Category Archives: Uncategorized
We’ll be back Wednesday.
“The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies… is a foolish idea. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can throw the rascals out at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy. Then it should be possible to replace it, every four years if necessary, by the other party which will be none of these things but will still pursue, with new vigor, approximately the same basic policies.” ― Carroll Quigley
It’s really quite simple. Look, Donald Trump’s the presumptive Republican nominee. Great. But who counts the votes? Who runs the show? And if you think Hillary Clinton’s a liberal or progressive you must think fluoride in your water is safe or all vaccines are good for you or those funny aerosol hashmark patterns in the sky are contrails. Let me explain. Listen closely.
The demise of the Tampa Tribune. For my fellow Tampeños who lost our hometown newspaper, I provide the following.
Newer Tampa transplants and residents, who are now somewhat accustomed to Tampa’s diversity and patchwork mosaic of ethnicities and cultures, have no idea of the years of institutional resentment and, frankly, bias the old Flawda crackers (the native Floridian and not the white corollary to the dread N-word) held against the Tampeño as in Latins (as the great Roland Manteiga, who had his own historic beef with the Trib, referred lovingly to them.) N.B. Latins versus Latinos. It was palpable and tenable and actual and real. And the paper of record for those who not-so-secretly harbored disdain for Tampa’s Ybor Ciy and West Tampa contingent was the Tampa Tribune.
It goes back to the issue of who exactly was responsible for Tampa’s development. Who settled Tampa and as responsible for its heart and soul, was the question of yore. Was it the South Tampa self-styled and self-imagined wildly delusional and perception strictured “blue bloods” as in the Palma Ceia and Gasparilla pink pants parvenu prepsters named Trey crowd or was it the West Tampa and Ybor crew who were responsible for the cigar industry and Tampa’s actual flavor? I vote resoundingly for the latter.
Before Buckhorn there were Messrs. Nuccio and Greco, two monumental and historic mayors and pols. And during the tenure of the most capable and decent and honest of natural politicians the city ever knew, Hillsborough County’s State Attorney (for whom I was honored to serve) and now retired DCA Judge E. J. Salcines, the vaunted Tampa Tribune could never really grasp the fact of his honesty and overwhelming popularity and sacrificed many a tree to attempt to sully and subvert the record of this gentleman’s impeccable tenure of public service.
For the now (sadly) mothballed Tampa Tribune was in great part the extension of the perspectives and realties of its publisher Red Pittman and editorial board chairman James Clendinen, and therein in great part was the issue. The source of its tenor, the feel, the focus. You just knew these folks and the countless who supported them, saw Tampa as a corrupt Mafia haven with those interesting gentlemen whose names all happened to be appended with vowels ran roughshod. Now, any Tampa historian of note knows full well the other version of history where the additional corruption coconspirators whose names happened to be more respected and venerable and . . . well, cracker-esque. That was a different story.
Oh, and how folks capitalize on the rough and tumble lore of Tampa’s idealized gangster days. Everyone loves the Tampa Mafia story. We know it by heart and rote. You know, the dozen names who are recycled by fatuous fabulists pushing another Tampa paper or site hawking walking tours. I mean, how many Charlie Wall stories must we be subjected to? Yes, we know all about bolita and the shootouts. But if you really want a story, look to the political notables who looked the other way and actually covered up and shielded and protected these very scoundrels.
You really felt it during the Mad Dog Merkle reign of terror. How that bilious bully and lout ever served a day as U.S. Attorney still boggles my mind. And the courthouse scandal years ago along with those county commissioners nabbed redhanded were all too tantalizing for anyone to avoid and that was fair game. That fed the Tribune’s sense of mission, it provided their passion to ferret out corruption. Courthouse corruption. And after all, we all knew who ran the courthouse, now didn’t we? But, alas, they all failed to land a blow on the imaginary corruption machine and they have since evaporated and are now footnotes. The pitchforks and torches have at last been holstered.
To be blunt and most honest, as I am wont to be, I thought the Tribune more often than not a rag whose pages dwindled by the day. The Penny Saver soon overtook it in terms of content and heft. If you wanted fair or festival coverage, sports headlines and the saccharine and anodyne, it served its purpose. The St. Pete Times was always considered the more professional and serious of papers, even when it expanded across the bay and opened up its Tampa bureau that provided pure comedic relief on all too many occasions. But I digress.
But the Tribune great personality in its writers. Truly novel and unique folks who were the heart and soul of the broadsheet. And some were particularly great and beloved.
Tom McEwen was simply brilliant. His folksy and aw, shucks daily breakfast descriptions were brilliant as were his trademark and referenced volumes of food that were unimaginable and endothelially unhealthy. “After an angina-inducing breakfast of high octane Cuban Coffee, two poached eggs, a rasher of crispy nitrate-laden bacon, multiple slices of Ruskin tomatoes (picked by migrants at a time when we understood the contribution of the now dread illegal), an entire loaf of hot Cuban bread with the mandatory palm frond carefully removed and a glass of fresh squeezed Florida orange juice (natch)” – he never ran out of these classics.
Steve Otto would write about such deep subjects as lint and his beloved Frau but with an innocence and kindness that attracted us to his words. Nobody didn’t like Steve, to borrow from Sarah Lee. Walt Belcher was simply great as a TV critic. Just think about that – TV critic. The subject matter is endless and you’re reviewing an appliance that spews bilge. Bob Ross, who (let the record reflect) is not the fro’d and tranquilized TV painting instructor, who left us in ’95, was a truly gifted film reviewer. Dan Ruth – now Daniel Ruth PP (post-Pulitzer) – was simply the greatest voice Tampa had when it really counted. His incessant and brilliantly crafted screeds and indictments against the Glazers were perfection. And specific mention must be made of Howard Troxler‘s “Palm Tree Politics,” that, despite its cutesy cornpone title, regularly featured some of the most exquisite and laser-like political analyses the area’s had. Troxler, borrowing from an SAO colleague of mine, George Bedell, sported a bowtie for years which gave his already bespectacled mien an extra dash of academic panache. They were our Kemptons and Newfields and Breslins.
Those days are over. That’s why they’re called “those days.” It’s time to reconfigure the news delivery and platform system. New Tampans will never know those days when the city had an actual funky character with personalities straight from central casting. Especially now when they don’t have the guts and intellectual wherewithal to see the necessity of investing in transportation and infrastructure. But I digress yet again.
And one more thing. It’s Tampa. Not Tampa Bay. One’s my hometown, the other a body of water.
The American public is distracted, detached and distanced from anything that we vaguely recognize as relevant. And who can blame us? It’s so much easier to talk of the pol who cuts a pizza slice with a knife and fork versus the patented pleated fold. Or seeing Madame Hillary fumble with a NY subway Metrocard to travel two stops in her sudden connection with the masses. We’re a country who knows nothing, feels nothing and appreciates nothing. That involves intellectual heavy lifting. And concern. Alas.
LIONEL PODCAST: Of Course Americans Know Nothing When They Obviously Don’t Read, Comprehend or Care About Anything
Americans are too busy. Too busy taking pictures of their food and selfies and being self-absorbed and self-focused, bathing in a warm narcissistic glow. And when it comes to getting deep into certain issues, especially those that might be construed as being conspiratorial in nature (translation: true), you might as well change that channel, Sparky. We’re busy. But how we love to bask in the delusion that we’re news junkies, possessed of an elementary understanding of the working parts of multitiered issues analysis. Pshaw! Have a nice day.
LIONEL PODCAST: Lionel In “House of Cards,” Mentulate References on the Campaign Trail and the Demise of Relevant Politics
Lionel is in Season Four of “House of Cards.” It’s classy, brilliantly written and possesses one of the most diabolically elegant plot lines ever to grace any screen anywhere. And then it occurred to me – If it actually contained a character portraying the GOP candidate for POTUS who held up his hands and assured the world that his phallus was indeed gargantuan, no one would believe it. It would be too low brow and coarse for fiction! Think about it; this is what we’ve become.
SPOILER ALERT. Behold.
LIONEL PODCAST: Super Bluesday, Illusion of Choice, Mindless Sycophancy, Patellar Obeisance and a Multi-Dementia-nal Electorate
Super Tuesday. Bluesday. A sad day. Distorted and disconnected. The worst popularity contest in the world with no bases of platform or positioning. The politics of entitlement and obfuscation. Wall Street shills and warmongers. Egomaniacs with an ax to grind and a chip on their soldiers. (You read that right.) Go ahead, Murica! Vote, select. Enjoy this twisted franchise. You’ll see. You’ll be sorry. You’ve been duped again by the illusion of choice.
To vote implies a valid selection for an election. We have none. Vote #LionelNation in a write in. The horror that faces this country and world for that matter is incomprehensible. That is all. And vote. For me. What do you have to lose?
The consummate style maven. Style, not fashion. Big difference. Even in this 1976 mugshot David Bowie’s bespoke and flawless. Herein is my eulogium to the consummate chameleon. And a word on Sean Penn, the unwitting dupe of CIA, DEA and the narco-trafficking subterranean economy. You’re welcome.
What do you see? In the sky, that is. If you say no nothing, we really need to talk.