Sunday, June 9, 2013

#ROW80 SUNDAY CHECK IN – POST 14 – ONLY ON NEBRASKA AVE., 33602, 33605, 33604, ETC.

I believe I've mentioned that everything that can possibly happen has happened here on Nebraska Avenue, whatever the zip code. As I roam around pretty much within these 3 zips, it's safe to say, I've seen just about every kind of human failure, vice, venal and cardinal sin committed, along with just about every sort of human kindness, sacrifice and altruism given in aid as well, not as part of someone's job, but because someone cared and ached for a fellow being.

That being said, lots and lots of weird things happen and just plain, WTF? of the unfathomable variety. Laziness? Because you could? What part of no did you not get? Case in point being the famous hole in the counter between the registers in the Sweetbay Pharmacy. The hole is 2” across; not very big. People kept throwing garbage in it and it was a real pain in the ass for the pharmacists' assistants to get the little wadded-up pieces of paper and gum and lint and what have you out of the hole.

Look how happy he is! He's just waiting for you to throw your linty mint, chewed-up pencils and broken hair barettes in here. (Frankly, when inanimate objects start doing this, I'm outta here!)

The easy solution? They started out by writing “DO NOT USE THIS FOR GARBAGE.” Less than 20 feet away is a perfectly good garbage can for, ohbestillmybeatingheart: garbage. I know; right? Garbage kept magically appearing and the pharmacists' assistants kept having to dig the little wadded-up pieces of paper and gum and lint and what have you out of the whole.

The thing escalated. Next, one of the assistants put a medicine bottle that just fit in the hole. You could still see the “DO NOT USE THIS FOR GARBAGE.” This did not deter are garbage squirrelers or throwers, or lazy assholes, or whatever. They removed the bottle, and dumped their little pieces of wadded paper, gum, lint and what have you, so the pharmacists' assistants would now have to remove the bottle and dig out all of the day's debris.

Someone finally got pissed enough, after 2 years of this shit and put about 6 pieces of duct tape over the bottle, so that if some garbage scofflaw wants to get rid of his or her pocket trash, they will either have to peel off 40 minutes worth of duct tape, which will get them beaten to death by an angry Pharmacy department, or walk the 20 feet to the real garbage can. When I heard all of this, I just shook my head and said, “Only on Nebraska Avenue.” Two of the assistants live near me and they howled. They knew what I was talking about.

This is pretty much how we roll here. From shoe-guy on the bus, to slum landlords who think bedbug control is using a 1200 degree heat gun on your mattress, completely missing the "oops, my mattress caught fire" factor, taking bets on how long it will be before someone violates parole and ends up back in the slammer and the ever-popular bus stand game, "Can I have a dollar?" No. "Can  I have fifty cents?" No. "Can I have a bus pass?" Shut up. "Can I have a dollar? ...

This was taken from my porch. I face east. Directly south of this house is the homeless shelter where I lived, before moving here, when I received my disability. It's a magnificent house; there's a plaque on the front explaining it's history.  This is where Teddy Roosevelt stayed at times when he was mustering the Rough Riders, a volunteer corps. After the Civil War, there were not enough soldiers to engage in the Spanish-American War. There was also a fierce debate raging in Congress regarding interference in foreign affair. Isolationists v. Imperialists, so, Teddy took his own road.

Which brings me to my next story. There is a house across the street. It is a magnificent house. Theodore Roosevelt stayed in this house, when he was mustering troops, who later became renowned as “The Rough Riders” before they left for Cuba to fight in the Spanish-American War. They arrived in Tampa in 1898. The Rough Riders are still around, and each year for several years, I played “Mass in Timeof War,” By Franz Joseph Haydn. We would play on Veteran's day and the Rough Riders would come; we donated some of the gate to their cause, for homeless children.

The Rough Riders, circa 1898. The staircase leads to the Grand Ballroom of the University of Tampa. I have played in that ballroom many, many times when I was Principal Viola with the Tampa Bay Chamber Orchestra. The acoustics are marvelous!

A little diversion here, because that's how I roll. I always sat first stand and partnered with a fellow from Curtis freaking Institute. Julliard is Curtis's bitch, if you get my drift. William is an awesome player, and of course, he makes me play like I came from Curtis (ha!) but it's axiomatic, you play better when you're with better players. Anyway, we had to have this choral conductor who was no Dr. Charlene Archibault, or Sir Colin Davis, or James Levine, and certainly no Maestro Anton Coppola. Dr. No (not his real name) did nothing but scowl at us. But, he would never tell us what made him scowl. Sometimes, he'd have less of a scowl, sometimes more. After one of our last performances, William said to me, “What's up with him? He always scowls at the violas, but never tells us what to do to make unscowlable.” I said, “Dunno, but did you notice he had plenty to say about every other section. Mebbe he's just pissed 'cause we don't suck.” William and I shrugged and went off to our next gig, “Santa Claus in Whole Notes, Cause We're Violas.” Great use of that performance major. But, I digress.

This is close to the same image now. Check out the minarets. 

Anyway, that magnificent house has quite a history. I housed a high-class madam and her “hoors” for several decades. The mayor and the Chief of Police were frequent fliers there, I hear. Also, once upon a time, this town was pretty mobbed up by the Trafficante family, who had some dealings with a character named Jack Ruby. The Trafficantes pretty denied much any association with him and some of them are still around, but they engage in honest commerce.

Back in the 70s, I believe the house was sold to the present owners who completely gutted it and restored it back to its original state. It has been named a historical sight and is one of the key key attractions of V.M.Ybor (pronounced ee-bor) which is a part of Ybor City, just to the southeast of Tampa proper. V.M. Ybor's neighborhood association is a weird combination of young professionals and hoodlums. Very eclectic. The V.M. Ybor association had to fight like hell to get it named a historical monument. One for the good guys.

I love the piano. It doesn't love me. I had to take a semester in college and I managed a little Chopin and some Beethoven. I got to Rachmaninoff and had a crisis. I'll stick to the viola on ol' Rocky. That's tuff enuf.

Anyway, the guy who now owns the house has a bunch of musical instruments and he had bought himself a new piano. Either an upright grand or baby grand. He had it tuned and then they had to move it into the house. On the second floor. Understand, I'm a bit sketchy on this, because this is lore and happened about 25 or 30 years ago. So, the owner gets himself a piano mover, who is using an... I don't know what. Forklift? Crane? Magic? Whatever he was trying to use, it didn't work and he dumped the piano right spang in the middle of Nebraska Avenue. Other than being out of tune, the only thing that broke, was the little knob on the lid one uses to open and close the thing. Only on Nebraska Avenue. Actually, I say that, but what I'm thinking is this, “they know about pianos on Nebraska Avenue?” Sometimes, the people here make me wonder if they know about fire or the wheel.

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