Tuesday, June 30, 2009

They say heavy rain so get out there wuss, conquer the wet stuff and find incredibly hot colors and cool reflections

Whenever the forecast calls for 70% chance of rain, I pretty much believe it will actually rain. It might even turn into a heavy downpour or storm, but don't go all out and take an umbrella or get ridiculous. It is sunny Florida and bright blue skies will surely greet you if you head out in rain gear, galoshes and a plastic bag pulled tight around the camera. I'm not fooled by those phony 20-30% rain chances around here. They keep weathermen employed but are typically a bust and seldom produce more than a sprinkle and even then only enough to throw nasty wet muck up onto the car and windshield. 70% or higher and I plan to get a little wet as I navigate puddles or flooded-out intersections in search of ideal combinations of rich, deep saturated colors and long reflections in rain-soaked streets. This office building, with its modern walls and angles in bright shades of sun-soaked colors that remind me of Santa Fe, combined all the elements that screamed at me Stop. Now. Take my picture. Hurry, the light is just right. No, dummy, I didn't mean stop in the middle of the street and block traffic. Oh, well. Too late. Hope it was worth it for one silly shot. [* Wuss = a person who is physically weak and ineffectual. Won't go out in the rain to take pictures. Frequently misses out on best photographs.]

This is what's happening right now, this Tuesday, in My World. To see what's happening now at other places, visit That's My World TUESDAY.

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Bridge of Quite Different Sighs: Tampa's 83 Year Old Columbus Drive Bridge Is Looking Strong and Sturdy in Black and White.

Tampa has plenty of bridges over the river and bays. Many of them were built several years ago and have been regularly inspected and maintained and a few, such as the Howard Franklin Bridge and Gandy Bridge over Tampa Bay, have had entire spans replaced in recent years. This bridge over the Hilllsborough River at Columbus Drive is one of those that you speed across and never give it a thought. It's so fast and routine that very few even notice they're crossing a body of water. You're only on it for a matter of seconds and then it's forgotten. A swing-type bridge built in 1926, it is an entirely different structure, and experience, when seen from the water. We need to stop once in a while and really look at these places and things from our lives that we might see every day but pay little if any attention to. Yes, admittedly it is old, and may be showing its age and some wear. But it's a fascinating example of design and engineering that is recognized as one of roughly 32,000 Historic Bridges in the United States. It was built right long ago and still serves its purpose very well. Even if we don't pause and take a closer look.
Please visit Monochrome Weekly for other images of our world as seen in black, white and subtle shades of gray.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

How cowardly is this bright yellow sign? You're just too chicken to ask.

These carefully arranged letters, spelling out STUNGUNS, arranged so artfully at an angle, are on the side of a squat, one-story block and stucco building not located in a particularly busy location for retail. What draws one's eye to the building at all is the almost disquieting color of yellow. Whatever particular shade or tint of yellow you want to call it, whoever painted it did not want anyone to drive by without noticing his business. Forget fancy electronic signs blinking and flashing, let's get 50 gallons of hideous yellow and dunk the whole place. Yellow cabs would be embarrassed if they had to pick up a fare at this establishment. Smart, savvy marketeers those guys. No one would call them cowards when it came to their decorating sense. Brave guys for sure. The place is empty and closed up so from this sign alone my best guess is that in its most recent past - before or after it was painted this stunning yellow shade? - it was a store which sold firearms and non-lethal weapons such as stunguns. You know the device, right? Similar to early electric cattle prods, they first began appearing for their current use in the 1950's and early 1960's, and by 1976 the TASER stungun was introduced. First classified as firearms, the design was reworked and they were reclassified as non-firearm. (Nowadays I guess one could be used, judiciously, on wild, spray gun wielding painters with gallons of cheap leftover paint that roam our highways and byways painting retail facilities in god-awful colors. I suppose to catch unsuspecting consumers and lure them in hypnotically.) Selling stunguns and similar devices in gun stores and pawn shops makes sense as they are associated with self defense and protection. But from studying this one sign that is all that remains of the business, I can't think of any reason they would go to the trouble to spell out this one product on the side of the building 25-30 feet from the road. Believe me, no one would ever get past the yellow of the entire building to spot the sign. No way.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hey, Mom and Dad, pile the kids in the car. Let's all go buy a trunkload of fireworks. How fun is that!

Every year as our 4th of July Independence Day celebrations approach, huge tents like this one appear on just about every imaginable empty lot and parking lot in our city and county. (I hope this happens in other places so I don't feel our local governments are the only ones who turn a blind eye - not a desirable condition when discussing fireworks.) Many are operated by a company that has been in business for a couple of decades or more and specializes in these types of temporary fireworks retail businesses. They import all of their fireworks and then wholesale and retail fireworks them all over the state of Florida. I have never bought any fireworks from them or any other stand on the side of the road and I think the last time I did more than watch a public display is when I was a not-too-smart high school kid in South Carolina throwing some powerful little devils such as ash cans and cherry bombs; that was a long, long time ago. Since then, as I've grown older and I think a bit smarter, I worry for every small child I see lighting and throwing something that goes bang. And it's not just on the 4th . It goes on for days (and nights) before the holiday. The neighborhood peace is destroyed by dads thinking it's entertaining and educational to go out and help the little ones actually light these things - 5 and 6 years old love the loud, explosive thrill of dangerous fireworks. Where is the adult here?? Sparklers are always fun (and I know very dull and not explosive) but I firmly believe in leaving fireworks to professionals. Tampa and surrounding cities have a wide variety of public displays each year and the ones near Hillsborough Bay and the Channelside district downtown are always very well done. The tent I shot is typical of a retail operations intended for "consumer sales" which require buyers to sign a legal waiver that they will be used for agricultural purposes only. Scaring off birds or something. Although we have strict laws, apparently you could drive a 16- wheeled semi through the loophole. All the legal mumbo jumbo aside, the tents are perfect subjects for the camera and this one was especially good. On the top of the striped tent is an athletic young lady pulling and positioning the biggest banner into place. I shot closeups as she worked on the tent for almost 30 minutes without falling. She did finally get it straight and roped tight. (I bet she's a full-timer who has done this many times before. Who knew you could climb onto the canvas tents and jump all around.) So now you know. If you want some fireworks that disturb neighbors and carry the risk of blowing off fingers visit any of the several convenient striped tent locations for the best selection. And to look cool and smart, take your very young children along so they think dad (and mom) are real smart shoppers as you cart the biggest box to the car. Please have a save 4th this year.

Friday, June 26, 2009

SkyWatch Friday: Morning Thunderstorms and Power Out

After 17 straight days of temperatures well into the mid to high 90-degree range, the weather forecast for today said, It might rain in the morning and drop our temperatures in to the 80s. Well, yes, it did began to pour rain with thunder and lightning in the early morning hours, well before I saw the sun shine which it didn't do until well into the afternoon. We even lost power for a short while which is always fun. This shot of our downtown skyline only hints at the amount of rain and flooding we had throughout the area all morning (I had to shoot some of our more intelligent drivers navigating flooded intersections. Amazing.) and that is with our continuing drought and tough watering restrictions. Hard to believe we are nearly surrounded by fresh and salt water on all sides, and yet there is so very little water underground. Every bit of moisture from the sky helps and today's rain is most welcome.

Do visit Skywatch Friday to see the beauty and wonders of the world's most magnificent skies.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Ascend the staircase to Florida blue skys: The Palace of Florence rules proudly on Tampa's Davis Islands

I admit that I have been drawn to this building for many years, long before its complete restoration in 2003. The old world look and intriguing towers reminded me of castles I liked to play with as a kid. What boy can resist castles and knights in shining armor (or young damsels?) The Palazzo Firenze (Palace of Florence) was part of David P. Davis' original plan for his ambitious, and mostly realized 1920s dream for the development of the two small islands in Tampa's Hillsborough Bay. Located at 45 Davis Boulevard, it was designed by Athos Menebun. It is understood that its design was taken from the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy. Looking now at photographs of the palazzo in Florence, it does share many of the elements of the tower and fortress-like design. Built in 1293, the Palazzo Vecchio became the seat of town's government and the home of the Medici family. It has been the seat of the municipal authority in Florence since 1872. It is a gorgeous part of the town's skyline today and a mighty big target when you're designing an apartment building on a near empty, sandy spit of land in the Hillsborough Bay. At the height of the Florida real estate boom of the 1920s, architects were trying to design distinctive and luxurious structures for Davis Islands and they dreamed of a grand design to fit the developer's equally as grand dreams and ambitions. The 600+ year-old design of the Palazza Vecchio fit that dream. This photograph of the tower and exterior staircase show the terra cotta, wrought iron and stucco materials used throughout the building. Rather than Florentine officials and Medicis, Tampa's Palace of Florence features eight apartments in the 3-story building . Completed in 1926, at a cost of $350,000, it was restored in 2003 and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places. It is also received Local Landmark Status. Looking up from this vantage point, one can't help but want to climb the outside stairs to see what is up there and check out the view of the islands, Tampa and the bay. Great spot for watching the sun set.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

This Green Iguana serves burgers and beer. No, not iguana burgers!

This mighty green beast must be 25 feet long. If I had backed away to capture his entire length you would see that he covers half the roof of this popular spot, The Green Iguana Bar & Grill, on South Westshore. The Green Iguana is an apt name for this fun, palm-laden, very Florida-like place. (With that giant monster over your head, what would you call your establishment?) The little lizard perched on the big one's rear leg, you have to look closely to see him, is probably only four feet long. Just a tiny guy. The Green Iguana, around the Tampa area for over 18 years, has six locations in Tampa, St. Pete and right on 7th Avenue in the heart of Ybor City. That's the location I know best and have enjoyed many times while sitting at a table laden with appetizers, mouthwatering burgers and icy Guinness. It's one of the best spots to watch the world of Ybor pass by. (Just get a table out front on the sidewalk; it doesn't get any better.) Their website has a tall-tale that tries to explain their name and its significance. The legend of the Green Iguana begins, "Years have passed since that fateful trip, but the man remembers it like yesterday." I can speak for two locations but I'm sure each one has the same welcoming feel, delicious food, good service and live music that doesn't interrupt but instead adds to the fun of the place. I had never noticed the slithering giant iguana before, believe it or not, I think because he is so big , and on the roof, I missed him as I headed to the food and drink. (That's my excuse, OK?!) He is big! And serves monster burgers that I strongly recommend. The legend that goes with the naming doesn't hint at why the burgers are so good. Check it out.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rowers are Great Artists, Too: Crew Teams Leave Creative Evidence That They Rowed Tampa's Hillsborough River

The Laurel Street Bridge in Tampa was constructed in 1926 and is a “pony truss bascule style that pivots” from one side of the river's bank. This extremely colorful old concrete building, which houses the mechanical works, lies under and on the west side of the span. (If there are any bridge engineers out there you are welcome to chime in with a more accurate explanation of how it works.) Suffice it to say the bridge is over 80 years old and has seen everything in its day from sailing vessels hauling goods for unloading onto Tampa’s docks to today’s million dollar pleasure craft gliding under its steel span. Of course the traffic on top has been just as interesting and indicative of the vast changes we have seen in automotive design and technology since the first Model A crossed over the river. But through all the years the Laurel Street Bridge has withstood every test we could throw at it, including nature’s wrath of storms, flooding, the constant sun and deterioration caused by pollution in the air and water. The fact that it's still standing is a testament to its design, construction and constant maintenance. I realize I am not showing the entire bridge because the most fascinating parts of all of the bridges that cross the Hillsborough River in Tampa’s downtown are the works of art on the sides and foundations left behind by our friends on college and university (even a few high school) rowing teams. The art may have started to appear as early as the 1940s when the University of Tampa, which fronts the Hillsborough River, began its first crew team. The university crews began arriving back then and are here from January to March each year. Teams come to train from Princeton, Yale, Rutgers, Dartmouth and other colleges. And if you look, they have left reminders that they were here. Year after year. So it isn’t a recent rash of vandalism or overly-enthusiastic graffiti artists come to life. As you study the designs and messages, and before you dismiss these spray-painted and brushed-on tags as graffiti, just know that even the new Tampa Bay History Center (which I featured in yesterday’s post at Tampa Florida Photo) has taken more than casual notice of this artistic explosion on our river’s bridges. On its third floor is a wall-size exhibit featuring one of the bridges and the art left behind by the nation’s rowing teams. Many crew teams come to Tampa to train on our river and channels during the winter months when it is very cold up north. It must be a favorite place for the teams who use the facilities on the riverfront. (It's even hot and sunny at Christmas!) The men’s and women’s teams work very hard to perfect their technique and also find time to enjoy Tampa, Ybor City and our nearby Gulf beaches (if they can escape their coaches that long.) But, apparently one activity they will always find time for is leaving evidence that they were here. These talented kids, great athletes all, have to be fast, creative and in some case, nimble daredevils to hang and suspend from bridges and seawalls to get their design and message just right. It must be visible to every other school’s team that rows by after they leave. Whether it’s called urban art, school insignia or just plain graffiti, it is an important part of who we are as a city and some part of us should be proud that students from many of our nation’s top colleges and universities want to be remembered for having crewed in Tampa. I’m all for celebrating that achievement with them. (Plus, their artwork will always make for great photography.)

Monday, June 22, 2009

It's Not Just a Bunch of Big Black Boxes Down by the Riverfront: The NEW Tampa Museum of Art

If you look at the photo, there would be no way you'd guess what you're looking at. Yes, big tall office buildings against the sky. But what is the black thing in the foreground. Well, it's our new art museum that is currently under construction. In 2006, the architect Stanley Saitowitz from San Francisco, CA, was selected to design a new Tampa Museum of Art. It is now well out of the ground and making a strong statement in downtown Tampa's Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. It's scheduled to open early next year. The original Tampa Museum of Art, which opened in 1979, sat behind Curtis Hixon Hall, Tampa's convention center, on the Hillsborough River. The building was razed in February last year and is being replaced by this 66,000-square-foot facility. These photographs show it from two angles as it rises up on its Hillsborough River-front location. The round limestone building above right, is the Rivergate Tower and headquarters to the Sykes Corporation. The other office buildings visible from left to right are the SunTrust, Verizon, Colonial Bank and Bank of America. The round building was designed by architect Harry Wolf to symbolize a lighthouse and is a distinctive element on our city's skyline. It's probably one of Tampa's most important buildings architecturally. The new art museum is certainly another interesting and unusual design that came about after a long and at times contentious debate and selection process that resulted in this final design by San Francisco architect Stanley Saitowitz. The exterior is being covered in pierced aluminum. . You are able to see the construction progress on the TMA WEBCAM. From the WEBCAM view, which faces to the north, the museum is on the left closest to the river and the Glazer Children's Museum, which is also under construction, is on the right. The museum will feature five interior galleries, one exterior sculpture gallery, and an educational classroom. The architect, Stanley Saitowitz, is a professor of architecture at the University of California, Berkeley, and a principal of Natoma Architects Inc. in San Francisco. He is the recipient of number of awards. His completed projects include the California Museum of Photography in Riverside, the New England Holocaust Memorial in Boston, the Capp Street Artist Workshop, the San Francisco Embarcadero Promenade, the Coffee Pavilion at Stanford University, the Oxbow Art School in Napa, and several residences. He has taught at a number of schools and has lectured extensively in the USA, and abroad.
His design is tough to visualize from a photograph but it is definitely taking more of it final form as the exterior is being covered. The angle I shot from at the corner closest to the river showing tall downtown buildings rising up behind it obviously provides a stark, but intended contrast. The smaller shot from the opposite bank for the river shows the full width and relationship to the Hillsborough River. As its construction moves along I will update you on its progress and show more architectural details as they are applied.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

It's Carnival Time in Tampa's Port

There is almost always frenetic activity in and around the Port of Tampa on Sunday afternoon as the cruise ship passengers arrive and begin to board. The Carnival Legend, which flies the flag of Panama, is one of Carnival's "Fun Ships." Three cruise lines sail in and out of our port including Holland America,Royal Caribbean and the Carnival ships including the Inspiration. The Legend is in Carnival's Spirit class and was launched in 2002. It is 963 feet in length, its beam (width) is 103 feet and it carries a crew of 960. A somewhat smaller ship than some, it holds 2,124 passengers on 12 decks and a real plus for many, 80% of of its cabins are on the outside. If fun is its theme, then it should deliver with restaurants, a wedding chapel and 16 lounges. Its atrium is nine stories tall. Just about now we can hear the horns blow for final boarding. The ship, with its distinctive red, white and blue whale-shaped tail of a smoke stack, will sail at 4:00. Although these size ships seem to move like a turtle (or a manatee), the Legend has a 22 knot cruising speed, so it can really move for an 88,500 ton behemoth. From our terminals in Channelside it will sail into the Western Caribbean including calls at Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Belize, Isla Routan and then return to Tampa - a 7-day cruise. (That always bring to mind Gilligan's Island and its theme song, "Just a Three-Hour Tour.") Sailing now as it is in late June it is before our hurricane season heats up in August and September. Even these ships have been known to change course to avoid the major storms that will visit our state, the Gulf of Mexico and the islands. By my watch it will push off from our cruise dock in 5 minutes...right now! It is always a awesome sight to see them sail.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Anime Invade Tampa: Help Save our City from Costumed cartoon Characters.

I will admit that when I read that a Anime convention would be held for three days in Tampa, I had not the slightest knowledge of what that was or meant. It caught my attention only because it mentioned that attendees (?) would come to the METROCON Anime Convention, "Florida's largest," in full costume. Like a lot of you, I enjoy the research side of the Internet, visit Google often, and learn about new things everyday. Admittedly, there is a lot I don't know. The term Anime was a word I couldn't pronounce or define. An entire subject as it turned out that I knew nothing about. Because our convention center is minutes from my home, and I did need photos for today's posts, I grabbed my camera and gave myself 30 minutes to explore and shoot a few pictures if the convention-goers proved to be decent subjects. Well, I was gone all of thirty minutes. Door-to-door. I shot approximately 100 frames. 90 are outstanding if you're after subject, action, color, costume and fantasy. I captured it all. If it's a "What's happening in Tampa Today" kind of project, well folks, here it is. This is really what has invaded our downtown. Young people are all over the street corners, entryway and lobby of the convention center in indescribable paraphernalia, costume, gear, weapons, hoods, ray guns...the list could go on for pages just trying to provide the barest and simplest explanation and description of what I found at the Anime convention.

Because I really didn't know anything about this phenomena, here is a little peek at what's behind the cast of characters that are displayed: "The characters from other dimensions come together to the same place to meet....The Gear, the symbol of Metrocon, is put in place as a filter on reality so that ultimate evil cannot come through." Go ahead, I dare you to read that again and then, please, explain it to me. Please. As I learned, Metrocon, created by the founders of AnimeMetro.com, is an online community of over "5,000 members."

If you've read this far, here is what the "otaku," a Japanese word for the two girls in my photo, are all about. Anime is an abbreviation for the Japanese pronunciation of animation. It refers to animation that originated in Japan and is extremely popular there and in many parts of the world. It began during the early part of the 20th century, when Japanese filmmakers began to experiment with techniques of animators in the US and Europe. It has taken off and exploded. It may be hard to understand but it is, apparently, huge with a certain segment of our population.

OK, is that clear. Now, do you know why these two young and attractive Tampa girls are dressed this way? There may be someone out there who understands and recognizes the costumes they are wearing. Don't hesitate to let me know. I am dying with curiosity to hear the whole story. I've got to take a break now, catch my breathe and stop my heart from racing - That was a tough 30-minute self-assignment.

Friday, June 19, 2009

SKYWATCH Friday: Call out the Ghostbusters to save Tampa's Skyline

I took this photo from an unusual location in that it's not the most flattering angle for any building or structure in the picture. I was just off the Cass Street Bridge, facing east at Doyle Carlton Drive and the west side of the 932-space William F. Poe Garage. The tall building seen over the top level of the garage is the SkyPoint Condominiums. Just to the right, out of the shot, is the new Tampa Museum of Art and Glazer Children's Museum, both under construction. The condominiums are spectacular and feature 32 floors. Several hot new restaurants and bars have opened on the ground floor. For a very interesting ride, check out their WEBCAM at SkyPoint, for a fantastic aerial view of the building and its surroundings. It faces Curtis Hixon Park, the Hillsborough River and has a commanding 360-degree view of the city of Tampa. Their website describes the building as a "finger of glass and steel slicing into an azure sky." That's a perfect description for what you see jutting up into Tampa's sky and clouds. But, every time I stare up at the building, and this is no reflection on its design or even reality, I'm immediately transported back to the 1984 hit movie, Ghostbusters. Starring Danny Aykroyd, Rick Moranis and Sigourney Weaver, the movie scenes of the Sedgewich Hotel and Gozer's Temple always come to my mind. Look closely at the very top of SkyPoint and try to imagine a black, menacing sky, bolts of lightning, and huge gargoyles coming to life and dropping down onto the city streets below. I know, it's a stretch. Except I can't look up at the building without thinking Ghostbusters. Again, great design, architecture and engineering, but up there, at the very top, I just know Sigourney Weaver is bringing the wrath of demons and ghosts to life to threaten our dear metropolis. If I don't stay calm and keep a handle on reality, I'll start to see the movie's really scariest character, the Stay Puff Marshmallow-Man, leaping from building to building, squashing cars and pedestrians in his path. (I will not make any reference or jokes here about holding a marshmallow roast in the new park along side the river -I bet that would draw a good turnout and be a crowd-pleaser though.) Rest assured, the builders and developers of SkyPoint have taken every precaution to ward off ghosts and, if you study the WEBCAM closely, they opted to go without gargoyles. Now, that is a relief.

Be sure and visit all of the cities participating in SKYWATCH Friday. It's a great journey around the world's skies.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Shop for White House Gear and take the President Home for Fun and Profit

This fun and popular shop is located on Channelside Drive in the Channelside Bay Plaza. The plaza, where The Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce is located, features restaurants, bars, Joffrey's Coffee, shops and a theater complex with IMAX. It is at the cruise port and beside the Florida Aquarium. White House Gear and American Classics opened here in 2002, and is full of gifts and souvenirs of Washington, D.C., the White House, Air Force One, the presidential retreat at Camp David, the U.S. Capitol Building, all the military branches and other patriotic merchandise. White House Gear has also carried authentic-looking apparel with FBI, Secret Service and Air Force One logos. Shoppers of every age and political persuasion, veterans and discerning shoppers looking for cuff links and even official White House Christmas ornaments are in luck. This store has it all. From time-to-time they have carried talking presidential dolls that can entertain the kids and upset all the family, friends and neighbors. You can buy golf shirts, polos, belts, cigars, mugs and hats. Even White House china, insignia ties, coins, golf clubs, White House doll houses, and models of Air Force One and Marine One helicopters for the kids (or big guys who like 1/24 scale, highly-detailed presidential limousines from past administrations.) They have life size, cardboard cut-outs of President Obama. If you have always dreamed of having him join you in the kitchen as you make coffee...or whatever, he is dying to leave the shop and breathe again. (That 's your president in the window on the left staring out at passersby.) If you can't get to Washington, this store has everything you'd expect to find at shops right outside the museums and government building in DC. If you're inventive and creative, and can't make the trek to our nation's capital, buy the Obama cut-out figure and start your own "Have your photo taken with the President" business in your hometown. Exactly like you'd find on all the tourist-jammed sidewalks in Washington. Think of the pride - and revenue -you'll experience from finally being the entrepreneur you've always dreamed of becoming.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Will your shark require a stool, sir? Have you heard the joke about the shark, the life raft and .....

Admit it. You have always dreamed of having your own life raft at your entryway and several tons of shark overhead crashing through the foamy surf. If you thought you couldn't experience this in your lifetime, there is a place that's a little hidden away but is well known to a bunch of locals. It is Stoney's Bar & Package Lounge on South 22nd Street in Palmetto Beach. Stoney's wasn't always off the beaten path. These days, a drink doesn't come with the constant roar and pounding of heavy truck and car traffic and maybe that a good thing…although the owner might have a very different take as he closes out the register in the wee hours each night. Most of the traffic was diverted to 20th Street with its widening to six lanes. Locals who can walk over probably love the peace and comfort of their own stool with friends close by. Palmetto Beach has always been about friends, close neighbors and everyone knowing everyone. Of course, this hard working neighborhood isn't really that hidden away. Most folks have heard of it, but they don't have a clue where it is. It is in Tampa, just minutes south of Adamo Drive, Highway 60, and Ybor City. It's real close to Tampa’s port and the marine and ship repair industry have always been a big part of its economy and history. Although it sees it share of north/south traffic on 20th, its residential streets are quiet and unhurried. It has never seen the kind of attention Ybor City to its north has received over the years of rebirth and rediscovery. With the millions pumped into the widening of 20th Street, Palmetto Beach’s main drag, 22nd Street, has assumed an altogether new identity in traffic, feel and character. It’s near dead now compared to before the widening and improvements. I found that 1930s gasoline station, that I posted on may 12th, now reused as a laundromat, just up the street. Stoney’s is more of a local hang-out now and welcomes its regulars and workers from the port and the ships. Palmetto Beach is a quiet throwback to Tampa of the 40s or 50s. The street has pulled back decades to an earlier era and maybe that’s a good thing. The huge shark at Stoney's is just as fun and welcoming and if the night goes real long, and the car seems like a bad idea for the trip home, there is always the life raft at the ready. Tell the valet to bring the red raft with the netting around.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

That's My WORLD Tuesday: This couple is looking very cool on a steamy hot afternoon

Back on April 25th, I featured a happening young couple out making the scene on South Howard Avenue in South Tampa's SoHo District. I noted that they dressed well, for the young, professional crowd they obviously hung with, and were probably making their way through all the many popular bars and restaurants from Kennedy Boulevard down to the Bayshore. Now I (practically) run into another pair of rockin' folks (cousins) looking a bit lost and misplaced standing on the sidewalk alongside busy, noisy and very steamy hot Kennedy Boulevard. They are too far away to be heading to SoHo, and it's only lunchtime, so maybe they are waiting for friends, a bus or that's their black Range Rover parked to the side. Very likely looking at the way they appear, and seeing the black wheels on the Rover. Yep, their wheels. So the scenario plays out. He's trying to look his best - check out that skull belt buckle - while she's a bit tousled and unsteady in her 10-inch high heels. And the short skirt looks cool and comfortable in today's 90+ degree weather. But, still, the total package looks a tad inappropriate on Kennedy at the noon hour unless she is in a particular line of work. No, no, they have just finished lunch and will jump in the Rover any second and head home to the house full of kids and their work-from-home careers. I couldn't get him or her to speak a word so it'll forever remain a mystery. Let's all just assume the best and leave them to stand around and preen for the passing traffic. She must though get that hair off her eyes and her head on straight. Doesn't she see he's really trying very hard to communicate? It's a tough life sometimes. They'll work it out but it won't be easy. They are both terribly hardheaded.

Visit all of the That's My WORLD Tuesday sites to experience the wonderful and diverse world we live in.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Datz Delicatessen: Tampa lucks out again with Datz incredibly fine food and fun

The Tampa Bay area is well known for having given birth to a host of extremely successful restaurant chains and dining concepts. You may have heard of Outback Steakhouse and Bonefish Grill. Both were started right here in the Bay area. We're lucky diners to be home to the headquarters of Carrabba's Italian Grill, Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar and Roy’s Hawaiian Fusion Cuisine, all owned by OSI Partners, LLC. They boast that they operate restaurants in 50 states and Outback Steakhouse restaurants in 21 countries. (Outback still has scrumptious burgers, steaks and their indescribable onion creation. I'm getting hungry now.) This is my long-winded lead-in to telling you about a new restaurant that opened just in time for this year's Super Bowl. It's Datz Delicatesson. I can never find a time of day that cars aren't blocking the entire front of the store so the wonderful, 3D sculptural sign out front will have to do. It's rather big. I'd guess these bottles are close to six feet tall and the big square slice of cheese is at least that big. My first experience was a very pleasant surprise in many ways. I had heard it had delicious deli food. Friends and family said very good. But the live music, outdoor dining, second floor balcony bar and tons of fine wines and must-try beers - both unheard of award-winning craft beers and a big selection of foreign and domestic brews - make this a do-not-miss eating/dining experience. Fun atmosphere. BIG menu of foods and drinks. The place is much bigger than it appears from the street and can be very crowded with everyone of every age trying to find a place to park on our crowded South Tampa streets but no one minds waiting patiently to get in. Any wait is worth it. Guaranteed. Breakfast. Lunch. Dinner. (I don't know the owners but this is a Tampa-born restaurant concept that is a sure-fire winner wherever they decide to open next.) Check out the menu. It even has a photo gallery. The menu is thick and tries to help you decide but it's hard to make a food decision here. Plus, nothing can match being there. This is not your every day deli. Datz for sure!

I am always pleased when a fellow blogger out in our wide, wide world finds me and likes something about what I share with you everyday through my blogs. An award is recognition for the small contribution we make to the ever-growing online blog community. The World Is Flat, the book written by author Thomas Friedman, put it so well when he described how small and connected we are as co-inhabitants of this planet. The thoughts, words and photographs we post each day bring us even closer together. The award is from Bharat Khatri who lives in Jaipur, India. His blog, Unseen Rajasthan, shows us the exotic beauty of his world. I'm glad he likes my blogs and I appreciate the award very much.
Uber* Amazing Blog Award is an award given to a site that:
(*synonym to Super)
1. Inspires you
2. Makes you smile and laugh,

3. Provides amazing information
4. Is a great read
5. Has an amazing design
Any other special and unique reasons that makes this blog Uber amazing!

The rules of this award are:
  1. Put the Uber award logo on your blog and post how proud you are.
  2. Nominate 5 other bloggers and invite them to accept the award
  3. Go to their blog and let them know that they have received this Uber Amazing Award.
  4. Share the love and link to this post and to the person you received your award from.

I am passing this award along to the following 5 bloggers for their amazing blogs. Congratulations!

1. Jacob - Cedar Key Daily Photo

2.Tamera - Colorado Springs Daily Photo

3.Laurent - Daily Photo in Paris

4.Snapper - Gabriola Daily Photo

5. Hilda - My Manila

I enjoy each of these blogs and I'm proud that I can make this award. Be sure to visit them.

[This award was begun by MommaWannabe, a delightful site that has a strong and "growing" number of followers.]

Sunday, June 14, 2009

FLAG DAY in the USA: The Vermont Flag first flew in 1777

These sailboats are at anchor in the Seaplane Basin at the far end of Davis Islands, a protected area near the private airport, the Davis Islands Yacht Club and where many folks take their dogs to the nice dog park (and what a great location for dogs to roam, meet, greet and play catch with one another...and pet owners also try to play nice and not get into fights.) I chose this group of boats because today is Flag Day in the USA. It is celebrated each year on June 14. It marks the adoption of the flag of the United States by a resolution of the Second Continental Congress in 1777. It wasn't until more than a century later, in 1916, that President Woodrow Wilson issued a proclamation that officially established today as Flag Day; in August 1949, National Flag Day was established by the US Congress. U.S. citizens are encouraged to to fly the American flag and the owner of this sailboat has chosen a very historical one to fly on the mast: the Bennington or Vermont flag. This special flag features the red and white stripes with 76 on the blue field and surrounded by stars, first flew over the military post in Bennington, Vermont, on August 16, 1777. It's a very distinctive flag, and although not the official flag of our country, makes a powerful and profound statement about our founding and proud heritage.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

High Seas Adventures of Every Size and Description

The mixed boat traffic in our port, bay and channels cannot be better illustrated then by this shot of the huge ship M/T Bryggen, the tug Boat Freedom and the fun-loving crew of the small pleasure craft heading full speed out of the channel into Hillsborough Bay. Every commercial and cruise ship that wants entrance into our port must be guided by a tug such as the Freedom, snuggled up against the much larger container ship. Freedom is owned by Marine Towing of Tampa, which operates four tugs. (The company is principally owned by the Steinbrenner family that owns the New York Yankees.) Tampa’s port is Florida's largest by cargo volume with about 3,600 ships calling at Tampa last year, most of them cargo ships but an increasing number are cruise ships. The Freedom is a tough little tug capable of pushing, pulling and guiding some mighty big ships. It holds 29,000 gallons of fuel and has a tremendous capacity to get its job done right. They guide ships in from the Gulf of Mexico under the Skyway Bridge. The tug seems mighty powerful until you put it alongside the M/T Bryggen of Norway. Built in 2003, the company operates commercial tankers for other companies and charters. Their primary mission is stated as "Deep Sea Foreign Transport Of Freight, " and they are headquartered in Bergen, Norway. From the looks of the ship it can go up against any deep sea adventure it wishes to take on. It's about 520 foot in length (158,8 m) and is constructed of stainless steel and zinc (I love the things one can so easily find online with a few keystrokes.) I can't guess what it is bringing into Tampa's port and I don't want to guess what the young folk are taking out to sea along with their giant tubes and tons of sunscreen. It is a perfect day to be out boating and enjoying the water - and not working. The captain of the tiny pleasure craft must keep his eye on the larger ship traffic and stay clear of their wake. From the looks on the faces of the passengers they are definitely concentrating on Tampa's port tonnage and how to increase our commercial ship business...Oh, sure they are.

If you remember the wonderful Tampa Fire and Rescue fireboat that I featured in my May 27th post, go see it on the water and looking good at today's post at TampaBayDailyPhoto.

Friday, June 12, 2009

SkyWatch Friday: The marina at Ricks on the River is the place to ride out the approaching storm

This easterly view of the sky over Tampa shows the clouds beginning to gather, darken and grow more menacing. But we really need the moisture in those threatening, blackening clouds. Thankfully they'll let loose a real downpour which might last 15 minutes, more or less. The funny thing about Florida rain showers here on the Gulf Coast, now that we are back into our rainy season, is my street might get an inch of good, soaking rain, this marina 2 inches, and your house, a few blocks away? Zero. But, guaranteed, the humidity will drop a little and the air will feel cooler, even if the temps stay around 90+ degrees (32+ degrees celsius!) Our drought isn't over yet but the rain is falling more regularly and the water reservoirs and the rivers are beginning to rise. These boats tied up at Ricks's marina on the Hillsborough River won't be sitting up high and dry on the sand if the rains continue. At least not anytime soon from the looks of the storm that is surely coming this way.

Be sure and visit all the SkyWatch Friday sites throughout the world.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Let's Go Greek on Ybor's 7th Avenue

There is a wide variety of fine restaurants, bars and shops along 7th Avenue, the historical main street in Tampa's Ybor City. Best known for its exquisite Spanish cuisine like that found at the century-old, family-owned Columbia Restaurant, there are menus and dining experiences to match anyone's hunger from a fast lunch of an award-winning Cuban sandwich to an evening of fine dining, music and dance. Depending on the time of day, a younger crowd may arrive closer to 10pm to find a bit louder music to fit their taste and fun bars where they can mix and compare tattoos. This lunchtime scene of the Acropolis Greek Tavern right on 7th shows the casual, comfortable feel and welcoming atmosphere. Billed as a "little piece of Athens transported to Tampa," it's located at the corner of 18th Street in the almost century-old Spoto building. It's a family place that has been serving delicious and authentic Greek dishes and live music for a while now and it's popular day and night. The owners have two other locations but none with this much street-side charm and location. Enjoy delicious Greek specialities, full bar and plenty of people-watching if you can snag a table out front. Go Greek in the heart of Historic Ybor City!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Is Square really dull or unfashionable? How old are you anyway?

I have always liked the look of this place. (I admit I have not yet ventured inside.) And the name, SQUARESVILLE, pretty much says it all to most every generation alive. If you were born a Boomer, it conjures up all kinds of scenes and memories in your head. If you're even older, you may remember back to trying to dress exactly like Elvis and swivel and sneer at the girls in poodle skirts as you ran a greasy comb through your pompadour. As the sixties picked up steam, the 50s knock-off group Sha-Na-Na, that performed at Woodstock, represented a more contemporary, acceptable Square music scene, attitude and dress. Now, with generation X, Y and probably zebra, Square is hip, cool and totally retro, dude. Very in, cachet and desirable. So your apartment can look just like the 1950s and mimic your grandparent's place without the scratches and dust and doileys. Squaresville is on South Tampa's popular South Howard Avenue, SoHo. It's been around quite a while and attracts a clientele of just about every age...except for some of our parent's generation who couldn't wait to unload their furniture and knickknacks from the 1950s because it was so dated (they moved to Scan design and never moved back.) On occasion there has been a really fine vintage car parked out front, a Ford Edsel or similar "cool" car of the era.

They carry all the things that you either remember from that time in American cultural history or think is representative of the period after the Korean Conflict (War) and before the Beatles invaded from England. Playboy shirts, wall clocks with Bettie Page and kidney-shaped coffee tables. Very vintage and of an era we celebrated on television from Dobie Gillis to Laverne and Shirley to the all-time classic, Happy Days. Apparently, everything we grew to associate with these TV shows and lovable characters is to be found in Squaresville. Clothes, furniture, poodle skirts and Go-Go boots. The funny thing is, the furniture you couldn't wait to have picked up and hauled away is for sale at places like this. The store attracts all sorts who hang out in SoHo. So you'll see folks on Vespas and the occasional Maserati coupe sharing the spaces out front. Open since 1998, it bills itself as Tampa Bay's Grooviest Store, and If it's out of style, it's in stock. That's really groovy, man.

The Honest Scrap Award was given to this blog by Jacob of Creative Confections. This is a real honor and I am especially proud because it is given by a fellow blogger. Please check out Jacob’s really fine and creative blogs by clicking on the award at left (and visit Ocala Daily Photo, Cedar Key Daily Photo and The Villages Daily Photo, too) The award is bestowed upon Tampa Daily Photo because its content or design is, in the giver's opinion, brilliant. The Honest Scrap Award is for bloggers who post from their heart, who oftentimes put their heart on display as they write from the depths of their soul. In looking back at the origins of this award, I found that past recipients were all terrific bloggers and honestly gave of themselves. Every day they shared with us their special place in our larger world. I recognize and thank all who have come before me.

The Official Rules are as follows:

1. You must brag about the award.
2. You must include the name of the blogger who bestowed the award on you and link back to the blogger.
3. You must choose a minimum of six (6) blogs that you find brilliant in content or design.
4. Show their names and links and leave a comment informing them that they were prized with Honest Weblog.
5. List at least ten (10) honest things about yourself. [This one I will attempt to comply with at a later date.]

So here, in no particular order, are the next recipients of the Honest Scrap Award, ones I think show brilliance in content or design (or both), but above all, honesty:

1. Avignon in Photos

2. The Skoog Farm Journal

3. Charleston Daily Photo

4. Livorno Daily Photo

5. Greenwich Village Daily Photo

6. Verona Daily Photo

Congratulations to each of my fellow bloggers. I hope you will decide to participate and find other blogs worthy of the award.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Rick's Pirate Girl welcomes you with treasure and rum on the riverfront

This is a departure from yesterday's shipboard worship services but I couldn't resist. I am always drawn to handpainted artwork and murals on commercial establishments, whether it's a laundromat, convenience store or, as in this case, a riverfront bar and grill. The murals and their subject matter do of course differ from wall to wall depending on the product, service and clientele. In this case, Rick's on the River is a very popular restaurant located smack on the Hillsborough River. It is just a couple of minutes from South Tampa, the downtown business district and maybe faster by boat. Although several places in Tampa have good views of the water, not many allow diners and those looking for a cold drink to pull up to the dock and take a seat. Rick's certainly provides ample space with slips for boats up to 50 ft. in length. Right now the marina is crowded with every imaginable kind of watercraft and the docks and services look first rate. The place has lots of outside seating, even a large, inviting private party area. Plus, they feature live music every day. And, they are open every day of the year serving a delicious-looking menu including fresh oysters and quenching, cooling drinks. (They do cater.) It's enough to make any friendly pirate girl give up her plundering ways, drop the swashbuckling sword and join the boaters for terrific live music, a basket of fried onion rings, grouper and an icey bottle of Land Shark beer. (Visit their website. It's lots of Florida fun and very informative with menus, location and marina information - Ricks on the River. ) Yo-ho-ho, you landlubbers. This is a place to steer your ship when you're looking for Tampa treasure. Note: I cannot guarantee the pirate girl is waiting (although this fantastic mural will greet you upon arrival.)

Monday, June 08, 2009

It's a Boat. No, it's a Church: Is this the worship wave of the future?

I don't care how many times I've driven by this boat, I always slow and take a long look. Yep, it's boat. It's been there a long while, but still, it's a boat in a parking lot, and not on a trailer being towed somewhere. And it's at least a mile from the water. I'm sure when it first arrived (and my guess is a church-goer just happened to have this old, unused fishing boat languishing at his dock) everyone thought they had an inventive, surefire way to attract families and kids to church in a fun, inviting and truly unique way. I searched online and could not find another example of a church holding worship services from a boat...on land.

The New Beginnings Christian Church came about from the joining of two churches, one founded in 1946 and the other 1958. (In Tampa, those are pretty well established church congregations, although we do have a few with 100 year histories.)

The good folks of New Beginnings Christian Church first began services from this boat - and it is an actual boat, maybe 60-70 feet long - in 1972. The pulpit features a ship's wheel and is positioned on the bow on Sundays (at 8:30am) and musicians and the ministers conduct the service right on the boat facing the parking lot. Worship-goers either sit in chairs set up in front or in their cars which are parked fan like out front. The entire service is broadcast on FM radio so folks can enjoy the comfort of their air conditioned cars if they wish. Before each service donuts, coffee and juice are available from a refreshment center. As a younger person, in a variety of cars, I would take dates to drive-in theaters. It seemed like a good idea at the time and was very popular with all my friends. Of course, that was only so we could enjoy the big movie screen, excellent stereo-quality sound out of a metal box hooked to our window, the delightful night air, cooling breezes and mosquitoes. Other then being able to stay in your car, I don't think my drive-in theater experience and this drive-in worship service share anything else in common.

I did go online to try and find anything like this, anywhere, but only came up with "Boat-in-Worship" services held on Lake Wawasee in Indiana. Boaters literally bring their boats to the service and stay aboard. The scene looked really nice in photos. But, a boat, high and dry, landlocked in a parking lot?? Have you ever seen or heard of a church holding worship services like this?

I just found a new and delightful blog site that focuses on PARIS. It's well worth visiting. See Paris through the eyes of Americans as they visit and photograph the incredible, simply beautiful sights of the City of Lights.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Florida Girls Tan Artificially..What, You Thought It Was From The Burning Sun In The Sky?

Billed as the "Best tanning experience of their life," customers of this really nice, high-end tanning spa - advertised on this new Chrysler 300 in super colorful graphics - and others like it located throughout the Sunshine State must do a pretty good business, but not because of regular visits by mom, dad and the kids dropping in for a little color. No, these are extremely attractive customers who must have that great looking Florida tan, year-round, no matter what. And, although not outrageously expensive, it does cost money, unlike the actual sun which shines very brightly, for free, in the blue skies over Tampa most every day of the year. Except for those pesky afternoon thunder showers which we begged for for months and need so desperately for water, the sun does continue to shine here regularly and some days, from about June through September, it is hot. Temperature and humidity are sky-high and delightful to all of our tourists from Canada and Europe. If you like beach weather, lolling around in next to nothing, flip-flops and sun tan lotion, this is your place. An artificial tan? The darkest imaginable? The sun just can not reach those beautiful young men and women who actually work inside, in Florida's air conditioned offices. What a shame that the sun is burning hot and bright outside their office walls and they're inside earning a living and making a tanning salon appointment on their BlackBerry or iPhone. Cost aside, they'll be deeply and darkly bronzed for that hot and heavy date. Must look our Florida best, right? With a healthy, natural glow. Right!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

June 6, 1944 - The Beaches of Normandy, France: American Cemetery and Memorial

The American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, is on the bluff above Omaha Beach. It honors American soldiers and airmen who lost their lives during the landing and fighting on this stretch of French beach that occurred 65 years ago today, on June 6, 1944. The 172-acre site contains perfectly straight rows of white crosses and the remains of 9,387 American military dead. We visited on November 1, 2006, and I took this picture (and the ones I have posted on Tampa Florida Photo.)

My father flew on this date, 65 years ago, from his base in England. He was a member of the U.S. Army Air Corps, 397th Bombardment Group (Medium), 598th Bombardment Squadron of the Ninth Air Force. He flew missions before June 6th and in support of the invasion. On the ceiling of the beautiful chapel, created in intricate and colorful tile mosaic, are winged angels, ships at sea and a B-26 aircraft just like the one my father flew--the Martin B-26 Marauder Medium Bomber. Trained as a pilot of the fastest medium bomber in World War II--he flew 65 combat missions during World War II. All of the graves here face westward, towards the United States. It is an incredible place to experience, and when we were there it was filled with French men, women and families paying their respects. A bus from Germany, with young German soldiers, was also there touring the beach area. I will never forget walking on the sand of Omaha Beach and trying to imagine what that day was like so many years ago for those who were there and gave their lives for freedom.

Friday, June 05, 2009

SkyWatch Friday: Ominous clouds mean afternoon showers

It's still early afternoon but if this sky is any warning, another heavy afternoon thunder storm is moments away. From the silhouettes of the darkened office towers in downtown, and the lights on the cars, you would guess it's much later in the day. These are probably Friday afternoon lunch-goers returning to work (or skipping out early for home.) Within an hour or so the wind will have died down, the skies will brighten and the white clouds will return to the skies.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Cuban Soil: Visit the Isla de Cuba... in Tampa

The softly clacking Ybor trolley, brightly painted yellow gold, its brass and woodwork gleaming, looks factory fresh as it glides slowly to a stop at the corner. It seems as if its from another time and era. The motorman helps passengers on and off and briefly waits at the intersection before making the right on the tracks and moving east on 8th Avenue. I watch through the tall iron fence, strongly attracted to its arresting color and strong ties to Tampa’s and Ybor City’s past. I was standing in a very unusual park, a tiny plot of land. Very unusual if one knows a bit of their world and American history. Historians and different departments of local county government have searched records more than once to verify its origins, its unique history and its current ownership. It measures just 0.14 of an acre. Rupert and Paulina Pedroso, an Afro-Cuban family, lived during the 1890s in a house on this corner of 13th Street and 8th Avenue, at 1303 East 8th Avenue. The house faced an imposing cigar factory built in 1885 by Vincente M. Ybor – the man whose vision built the city and began its world famous cigar manufacturing industry. The quiet park, which faces that same factory building today, features the flags of both Cuba and the United States, a life-size statue of Cuban patriot and hero Jose Marti and this interesting wall map of the Isla de Cuba with each province of the island outlined. It’s a fascinating place and so unexpected. Jose Marti came to Tampa in 1891. With fiery speeches to the Cuban community, it’s said that his staunch support of his homeland’s independence from Spain helped start the revolution. His speech on the steps of Ybor’s factory to the cigar workers helped raise money and gained strong support for the cause. Marti died before Cuban Independence was won from Spain, but is credited with beginning the movement for freedom.

So why is this small piece of land important and so unusual? Title to the park is in the name of the Cuban government. It's the island laid out before your eyes. Stones sit in six plots of dirt on either side of the walkway and each plot represents soil taken from the six original Cuban provinces. But, you ask, how did this come to be? When Marti came to Tampa he would often stay in the Pedroso’s home; Ruperto was a cigar roller in the factory. Marti died in battle against Spanish troops on May 19, 1895 and the house and property were sold when the Pedrosos moved back to Cuba in 1910. Now the story grows more amazing. In 1951, a Cuban couple gave the property to the Cuban government to be used as a memorial to the great freedom-fighter, Jose Marti. In 1956, ownership was transferred to the Republic of Cuba. President Fulgencio Batista accepted the property and the American consul certified the real estate transaction. The final deed was recorded in Hillsborough County, FL in 1957 and remains unchanged. It’s a part of Cuba and has been for over half a century. You must visit to experience its solemn presence on American soil and the reverence shown by those who honor their homeland and worship the memory of Marti.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Dark Stormy Sky Rushes Over Tampa

I walked over to capture a few images of the balustrades that line the entire 4-1/2 mile length of Tampa's Bayshore Boulevard. The "Boulevard of Dreams" that curves along the Hillsborough Bay from downtown to Gandy Boulevard is a gorgeous drive and is always filled with people and pets enjoying the grass and wide sidewalk. It even features exercise stations along the way. Just as I began to see interesting camera angles combining the downtown cityscape and huge billowing clouds that were hanging over the east, a crack of thunder turned me around. The western sky was turning very dark and ominous black clouds were rolling fast toward the east, toward me standing on a slippery concrete step that leads down to a landing at the water's edge. Bayshore is a really beautiful drive - at 40mph speed limit or else! - and is proud to boast of the world's longest continuous sidewalk. The Hillsborough Bay was growing choppy and it began to sprinkle as runners, joggers, bicyclists and a soon to be rained on photographer were getting in their last few minutes before the certain deluge. Owners of the majestic old homes and condominiums that line the boulevard have a fantastic view as dark clouds develop and rain moves across the water and waves begin to pound the sea wall. When a storm - not even near hurricane strength - comes ashore right at this point, the tide rises up and waves of water crash over the wall and balustrades. The Bayshore can quickly become inundated and yards and streets nearby fill with water. At first it can be fun to watch the power and force that can drive the Gulf and bay onto the land. Very quickly the fun leaves you as cars begin to flood and waves of salt water move further inland. With thoughts of certain sogginess in my head, I got off the landing and headed to shelter. I escaped a good drenching this evening. But only just in time.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Soul Train lives on forever I guess

I found this storefront on brick-covered Franklin Street in Tampa’s downtown. It is located near an area of popular new restaurants and nightclubs that are beginning to appear and draw crowds of after-hours young professionals and smart suburbanites returning to Tampa’s original business center for great new menus, outdoor dining and nighttime entertainment. Several new condominiums and apartment complexes are opening and the residents are looking for the latest and hottest places to eat and socialize in the evenings and late night. This particular place does not seem to be open for business…at any hour. I couldn’t find any evidence it’s in business any longer or even what it used to be. A dance club's my best guess. But it sure stands proudly and makes quite a loud statement. Screaming actually. The entire façade is painted a golden hue and the sign, SOUL TRAIN, is prominently positioned over a painted entrance sign that appears to be a psychedelic dance floor. Do you even remember Soul Train, the first black-oriented music variety show on television? It was hugely successful and pulled wide audiences that adopted the sound, the fashions and the style of the performers and top recording artists who performed each week. First airing in 1971, it is hard to believe it’s been almost 40 years. It was groundbreaking and music and entertainment television were never the same. Research says the name Soul Train was first used for a live music promotion in Chicago in 1969. The show featured musical groups and the Soul Train dancers in a wildly colorful dance club setting. Remember now? The music was the very latest Rhythm and Blues and Soul. From the television program came the Soul Train Music Awards starting in 1987. Broadcast nationally each year, it honors the very best in Black music and entertainment. Although music and fashions have changed some in 40+ years, the popularity of the music has only grown more so. Now, if we could just figure out what’ll become of our apparently empty and forgotten Soul Train storefront? Hip new sushi bar or martini bar? Any wild ideas? Be creative now.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Theme Day: Feet

The feet of an immigrant family, a mother and father, and their son and daughter, are depicted newly arrived in Ybor City, now a part of Tampa. Simply named Immigrant Statue, it was designed by artist Anthony Cardoso and sculpted by Steve Dickey. It was dedicated in Ybor City's Centennial Park in 1992.

The inscription reads:

To those courageous men and women who came to this country in search of personal freedom, economic opportunity and a future of hope for their families.

(See the magnificent statue in its entirety at Tampa Florida Photo.)

Click here to view thumbnails for all participants in June's Theme Day: FEET