Interest in Tampa Homebrew Website Club?

Gauging interest in Tampa to see if anyone would be up for joining a
Homebrew Website Club. A lot of tech folks have vey neglected personal sites and this would give folks a chance to get together and talk tech and work on their personal site and pet proejcts. Platform agnostic (read, not another WordPress meetup) so open to anyone. If interested ping me on Twitter @miklb for now and I’ll sort out finding a location and setting up a time. Only looking for a couple of people to get off the ground.

Tunesday: Crooked Fingers

While revisiting the Avett Bros tonight in my music library, the next band was Archers of Loaf, which got me to thinking what was Eric Bachmann’s subsequent project up to? So I Googled them and discovered they’re going to be in Tampa February 26.

One of the seminal shows I’ve ever had the pleasure of experiencing in Ybor City (or any where for that matter) was a Crooked Fingers show at the New World Brewery. It was one of the coldest nights, particularly that late in winter I’ve ever known. Due to some circumstances beyond my understanding, they had to play New World, and because of the cold, had to play inside. One thing led to another, sound issues, I don’t know, but the band played, literally, on the bar unplugged. Mind you, there might have been 50 people tops in the place that night, but if you ask anyone now, they were there. I mean, if you’ve ever been inside that bar, it’s not big. They were standing on the bar, moving from as you enter counter clock-wise until they finished up the set in front of the jukebox. If the cliché “epic” could better be applied, I’m not sure where.

I’ve gathered more of their music over the years, still find myself listening to the Archers of Loaf’s All the Nation’s Airports and am stoked to see a where a serious song writer’s taken his craft.

Justin Townes Earle -Live Tonight in Tampa

When you’re the son of Steve Earle and your name sake is Townes Van Zandt, you’ve got some pretty big shoes to fill. Listening to his last two albums, especially the latest, Harlem River Blues, I think he’s stepped into them quite nicely. He’s playing live at the Crow Bar in Ybor tonight. If you don’t have plans, you should now.

Help Cigar City Brewing Keep it’s Tasting Room

Cigar City BrewingA plea from Cigar City Brewing came across my Twitter feed this morning via The Independent – Tampa. This is a perfect example of why I am going to start using my blog more and not just Twitter. Sure, I could retweet the link, say 3-4 words on it, but I want to fully comment on the situation.

The nutshell, the Tampa City Council failed to make permanent the wet zoning license and extend the hours for the tasting room of Cigar City Brewing. I’ve watched enough city council meetings to know this is generally a no brainer for a business like this that has had zero incidents. But for those that don’t live in Tampa or not as familiar, the owner of the CCB’s father has some high profile businesses that have clashed with the city for years. These city council members are punishing the son for issues they may have with the father. I know this because I watched the original city council meeting when they went for their license and zoning originally. They didn’t trust that this would be a legitimate business. Or at least those were the implications. That somehow this would all be a ruse to get some kind wet zoning and turn into some other type of business.

Little does the backwards uninformed who failed to vote on this know, but Cigar City Brewing is known nationally, internationally if you include Canada. Their beers are recognized and respected amongst some of the biggest and best micro-breweries. Shutting down the tasting room, or at the least minimizing it’s ability to do business, is a travesty and yet another sign of how far Tampa really is behind the times.

So if you are a craft beer fan not in Tampa, perhaps follow one of the links from the CCB site and tell a council member about your support for the art and the quality of the beer from CCB. If you do live in the city limits, please tell Ms. Miller, Rev. Scott (who is running for mayor? really you’d not want a world class business like this to not succeed?) and Mr. Stokes (oh, on second thought I will run for city council after telling you I wouldn’t) that not supporting this permanent license is a travesty and a disservice to the city.

Beyond Barcamp Tampa Bay

This past weekend was the 3rd Barcamp Tampa Bay. Afterwords, Peter Radizeski one of the original organizers tweeted “how do we keep the community talking between BarCamps?”, to which my answer was that I believe the key is to foster the “mini” communities that come together at Barcamps, and that cross pollination amongst the smaller communities will keep the discussions going. To which Peter replied he didn’t think the cross pollination was working. I respect all of the work that Peter has done to help build Tampa Bay tech communities. I think we move in slightly different “mini” communities, so perhaps there are some that don’t cross over as much as others, but I will say in the 2 years since BarCamp 2008, I genuinely believe that it is happening. Perhaps not as fast as some would like, but it wasn’t that long ago that I didn’t know a single person in real life working with WordPress, web development or web technologies in the Tampa Bay area.

I was someone who had switched careers, was working from home freelancing, and all of my interaction was online. I used to joke that I had more friends in the industry overseas than I did in the Bay area. Now that is not the case. Perhaps partly from the proliferation of services like Twitter, but I now know real live human beings living in the Bay area who work with similar technologies as myself. That circle grows larger every time I attend a local event, be it Barcamp or more recently, the local WordPress User Group. I don’t get to hang out with these people as much as I’d like, but that’s the case with my friends not in the industry too. Life just gets in the way.

I do think there is a responsibility for those who want to see a more thriving community locally to as I said, foster the smaller communities and try and bring the Barcamp sharing and nurturing mentality to their smaller circles. Perhaps it’s time someone reaches out to Ryan and the Florida Creatives to start an active, local chapter to help bring the smaller communities together. Maybe there’s another umbrella organization that just hasn’t been started. Are people put off by the term “creative”? I honestly don’t have the answer. I know earlier this year myself and several others discussed what possible umbrella organization could help achieve this, and nothing came of it. Maybe it’s time to revisit the conversation in a broader scope? I was speaking with an organizer of BarCamp Sarasota and they do events year round under the BarCamp moniker. Is BarCamp evolving from the DIY stick-it-to-the-man un-conference into a “brand” that people can associate with and can be that umbrella? Again, I don’t claim to have all of the answers, but certainly would love to see the discussion continue, and will continue to make efforts in my smaller circles to build a local community of web technologist for the Tampa Bay area.

Jeff Norton Inspired Me

I was a quasi punk teenager when I first traveled to Hyde Park to experience “art”. Sure, I’d done the Ybor thing, but this was high end stuff as far as I had experienced it. A live performance of actors was way more than seeing Black Flag do 3 songs then run off stage. This was School of Night. I honestly don’t remember the skits, but I do remember Jeff and another actor doing a scene from a Sam Shepard piece ( I think it was from True West).

As I grew older, I took advantage of the opportunities to experience Jeff’s larger performances with troupes like American Stage. During this time, I was introduced to Jeff through a mutual acquaintance. He was humble, brooding. Everything I had pictured an artist to be. I was jealous.

I thought him an older but kindred spirit, not a celebrity. He was an artist. I got a glimpse of a genius. Someone who was so comfortable with his art; perhaps tortured in the fact that he was such a craftsman of his art that he could perform it in a burgh such as Tampa. He trusted that there were like minded souls who also parked their tent in this god-forsaken mosquito ridden peninsula of peninsulas a genuine art scene would evolve. I know I cooked food with that same passion. I regret I didn’t stay true to my own passion…

I for one apologize for being so shortsighted I didn’t realize it sooner–yes, I wanted a dynamic, brilliant local scene. And there is one. Theatre, food, dance… it’s all there. Maybe not how I envisioned it because I wanted brilliance such as Jeff’s to be national news, and in my youth I lost my vision.

However, in the twilight of my own perspective, and in the sunset of the passing of Jeff Norton, I reflect on that first night in a little corner bistro at Howard and Azeele, and pray that the baton of pure passion and art will continued to be passed.

God speed Jeff Norton, god speed.

Austin: Why don’t you just try another neighborhood, all right?
Lee: What’sa’ matta with this neighborhood? This is a great neighborhood. Lush. Good class a’ people…”

From True West

(ed. note) This post contained two videos of Jeff, which have since been removed from Youtube. I respect their decision

Tampa MOSI TweetUp

I’m very excited to be attending the Tampa TweetUp this Saturday night (1/17/09) at the Tampa Museum of Science and Industry. Billed as an unstructured evening for

…other local Tweeple who enjoy Twitter, blogging, and all that is social media for an evening of drinks and great conversation. Enjoy a night out of the office or home, Away from your computer, to dork out with others who share similar passions of social networking and have a few drinks.

Not only is this a chance to socialize in person, MOSI is opening up the top of the IMAX dome, giving us an “exclusive 8-story high, 360 degree view of Tampa” (hopefully I’ll be able to get a few good pics), the museum will be introducing their Virtual Ambassador Program. From what I gather of the details of the event, MOSI is developing a viral marketing program by giving bloggers and social media persons some swag, including:

  • One year free membership to the museum
  • Free ticket to every IMAX film opening from January – June 2009 (excluding special engagements)
  • Free ticket to Body Worlds 3 and the Story of the Heart opening January 22, 2009 – The Original Exhibit of Real Human Bodies.

in exchange for a “6 month commitment in helping raise community awareness online about the museum, Body Worlds exhibit, IMAX, and other MOSI offerings”. I have every intention in participating in the program, as I’d certainly enjoy attending events and exhibits and then blogging/Twittering about them afterward.

tweetup!In regards to the TweetUp itself, ever since attending BarCamp Orlando, I’ve wanted to connect with local bloggers and web geeks like myself. To that end, I’ve failed, as scheduling conflicts prevented me from attending BarCamp Tampa, as well as a few local blogger meetups. However, I swore to myself that this year I would make a concerted effort to be available for these events, as well as actively help foster more of them. I read with envy tweets from people in places like Philadelphia and Orlando who are connecting in real life with other bloggers and developers. I don’t want to wait until I’m in a different city to meet and connect with folks who live down the road.

Though I don’t consider myself a big “social networker”, I do love me some Twitter, and certainly understand their place in today’s web. I am actually taking my first steps in embracing a broader view of social networking by integrating some of the features available in Facebook Connect into a site I’m developing for a client. I’ve got a long way to go, but it’s certainly been an enlightening process, and has undeniably changed my attitude towards sites like Facebook in that just because I personally do not participate in a particular network, it doesn’t mean the network has no value. That said, I don’t think I will ever say the same thing about MySpace.

Tampa Politics Strikes Again

(warning- long rant)
While I was loosing my mind week before last, so was Tampa’s city council. The difference is, I’ve finally come to grips with how I did, and how to prevent it, unfortunately, this council hasn’t. To be fair, two, Dingfelder and Saul-Sena, were opposed and clear thinking in how to handle the situation I’m referring to.
For those not familiar with Tampa, it’s a fairly “young”city, not really getting into the swing of things until the late 1880’s, and didn’t really hit it’s stride until just after the turn of the century. Which just happens to coincide with the boom of the cigar industry. Hence the nickname that still lingers for Tampa, “Cigar City”. Continue reading “Tampa Politics Strikes Again”

Tampa Blogging

I was checking my recent referers, and saw that I had several referals from Seminole Heights Blog, and the discussion of the bay area being “blog capital of Florida”. I rarely discuss Tampa issues, and funny enough, I just came across an article at discussing Tampa officials wanting to ease laws regarding gifts of tickets. When I read the article, I almost wrote about it then. But after reading the discussion, I feel I must touch on it.
Continue reading “Tampa Blogging”

Tampa Blogging

I was checking my recent referers, and saw that I had several referals from Seminole Heights Blog, and the discussion of the bay area being “blog capital of Florida”. I rarely discuss Tampa issues, and funny enough, I just came across an article at discussing Tampa officials wanting to ease laws regarding gifts of tickets. When I read the article, I almost wrote about it then. But after reading the discussion, I feel I must touch on it.
Continue reading “Tampa Blogging”

Urban Fishing at its Best

Ahh. Red tide, heat indexes of 105º +, rising housing costs, traffic, Jeb Bush…all reasons to hate living in Florida, and Tampa in particular. But this morning, I walked for three hours in waist deep water, watching aquatic life teeming around me, all the while with the “twin cities” of Tampa and St. Petersburg bookending my morning.
Granted, I misapplied my sunscreen, thus I have splotchy red spots, and my fishing partner took home the grand prize of a 24 inch red (drum) fish, however, my world sorta slipped back onto its axis, as I maintained my realization that 5am drunken rooftop parties are no longer for me.
Drop me a contact if you live in the Tampa Bay area and would like to experience the splendor that is Florida land based fishing.