Sunday, July 26, 2015

The Weekend Shift: your mysterious uncle Cuba

Posted By on Sun, Jul 26, 2015 at 4:41 PM


Growing up in Tampa, Cuban culture was always in the peripheral. Sub-par Cuban sandwiches were a daily lunch option in every school cafeteria. I had Cuban teachers, Cuban friends, ate at Cuban restaurants, my parents even had a Cuban coffee phase. But as far as I was concerned, Cuba was like some long lost uncle you always heard bad things about but who still seemed kind of mysterious and intriguing.

On one hand things were so bad in the island nation that people would leave their loved ones and the only homes they’d ever known to attempt to float ninety-miles to Florida on a makeshift raft in the hopes of a better life. They’d rather risk death than stay there. That’s telling. On the other hand, the food was delectable, and they had a lot of cool classic cars and free abortions.

Uncle Cuba was rebellious. He didn’t give a fuck.

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Friday, July 24, 2015

There are sandbags if you want 'em, guys

Posted By on Fri, Jul 24, 2015 at 4:57 PM


If you've looked outside, you've noticed the bullshit weather, which is probably going to carry on through the weekend, which is bullshit.

If you live in flood-prone areas like South Tampa, this news is extra bullshit.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Cuba Issue: Love at first sight — a photo essay

Posted By on Thu, Jul 23, 2015 at 5:00 AM

One of the hypnotic (and possibly hypnotized) puppets of Matanzas.
  • One of the hypnotic (and possibly hypnotized) puppets of Matanzas.

"I’m going to Cuba,” my mother announced to me at the Straz one night. “Realllllllly,” I responded, intrigued.

“You can come,” she said. My heart skipped a beat.

Off we went to discover a land mostly unseen by Americans for 50-plus years. Over five days, while traveling on a U.S. State Department-approved People to People Cultural Exchange, we met artists, musicians, organic farmers, an economist, and a fashion designer who paints fabrics on her rooftop under the blazing sun. (The only place we were forbidden to photograph was the cigar factory.)

We spent three nights in Havana at the famed Hotel Nacional and two nights in Varadero Beach with stops in Las Terrazas (a small mountain community where we drank mojitos at 10 a.m., danced to live music and visited a ration store) and the city of Matanzas (which sounds sexy but means “slaughter”). We met a puppet designer there. I remember being fascinated with his hands, his silver jewelry and gentle manner. I wasn’t particularly jazzed about going to the beach (we see enough beach in Florida), but it was worth it to see the ocean’s aquamarine glow.
There were 25 of us on the tour (plus our bus driver, one American guide and one Cuban guide). My mother says she returned with more questions than answers. I came back in love with Havana and feeling like this:

I hope — as relations continue to improve between our countries, and as more people have an opportunity to visit — that we will give to Cuba, rather than take from it. They have lost enough.

I hope the powers that be don’t swoop in and paint the town beige. We don’t need another flavorless tourist attraction brimming with the promise of Tanzanite International, and right now Cuba (figuratively) has a giant target painted on it.

I hope we appreciate that Cuba’s authenticity is worth preserving. Its people are worth knowing, its art and artists are worth celebrating, its beaches are worth basking in, and its streets are worth exploring.

I hope that you go, too. I truly believe that if you aim to discover Cuba for Cuba, she will give you what you came for. 

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Poet's Notebook: The Muse and the mic

Posted By on Thu, Jul 23, 2015 at 1:00 AM

  • jeanne meinke
I do not like to apologize much
For these words, but I must. Such
Success as I have had has come
From carefully sitting loose and dumb,
Encouraging the gods to overlook me...

The gods in our country, as well as Americans in general, have often overlooked its poets. This usually doesn’t bother our young bards, bent over their notebooks or computers, caught in the demanding grasp of their Muse telling them to write something, anything — Now! It says something about the state of poetry today that its ancient Muse, Calliope, called by Ovid and others the “Chief of all Muses,” has had her name adopted by the least subtle of our musical devices, loud whistles driven by hot air for steamboats and circuses.

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Weekend Shift: Color me relaxed

Posted By on Sun, Jul 19, 2015 at 11:46 AM


We live in stressful times. We have to deal with racists, an endless steam of murderous gunmen, ISIS, waiting on the next Game of Thrones book — ugh! Fortunately, a new fad is in high gear that promises to relieve our anxieties and put us in a calm state of mind, and it’s not even Xanax.

It’s coloring.

Adult coloring books are incredibly popular right now. The AP reported that eight of the top 20 selling books on Amazon last week were adult coloring books. There's a ridonkulous amount of YouTube videos regarding the subject, and people often post their finished works on social sites.

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Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Weekend Shift: Some '80s trends are better left in the past

Posted By on Sun, Jul 12, 2015 at 2:18 PM

The 1980s have come and gone twice already. Once in reality, and again in a nostalgic comeback several years ago, when we Gen X-ers were starting to relate more to the show Thirtysomething than we did to Facts of Life. But, you take the good, you take the bad ... or so Mrs. Garrett would have us believe.

Actually, we left out a lot of things when we brought back the ‘80s. Let’s take a moment to revisit some of the forgotten little gems that era gave us — a few of the cultural fads that didn’t make the cut.

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Friday, July 10, 2015

#BOTB25: The Best of 1990

Posted By on Fri, Jul 10, 2015 at 1:35 PM


With the understated modesty that has long characterized Creative Loafing and Weekly Planet, this is how editors described (on the cover, no less) the inaugural Best of the Bay edition on Aug. 11, 1990:

“...the first-ever, totally free, once-in-a-lifetime, tell-all, required reading rhapsody on the hippest, hypest, hottest there’s to be found in the Bay Area. We know what’s best for you — don’t be afraid — it’s inside.”

That bold pronouncement, made just two years after CL launched, would prove to be less than prescient. The Best of the Bay turned out to be an annual event, not just a once-in-a-lifetime thing — and the next edition, to be released Sept. 24, 2015, will be our 25th.

In the weeks leading up to publication of BOTB25 (and the big party to celebrate it on Sept. 23), we’ll be reviewing each of the BOTB issues from the last two decades-plus. We’ll highlight the Bests that are still making Best lists, remember others that are gone but not forgotten — and look at some of the people, places and issues that rose to the top or sank to the bottom each year, in the eyes of CL editors, readers and opinionators.

It’ll be the hypest!

Here's what we were talking about in 1990:

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Thursday, July 9, 2015

Poet's Notebook: The Bush vs. Clinton redux

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2015 at 2:00 PM

  • Jeanne Meinke
You whom I could not save
Listen to me.
Try to understand this simple speech as I would be ashamed of another.
I swear, there is in me no mastery of words.
I speak to you with silence like a cloud or a tree.

We’re staring at the probability of another battle between two warring dynasties, Bush vs. Clinton, like the Capulets and Montagues in Romeo and Juliet. Of course, the speeches were a lot better in Shakespeare’s Verona: “From forth the fatal loins of these two foes/A pair of star-cross’d lovers take their life” sure beats “Well, I’m not a scientist.” The worse thing is, that while the lovers’ tragedy lasts only two hours and may cost $200, this election cycle will take 16 numbing months, and cost well over the $6.3 billion price tag of the 2012 election. With that kind of money, we could buy Verona, or even fix some of the problems our country faces.

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Life as we blow it: The outrage factory

Posted By on Thu, Jul 9, 2015 at 10:48 AM

IN A FRENZY: Let's not waste our outrage on Shark Week.
  • IN A FRENZY: Let's not waste our outrage on Shark Week.
Everything is outrageous. Outrage has become our default setting.

It’s exhausting, really, being outraged all the time. What’s worse, it blunts the impact of outrage. These days, that shit’s like the dollar in 1930: barely valuable enough to be worth churning out.

Of course, there are things by which we should rightly be outraged. Many of them, in fact.

Shark Week? Not so much.

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Saturday, July 4, 2015

The Weekend Shift: Selfie saturation

Posted By on Sat, Jul 4, 2015 at 12:21 PM

  • Kaixodude via wikimedia commons

If narcissism and vanity had a love child, they’d name her Selfie. As annoying as so many selfies are, and make no mistake, eyes-be-rollin’ at photos of your post-gym workout body or your I’m-a-gangster!-in-the-bathroom-mirror self, they have become an extension of how we tell people about ourselves, especially because so many of them are posted on social networking sites. It’s the look-at-me-ing of society made possible by the rampant availability of technology and the timeless human need for validation.

There are many types of selfies, but most, when shared on social media, do not help your cause, because even if you look like the beautiful sex-kitten you are aspiring to be in the pic, the fact that we all know how orchestrated the selfie actually was generally gives the perception that you are a needy attention whore.

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