St. Petersburg Gets Its Own Photo Essay

A friend pointed out to me once that these blog entries are kind of like photo essays and I guess that is the best way of putting it.  I write a bit, there are pictures.  Everyone is happy, I hope.

So now St. Petersburg, Florida is getting its own photo essay.  Like I mentioned in a previous entry we have a little tradition in my family that we go to Florida after Christmas.  Its a peculiar kind of tradition, but a good one too.  I always say — it isn’t the holidays until we go to Florida.

We always go to the Tampa-St. Petersburg area and we attend a great event in St. Petersburg called First Night.  I’m not one who makes any sort of a big deal about New Years.  The year structure to me is a tenuous construct at best.  So the year changes.  Am I supposed to change?  Do I change?  I mean I get one year older.  OK.  But some people think its a big deal.  Honestly I never understood why.

But then we started going to St. Petersburg for the First Night celebration and I understood why.  The celebration is purposely low key, not like the crazy ball drop in New York, which I’ve never even attended, despite spending my entire life in that area.  They have little performances with classical music.  I remember in years past a guy just joyously playing piano and saying “I could do this all night.  I like it and it isn’t difficult for me at all.”  There’s singing, music but gentle and low key.  Oh and did I mention that unlike New York it is about 75 degrees outside?  Yeah, there’s that.

Well Florida, yet again you have done the impossible.  You have won me over with your pleasant First Night celebration.  Let’s celebrate with some photos:


Take Me To The Beach!!!!!

This beach here:


Ok this is a sentimental favorite, but these beaches might be a bit better:


Some Shadow Play

I think I was looking through the New York Times one day when I saw this incredible photograph:


I thought automatically that it was New York and it had to be the 1960s.  I looked at the information about the photograph and saw that it was taken in Sao Paulo, Brazil in the 1960s.  Obviously, the photo is perfect compositionally but it has so many other things that make it an excellent photograph.  You see those four men in the photo and wonder what their story is and who they are.  The shadowy men also look like the opening credits of Mad Men.  The whole photo shows a city on the rise, a country on the rise and is 1960s cool all the way.

Of course I wanted to copy it immediately.  Of course I thought I’d be copying it with a photo of New York, but let’s face it.  My shadows pictures of New York are a dime a dozen, so I went to another spot to copy this photo.

Here are my photos inspired by this incredible photo:


Good artists copy.  Great artists steal.  I think I stole that from someone.

Literally Just Pictures of Trees

Sometimes you get great literature up here.  Sometimes:


Easily My Third Favorite Bridge

I’m kind of a connoisseur of bridges.  I spent my childhood looking at the Queensborough Bridge so its my absolute favorite.  My favorite bridge in Boston is the Zakim bridge, but everything in Boston is kind of my favorite, so I’m not exactly objective.

I do have a third favorite bridge — the Bob Graham Sunshine Skyway.  I mean that name alone makes it just wonderful.  Its a mouthful, but a great mouthful.  A sunshine skyway named after a former Florida governor.  GREAT.

So here are some photos of the insanely wonderful Bob Graham Sunshine Skyway:


Florida, You Won Me Over

Well, its that time of year again, when I migrate south to Florida.  A couple of years ago, this kind of peculiar Christmas tradition started with my family.  We spend a super nice Christmas in frozen Massachusetts eating yummy Christmas salad and opening presents.  Then we board a plane to sunny Florida.

We spend time in this area called Clearwater and visit Tampa, St. Petersburg and other such areas.

Going back, I’ve had an extremely complicated relationship with Florida.  When I was 15, Florida took my high school boyfriend.  I mean it didn’t really take him.  He called me on a Tuesday to tell me that Friday of that week, he’d be moving to Florida.  I blamed Florida for stealing him, but in retrospect, really it could have him.  It wasn’t meant to be!!!  Everything happens for a reason!!!!  Nah, it was a teenage romance and it was meant to end.  Florida just seemed a convenient place to blame for it ending as all.

Even before that though, I had no great love of Florida.  Every single little kid dreams of the day when they will visit the land or world of a weirdly cheerful mouse.  Well, almost every kid.  Because this kid, visited the land of said mouse in California.  Yes, I went to Disneyland at the age of about six and I knew something was amiss with the place immediately.  Nobody told me that Goofy was absolutely terrifying, so terrifying in fact that I had to hold my mom’s hand when I met him.  Also, when I went on one of the rides, I saw my mom take her glasses off and look generally unhappy, so I figured Disney and all that comes with it was something that upset my mom.

Fast forward a few years.  I mean I could get political up here about how Florida gave us Bush the younger and all of the crazy things that come out of Florida, but that would be too obvious.

I came to Florida for the first time in 2008, to an extremely pleasant area called Marco Island.  Then I returned to Orlando a few months later and now for these visits to the Clearwater/Tampa area and I have to say — this place has grown on me.  I feel like Florida is a new friend.  Let’s say the cities I’ve lived in are my friends.  Boston is my absolute best friend, who loves me unconditionally and wants nothing but good things for me.  New York is my friend that wears dark turtlenecks and abhors the downfall of society to consumerist tendencies but secretly loves to listen to pop music.  Washington DC and I are fremenies at best.  Copenhagen is my unattainably cool friend with all of the latest gadgets and gear and the one who is already over the trends before I even get to them.

But Florida (I know, not a city) is my hilariously inappropriate friend.  OMG, everyone has one of those!!!!  That friend that not only owns a t-shirt tux, but enthusiastically wears that item of clothing.  That friend that says all sorts of ridiculously inappropriate things but also has a good heart.  That friend who might laugh until they pee.  That friend.  That friend that we all need and ultimately we love.

So here’s to my funny inappropriate friend Florida.  Love.  Here’s a little compendium of all the weird things I’ve seen in the three days I’ve been here.

First, a center for the jerks:


A typical Florida outfit.  I’m Michael Kors here.  I mean where is she (or he) wearing this?? Floridians, feel free to write in with an answer, any answer:


Funny surfing related tchotchkes, of course:


A merry octopus Christmas to you all and to all, a good night:


A stick figure is here with your pizza:


Shirt and shoes required.  Other things, not so much:


Oh where oh where can I buy ANY ice cream around here?????  I’m so confused.  It was around here somewhere.  I swear I saw it:


Now this next sign, I mean I guess whatever happens in the nature preserve stays in the nature preserve:


A most absolutely insanely ridiculous brochure.  I mean ridiculously useful I guess.  Also, let me add, ridiculously Florida:


Oh and not to mention what you are supposed to do if you encounter the non-venomous variety.  In my case, run away.  FAR FAR FAR FAR away, but Florida has other opinions on that matter too:


But what am I going to wash my hands with after I touch the Eastern Indigo Snake?


There are a ridiculous amount of personal injury lawyers around here.  I have nothing else to say about that other than the fact that it is strange.  It is also interesting that the personal injury lawyer ads are always next to ads for plastic surgery.  Interesting:


Well, that’s all for now.  There will be more.  Much, much, much more…

Are Shoes Important?

When I was a teenager, there was a show on CNN called “Style with Elsa Klensch.”  It was hosted by this lady whose accent I can only label as having been from a fashionable land called “foreignenia” or some place thereabouts.

Nah, I’m kidding.  Watching Style with Elsa Klensch though was this break from the humdrum existence of a teenager in suburban New York.  The place I went to high school in was for lack of a better word, a kind of a fashion wasteland with people wearing sweatshirts with cuffed jeans and white sneakers.  Needless to say, I wanted to be them.

Every week though, Elsa Klensch offered me hope that a world existed beyond the confines of my boring high school.  I knew a world existed beyond that fishbowl high school existence, but I didn’t have daily contact with it.  Elsa Klensch’s show offered that.

As an aside, this was also during the golden age of the supermodels, driven by God rest his soul George Michael.  Man that is the celebrity death in this garbage year that hit me the hardest.  That one.

Anyway, week in and week out Elsa Klensch would hit designers with hard hitting questions like “are dresses important?” “are skirts important this season?”  There was all sorts of fashion speak that the designers would do over the clothes, but yet, they were just clothes.

I thought of Elsa Klensch when I went to an exhibit at the Peabody Essex museum entitled “Shoes.”  Straightforward.  Those things on your feet, this is an exhibit about them.  Magnificent.

Are shoes important?  I mean we put them on our feet, but do they tell people things about us?  Are they fantastical and whimsical or simply utilitarian?  I guess a combination of both.  Shoes are important.  Without them, we’d have some pretty dirty feet but we’d also be deprived of a way to express who we are.  Rich, poor, trendsetter, fashion follower, fashion denier.  They all matter.

Below I’m going to post some photos of shoes.  In the spirit of Elsa Klensch and the beauty of a George Michael’s Father Figure video and 1980s Chanel ads, I’ve restyled the shoe photos to kind of look 1980s and vintage.

A reminder first of the reference.  I mean there aren’t really any original ideas out there anyway.

Father Figure:


I have just always thought that the Father Figure video had some of the most beautifully shot and photographed imagery I’ve ever seen.  I’ve unabashedly stolen from its color palette for ages.  Now I can finally come clean about it.  RIP George Michael.

Oh and the other inspiration and by that I mean thing I stole from for the images — 1980s and 1990s Chanel ads.  I mean just look at them:





And finally, my version: