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Archive for the ‘Postcards’ Category

“I had done some country [music], but more sort of tongue-in-cheek.  I didn’t really think I had a talent for country. I don’t think I was really interested in doing country until I met Gram [Parsons] and he really made me see the subtleties of it and the poetry in it. And singing with him I think really taught me how to sing.”
14-time Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Emmylou Harris

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Last night I went to a young musician showcase at Gram Parsons’ Derry Down in Winter Haven, Florida (about an hour west of Orlando). The venue is named after Gram Parsons who was born in Winter Haven and used to play in that building back in the 1960s.

Parsons went on to be in two bands (The Byrds, the Flying Burrito Brothers) who were influential in what would be known as folk rock and country rock/alt-country. Bernie Leadon he became a founding member of the Eagles when they formed in 1970.

“I think in particular, Poco and the Flying Burrito Brothers were influences on us because they were right there at the Troubadour. We got to see them play live and watch what they were doing and check out the harmonies and check out the songs they were writing or doing.”
Glenn Frey of the Eagles

Parsons died in 1973 at age 26 cutting short his opportunity to be more widely remembered for his music than his influence. He did spend some time on the folk music scene in Boston with the International Submarine Band. His last band was Fallen Angels. And somewhere in between, he became friends Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones who said Parsons was a “natural soul brother.”

“I think [Parsons] was just getting into his stride when he died. His actual output — the number of records he made and sold — was pretty minimal. But his effect on country music is enormous. This is why we’re talking about him now. But we can’t know what his full impact could have been.”
Keith Richards
Rolling Stone magazine, “100 Greatest Artists” (Parsons was listed as #87)

P.S. Singer/songwriter Jim Stafford, known for his ’70s hit songs Spiders and Stakes and Wildwood Weed, and who has a theater in Branson, is also from Winter Haven and played in a band with Parsons when they were in high school.

Scott W. Smith

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Many know of Gainesville, Florida simple because it’s the home to the Florida Gators football team. Lesser known is the name at the top of the University of Florida football stadium that reads Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.* Griffin was a former UF  who became an orange grove baron in Frostproof, Fla. with an estate worth an estimated hundreds of millions when he died in 1990. He and his family have been significant donors to the school over the years.

Years ago I once produced a video for his extended family and came across footage of an old interview with Griffin that’s always been one of my favorites. Since he started with just 10-acres of oranges he was asked what was the secret of his immense financial success. He smiled and said, “Now I don’t know if I’ve failed more than I’ve succeeded, it’s just that my successes have outshone my failures.”

I imagine any honest biography would echo that thought. And may it be true of us as well.

In the bottom left corner of the photo I took yesterday are three top Gator players (Danny Wuerffel, Steve Spurrier, and Tim Tebow) who each had their share of successes and failures, but are best known for being Heisman Trophy quarterbacks who also were on national championship teams as a player or coach at Florida.

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*The full name of football stadium is now “Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.” But that’s a mouthful so many just call it by its nickname—”The Swamp.”

Scott W. Smith

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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

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This sign for The Florida Motel is the kind of timeless Florida tourism that I love photographing—as I did today.  This weathered sign is 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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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.

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I don’t know if any former hippies own any of these bed and breakfasts in 2018, but that would make for a pretty interesting story.

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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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Postcard #159 (Dali Museum)

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

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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.

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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.

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Scott W. Smith

 

 

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