Tag Archives: Tampa

Last Night at the Castle…

Some intermittent institutions … I’m probably not going to see them again. I always wonder what “the last time” doing something or going somewhere will be like, if it’s better if you know beforehand or preferable to find out the continuum is now a memory afterward.

I have been going to the Castle, Tampa’s gothic and industrial music nightclub, in its various iterations, since I was a teenager. No matter how long I would move away for, it would always be here when I returned. Over the years, I was able to compare it experientially with all sorts of clubs, from Sanctuary in Salt Lake City to Warsaw in Miami to Berghain in Berlin and scads of “rave-themed” house parties in Antwerp and Brussels.

This past year I haven’t gone out as much in general, but I still met up with longtime friends on Mondays once in a while. We wouldn’t set up a date or anything, you’d just show up and some of the crew would be there. Attendance has been down on Mondays and while Ybor-City-in-the-Nineties legacies like the Senator and Theo Wujcik still make the scene regularly, eventually, the world will move on. It’s sad in a way to think of this last vestige of the once incredible Tampa Bay electronic music scene, which at one time including rotating DJ nights at Rene’s, Empire, Trax, Palladium, Club Detroit, Masquerade, and pop-ups at Act IV and other places (not counting London Victory Club, which began it all) falling into history but … I was really happy that the Castle has made so many attempts to keep up to date with electro and added lots of cool newish elements to its rotations, particularly in the music video department, mixing in Ladytron, Interpol, Cut Copy and Presets to the “hits.”

The last night I went to the Castle, I was braced to be a little disappointed, since I’m one of the people who actually prefers the new material to, you know, the entire Hacienda playlist from 1987. But actually it was just perfect. My friends were there, it wasn’t too crowded with glowstickers, and there was a lot of room to dance, yet it wasn’t empty. I don’t know if I will see the Castle again but this was a good way to remember it if I don’t.

The Castle

Downtown Tampa “Bridge Lighting / Agua Luces”

I was trying to think of the most hyperbolic way possible to describe the failure of the vague downtown Tampa “bridge lighting” from this past Friday (10 August 2012) but I can’t really think of anything that describes the underwhelmingness of the dead city this evening except that it was pretty much like any other summer, 100+ degree night downtown only with a few hipsters and scenesters. In terms of metrics I learned that 1000 people will not put in a dent in the cavernous space from the Tampa Museum of Art through Kiley Garden to Kennedy Boulevard.

The bridge lighting (the actual name of the event was “Agua Luces”) itself alternated monochrome projections, as if someone was turning one of those rotating color Christmas tree lighting wheels (I’m not explaining it very well; one of these) at an exceedingly slow speed (with about the same wattage), rhythmically, as in, with some kind of timing system, and yet not in the least hypnotically or soothingly.

It would have been more dynamic to have projected The Wizard of Oz, which was being shown in the park, onto the bridges. If someone had given a bunch of kids some laser pointers and they pointed them at the bridges, that would have been more interesting. A Mac desktop or even a Windows desktop. Someone making shadow puppets without even a real puppet, like, rabbit ears or something. Literally anything involving lights, bridges, the reflection from water, and being outside…

What do people think?  What are your projection ideas?


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In response to the question about the cost of Agua Luces / Bridge Lighting, I was not easily able to discover a dollar figure, though this information is posted on the lightsontampa Website with respect to the origin of the project: “Lights On Tampa is a public/private partnership between the City of Tampa’s Art Programs Division and the Public Art Alliance, a 501(c)3 organization. The Program began in 2006 with the desire to bring something bold, of high quality and “on the moment” to Tampa…” noting that the Agua Luces was originally scheduled to commence in 2006 but did not, and “The City of Tampa hopes that with continued private sector support Agua Luces will be extended to the remaining bridges in downtown by 2014.  Lighting all nine bridges, as well as the Lee Roy Selmon Expressway which intersects with the Tampa Riverwalk, is a fundamental vision for the City of Tampa. Chicago-based lighting artist Tracey Dear who lit the bridges in Chicago as well as the Wrigley Building, was chosen for the installation.”

This is very telling information if you hack through it. I think “on the moment” must be one of those flack phrases (which I see sprinkled throughout that Website, along with photos of the bridges from the Tampa Club or wherever — places not even the most determined first-generation social climbers have access to let alone the public) that has a vague meaning, but seemingly by any definition, in 2012, we are no longer “on the moment” in the art world of 2006. Still you can’t fault the artist for accepting the commission although clearly there is more pedestrian traffic and people in general around the bridges in Chicago.

And it is also not surprising that “a fundamental vision” for Tampa from civic leaders is for something bland and shiny, as opposed to making the “light” rail happen, refurbishing the John Germany library a few blocks away from all the bridges, or whatever.

Swede Film Festival Tampa

So the Swede Film Festival Tampa was last night at the Muvico in Ybor City.

It seemed like about 100 people and hipsters showed out which mainly included the filmmakers and casts and their friends. Still it was fun in the way that comic events are more entertaining with a group who is into it.

Of course I was one of the animals in Dumbo.  Jim Reiman made this film but his voices for the various characters are what blew me away. Adam Kitzerow and Deon Blackwell are especially hilarious in Top Gun and Robb Fladry has incredible fun original music for Weekend at Bernie’s. The Sweded Apocalypto and The Shining were pretty madcap, too.

I think it would be fun to work on a version of There Will Be Blood.

The Allegory of Fainting

People have been asking about the photo-documentation of the spectacular black eye and other bruises incurred in Bike Fall 2, so here are some images. One of the main purposes of this blog over the years has been to keep track of the various injuries of dogs and others, and I am cheerful to take my place alongside Marcie, Queequeg, and Astra (the Secretariat of accident-prone-ness). As bike accidents go, it was pretty bad, in that it happened so fast I couldn’t jump clear of the handlebars (or the pavement) and pretty good (I was wearing my helmet and didn’t get further run over by a car).

The most upsetting thing was when I went to inspect and clean up the bike. The sprockets, frame, wraps, seat, post, and tires are covered in sprays and drips of blood. I can’t believe I rode home. It was a good method research experience for being riding along one second and in exigent circumstances the next…

As bizarre sociological experiments go, the response to the black eye has been interesting. The power of denial is great, so a surprisingly large number of people — even those who see me pretty regularly and over a long period of time — just ignore the situation and act as if it is normal for an acquaintance to suddenly sport the rings of Saturn. A slight majority — probably 60 percent — evince some sort of reaction. People who have a more intense level of connection have more agitated responses. I guess this is what you would expect. One person who particularly loathes and despises me was quite effusive {“That looks like it must hurt a lot…you must be in a lot of pain!“}. Close friends and family have responded with an onslaught of soup, which is fantastic.

Minaret New Music Ensemble Presents Frontiers of American Modernism


We went to look at the American Modernism show at the Tampa Museum of Art but mainly to experience some avant garde, modernist — experimental, really — music presented by the University of Tampa’s  Minaret New Music Ensemble. One of the best parts of the event was Bradford Blackburn’s Ph.d. dissertation, Phrase and Rephrase 3/2, a concerto for Harry Partch Ensemble with live augmentation with Donald Martino on bass clarinet and cellist Lowell Adams. Our hearts were stolen, though, by microtonal guitarist, composer, and luthier Ron Sword.

This was one of the best things we’ve seen in Tampa. The park outside the museum is very lovely too and gets a lot of use, even on a cold Wednesday night.

Crack at the Edge of the World


Crack at the Edge of the World

It is clinically and physically possible to inhale a heart-stopping dose of crack cocaine. Yet in the majority of death-by-rock cases in Tampa and other urban centers during the drug’s heyday in the Eighties and the years since, the cocaine dilute has been no more than a contributing factor.
In fact most crack-related fatalities were caused not by toxic rock but by lead poisoning courtesy first of small-caliber handguns and then by increasingly high-powered automatic weapons, often wielded in crimes auxiliary to the actual use of the drug. As convenience store and gas station clerks were gunned down for twenty dollars by desperate rock fiends and hollow-points blasted through children’s bedroom windows, crack’s collateral victims came, almost obsessively, the attention of affluent, white Floridians.
Throughout the Seventies and the early Eighties, Tampa Bay had a fearless if uneasy relationship with cocaine, the party drug of the wealthy and popular. In 1980, suffering hallucinations and insomnia, comedian Richard Pryor set himself on fire while freebasing cocaine — the drug is rendered with ether making it smokable as well as highly flammable — and suddenly it seemed the free ride the suburban white powder had winkingly got in the media was over, becoming the gritty slush of the ghetto.

Juvenile Ibis, August 2007
Freebasing, in which cocaine hydrochloride was chemically converted was clearly too uncontrollable for even the most high-craving fiends. Crack — a mixture of coke, ammonia, baking soda, and other filler ingredients solidified into rough pellets for consumption via a glass pipe — was more stable. Containing only about ten percent pure cocaine, it was also much less expensive than the polar powder inhaled in discos, selling for as little as ten dollars a hit.
The physical effects of smoking crack are instant, extremely pleasurable, — and very brief. Like modern-day scourge meth, crack produces a spurt of intense euphoria, reduced hunger, and trenchant wakefulness .As the rush evaporates after as little as fifteen minutes, these sensations are replaced by an intense depression and the irrational but seemingly irresistible desire for more crack.
The so-called crack epidemic victimized mostly the poor, and inordinately the black, so much so that claims by Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton that crack was introduced to African American population centers by the CIA were taken quite seriously. Throughout most of the Nineties, gangs dueled for crack-selling corners in housing projects in Tampa and St. Petersburg with frequently fatal results, while police waged a “War on Drugs” in those communities and the justice system executed a no-tolerance-for-possession policy which resulted in insanely long sentences for those caught with just a few rocks.
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