Friday, May 28, 2010

WTF Tampa!

Only at the Walmart Neighborhood Market!

Renegade Art

One of the things I like best about Tampa, and something I’d like to see a lot more of here, is finding art in unexpected places. There’s the Welcome to Tampa postcard mural on the building on Florida Ave, near the interstate. There’s the metal dragon on Kennedy Blvd. Even the giant lizard on that building downtown is, well, something to talk about. Recently, I’ve begun to notice smaller pieces of art, of the spray paint and stencil variety.

Maybe you’ve seen them in Ybor City, Downtown, or Seminole Heights. Maybe you’ve wondered what they are, why they are there, or who made them. We’ll answer two of those three questions for you. For obvious reasons, we will refer to the artist simply as MA, short for Mystery Artist. I recently had the opportunity to talk with MA about the art, the method, and the motivation behind it.

MA has been a fan of street art for many years, and made the foray into creating it last December. The very first piece was created on a concrete overpass piling, and consisted of two bombs that contained the words “poverty” and “greed”. The artist notes that a few days later, someone added a dirty old mattress and bed frame to the installation, and likes to think it was collaborative art, rather than plain old dumping.

Here’s what MA had to say when I asked about the motivation behind the art: “The motivation came from the desire to actually blow up real banks…which I guess makes the message that I’m a pussy. But, the TRS [signature] that goes with them stands for “Transformation Requires Sacrifice”, and that’s personal to me, as well as a political message about what I think needs to be obliterated.”

Finally, I asked MA what the best and worst things about being a street artist in Tampa are. Predictably, the answer was, [the illegality] “makes the best thing about Tampa the fact I haven’t been caught! And the worst thing – that I might!”

So, the next time you’re in Ybor City (near the Cuban Club or New World Brewery) or downtown (near The Hub), take the time to look around. You just might find art in unexpected places.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Bo's Knows Ice Cream!

For my family, Bo's Ice Cream is an establishment frequented much too often. My mom would take my brother and I here for ice cream after gymnastics at Seminole Heights Recreation Center. As I grew up, and life moved me all around the city, Bo's was always a constant. When we settled at our house here in Purity Springs Heights, we realized that Bo's was much too convenient. About 50 Upside Down Banana Splits and 20 Thick N Chunkies later, we are no worse for the wear. We just had to pick up cycling as a hobby to balance it all out.

Located on Florida Ave, just North of Sligh, Bo's has been serving up dairy delights since 1954. During those times, Florida Ave was Tampa's main thoroughfare. Interstate 275 had not yet been constructed. The Bosanko family has held onto their family business though all sorts of ups and downs. The more recent move to rehabilitate Seminole Heights has even brought Bo's a drive-thru. But going up to the window and waiting in the horde of people is part of the allure. Sitting outside beneath the big blue Bo's letter shade, watching all of the customers choose their ice cream confections, is enchanting. People from all walks of life are just beaming with excitement, anticipating that first cold bite of homemade ice cream. Everyone sits down at the same table, makes new friends, and remembers what it is like to be a child. Recalling the days when ice cream really was the most important thing in life. For some of us it still is.

There have been talks of an ice cream challenge for months. There is a tiny local girl (name withheld for humility) that can put away ice cream like no one I have ever seen. In a previous challenge my husband was put to shame and she ate like a champ all the way to victory. If you haven't been to Bo's, you may not know that they serve gigantic portions of ice creamy goodness. So, if you think you can eat the most ice cream and kick some soft serve bootie...send me a message. Game on!

Visit Bo's at 7101 N. Florida Ave Tampa, Florida See you there!

Read more about the history of Bo's at: The St. Pete Times

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Making Friends and Acquaintances

Heather is native Tampanian, born in the mid-seventies to a couple of locals. She spent her childhood in Lutz, but now resides in Purity Springs Heights with her husband Tim and their 2 kids. She graduated from Gaither High School, and continued her education at the University of Tampa studying music/vocal performance. Heather then went on to become a Certified Emergency Medical Technician, and wrapped all that schooling up with a Cosmetology License from the Aveda Institute in St. Petersburg. Heather recently opened Salon Zero, an eco-concious boutique salon in Safety Harbor. Click here to visit the Salon Zero website. When not slaying hair, she enjoys photography and participates in many local and national art shows. See some of her work @
Heather is also an avid thrifter, fixie rider, baby maker, rump shaker, hammer dancin penny pincher. She often empties the cart before getting to the register. She likes to cook and is proud when she creates dishes that come out just right. She is a Lostie, loves Dexter, and knows the lyrics to almost every song. She has always loved Tampa and is excited to tell stories and meet new people. She's the Jiminy Cricket of this bunch, so stop and say hi, she'll put a camera in your face!

Hold fast.

Allow Myself to Introduce...Myself.

A Tampa native, Sarah was born on a humid summer night at Humana Women’s Hospital (now St. Joseph’s) in the late Seventies. Growing up in the Bel-Mar neighborhood of South Tampa, she graduated from H. B. Plant High School with Honors, having been active with both the Drama department and soccer team.

Having lived in many different areas of the city, Sarah finally settled in the Riverside Heights area of Tampa, where she resides with her three cats and the various other creatures that take up residence in old buildings. Sarah is currently seeking full-time employment, and hopes to finish her college degree within the year.

When not job-hunting or working on the blog, Sarah enjoys both live and recorded music, with a special penchant for old music on vinyl records. She also enjoys bicycle riding, both on the road and on trails, and reading, although not at the same time.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Globey says, "Tampa's over heeere."

The Sunshine Myway

So, if this blog is a love letter to Tampa, why's it called the Skyway to Hell?

Good question.

I don't know the answer.

I do know that the Skyway has held my imagination since I first rode over it as a kid, watching the thick yellow cables flash by in the sunroof of my mom's fancy car. It's fucking huge. Slightly scary. Pretty beautiful.

It has a tragic history. In 1980, two separate
maritime accidents claimed a combined 58 lives beneath it, including 35 poor souls who plummeted 150 feet to their deaths in a Greyhound Bus when an inbound freighter took out a full 1200 feet worth of bridge. One man survived when his pickup truck fell off the bridge and landed on the deck of the freighter itself. Some of the wreckage is now an artificial reef and a popular diving spot, about 20 miles out and 80 feet down.

Today, the Skyway's known as a good place to go fishing and a great place to die, attracting enough suicidal people each year to necessitate crisis hotline phones and a 24-hour dedicated suicide patrol on the center span. One area website tracks the numbers and claims that the Skyway is the #1 suicide bridge east of the Mississippi River, and #4 in the country overall: a dubious distinction for a bridge with such a happy-sounding name.

Despite all this darkness, or maybe because of it, you can't deny that the bridge is iconic; a symbol of so many things -good and bad- that our area has to offer. It's brash and bright. It's big, but not big enough to let today's mega cruise ships pass below, forever stunting Tampa's potential as a major cruise port. It's fun to go over, but more fun to go under. It's titillating and tragic.

Above all else, it's ours.

To learn more:

I love love Tampa...let's make a blog!

Here we are at the shore of a new literary horizon. We are a group of friends with different likes/dislikes, varying historical knowledge, and a perpetual love for the Tampa Bay Area. This idea was officially born yesterday while we enjoyed a Soul Food Sunday lunch at Ella's in Seminole Heights. Ideas poured out, cheesy grits were ingested, and plans were made. Sunshine Skyway to Hell will tell you about the history of Tampa, profile local musicians, review local restaurants and shops, ponder the antics of some Tampanians, and just remind everyone what IS so great about the 813 (and surrounding areas). We are planning to post daily, so remember to check back soon. Our waitress at Ella's was the cutest thing ever, so we decided to ask her a few questions about living in Tampa.

Name: Alexandra Smith

STH: What is your opinion of Tampa?
AS: I really like Tampa. I just moved about a year ago from Vero Beach, Florida.

STH: Are you a native?
AS: I am a Florida Native and I have never seen snow.

STH: What is your favorite thing about living here?
AS: I like the culture...there's not much of that in Vero Beach. I think the people here are young, hip, and trendy. Not too many pretentious assholes.

STH: Would you cannonball off the skyway if our blog told you to?
AS: If there was money involved..yes. There is water under that bridge right?
STH: Yeah don't worry, you'll hit it.

Thank you Alexandra for being our first interview and being a great server. We will talk more about Ella's in the near future I'm sure, but until then here are a few photos of the tempting morsels we devoured yesterday. I apologize for the photo quality...planning is totally overrated. Next time camera shall travel.

We look forward to blowing your mind, having great excuses for dining out, and learning more about Tampa. If you have any ideas or would like to contribute, please contact us. Oh, and the Sunshine Skyway doesn't actually take you to hell, it takes you home.