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Posts Tagged ‘St. Petersburg’

“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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DSC_1801Tampa

Over the weekend I was finally able to see a movie at the Tampa Theatre (in downtown Tampa, Florida) which is one of the most beautiful settings to watch a movie in the United States—maybe in the world. I say finally because the theater was built in 1926, and while I’m not quite that old—it had been on my to-do list for well over a decade. I arrived early because I wanted to look around and was not disappointed.

Keep in mind that it was built in the era long before the internet, television, and even before the Great Depression. So this is a grand and ornate building complete with peacock statues, gargoyles, and twinkling stars. And I had the great thrill of hearing their Wurlitzer organ not only being played live before the movie started, but the organ and the organist unexpectedly coming up out of the grand on a moving platform. Before the movie even started I had my money’s worth of entertainment.

Keep in mind that back when the theater first opened that movies were the main form of entertainment, so every week as the Tampa Theatre website points out, “more than 90 million Americans were going to the movies every week.” If you’d ever like to be transported back in time to connect to early cinematic history the Tampa Theatre is the ideal place to go. In fact if you live in the greater Tampa Bay area—or will be visiting the area in the coming months—you have the opportunity to see The Wizard of Oz (June 7), Key Largo (June 14), Back to the Future (July 5) and/or a contemporary art house film in grand style.

Here’s what the outside of the Tampa Theatre looks like.

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P.S. My father moved to Tampa in the 1970s and ran Smith Advertising in the area until he died in 1995. So over the weekend I was able to retrace some of the places where I have many fond memories. If you’d like my Ferris Bueller’s Day Off—version of how to do Tampa Bay in a day or two here’s my list:
Eat at the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City, drive along Bayshore Boulevard and explore the Hyde Park Village area full of craftsman homes and a small shopping area.

Saint Petersburg which used to be the shuffleboard capital of Florida is turning into the Austin of Florida—hipster heaven. And why not, writer Jack Kerouac (On the Road) not only lived there for a spell, but died there in 1969. You can go sailing in the morning, visit the Dali Museum in the afternoon, get a tattoo, and catch the sunset in St. Pete Beach while eating at Hurricane Seafood Restaurant on Pass-A-Grille.

And, lastly I should mention, if the Tampa Bay Lighting win tonight they will be in the Stanley Cup Final. So you could always fit that into your schedule if you can get tickets.

Scott W. Smith

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