Although our brains, like other parts of us, aren't what they used to be, Mike Shea thinks it was 1984, and I think I agree with him. That's when a group of us led by Shea, then the outgoing president of the Ybor chamber, and Playmakers founder Mark Hunter got together over lunch at Don Quixote to plan an Ybor City Halloween party. The idea was to capitalize on a scary tradition started by the Ybor artists collective El Sama.
Trib columnist Steve Otto was calling Tampa The Big Guava and with the O-Man's blessing, this new party was dubbed Guavaween. Shea remembers Otto's words of encouragement _ "If I write about this and you guys don't pull it off, I'll kill you."
The group pulled it off. About 10,000 people showed up for a slightly sick parade that featured glow-in-the-dark mullet, a giant gas-spewing black bean and Mama Guava, a local actor who still wisely keeps her real name out of all this. Everybody thought it was incredible that so many revelers would invade Ybor for a costume party. Now, crowds on any Friday and Saturday easily double that number. Guavaween crowds are numbered in six figures.
The party has had plenty of growing pains and just about expired last year _ but Guavaween returns Saturday, this time with a professional production company behind it.
These days, many of the party's parents are steering clear of their wild child. Not Shea.
"I'm going early to watch the parade. I'll stay a while, but not too late."
Change your latitude, not your governor: Mr. Margaritaville, Mr. Manatee, that mellow-yet-funky Democratic Fruitcake, Jimmy Buffett, will make a free concert appearance in Tampa for Lawton Chiles. Word is the concert will happen the night before the election. Location is TBA. Buffett's last free show in Tampa was an acoustic set on Franklin Street Mall for Bill Clinton.
Old times at Cold Storage: Some old-time City Hall types gathered Wednesday after work to "honor" Dick Greco, a guy who just might turn out to be their new boss. The current occupant of the big office on the eighth floor got word of the bash and was not amused.
A night for art:
Chandra Alexander, of Alexander's, called to say that Tampa is on its way to creating some regular gallery night life, just like other big cities. Starting this Friday, galleries in Ybor City, Hyde Park, S MacDill, Kennedy Boulevard and others will be staying open once a month until 9 p.m. The promotion by the Tampa Gallery Association is called, appropriately enough, Fourth Friday.
A swing and a miss:
Rex Curry, everybody's favorite libertarian, brought a prop with him to the City Council's session on the convention center hotel. He called it the "Hotel Pinata" _ smash it open and a bunch of public money falls out.
Call it the Unharmonic Convergence: In a matter of moments Thursday, I ran into David Caton, the family values dictator, at City Hall for the convention center hotel debate, then saw Joe Redner, the nude dance guru, on the Franklin Street Mall. Redner was waiting for a jury to come back in his lawsuit against Hillsborough County. The suit involved the closing of his Brandon skin salon, Mons II.
Redner was sure he was already a winner. How did he know? "The jury just sent out for a calculator," he said. Sure enough, the jury calculated that the county owed Redner $230,000 in damages.
Call Wilborn with a tip at 226-3346.