Wednesday, April 20, 2016


This is the first of my last batch of posts that will be written and produced on my old, old friend, and IBM Thinkpad, that I salvaged from my landlord, who works best with a hammer and is 80 years old. Out of nostalgia, after I repaired the thing, I offered him 50 bucks. He took 10. Okay, I'm a hell of a negotiator.   

My landlord salvaged this out of some junk heap. All I did was load an OS onto it, and tried to give it back to him. He looked around at my "computer lab". I said, I'll give ya 50.00 bucks for it." He said, "10.00. okies?" Okies. You can't kill these things.

Anyway, (like you're in the edge of your seat for this riveting story), I'm trying something with C++ on my souped-up septa-core. Corrupted heap at fal-de-rol blah blah blah. Blargle. I overclocked the CPU, which is no sweat for this puppy, but I have to back up, and go step-by-step to fix. All of this is for a gaming site, which I am apparently going to have a real job doing, so this requires Knowledge (which would actually work for #AtoZ and got a "K" letter out of it, but is dry as sand for no one who gives two farts for heaps, corruption, stack overflows, and sector). Since I'm batting 1.0000 in these types of things, it will be fixed.

I wish Miguel would find these in some junkyard. Introducing the IBM Glue gene Mainframe; puts the Cray to shame. I stood up against the side of one of similar style once, and the power flowing through them is amazing!

The other reason I'm doing this, is I'm going to be splitting Tampa, Nebraska and my environs for a week or so, and want to take this puppy on the road, thus want to make sure it's serviceable and that I'll be able to post something besides colorful crap that I can create and upload all day in PAINT. No one wants to see my horrible drawing; it's worse than my photography, which Lee McAulay over at #ROW80 insisted would get me hired for Paranormal TV. It's THAT bad and apparently genetic. 

I have not clue one as to what I was taking pictures of, why or when, but it was probably at night, because I am up mostly at night. Suffice it to say, they exist, and they were in my camera, so I must have taken them. The fool camera is one of these little cheap knock-offs that says it does everything. It does, but not well and it's a bitch to figure out. I couldn't find the really good one that I took of the stove in the dead of night, with no lights on and no flash. That one there is one hum-dinger of a photo!

I don't believe that I ever saw my dad pick up a camera, but my mother had no qualms about picking up a camera and taking a picutre of any old damn thing. Her favorites were meaningless pictures of the sky, with no landscape, so you didn't know if it was sunrisee or sunset and you were left with that timeless quality of just . . . clouds, in varying shades, close-ups of just. . . rocks because they were "interesting"; they weren't. Pretty much every rock is just like another, and people from the neck down, so she was either finding friends in Witness Protection Programs, or she was just too damn short to realize she was beheading all of her subjects. 

Of course, we all waited with baited breath, everytime she came home with a new batch of abominations, so that we all had something to have a good howl and screech over. She wasn't exactly thrilled when I went to Japan and came home with 11 rolls of film, that were just. . . bridges. I got a few people in shots, by accident, but I told her, "Well, the apple doesn't fall too far from the tree." She thought a moment, when went "True. . ." Just because we knew our limitations was no reason to put down the camera.


I have seventy-billion pictures of stuff like this in my mom's effects. Cats doing various amounts of nothing. The ginger cat, named "Dwayne" actually looked like a stoner and sat like that all the time. I'm not sure who the other cat is, but he/she looks to be in mid-stroke; I'm guessing it's some form of playing. I am equally bad, if not worse when it comes to taking pictures of felines.

Of course, we always had cats, kittens, or kittehs. I have some of the most random shots ever of cats that she photographed. They always look drunk. I'm not sure how one pulls that off, but she was damn good at it. I can't get my cat, Mama, to do all those cute little things that she does and get any kind of decent picture. I must have 147 pictures of the back of her head. Most of the time she wants to lie on my mouse hand and grab my arm and go to sleep. This is all fine; I put a towel over my arms, because she does grab on.

Alex and I speculated about the kitteh population in and around Nebraska Ave. Before I moved here, I had never seen cats with the types of markings that these cats have. It's like they were all designed by a committee of exterior decorators. They're all part calico-tortoise-shell-tabby, with patches of solid color and/or white thrown in and there are about a zillion of them.

I do think that Mama is the Matriarch, or at least one of them. She has been spayed. We saw to that after we adopted her and her very last kitten was killed by a motorcycle, but she has two sons from previous litters who show up to visit and they have very similar marking akin to hers. 

A picture of Mama when she's actually looking at ME. I've since taken 83,749 pictures of her ass, her feet, the back of her head, but I've yet to get another head shot.

If you go on an evening stroll on some of the more secluded streets in V. M. Ybor, there are entire streets, where mini-Mamas are just lolling about on the streets. If you try to approach them, they run off to their owners' houses. The people have made a very good effort at controlling the cat population and adopting the strays, but the gene pool here is singular.

A bit farther to the east, in Ybor City, there is a lovely breed of cat that originated there, called the Havana Brown. These cats are so, so dark chocolate, that you cannot tell they are brown unless they are in direct sunlight. They are rather small and the few that I have known are feisty little cats, but wonderful to behold.

These are some of my more recent attempts. We're either getting ready to pass into an alternate universe, ala "Fringe", or I was having a really bad day with my essential tremor. In truth, she just KNOWS when that damn camera is coming out!

Mama kind of rules the places around here, and she can be a little con artist. For several weeks, she was letting me know that she didn't care for her dry food and that she really wasn't all that crazy about the wet food I was feeding her. I was pulling my hair out, trying to find something this elderly, cranky cat would eat. I would give her some bits of rotisserie turkey that I got from the deli; bits of cheese from my sandwich. I made some home-made meatballs; she liked those. Then, last Sunday, I walked into the kitchen, and caught her chowing down on her dry food. She looked up at me, with a look that said "I am sooooo busted!" As my friend Jeremy says, "That's cats for ya!" Indeed.

Monday, April 18, 2016


There is nothing quite so cheery anywhere on earth than Christmas on Nebraska Ave. Random strangers who snarl at each other the other 364 days of the year, snarl “Merry fuckin' Christmas!” at one another wearing Santa hats and pajamas on the bus. The other 364 days, they only wear the pajamas. Just because they're wearing those flannel draw-string pants with some plaid that has long been erased into oblivion by layers and layers of dirt, does not make them pants. They're pajamas, guys and gals. Oh, and also, your Dollar Store slippers are not shoes and since you've been wearing them since 1987, you force the damn bus drivers to keep the bus temperature at -32° F, so the bus doesn't smell like a hog farm. TAKE A BATH!!! You know who you are.   

I'm trying to figure out how in the HELL a bunch of Scots ended up in the Cuban Christmas parade, but then these are not Wallaces and Wallaces barely recognize anyone outside clan Wallace as being a Scot, although we ourselves did not originate from Scotland, and. . . never mind.

But, their Santa hats are brand new. Given out at every damn soup kitchen in the area, they all proudly wear them, even the Muslims; I guess everyone is feeling the spirit. The buses are all gaily festooned with garlands of holly, which invariably start to disintegrate and become misshapen, so that the buses look like they have porn 'staches, or a case of worms.   

I'm really glad I don't live across the street from this guy. The only guy that is worse, is this guy, with his dubstep Christmas crap.

People around here do decorate their houses and most gaudily, too. I cannot imagine what their electric bills must be like. I like looking at all of the lights up and down my street, but I do nothing, not because I don't like Christmas, but O ye Jigs and Juleps! Electricity is expensive! Since my street is inhabited by mostly Hispanic families, they really go all out to see who can put up the gaudiest of light displays. There are some doozies.

Of course, Walmart, being Walmart around here, got it totally wrong and hauled out all of their Easter crap. Check out this picture.                                  

I can just hear the marketing Einsteins at Walmart: "Well, it has some Jesus stuff in it doesn't it?" "Yeah, but the trees and tinsel never arrived." "Here, put out this giant pink bunny and a buncha colored eggs and some of this here purple and orange grass; no one who shops here is bright enough to figure it out."
The only thing better than Christmas on Nebraska, is New Year's Eve. Everyone hauls out their 9mm Glocks, AK-47s and goes to town, along with the firewords displays. We also have a penchant for celebrating New Year's well into February, or if it's a particularly good start to the year, March. We've been known to celebrate the 63rd of January, regularly and a fine time is had by all!   

Christmas time in wonderful Ybor City. They really do put on a wonderful show!

Sunday, April 17, 2016


Yeah, yeah; I was going to write about Historical buildings, but there's been so much written on it and it's so boring at this point, what fun is that? I've got some history, but I also have my own take on some of the dwellings, huts, edifices, superstructures, but not ziggurats, and some domiciles that inhabit V. M. Ybor (pronounced ee-bor, not eye-bor, as this moron did, when first exploring the place), and Ybor City, which we are cheek-by-jowl with, and in some confused way, a part of.

So, let's get started with this nightmare. It's on the corner of 15th Avenue, or Columbus Avenue and Nebraska and it has no windows, no doors that I can see and I never see any activity, although I did notice cars parked in an adjacent lot, one evening. It could be anything, since this is a mixed-zoning area. The more prosaic guess is some kind of hum-drum manufacturing of small bits of metal doo-dads goes on here, but I'm not the only one who thinks this is a scary building.


This building doesn't look that ominous in the daytime, but the fact that what windows it did have are painted over, and I can see no egress or ingress, is creepy to me. Mebbe the workers tunnel in, or climb a ladder in the back and enter from the roof. Crappy working conditions, if you ask me.

Two violinists of my acquaintance, who drive me regularly to and from rehearsals and concerts have both commented on the more sinister aspects of it's appearance. Of course, we're usually viewing this at night, when we've been plowing through something like Mussorgsky's “Night on Bare Mountain” and are a bit jumpy to begin with, so perhaps we are to be forgiven for our hesitance to ascribe anything benign going on behind those sinister walls. My best guess? Bad juju as there is a Haitian church nearby and this is where they make zombies with that scopolamine we sell them at the “Farmer's Market Gun and Knife Show”. We have no one but ourselves to blame, when the missing neighbors lurch north and start trying to munch on our body parts.


This is more a case of the building isn't scary, but what's in it is. When you have people who are basically bored and shiftless, you're bound to have trouble.

Now that we've sorted out that mystery, we can go on to something that is truly scary and does truly exist. Take a look at this purple number. It's a supposed “halfway-house”, although I have yet to see a halfway-house with an attached bar that is open during the day. When I was homeless, one of my roomies, who didn't have a screw loose and I would walk to the library with one of the guys who liked to read; safety in numbers, and all that.

The first time we passed on the same side of the street as this place is on, 42 guys all came out and in various states of sobriety, or sanity, cat-called us all the way down to the library. I might mention that there were women who live in this squalor, too, although, I think this was just the prospect of fresh meat. Guys were hanging off the roof of the bar, off the porch and just making all kinds of noise. After that, we either walked on the other side of the street, or even safer, took the bus.


Checkers: Proudly serving you 4-day old grease, heartburn, strokes and heart attacks since forever.

I know that the police go to that place much more often than they ever went to our shelter, and I'm pretty sure that is a place, where you could get ANYTHING, up to and including fissile material to make your own nuke, if you had the brains. It's been that same god-awful color since I've lived here. They've either cornered the market on “Midnight Blue” or it's more than likely paint full of lead, judging from the way the inhabitants act.


Checkers of the Damned. Once you've shuffled off this mortal coil, who says you stop craving those grease-and-bacon burgers, and spicy-oily fries? I think you just change venues and come here for your Happy Meal!

Next on our guided tour is this curiosity. I'm not even sure that this building was ever opened, or why it was painted the way it is, but Alex and I speculate all the time. I personally think that because this is such an old neighborhood and that there are regular paranormal activities going on, that this is probably “The Checkers of the Damned”. We just can't see all the ghouls and ghosts, as they are in the spirit realm. They coast through in their Christine cars and order wormy slug-burgers with crispy toads' feet, and drink minty, or vanilla ectoplasmashakes.

There's a Checkers for live people right across the street, and the ghouls, being Nebraska ghouls, set up shop there, thinking they'd give the other Checkers some competition, and then they went “oh... wait... yeah. We're dead.” and shrugged their little ghost shoulders. I'm sure their service is just as horrible as the live Checkers; the staff flirt and yak on their cell phones and make drug deals. A person could starve to death, or just eat a few meals there and let the cholesterol kill you. Either way, you're gonna end up at “The Checkers of the Damned” sooner or later.   

This is how the house looked during it's Roosevelt-Truman-brothel and apparently "Paul's Tourist Home" era. I've been inside this house and up and down and all over it. It's a wonderful house full of nooks and crannies and the trim and original fixtures are marvelous. Some of the rooms are roped off, because they are designated historical sites, where Teddy and Harry laid their heads, and just their heads. At least I think so.

So, now that we've established that V. M. Ybor is full of hysteria, we can also establish that it's full of history – as is anything that is more than a decade old. My dear friend (okay, my “pretend adopted son) Alex, lives across Nebraska Ave. from me in a house that is considered the heart of V. M. Ybor. It has been declared an historical building and anyone who owns it, has to put up with many, many regulations to fulfill the “restoration clauses” of the house. Alex rents a room there and has been there forever.

What's interesting about this house is that Teddy Roosevelt stayed there and used the University of Tampa as his staging area to muster his troops; the “Rough Riders”, for the taking of San Juan Hill in Cuba. Ole Teddy mustered the 1st United States Volunteer Cavalry, which was one of three such units raised in 1898 to participate in the 1898 Spanish-American War. President William McKinley called for the volunteers, because the American Army was so poorly understaffed after the Civil War.   

The white house as it looks today. It is a stunning house, both inside and out. My pretend adopted son, friend, Alex lives here in one of the rooms upstairs.

Teddy slept in the big white house, while musterin, as did Harry Truman. Truman also has a “Truman White House” in Key West. Truman, apparently, loved Florida. The house also gained notoriety as being one of the finest brothels in the country, but I'm hazy as to when this was, and I'm thinking that it may not have been when Roosevelt or Truman were sleeping there. Or maybe it was and that's why they slept there. Who am I to judge?


One of the many beautiful houses that grace V. M. Ybor. They probably don't have nearly the vivid past that the white house does, but they are pretty. Most were built in the 1920s to 1940s and have gone some kind of renovation. They are typically built "shot-gun" style, with the rooms in a line to take advantage of the breezes, as the homes were built before A/C was a thing here in Florida.

But, the real heart of Ybor, meaning “Ybor City”, and not V. M. Ybor, are the Cigar factories and now, the micro-breweries, which are on the edges of the tourist district. People flock to Ybor City for it's fine Cuban and Spanish cuisine and the night life. I used to play with my string quartet there, almost every night in the tonier restaurants. It's within walking distance from where I live, but it's a world apart.


I love to tell the story about the Washington D. C., national journalist for HuffPo, Jason Linkins, who was sitting in a bar in Ybor City during the 2012 GOP convention. He was tweeting about the pizza and beer he was drinking. I was busily “live-blogging and tweeting” the convention from the comfort of my blogging chair, as if I were at the convention. When we got to the “family values” part of the speech some nameless gorm was making before nominating Mitt Romney, I tweeted, “Yup, some family values. Nebraska Ave looks like a Hollywood Premiere with all them damn stretch limos running up and down. Guys looking for crack 'n' ho's!”

I tweeted that to Jason, and he is one of the very finest iconoclasts I've ever known. He said, “ha ha ha ha ha ha.” We tweeted back and forth a bit, and became Twitter friends; the man knows his political shit! Thus, a years-long friendship was born. I admitted later, I was just making shit up, except the part about the limos. That was true and it was before noon. Guess the GOP wives were getting their hair done, or some shit.

Just more history. Just more hysteria. 'Cause, Nebraska Avenue.

Saturday, April 16, 2016


Letter “G” is for Gardens; in this case “Community Gardens”. To be even more specific, our very own V. M Ybor Neighborhood Association, which to clarify, is an historical association, not one of those ass-hat associations that won't let you have pink flamingos in your yard, or any of that nonsense. Hey, if you want that chartreuse house, just go right ahead. Just don't be surprised to come home one evening to find all the doors glued shut or have your house full of angry bees, just kidding. At least, we're not like THOSE guys on the other side of Nebraska who will just burn it down around your ears, if you dare to paint it puce. M'kay?

Anyway, they do things their way, and we do things our way, which is with brisk efficiency and it runs like clockwork, from what I understand. I'm not allowed near the garden, because just the shade thrown by my form has been known to kill plants, so I admire the pictures. Everyone is invited to participate and because we live in Florida and from my own experience, I know that tomatoes are the first to be planted. There are work days and days where they plant cover crops. Kim Headland and now, President Kelly Grimsdale, periodically send out links to the University of Florida's Planting Almanac.

Kelly allocates the plots or half-plots to interested parties and they go out and “farm”. The community garden does put out a lot of vegetables, but they do plant bulbs for flowers and plant some trees, I believe.

I went looking for some picture of our Garden and I didn't find any. . . *

*Everything from here on out is made up whole cloth, except for the part about Daddy and his Venus Flytraps.

At this point, I've not heard back from Kelly, and I believe the reason why is she is planning one of her fabulous porch parties for this evening. So, from here on out, everything you read is shit I made up, since I really am kryptonite to growing things, unless I am accompanied by an adult over the age of 21.

We grow a variety of things in our Community Garden, the most prolific of these are Venus Fly Traps and those hideous Corpse Flowers that bloom every 100 years and smell like a dead human corpse. We're all still waiting for a crop of those, since we only planted some 55 years ago. I wouldn't know, since I was only 5 years old at the time and living in Muskegon, Michigan, driving my Daddy crazy, as he was my primary care-giver at that time.   

Venus Flytraps. Lovely to look at and pretty fascinating. They'll be really still, and then one will just snap shut.

They already look rather ominous though. I particularly like the Traps. Did you know that if there are no flies around, you can feed them bits of hamburger? I know this, because I got one for my Daddy once for his birthday. It thrived for years on his desk at work – true story – and we fed it mealworms, live. Flytraps get most of their nutrients from the sun, however, and we found that you cannot fertilize them or use tap water, so my Daddy kept distilled water at his desk, along with a few meal worms to feed his traps. They never got very big, but they were pretty neat. Anyway, I digress.    

The aftermath(?) of the Corpse Flower bloom. You can see why it attracts flesh eating insects and beetles. Ick.

The Corpse Flower is a nightmare that grows taller than a man and blooms every 36 or 100 years; wiki is fuzzy on that. This is either because no one can stand to be around it to count the years, or the smell just kills anyone instantly in close proximity when the bastard finally does bloom. The reason it does stink to high heaven is because that stench draws beetles and other insects that eat flesh! That's really special!   

This is the flower in bloom. Still not a fan.

We also have some Skunk Cabbage, which got planted because someone got confused and ordered those seeds instead of “Small Cabbage” seeds. These charmers have some edible parts, but most of it is poisonous and it smells like a skunk on steroids. The poison is particularly nasty, in that the calcium oxalate is extremely corrosive and it burns into the flesh and causes organs to shut down, WITHOUT ingesting it. Ooooh, fun!

This looks pretty, but it's basically napalm in plant form.                 

Then, in our Garden we have the “let's fake out the tweakers and druggies and play practical jokes on them at the SAME TIME!” group of plants. We have some Giant Hogweed, which looks suspiciously like weed; da ganja, or mary jane. However this little number can destroy a human being through the cooperation of an extraterrestrial agent – the Sun! The Hogweed is photosensitive, and it oozes a thick sap upon contact and almost immediately, the sap reacts with the sun and basically becomes napalm. This leads to necrosis and formation of massive, purple lesions that can last for years. The Hogweed can grow up to 8 feet. I can just imagine some of these potheads around here stumbling around and finding this gem at night and rolling a doobie. Gives a new meaning to “lit up”.   

Last, but not least, we have a lovely patch of Angel Trumpet vines, which truly are lovely to look at. On it's own, it's the least dangerous of the “practical joke” plants, but in the hands of someone who knows what they're doing, it's a dark and heady brew of toxins – atropine, scopolamine and hyoscyamine. The scopolamine can be refined and used on people who remain conscious, but have no recollection of what they are doing; they become “zombies” and it was originally used as a “truth” serum, but various agencies and may still be used as such. As an aside, it was used by anesthetists until safer drugs were formulated for use during surgery.

Us'ns on the way to the "Farmer's Market, Gun and Knife Show". My Wallace photography gene has gotten so bad, everything comes out in sepia tones, now.

Anyway, we grow these wonderful crops, and when they're all grown up, we enter our Garden into the “Better Guns and Gardens” competition and invariably win. We then harvest – carefully – everything, throw it into a Conestoga wagon, hitch up the oxen and haul it off to town for the “Farmer's Market, Gun and Knife Show”. After we we've emptied our wagon, by selling, bribing or threatening the patrons in buying our wares, we head home. It's been a long day. . . Tomorrow? Hysterical Buildings.

Thursday, April 14, 2016


Before I begin today's post, I have sent letters to the A-to-Z “School” explaining the current absence of letters “G” and “H”. Some drunk took a whack at the intersection of Nebraska and Floribraska (tis the season, because this happened last year, a bit earlier and 2 years ago around this time) and managed to take out the neighborhood's electricity. Also, I have requests to two of my association neighbors regarding our community “F”arms and our “H”istorical buildings and they haven't replied yet. If they don't respond by Friday, I'm just going to make shit up whole cloth and let them deal with the fall out.

Letter “I” is for Ink, as in tattoos and there are many around here of vastly differing qualities, just like the people. We have folks who sport winged steeds on their biceps. Pictures of their loved ones are a big hit, especially if the loved one is deceased. This tends to make me cringe, because portraits of a live (now, dead) person seldom do that person justice. They tend to look rather melty, or kind of unreal, as if they know they're not really supposed to be there.

It's the thought that counts. Right? Right?

When I was homeless, most of the women had tattoos everywhere, calves, thighs, backs, butt cracks and breasts and I'm not sure if they were part of a biker gang at some point, or just what the deal was. In certain circles, it's really popular for a woman to have her child's name tattoo'ed somewhere on her body. I'm not sure if this is in the kid's honor, or if this is just so she can remember his name. Although, some of the names are downright hard to forget and I am not making these up: Quandarious; I bet he's got a brother named Dillemius, Summer; which wouldn't have been so bad, except “Summer” was a guy doing 20 upstate. Knowledge and Beauty Fingers, who used to come and visit Mama in the shelter. They were twins, weighed 700 pounds between the two of them, and were dumb as posts. So, tattoo'ing your kid's name on your ass, or wherever is probably a harbinger of bad things to come.   

Someone actually paid money for this and I'm not sure which parent. This just opens up a whole new line of questioning: was the parent who didn't get or pay for the tattoo pissed? Were they happy with their purchase? What is this poor child going to think when she grows up and brings home a date and Dad busts this out? When Dad walks her down the aisle, will he be wearing a sleeveless Tux, so everyone can see how she turned from a hideous tattoo, into an okay-looking human being? My head is a-whirl.

Then we had the do-it-your-selfers. Most of these came straight from prison or at least a jail cell and could be down-right unrecognizable and undecipherable, although, since it's been several years since I was in that situation, I discovered that prison art has developed to an extremely high form of art and some of it is incredible. The ex-cons I met in the shelter were some of the most interesting, forthright and funny people I met there.

There was one guy in our shelter we called "Crazy Bill" and he wasn't just a few pieces of coal shy a full hod. He only had some dust rattling around in his hod. He babbled worse than I do and made zero sense. I at least would eventually get to some point. I can't remember what kind of idiocy he'd committed to get him sent to prison, but it couldn't have been too bad, he was only there for a year. He got this charming tattoo of his dog and I can't for the life of me, remember the dog's name, so "Fido" will do. The ink-pen smear appeared to me to be more of a house-fly, rather than a house-pet, but we all admired Bill's tattoo and said, "Yup, that's one mighty swell tattoo. I think I can see an eye." Bill was determined to hook up with Tiger Wood's ex-wife. He thought that she would just swoon at the sight of him and they'd live happily ever after. I wonder how that's workin' out for ole' Bill.

They'd already lost everything and they were trying to put their lives back together. They owned up to all of their mistakes and would spend hours telling stories about their time inside and about what had gotten them sent to prison in the first place. But, their tattoos were hilarious and they knew it. There were the usual L-O-V-E and H-A-T-E on some ex-cons knuckles, but the other ex-cons thought that was just beyond trite. They usually had the name of some girl tattoo'ed on their arms, or an indecipherable blob that was their favorite pet. My very favorite one, was the guy who had a gal named “Polly” and the tattoo artist had inked “My <3 belongs to bolly!” Even he laughed at that.   

My mother had a tattoo, and my father, although he served in 2 wars, once in the Army in World War II and in Korea as an Air Force Captain, did not. I do not have a tattoo, although I thought about it seriously for quite a while and then decided not to. I have only one ear piercing on each ear and that is the extent of my body modifications. I'm fine with that. It is interesting though to see people who are in their 60s and 70s with tattoos they've had for 40 and 50 years and try to figure out just what in hell that is they have tattoo'ed on their neck.

Monday, April 11, 2016


First off, before I get started, I must apologize for my absence. My ISP, Verizon, made the “business” decision of selling all Florida accounts to Frontier, which I have never heard of. The reason I have never heard of them is because they are owned by *gasp* AOL – America On Hold. It took me three days to set up an account and pay my bill, but during that time, the internet went out. Seeing as I do not get out much during the weekends, I was stuck. Mea Culpa. I still have the same infrastructure as before and the service/speed seems to be good. I have a year left on this contract. We'll see how it goes. Time to get caught up!

Letter “F” is for Flea Markets! Flea Markets are ubiquitous on the world's landscape and they all have their own unique flavor peculiar to their part of the world. So it goes with the Flea Markets on and around Nebraska Ave. They tend to have an international flavor along with the down-home southern style of all the fried food you could possibly want to speed you on your way to your next heart attack or stroke, or just increase your waist size.   

This all looks delicious! But, it's all about 9 jillion calories and it's designed to catch you at your weakest; after four hours of shopping and you're hungry and thirsty. Give me 2 of these whatever-they-ares and a 128-oz Big Gulp!

There are also many fine things to be bought at the Flea Markets, along with pets, so you can probably bring fleas home with you, inadvertantly, or advertantly, if you wish, knowing that Fluffy or Mittens is going to have to have a Flea Bath, along with shots and de-worming. People sell all kinds of things at these Flea Markets and many make a decent living doing so. These folks are a step up from the “Entrepreneurs” and many of them started out there on the streets, before they earned enough money to rent a booth for the 3 or 5-day markets that thrive around here.

Hand-raised birds for sale seem to be a big item at the International. A few people sell them and I'm not sure how much they are. Probably cheaper than buying at a pet store, but certainly expensive. You can also buy the caged variety; finches and parakeets that squawk and beep, for much less.

The International Flea Market that is on Fowler Avenue and Nebraska Avenue is huge and in an old mall and open from Wednesdays to Sundays. From the outside it doesn't look like much, but on the inside? OMG! It's heaven to Flea Market mavens and has the distinction of having a couple tie the knot there! I think that's pretty cool, really!

I'm guessing these two met at the International Flea Market and wanted to tie the knot where they met. Pretty sweet and sentimental!

You can get anything from 3 dollar sunglasses which last about 3 days to computers. The guy who has the computer boot is pretty savvy and he fixes them, too. We've spent a lot of time talking about his computers. There are lots of booths, that look like hobos just picked up a bunch of junk by the side of the road and are attempting to pass them off as tools, but they don't look like any tools I've ever seen.

For 2 or 3 dollars, you can have the coolest looking shades ever, for, er 2 or 3 days. Me? I have several pair of those heave FBI sunglasses that are dark as sin. I order mine from the same company that sells me my canes. I look like this now:

My character in RS3, SpZViolaFury, co-Leader of Clan SpiritZ. It wasn't until I got the glasses that I realized I had the same hair-do and glasses in real life. Our clan is 11 years old (10 of which I've been a member in) and we are highly respected. I am, of course, a total derp and am merely a figure-head, even if I am maxed as a combat player/slayer. 

We also have the “fun-lan” Drive-in flea market, which doubles as a Drive-in movie theater at night and functions as a flea market from Thursdays until Sundays and they have a festive neon sign they love to show everyone!

Doesn't this just scream "fun"? It really is a nice time, but I'll go there in the daytime, thank you. I'm 

The fun-lan Drive-in is currently showing Batman vs. Superman, or vice-versa and after howling your way through the movie, you can buy antiques (real ones), fresh produce and locally produced arts and crafts. It has been rated as one of USA Today's “10 Best Swap-and-Shop” places in the country and it has a carnival-like atmosphere as well. You can also buy the same carny food that we all love to chow down on, just don't overdo it, your doctor will hate you. For giggles, fun-lan has an fb page, and the comments are hilarious, especially the one about the woman and her sister who went to see “50 Shades of Grey” and were in proximity to the lone guy in his Corvette... it's worth a read.

But, this is what's going on INSIDE the building of the fun-lan! Check out the cars, and look at the band! There's an arcade and just all kinds of fun things to see, buy and do, even if you hated the movie! It is easy to see why it is the USA Today's "10 Best Swap-and-Shop" places in the country!

These are the two biggest that are closest to me that don't require some huge trek out into the outback. There is one more way out east of Nebraska, called Big Top Flea Market, but it's practically a clone of the The International, and several of the vendors will have more than one booth at each. There is another Flea Market that is note-worthy for it's very unusual items in Oldsmar, Florida, which is one county over, that my mom and I used to visit when she was alive.

But I really enjoy the International Flea Market for its Nebraska Crazy (a wedding!) and the ambience, and the fun-lan for the occasional unusual or really arty item you'll find that was made by someone local. Fresh produce grown by the denizens around here are also offered. We have a thriving Farmer's Market(s) that are supplied locally, and our little neighborhood society, V. M Ybor contributes in it's own way, which will be the subject of my next post.

Thursday, April 7, 2016


Letter “E” is for Entrepreneurs, but not the kind like, oh say, Donald Trump and his ilk. No, these are the street entrepreneurs that pop up just about any old place. All you need is a blue tarp, probably left behind by FEMA, after one of our many hurricanes in 2004, something to drape said blue tarp upon and if you don't have any aluminum tent framing, a bunch of 1x1 sticks duct-taped together, or a 40-foot ladder that you bought from 4 guys one night, MAY work, but you'll have to be damned clever to pull that off, and a spot to set up shop.

This is kind of what our street Entrepreneurs look like, only not as prosperous. They usually have a card table, with a very small selection of crappy CDs, and crappy dresses, maybe. But, they're just starting out.

Usually giving 5 bucks a day to some gas station or one of the festering eye-sores' parking lots, that we refer to as “strip malls” with their mostly-closed stores, or “antique” shops that are mainly picked-over junk from Goodwill boxes that the bums didn't even want will serve as your spot to conduct business.

And boy, howdy, do we have a selection of goodies to tempt even the most jaded shopper. CDs that are a bunch of randomly mixed ghetto hip-hop generated on a Casio, with an electronic drum loop. The lyrics go something like this: “Yo... yo, yo... Bang! Bang!” (Repeat eleventy-billion times) And we're all excited to hear the dance version that goes on for like, fifty minutes. Most of these CDs are ripped off from some other ripped off CD and are chock-full-o-bugs. So, you can count on having to call your local computer geek (that's ME!) to get your shit fixed, so that you're not always getting that crappy FBI page and nothing else when you boot up your laptop.

I found this on the sidewalk. The entire playable side is totally scratched up, so I never tried to play it, but you gotta love the title. Also, the first time I tried to insert JUST this picture of the CD, it boogered up my blog post, so you gotta know this thing is just chock-full-o-bugs!

The TPD keeps an eye on these budding moguls because they also sell Spice which has been known to have the nasty side-effect of causing the user to eat other people's faces, and they also are supposed to have some sort of license to sell their goods if they are not selling from home. I'm going to take a wild leap here and guess that our budding "The Donalds" don't have homes to sell from. When you talk to them, they often mention that they're opening a new franchise somewhere else, but they are kinda iffy on the details on “the somewhere else” part.

This is the Velvet John Wayne picture I saw at the street Entrepreneur's "shop" the day I visited. I'm not sure what period of The Duke's career this is supposed to represent, or if it is a catch-all for all of his many phases; The Quiet Man, The Conqueror (Mongolian Cowboy), True Grit, or the War Wagon. The Duke also seems to be missing his right eye, or maybe the artist got tired and needed a lie-down before completing his masterpiece. We will have to content ourselves with guessing, which also may have been part of the artist's intent.

The ones who have stepped up their game are also selling crappy dresses for 10.00 a pop and God Forbid, painted velvet rugs, ever so classy, somewhere. They offer painted tigers and Jesuses, and John Waynes, which look nothing like the real John Wayne, nor are they even vaguely humanoid. I had to ask the proprietor, out on the corner of Hillsborough Avenue and Nebraska Avenue if I was looking at early Picasso. He had no clue as to what I was talking about, but he did ask me if I would like to buy some Spice. I said, “Hell no, I'm tripping bad enough on this painting. What or who is this?” He rummaged around and looked at the back of it, “Is John Wayne. Famous American Cowboy!”

I passed on the John Wayne and all the crappy dresses and the horrible CDs. But it's fun to go and see these guys. The following week, his little shop had moved elsewhere. I wish him prosperity and luck with his endeavors, but lose the Spice, dewd. It's dangerous!