Thursday, May 24, 2018
Opinion

Hooper: Finding the cure in a Riverwalk ramble

The lazy attitude that has betrayed me for so many years makes one last plea.

It's overcast and a bit dreary. You're just getting over a cold. Let's just ride around and listen to Luther.

I am undaunted. Spurred by Luther Vandross' ever chipper Glow of Love, I'm compelled to flee the ordinary confines of my car, and seek the extraordinary that awaits on the Tampa Riverwalk. I can't resist the chance to soak in the solace, to explore.

I begin just short of Waterworks Park with joggers and walkers and pet owners joining me. We're all embarking on solitary sojourns, but we walk together, searching. Physically, I'm looking to build my heart rate, break a sweat and shake my chest congestion, but the mental mission remains as murky as the cloudy skies. I'm seeking to fulfill my ever-present curiosity, some intellectual stimulation, but I have no idea what I'll find along the corridor.

I'm not sure what fuels the mission of the others, but it's clear they too are on a quest.

Of course, they sport the wear of outdoor enthusiasts — yoga pants and compression shorts and jogging gear — while I showcase faded jeans and a happy face Tee bought long ago at Target.

Memo to self: Buy a warmup suit.

The gray skies cannot dent my brisk pace, but I keep stopping — to read about Fortune Taylor, to read about Ella Chamberlain, to read about Kate Jackson. I stop to admire the newly added Veterans art near the Straz Performing Arts Center. It's compelling.

I stop to play the musical bench. I stop to realize walking the river is walking through a museum full of stationary displays and moving, living, breathing exhibits — the people. It's so much more with the people, the sense of community.

I keep walking. And thinking.

As I pass the dog park, I hear a man — older, worn and a bit tattered — sharing how his life belongs with the breeds that frolic next to him.

"I put her stuff on the porch and told her, 'You cheat on me, you can get the hell out,'" he boasts, loud and defiant.

His companion, a blonde woman bundled up in a black jacket, stares into the current, allowing his words to echo off the water and reverberate with sadness.

I keep walking. And wondering.

A child at the playground emits a hulking, guttural scream that belies his small frame. He's happy.

Later, I find myself trailing a quartet of teens. The lone boy among the four keeps talking about how much it costs to attend the University of Tampa. I want to show him Derek Bok's quote, carved into the Riverwalk just south of MacDill Park.

If you think education is expensive, try ignorance.

I keep walking. And searching.

I pass the folks with the quiet boxer but they pass me back when I stop to read more quotes.

One provides a bit of fodder for the next time I have to defend against those who argue my industry operates with a liberal-driven agenda.

The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.

The poignant words spark my curiosity. I spot a jewel from Eleanor Roosevelt.

No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.

The quotes make me appreciate my ability to read, and I wonder for a moment about the illiterate whom life has cheated out of that treasure.

I keep walking. And wandering.

At the multiple staircases dotting the convention center, I direct some bike-riding tourists to a ramp so they don't have to rumble down a flight of steps.

"I guess you could tell we're from out of town," they said with a laugh.

"Just trying to help," I replied, unable to come up with something more clever and surely disappointing Visit Tampa Bay CEO Santiago Corrada in my instant ambassador role.

I keep walking. And dreaming.

A lady compliments me on my shirt, and I match the shirt's joy with a toothy grin.

I arrive at the Sail Pavilion as the barkeeps begin to raise the steel doors. I tell myself alcohol is no cure for a cold, but that betraying laziness says, "Sit a spell, kick your shoes off, get a beer."

I give in. Simon the bartender asks if I want water, but I order a Bud Light.

As he fetches the draft, a familiar guitar rift breaks the mid-morning silence. Bono's soulful voice stirs the clouds and invites the sun to join my Sunday constitution, and I realize he's right.

I still haven't found what I'm looking for.

But I love searching along the Tampa Riverwalk.

That's all I'm saying.

Learn more about the Tampa Riverwalk at thetampariverwalk.com.

Comments
Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Editorial: Banks still need watching after easing Dodd-Frank rules

Legislation that waters down the 2010 Dodd-Frank law and was sent to President Donald Trump this week is a mixed bag at best. Some provisions recognize that Congress may have gone too far in some areas in the wake of the Great Recession to place new ...
Updated: 11 hours ago

Another voice: The chutzpah of these men

A new phase of the #MeToo movement may be upon us. Call it the "not so fast" era: Powerful men who plotted career comebacks mere months after being taken down by accusations of sexual misconduct now face even more alarming claims.Mario Batali, the ce...
Updated: 12 hours ago
Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Editorial: Candor key step to restoring trust at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Heart Institute

Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital has begun the important work of rebuilding trust with its patients and the community following revelations of medical errors and other problems at its Heart Institute. CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen candidly acknowledges...
Published: 05/22/18
Updated: 05/23/18
Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Editorial: Tampa Bay House members fail to stand up to Big Sugar

Big Sugar remains king in Florida. Just three of the state’s 27 House members voted for an amendment to the farm bill late Thursday that would have started unwinding the needless government supports for sugar that gouge taxpayers. Predictably, the am...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/18/18
Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

Editorial: A sweet note for the Florida Orchestra’s violin program for at-risk kids

This is music to the ears. Members of the Florida Orchestra will introduce at-risk students to the violin this summer at some Hillsborough recreation centers. For free.An $80,000 grant to the University Area Community Development Corp. will pay for s...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

Trump backs off China tariff threat as China pumps money into a Trump family project

In barely six weeks, President Donald Trump has gone from threatening to impose $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese goods to extending a lifeline to ZTE, a Chinese cell phone company that violated U.S. sanctions by doing business with Iran and North K...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Editorial: Activism as seniors helps put Hillsborough graduates on the right path

Lots of teenagers are walking together this week in Hillsborough County, a practice they’ve grown accustomed to during this remarkable school year.We can only hope they keep walking for the rest of their lives.Tens of thousands of them this week are ...
Published: 05/17/18
Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Editorial: Bondi holds drug industry accountable for Florida opioid crisis

Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi’s lawsuit against the nation’s largest drug makers and distributors marks a moment of awakening in the state’s battle to recover from the opioid crisis. In blunt, forceful language, Bondi accuses these companies of ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

Editorial: Johns Hopkins All Children’s should be more open about mistakes

A state investigation raises even more concern about medical errors at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital and the venerable St. Petersburg institution’s lack of candor to the community. Regulators have determined the hospital broke Florida law by ...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18