Thursday, January 18, 2018
News Roundup

Why Bollywood in Tampa? Why not?

Ours is a city on the move, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn likes to say. And I would add, not always in ways you might expect.

Who'd have thought it? Here's Tampa smack in the middle of hosting India's Bollywood Oscars, with all the ensuing glam and glitz, sequins and skinny suits, famous actors and adoring fans, and a culture not entirely familiar to a lot of us.

How improbable. And as it turns out, how fun.

As this city on the west edge of Florida's middle grows and changes — as it "reimagines" itself, the boosters like to say — we are getting used to outsiders peering down their noses and saying: Tampa? Really?

This week, urbane National Public Radio politely pointed out that, even with its lovely bay and history of hosting large events, Tampa, Bollywood's first-ever American host, "isn't exactly an international capital."

A blunter Associated Press piece headlined Indian film awards arrive in Tampa, Fla., but why? noted that the Bollywood Oscars have been hosted by "Macau, Singapore, London — and now, Tampa?"

And did they really need "Fla." in the headline? They were thinking Tampa, Kansas, maybe?

Here's one reason why Tampa: Because people from here, among them Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham, put serious sweat into convincing organizers what a great open stage we make.

And because it turns out we do know how to do this, given our Super Bowls and that Republican National Convention.

And maybe also because our very-button-down mayor — who described himself in that NPR story as looking like one of those "stuffy old white guys in suits" and will tell you he Does. Not. Dance. — this week was willing to cut loose in the spirit of things anyway, dancing onstage in front of everyone. The head of the tourism bureau did a split even.

So it's because we are a town that wanted it badly enough and could do it, too.

On a trip to Miami recently I was struck (as always) by change, like the hip restaurant filled with people out of a Ralph Lauren ad on the once workaday Miami River. (For the record, Tampa is "rethinking" its own Hillsborough River with the Riverwalk, restaurants and residences.)

But Miami at its heart is still the guy I saw on the wild end of Virginia Key last week, slicing open a coconut with a machete and tilting it back to drink. It's million-dollar views of a glittery city anyone can see for free from a beach chair set up under trees along a causeway.

Speaking of a city's personality, what do you suppose our international visitors made of swashbuckling pirates greeting them at the airport this week? Because the only-in-Tampa Gasparilla festival of marauding pirates taking over the town can be hard to explain even to fellow Floridians.

Besides a city slicked up for their visit, I hope they notice things like old-timers gossiping over Cuban toast in aging cafes, neighborhoods of old bungalows and the way the minarets over the University of Tampa look at sunset. I hope they notice our Jacaranda trees, suddenly bursting out in their yearly neon purple blossoms like we ordered them up special just for the occasion.

And when it's over maybe we're closer to the consensus that in Tampa, there's no chance you're in Kansas anymore.

Comments
What you need to know for Thursday, Jan. 18

What you need to know for Thursday, Jan. 18

Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today.• The worst is behind us, but we’re not quite yet finished with the chilly weather. Last night was one of the coldest nights in years, and tonight will only be several degrees ...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Romano: Are buses really our last gasp?

Romano: Are buses really our last gasp?

To the members of the Tampa Bay Transportation Management Area Leadership group:Listen carefully when a new plan for a rapid bus system is unveiled to you on Friday. All the benefits the supporters will tout will undoubtedly be true.A rapid bus syste...
Updated: 9 hours ago
In St. Petersburg, skeptics sneer at plan to concentrate USF power in Tampa

In St. Petersburg, skeptics sneer at plan to concentrate USF power in Tampa

In the state capitol on Wednesday, lawmakers breezed through the bullet points of a higher education bill. They skimmed past a hot-button proposal to consolidate the University of South Florida System into a single university without a peep of pushba...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Read the report on the fatal FSU frat party: ‘The most intoxicated’ they had ever been

Read the report on the fatal FSU frat party: ‘The most intoxicated’ they had ever been

"On Nov. 3, 2017, the Tallahassee Police Department responded to 1012 Buena Vista Drive … in reference to a death investigation."So begins a charging document in the case of Andrew Coffey, the 20-year-old Florida State University student who was foun...
Updated: 10 hours ago
New St. Pete City Council gets to work, starting with 2018 budget

New St. Pete City Council gets to work, starting with 2018 budget

ST. PETERSBURG — The new City Council will get its first chance to weigh in on the 2018 budget on Thursday morning — and they’re likely to bring a long list of priorities to the table.In recent years, rising property values have kept city coffers flu...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Extraordinary heroism deserves a less ordinary movie than ‘12 Strong’

Extraordinary heroism deserves a less ordinary movie than ‘12 Strong’

After 16 years of combat and counting, the war in Afghanistan gets a happy movie ending in 12 Strong, a thick slice of patriot porn.Based on a true story, 12 Strong rightfully celebrates the first U.S. Special Forces unit battling Taliban forces shel...
Published: 01/18/18
Crystal Lagoon planners brace for chilly ribbon cutting today

Crystal Lagoon planners brace for chilly ribbon cutting today

WESLEY CHAPEL — Mother Nature seems to have a way of putting a chill on one of the hottest amenities in residential real estate development.Members of the business community, elected officials and officers with Metro Development Group and Crystal Lag...
Published: 01/18/18

High school scoreboard for Jan. 17

Wednesday’s scoreboardBoys basketballBoca Ciega 62, Clearwater 52Boys soccerPalm Harbor U. 3, Dunedin 0Girls soccerPalm Harbor U. 5, Dunedin 0
Updated: 7 hours ago
‘All I see is fire’: 911 calls released from Florida casino boat fire

‘All I see is fire’: 911 calls released from Florida casino boat fire

PORT RICHEY — The first call came into emergency dispatch at 4 p.m. on Sunday from shore, reporting a ‘giant’ boat on fire in the Pithlachascotee River."It’s urgent," the caller said.Others followed quickly, one woman crying as she described from her...
Updated: 8 hours ago
For FSU fraternity, a wild night turned tragic

For FSU fraternity, a wild night turned tragic

The night of initiation was the most that the brothers of Florida State University’s Pi Kappa Phi chapter said they had ever seen their pledge class drink.That was the plan, court records said: Pledges would arrive at the fraternity house Nov. 2 and ...
Updated: 8 hours ago