Friday, August 29, 2014

Ask the Locals: Mitzi Gordon, creative force and Bluebird Books Bus driver

Posted By on Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 6:07 PM

  • Photo by Heidi Kurpiela

Mitzi Gordon is as ubiquitous in Tampa Bay as her short blue bus. When the well-read 38-year-old hit the road three years ago in her converted Bluebird Books Bus — a topaz bookmobile that functions as part used bookstore, part art house and part literacy movement — she launched a dream project and, in essence, herself.

Gordon, an artist and writer, was appointed in February as executive director of Creative Pinellas, following a two-year stint as media manager of the organization’s ARTICULATE arts website. Prior to that, she served as the membership manager at the Dalì Museum during its capital campaign and grand opening and worked for the Tampa Museum of Art, and the Tampa Tribune.

A longtime Tampa resident, she recently left her cozy townhome in Forest Lakes and moved into a funky bungalow in downtown St. Petersburg’s bohemian, brick-paved Roser Park enclave.

“When I worked for the Dalì I commuted the entire time,” Gordon says. “This time I felt strongly that I couldn’t do my job as well as I wanted without living in Pinellas County.”

The best perk of all? She now has ample backyard parking for the blue bus, which she paid off in April.

Favorite used bookstore: Mojo Books & Music. “I’ve yet to go with a title in mind and not find it.”

Favorite excuse to rubberneck: Sebastian Coolidge's new mural “Sam.” "The mural I’m most excited about is the one he just finished on an industrial silo at Carroll’s Building Materials near the interstate.”

Favorite new creative hub: The Bloom Warehouse. “It isn’t in the traditional Warehouse Arts District. It’s closer to downtown and it’s attracting a lot of young, inspiring artists. That’s where my studio will be. It’ll be a good way to plug into St. Pete’s art scene.”

Favorite form of pampering: Haircuts at Bentley Salon. “I went to high school with the owner [Scott Bentley]. He always had these punked-out skater haircuts and now he’s this incredibly successful salon owner.”

Favorite place to park her car: Fun-Lan Drive-In. “You can fold down the seats, prop a couple pillows in the back and watch a movie the old-fashioned way.”

Favorite 24-hour grub: La Teresita. “I like to eat at the counter. It’s the perfect combination of Cuban food and people-watching.”

Favorite secondhand store: Goodwill on Hillsborough. “They’re open late on certain weeknights, so you can go get your shopping fix after work. I’ve found everything from gold sequin platform heels to a giant pink Christmas tree.”

Favorite place to lay low: Rick's on the River.  “It’s far enough away from my usual hangouts to feel like a real hideout.”

Favorite ’Burg businesses: Green Bench Brewing and Munch's. “When I moved to St. Pete I had to start looking for replacements for my favorite [Tampa] places. Green Bench Brewing is my new New World Brewery and Munch’s is my new Nicko’s.” 

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Ask the Locals: Fawn Germer, author, speaker and Dogedin fan

Posted By on Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 6:06 PM

  • Photo by Heidi Kurpiela

Fawn Germer is a self-help author, international leadership speaker and a four-time Pulitzer-nominated journalist.

She shot to self-help superstardom when her first book, Hard Won Wisdom –– a collection of stirring interviews with 50 high-powered women –– landed on Oprah’s radar over a decade ago.

A former correspondent for the Washington Post and U.S. News and World Report, Germer worked as a staff writer for the Miami Herald and an editor for the Tampa Tribune before Hard Won Wisdom launched her speaking and book-writing career.

The book’s popularity, coupled with Germer’s natural ability to connect with audiences, thrust the writer into the upper echelon of keynote speakers. The 53-year-old Dunedin resident has headlined speaking events for NASA, Microsoft, Coca Cola, PepsiCo, Ford Motor Co., State Farm, Xerox, Kraft and The United States Department of Defense.

She has since published six other books, including the bestseller Mustang Sallies, which features interviews with Hillary Clinton, Martina Navratilova, Susan Sarandon and Erin Brockovich. Her work and her life are a lesson in perseverance. (Hard Won Wisdom was rejected 15 times by every major publisher in the country before it was finally picked up.) She’s currently working on an eighth book about resetting your life to gain deeper meaning and purpose.

Best place to swim with dolphins: Three-Rooker Bar. “There’s a pod off Honeymoon Island and Three Rooker. Even the dolphin babies will play with you. It’s my favorite secluded beach. Go on a weekday, though. On the weekends it’s filled with boats.”

Best place to explore: Egmont Key State Park. “It’s like a National Geographic magazine cover out there. There’s so much erosion and the water is unbelievable.”

Best place to eat with your dog: The Living Room on Main in Dunedin. “For $7 they’ll bring your dog a bowl of grilled salmon with rice, or chicken and green beans. My dog Louie gets so excited when we go to the Living Room.”

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Ask the Locals: Melissa Carroll, yoga poet

Posted By on Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 5:57 PM

  • Photo by Heidi Kurpiela

Melissa Carroll is something of a renaissance woman. She’s a freelance writer, published poet, college instructor and highly sought-after yoga teacher. She sometimes sings backup for local musicians and emcees Rock the Park concerts in Tampa.

A 30-year-old West Tampa resident, she teaches yoga at Yoga Loft Tampa and Yoga Downtown Tampa. Each week she guides hundreds of Tampa yogis, including the Lycra-clad crowd that shows up every Sunday for yoga at Curtis Hixon Park.

A New Jersey native, she moved to Tampa 11 years ago to study creative writing at the University of Tampa. She fell in love with holistic healing after receiving a free Reiki session at a spa where she worked as a receptionist.

Now a 200-hour registered yoga teacher and certified Reiki III practitioner, Carroll divides her time between writing and stretching. She’s the author of the poetry book The Karma Machine and a creative writing teacher at the University of Tampa.

This fall she’ll publish an anthology of yoga stories –– Going Om: Real-Life Stories On and Off the Yoga Mat. The collection includes essays by renowned memoirists, including Cheryl Strayed (Wild), Neal Pollack (Stretch: The Making of a Yoga Dude), Suzanne Morrison (Yoga Bitch) and Dinty W. Moore (The Accidental Buddhist).

Where she secretly does yoga: Davis Islands Beach. “It’s my little Zen spot. I almost don’t want this secret to get out. It’s never crowded. It’s always quiet. To me the water is instantly peaceful so it’s easy to drop into practice.”

Where she goes to hear poetry: The University of South Florida during National Poetry Month (April). “They bring in some of the most brilliant poetic minds. This year it was Li-Young Lee. A few years ago they got Robert Pinsky –– a U.S. Poet Laureate. Each year the headliner is a different rock star poet.”

Where she goes to get off the grid: The Lotus Pond. “It’s a beautiful, rustic, pastoral retreat in North Tampa. I instantly relax every time I step out of my car.”

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Former Buc and now author Michael Clayton to sign new book Saturday

Posted By on Fri, Mar 21, 2014 at 4:29 PM


Former Tampa Bay Buccaneer wide receiver Michael Clayton will be in Tampa on Saturday promoting his self-published autobiography, Chasing My Rookie year: The Michael Clayton Story. The former 2004 No. 1 Draft Pick of the Bucs will host a signing and a meet-and-greet from noon-2 p.m. at the Sports Authority on 4900 W. Kennedy Blvd.

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Friday, January 3, 2014

Best of the Day: University of Tampa's Lectores

Posted By on Fri, Jan 3, 2014 at 4:29 PM

NO FOOLIN: Hal Hartley will appear Jan. 10, and Lectores will present a free screening of his film Trust this Sunday at 9 p.m.
  • NO FOOLIN': Hal Hartley will appear Jan. 10, and Lectores will present a free screening of his film Trust this Sunday at 9 p.m.
The University of Tampa presents its free, week-long Lectores series, spotlighting writers who have left an indelible imprint on our modern literary consciousness.

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Unlocking the mystery of Dead Mountain

Posted By on Thu, Dec 26, 2013 at 1:27 PM


Largo native, Donnie Eichar, has come full circle facing the mystery of The Dyatlov Pass Incident. The 54-year-old Russian mystery that captured Eichar’s interest and left him intoxicated in his search to find the answers.

In early winter of 1959, nine experienced Russian hikers led by Igor Alekseievich Dyatlov went missing in Russia’s northern Ural Mountains. A search and rescue team later found the bodies over a mile from their tent. Some were half naked, barefoot and in fetal positions.  One of the hikers had his skull crushed by a force presumed too powerful to be human. Another had her tongue ripped from her mouth. No footprints besides those of the hikers were found anywhere near the incident. Their tent was oddly neat and arranged, ski boots standing in formation, bags of bread positioned in a corner and a stove in the center of the tent waiting to be lit. There was no evidence of foul play.

For decades, many have wondered about what truly took place on that mountain. Eichar claims to have the answer, which can be found in his new book, Dead Mountain.

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Friday, December 20, 2013

Mitch Perry's Top Ten films, books and music events of the year

Posted By on Fri, Dec 20, 2013 at 8:16 AM

'Tis the season for Top Ten lists, and since taking over as CL's News & Politics editor back in the fall of 2009, I've taken advantage of my platform to post my favorites of the year in movies, music and books, the stuff that keeps me going. The stuff that matters.

Beginning with the caveat that some of the most lauded films of the year have yet to open in Tampa Bay (American Hustle, The Wolf of Wall Street, Inside Llewyn Davis), here goes, beginning with my favorite movies:

1) All is Lost director by J.C. Chandor
2) MUD directed by Jeff Nichols
3) 12 Years a Slave directed by Steve McQueen
4) Fruitvale Station directed by Ryan Coogler
5) Disconnected by Henry-Alex Rubin
6) In a world...directed by Lake Bell
7) Kill Your Darlings directed by John Krokidas
8) Gravity directed by Alfonso Cuaron
9) Blue is the Warmest Color directed by Abdellatif Kechiche
10) Prisoners directed by Denis Villeneuve
10) What Maisie Knew directed by Scott McGehee and David Siegel

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Thursday, December 19, 2013

9 thought provoking sex books of 2013

Posted By on Thu, Dec 19, 2013 at 4:00 AM

Best Sex Writing 2013: The State of Today's Sexual Culture (4/16/2013)
Edited by Rachel Kramer Bussel

Each year renowned sex writer, Rachel Kramer Bussel, compiles the most provocative, challenging, and serious essays on sex. This literary and entertaining volume serves as a sexual almanac, mapping the ever changing topography of America's sensual landscape. This year's essays were curated by Dr. Carol Queen.

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Want free e-books, Internet, movies and music downloads?

Posted By on Wed, Dec 18, 2013 at 7:00 PM

Interior of the Jan Platt library with help desk and public computer terminals

Interior of the Jan Platt library with help desk and public computer terminals

When was the last time you visited a Hillsborough County library? For that matter, when was the last time you used anything but Google to learn something new?
Today's libraries are evolving into centers where people come to create information, not just research it. Libraries still loan books, but they're also delving deeply into technology and reaching out to their customer base to determine the best way to serve.

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Friday, December 6, 2013

Prude: lessons on love, sex, and writing from memoirist Emily Southwood

A Q & A with the author on what she learned when her fiancé filmed porn.

Posted By on Fri, Dec 6, 2013 at 11:00 AM

In some ways Emily Southwood was living a modern day fairytale. She had just finished her MFA degree and was packing her things to move in with her fiancé, Robbie, in LA. Then she received a call that changed everything. Robbie landed a job filming a reality show about porn stars.

At first Southwood, who considered herself a sexually liberated and progressive minded woman, thought she could handle her fiancé's job assignment. However, she quickly realized how messy love could be when she spent her days at home, searching for jobs and planning a wedding while Robbie dodged body fluids on porn sets and scouted locations at all-inclusive sex resorts.

Although the experience jeopardized her relationship, it also gave her an idea. Just as Robbie had used porn to build his professional credits, Southwood would use the experience to launch her literary career. The resulting memoir, Prude, tells the story of a young couple forced to reexamine their notions of sex and love through the lens of the adult industry.

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