor City next Wednesday night where you too can
Wednesday, January 26 · 7:30pm - 10:30pm
Hamburger Mary's
1600 East 7th Avenue
Ybor City, FL

* tell me
** be invited
*** invited
**** if Justin Timberlake or any member of Styx or their 'people' happen to be reading this, I love your work, you're fantastic, really. I wil always have a fond spot in my heart for the Paradise Theater album and Justin is a funny dude. But we're trying to fight cancer here, fellas. If you take exception in any way to anything I've written here, I will happily post a full retraction and apology in exchange for a donation to the cause, which you can make securely right here.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Better marketing through dyslexia

I drove past this sign the other day on my way to the mall. Sonny's restaurants are all over the place around here so you're liable to drive past three or four of them no matter where you go. Still, there was something unusual about this particular sign at this particular location, something I wasn't quite sure I had seen correctly at first glance. So I turned around and took another look...
Yep, that's what I thought.
It's pretty easy to see how someone could think that says "Hooters" and not an abbreviation for headquarters, not when they're driving past at 45 MPH and especially when the standard, accepted abbreviation for headquarters is the shorter, simpler "HQ".
I don't know if they're attempting some kind of subliminal deceit (I kind of doubt it; any time I've ever eaten at Sonny's, everybody seemed really nice and I'd like to think they're above that kind of thing) or if that would even work. People with dyslexia aren't stupid; they just have difficulty reading.
If Sonny's is trying to market to truly stupid people, I guess I have mixed feelings about it. I don't have a problem with anybody clever enough to figure out a way to separate money from people too dumb to have it in the first place. But still...on one hand, it's difficult to feel sorry for anybody stupid enough to think that one restaurant would simply turn into another one, even one day a week. But on the other hand, you gotta feel a little sympathy for anybody who walks into a place expecting this:
Hello, nurse!
And getting this instead:
"Howdy folks! Y'all ready to put a whole mess o' my meat in your mouth?"

Friday, January 14, 2011

A certain level of fame

I haven't had fancy cable television for over a year now, having scaled back from the full-on deluxe line-up of 150+ channels (including three MTVs and however many ESPNs there are now) to the sub-basic package which consists of my four local network affiliates, an independent station that airs nothing but sitcoms with all-black casts and what I'm pretty sure is Hungarian C-SPAN (all of which costs me about .84 a month). As a result, I don't get things like The Food Network. And yet, because of the pervasive nature of fame and celebrity in our society, I know who Paula Deen is. Rather, I'm aware that there is a person named Paula Deen who is a personality with her own cooking program on The Food Network and that she has a fiercely devoted fanbase and this makes her a huge star. In spite of the fact that my exposure to Ms. Deen on television is limited to this...

...even I am aware that she is a huge star. Because thanks to my friend Taylor Eason, I learned about a "recipe" on Ms. Deen's Food Network web site for something called "English Peas". If you don't feel like clicking through, here it is, in entirety:


1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
2 cans (14 1/2-ounces) English peas, drained

Melt the butter in small pot and add the peas. Cook over medium heat until peas are warm.

Seriously. That's the whole thing. (If you didn't click through, you're probably feeling pretty good right now because it clearly would have taken more time and effort to do so than to just read it right here, but you really should click through and read some of the comments left by readers)
This proves that Paula Deen is a huge star because you have got to be a huge star, or at least have testicles the size of frozen hams (which is the same thing) to pass that off as a "recipe".

Speaking of peas, meet the Paula Deens of funk
What's next for Paula Deen, uploading a picture having one of her assistants upload a picture of the directions on the box of something she bought at the grocery store?

"Here's your ****in' recipe; I'll be in my trailer, bitches."
If this is any indication, it looks like The Food Network is becoming to food what MTV has become to music. In which case, thank you Paula Deen for validating my decision to dump cable.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Oh baby

Sometimes the lady who works the drive-thru window at my local KenTacoHut calls me "baby". As in "Will that complete your order, baby?" or "That'll be $2.14, baby" or "Was that a medium Pepsi, baby?". This almost always throws me, because I never expect it. Frankly, any time I encounter something other than vitriolic indifference at the drive-thru (if you don't believe there can be such a thing as vitriolic indifference, you don't patronize many fast food establishments), it throws me.
In this case, I get distracted and start thinking about the drive-thru lady in romantic terms, as though she considers me to be her baby, you know, in a Smokey Robinson kind of way. I think about our relationship and how sad it is that due to the demands of our respective work schedules, the only way we can express our affection towards one another is for me to drive up and order a chicken burrito value meal (only $2!) and have her refer to me as her baby. Sometimes if it isn't too busy, she might even lean down and give me a smooch. These are the happiest moments of our life, as we are rarely home together at the same time, and when we are, it's constant fighting about money problems and how she smells like Fire Sauce. "You used to love me for my Fire Sauce", she sobs as I bitterly mutter something under my breath about how I used to love Coke more than Pepsi too.
Then I catch a glimpse of her and realize that she is considerably older than me and is probably referring to me as "baby" in a matronly fashion rather than as a term of romantic endearment, which makes sense in that I am coming to her seeking the sustenance she provides. In that way, the relationship is not entirely unlike that of a mother and offspring. This makes me think about actually being her baby, as in what if she were my mother? Obviously, I am too old to be considered an infant by any standard, so that would be kind of embarrassing...unless I were actually an actual baby! Hyper developed at an early age and capable of a variety of functions that would be beyond that of any normal baby, such as operating a motor vehicle and ordering food for myself from a fast food restaurant where my mother just happens to work. In other words, just about the most incredible baby ever, with a super brain, probably on track to attend med school at Harvard by the age of five. And yet, after bringing such an incredible specimen into the world, my mother still has to work the drive-thru window at a fast food restaurant just to make ends meet. She toils away day after day, calling out for her baby to rescue her from her life of drudgery. "Baby, please", she says. I cry out, "Oh mama! I'm so sorry! I failed you! I'm so very, very sorry!". She replies, "You ain't got to be sorry. Just move along. Damn". It's then that I realize I've had my food order in hand for at least two minutes, while sitting there daydreaming and holding up drive-thru traffic.
Sometimes the manager comes over and says I'm not allowed to order from the drive-thru for two weeks.

Friday, January 07, 2011

A history lesson!

I have become a big fan of our state park system in the last six months, which is easy to do because there's a lot to like about visiting our state parks. I recently had a chance to explore Honeymoon Island near Dunedin. Honeymoon Island is where some scenes were shot for "The Punisher", starring John Travolta and Thomas Jane, a few years ago. Specifically, the scenes where The Punisher's whole family (we're talking mom, dad, wife, kid, aunts, uncles and distant cousins) are massacred and The Punisher himself is shot, kicked, set on fire and left for dead.

What doesn't kill you, makes you...The Punisher!

 How romantic!

While I was there, I learned that "The Punisher" probably wasn't the first bloody mayhem to take place on what we palefaces now refer to whimsically as "Honeymoon Island":

Go ahead, make fun of his hair and man-thong. I dare you. 

Apparently, these guys were all over the place at one time, hunting with spears and being incredibly physically fit. I've never heard of them before and am fairly certain that there are no Tocobaga neighborhoods in Clearwater, Dunedin or even Tarpon Springs. Probably because this happened...
Funny how so few "visits" from people bearing huge crucifixes end well for the people who already live there.
Visit or conquer and wipe out an indigenous population? Eh. Tomato, tomahto. But wouldn't it be kind of cool if they found one last Tocobaga and he turned out to be a real life The Punisher? Running around Pinellas County and exacting revenge on those who killed his family...with a friggin' spear!
Well, I think it would be.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Political handouts

Dick Greco is running for mayor of Tampa, an office he has held twice previously. He's already launched his campaign and yard signs are starting to show up around town. They look like this:
Visually striking and very interesting. For one thing, he's eschewing the standard red, white and blue motif favored by many politicians in favor of a color scheme usually associated with warning signs:
Plus, what's with the hand? Well, it sort of goes with "Gimme five", a phrase he's been using in speeches, as in "gimme a fifth term in office". Get it?
Yeah, I get it. Although, I don't know if dredging up a jive-slang phrase from the '70s is the best way for a 77-year-old career politician seeking to connect with a community facing thoroughly modern problems...

"Yeah, I'll give you five, sucka..."
but it does open up some interesting endorsement opportunities...

I see DICK in your future

Forget the hamburger, I'm here to help DICK!

I gobble gobble DICK!

Damn, we're a little out of your jurisDICKtion!

Make a wish...for DICK!

On March 8, 2011, scratch that DICK itch!

Monday, January 03, 2011

First post of the year

Hello everyone. How were your holidays? Great, I hope.
I'd like to begin the new year by really taking steps to upgrade the quality of this blog. It's time to show some growth and maturity and I think the best way to demonstrate those traits is to present material in this forum that will appeal to those with more discriminating tastes. And so I'm pledging to make a concerted effort to avoid crude references and inane, juvenile "humor" and really set a tone for the year of class, dignity and respect. With that in mind, I'd like to present one of downtown Tampa's newest, finest, and dare I say, classiest, amenities: Curtis Hixon Park. One of the truly unique features of this park is a "spray deck", which is a network of fountains that one can walk through or lounge in or, if you're a child, play in, to cool off and relax. Here's a sign that's posted nearby:
Ha ha ha ha ha ha!
Well, it was nice while it lasted, but there goes another year down the to speak.