We at CL apologize for the silliness of the following interview. It’s an affront to Tampa Bay readers and their cornpone sensibilities. Ultimately, it’s my fault for assigning the interview to Shawn Alff, a journalist famous for shirking duties and missing deadlines while he wallows carefree and naked on the sticky floors of airports and other public places. Shawn Alff could have done a better job of making this make sense. He could have talked about the value of 15 Views as a literary portrait of our community. He could have talked about the vibrancy of our local literary culture and brilliance of our local writers. Instead, he shirked and wallowed, leaving one more sticky mess of words to suck at the soles of our shoes. I’m sorry for Shawn Alff. I’m sorry for everything. I love you all.
—John Henry Fleming, editor of 15 Views of Tampa Bay—a collection of 15 linked stories by 15 local authors.
1. You are Gutter Boy, a main character in 15 Views of Tampa Bay. You wrote a forward for the second edition of this book. Below, include the first paragraph of your forward.
I have been slandered. No, that is not right. Defiled. I have been defiled by this tripe. The world is a beautiful place. Tampa is a beautiful place. I am a beautiful man. All of us, gutter boys and girls or not—we are beautiful creatures deserving of not being defiled in such public ways by a pack of what is essentially those making up stories in their egg heads. A travesty of defilement and utter farce is before you today, ladies and gentleman. All of that said, which is right and accurate, this work does have limited virtue.
2. You are a pilot for the mysterious black plane that repeatedly appears in 15 Views. The plane gives aerial tours of the US. The only thing you know about Tampa Bay is based on some forward to a book written by a guy named Gutter Boy. Below, include a paragraph cut from your monologue describing the city to your passengers.
May I have your attention, guydies and ladiesmen. We are now beginning our final descent into. . . um? co-pilot? where we goin' again? ha! guess he's had as much to drink as. . . what I mean to say is. . . flight attendants: siddown and shuddup.
3. You recently took an aerial tour of the US where you had to listen to the pilot describe your hometown based solely on his reading of a book called 15 Views of Tampa Bay. Below, include a paragraph from the angry letter you sent to the book's editor?
Dear 15 Views of Tampa Bay Editor,
You have no idea what living in the Tampa Bay area is REALLY like. First, none of your writers mentioned the giant spiders that are eating up all the gummy worms. THE WORLD NEEDS TO KNOW how we suffer down here, and how, if not for us, these spiders would spread to the rest of the States. Second, you also left out the special system of canals that run under the city, where we breed the alligators we use to get around the city. (Actually, that was probably wise of you. If that gets out, everyone will want their own gatorcar, and we can't meet that kind of demand.)
4. You are an aspiring writer who came across this interview. You feel your unique voice was excluded. Below, include the final paragraph of the chapter you wrote for future editions of 15 Views.
First, this was an extreme oversight by the series editor—what's his name? James Phlegming—or something. Listen, if I were in this collection, this would be how I would end it.
And in the end, the alligators and moccasins took over the world and the BP oil turned the bay black, and European tourists were soup-ed in it, and the dolphins were black shining half moons, and all the cranes morphed into one gigantic pterodactyl and flew over Tallahassee and the governor's mansion and swallowed the governor whole. Little did we know that there was an underground tunnel system under Ybor that led all the way to Cuba, and one day, undead Castro emerged and he did not want to take over Tampa, but he just wanted to hang out, chill, live this new life without much chaos. A quiet life. A peaceful life. One filled with cigars and coffees and strip clubs.
5. You are a graduate student who found this interview online while researching your dissertation on the state of modern American literature. Below, include the paragraph of your dissertation in which you reference this interview.
At the vanguard of this new American literary movement to finally unhinge Foucault’s new historicism (Denny’s Kids Menu, 6) and send it spinning back into the hot-tub time warp1 of the 1980s are social theorists like Shawn Alff of Creative Loafing (Tampa). Alff’s counter-intuitive hacker-narratives break new ground in the post-post Gonzo semiotics by creating something from nothing while Alff sips serotonin daiquiris and basks on a beach in Sarasota. His laissez-laissez2 approach turns conventional crowd-sourcing trope on its head by inviting the objects of criticism (myself among them) to become the critics themselves through a series of disorienting questions that inflates the subjects' egos to the size of a European principality. (Insert requisite reference to Middlemarch here.) However, the true genius of Alff’s stellar analysis of 15 Views of Tampa is that it develops entirely without any human intervention, through automated questions randomly generated by Siri3. As this paper will clearly demonstrate (insert ass-kissing reference to dissertation committee here) this trend toward electronic "art" as a socially acceptable excuse for early retirement marks the future of American literature.
1 Filmmaker Steven Pink’s controversial concept of time suggests psychotropic time bubbles in Jacuzzis are what accounts for the era’s persistence in human consciousness.
2 Colloquial French for “absolutely brilliant.”
3 Drop-dead gorgeous demi-goddess of pre-pubescent fantasies.
6. You are the editor of Creative Loafing rushing to meet a deadline ignored by Shawn Alff. Above, provide your brief introduction explaining this interview.
15 Views of Tampa Bay is available now through BurrowPressReview.com.