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Posts Tagged ‘Florida’

Postcard #167 (Christmas 2018)

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Merry Christmas.
(I took this photo last Saturday in downtown Deland, Florida.)

Scott W. Smith

 

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Writer Jack Kerouac died in St. Petersburg, Florida in 1969. On Monday I drove by the last house he lived and took a photo. Neither the photo or the house or anything special, but it was something that I felt compelled to do after receiving my master’s degree from USF, St. Petersburg the day before. (I was drawn to Kerouac’s writing when I was 20-something because he was the first writer that I knew that had a football background.)

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The Last House Jack Kerouac Lived In

There are a lot of homes and hotels in St. Petersburg that are special because they reflect that fine era of the 1920s & 30s.

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Private Residence

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The Vinoy Renaissance Resort in St. Petersburg

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The Don CeSar in St. Pete Beach

St. Petersburg is also special to me because it’s where my father’s remains are buried in Bay Pine Cemetery, so I made a stop there on Monday as well.

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Bay Pines National Cemetery

The nice thing about being in St. Petersburg in December is you get to experience a taste of Christmas St. Petersburg style.

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St. Pete Santa

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Nothing Quite Says Christmas Like a Rhino with a Wreath

In Tampa, the Oxford Exchange is also decorated for the holidays…

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Oxford Exchange in Tampa

…and it’s where I picked up my first pair of Warby Parker glasses. Look for them in the video I hope to begin releasing in early 2019.

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Demo Pair of the Sullivan Frames in Saltwater Matte

Of course, the tie-in here is the Warby Parker name is pulled from some names that Jack Kerouac wrote. Overall I had a whirlwind weekend in the Tampa Bay area to finish two years of chipping away on my M.A.

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Go Bulls! (Fall Graduation 2018)

P.S. Post-Thanksgiving I was pushing to finish a final project and final paper so my blog posts were sporadic—but starting tomorrow I’ll get back on the bull and finish the year strong with some help from the late William Goldman.

Scott W. Smith

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“I set out to tell the truth. And sometimes the truth is shocking.”
Tennessee Williams

As a preface to part three of my interview with screenwriter, Clare Sera part of what I referenced was Orlando in the ’90s had a lot going on in the arts. Here’s a quick overview:

Movies— Parenthood, Passenger 57, Waterboy
TV—Nickelodeon, From Earth to the Moon, The Mickey Mouse Club
Theater —SAK Comedy Lab, Mad Cow Theatre, Central Florida Civic Theatre
Music— Matchbox Twenty, Creed, Justin Timberlake

Scott: When you were involved in improv in Orlando in the ’90s did you cross paths with Paula Pell, Aaron Shure, and/or Bob DeRosa. 

Clare: I know them all well. Yes, I love them all.

[Note: Paula Pell went to New York and ended up writing hundreds of comedy sketches for Saturday Night Live and the screenplay Sisters, Aaron Shure won an Emmy producing and writing on Everyone Loves Raymond, and Bob DeRosa is in LA where he wrote the screenplay for Killers.]

Scott: What do you think was going on in Orlando at that at that time?

Clare: Orlando was just kind of waking up at that time so it was kind of cool. And all of them were with SAK.

Scott: I didn’t know they all had a connection.

Clare: They all did. I remember making Paula improvise which she was just terrified. She was a little more comfortable with sketches and writing sketches which has worked out quite well for her. Bob DeRosa came to SAK and started his own improv team. And Aaron, of course, was an improvisor at SAK also. So yeah, there’s a big Orlando contingent out here [in LA]. A big one.

Scott: I think a lot of people believe “If I have a movie made…,” “If someone buys my screenplay….” that it will cure all. Do you have any last words on having a life beyond the movie world?

Clare: I know it is a little bit cliché, but it’s really only cliché because it’s that same truth that said over and over, but those wishes that come true or those goals or dreams [realized]—they are so fleeting. And it absolutely is fun. [The release of Blended] absolutely was joyful blip my life but it really was a blip. And it is my relationships that are my actual life, that is what my life is. For me it’s God in each one of us, that’s what I’m spending my life doing—just being in a relationship with people. And it is the most important thing so when a blip happens whether it’s a great blip like a life dream comes true and Adam Sandler makes a movie— that’s a blip. That’s great. If it’s a terrible blip like a dear friend suddenly dies, it’s your relationships that are there before and after, and you cannot sacrifice them when those blips occur. Especially the good ones.

Scott: I hope you get a couple more blips.

[Note: I did this interview in the gap between the release of Blended and Smallfoot. So she did have another blip.]

The original idea for Smallfoot began with writers John Requa and Glenn Ficarra, was developed by Warner Bros. by several others writers before Clare and James Kirkpatrick ended up with co-screenwriting credits.

In a Creative Screenwriting interview with Brock Swanson,  Kirkpatrick says Smallfoot is about “the truth as we make it up to be.” In a flip of the ole bigfoot legend, Smallfoot challenges the village belief that “There is no such thing as a smallfoot.” (A human.)

Kirkpatrick said the BBC radio show The Tyranny of Story helped shape the direction of the story as they explored the concept of the power of story on a community, and ultimately the question What is truth? became a part of the film’s theme. (A question that, as I write this post today, is quite popular in the village known as America.)

I love the humanity of writing. Especially if it’s screened in an actual movie theater. We all go into a dark room and watch the flickering images and then we all laugh at the same things, cry at the same moments, and we all come out talking about this character or that theme. It’s such a shared humanity.”
Clare Sera
Creative Screenwriting

And that concludes the non-mythical journey we’ve looked at the last three days of how Clare Sera was born in Scotland, raised in Canada, cut her comedy chops in Florida, all on her way living in LA and having a hand in writing a Hollywood film that was number one at the box office on Sunday.

P.S. Since 2001, Clare has also been volunteering lead and plan workshops with WriteGirl (@writegirlLA)  Their website states, “WriteGirl is a creative writing and mentoring organization that promotes creativity, critical thinking and leadership skills to empower teen girls.”

Scott W. Smith

 

 

 

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“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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“Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero to me. ”
Fred Rogers

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If you time it right next Tuesday you can catch the unusual double feature of Mr. Rogers  (Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and Full Metal Jacket at the Enzian Theater in Maitland, Florida.  Catch the documentary on Fred Rogers at 6:30, grab a food and a drink at Eden Bar, and then catch the Stanley Kubrick war classic at 9:30. (Therapy afterward optional.)

How many times will you get to do that in your life?

I had the opportunity to cross paths with Fred Rogers twice in my life. The first time was in 1997 when my wife was playing a piano duet in the music building at Rollins College.  As my wife and I were talking after the recital Mr. Rogers came up and said to my wide in his super nice and friendly manner, “I really enjoyed your music.”

Mr. Rogers also played the piano and went to Rollins College where he met his musician wife. She later received a book from him with a nice note.

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My second Mr. Rogers encounter was when I was taking photos at the Rollins Chapel carrying equipment and he opened the door for me. It was like having Forrest Gump open the door for you. (Speaking of…Tom Hanks will be playing Mr. Rogers in the movie You Are My Friend coming out next year from a script by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and  Noah Harpster. )

Fred Rogers received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 1998 and may have taken one of the more unusual routes to Hollywood Blvd. He born in Latrobe, Pennsylvania (where golfing legend Arnold Palmer was also born) and after Rollins attended Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and became an ordained Presbyterian minister before launching his TV class show Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. 

Here’s a little Mr. Rogers inspiration for you today.

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P.S. In the early 60s (1961/1962) author and theologian R.C. Sproul was starting his training at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary just as Fred Rogers was finishing his education there. In 1971 Sproul started the Ligonier Valley Study Center in Stahlstown, PA. (Stahstown, Ligonier, and Latrobe are all neighboring towns within a ten-mile radius of each other.)

Sproul later moved to Orlando and in the 90s when I was just a few years out of film school and looking for “Hollywood East” I produced many videos and a radio program with Sproul and he told me he’d gone to seminary with Fred Rogers.

Proving once again that it’s a small, small world with many surprising twists and turns.

P.P.S.

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Won’t you be my neighbor? (“Full Metal Jacket” version.)

Related post:
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Hollywood East (written after R.C. Sproul died last year)

Scott W. Smith

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“Context and memory play powerful roles in all the truly great meals in one’s life.”
Anthony Bourdain

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Saturday night I had an enjoyable meal at Isabelle’s located at The Historic Peninsula Inn in Gulfport, Florida. I took this photo the next morning because I knew it’d be bathed in the early morning light. (The blue sky was a bonus.)

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I thought a lot about Anthony Bourdain over the last few days since hearing about this death. I enjoyed his shows and how he balanced talking about food, travel, movies, and culture. While I have traveled extensively throughout the U.S. and overseas on various productions, my entire career probably looks like a slow year for Bourdain. One article I read said he was sometimes on the road 250 days a year.

No need for me to read into his death, but I’ll miss seeing him explore far (and near) places. His work continued a thread in my life that started when I grew up listening to Jimmy Buffett’s music. A desire to see the far side of the world. And sometimes just the far side of the United States that are sometimes in our own backyards.

So when I pulled into the small art town of Gulfport (next to St. Petersburg) there was a spirit of discovery there that just made my short trip enjoyable.

Related posts;

Parts Unknown Part 1

Parts Unknown Part 2

Parts Unknown Part 3

Parts Unknown Part 4

Parts Unknown Part 5

Parts Unknown Part 6

Parts Unknown Part 7

Parts Unknown Part 8

Parts Unknown Part 9

Parts Unknown Part 10

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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