From South America to Standing Rock — Daniel’s arrival to North Dakota

My life partner and frequent work companion, Daniel Veintimilla, landed a special gig this week assisting representatives of Amazonian tribes visiting North Dakota.

An Ecuadorian friend referred him to Weaving Ties, a South America-based network of social organizations dedicated to the management of forest territories in Asia, America and Africa.

(Daniel, for those of you who don’t know us intimately, was born/grew up in Ecuador and became a U.S. citizen in August.)

According Michel LaForge, a spokesperson for Weaving Ties, flags from all the different nations will line the entrance to the Sacred Stone camp with tents and tipis everywhere, adding that the Indigenous Environmental Network and Sacred Stone Camp were notified of the leaders’ arrival.

Arriving from  Lima, Peru, leaders from Amazonia and Central America will meet at the third Amazon Summit. Two representatives  — Candido Mezua, from the Embera nation, from Panama, and Adolfo Chavez, from the Takana nation,  from Bolivia — are delivering a message of solidarity from Latin American indigenous groups to people in Standing Rock.

They come in the name of the Mesoamerican Alliance of  Peoples and Forests (AMPB), which represents 10 organizations from five Central American countries, and the   Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Amazon River Basin (COICA), which represents indigenous organizations from nine countries.

This resistance campaign, many say, has emerged as part of a greater global crisis—a united struggle in which indigenous lands, resources, and people are perpetually threatened by corporations and governments often using military force. Integral to this shared narrative is the routine ignoring of treaties. —White Wolf Pack

In a symbolic gesture of solidarity, the tribes leaders are bringing a traditional drum signed by all indigenous leaders present, from 12 countries, from Guatemala to Bolivia. “The drum is calling to the voices of indigenous people to be heard,” Michel says.

Daniel, he instructed, will help with translation and in charge of production of media content (and driving).

JUST ARRIVED TO ND: Daniel Veintimilla salutes Candido Mezua from the Embera Nation, who’s holding a drum signed by tribal leaders representing 12 Latin American nations.

Here’s a primer on the Standing Rock protest from

“The Standing Rock Sioux tribe is leading the opposition to the Dakota Access Pipeline. They have been joined by the largest tribal coalition in more than 100 years in their stand against the pipeline.

The coalition comprises activists, allies, and environmentalists, collectively known as ‘water protectors,’ at the Sacred Stone Camp, an encampment close to the location where the pipeline is planned to cross the Missouri River in North Dakota.

According to the Sacred Stone camp website, they are opposing the pipeline because ‘the Dakota Access threatens everything from farming and drinking water to entire ecosystems, wildlife and food sources surrounding the Missouri.’”

The Standing Rock Sioux also say the pipeline is violating treaty land, Sioux territory that was established many years ago by the federal government.

“We will not allow Dakota Access to trespass on our treaty territory and destroy our medicines and our culture,” they say.

More news from Daniel on the South American tribesmen’s visit to come …

Teaser image courtesy of


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5 reasons to see Good People at American Stage

American Stage’s first full-scale production of the new season and the first in its In Search Of … America play series, Good People delves into class differences and the struggle to make ends meet in South Boston.

With a spoonful of salty-sweet humor, Good People makes an all-too-relevant examination of The American Dream — how much more does it have to do with hard work than it does straight-up good luck. The 2011 play is the first hand-picked production by new American Stage Artistic Director Stephanie Gularte, who also directs this production.

“I find David Lindsay-Abaire’s play to be one of the most exciting plays of the past 10 years,” Gularte says. “It is such a fulfilling journey for audiences because it is funny and intense and surprising and ultimately lends itself to some great post-show conversation.” (Read more about about Gularte’s edgy and exciting play choices for the 2016-17 American Stage season in Creative Pinellas’ revamped web magazine next month.)

Other reasons to see Good People:


Stevie (Britt Michael Gordon) awkwardly fires Margie from her job at the Dollar Store. Photo by Kara Goldberg.


1.) Good People effectively shifts from sassy humor to intense drama:  When Dollar Store manager Stevie (Britt Michael Gordon) fires Margie (Rebecca Dines), an old acquaintance of his mother and mom of a mentally challenged adult, Margie will try anything except working at the Gillette factory — even if it means hitting up Mike, a high school flame (Peter Reardon), who pops up at a local fundraiser after a long absence from the neighborhood.

29558859821_4b6ab4f6ca_zVickie Daignault (Jean), Rebecca Dines (Margie) and Bonnie Agan (Dottie) engage in amusing tete a tete. Photo by Kara Goldberg.

From Margie’s apartment to the bingo hall, we’re treated to feisty exchanges between daffy landlady Dottie (another great turn by local actor Bonnie Agan) and Margie’s best friend, Jean (played hilariously by transplant Vickie Daignaualt). There’s something a little shifty about Dottie, and Jean doesn’t let up on her with that tough-as-nails Irish sarcasm that doubles as a coping mechanism in South Boston, and Southies like Jean wield it like a billy club.

Jean suggests that Margie approach her erstwhile preppy Romeo. Margie resists at firsts and then consents.


Peter Reardon (Mike) and Rebecca Dines (Margie) play an awkward game of catch-up. Photo by Kara Goldberg.

Margie unceremoniously barges into Mike’s office. (Mike: “I’m a reproductive endocrinologist.” Margie: “I don’t know what you just said, but I just got a little excited.”) Mike treats her with both nostalgic affection and awkwardness as he reluctantly invites her to birthday dinner party in his tony Crescent Hill home. Kudos, by the way, to Gularte and the actors for making this difficult and highly nuanced interplay work.

In Act Two, we meet Mike’s wife, Kate (played exquisitely Renata Eastlick). She’s a poised, educated foil to off-the-cuff dropout Margie. As Mike and Margie go down memory lane and some uncomfortable and upsetting subjects arise involving a past incident, we see Kate tested, but her integrity remains intact. Life goes on after this encounter, but a realization that Mike, Kate and Margie are no longer the same hovers over the performance.

2.) Good People stays on course without avoiding complex subject matter: South Boston has a widely publicized history of racial tension. The neighborhood violently resisted school busing in the mid-1970s, and in Good People, we learn that one of the central characters was involved in bullying incident that casts a pall on his character. Pulitzer finalist Lindsay-Abaire handles some horrific revelations  with the appropriate weightiness needed but is never too heavy-handed. Ambivalence, wrong choices and unfair advantages come into play, too, as the central Southies deal with how they and their lives changed after high school.


Peter Reardon (Mike), Rebecca Dines (Margie) and Renata Eastlick (Kate). Photo by Kara Goldberg.

3.) Impressive lighting, stage management and set changes: With backdrops on casters and nimble prop changes, American Stage takes us from graffiti-sprayed back alley to kitschy 1970s apartment to bingo hall to doctor’s office to a luxurious upscale home. Credit goes to Gularte for both her overall direction and sound design, scenic designer Frank Chavez, lighting designer Dan Covey and the production designer/manager Jerid Fox and stage manager Rachel Harrison.

4.) The on-point performances: The entire cast kicks ass. Rebecca Dines gives us a Margie that’s part Laverne Di Fazio, part Sally Field in Norma Rae. Though she’s endured a great deal of misfortune, she’s no martyr.  Margie’s flaws make her more interesting and endearing, Of course, a great performance helps in this regard, too. Dines, an Australian-born Equity/SAG actor who played in the same role with Gularte in a past production of Good People at the director’s former home, the Capitol Stage Company, conveys the spunkiness and frustration of her character without making Margie too cartoonish. She, and the other ladies pull off a convincing Southie accent, and Reardon, an Irish-American Mass. native, provides just the right shade of a brogue covered up by decades of yuppie shame.

5.) Good People stays with you long after the play is over:  American Stage’s production strikes a chord for anyone who’s felt like a misfit in America’s class hierarchy or has experienced a disconnect between their potential vs. their achievements. Lindsay-Abaire’s script reminds us that our society places too much value on appearances, and that it’s the job of a great stage play like Good People to excavate the inconvenient truths that lurk beneath our most commonly held perceptions.

Good People runs through Oct. 2 at American Stage, 163 Third St. N., St. Petersburg. Visit for showtimes and ticket info.

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You go, Dina! Turkey neck no more

Every morning while watching WTSP-Ch. 10 with my mom a Sonobello plastic surgery clinic commercial comes on without fail.
I am haunted by this adorable little lady’s horror story about her insidious waddle. She has an accent and melodic speaking manner that I can’t get out of my head.
My hunch is that she’s Greek-American … or maybe Brazilian or Latina. Not sure.
Regardless of her ethnicity, Dina’s presence has become a staple in my morning routine.
I feel like we’re pals.
I recite her memorable line in unison with her:
“My nephew used to play with it. He used to go *gabble gabble.”
Thanks, Bea Nicholson, for the phonetic pronunciation.
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Teenage Favorites Video Jukebox — my ’80s on MTV

Social media sites have been more splattered with 80s nostalgia than a Flashdance-off-the-shoulder puffy paint shirt.

When it comes to music, as a rule, I try not to dwell on the past, but the 1980s are special to me because they perfectly span my adolescence, from age 11 to 20.

I began my inklings of womanhood during the advent of MTV in the U.S. After growing up with the Eagles, the new sounds I discovered in 1982  were absolutely thrilling. Synthesizers came into their own, and jazz, reggae, Latin percussion and all sorts of exotic elements whirled together. Men  and women experimented with looking androgynous and wearing stylish suits. Hairstyles were crazy and unpredictable.

Here is a list of just some of my personal favorite not-quite-so-overplayed MTV videos, the tunes that I struggled to stay awake to watch in the wee hours while crashing at my older brother Joe’s house (because he had cable and I didn’t).

I think I liked them so much because they were a little outrageous and glamorous, the antithesis of the 1970s prog and southern rock my teen brothers awakened me with well past my bedtime when I was a little kid.

Simple Minds — Promised You a Miracle

My first favorite video in 1982.

The English Beat — Save It For Later

I have two favorite videos from The English Beat, known simply as The Beat in the UK. The first is my favorite as a youth and the second is my favorite now. The Beat has stayed with me and evolved in familiarity more than most ’80s bands.

My favorite video of all time back then, Save It for Later has a sway and Beatnik aesthetic that was so cool to me as a kid.


The English Beat — The Doors to Your Heart

Now, this is hands down my favorite video. I love the energy and geography …

… but my favorite tune/video if I had to choose one  …

The English Beat — Too Nice To Talk To


Prince – Controversy

This made us younguns’ go, “Wow, what was that? … Is it really 6 minutes long?”

(Of course, I couldn’t find it on YouTube)

INXS – Don’t Change

Uplifting, gorgeous rock ‘n’ roll. The band’s best tune of all time.


The Members — Working Girl

Irreverent, snarky and loads of fun.


The Fun Boy Three – The Lunatics (Have Taken Over the Asylum)

Considered by most to be a big-hair trifle, inferior to its members’ previous outing, the Specials, Fun Boy Three is unfairly underrated. The band had one of the most original sounds I’ve heard, combining modern effects with spooky reggae undertones, catchy choruses and dancy rhythms. Plus, David Byrne produced their album, The Waiting.


Bananarama with The Fun Boy Three — Really Sayin’ Something

Oh, Bananarama. I wanted  so badly to dress like those girls when I was 13. They were my fashion icons. I even had my mom make me outfitslike theirs

Echo and the Bunnymen – The Cutter

Never Stop was my first pick but the original video wasn’t available; this is a gem, too, showing young Ian McCulloch’s full lips in full effect.


The Fall – Victoria

(One of thee best Kinks covers) with singer Mark E. Smith looking zany in a Napoloeon uniform. Very fitting.

R.E.M. – Can’t Get There From Here

Favorite R.E.M vid hands down. Funny, playful, smart,creative, crazy … the R.E.M. I love. Insanely arcane lyrics, like “Philomath is where I go.”



Let’s Active — Waters Part

Mitch Easter, Let’s Active’s frontman, produced R.E.M.’s early albums. This was my favorite on a favorite album of all time.



The B52’s — Song for a Future Generation

Thompson Twins — Love on Your Side

Blow Monkeys – Forbidden Fruit

Pretty horns and one  beach party goddess. Loved the editing with backward-motion effect. (Sorry for the poor quality. All YouTube had.)


China Crisis – King in a Catholic Style (Wake Up)

The dorky brilliance and gentile charm of so many unsung pop geniuses of that time period. It made me feel naughty to sing the word Catholic in less than a reverential manner when I tape-recorded this tune, which was right around the time of my confirmation.



Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark – Joan of Arc

Moody proto synth pop at its best. Another “Catholic” song.


Depeche Mode — Everything Counts

That xylophone in the refrain always got me.


Haircut 100 — Favourite Shirts (Boy Meets Girl)

Shimmering and timeless … excuse the poor video quality.


Heaven 17 — Penthouse and Pavmenet

Heaven 17 didn’t sound quite like anyone else. The Human League counterparts released two great singles that outdid all of Human’s League’s hitlist (in my humble adolescent opinion). Would have to revisit to see if I still feel the same. … Most likely.


Tears for Fears — Pale Shelter

My first VHS tape was of Tears For Fears’ singles from The Hurting album.


Aztec Camera — Oblivious

This  video by the Scottish band that made me shriek whenever it came on and I maybe got to see it just a few times:

Ultravox — Dancing With Tears in My Eyes

Dramatic and so beautiful.


Japan — Visions of China

Another rarity and such a big deal to me when it came on, usually in the middle of the night …


The Style Council — “You’re the Best Thing (That Ever Happened to Me)”

My favorite love song of the 80s.


Or maybe it was this:


Prefab Sprout — When Love Breaks Down

Favorite heartbreak tune.


Joe Jackson — Breaking Us in Two

Another heartbreaker.


The Fixx — Stand or Fall

More drama.


Time Zone — World Destruction

Along with “Radio Clash,” a favorite  rap song and protest song.

Wham — Young Guns

Wham when they were known as “Wham UK” — “Hey sucker, what the hell got into you?!”


Adam Ant — Desperate but not Serious


The Clash — (This Is) Radio Clash


The Police — De Do Do Do De Da Da Da

The Police and The Clash —  they both are known for their white reggae rock but hated each other. Yet they are doomed to be remembered by me in tandem. Here is a video I loved to see because it was seldom on MTV.


Talk Talk — It’s My Life

Gwen Stefani couldn’t touch this.


Icicle Works – Whisper to a Scream

Icicle Works introduced me to Buddhism, funny enough.

New Order — Blue Monday

In 1985 my focus veered from MTV to my favorite underage nightclub, Skyfeathers, which featured a Union Jack-painted dancefloor. This tune lured the majority of the kids with big hair at the time.


Tones on Tail — Go

Another danceclub favorite.

My two favorite female-fronted videos:

Siouxsie and the Banshees — Spellbound

The Pretenders — Tattooed Love Boys

(She wasn’t British but her band was.)

The Smiths — What Difference Does It Make?

Word porn for adolescents and great rock ‘n’ roll, period.


The Cure — In Between Days

The tune, the video that put me over the moon for the Cure.

Split Enz — One Step Ahead

No list would be complete without my favorite New Zealanders.

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Rappers who get this nerd out of the trap — plus updates on Tampa Bay hip-hop artists

By Julie Garisto

Daniel, my other half, has taken over our Spotify and Youtube accounts, eschewing my trust-fund-kid-approved playlists of Tame Impala and Unknown Mortal Orchestra in favor of  Fetty Wap and O.T. Genasis.

His playlist on Spotfy is a diverse mix of hip-hop and R&B, ranging from Aesop Rock to Big Sean to Childish Gambino to Run the Jewels to J. Cole to Nikki Minaj. I’m a little late to some, but I’m starting to get current.

Boogie, who’s more intense and buggy-eyed than Lil’ Wayne, has grown on me. His “Oh My” has a big fat hook you could hang Andre the Giant’s coat on.

Chance the Rapper’s “Angels” is an ambitious track that doesn’t conform to the status quo but is equally bold, as so is his superheroic video.


My favorite this month is  Domo Genesis feat. Anderson .Paak‘s “Dapper,” a smooth tune with a sweet roller-skating vid.

Action Bronson is a cult sensation who along with rapping is a full-on chef who hosts a cooking show on Vice’s Munchies channel called “F*ck, That’s Delicious.” Along with being smart as a whip, the 32-year-old performer born Arian Asllani gives us this big teddy-bear nice guy vibe but can hold his own in a fight.

Bronson’s “Baby Blue” video (directed by Lil Chris) has no doubt endeared many with its Coming to America tribute the world’s most awesome revenge verse from Chance the Rapper.

Dave Burd, aka Lil Dicky, is a humorist and lovable douche who has been dubbed an anti-rap artist because he crafts rhymes about saving money and the mundane pastimes of middle class life. His track “Lemme Freak” is a brilliant sendup of suburban male sexual frustration. My favorite part is when he envisions himself a senior in the virtual reality future, calling out his wife for throwing out his shoes.

Locally, Dynasty, aka Dream Pusher, aka Lady Dy still reigns supreme. Both fierce and uplifting, she is on point with her poetry and doesn’t have one iota of inauthenticity.

Here’s her track from a few years back, “Magnificent”:

Dynasty has always been community-conscious, too. Right now she’s recruiting kids for the STAAR Program, a music and arts summer camp in June. Visit her homepage for more details.

I had the honor of being the first journalist to interview Ms. Diana Hardy more than a decade ago for the Times/tbt*. Since then, Dy has had a number of great collaborators, from Talib Kweli to Tampa Bay rapper Mike Mass, who, likewise, has an effortless flow.

Mass was recently featured in Blame Ebro as an “Artist on the Come Up.”

For those of you who appreciate having more to love, Clearwater-based Blackwell, a Blakknation Music hip-hop artist, has just released a track dedicated to the BBGs of this world:  “Thick,” featuring Shock Da world and D. Jone$. For more info go to Reverbnation.Com/blackwell612. Oh, I almost forgot: He’ll be on WTAN-AM’s “The Dawn Reese Show” Wednesday, May 11, 6-7 p.m.

Tampa favorite Breakdown, whom I was also fortunate to interview when he first hit, is working on a new album.

Here’s what he had to say about it:

“Quite a few of songs deal with my interactions with different women, so I touch on love, heartbreak, unrequited feelings, dating, etc. A couple songs deal with the frustration of just working full time and still trying find time to devote to writing music. So a lot of it’s dark, but there are a few songs about typical-rapper stuff. I actually composed all of the music first. Some of the songs started with samples from punk, emo, and melodic hardcore bands and the other songs started from original guitar riffs I wrote. There’s some faster tempo stuff and almost drum and bass on a few songs.”

Here’s a vid for “Been a Minute” from his last release a couple of years ago, So Far Away. Directed and animated by Ranmecca, the track can be downloaded for free

Looking forward to hearing from you again Breakdown. It’s indeed been a minute.

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8 reasons to see Jobsite Theater’s Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

Jobsite Theater continues a tradition of unconventional theater offerings with Christopher Durang’s conventionally lauded Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, the 2013 Tony Award winner for Best Play that is no less weirdly wonderful than Jobsite’s other offerings.

The farce by satirist Christopher Durang endeared Broadway for the same cynical and cathartic reasons  Iñárritu‘s Birdman won the Oscar last year: It’s a non-stop riff on stage and showbiz life — its pitfalls, embarrassments and pet peeves — that satirizes  everything from narcissism to elitism to lame auditions to fading celebrity while managing to convey poignant insights on aging, mortality and family bonds.

Vanya and Sonia works on many levels if you can approach it with an open mind, sense of humor and let go of preconceived notions about how a play should play out on stage.

Here are some other reasons to see the latest production of the Straz Center of Performing Arts’ resident theater company:

Anton-Chekhov1.) It’s a treat for Anton Chekhov fans: If you didn’t figure it out reading the title, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike is an absurd and affectionate send-up of works by the Russian playwright and his famous plays, including  The Seagull, Uncle Vanya, Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard. The story centers on siblings raised by a theatergoing parents (hence the character names) and offers similar eruptions of neuroses in a rustic setting. There’s even a scene when Roz Potenza’s Sonia professes, “I am a wild turkey!” which is a humorous homage to Chekhov heroine Nina’s famously self-actualizing line, “I am a seagull!”

From left: Roz Potenza as Sonia, Jonelle Meyer as Cassandra and Brian Shea as Vanya. Photo by Crawford Long.

2.) Jonelle Meyer as a wacky psychic: She is one of the funniest women alive and we’re lucky to have her here in Tampa Bay. As the hippie housekeeper Cassandra in Vanya and Sonia, Meyer lives up to her mythological name as a seer no one takes seriously. She plays the role big with her signature bug-eyed, animated physicality and verbal dexterity that endeared us in past productions of Almost an Evening and The Divine Sister, recalling our favorite uninhibited comedy heroines from yesteryear like Madeline Kahn, Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett but with a fierce ownership of the stage that is all her own.

Potenza, Elizabeth Fendrick as Masha, Shea and show-off Spike played by Jamie Jones. Photo by Crawford Long.

3.) Jamie Jones as a ridiculous boy toy: The nimble and deep-voiced Jamie Jones is one of our area’s most versatile actors. One moment he’s the handsome love interest of celebrity Masha, the other he’s a self-absorbed, IQ-deprived aspiring celebrity and exhibitionist peacocking all over the stage in tighty-blackies, thrusting his junk in Brian Shea’s face. Like Meyer, he delivers comic relief with brilliant physicality and ingeniously meta overacting. It takes boatloads of talent to deliver over the top performances without grating on the audience’s nerves, and both Jones and Meyer elicit big laughs as their ridiculous characters.

Potenza and Shea as Sonia and Vanya. Photo by Crawford Long.

4.) The sensical relief of Brian Shea’s Vanya: Brian Shea plays the rational if inhibited older brother who brings sanity to the play. He’s a skilled actor with an enviable ease once again, and in the second act, he delivers an epic monologue (too long by conventional standards, an “in your face” to critics) that laments the good old days of rotary dial phones and wholesome sitcoms, pre-ADD-enabling bursts of device-driven communication.

Elizabeth Fendrick as Masha shows her disappointment after being showed up as the belle of a costume ball. Photo by Crawford Long.

5.) Elizabeth Fendrick as a diva: Okay, so this list is basically praising all the performances in the play, and rightfully so. Fendrick starts out arrogant and shallow but undergoes an arc that eventually makes her sympathetic to the audience. When her costume party Snow White is confused for Norma Desmond, we simultaneously laugh and feel a twinge of sympathy.

Emily Belvo as Nina and Jones’ Spike. Photo by Crawford Long.

6.) Emily Belvo as the spazzy neighbor Nina: As with her animated castmates, it takes a certain measure of talent to pull off an over-the-top role, and Belvo is adorably perfect as the aw-shucks, adulating young neighbor and aspiring actress. Durang belies her supposed naivete with more sense and inner equilibrium than her older counterparts, showing us that people are often more than their “type.”

7.) Another first rate set and exceptional lighting by Jobsite: Kudos to Patrick Barnhart (Lighting Assistant Intern), Ryan Finzelbar (Lighting Designer), David M. Jenkins (Sound Designer) Amara Manickchand (Associate Lighting Designer), Brittany Reuther (Costume Designer) and Brian M. Smallheer (Scenic Designer). Together, they re-create a believably homey cottage porch in the backwoods of Pennsylvania replete with tree branch shadows  and nostalgic Beatles tunes.

8.) The Potenzas: One of local theater’s most beloved couples collaborate to make this show great. Paul Potenza, the award-winning actor who wowed us with his kpaul-and-roznockout performance as a dying curmudgeon in Jobsite’s Annapurna directs this first-rate production that includes wife Roz as Sonia. Roz’s Sonia is a bit awkward and stares at the ceiling as if she’s ruminating on a million things while she’s speaking, but we begin to get to know her as much more than a reclusive eccentric. She comes out of her shell at a costume party portraying Maggie Smith on Oscar night, accent and all. Come to think of it, the world would be a better place if more Sonias were given a second look the way Durang lovingly unravels this sweetly flawed heroine. Paul lends his acting intuition to his direction by humanizing a play that tinkers more with ideas than the nuances of interaction, but ultimately succeeds in doing both.

All photos above by Crawford LongShow times are 8 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Thursday and 4 p.m. Sunday, through March 20 at the  Straz Center’s Shimberg Playhouse, 1010 N. MacInnes Place, Tampa. Tickets are $28 (discounts available); call (813) 229-7827; visit or

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Strange Corners & Surprising Detours — Clearwater pt. 1

The second in a destination series,  Strange Corners & Surprising Detours is a recurring feature that highlights unusual, compelling and less-visited sites around Tampa Bay, and, occasionally, other places encountered while traveling. Photos and words by Julie Garisto; additional pics by Daniel Veintimilla.

Clearwater conjures only a couple of bits of imagery to to most. Just about everyone loves or knows about the overcrowded, overdeveloped but still fabulous Clearwater Beach. Downtown Clearwater is still under-appreciated, known primarily for its Church of Scientology buildings, and maybe the Capitol Theatre or Coachman Park, but almost no attention is given to the eye candy between the gulf and the bay.

The Harbor Oaks neighborhood, located just south of downtown, is one of the prettiest and oldest neighborhoods in the city, and up the road, a collection of neighborhoods known to residents as “Greenwood” is a post-segregation but still-pretty-much segregated community, avoided by most white people. The area’s charms, however, shouldn’t be overlooked.

Here’s a look at some of the above interesting and pretty Clearwater places you won’t find in the tourist brochures.

Nauti-Nancy’s is an Old Florida-style seafood cafe conveniently located next to the Pinellas Trail. Photo by Julie Garisto.


Church of the Ascension Episcopal Church lets its presence be known with a majestic bell tower dedicated to a Clearwater civic leader whose name I mainly recognize from local car dealerships. Photo by Daniel Veintimilla.
On Gasparilla Day, this was our one and only pirate boat adventure. No beads or boobie-flashing here.  Photo by Daniel Veintimilla.
Northwest view from the little Clearwater park pier. Photo by Daniel Veintimilla.
View from atop the stairs. Photo by Daniel Veintimilla.
I did some digging around on the web and found nothing on this  little no-name park (not mentioned in city or county directories) but it does have an actual city park sign that lists hours (closed after dusk) and allows dogs on a leash. Dog owners, of course, must clean up poop (which should go without saying but unfortunately doesn’t). Photo by Daniel Veintimilla.
The Harbor Oaks neighborhood isn’t just made up of gorgeous mansions and villas. There’s a cluster of beautifully quaint apartment buildings along Oak Avenue — one of my first choices if I were to rent. The above porch belongs to Mike Post, a retired florist. Photo by Julie Garisto.
Mike Post amid his greenery. Photo by Julie Garisto.
In Greenwood area — an old church-turned-community center, originally St. John the Baptist Missionary Baptist Church, built in 1921. Photo by Julie Garisto.
The beautiful bell tower at the Church of Ascension. Photo by Daniel Veintimilla.
Remember Dimmit Chevrolet?
Bottom-up view by Daniel Veintimilla.
Close up of the bells, bells, bells, bells … photo by Daniel Veintimilla.
Church of the Ascension Episcopal Church lets its presence be known with a majestic bell tower dedicated to a Clearwater civic leader whose name I mainly recognize from local car dealerships. Photo by Daniel Veintimilla.


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SourceTalk Saturday: “Police State”

The primary presidential election has offered a town hall meeting almost every night. Sadly, these media events are rife with name-calling and canned rhetoric. Not much of relevance is shared beyond the talking points.
Today, in Tampa, you can attend a town hall that delves into issues and ideas that are relevant right now in American cities.
The community organization Us‘s topical forums known as SourceTalk Saturday (based on the live, issues-based talk show called Wide aWoke Wednesdays) explore issues and ideas we all care about.
This Saturday at Seminole Heights Library , Us will present Police State, a SourceTalk that delves into the current reality of racial profiling, violence and law/law enforcement. Panelists include Us Community Committee member Sundiata Shu ‘El Bey and minister/former law enforcement officer Nicole Gadson.
Tafari said that Shu’El Bey (pictured above) is a legal expert who has assisted criminal defendants navigate the courts system. The activist will help attendees get to the source of the fear and ignorance to blame in problems with law enforcement, “so we can make wiser, more rational decisions.”
A registered Aboriginal-Indigenous Moor, Shu El’Bey is also know as DJ Breeze. He’s a favorite in the local spoken word and hip-hop scene, and a member of The Us Community Committee, “an organization with the mission in mind of serving all of Us with Righteous Intentions and Works ” [initial caps retained].  
Says Tafari: “El’Bey will speak on his firsthand experiences of being a adult Black male and dealing with law enforcement here in the U.S. this Saturday at SourceTalk.” 
nicole gadsen
Nicole Gadson

The event’s other panelist, Gadson, she got involved with US through Walter “Wally B.” Jennings, who participated in a previous SourceTalk Saturday.

“When I spoke to her in detail on the show, she loved the idea and what it represented,” Tafari shares. “Her objective, as well, is to help Us get to the source of the issue between Blacks. The former  Orlando police officer will allow people to possibly “overstand” why law enforcement does some of the things they do, says Tafari.

 Gadson is a self taught musician and singer-songwriter. She has performed up and down the East Coast, and is currently working on a gospel album.  A member of Hurst Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Church, where she is a leader for the Singles Ministry and a musician with the Music Ministry, Gadson also performs with Black on Black Rhyme. She has appeared on stage with  Lyfe Jennings, T Pain , Keyshia Cole  and Field Mob.
Also at the event: live music by Camille Scringer, Us Community Committee. Vendors include Tampa based Higher Hustle Clothing  and The Vegg’d Out Vegan Kitchen. Video recording by Streetdrop Cinema Digital Video Production will be presented in conjunction with GivThanks TV.

Attend Police State at 6 p.m. today at Seminole Heights Branch Library,  4711 N Central Ave, Tampa. Admission is free. Find out more about Us here.

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