Thursday, July 31, 2014

Gulfport's 14th Annual Geckofest: A How-To

Re-live the 1920’s throughout the month of August at Gulfport’s “Roaring Geckos” themed End-of-Summer Bash

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 2:17 PM


Grab yourself a room-temperature glass of bathtub gin, toss on an old recording of George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue (1924), and prepare for the impending Great Depression, because the unsustainable extravagance of the roaring-twenties is alive and well once more with the arrival of this year’s 1920’s, “Roaring Geckos,” themed Geckofest, Gulfport’s annual salute to the end of summer.

Here’s how you do it:

Start out with a pub crawl. Regimented drinking is a great way to limit your decision making while getting a little tipsy. It’s a great way to get out and meet new people too. If it’s sunny, sport a vintage bowler or straw-boater hat to impress; or, if you’re a lady, perhaps an old French cloche will do nicely. If you’re not into playing dress-up, then at least be keeping the twenties in mind — compliment the bartender’s hooch, be nervous about contracting tuberculosis or scarlet fever or about getting busted all blotto at the speakeasy by some teetotaling prohibition agent; and don’t forget to congratulate all the women on their newly acquired right to vote.

It’ll all be the cat’s pajamas at this year’s Gecko Pub Crawl. From 5:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., on Aug. 9, around the Gulfport Waterfront Arts District, you can get a free drink, perhaps an old fashioned or martini, at six separate blind-pig establishments: Beach Haus, Little Tommie’s Tiki, Mangia Gourmet, Neptune Grille, O’Maddy’s, and Salty’s. Just make sure none are one of those seedy clip-joints before you walk in and start shelling out the dough. And feel free to visit each speakeasy in any order you please, there is no right or wrong way to do it. Just don’t forget to grab your poker-run card from the Crawl Ambassador at each location. Best five-card stud hand wins a two-night stay at the Sirata Beach Resort on St. Pete Beach. Prizes will be awarded, and a raffle drawn, at Salty’s after-party, from 9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Pub crawl tickets are $20 and available for purchase from the Gulfport Beach Bazaar’s Box Office.

Next, hit up Gulfport’s Saturday, Aug. 16 Art Walk. It’s free and there will be oodles to do. You can heckle the hell out of the Harry Houdini-inspired street performers, or discuss Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Eliot, Dos Passos and the rest of the greats from the “Lost Generation” with some local authors who have set-up-shop. You can look around for art, amongst the plethora of works by local artists who will be in attendance, for something as meaningful as Picasso’s Three Musicians (1921), or Duchamp’s The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even (1923); or pretend whoever has their cheeks inflated around the trumpet’s mouthpiece playing in the background is as good as old Satchmo, Louis Armstrong. The action kicks off at 6:00 p.m. and runs until 10:00 p.m. All the artists, artisans, craftsmen, authors, entertainers and musicians, along with the throngs of enthusiastic Geckofest patrons, will be sprinkled all along Beach & Shore Boulevards.

Once you start feeling high-society enough, channel your inner Jay Gatsby or Daisy Buchanan at the “Roaring Geckos” Gecko Ball. The party starts at 6:00 p.m., on Saturday, Aug. 23, and goes until 11:00 p.m. Tickets are $35 and available at the Gulfport Beach Bazaar’s Box Office. Cocktail specials, a cash bar, a costume contest, hors d’oeuvres, a dinner buffet, a commemorative photo booth, the Z Street Speakeasy Band, dozens of silent auction items, and the popular live auction of geckos created by local artists, will add to the extravagance of the night. Don’t hesitate to discuss any array of hot social issues either, such as the Irish Civil War (1922 – 1923), Jack Dempsey’s mean left hook, Marx’s brand of communism, Mussolini’s fascist March on Rome, André Breton’s Surrealist Manifesto (1924), Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, W.E.B. DuBois and the Harlem Renaissance, or even America’s immigration act of 1924.

Then, finally, close it out like Black Tuesday’s just around the corner and you’re about to lose it all. Why not party in the face of certain demise? It’s always so liberating. Pretend you can smell the dust and feel the tumbleweeds that carry with them the Great Depression and then laugh like all those who actually lived it that never could. It’s your one last chance to take that make-believe stab at attaining the elusive American dream. So throw it all out there at this year’s Geckofest conclusion. It’s going to be one big, huge, fun-for-all-ages party-parade that lasts all day, from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., on Saturday, Aug. 30. There will be a costume contest, parade, fire and acrobatics show, and one emotionally-organic street dance to cap off this year’s Geckofest. But even the most colorful description can’t do the event justice. You just have to strap on your two-tone wing-tips, and get ready for one last Charleston, because this whole month is going to be the bee’s knees out in Gulfport.

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The Laugh Tract — who's bringing the funny

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 1:27 PM

D.L. Hughley is at Tampa Improv this weekend.
  • D.L. Hughley is at Tampa Improv this weekend.

If you like your comedians to have television credits, you're in luck this week. A couple of heavy-hitters are in town, as well as other experienced, nationally-touring performers. Here are your best bets:

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Movie review: Richard Linklater's Boyhood achieves its lofty filmmaking ambitions

In his lengthy film culled from more than a decade of shooting, Linklater pulls off a nifty cinematic magic trick.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 1:21 PM

Newcomer Ellar Coltrane ages memorably in the magical Boyhood.
  • Newcomer Ellar Coltrane ages memorably in the magical Boyhood.

Amidst the unending march of CGI-fueled superheroes through the multiplex, one has to look to the Tampa Theatre this weekend to find the real magic. The movie is Boyhood, director Richard Linklater’s ode to adolescence. It was shot over a 12-year period, with the same core actors regrouping annually to add scenes, the passage of time etched on their aging faces. There’s something in the way the movie was made, and the performances Linklater got out of his actors over such a long time frame, that makes Boyhood special in a way all that summer blockbuster brouhaha just isn’t.

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High On Style: Accessorize your life (with advice from the interns)

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 12:39 PM

DARING TO BE DIFFERENT: VERTICAL photo intern RaLisha Ann Wilder says her most powerful accessory is her hair. - KARLTON ROBERTS
  • Karlton Roberts
  • DARING TO BE DIFFERENT: VERTICAL photo intern RaLisha Ann Wilder says her most powerful accessory is her hair.

“Any opportunity to adorn oneself is human, and accessories are an easy way to do it.” —Marc Jacobs

My mother asked me what I was writing about today.

“Accessories,” I said.

“Maybe you can come into my closet and help me pair some outfits with accessories,” she said, “It’ll be fun! We can play!”

And that’s the idea.

For me, the first rule of the game is to pick one accessory to be the star. Everything else should hold it up.
(Insert non sequitur: I am “accessorizing” writing this article with “All She Wants” by Duran Duran playing in the background.)

EASY DOES IT: CL summer intern Amy Daire describes her personal style as bridging the gap between preppy and hipster.
  • EASY DOES IT: CL summer intern Amy Daire describes her personal style as bridging the gap between preppy and hipster.

“Don’t overdo it” when it comes to accessorizing, cautions CL intern Amy Daire, who contributes blog posts to Amy describes her personal style as bridging the gap between preppy and hipster. “I really like classic stuff like pearls and plaids, but I also really like combat boots and piercings.”

She’s excited to pair her favorite new earrings with a black romper and gold sandals — a simple backdrop to set them off. “Sometimes now, the dainty stuff is what really stands out,” she says.

Accessorizing is a matter of priorities. And if you have so many favorite things it’s hard to count them, avoid looking like a haute mess wearing everything at once and put them on a rotation.

“Dare to be different,” says VERTICAL Tampa Bay photography intern, RaLisha Ann Wilder. “Be bold.”

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The CL Intern Issue: Step up to the (open) mic

CL intern Jackie Braje looks into the wide-open culture of Tampa Bay’s open mic nights.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 10:40 AM

Performances at Boba House's open mic night range from acoustic guitar to stand-up comedy to solo slide trombone. - CHIP WEINER
  • Chip Weiner
  • Performances at Boba House's open mic night range from acoustic guitar to stand-up comedy to solo slide trombone.

"For my performance tonight, I will pantomime a porn star making a pizza delivery to someone’s home. Here we go, folks.”

The Rathskeller, located in the basement of the University of Tampa’s Plant Hall, was scattered with tables full of writing professors and anxious young students prudently reading and re-reading to themselves the poems their classmates had goaded them into presenting in front of everyone. The vibe was laid-back, and a muted orchestra of snaps followed every reading. This was UT’s open mic night, sponsored by the student literary journal NEON — the one night a month when antisocial groups of undergrad writing students all leave their caves.

Tampa has built up a culture of open mic nights, each attracting a unique demographic. You can find anything from a singer-songwriter to a balloon animal artist at these gatherings, and things are inclined to get slightly weird. But after carousing through a few different places, it became easy to distinguish some of the traits — and distinctive characters — that are specific to each venue.

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Water born: Community Stepping Stones' "I Am River" mural project

Sulphur Springs students discover the Hillsborough 
through a unique arts project.

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 10:27 AM

RIVER VIEW: Dilon Bristol canoeing the Hillsborugh River in one of the murals created by 
Community Stepping Stones students.
  • RIVER VIEW: Dilon Bristol canoeing the Hillsborugh River in one of the murals created by 
Community Stepping Stones students.

Somewhere between learning how to right an overturned canoe and conquering his concerns about alligators, 17-year-old Dilon Bristol picked up another concept on the Hillsborough River: inference. Like each of us, Bristol explained to me at HCC’s Ybor Arts Gallery last week, the river teems with activity that isn’t always apparent on its quiet surface. Listen, watch — and you just might glean a few insights into the life swirling in and around its waters.

Bristol is one of a dozen middle and high school students who attend Community Stepping Stones in Sulphur Springs, a neighborhood north of downtown Tampa that is one of the city’s poorest. While the Hillsborough River winds its way through Sulphur Springs and into the backyard (literally) of Community Stepping Stones’ campus, Bristol and most of his classmates had never explored the river by canoe. Until January, when they embarked on a six-month project called “I Am River.”

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Do This: Mary Lynn Rajskub at Side Splitters

Posted By on Thu, Jul 31, 2014 at 10:23 AM

Say Her Name: Mary Lynn Rajskub steps away from her hit show 24 and onto a comedy club stage for a slate of shows this weekend.
  • Say Her Name: Mary Lynn Rajskub steps away from her hit show 24 and onto a comedy club stage for a slate of shows this weekend.

Mary Lynn Rajskub doesn't have a name that flows off the tongue, but how about the show that helped make her famous? 24 is enjoying good reviews for its comeback season, and computer genius Chloe O'Brien is still an important character.

But is she funny?

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Tampa Bay's weekly literary happenings

Posted By on Tue, Jul 29, 2014 at 2:09 PM

Books and Brews will discuss Lord of the Flies on Wednesday, July 30.
  • Books and Brews will discuss Lord of the Flies on Wednesday, July 30.
The Clearwater Writers Meetup Group gathers at the home of its organizer in Belleair on Tuesday, July 29, 7 p.m. Discuss publishing trends, blogs and websites of interest to writers, and receive constructive criticism of your work.

Join Inkwood Books and the Center for Autism and Related Disabilities for an evening of science and literacy Tuesday, July 29, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Meet two young women, Avalon Theisen and Dani Bowman, who founded projects that hep humanity, animals and/or the planet before they were 18. They were both featured in Kerryn Vaughn’s book Magnificent Kids. The first 30 teachers to register and be present on the day of the event will receive a free copy of the book as well as a copy of the award-winning CD Pacha’s Pajamas - Volume 1. Refreshments will be provided. Inkwood Books is located at 216 S. Armenia Ave., Tampa.

Books and Brews, Tampa FreeSkool’s monthly classic literature book club, will meet Wednesday, July 30, 7 p.m., at Tampa’s Coppertop, 5112 E. Fowler Ave. The group, led by instructor Emily Adkins, will focus on books that are generally considered part of American cultural knowledge and deserve a second look after being read in high school or college. This month’s book is Lord of the Flies.

Share your poetry, stories and songs at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church’s bi-monthly Poetry & Open Mic Night, Wednesday, July 30. The evening kicks off with a potluck at 6:30 p.m. So get there early to sign in and snack; readings and performances begin promptly at 7 p.m. The church is located at 3747 34th St. S, St. Pete. Call (727) 452-2369 for more information.

Felicitous Coffee & Tea House hosts its monthly outdoor open mic for poets, spoken word artists, artists and musicians Wednesday, July 30, 7 to 10 p.m. Sign-up begins at 7 p.m.; readings and performances begin at 7:30 p.m. The open mic will be moved indoors for inclement weather. Felicitous is located at 11706 N. 51st St., Tampa.

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Mitchell Goodrich of Get Lost Press: A Post-'Zine Fest Interview

Posted By on Tue, Jul 29, 2014 at 11:30 AM

click image GET LOST PRESS
  • Get Lost Press
July 12th's Tampa Zine Fest turned out to be a great opportunity, as always, for networking among like-minded weirdos. Among a lot of other great work, I honed in on Mitchell Goodrich, whose screen-printed, multi-fold zines, full of extra goodies and with a developed artistic sensibility, were some of the best of the show.

Goodrich's small 'zine imprint, which publishes his own work and that of fellow travelers like Niv Bavarsky, is called Get Lost Press. But despite the toughie pose, in person Goodrich is one of those achingly sweet young artists who seems like he'd do anything for just about everybody. He seems to have picked that up from his stretch in that hipster mecca that isn't Portland - Baltimore - with its proud legacy of aggressive posi-vibers like Dan Deacon.

What Goodrich was generous enough to do for me was answer a few questions over email - questions about his art, about Baltimore, and about coming back to the Bay Area.

David Z. Morris: First, you're from Florida, right? Tell me about how you ended up in Baltimore, and what it was like being there?

Mitchell Goodrich: Yeah, I grew-up here in St. Pete and ended up in Baltimore at one of the funny acronym art schools—the Maryland Institute College of Art, or MICA—to get my bachelors in art history and illustration. Baltimore can be a really fun place. There is an excellent zine fest there each March, called the Publications and Multiples Fair, and every May the city goes movie crazy during the Maryland Film Festival.

Fancy pizza, dance parties, and kitsch reign supreme there. Warehouse music venues and independent art galleries are pervasive throughout the city, and every event ends with a sweaty DJ set. Korean BBQ is a must at 3 AM, Old Bay goes on everything, trading glances with John Waters is an eventuality, and of course, chicken boxes galore. Unfortunately, skeevy landlords tend to get annoying and friends move in different directions, so plans to visit become sufficient.

DZM: How does it feel to be getting back to Florida?

MG: It feels great! I really missed the sound of thunder, so these summer storms have been a comfort. Biking around St. Petersburg, I've glimpsed a lot of wonderful changes, new shops, and some really impressive murals, but I'm still hoping the whole condo ideology gives way to conversions of our beautiful revivalist architecture at some point.

The Ale and the Witch is a craft brew paradise, the Pride parade was exhausting fun, and the Aaron Siskind show at the MFA is stunning. I visited Planet Retro for the first time the other weekend and not only did I spot a Leadbelly vinyl on the wall and a copy of Paul's Boutique in the first bin I checked, but Sleep's Dopesmoker was playing over head. I'm in danger of spending a lot of money there in the future...

DZM: Do you have plans now that you're back? How do you envision your "art career" unfolding, or do you think of it in those terms?

MG: At the moment, I think of my art practice less in terms of a career, just in order to free myself of the pressure to morph my work for broad marketability. I prefer working full-time in an art-related field and allowing my personal work to remain personal. It's more comfortable as an outlet than as an income.

While in Baltimore, I collaborated with a friend on a screening series focused on obscure art films. Basically, the harder a time you had locating a copy of the movie, the better suited it was to share. We would have open discussions after each screening that kept everyone engaged. I'd love to do something like that here. Less talk about Spring Breakers, more about Loren Cass.

DZM: One of the 'zines I saw was drawings of hotdogs and pizza. I don't remember if that was your work, but what do you think of the relationship between 'hibrow' and 'lowbrow' art? Does that matter much anymore?

MG: That was probably Hut Dugs, my fanzine dedicated to hot dogs.

Those oft-pejorative terms, along with "middlebrow," can be very dangerous and are always a point of contention. They lump artworks into vague categories and don't identify formal qualities, style, or conceptual goals, but subjectively apply cultural value. With that said, the distinction matters when you are evaluating the content you, yourself consume and, perhaps especially so, when critiquing commercial availability. We are omnivores, and while we may need to have seen Point Break enough times to recite Gary Busy's every rant verbatim, we should also watch something like an Ozu or Agnes Varda every once in a while for health. It'a all about balance.

What I'm really interested in though, is the convergences of these realms. Stuff like the failure that is Johnny Mnemonic—the artist Robert Longo's lone attempt at filmmaking—or the brilliant '50s meta-melodramas of Douglas Sirk, such as Imitation of Life (the title says it all).

DZM: I got the zine of collages from 2011. Do you think of the object photographs as sculpture, painting, photography, what? Does it matter?

MG: I think of them as collages. The distinction matters to me in terms of construction, but as with anything else, I don't mind if the viewer has a completely different reading. I had just found out about B. Wurtz's sculptures when I first started making them, but since I wasn't sure where to stop with the constructions, I would photograph them as sketches. Later I began to manipulate the photos, erasing elements in a move inspired by Paul Pfeiffer. That's when I decided it was important for them to remain two-dimensional. The camera or scanner is merely the means of flattening them, but shouldn't inform the content in any way.

DZM: What are you trying to figure out or express with the use of space in those pieces?

MG: Eventually, I would like to abolish space from them altogether. As in a standard representational painting, the depicted objects are reflections of something in the tangible world, but lay physically flat on the same plain as the negative space. I am attempting to underline that flatness in my work. I include elements generally used as tools for creating the illusion of pictorial space, such as horizon lines and shadows, but only in order to point to those tools as fallacies.

DZM: What about the selection of objects? I can see there's a pretty strong color throughline, but what else is guiding you?

MG: It may sound tacky, but I think of them as free-form puzzle pieces. So color and value play a large role, but so does consideration of how flexible they will remain when designing the various compositions. The strictest rule is that they are never paid for, or at least not bought with the sole purpose of using them for a collage. Thus, litter plays a very prominent role. The compositions hopefully produce a space to reconsider these objects of cultural detritus by extending their life, granting them a role beyond what is intended, and figuring out how they work symbolically when juxtaposed with some other completely foreign item.

DZM: What kind of future work do you have in mind?

MG: Make more zines and collaborate with more artists. The next stop for Get Lost is RIPE, the Rhode Island Independent Publishing Expo in Providence. Those events are a lot of fun and great excuses to prepare new work, promote yourself, socialize, and empty your bank account.

I really want dive deeper into film programming. I am on the screening committee for the Maryland Film Festival and I participated in the student symposium at the Telluride Film Festival in 2011. I love seeing what's new, talking to filmmakers, and sharing interpretations with friends. The screening series is a serious idea, so if anyone has a space where it could be held, that would be great! Beyond that, I'm always on the hunt for an after hours programming job/internship with a local film festival.

Thanks again!

(Author's Note: Thanks to Georgia Ann Hourdas for help with the artistic inquiries.)

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Monday, July 28, 2014

Art lit: New ebooks from Pale Horse Design's Chris Parks

The St. Pete artist provides both original and reference works for art lovers.

Posted By on Mon, Jul 28, 2014 at 9:14 PM


Chris Parks, the St. Pete artist behind Pale Horse Design's intricate, immaculately detailed imagery, has a few new ebooks of both his work and reference works for artists to use available for download at Illustrated Monthly. 

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