Archive for the ‘Postcards’ Category

Well it was kinda cold that night
She stood alone on her balcony
Yeah, she could hear the cars roll by
Out on 441 like waves crashin’ on the beach
American Girl/Tom Petty


This sign for The Florida Motel is a piece of timeless Florida tourism that I love photographing. It’s located on Highway 441 in Gainesville, Florida not far from the University of Florida campus.

In ten years this sign will probably end up in a Manhatten museum— or a bar in Brooklyn.

Scott W. Smith

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Hippy House_7005.jpg

It’s not a hippy hill now—it’s actually a nice bed and breakfast area in Gainesville, Florida. But back in the ’60s and ’70s it got the nickname of the hippy hill because hippies lived in mass quantities in the then run-down Victorian homes on 7th Street.

In the home I photographed above upwards of 30 hippies called this home at one time. Legend has it that Tom Petty lived (crashed?) here for a while in the early days of his musical career when he made his living playing in the college town that’s home to the University of Florida.

Tonight I’m actually staying in a cottage next door that’s part of a different bed and breakfast and that’s where I first heard about Petty’s connection. Two doors down from this B&B is The Magnolia Plantation (photograph below) which before it was restored in 1990 their literature says, “Hippies and college students had inhabited it for 30 years. It was more like Animal House than a Victorian mansion.” They pulled out 20 mattresses and seven couches from this house before the restoration began.


I don’t know if any former hippies own any of these bed and breakfasts these days, but that would make for a pretty interesting story.



Related article: Gainesville: Where Tom Petty’s Dreams Began by Marty Jourard

Scott W. Smith

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I took this photo in an alley (complete with trash bins) while in St. Petersburg, Florida this week. There are dozens of large murals on buildings throughout the greater downtown area. This one by Derek Donnelly is located in the Northside Alley in the 500 Block of Central Ave. Here’s an interactive map showing where all of the murals are located and the artists who painted them.

Scott W. Smith

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“The only difference between me and a madman is that I’m not mad.”
Salvador Dali


Quick day trip to St. Petersburg, Florida today where I visited The Dali Museum. Because my mom was a middle school art teacher I grew up looking at Salvador Dali’s work in books. Trust me, looking at his Persistence of Memory as a young child will mess you up.  And if that doesn’t, seeing his film Un Chien Andalou (as I did in film school) will. What I didn’t know until today is Dali had a pre and post-surrealist period body of work.

His work was a mix of philosophy, science, and religion that’s mystified me my entire life. I’ve always said if I ever worked on a Ph.D. dissertation I’d want to do it on the brain and creativity. And I imagine that’s rooted in being exposed to the life and work of Dali and Van Gogh before I was 10-years-old.

P.S. Another thing you can’t get from books is the large size of some of Dali’s paintings.


Scott W. Smith

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Last week I was on spring break which explains my lack of posts, but tomorrow I’ll pick up writing posts on Ted Hope’s book Hope for Film.  (By the way, Hope is also active on Facebook  @tedhope.fanpage .) 

Here’s my favorite photo I took last week as I kicked around central Florida.


Scott W. Smith



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I’ll continue my run of posts on writer/director Greta Gerwig tomorrow but wanted to share a photo I took yesterday of a nicer than average Florida sunset.

As I driving east toward downtown Orlando I saw a man looking to the west with his camera pointed at the sky. “What’s that dude taking pictures of?” I wondered. When I looked into my review mirror I saw the sunset.

Knowing that sunsets fade quickly and that I needed something in the foreground. I drove about 100 yards and just stopped my car in the middle of the street by the Orlando City Stadium and got this shot with my iPhone.


Scott W. Smith

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Postcard #156 (The Blackhawk Hotel 2.0)

I can’t remember all the times I tried to tell my myself
To hold on to these moments as they pass
A Long December/ Counting Crows


When I was 12 years old I remember thinking it odd that I had yet to know someone who died. But that would all soon change. Then back in ’95 I had four family members die over the course of the year. That was a tough year.

I’ve known four people who’ve died just in the past month alone including someone today.

It’s hard for death not to make you melancholy.

Just before Christmas I learned that Dan Tindall had died. He was an architect in Iowa who in 2002 bought The Blackhawk Hawk in Cedar Falls with ambitious plans to renovate it. It really was a key piece in turning around the Cedar Falls Main Street into a quintessential Midwestern Main Street—with a modern twist.

For the last six years I lived in Cedar Falls my office was just a block away from The Blackhawk Hotel and Dan hired me from time to time do do some photography and video work to promote the hotel. (Including the above photo and video frame from a screen grab back in 2010.)

Dan was a conversationalist and fun to talk to as he’d always have a story about a trip to Turks and Caicos, the historic difference between a hotel and a motel, or an observation about human nature. I’ll always be grateful to Dan for comping me a room for talent I used on a short film, but more so for the way he supported the arts in the Cedar Valley and helped transform Main Street.

Earlier this month a portion of downtown Cedar Falls was named to the National Register of Historic Places. Dan and his wife Kathy didn’t need to spend their time and money renovating The Blackhawk Hotel, but I’m sure glad they did. Generations to come will enjoy the fruit they planted 15 years ago.

Related post:
Postcard #59 (The Blackhawk Hotel)

Scott W. Smith

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