Monday, April 10, 2006


If you're a music fan, chances are you have a few fetishes. One of mine is songs about places, especially cities. Frankly, it doesn't even have to be a good song about a city for me to like it. And there are tons of them. I once considered a mix called B&O consisting strictly of songs about Baltimore and Ohio. (I should probably make that.) If I wanted to make a Tampa mix, however, I wouldn't know where to start

So how come nobody sings about Tampa? Maybe it's because it's the kind of place everyone wants to forget. Maybe I shouldn't rush to judgment. I spent Sunday at the Tampa zoo and loved it and I haven't spent that much time in Tampa proper. But I have spent plenty of time in the areas surrounding Tampa, specifically the Clearwater / Tarpon Springs / Holiday area and, good god, it's one of the worst places on earth. My in-laws live there. They're wonderful people and I enjoy visiting them. They also tend to find fun things for us to do when we're in the area. But I think I'm going to have to start blindfolding myself when we drive around an area I've come to think of as America's Greatest Misses.

Don't believe me? Take a ride down Rt. 19 some time and here's what you'll see. Strip mall, billboard for strip club, billboard for Mega Church, strip mall, strip club, strip mall, billboard for plastic surgery center, strip mall, tattoo parlor, Hooters, Outback Steakhouse, Wal-Mart, strip club, liquor store, church in a shopping plaza with a sign that also advertises a nearby fitness center. There's miles and miles of this and you can't get anywhere without driving past it for half-hour stretches. Is it any wonder that evangelicals think the world is ending when they swarm in places where skull tattoos and naked ladies battle it out with gospel radio stations and pro-life bumper stickers. Come to think about it, there ought to be a song in that somewhere.

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