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Now in our fifth calendar year
PCR #245  (Vol. 5, No. 49)  This edition is for the week of November 29--December 5, 2004.

LA FLORIDIANA
Will's Miami Madness, Part 2
 by Will Moriaty
THIS WEEK'S MOVIE REVIEWS
"Closer"
 by Mike Smith
ODDSERVATIONS
Radio Shack Shootings and other Gateway area tragedies....Post-Halloween Blues....Steve Lillywhite reunites with U2
 by Andy Lalino
MIKE'S RANT
Gateway Memories....Hall Of Fame Bound....Award Season Begins....Back Where He Began....Tony The Tiger Was Busy....No Education Needed--Just Money....Sex Ed In The Comics....It Was Only Two Points....Meet The Beatles, Part 45
 by Mike Smith
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Andy Lalino
Oddservations by Andy Lalino

Gateway Mall/Radio Shack Shootings and other Gateway area tragedies
Here at the Oddservations Oddservatory, I wish express my condolences to the victims of the senseless shootings at Gateway Mall.

These shootings occurred at a place where I spent much of my childhood. Let me explain. If you've ever been to or have driven by Gateway Mall, it's not truly a mall; rather, it's a plaza. Before the plaza (which boasts a Publix, a Target store, and of course a Radio Shack) was built some years back, it truly used to be a mall - in fact, it was one of the oldest in the country.

Gateway Mall was built in the '60s and survived all the way up to the 1990's until tradition gave way to 'progress'. When my family moved to St. Petersburg in 1971, we settled in a large residential community called Meadowlawn which was less than a mile from Gateway Mall. Throughout my childhood, teenage, and early adult years from the '70s to the '90s, I frequented Gateway Mall, going to the video game arcade called "The Dream Machine", Orange Julius, the Eckerd Drugs and McCrory's diners, Paperback Booksmith/Musicsmith, Woolco department store, Specs Music, Pot O' Gold video, JByrons, and of course the Gateway Mall 2-screen theaters. I even met Anne B. Davis, "Alice" from "The Brady Bunch", at Morrison's Cafeteria when she was in town appearing at the local Country Dinner Playhouse, both of which were located at Gateway Mall. Incidentally, notorious womanizer Bob Crane appeared at the mall playhouse too!

It was a mall my childhood friends and I really loved to hang out at, despite the fact that over the years it was getting old and dilapidated. During the late '80s and '90s, they couldn't even afford to run the fountains that decorated the interior - they made ugly flowerpot gardens out of them. One-by-one stores started to close: Woolco in 1982 (which gave way to Zayres and then Ames), Pot O' Gold video (a sad day), and the original Publix, which was one of the last to go.

Besides the recent shootings, the last tragic occurrence that took place there was in the late 1970's (or maybe 1980), where a teenager had crashed his bike into one of the glass windows at the south end of the mall (in front of the Publix bakery which later became Pot O' Gold video). The large shards of glass really did a lot of damage to the poor teenager. My parents happened to be there during the accident, as they recalled the other day at Thanksgiving dinner. My mom recounted how workers at the barbershop next to the Publix bakery ran over to help the kid, bringing with them the coverings they put around customers when getting a haircut. They wrapped the sheets around the kid's wounds to keep him from bleeding to death and probably saved his life. My mom remembers running into the kid a few years later and said he still looked like he was still suffering effects of the accident and had to use a wheelchair. This tragic story has become locally famous to us old-timers who grew up in Meadowlawn, and I hope to track down mention of it someday when I do some research via the St. Petersburg Times microfilm next time I visit the Clearwater library.

There was one other unfortunate event that took place nearby the mall in either 1979, 1980, or 1981. Next to Gateway Mall is a rather large canal which empties into Tampa Bay. While my brother Doug and I were in Catholic school at Holy Family (which is also near Gateway Mall), an announcement came over the intercom by our principal Sister Frances that one of the students in my brother's class named Mike Hogandike had drowned in the canal. Days later, the entire school attended Mike's funeral, where we all mourned the death of someone who had been taken from the world so young. It would effect us the rest of our lives.

After the Radio Shack murders that took place a few weeks ago, I was reminded that despite all the good times we had growing up in the little world we call our neighborhood, tragic events occur that strike way too close to home. My father and mother, who still live in the same Meadowlawn house we grew up in, could have easily have been in the path of the madman Justin Cudar, being that they live a few blocks away and frequent the mall often. A few weeks back I wrote about the untimely death of our neighbor, 16-year-old Rebecca McKinney, who was struck by a vehicle while crossing McMullen Booth Road in Clearwater after getting off her school bus.

In the wake of Rebecca's death, there is finally action being taken concerning the safety of kids (not just those in elementary school) before and after they get dropped off from school. Hopefully, the inane and dangerous choices our school administrators made in relation to school bus drop off points will be reviewed, and these people will be taken to task for their bad decisions. The same with the Radio Shack shootings. May we all learn from them as a society so that less and less incidents like this will occur in our neighborhoods.

Post-Halloween Blues
Ah, this happens every year after our favorite cherished horror holiday - the lull in genre offerings in both the theatrical and DVD release arenas. Sadly, true-blue horror Crazed Fanboys have to wallow in muck like "National Treasure Hunt" and "Kristmas with the Kranks" until the next horror offering debuts. I would tip the hat to more daring fare like "Neverland", but I friggin' hate Peter Pan. How can you blame me after "Hook", Steven Spielberg's "The Twilight Zone" episode, Cathy Rigby, and Michael Jackson's antics?

Steve Lillywhite reunites with U2
Most New Wave fans have heard of British megaproducer Steve Lillywhite, who's perhaps best-known for producing U2's early albums "Boy", "October", and of course, 1983's "War". He began his career in 1972 as a tape op for Polygram Records. In 1977, he rose to notoriety when he produced the demo reel that lead to New Wave supergroup Ultravox getting a much-deserved record deal. From there, he became a staff producer at Polygram, helming Ultravox's debut self-titled LP. In the late '70s/early '80s, Lillywhite produced albums for Peter Gabriel, Siouxie and the Banshees, The Psychedelic Furs, XTC, and Belgium's Golden Earring.

1983 was a banner year for Lillywhite, producing "War", Big Country's heralded classic "The Crossing", and Simple Minds' magnificent "Sparkle in the Rain". Perhaps more than anyone else (even The Buggles' Trevor Horn), Lillywhite is responsible for the absolute best New Wave albums of the era ("War", "The Crossing", and "Sparkle in the Rain").

Lillywhite moved on to "bigger" acts in the mid-'80s, producing "Dirty Work" for the Rolling Stones. In the late '80s he worked with The Pogues, Talking Heads, and David Byrne.

Very sadly, in fact I'm ashamed I'm writing the following due to its New Wave impurity, Lillywhite went on to work with (I'm not sure I can do this...) The Dave Matthews (***AAARRRGGHH!!!!***) Band (***AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!***) and 'Phish' (AAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHH!!!). I CAN'T GO ON!!! I CAN'T GO ON!!!

Okay, breathe deep, now. Simple Minds. U2. Big Country. The Psych Furs. Peter Gabriel. Ahhh, I feel better now.

In 1984 he married popular British singer Kirsty McColl, who later drowned in an unfortunate boating accident in 2000 while vacationing in Mexico. McColl had worked with The Pogues and Billy Bragg in addition to having a very successful solo career.

Here we are in 2004, almost 2005, and Lillywhite has re-teamed with U2 on their latest album "How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb". Dissimilar to Brian Eno's experimentalist approach, Lillywhite truly brings U2 back to an earlier, raw sound - most notably pulling from the "War" era. If you're looking for emotional anthems, such as "New Year's Day" or "Sunday Bloody Sunday", however, you may be a bit disappointed in that most of the songs from "Atomic..." sound like rockin' adult contemporary tunes.

It's a fine album nonetheless, and a must for every U2-lover, especially those who've been longing for their early '80s sound. It's great to see two classic New Wave forces together again.


"Oddservations" is ©2004 by Andy Lalino.  The Oddservations banner is a creation of Andy Lalino. All other graphics are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2004 by Nolan B. Canova.