Saturday, June 23, 2018
News Roundup

Free spirit Byron Howes, an 'artist at living,' dies at 58

ST. PETERSBURG — Like the consummate 1960s holdout he was, Byron Howes liked his time unstructured. He might stay up all night kneading his famous tie-dye T-shirts, which he sold at the Saturday Morning Market or Circus McGurkis, or swimming in Florida springs or writing songs.

Regulars at Gulfport's Blueberry Patch, described as Florida's longest-running artists retreat, frequently heard Mr. Howes playing guitar on a makeshift stage decorated like a hoarder's Christmas. Or you might have seen him at Pass-a-Grille beach, snapping Frisbees and going for immaculate receptions in the surf.

Mr. Howes, who resisted labels, describing himself only as an "artist at living," died June 30 of a heart attack, his family said. He was 58.

He relished wordplay, from his trademark "By-dye" shirts to a state of mind he called "Impeccaville."

"The Buddhists said, 'Let your words be impeccable,' " Bobby Howes said last week in a eulogy for his brother. "But Byron turned it into a place your mind can go. A fun place like Margaritaville."

It was also a game.

"Make a deal with someone you love," said Bobby Howes, 56. "When one of you starts wiggin' or whining or complaining or saying or doing anything negative, the other one can call 'Impeccaville,' and the whiner has to snap back to Impeccaville in speech and deeds. It works wonders for positivity.

"Eventually," he said, "you'll start calling Impeccaville on yourself."

Byron John Howes was born in 1955 in Tulsa, Okla., the fourth of five children. After his father died of a heart attack in 1957, Mr. Howes spent time in an orphanage in New York state. Sally Howes reunited her family and moved to St. Petersburg in the mid-1960s.

"I always thought he was the smartest one," said Molly Howes, 59, a clinical psychologist and Mr. Howes' sister, who described him as someone with a "big size, big presence, big intellect" and "outstandingly hippie-ish."

But those years of early uncertainty left a mark, his brother said, "compounded by being oversized and awkward, a target for bullies that left him with a chip on his shoulder and sometimes an explosive temper.

"He studied Buddhism to fix that."

By high school Mr. Howes was a blond, square-jawed football lineman who could have dumped a bully on his head. He went to Eckerd College, where he majored in pick-up basketball and partying but still graduated in four years. He lived in the Oakland, Calif., area for a while, volunteered for Ralph Nader and married someone to help her get a green card.

Mr. Howes returned to St. Petersburg in the early 1990s and became a regular at the Blueberry Patch. He developed a friendship with Patch founder Dallas Bohrer, a former designer with a passion for art and interdependence, or "sharevival."

"There is no one that loved Dallas and Dallas' ideas any more than Byron," said Peter Duffy, a Patch veteran since its founding in 1977. The three men took occasional day trips to Hardee County to visit artist Howard Solomon, Florida's king of nonconformity, and his aluminum-sided three-story "castle" on the edge of a swamp.

Eight years ago, Mr. Howes met artist Nola Flamingo at a "contagious laughter" workshop. They married five years ago.

"We were two strong personalities," said Nola, 56. "We butted heads sometimes, but we learned to compromise."

Mr. Howes spent the last day of his life playing his guitar, then throwing a Frisbee with his brother Bobby at the beach.

Scores of friends and family members gathered to remember him at Sacred Lands Preservation and Education Center, many of them wearing tie-dyes and Indian dresses, in sandals or bare feet. After the celebration, some retreated to a dock, played songs and watched dolphins feeding as the sun set over Boca Ciega Bay.

It was about as close to Impeccaville as anyone was likely to get.

Andrew Meacham can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2248.

Comments
Lightning takes Quebec LW Gabriel Fortier with second-round pick

Lightning takes Quebec LW Gabriel Fortier with second-round pick

The Lightning is on the board in the 2018 NHL draft, using their first pick — 59th overall in the second round — on Gabriel Fortier, an undersize left wing from Quebec."I spoke with them a couple of times, so I knew there was an interest,...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Newly discovered, 550 million-year old fossil named after Obama

Newly discovered, 550 million-year old fossil named after Obama

Recent actions by the Trump administration - a wave of unprecedentedly large family separations at the border, aggressive trade-war-fueling tariffs and rebukes of allies - have made some feel as though the Barack Obama presidency was an unrecognizabl...
Updated: 2 hours ago
For starters: Rays vs. Yankees, looking for two straight

For starters: Rays vs. Yankees, looking for two straight

UPDATE, 2:38: Clarifying what was a communication error with the team PR staff, Rays manager Kevin Cash said LHP Blake Snell was slated for an extra day's rest all along and will face the Nationals on Monday not the Yankees on Sunday. The Rays will u...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays Tales: Why ‘trades’ and ‘prospects’ are always in same conversation

Rays Tales: Why ‘trades’ and ‘prospects’ are always in same conversation

Besides the continual evolution of their intriguing pitching plan, the primary topics of conversation for the Rays over the next several weeks will be trades and prospects. And not mutually exclusively.Some sooner than others, the Rays are going to c...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Sanders says she was told to leave Virginia restaurant

Sanders says she was told to leave Virginia restaurant

WASHINGTON (AP) — White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders acknowledged Saturday in a tweet that she was booted from a Virginia restaurant Friday night because she works for President Donald Trump.Sanders said she was told by the owner of T...
Updated: 3 hours ago
FHP: Wrong-way driver hit 100 miles per hour before sideswiping car

FHP: Wrong-way driver hit 100 miles per hour before sideswiping car

A Clearwater man who authorities said sideswiped a car while driving more than 100 miles per hour the wrong way on U.S. 41 was arrested Friday. Wendel Jamel James, 35, is charged with DUI with property damage, reckless driving and leaving the scene ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
‘Notorious RBG’ wanted to be a singer. Now, a CD celebrates her life.

‘Notorious RBG’ wanted to be a singer. Now, a CD celebrates her life.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has often said, in interviews, that she would have loved to have been an opera singer.She has certainly become a fixture at many opera houses around the country: She is often spotted in the audience; she sometimes presides...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Oldsmar cheer coach faces new sexual battery charges

Oldsmar cheer coach faces new sexual battery charges

An Oldsmar cheerleading coach charged this week with sending explicit images to a minor now faces additional sexual battery charges.Victor Martin Valenty, 28, is accused of having "inappropriate sexual activity" with a 15-year-old at his home for mor...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Migrants denied access to lawyers, held in cells 23 hours a day, ACLU lawsuit alleges

Migrants denied access to lawyers, held in cells 23 hours a day, ACLU lawsuit alleges

After crossing the U.S.-Mexico border seeking asylum, 123 men have been detained for weeks, caged in prison cells for up to 23 hours per day and denied access to attorneys at a federal detention center in Sheridan, Oregon, a lawsuit filed Friday by t...
Updated: 7 hours ago
First step for Hillsborough schools facing biggest challenges: Hire more teachers

First step for Hillsborough schools facing biggest challenges: Hire more teachers

TAMPA — As chief of diversity for the Hillsborough County School District, Minerva Spanner-Morrow tries to keep her expectations realistic."We want the best of the best and I know that’s very difficult," she told principals last week as they prepared...
Published: 06/23/18