Monday, November 30, 2009

Valet Park the Horse or Rider?

I don't know if the horse valet parked his rider and is waiting for him to be brought around, or if this gigantic horse is actually the valet.

Either way, $3.00 sounds like a bargain.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Still Stuck Up in the Open Position: Cass Street Bridge undergoing repair

The Cass Street Bridge over the Hillsborough River is still undergoing repair. After a state inspection by structural engineers, it was deemed "structurally deficient." Work on the $1.7 million project began in July and is still not completed. The bridge, built in 1927, is one of five over the Hillsborough River into downtown.

I photographed it before in color - kind of a wicked and wild modern color composition (click
HERE). This black and white rendition is 180% from that one. The minarets of the Tampa Bay Hotel (today's University of Tampa) are visible on the right.

Friday, November 27, 2009

SKYWATCH Friday - Season 4 Episode 20

This is 5:30 this evening as the sun just began to set in the west, behind me, and the skyline is almost devoid of clouds. Our weather is autumn-like and invigorating. After yesterday's Thanksgiving feast, it felt really good to be up early this morning and letting the dry, 47-degree air wake my over-fed body and mind.

Visit Skywatch Friday to see the beauty and wonders of the world's most magnificent skies.

It's always an amazing show presented by Skywatchers in cities, countries and continents around the globe. .

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Kissing Salt & Pepper Fish?

I couldn't make this up. These salt and pepper shakers, resembling kissing fish, stared at me throughout my Thanksgiving dinner today. I have two comments: (1) the pepper worked great (I don't use salt); (2) and the king's crown is a nice touch.

I bet NO one else shared their Thanksgiving meal with such artfully crafted companions.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Big, Fat, Juicy Mushrooms

These are not the type mushrooms I want on my plate for Thanksgiving dinner. They've literally sprung up from nowhere in the yards nearby. Like mushrooms do. And they're big...I'd say 4-5-inches across the top. Delicious looking, right??

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Big, Bright Trolleys Ring The Bell

This big, colorful image of one of the TECO Line Streetcar System trolleys fills an entire window of the Tampa Convention Center on Franklin Street. The original photo was taken as the car was boarding passengers at the Dick Greco Plaza at Franklin and Old Water Streets. I'm sure the little girl wasn't boarding alone.

Monday, November 23, 2009

What's a Cenotaph? See Apache artist Bob Haozous' Creation

This scene is of a new and unusual installation near the Tampa Bay History Center (shown as the background to this spectacular artist's creation.) It is a "cenotaph," defined as "A monument erected in honor of a dead person whose remains lie elsewhere." The city of Tampa joined with members of the Seminole Tribe of Florida on September 21st to dedicate this Cenotaph and Ceremonial Space just behind the new Tampa Bay History Center and alongside the Tampa Riverwalk and Garrison Channel. The city’s website,, offers the following description of the cenotaph and Ceremonial Space: “American Indians throughout the Western Hemisphere have a unique and rightful connection to place. The cenotaph and Ceremonial Space in Cotanchobee / Fort Brooke, marks such a place. Once a thriving center for ancient indigenous chiefdoms until invasions in the 1500s by Spanish explorers, and as an early 1800s refuge for Creek (now Seminole) peoples in fleeing south from Alabama and Georgia from invasion by a federal government, this space has been a nexus of alternating peace and struggle. Heavy with the memories of federal wars on the Seminole to force their 1824 removal out of Florida to territories west, this place becomes a meaningful place ground. The cenotaph and Ceremonial Space mark a time of peace and reconciliation with the land as an indigenous place.”

The foundation under and around the cenotaph is further described: “A circle formed of bricks is separated into four quadrants, each corresponding to one of the four cardinal directions and possessing a culturally-appropriate color; yellow for the East, red for the North, black for the West, and white for the South. These colors are also found prominently in the flags of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. It is a Miccosukee belief that life spins in a circle starting in the east and moving to the north, west, and south. Native peoples almost universally understand the directional colors.” Go to the city’s website for more detail and photographs that show the cenotaph more clearly, HERE.

The cenotaph's creator is the renowned Native-American artist, Bob Haozous. He was born in
Los Angeles, California in 1943, and spent some of his early years in Apache, Oklahoma. After service in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam war, he enrolled in the California College of Arts and Crafts where he received a Bachelors of Fine Arts Degree in Sculpture in 1971.He lives and works in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is a member of the Warm Springs Chiricahua Apache Tribe of Oklahoma. Museums that include his work include: The Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, The Philbrook Museum in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles, California. Several of New Mexico's museums also have collected his works, including: The Millicent Rogers Museum in Taos, The Museum of Indian art and Culture in Santa Fe, The Wheelwright Museum in Santa Fe, The Museum of Fine Arts in Santa Fe, The Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, and The Roswell Museum and Art Center in Roswell. Internationally, his work is in the collections of: The Westphalian State Museum of Natural History in Munster, The Dresdner Bank Collection of Stuttgart, and The Museum fuer Weltkulturen in Frankfurt. In Norway his work is in the collection of The Trondheim Sjofartsmuseum in Trondheim. In 1999, Bob Haozous was selected with eight other contemporary Native-American artists to participate in the exhibition CEREMONIAL at the 1999 Venice Biennale in Venice, Italy. In 2001, Haozous served as advisor and participant in the Native-American exhibition UMBILICUS at the 2001 Venice Biennale. The National Museum of the American Indian's inaugural exhibit "Shared Visions" in Washington, DC selected Haozous' sculpture "Apache Pull Toy." Visit his website HERE. His cenotaph and this Ceremonial Space are well worth visiting and spending time with. It's a beautiful setting to begin with (on the waterfront and just steps from the History Center) but it is so informative about our history and the original native people who inhabited the Tampa Bay area for thousands of years.

WELCOME: Tsutomu Otsuka is the newest Follower of Tampa Florida Photo. He is an award-winning photographer and editor in chief for the Kyoto Photo Press in Japan. His profile states that he uses digital but that he also “loves medium and large format film cameras as Rolleiflex, Deardorff View 8x10,” and other fine film cameras. He freelances and is a member of the Japan Professional Photographers Society and the Photographic Science Society Japan. His photography is impressive and demonstrates a great photographic talent.
Visit Tsutomu at both of his blogs: Stroll on Kyoto Gardens HERE
and Camera Works Blogger HERE
To learn more about his work and career click HERE.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

MONOCHROME: Boats big and small at rest

This is the scene at the docks behind the Tampa Waterside Marriott Hotel located on the Garrison Channel. Harbour Island is just across the water.

If you love to see your world in black and white, be sure and visit some of the most interesting people and places made possible by Aileni. Go experience the incredible photographic artistry each week HERE at Monochrome Maniacs!

Check out other great WEEKEND REFLECTIONS #9 HERE. James is making this possible through his blog, Newtown Daily Photo. His own reflections image today is awesome.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cracker Cow Camp at Tampa Bay History Center

This typical Florida Cracker family was encamped in Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park today as part of the Tampa Bay History Center's newest exhibit, Florida Cattle Ranching: Five Centuries of Tradition. From 10 am until 4 pm there were cattle, horses, modern-day cowboys who work Florida's cattle ranches, and a camp with tents and ranching equipment. The day began with a cattle drive down Old Water Street to the History Center and that was followed by demonstrations and reenactments of early Cracker life in Florida, crafts and storytelling. Carlton Ward, Jr., author and photographer, was on-hand to sign copies of his new book, Florida Cowboys: Keepers of the Last Frontier. His photographs of a Florida that most people, natives and torursts alike, know very little about, are outstanding; take a look HERE.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Reindeer's Recliner is Off Limits

Don't even think of messing with this reindeer's Santa-red recliner. See that look in his eye as he catches you just glancing its way. It's set up just for him with one side off and is ready for a big snooze after an exhausting night pulling the sleigh.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

UFO / Flying Saucer took root on Earth

This flying saucer is very real looking and has sat atop an adult nightclub in Tampa for over 30 years. It looks every bit as rough in person as my photo captured (this is from the back). Sitting exposed as it is in Florida’s extreme heat and humidity, maybe it's doing better then its designer ever imagined (NO, not a little green man - Finnish actually.) Other then being called the Flying Saucer by young and old alike, it actually started its intergalactic life with a real name from its manufacturer, the Futuro House. It's a perfect approximation of what everyone thinks a saucer from outer space looks like. It’s a round, prefabricated house that was originally designed and built in 1968 of fiberglass-reinforced polyester plastic by Finnish architect Matti Suuronen. A bit latter this one appeared and has stayed in place and firmly attached to the building and its own staircase ever since.

The following was posted earlier this year at Google Sightseeing by Alex Turnbull: “About 100 of the kits were erected around the world. Suuronen’s aim was actually to design a ski-cabin, one that would be “quick to heat and easy to construct in rough terrain”, and in this respect he succeeded – a Futuro House can be placed on virtually any terrain, requiring only four concrete supports, and thanks to the integrated polyurethane insulation and electric heating system, even in the most extreme conditions it only takes around thirty minutes to achieve a comfortable temperature inside. Despite the obvious awesomeness of these UFO-shaped homes, by the mid 70s they had been withdrawn from sale – although this was mainly due to the 1973 oil crisis, which had sent the price of plastic skyrocketing. Around sixty of the original Futuros have been accounted for over the years, but there are still many that remain undiscovered."

If you want to read more, click HERE to go to Futuro House and, with thanks to Alex Turnbull for his research, click HERE to read his full post on Google Sightseeing.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Bear of a Pilgrim

This really is a giant fake bear dressed as a Thanksgiving Pilgrim. I can't explain why he's barefoot but it could be he's trying to make the Native-Americans feel more comfortable around him. (This is a good story behind Mr. Bear but it doesn't have anything to do with Thanksgiving.)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Very Last American Convertible

It was over three decades ago that Cadillac, then still the world’s premier luxury car manufacturer (have we really changed that much?) announced that it would build the last of America’s convertibles. It seemed then that with all the changes the industry was undergoing that safety issues would be the convertible’s death-knell. Cadillac was at that time the last American manufacturer of the wind-in-the-hair drop top. General Motors’ Cadillac Division had only built 8,950 convertibles in 1975, so they ordered just 14,000 convertibles to be built for the 1976 model year. The “last of” hype was a big marketing theme that year. The massive, 2-½ ton, 1976 Eldorado was billed as the “Last Convertible” that General Motors Corporation, Cadillac or any American brand would ever build. Period. The 8.2-liter, 500-cubic inch V-8 would power this end-of-the-road behemoth like an ocean liner on wheels. Luxurious as ever, but a giant on the roads, it pulled into every gas station for a fill-up. America's biggest front-wheel-drive car, these 1976 Eldos were almost all ordered with every available option: front shoulder belts, signal-seeking AM/FM stereo, theft deterrent, twilight sentinel, tilt and telescope steering wheel, a hard “Parade” convertible top boot, and leather galore. The stereo system had more speakers then one could count. It was a magnificent ride with tons of power pulling you down the highway. In its day, nothing could touch it – don’t foreign or domestic. I had a red one (not the ’76 model year) with white leather and every time I pulled up to a restaurant or “nightclub” (it was the late seventies and eighties) the valet put the baby right up at the front door. One of those showpieces that they wanted customers to know was frequenting their joint. (Ha!)

Aside from special “preferred parking spots” at places a single guy might frequent in the day, my most memorable time behind the wheel was putting the top down, driving the Eldo to a lonesome beach at night on the Gulf, reclining in the living room size thick leather seats and cranking up the stereo. Stars were overhead, the waves were softly crashing and a perfect companion was sharing the view with me. Ah, it couldn’t have been any better. I was probably wearing a double-knit, paisley shirt with a collar four times too big and clunky shoes. (Yuck! I’m sure glad I don’t live in the seventies anymore.) I am so-o-o glad the “companion” has stuck with me all these years and still puts up with my addiction to odd and unusual automobiles and “classic” car shows. What an understanding sweetheart she is after all these years.

As every American (and foreign) driver knows, convertibles are available from most every manufacturer, world-wide. They’ve all addressed the safety issues that they thought convertibles presented and the joy of driving with the top down will never again go away.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Lights, camera, bird on sign

These guys were each armed with a camera to capture the exploding fireball of a sunset. After a few shots they spotted the seagull perched atop the sign at the end of the narrow breakwater. They took turns shooting each in the same pose.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Soaking in every last precious ray of sunlight

I would call these the family's perfect front row seats.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Remember the Ice Truck?

This scene from the 1940s-50s shows a common sight on streets in Florida; the ice company's trucks making their rounds delivering huge blocks of ice to homes and businesses. Before air conditioning and efficient refrigeration, Floridians depended on ice to keep food and beverages cold and fresh. Florida's fishing industry absolutely depended on ice to keep their catch fresh long enough to get it to a restaurant or ship it out of town or state.(Ice companies were a very profitable business and to visit one and feel the cold air behind the giant plastic curtains on a sweltering day was heaven, a quick trip to Alaska.) Early Frigidaires - which is all my mom and grandmother ever called their "ice boxes," used motors and fans to blow the room's hot air into and past the ice blocks and circulated it down and around food stored in the "ice box." It worked pretty well, but you still looked forward to visiting the big movie theaters, cafeterias such as Morrison's and some fancy department store like Maas Brothers for real air conditioning. Heck, I can remember going to one drive-in theater that offered air conditioning that attached to your car window along with the speaker. Pretty cool, eh? Most cars did not have A/C so that and buttery popcorn were the big draws...oh, and your steady girl to share the experience with.

This mural is another portion of one I posted yesterday of West Tampa's Main Street. The West Tampa Revitalization Corporation commissioned the mural in 1984. It is BIG. It covers two entire exterior walls of the recreation building at the Rey Park Center and Playground on North Howard Avenue.

Friday, November 13, 2009

In its heyday: Main Street in West Tampa

The West Tampa Revitalization Corporation commissioned this mural in 1984. It was painted by Carl Cowden and repainted in 2001 by Marie Crescenzi. It covers two entire exterior walls of a recreation building at the Rey Park Center and Playground on North Howard Avenue. It's quite detailed in capturing people and places in West Tampa's past and present. This scene is very likely a composite created by the artist using several photographs taken over the years. It includes a trolley, which no longer runs down Main Street. My guess is the car in the center is a 1950s Packard, but the vegetable truck on the bottom left is 1920s vintage. Moses White Bar-B-Q, the only retail sign that's visible in this section of the mural, was located in West Tampa from 1977 until it moved to Ybor City's 7th Avenue in 1987.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

On the hoof and on the wall

If you jump across the street to take this photograph, it'll really hit you. Overwhelm you. Can you smell the aroma of roasted pork? This is a don't miss destination for some of the most succulent pig in all of Tampa. LA Casa Sierra Meat Market is on North Howard Avenue at Main Street, just north of the interstate in West Tampa. As if the mural I captured on the Main Street side of the market isn't clear enough, this is MEAT market. But, that doesn't mean you have to take a couple hundred pounds of meat home in the back of a pickup. (Although they do sell whole hogs of any size you might want for the backyard barbecue.) They offer scrumptious prepared foods, too - breakfast, lunch and dinner - that should only add a couple hundred pounds to your waistline. Family owned and operated for over thirty years, La Casa Sierra Meat Market and Restaurant had the artist Juan Luis paint the mural. It is one of the most creative and fun walls I've seen. Where else will you find a huge hog, with an apple in his mouth and ready for the spit, decorating the outside wall of any establishment? Think.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Honoring our military veterans: For their service here and in foreign lands

I visited the American Cemetery and Memorial in Colleville-sur-Mer, Normandy, France, in November 2006. It is on the bluff above Omaha Beach and has a breathtaking view. It overlooks the area where troops of the U.S. Army, 1st Division and 29th Division, landed on D-Day, June 6, 1944 . It honors American soldiers and airmen who lost their lives during the landing and fighting on this stretch of French beach. Airmen who flew missions from English bases, as fighter and bomber pilots and crews, and the men who flew gliders and transports, are also buried here. The 172-acre site contains perfectly straight rows of white crosses and the remains of 9,387 American military dead. To look out over these crosses is a humbling experience. It leaves you speechless. I felt tremendous respect for each of these lives lost in service to our country. We honor these veterans today along with every man and woman who serves today, and those who have fought and died all over the world in defense of our freedom and liberty.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Hot, STEAMING Billboard: McCafe is steaming up the highways

Has anyone else seen on of these gigantic billboards, some 48-feet in width, advertising the new coffees from MacDonald's? It is a really tough photograph to pull off: steam rising from huge fake cups of coffee against a Tampa skyline while travelling at 60-70 mph on a congested and crazy highway. But, I did not shoot while driving but found a vantage point at ground-level that I hoped would help me capture the steam. While at the base of the billboard, which rises up to be seen by traffic on Interstates 4 and 275, in Tampa's downtown interchange area, I got to see the water contraption they use to create the steam effect. Pretty ingenuous. It does use reclaimed water, as is clearly labeled on the plastic tanks. The first time I saw the billboard and steam clearly rising off the tops of the cups, it's all I could can do to keep eyes on the road. (This is a major, heavily-trafficked interstate highway.) But, the steam off the McCafe cups does work - as a very creative visual device and a near traffic-stopper. Have you seen one? (P.S. Remember, I am a Starbucks addict. Sorry, MacDonald's. Love the billboard, but not so much the coffee.)

Monday, November 9, 2009

For this I left Jurzee?

Not every sea gull has moved south to bask in the glorious sunshine and to skip through the sand and warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. But enough of them have. That distinctive Jersey accent can be heard from one coast of Florida to the other, and even in between. Many gulls hang out in Ocala and even The Villages, but the Gulf beaches are their favorite address. That's why as I tried today to capture a representative image of Tampa, this fine looking fellow caught my eye and ear. It was kind of gray and overcast. It happens, OK? He wanted to know: Where's da sun? I'll head back up ta Jurzee and Elizabeth and home on da docks if you don't make da sun shine. Bright! Now! I couldn't argue with a transplant...a Snow Bird...a Jurzee native. (He hadn't even changed out the DMV plate on his tail.) Just look at that steely gaze. The tilt of his head. He's a serious dude. Would YOU argue with him? I promised to make the sun shine. What else could I do?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Weekend Reflections #7: Boat all tied up

Check out other great WEEKEND REFLECTIONS #7 HERE (that James is making possible through his blog, Newtown Daily Photo. - You must see New Hope, Pennsylvania in his reflections for this week.)

Saturday, November 7, 2009

U.S. Coast Guard to the rescue: CG UH-60's crew tackles the tough jobs

In 1976, the U.S. Coast Guard Air Station moved from Albert Whitted Airport in St. Petersburg to St. Petersburg/ Clearwater International Airport. It is the Coast Guard's largest air station with an expanded drug interdiction mission. This large ongoing mission resulted in the assignment of 12 HH-60J Jayhawk helicopters, the newest in the Coast Guard fleet, and boosted personnel strength at the base to its current level of over 500 men and women. The Sikorsky-built Jayhawks have search/weather radar, and can be equipped with a Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) turret that provides excellent night vision. (The U.S. Air Force and Army also operate versions of this helo.) They also fly the HC-130s stationed at the base. Their motto: "ANYTIME, ANYWHERE."

This U.S. Coast Guard helicopter was just one of the many interesting flying machines on display for the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association annual conference held over the last three days in Tampa. Boaters know them well and always welcome the sight of these helos and their brave crews whenever there is trouble on the waters of the Gulf and around the Tampa Bay area. I sat in the pilot’s seat and spent some time talking with the fine crew who flew it over from the base across the bay. The young, well-trained and brave crew perform some of the most difficult and dangerous missions that we ask of our military. And they serve proudly.

Friday, November 6, 2009

A commuter's dream

I found this extraordinary little aircraft sitting quietly in a line-up of 60 year-old biplanes, the Lockheed Electra L-12 flown in the Hilary Swank movie, "Amelia," and other less colorful and certainly less aerobatic aircraft. The others may have long and storied histories, but only this one, "Invictus," won First Place, Formula One Gold, in the 2009 46th Annual National Championship Air Races held in Reno, Nevada on September 20th. The pilot was Richard Thom of Kissimmee, Florida. The Cassutt "Invictus" is here at Peter O. Knight Airport on Davis Islands as part of the 2009 Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association conference being held through tomorrow at the Tampa Convention Center. The length of the plane, 16 feet, and wing tip to wing tip width of 15 feet, makes this the perfect occupant for your home's garage. What it lacks in fuel economy and range it certainly makes up for in sheer performance, lightning speed and plenty of g-forces. It's the answer to getting to the office or mountain cabin without delay.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Stearman PT-17: Our military's primary pilot trainer in the 1930-40s

The Boeing Stearman PT-17, Model 75, is a single-engine biplane, of which almost 9,800 were built in the United States during the 1930s and 1940s. It was designed as a military training plane and was the primary trainer for the U.S. Army Air Forces and U.S. Navy. It is one rugged plane and is much loved by thousands of pilots to this day. After World War II, thousands of surplus Stearman were sold on the civilian market and were often used as crop dusters and as sports planes. It was built to hold two, a student and the instructor. Its maximum speed was 124 mph (198 km/h), could fly about 500 miles (808 km) and flew at just over 11,000 feet (3,415 m).

This Stearman, along with almost a hundred other aircraft, are on display for three days as part of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association Aviation Summit being held at the Tampa Convention Center. The planes are part of the AOPA AirportFest at Peter O. Knight Airport at the end of Davis Islands.

When World war II began, my dad, who went on to career in the U.S. Air Force, was a cadet in the Class of 1944 at the Citadel, the Military College of South Carolina. Not long after the outbreak of the war, he joined his fellow cadets in leaving school -as an entire college class - to join the nation’s military. He opted to fly and received his pilot's training in a Stearman PT-17. From training in the single-engine biplane in dusty Texas he moved to MacDill Army Air Field in Tampa, Florida. He leaned to fly the Martin B-26 Marauder medium bomber, and before leaving for England and the invasion of Europe, he met and promised to marry my mom.

As an Air Force brat, I have always had a very special place in my heart for the Stearman, my dad’s first plane.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Flamingo guards the door

Don't even think of entering this exit door. It's an exit. Period. (Want to go up against this flamingo?)

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Dinosaur bones unearthed?

Actually, big conch shells like these are not that uncommon around here and after a number of years begin to take on that bleached look of ancient bones.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Your blow-up raft awaits you

Why in this watercolor scene is a cheap, plastic raft draped so intrusively in the rowboat. Perhaps the owner had little faith that his craft would make its last voyage so the raft was his insurance. Makes sense to me.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

MONOCHROME: Setting sail and REFLECTIONS on the HOT day

If you love your world in black and white, be sure and visit some of the world's most interesting places and experience the incredible photographic artistry of Monochrome Maniacs!

Check out other great WEEKEND REFLECTIONS #6 HERE (that James is making possible through his blog, Newtown Daily Photo.)