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PCR #154  (Vol. 4, No. 10)  This edition is for the week of March 2--9, 2003.
La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
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Happy Birthday Florida!
Looks like I'm not the only Pisces around here! The Sunshine State celebrated its 158th birthday on Monday, March 3rd. In 1845 on that date Florida was the 27th state admitted to the Union.

Many Thanks to Steve Beasley
This Florida Folk Hero and former Tampa resident was kind enough to forward me the following internet links concerning the Port Tampa Hotel and are worthy of review by our valued "La Floridiana" readers. Many thanks to Brother Steve for his wonderful contributions! Tampa Postcards 1900-1910 from the Collection of John C. Eskridge III http://www.lamartin.com/postcards/tampa_cards.htm LaMartin.Com (http://www.lamartin.com/index.htm) featuring genealogy of south and eastern U.S., old photos of Okeechobee. Florida, old Florida photos, index to collection of Burgert Brothers photos of Tampa (http://www.lamartin.com/burgert/index.htm) Excellent photos of the St. Elmo and Port Tampa Inn (http://fcit.coedu.usf.edu/florida/photos/business/hotels/0593.htm) A wonderful listing of historic structures in Port Tampa at two sites (http://www.floridahistory.org/events/pttamp98.htm) and (http://www.ghosttowns.com/states/fl/porttampa.html)-

The Continuing Disgusting Saga of Governor Jeb Vader
Even the Tampa Tribune, which has in large part been supportive of Governor Jeb Bush (herein after known as "Jeb Vader"), is beginning to finally see this man for what he is. An excellent editorial titled "Jeb's Stunning Impulsiveness Is Bollixing State Government" appeared on Page 24 in "Our Opinion" in the Saturday March 1, 2003 edition. For whatever reasons, there is no TBO link to this editorial.

A fine and hilarious follow-up by Tribune Columnist Dan Ruth, titled 'Library? We Don't Need No Stinking State Library!" which appeared in the Monday March 3, 2003 edition of the Tampa Tribune can be found by linking to http://www.tampatrib.com/News/MGAML9A0UCD.html

Finally, some fellow Republicans are getting fed up with Vader's actions. State Senator Steve Wise of Jacksonville said "How can he move the library, how can he give it to a private university? He's overstepped his bounds in my opinion. The Legislature would have to authorize that, and I don't see how we can." Wise (who appears to be living up to his last name, thank God almighty) serves as Chairman of the Senate Government Oversight and Productivity Committee.

I'd like to thank all those who participated in the e-mail petition objecting to Jeb Vader's lame-brained proposal that ended on Friday March 1st. At this point please e-mail your State Congressman or Congresswoman or State Senator stating your objection to this insidious scheme to sell your books and artifacts to the highest bidder!

(Currently the latest genius notion from the Vader-man is reducing---or more likely cutting out altogether---art and Phys. Ed. classes statewide in order to pay for reduced classroom sizes. The reduced classrom sizes bill was passed by the voters last election. So Jeb is punishing us for this inconvenience by gutting the arts.
Say, think it's time for another State Lottery, so that every dollar really can go toward education?--Nolan)

Festival signFloridana Fest and MegaCon
I was truly a "Jet-Setter" on Saturday March 1st as I first visited Floridana Fest at the Gulfport Casino in southwest Pinellas County, and the "trekked" on over to the Mega Con at the Orlando Convention Center.

Floridana Fest and Miami Mike

At ten A.M. it was sunny and warm as I walked the beaches of the small, sleepy Pinellas County town of Gulfport, Florida. Awaiting me was the historic Gulfport Casino (where a portion of the Ron Howard 1985 film "Cocoon" was filmed), which had tons of even more history in the form of "Floridana Fest".

Immediately upon entering, I had Florida Folk Hero "Miami Mike" Hiscano call out my name. We chatted for about half an hour culminated by my purchase from him of some incredible Florida memorabilia. I found out that one of my Florida Folk Hero's 'Big Wilson" who used to host Miami's "Night Owl Theater" from the 1950's to the early 80's, passed away some ten to fifteen years ago. His was the voice that for years introduced Jack Horkheimer on Horkheimer's "Star Hustler" on PBS (now known as the "Star Gazer" at http://www.jackstargazer.com/ Mike introduced me to Floridana Fest organizer Ken Breslauer, who is also the author of a fabulous book 'Roadside Paradise-the Golden Age of Florida's Tourist Attractions 1929-1971". I will review this gem of a book in a future edition of "La Floridiana".

Gulfport's beautiful beach next to the Gulfport Casino.
Miami Mike Hiscano
Florida Folk Hero "Miami Mike" Hiscano hard at work ringing up a sale.

Gulfport Casino
The beautiful and historic Gulfport Casino, host to the Floridana Fest.
Close up of pelican and dolphins adorning the mural of the Gulfport Casino.

Dangerous Highway, Darryl's, ED Tucker, Scott Van Sickle, Nolan Canova, Sam Catalino, Erin Grey

By 10:30 I left Floridana Fest bound to Orange County and Darryl's restaurant on the I-Drive near Orlando to meet Nolan and Dr. Paul Bearer fan supreme, Ed Tucker, from Jacksonville. The drive over was a calamity starting with a pick up truck left unattended on the inside lane of the eastbound Howard Frankland Bridge causing confusion and near disaster---thank God no one was killed or injured. Next was the pocky-faced punk whose beat-up, late-model Camaro skidded over three lanes of east bound I-4 about 200 feet in front of me and inches in front of others, causing confusion and near disaster---thank God no one was killed or injured. His car ended up stuck in the median, which at this point from Hillsborough to Osceola County was so rutted, gutted and flooded that it looked like a cow pasture after a monsoon. In Polk County outside of Lakeland, two cars ran into a construction wall near Carpenter's Home Road causing confusion and near disaster---thank God no one was killed or injured. Then some yahoo almost ran me out of my lane on I-4 near the west Polk Parkway causing confusion and near disaster---thank God I wasn't killed or injured! This is not to mention the horrendous traffic jams in Tampa and near every potential accident.

Erin Gray and Will Moriaty
The lovely and talented Erin Gray from the Buck Rogers TV series (she played Wilma Deering) gives an autograph and a bright smile to her adoring fan, Will Moriaty. Erin Gray was truly a ray of sunshine at MegaCon.---Nolan
Needless to say I was myself a total wreck by the time I reached Nolan, Scott, Ed and others at Darryl's two hours late on my ETA. The trip did have its pay off, however--little did I know that "Buck Rogers" actress Erin Gray was at the MegaCon signing pictures. In addition to still being a beautiful woman, the diminutive Ms. Gray seemed to be a very sincere, gracious and genuine individual. I told her about how I named one of my cats ("Erin" a domestic shorthaired gray) in her honor. She was flattered and then went to a discussion about her own love for cats, that she has five of them, and her favorite is a Scottish Fold. After all was said and done, I was the proud owner of a signed picture by the lovely Ms. Gray! Also, I ran into a fellow Robinson High School alumnus, Sam Catalino, who caught me up on thirty years of high school gossip. So yeah, it was all worth the "ride from Hell".

Erin the cat
"Erin" the gray cat named in honor of actress Erin Gray, and also named in honor of "Erin" (Ireland, my wife's ancestral home).---Will
I almost forgot to mention--on the way back to Tampa with Nolan, I yelled "Emergency!" as I had to drive the Huntress into the grassed median of I-4 in order to avoid rear ending motorists who were dead stopped for, y'all ready for this? A plastic bag, causing confusion and near disaster---thank God Nolan and I weren't killed or injured!

Nolan, ED, and Will outside Darryl's It was Dr. Paul Bearer who brought us to this moment! It all started when Will (far right) wrote the "Horror Hosts of the '70s and '80s" piece for "La Floridana" in 2001. ED Tucker (center) found that article and contacted me (left), following it up soon afterward with his amazing work, "The Lost Interview". Even more surprising is when a videotape turned up in ED's collection that showed he and I were indeed together once before--in 1991, speaking to Dr. Paul Bearer! (See frontpage)
Finally, in 2003, here we are at Darryl's Restaurant in Orlando down the street from MegaCon. ---Nolan

"La Floridiana" is ©2003 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova.