'Orlando mice, Miami Vice and Tampa nice'

That's Shahid Kapoor.

MELISSA LYTTLE | Times

That's Shahid Kapoor.

The AP's Tamara Lush:

The so-called Bollywood Oscars have been held in Macau, Singapore, London — and now, Tampa?

Starting Wednesday, hundreds of Indian film stars and thousands of Bollywood fans are expected to flood this city for the International Indian Film Academy's awards extravaganza, four days of song-and-dance performances and movie screenings. The event caps off with the awards ceremony Saturday.

Even though Tampa has hosted four Super Bowls and the 2012 Republican National Convention, its small Indian population makes it an unusual choice for the awards.

Full Story

Sunshine

Florida Orchestra percussionist John Shaw.

JOHN PENDYGRAFT | Times

Florida Orchestra percussionist John Shaw.

Good morning. It's Wednesday, April 23, 2014.

Let's start with Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn talking about Tampa and St. Pete: "We will succeed together or fail alone." Buckhorn, wrote the Times' Bob Trigaux, acknowledged Tampa slipped into economic mediocrity by failing to innovate soon after it adopted the wishful slogan "America's next great city" in the late 1980s.

A-list Bollywood star Saif Ali Khan called Tampa "one of the most lovely cities in the world."

Charlie Crist called Rick Scott "a disaster."

... an instrument called a waterphone, a metal sphere filled with water that sounds like the cry of a sea creature. Click.

IIFA's production will be the most complex since U2 played the stadium in 2009. Click.

Man robs CVS with paper plate note. Click.

Helping the springs! But not really.

Spring Hill's Ray Day: Public education should never be for sale to the highest bidder. Also this.

The state of stuff, pretty much: Real estate sales are up (yay?), the job market for college grads is better than it has been but still not that great, and the middle class doesn't feel like it anymore.

Full Story

What is Florida?

Here's what Russell J. Watrous of Land O'Lakes said it is in a letter to the editor today: A gaggle of houses built around roads and shopping centers where asphalt is the distinguishing feature? It should not be.

Full Story

Jeff Klinkenberg on the Harold P. Curtis Honey Co. and Colony Collapse Disorder

That red dot? The queen bee.

MELISSA LYTTLE | Times

That red dot? The queen bee.

Florida's preemenint culture writer in the food section in today's Times:

LaBELLE — Sure, things look bad for the bee man. But we are talking about Harold P. Curtis. Bees sting him and he hardly flinches. Bees die by the thousands and he raises another brood. Just let a bear approach his hives. He will not surrender a hive without a fight.

Morning. Clearing skies. Citrus trees blossom through clouds of excited bees. His famous orange blossom honey is waiting to be gathered.

Seventy-seven now, he has been a bee man since age 3. His daddy taught him how, and his granddaddy taught his daddy how, first in North Carolina and then in Florida.

The Harold P. Curtis Honey Co. store has been a fixture near the Caloosahatchee River on N Bridge Street since 1954. The family's hives — about 3,000 in all — can be found in the groves, in the pines, in the mangroves and along the beaches of south Central Florida.

As they buzz around him by the thousands, Mister Harold, as he is often called, works calmly and deliberately, without a veil, without a protective suit, the way he always has done.

"If I ever have to wear one of those astronaut suits to gather honey,'' he drawls, "I'm a-quitting." …

Full Story

Sunshine

Some of what's left.

New York Times

Some of what's left.

Good morning. It's Tuesday, April 22, 2014, which means it's Earth Day.

Apropos then: The next two weeks will show whether Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida House genuinely care about the health of the state's natural springs. Click.

Here's Scott speaking Spanish.

"Yo no soy un experto en la política pero yo sé el valor de un trabajo."

Translation: "I'm not an expert in politics, but I know how valuable a job is."

To which I'll add: Depends on the job.

Do read Andy Meacham's obit about "Pervert Dave."

Pretty good first sentence here from Curtis Krueger: A judge gave prison sentences on Monday to two people behind an internet fetish video that showed a mentally disabled man being kicked and beaten.

Something I learned this morning from Mike Van Sickler: Only Florida, Idaho and Mississippi forbid craft beer to be sold in the half-gallon size. "Why would the Senate want to do this?" asked House Majority Whip Dana Young, R-Tampa. "It goes against every free market, small business principle we have."

A dozen states still have anti-sodomy laws on the books 10 years after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled they are unconstitutional. Florida's one of 'em.

Not the avocado crop! …

Full Story

The Times' Melissa Lyttle has a love-hate relationship with her native Florida

Dead gator.

MELISSA LYTTLE | Times

Dead gator.

Part of what she said in an interview with fusevisual.org:

I love what it is. I hate what it's becoming. Only 30 percent of the state's population is native. So the vast majority of people who live here have no real connection to the place. I'm fascinated by what draws people here. Sunshine. No state income tax. A certain level of anonymity. "The Happiest Place on Earth." The idea that paradise is a place.

And on the surface all of that sounds lovely, but there's a much deeper, darker underbelly that I've just started to scratch. Florida has always been a land of pirates and drug runners, of mermaids and misfits, of people running away from something or coming to "God's waiting room" and just waiting to die. There's a dichotomy here more than anywhere else I've known. Someone told me recently that in the U.S. Florida is almost as close as you can get to being in another country and because of that people think laws and social codes of decency and normalcy don't apply to them here. I'd buy into that theory and would love to find a way to visualize it.

Full Story

How Rick Scott answers questions

The current Florida governor answers questions by not answering them. The Times' Steve Bousquet wrote about this back in January. Here's the latest via the Orlando Sentinel's Jim Stratton:

... the governor was asked if he believed Florida wildlife officials were right in killing bears that had become accustomed to and unafraid of humans.

Scott's (non-) answer: "Well first off, the first concern you have is the family -- for the lady who got injured. And my understanding is she's doing better. I know Fish and Wildlife is trying to do the best thing to keep our state safe, so they're doing their best …"

Next question: Should the minimum wage be raised?

Scott's (non-) answer: "What I focus on is how to create an environment where we have the best jobs in the world. That's what I work on every day. I know what it was like growing up when my father lost his job and how tough that was. I remember his face when his car got repossessed. So the best thing we can do is create an environment where we have the best jobs."

Full Story

Getting ready for the rising water

Here's what the world's rising seas will mean for Florida. Florida Atlantic's Keren Bolter says we don't have time to bicker about this. Read William E. Gibson in the Sun Sentinel:

WASHINGTON — While the nation looks for solutions to the problem of rising sea levels, some coastal communities in Florida are taking action to save themselves from sinking into the ocean.

Hallandale Beach is preparing to pump excess groundwater into an aquifer. Fort Lauderdale has raised a coastal roadbed and is installing one-way "tidal valves" that flush water down storm drains but block seawater from rising back up.

And coastal communities farther north, from Palm Beach County to the Space Coast, are developing plans that would concentrate housing, businesses, water plants and wells on higher ground, less vulnerable to the rising sea.

"Florida is ground zero for sea-level rise," U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson told the Senate while announcing a field hearing in Miami Beach on Tuesday, which is Earth Day. "We've got quite a story to tell."

Full Story

The quote of the morning is about the pythons in the Everglades and comes from Davidson College's Michael Dorcas

"If you had told me 10 years ago some of the things that we have found, I wouldn't have believed you because I didn’t think it could happen. We've seen declines across the board in mammal species that were once extremely common in Everglades National Park, and these species have declined by more than 90 percent in many cases and some 99 percent, and all the evidence shows that it's primarily due to python predation." The Python Invasion. The Python Challenge.

Full Story

Sunshine

Pasco County elementary school students.

BRENDAN FITTERER | Times

Pasco County elementary school students.

Good morning. It's Monday, April 21, 2014.

Did you read Drew Harwell's piece on the Sunday front? In the Tampa Bay area, he reported, the average household's spending on rent is near its highest point in the last three decades. Tenants here pay 32 percent of their income toward rent and utilities, compared to 27 percent in 2004.

Just something I underlined in yesterday's paper: The octopus-like development of South Florida has no real hub, with its strip malls, subdivisions and used car megastores multiplying like melaleuca in all directions.

... 37,000 tar balls ...

So what did they name the gator ... ?

(Less) Bright Futures. Click.

"The first time I looked at Florida's data, it was hard to believe. That's a lot of deaths." Click.

Bears being where people are and vice versa? I've never seen it put quite like this: "Our habitat is better than theirs." Which is of course not their fault. …

Full Story

Bill Nelson's pro-life

What he wrote in this morning's Times:

Among our fellow Floridians, our neighbors, there are roughly 764,000 low-income people whose misfortune is compounded by the fact they are without health care coverage.

The meager amount of money they do earn makes them ineligible for both Medicaid, the federal government's health insurance program for the needy, and for premium assistance under Obamacare.

As a result, many of them may lack access to routine medical care. And tragically, truth be told, some Floridians will die as a result of not expanding Medicaid.

The number of preventable deaths in Florida is somewhere between 1,158 and 2,221, according to a study by researchers from Harvard Medical School and Hunter College, who relied on various sources to arrive at that mortality estimate.

No member of either political party can claim victory here. Nor should our Republican governor and legislative leaders continue opposing the expansion of Medicaid — because honestly, there is no real reason to do so.

Full Story

Perry Cross and Don Brown are worried about 'thugs' and Albert Carmanico and Donna Hahn are worried about ... our lawmakers

The last thing Florida needs on the streets during hurricane evacuations or riots, the Times' editorial board said last week, is more concealed guns.

No, no, said Largo's Perry Cross in a letter to the editor yesterday: The choice of our legislators to acknowledge and support the Second Amendment, a fundamental birthright acknowledged and codified by the founders of this nation in the Bill of Rights, is being attacked by the Tampa Bay Times.

The Times stands in the shadow of another one of those unalienable rights, the First Amendment, for cover in its damnable attacks on the our individual right to defend ourselves, our families and our property. History teaches us what happens when the citizens of a nation lose the means to defend themselves from their own government as well as from thugs.

Thank God, Seminole's Don Brown added, or the representatives who voted to make it possible for all of the citizenry to be able to protect itself from the thugs who want to steal everything when an opportunity arises like a natural disaster. Thank you for letting us know who we should return to office at the next election. …

Full Story

How kids these days ask other kids to go to the prom

It's just a school dance.

SCOTT KEELER | Times

It's just a school dance.

This story in Sunday's paper gave me a case of the fuddy-duddies. Promposals? Seriously? All this stuff is public spectacle trumping private reality. Saying yes and then texting no because of course it's easier like that. Which is my way of saying you definitely should read it.

Full Story

Sunshine

Stephen Cox, 66, a.k.a. "the Bird Man of St. Pete," feeds a snowy egret a piece of squid.

CHRIS ZUPPA | Times

Stephen Cox, 66, a.k.a. "the Bird Man of St. Pete," feeds a snowy egret a piece of squid.

Good afternoon. It's Friday, April 18, 2014.

P.C. Wu would like to reiterate the importance of an open and transparent government in our state and urge lawmakers to address these issues.

Rick Scott, Sue Carlton says, has attempted more makeovers than a middle school slumber party.

Here's this headline: Florida man bought, resold limited-edition sneakers stolen from Nike, court documents say. Sneakers, man.

Here's this sentence: Swift previously created a full-length documentary called "The Bubble" about the town of Celebration.

The phrase of the day is Florida's liberal regulations for keeping wild animals.

This is some rageful road rage.

 

Full Story

Secede or succeed?

If at first you don't succeed ...

dixienet.org

If at first you don't succeed ...

The billboard advocating secession went up a couple months back in Tallahassee. The billboard advocating success went up this week in response.

"Secession is really the fundamental American political ideal," according to the League of the South.

"Florida's doing great," according to Ed Moore, the president of the Independent Colleges and Universities of Florida, the organization that teamed up with the Florida Chamber of Commerce to offer the roadside-advertisement-viewing portion of the populace a message that's broad to the point of unavoidably vague but certainly less separatist and slightly more ... sane.

"Oftentimes, the future belongs to the bold and those willing to think and act outside the box," League of the South president Michael Hill told Sunshine State News. "We in the League of the South offer this advice to the good people of the sovereign state of Florida: secede to succeed."

"Seceding is not the answer," chamber boss Mark Wilson said in a video.

I think the League of the South and the ICUF and the state chamber are going to have to agree to disagree.

The rest of us?

Full Story