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Sean Daly, Times Staff Writer

Sean Daly

Sean Daly is the pop music critic at the Tampa Bay Times. He has also alliterated for the Washington Post, the Washington City Paper and People magazine. An only child growing up outside of Boston, he spent great chunks of his youth sprawled in front of his parents' monolithic hi-fi system/coffee table. (He burned his besotted college years at Syracuse University doing pretty much the same thing.) Is he socially maladjusted? Absolutely. However, his music collection — from Otis Redding to Bob Dylan, Public Enemy to Stan Getz — is much bigger and better than yours. So there.

Phone: (727) 893-8467


Twitter: @SeanDalyPopLife

  1. Radio personality Todd Schnitt leaving Tampa for New York City


    Radio personality Todd Schnitt picked a good time to split town.

    Leaving the Tampa Bay market after 20-plus years — a market that's become a crowded dogfight in the mornings, especially with nemesis Bubba the Love Sponge Clem back in the fray — Schnitt is headed to New York City to launch a new gig, Len Berman and Todd Schnitt in the Morning, on 710 WOR, New York's oldest radio station. That's scheduled to start Monday....

    Longtime Tampa radio personality Todd Schnitt, shown here testifying in his 2013 defamation trial against rival Bubba the Love Sponge Clem, said that “New York City is a challenge I cannot ignore.” His new show begins on Monday.
  2. Legoland Florida to open new hotel, new land for girls


    WINTER HAVEN — After breaking attendance and revenue records in 2014, Legoland Florida Resort is looking to smash them again by addressing the brick-happy park's two greatest needs: a hotel on property, opening May 15, and a "land" aimed at preteen girls called Heartlake City, which will be pink and perky and pegged for later in the summer.

    Opened in 2011 on the site of the old Cypress Gardens, the 150-acre Legoland Florida has proved a success mainly because it has little interest in trying to compete with Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. "We've never tried to be all things to all people," said park general manager Adrian Jones, who adds that the park has kept the same demographic in sight: kids ages 2 to 12....

    The 152-room hotel, opening May 15, will feature themed rooms, such as this “Pirate” design. Other themes are “Adventure” and “Kingdom.” Rooms start at $279 a night.
  3. Retail gadgets aim to get inside your wallet — and your brain


    NEW YORK — The future of retail has a lot of head-spinning syllables: analytics, omnichannels, integrated shopping experiences. And yet the underlying theme of the National Retail Federation's 104th annual "Big Show" is a simple, altogether human one:

    You, the Consumer, are a fascinating, mysterious creature, a riddle yet to be fully solved.

    Oh, and you are definitely being watched....

    Panasonic’s R1 Toughpad can ring up sales and use facial recognition to allow a clerk to greet customers by name and see what they have previously purchased.
  4. Florida tourism embraces same-sex wedding boom


    Seven years ago, Michael Jamrock of New Port Richey co-founded a small tourism website with a big, hopeful name,, dedicated to same-sex-friendly vendors. Back then, advertisers and hits were few; states that legally recognized gay marriage even fewer.

    But this month, the former Miami radio and TV personality saw his EnGaygedWeddings site — which has since become one of the world's largest LGBT online directories for same-sex nuptial vacation spots, hotels, venues, you name it — set records for global traffic. ...

    According to a study promoted by political advocacy group Equality Florida, $117 million could be spent statewide in the first year alone based solely on LGBT Floridians getting married in Florida - never mind the influx of out-of-towners ready to exchange vows. [DIRK SHADD | Times]
  5. Last day to ride Gwazi roller coaster at Busch Gardens? Feb. 1


    Take note, coaster freaks: Feb. 1 is your last chance to brave Gwazi, the vertebrae-rattling thrill ride at Busch Gardens Tampa. The theme park announced last month that it will shutter the roaring, rickety attraction, which was the first dueling wooden roller coaster in Florida and the largest of its kind in the Southeast.

    Gwazi, which both fans and wobbly foes praised for its hair-raising nature, was built in 1999, offering a top speed of 50 mph over 6,800 feet of twin tracks: Lion and Tiger....

    Murray Maltz and Dara Strauss of Toronto keep their hands on the rails as they take a bone-rattling ride on Gwazi.
  6. Wet Seal closing two Tampa Bay locations


    Wet Seal, a specialty retailer for teen girls and young women, is closing 338 stores — including its Tampa Bay locations at WestShore Plaza and Westfield Citrus Park — triggering nearly 3,700 job cuts.

    The California retailer's locations at Tyrone Square Mall and International Plaza were not affected, according to employees working there Wednesday morning.

    All told, two-thirds of the company's stores across the country are being shuttered, with 173 remaining open....

    Wet Seal is closing 338 stores - including its Tampa Bay locations at WestShore Plaza and Westfield Citrus Park - triggering nearly 3,700 job cuts.  [AP photo]
  7. Meet Spike, the luckiest elephant at Busch Gardens Tampa


    Some guys — and pachyderms — have all the luck.

    A male Asian elephant at Busch Gardens Tampa will soon be added to an existing herd of five female Asian elephants.

    Ganesh, a.k.a. "Spike," is 33 years old, more than 12,000 pounds and, not to put too much press-release pressure on him, charged with "sustaining this critically endangered species."

    That's right: It's single-mingle time for Spike — all part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums' Species Survival Plan. According to the World Wildlife Foundation, in 2014, the total population of African elephants was estimated to be around 700,000, but the Asian elephant population was estimated to be around 32,000....

    Spike, a male Asian elephant, will be added to a herd of five female elephants at Busch Gardens Tampa. [Busch Gardens Tampa]
  8. Trader Joe's begins hiring 'mates' for St. Petersburg store


    ST. PETERSBURG — Need a gig? Have a Magnum P.I.-level love for Hawaiian shirts? Then get ready: The soon-to-open Trader Joe's at 2742 Fourth St. N will start accepting applications for potential new employees Monday.

    Job seekers should apply in person from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday until Jan. 30.

    Scheduled to open to the masses on Feb. 13, the specialty market is looking for part-time "mates" with pay ranging from $10 to $12 an hour. Trader Joe's opened its first bay area location in Tampa last year. ...

  9. Restoration Hardware opening megastore at Tampa's International Plaza


    TAMPA — Fans of $395 English openwork sconces rejoice!

    Restoration Hardware, the San Francisco-based "up market" retailer known for sating posh tastes for lavish furnishings, will open a palatial location at International Plaza later this year.

    It will be one of only a few specialized "Restoration Hardware Gallery" locations in the United States and is expected to be much larger than its current Hyde Park Village location in South Tampa. RH currently has five stores in Florida, and about 70 total throughout the country and Canada....

    Restoration Hardware has picked Tampa’s International Plaza to be home to one of only a few specialized stores in the country. It’s expected to be similar, though likely smaller, than the Restoration Hardware Gallery in Atlanta pictured here.
  10. Merry madness at new American Girl Orlando store (w/video)


    ORLANDO — When you're a dude at the American Girl store, you lay low, seek shadows, hug walls. Hiding's cool, too. Samuel Gaskin, visiting from Las Vegas, is motionless on a bench, sitting directly beneath a wall-sized portrait of a young lass cradling a rubber-faced 18-inch doll that's dressed exactly like her.

    The girl and the doll are smiling; Samuel Gaskin is not.

    "I found my spot and sat down, stayed put," says Gaskin, a Chicago Bears cap pulled low over slightly glazed eyes. "They're out there, somewhere, trying on dresses. I'm good here. I'm good."...

    American Girl began as a mail-order business, but experienced tremendous growth. Founded by a Wisconsin company, it was bought by Mattel for $700 million in 1998.
  11. Tampa Bay's best concerts of 2014, Part 3: Bruce Springsteen, Lionel Richie, Counting Crows and more


    (Through the end of the year on Soundcheck, our contributors are looking back at the best local concerts of 2014. Today: tbt*’s Sean Daly.)

    Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band (May 1, MidFlorida Credit Union Amphtheatre): “These are loose, more curious days for the blue-collar bard, his three-hour-plus shows all things to all people, including himself. He plays for the newbies (Badlands, Born to Run), for the diehards and rabid set list hunters who come to his shows praying for rarities (Brothers Under the Bridge), for his own well-worn, needy soul (a screaming cover of Them’s Gloria). His shows are still epically long, sweaty, comprehensive, but it’s a different feel now. There is nothing left to lose; he’s earned the right to do whatever the heck he wants.”...

    Lionel Richie performed at Tampa's MidFlorida Credit Union Amphitheatre on July 14, 2014.
  12. At ESPN Bitcoin Bowl, push is on for football — and cryptocurrency


    MADEIRA BEACH — The Alligator Attraction is a classic Florida joint, the kind of place where tizzied tourists can toss turkey dogs to snappy reptiles. But this week, old-school fun will start accepting new-school funds: bitcoin, an online "cryptocurrency" that has gained buzz — if not exactly a stronghold in the financial realm — the past few years.

    "There are so many benefits to bitcoin," says Sonny Flynn, business manager at Alligator Attraction, home of Chompers the star reptile, who, it should be noted, doesn't care how you pay for his snacks. "It's hack-proof. There's no transaction fee. It's almost as if you are paying in cash."...

    Visitors at the Alligator Attraction at John's Pass on Madeira Beach watch and feed baby alligators Monday According to owner Bob Barrett, the Alligator Attraction is now accepting Bitcoin, , the online cryptocurrency. (SCOTT KEELER  |  Times)
  13. Goodbye, Gwazi! Busch Gardens to close dueling wooden roller coaster


    Goodbye, Gwazi! Busch Gardens Tampa has confirmed plans to close its iconic double wooden roller coaster.

    The first dueling wooden coaster in Florida and the largest of its kind in the Southeast, Gwazi was built in 1999, offering a top speed of 50 mph over 6,800 feet of track. (Some might say it's also a chiropractor's dream: Gwazi, which has the twin tracks Lion and Tiger, can rattle your vertebrae pretty good.)...

    Murray Maltz and Dara Strauss of Toronto hold on tight as they take a ride on Gwazi in June 1999, the month the wooden roller coaster opened. Busch Gardens has announced plans to shut down the coaster, though no official date was given.
  14. Parking at Tampa International Airport? Kenny's on the job



    Kenny Garcia's rolling office gets a little gamy now and then. It's the air conditioner — it's a stinker. That's why the world's most famous airport shuttle driver always packs his secret weapon: "Febreze is on point!" he says with a defiant spritz, getting his ride ready for another loop. "You're your own boss in here. Got to keep it nice."

    The 29-year-old has spent almost 10 years driving flyers to and from the Economy Parking Garage at Tampa International Airport, usually in Shuttle No. 26, the same number as his birthday — never mind the smelly AC. ...

     Kenny Garcia drives a shuttle from the Economy Lot to the arrival gates at Tampa International Airport. The job -- like traveling -- can be tedious and repeitive, but Kenny tries to keep his passengers entertained.  [JAMES BORCHUCK  |  Times]
  15. Topgolf play zone merges driving, dining and even dancing (w/video)


    BRANDON — Right in the middle of my backswing, a golf club aloft over my left shoulder, a phalanx of young employees at Topgolf Tampa start line-dancing behind me. They're doing something called "the Wobble"; I, in turn, do something called "the Shank," totally botching my shot at this high-tech play zone.

    I blame them.

    This is a pretty, and pretty weird, joint, and it will prove curious counterpoint to the Bass Pro Shops opening across the street next year. Debuting to the public Dec. 19, Topgolf is a $20 million 65,000-square-foot behemoth hoping to lure both serious golfers and serious party stars from St. Petersburg, downtown Tampa and Orlando — not to mention families, foodies and single men and women ready to mingle, Wobble and, if time allows, actually play golf....

    Earl Garcia, 5, looks out at the driving range to see where his golf ball lands Wednesday at Topgolf in Brandon.