Carlton: Signs men love, city songs, Gasparilla suds and honor among thieves

Signs, songs, suds, and honor among thieves: notes from the week that was:

Restoring our faith in accused criminals everywhere, a burly band of Hillsborough County jail inmates didn't think twice about jumping in to help a detention deputy being choked by another inmate.

In a fracas that made it all the way to Oprah, the men in jail-orange jammies were captured on video wrestling the bad guy — okay, the bad guy at the moment — off Deputy Kenneth Moon, maybe saving his life.

Our heroes were not a few fellas accused of shoplifting candy bars. Among their charges: attempted murder, home invasion, armed trafficking. Each will get a letter from the jail that lawyers can use to try to mitigate their cases. Seems fair.

Okay, so was it just me? Or did you see this strange scene — inmates helping the Man without hesitation, not piling on, not standing back — and think maybe there's good in even the baddest of us?

Speaking of bad behavior, Tampa deserves credit for working to clean up the bawdy beerfest that is Gasparilla after residents complained of a yearly siege of barfing in bushes and weeing in streets — among other acts of which Miss Manners would not approve.

More cops? Excellent. Better enforcement? Definitely. Additional portable toilets? Party on.

In this spirit, City Council member John Dingfelder also talked of asking stores not to sell beer that day and rejecting wet-zone requests from nonprofits. Okay, he meant well. But jeez, councilman, why don't you just take our Who pudding and our roast beast?

In the end, Dingfelder got it and backed off. Ditch those ugly traditions, but Gasparilla without beer? Not here.

Council member Mary Mulhern caught my ear in a discussion of those terrible lighted digital billboards that are a blight on our landscape. Like me, she seems to consider them ugly and unsafe, but also apparently believes them to be man magnets.

Opined Mulhern at a meeting: "I don't know any man who can drive by a digital billboard without looking at it. I can't get my husband's attention if he's watching TV, or my son, who will someday have a driver's license. It's just a genetic thing. So television screens all over the side of the road is really scary." Hey, she said it, not me.

In St. Petersburg, the self-proclaimed "uniter" beat the "divider" to be the new mayor, and no matter how you voted, it's a shame they won't have never-afraid-to-say-it Kathleen Ford to kick around anymore. But on to more pressing business: picking the official city song.

You have until midnight Monday to vote at www.stpete.org for one of these finalists: Carry Me Back to St. Petersburg, I'm Off to St. Pete, or Life's Sunny and Sweet in St. Pete. Gotta admire the rhyme on that last one, since I could find nothing to rhyme with "St. Petersburg."

I did try my hand at a song: Things sure are interesting in St. Pete, where they like to give away that BayWalk concrete …

No, no, no. Think happy. Think Tampa's song, I Am Tampa, about which even the mayor said, "Okay, it's not New York, New York."

Sample lyric: Got a smile on my face and it won't go away. 'Cause the place I call home makes me feel that way …

Which tends to be true, given what goes on any given week around here.

Carlton: Signs men love, city songs, Gasparilla suds and honor among thieves 11/06/09 [Last modified: Friday, November 6, 2009 6:36pm]

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