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Posts Tagged ‘St. Petersburg’

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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’m a take your grandpa’s style, I’m a take your grandpa’s style.”
Macklemore & Ryan Lewis/Thrift Shop

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I look this photo on Tuesday and it appears the club is doing some renovating

I don’t know if writer Jack Kerouac ever visited the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club when he lived at 5169 10th Ave. N. in St. Petersburg. But in the last year of his life he lived less than five miles away. (Two of the places Kerouac visited while living in St. Petersburg in ’68-’69 are still open for business; Haslam’s Bookstore and the Flamingo Bar.)

But if Kerouac were alive today he’d be 95, I think the co-founder of beat generation would smile as Hipsters take over St. Petersburg, where they bike, have a drink or two, and occasionally play shuffleboard.

I began reading about the resurgence of the quintessential elderly game of shuffleboard shortly after the economy sputtered in 2008 and young people were looking for cheap entertainment. It was a perfect fit for hipsters who like riding single speed bikes, buying actual records, drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon, and sometimes wearing long beards or handlebar moustaches popular 100 years ago.

And it was just a matter of time before St. Petersburg inspired a new trend. A few years ago after a trip to the St. Petersburg Shuffleboard Club, New Yorkers Jonathan Schnapp and Ashley Albert raised the money to open The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Court in Brooklyn.

“Snow fell at a punishing slant across the darkened warehouses along Union Street in Gowanus, Brooklyn. It couldn’t be further from the sunny retirement communities of Florida, but inside one former factory, the spirit of St. Petersburg lived on…Brooklyn and shuffleboard may not seem like an obvious fit, but they do share similarities. Shuffleboard is a sport with a low athletic buy-in and offers plenty of time to drink between turns.
Joshua David Steins/New York Times in 2014

Back to the future…

P.S. For years the Friends of Jack kerouac House have been trying to buy the house that Kerouac lived in while in St. Petersburg. I saw where the house was sold in January, but I don’t know if the friends group purchased it or not.

Scott W. Smith

 

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USFSP

Yesterday I was a guest speaker for a production workshop at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg (USFSP). The campus is located in downtown St. Pete next to Tampa Bay.  These boats are used by the USFSP (often nationally ranked) men and women’s sailing teams.  The university also has close ties with the Poynter Institute located next to the campus.

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The Avalon Hotel is advertised as, “A boutique hotel in the heart of St Petersburg. A hip place to lay your head.” I don’t know if the inside is as cool as the outside, but it’s a touch of Art Deco South Beach in the Tampa Bay area.

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Scott W. Smith

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When I’m on the road I’m always attracted to the right lighting hit the right building, and that was the case of Trinity Lutheran Church in St. Petersburg, Florida. Driving by it’s impossible to miss those beautifully framed red doors beaming in the late afternoon light. img_8370.jpg

Scott W. Smith

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Yesterday I was in St. Petersburg, Florida and had lunch with a friend at The Moon Under Water which is a super restaurant with views of Tampa Bay. Before heading back to Orlando at night I had hamburger at El Cap also in St. Pete. They’ve been in business for 60+ years, but I was drawn in by their great retro sign.

ElCap

Scott W. Smith

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Postcard #107 (Downtown St. Pete)

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©2016 Scott W. Smith

It’s fitting that I was in the Tampa Bay area on the day that Fidel Castro died over the weekend. A third of all Cubans in America live in Florida. The majority of those of those live in the greater Miami/South Florida, but Cuban immigrants began coming to Tampa in greater number in the late 1800s often working and living near the cigar factories in Ybor City area.

Perhaps I’ll write more about Castro, Cuba and the movies on another post, but for today I’ll say that my views of Castro are shaded by those who fled after Castro took power in 1959, including one college professor I met who left behind everything in Cuba to come to the United States—arriving with 37 cents in his pocket.

The views of Castro are well summed up by Graciela Martinez in The NY Times Sunday,”For those who loved him, he was the greatest. For those who hated him, there was no one worse.” I went to school in Miami just after Mariel boatlift so I was definitely surrounded by people who did not love Castro or what he did to their homeland.

I imagine few would have bet on a 30-year-old exiled Castro arriving in Cuba via boat with Che Guevara and 80 other rebels in 1956 and not only overthrowing the government, but his communistic government staying in power to this day. And much has been written (and will be written) about the pros and cons of Castro’s legacy.  Perhaps the one positive thing most can agree on that flowed from Castro’s dictatorship is the 1983 film Scarface. (AFI’s #10 ranked Gangster film of all time. “Say hello to my little friend” is #61 on AFI’s 100 Greatest Movie Lines of All Time.)

But politics and movies aside, I love the Cuban/Spanish culture that you’ll find all over Florida from St. Augustine to Key West.

I took the above photo in downtown St. Petersburg over the weekend. Believe it or not, St. Petersburg is one of the most transformative, invigorating, an artistic cities in the United States. It’s like a mix of the best of Miami and Minneapolis with a little bit of a Marina del Rey/Santa Monica west coast vibe–and Spanish spices tossed in.  Call it The St. Petersburg surprise.

Home to several financial institutions, the University of South Florida—St. Petersburg,  and the Home Shopping Network, it’s also been ranked #1 in the Top 25 Mid-Size Cities for Art.  (In part due to the Museum of Fine Arts, the Chihuly Collection, and the Salvador Dali Museum.)

The USF sailing team finished sixth in the nation at The 2016 College Sailing Match Racing Nationals just last week. And sure, there’s still the world’s largest shuffelboard club in St. Pete (est. in 1924), but you’ll find hipsters there as well as retirees.  So when you read in Esquire New Brooklyn Gets Into Good Ole’ Shuffleboard, know that trend started in St. Petersburg.

Part of those St. Pete surprises.

P.S. If you ever visit Tampa make sure you eat at the Columbia Restaurant (Florida’s oldest restaurant) in Ybor City. In 2017, I’d like to cover more global cinema and look forward to getting caught up on Cuban movies made over the last 50 years.

Related posts:
Havana Daydreamin’
Coppola, Castro & Capitalism
Cuba to Key West

Scott W. Smith

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