Tuesday, February 21, 2023

Chickens and Kooks

As Dave slumbered in our hotel room yesterday morning, I took a walk eastward, away from downtown. There's a ton of new development out that way, on land that used to be occupied by...something. (I'm not sure what was there before. Industry?) There are lots of new apartments, including this building with a colossal mural on the side of Freddie Mercury, Elton John and Jimi Hendrix. None of them have anything to do with Tampa as far as I know, except perhaps for passing through on musical tours, but I like the mural.

I soon found myself in Ybor (pronounced EEbor) City, a traditionally Cuban and Italian area and the center of Tampa's historic cigar-making industry. It's now the nightclub district, although there's new residential there too.

Like Key West, Ybor City is famous for its wandering chickens. They're all over the place. Apparently some of the people who have moved into those new residential buildings aren't crazy about the quantity of crowing roosters in the streets. But hey, the roosters were there first.

I stopped for a cafe con leche at a cafe (not La Tropicana, which is closed now, but one nearby). I also ordered a guava and cheese croissant. The cashier, wearing a Grateful Dead skull and roses t-shirt, was clearly in training and everyone seemed to be moving slowly -- I swear they were all on edibles. The coffee eventually emerged but I had to ask again for the croissant and as it turned out, they didn't have any left. Maybe the employees got the munchies? I just stuck with the coffee.

I stopped by Jose Marti Park (more chickens!) and reminisced about all the crazy nights I'd spent in Ybor City nightclubs in my youth. Then I rode the free streetcar back into downtown and walked back to the hotel via the riverfront -- a section of the Riverwalk that Sue and I had bypassed on Sunday.

We'd arranged to meet Dave's parents for lunch, and they arrived at our hotel about 45 minutes early. I went down to chat with them in the lobby and told them a bit about the historic nature of the hotel. I was interrupted by a woman sitting nearby who insisted it had been built in 1905 and not in the '20s, as I'd said -- and then proceeded to tell us about the various famous people who'd stayed there and then about the history of Tampa. "I've never been here before but I did research," she said. I was dying to respond, "Lady, I GREW UP HERE!" But I held my tongue. (The hotel, by the way, was built in 1926.)

We went to Ulele for lunch, in a little park adjacent to a quiet canal that extends to the river. (That's restaurant seating on the right in the photo above, but we ate inside.) I had a shrimp po' boy sandwich, which was yummy, and then we drove up to Lutz to meet with my stepsister and collect her car, which I borrowed to drive to Jacksonville. Dave and his parents headed down to Bradenton, where I'll see them in a few days, and I began the long drive north.

It's a four-hour drive from Tampa to Jacksonville, where my mom and brother live. And for me it took a little longer because I got caught in a traffic jam of uncertain origin (what the Nigerians call a "go-slow," which is a great term) on I-75. I didn't dilly-dally on the drive and took just a few photos, like this graffiti in the small town of Waldo.

And these signs outside Jacksonville. That's North Florida for you.

So now I'm at my brother's for the next two days. We'll go see Mom today and run some important errands.


Yorkshire Pudding said...

The mural you spotted in its crumbly urban context and in the early morning light makes for a marvellous image. Why didn't you tell the know-all woman to put a sock in it or as Americans might say "Butt out lady!" I hope you find your mother in good spirits.

Ed said...

I pondered this question while in Hawaii where chickens freely roam, why aren't they consumed by locals as a free meal? They aren't protected, have no hunting season. I think it would be a fairly easy thing to just scatter some grain, capture a few birds and have chicken noodle soup for dinner.

Being a native of coastal Florida, what would you consider a native dish? I like to eat what the locals eat where ever I go but in my ten years of going to the coast of Florida (further west at Panama City Beach), I could never divine the local dish. The closest I came was one guy, not from Florida, told me it was the grouper sandwich.

Boud said...

Sounds as if Tampa is a town with a history! Firvyou, anyway. Enjoy your time with family. I hope your mom's doing well.

Boud said...

For you, that is. Typing too early, eyes not open.

Colette said...

Enjoy, and drive carefully.

Ms. Moon said...

You showed great restraint in not telling that woman to f**k off. Seriously.
I would have been so disappointed not to get my guava and cheese croissant. Your description of this experience reminded me of a breakfast Glen and I had on our way home from N. Carolina last summer. The hopelessly hip are not always the best at food service.
Of course I love the chickens! There are some fine-looking chickens in those photos.
Yeah. Welcome to North Florida, i.e., my world.

ellen abbott said...

I do like the mural but the whole construction is a bit weird as if they built the new apartments on top of old industrial buildings. My question about the wandering chickens is who gets the eggs? And the new residents not caring for the early morning crows reminded me of when my old neighborhood in Houston was first starting to become gentrified. Cottages would go on the market and people who considered purchasing a house as an investment would move in and then look around and start complaining about the way the neighbors lived in our mixed neighborhood. We all got along fine, live and let live until gentrification.

Sharon said...

That building in the first photo is so interesting. A mixture of old and new and a beautiful mural. That's a very handsome rooster.
The place you had lunch is beautiful. I love it.

NewRobin13 said...

It surprised me to see chickens wandering around there. Makes me wonder if there are any natural predators.
That woman who interrupted the conversation was utterly rude and interesting that she was so stupidly wrong.
Nice to see that mural and that outdoor dining looks delightful.

Jennifer said...

I love that rock star mural. And chicken roaming free? I'd REALLY love that, even with roosters. We still have a wild turkey hanging around our neighborhood and seeing her never fails to make my day.

Enjoy your visit with your mom. I hope she's still laughing a lot! :)

Margaret said...

Yeah, Jimi was from Seattle--or perhaps Renton? Love the mural though; it looks high-quality. I would be crabby to miss out on my croissant, especially if I had had my heart (and stomach) set on it. I would have had to pull out my phone and do Dr. Google on that woman. The signs, ugh! Hope Dave and you have an excellent time with your families.

Jim Davis said...

For the record, Jimi was born in Seattle, he is buried in Greenwood Cemetery in nearby Renton along with his mother. You showed admirable restraint with that woman, not sure I would have been so polite. I will never understand DeSantis' popularity. He is a fascist, full stop.

Allison said...

Love the roaming chickens. Florida looks so lush and green, but then I think of the humidity and the bugs and DeSantis and think nah, not visiting there.

jenny_o said...

Normally I would do as you did and not correct the buttinski woman, but nowadays if I'm irritable enough I seem to do uncharacteristic things and I just might talk back. Of course, as you already realize, that would make me just as bad as her. Have a good visit with your mom and brother. It's hard visiting a dementia patient and I know she may not realize you've visited or remember it, but *you* know and your brother knows and that makes it important to do.

Red said...

You don't waste any time and see many interesting things.

Pixie said...

I like what Mary Moon suggested you tell the busybody in the hotel.

I hope you have a good visit with your mom and brother, as good as it can be.

Kelly said...

I think you should have politely let the woman know you were a native of the area and knew its history, that she might need to check her sources a little more closely before volunteering false information. (but then who worries about fake info anymore?!)

The roosters I've been around seem to crow any time they feel like it, not just at daybreak!

John Going Gently said...

Enjoy xxx

Andrew said...

Those who planted the signs just won't give up, will they.

Hendrix really dominates in the mural.

sparklingmerlot said...

It's a lovely mural but I am scratching my head at the connection between the three musicians!
You should have put on your best English accent (I'm sure have one by now) and said "Madam, I beg to differ. I was born and raised in this town". And then watched her confused face.
Are you close to our lovely Ms Moon? (Geographically, not emotionally)
Enjoy your time with your family. Make memories.

James and Brigitta said...

I'm always concerned about free roaming chicken and traffic but a friend of mine pointed out that you really never see a dead chicken on the road now do you? I guess they're smarter dan we think! I hope you and your mom will have a good time together.

The Padre said...

Fantastic Update - Dig The Photo - So Pleased You Were Out Walking - Classic American Know It All - Enjoy Time With The Family & Stay Strong Brother


River said...

Love the mural, I noticed Freddy Mercury first and didn't recognise the other two. That's a fine looking rooster. I love the photo of the place you had lunch, all those cheerful yellow umbrellas and the canal. I hope the rest of your holiday is just as good as the first few days.

Elizabeth said...

The signs! What a big, weird country we live in. I'm as likely to see signs like that in my neighborhood as I am to see snow tomorrow. Oy.

Rachel Phillips said...

Great photos, keep 'em coming. I love hearing about where you are travelling to and your days over there together. People are all different, you did the right thing with the lady, best just to smile and be ok as you were, no point in getting aggressive, it helps nobody. Just smile inwardly to yourself and who you were with.

Jeanie said...

We're having an ice storm right now. I've gotta say, Florida isn't my favorite place (especially politically) but right now I'd love to be there!

Moving with Mitchell said...

So many great photos give a real feel for the area I think. The women in the hotel would have been so annoying. Good for you for not enjoying and letting her be an idiot on her own. As for the ignorant political signs, I find that so depressing. Kind of ironic though that USA is posted FOR SALE.

Steve Reed said...

YP: It really captures the contrast between the old and new in that part of Tampa.

Ed: I bet people do eat them, but maybe they're protected by law to prevent a wholesale massacre! I'd say mullet is the traditional West Florida dish, or maybe oysters or shrimp.

Boud: Tampa's history is quite fascinating, actually. I love the Cuban influence.

Colette: Thanks!

Ms Moon: Well, getting into a confrontation would serve no purpose, right? I just let her say whatever she wanted and ignored it all! (Kind of the way I treat Tucker Carlson.)

Ellen: I'm sure there's some tension over gentrification in Ybor City. I have NO IDEA where the eggs go! I saw mostly roosters wandering around, so maybe that's what's happening -- people keep the hens but let the roosters loose.

Sharon: The mural definitely makes that building, which is otherwise pretty nondescript.

Robin: Sometimes the most outspoken people are also the most clueless!

Jennifer: I agree, I love seeing them wandering, though I might feel differently if I had to hear them crowing every morning at sunrise!

Margaret: I just decided it was easier not to engage her! Not only aren't those musicians from Tampa, they don't seem to have much to do with each other. Jimi Hendrix was dead before Elton even became famous.

Jim: Thanks for the clarification on Jimi! And yes, DeSantis is a fascist. I agree.

Allison: We're seeing very few bugs, surprisingly. I guess because it's winter. (Although it's pretty warm!)

Jenny-O: I find it easiest to act like she knows what I'm saying and go from there.

Red: Up and at 'em!

Pixie: Well, I thought it. I just didn't say it. :)

Kelly: Well, exactly. She's going to believe what she wants to believe. It's just like politics!

John: Thank you!

Andrew: It's partly because of the angle. Freddy is actually quite large on the left.

Caro: There was something in the mural about "passion," which I suppose is meant to be the connecting element. Perhaps surprisingly I have no trace of an English accent. I can't even fake one convincingly.

James and Brigitta: Birds are pretty good at staying out of traffic as a rule, though occasionally I see flattened pigeons.

Padre: It was very American, somehow!

River: Yeah, I like that outdoor seating area. If it was just a tad cooler we might have sat out.

Elizabeth: It's funny how different the USA is from place to place.

Rachel: I agree. A confrontation wouldn't do any of us any good!

Jeanie: An ice storm?! Holy cow! It's hard to imagine that from down here.

Mitchell: I think the "For Sale" is part of the political message. The sign says to "Call Joe," as if Biden is selling the country to the highest bidder.