Saturday, June 27, 2009

Last Tango in West-Central Florida: Tampa

With our "You'll never make it to Orlando" van still inexplicably running smoothly, we headed to Tampa's historic Ybor City neighborhood to play our last non-Miami show, at the New World Brewery. Our first stop, on a tip from friend and Tampa native Trent Watkins, was Mema's Alaskan Tacos (not a misnomer - their menu is based on the owner's Alaskan grandmother's recipes), where we gobbled down beef, turkey, and gator tacos that fully lived up to Trent's ardent recommendations. Next we dispersed and ambled past Ybor City's many bars, cafes, and cigar shops (from 1900 until the Great Depression Ybor City was known as the "Cigar Capital of the World"), and while Luke enjoyed coffee and air conditioning at Starbucks and Nick, Paul, and Andrew tackled Tekken 5, Police Trainer, and House of the Dead 4 at Gameworks I sauntered into an awesome vintage store called Jezabelle & Her Wandering Gypsies ("Where Trash Becomes Treasures and Treasures Become Keepsakes!") where a small child was constructing a bug mansion and where I bought a copy of Thomas Pynchon's postmodernist epic Mason & Dixon for six dollars. 

New World Brewery fed us well with their 14-inch pizzas and Johnny cakes; Pabst Blue Ribbon, our show's sponsor, supplied us with endless 16-oz. beverages; and the bar jukebox offered an eclectic array of albums by the likes of Tom Waits, Grizzly Bear, Mr. Bungle, and Andrew Bird's Bowl of Fire, as well as random mix CDs assembled by persons unknown. Despite the intermittent rain a small crowd wandered in and out throughout our two sets, occasionally dancing, and then at 12:30 we handed the musical reins over to DJ Brian Oblivion and headed back to Orlando, to rest up for our triumphant/hopefully-transmission-failure-free return to Miami. Fingers crossed . . .

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