Brother, can you spare a Loafie?

Dear Creative Loafing,

Look, I’m not the most interesting guy out there. Just go through the archives here on The Stonegauge (which stretch back to 2002) and you can find plenty of boring, personal, and petty drivel. I’m not flashy, but I have been involved with the sites and people that your independent newspaper has honored again and again — such as helping Tommy Duncan run Sticks of Fire from 2005-2007, or aiding CL columnist Catherine Durkin Robinson with her blog as well as editing one of her books. I’m online buddies with one of Tampa Bay’s most popular Twitter personalities in Clark Brooks (oh, yeah, he also writes for me on Raw Charge).

I’ve been blogging for nearly a decade, I am one of the longest tenured hockey bloggers in the sport (having started on Boltsmag.com in 2004). And I’m the only local net personality who has not only been threatened with litigation from the most popular pop group of the 20th century, but I’ve been in USA Today and quoted between the likes of Tony LaRussa and “Crash” Davis.

My point is, how about throwing a little recognition my way in your upcoming 2011 Best Of The Bay awards? I’m not as trendy and attractive as former Interbay Superstar Rachel Moran, nor am I as social as other personalities who’ve won accolades through their net presence…

But I have been around a while, and I’ve been the guy keeping things running for some of your favorites in the past. A hat tip to the mysterious online producer isn’t much to ask, is it?

Coming not quite soon (final)

About 14 months ago, Albertson’s at Boot Ranch Plaza closed shop.  Just before it happened, I lamented in nostalgia about that happening.  Having had worked there in the past and what not.

But one thing that was not said was the fact  I was excited about the upcoming change of the store from one brand to another.  I was thrilled that the retail location at 400 East Lake road was going to get the traffic that the site had long deserved.

That’s part of the reason I began chronicling the renovation at the location.  Because what was a caterpillar would be a butterfly soon enough.   So twice I’ve posted about the cocoon that was the dormant retail space in Boot Ranch.  What I failed to do was actually announce when work crews started to show up at the address in May.  What I failed to address 0 with pictures and what not – was when the fences were put up, when the stucco facade was stripped and repainted over the summer.

Publix should be rising from the ashes of Albertsons the second week of December.  A year after I observed the in-waiting voidness of the location.  Painted, with untold renovations having happened inside and trees actually planted in the parking lot (which has long, long needed some shade trees), the building’s transformation is all but complete.   It looks splendid and I’m eager to check things out.

The Unpublished Works

Everyone likes seeing their name in print.

Well, unless of course it’s trash tabloid-ism or an arrest warrant… But I’m not talking just-printed-on-paper but I mean a by-line of one sort or another. I can say that from experience as I’ve gotten that kick — seeing “John Fontana” linked to letters-to-the-editor, or being sourced/interviewed by USA Today, being quoted in The Hockey News, The New York Times Slap Shot blog and la-de-da.

But I can also say that wasn’t where I intended to go with writing when I started out as a kid.  My intention wasn’t to be a face-in-the-crowd (though no matter what you write or publish, you are another face in the crowd of literature) in the newspaper.  Not another source for magazines and what not.  Not a weblogger.  I planned on doing things creatively and having my own book.  Or books — plural.  Take your pick.

But that never happened.  See, when i was a teen I got away from story writing so much and was writing poetry most of the time…  a habit that’s followed me into adulthood.  Lyrical verse more-so than deep observations and perspectives…  Well, yeah they are perspectives but they are my perspectives.   Sometimes just pop, sometimes inspired by events or people or feelings  in my life.

Over the years, I’ve had some of them available to the masses through the web…  Certainly you can find a couple of them on this site and probably elsewhere on the web…  But they’ve never really been published in the sense of print.  Never published in the sense of being out there for any traditional form of mass consumption.  I haven’t bothered to take the time with sending out poems to magazines who have niches all of their own (and aren’t available unless you pay for a subscription or pay for a copy — while you’re not getting paid for your contribution).

I ought to put together a manuscript and do something with it.  But I’m hesistant.

Catherine Durkin Robinson, local blogger and Creative Loafing contributor, has written two book manuscripts.  Her first one is being published, chapter-by-chapter, on a blogspot site.  The other, a more recent work based on her life as a teacher in Hillsborough County, is being sent around to literary agents in hopes someone will pick up the work and mass-market it.  Sadly, that has not been the case and the rejections have been comical at best.

Their loss.  I’ve read the book and it’s not only a good read, it’s provocative and controversial enough to be read widely by those fearing school-district scandals.

I also have another friend, in the Pacific Northwest this time, who went out and self-published her first novel.  The book, Steel Goddesses, is currently available on Amazon.com for purchase.  It takes a lot of courage to go out on a limb like that and self-publish any work…  But it sort of cuts out the middle-man of having to appease literary agents who tell you what a proper market for your writing is-or-isn’t and tells you to change your work to fit that niche.  At least that’s what I’ve seen with rejections served up to Catherine.

So the idea I am kicking around is actually putting together a manuscript of poetry I’ve written over the past decade and self-publishing it.   I realize that poetry is not exactly a hot seller and not going to lead me to riches…  It’d cost me more to publish than the commissions I’d get in the long run from doing it…  But it does what I have long sought to do — take the writings jammed in Mead notebooks that I’ve carried around since High School and take some of those verses and show them to the masses.  Will people connect?  I have doubts.  Will strangers read what I’ve  written?  Even more doubts…  But it’s mine, and it’d be out there.  My claim.  My piece of literature.

My book.

It’s a thought, at least.

Next of the Bay: Creative Loafing's Best of the Bay 2009

It’s a yearly rite. Much like back-to-school shopping, or perhaps August thunderstorms (or even more appropriate, blown-out-of-proportion optimism for local football teams – be they high school, collegiate or professional): the Best of the Bay awards.

The 2009 edition of said-awards is out there right now, with the opportunity to vote through August 31st, 2009. There’s a whole slew of subject matter to vote on, including best and worst local politicians, best restaurants, best local TV personalities, best sports figures and even more risque offerings.

Only catch is that you need to fill 20 of the items on your ballot. Ballots with less won’t be counted…. So look over everything – EVERYTHING – and vote.

west central Florida Segway sales

I’m one of the only local bloggers who have any reference to the Segway and dealings of the Segway in Tampa Bay… Of course my last post on the subject was pretty negative toward the dealer. It was also published a long time ago.

So — that being said, for those looking for Segway scooters, their are two dealerships outside of the Tampa/St. Pete market, but relatively close by in West-Central Florida for you to check out if you are shopping for a Segway:

Chrysler of Sarasota
6826 S. Tamiami Trail
941-922-1521 (no web site)

Segway of Central Florida
Office 352-383-9900

Both of these dealers were provided to me by Tampa Bay Segs – which is a tour operation based in St. Petersburg. Across the bay, if you’re interested in seeing Tampa from up close, check out Magic Carpet Glide.

Watering Restrictions for Unincorporated Pinellas County

I forwarded the below email out on Thursday evening to my friends in Pinellas County)

For years, I’ve believed a generalization with lawn watering, and for years I and others have acted without much thought to watering rules and restrictions.  It’s always been a very ambiguous thing that was believed (and seldom republished in community newspapers): You can water on X and Y day, it applies for all odd-numbered houses on the block and all the even-numbered houses can water on days A and B).

But as of late, as the drought locally has raged on, I’ve been seeing neighbors apply the above ambiguous rules to different days with thanks to word-of-mouth watering rules.  Everyone seems to think they are supposed to water on a certain day, and it applies for everyone on their side of the street…  Though that day varies depending on opinion or neighbor gossip.   Or there are no hour-restrictions to watering – run the sprinklers as you please.

That’s NOT the case.

Please visit the Pinellas County Utilities page and familiarize yourself with the rules that apply for you and your yard. This was the first time I’ve ever gone to this web page and actually seen the rules in place… Chances are, that might be the case for you as well.

Coming not quite soon (ongoing)

A couple of months ago I brought up the lack-of-movement in renovating the super market space at Shoppes at Boot Ranch that formerly housed Albertsons. Blame it on the economic downturn or perhaps on the fact Publix has to convert a total of 49 locations, but the Shoppes at Boot Ranch remain untouched more than six months after the final closing of that location.

Yeah, the mess on the windows still remain, along with laminates that display hours of operation for Albertsons and the OPEN signs bold and in white. The store is a void, though. Shoppes at Boot Ranch Supermarket -- Albertsons to Publix conversion

It was Saturday (March 14) when I stopped by and another sign of the dormancy of the plaza was the parking lights being on the fritz. That’s one minor, yet significant thing Publix would not play around with: lighting in the parking lot.

No interior work was going on, Albertsons signs in the Deli and Bakery area faccade were still up. I could go on with details but the fact is the building is untouched, sans for the “Coming Soon” sign in one of the enterance ways. Last time I was at the store, the sign had fallen down. It was back up.
At the same time, I didn’t notice until this very post, that there had been some chairs brought out and a table, minor things moved around. This isn’t significant and you can only guess the why for each but it was something… even if the store changes at current are a whole lot of nothing.

For those of you as curious about this as me, Publix keeps a very small list of stores and their opening dates. There is no information on Boot Ranch on that link… There’s also nothing suggesting right now that the store would be converted into a Greenwise location instead of a standard Publix store… But then again, with so many standard stores in close proximity (Coral Landings, Seabreeze Plaza, East Lake Woodlands – which will likely close regardless, Brooker Creek, Riviera Plaza) Publix must have at least flirted with the idea.

Indifferent on history

There are a lot of people around Tampa and the greater Tampa Bay area who know more about the historic Floridan Hotel in Downtown Tampa (it’s distant past, it’s declining years, it’s failed restoration attempts in the past, it’s present, etc) than I do. That being said, why does the hotel have such a sorry ass Wikipedia page and why am I the one updating it?

…And not even doing a good job of it, but it’s better than it was just a few hours ago.

Stimulating idiocy

The St. Petersburg Times took local area governments to task on their requests for economic stimulus project funds. Most of them were low key, beautification projects that would neither create jobs nor serve a purpose.

I want to know if the TECO Line Streetcar is on this list of projects. I don’t mean the quarter-of-a-mile extension. I mean funding to complete this sucker so it runs through downtown to the north.

Seriously, Tampa doesn’t seriously link it’s new residential units in the Channelside district to central downtown. it hasn’t linked it’s new downtown condos with the entertainment district to the east. How do you do that, stimulate foot traffic in all markets AND potentially stimulate the retail sector? Extend that street car.

That or you can try to get a windfall of cash to do ornate bullshit that shows no vision, no ingenuity, and no long term planning. That’s the usual in Florida…

Eighty-One. Bah, Humbug.

The high for December 24th
The high for December 24th

81 degrees in Pinellas County, Florida on Christmas Eve. There are millions of Americans that have endured the cold of the late fall and the first few days of Winter with sub-freezing temperatures, snow, ice, and all the weather that marks the season (and the problems they cause).

I get eighty-one degrees… And I’m not in the seasonal mood one bit because of it.

I don’t mean to play the Grinch, or make those up north jealous and play out like I’m ungrateful for having temperate weather as we pass the winter solstice… But I don’t get into the seasonal spirit any more seeing green trees around me (where trees won’t finish shedding leaves until February/March and grow them right back again). In fact it makes Christmas displays feel like Las Vegas light shows instead of the true time of the holiday that I know. It’s easier to tell the season by looking at store displays than with the weather outside.

In Florida you get two seasons: Spring and Summer. Oh, it gets chilly once in a while but every Spring has it’s cold days. And while some may want to defend the fact that it’s winter right now, even in Florida, I must ask how many places consider winter a growing season? In the northern hemisphere, I mean…

Eighty-one degrees… On Christmas eve. I’m sitting here with the grass-is-greener-on-the-other-side-of-the-fence mentality. 20 years ago I was jealous of my father being in Florida while we froze our buns off in New York. Right now, I’d rather endure the seasonal shift to cold — because not only would it ring in the time of year better, but it’d make me more appreciative of the warmth of summer. It’s hard to do that when your average temperature is 90 degrees with a sixty percent humidity for most of the year.

Maybe the new year will afford me the chance to escape Tampa Bay. I’d take it, but I don’t think that’s in the cards.