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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Once upon a time in Tampa

O Tampa! It's not my hometown, but it's where I spent six of my most interesting formative years, and despite myself I'm very fond of the place--indeed I miss it much, much more than I anticipated since moving to Cleveland.

This longing for a sometimes boring, often frustrating, wickedly humid patchwork city was further intensified a few weeks ago when I watched the 2004 Punisher for the first time since the film came out. In case you weren't aware, the film was partially set and completely shot in the Tampa Bay area. This is one of the only times that my fair city has been committed to film in a reasonably major way (the others being Lutz featuring in Edward Scissorhands, the Lowry Park Zoo used in Goodfellas, and one of the area racetracks in Ocean's Eleven), and watching it was a bizarre, weirdly moving experience for me as a former Tampon. Is this how New Yorkers and Vancouverites feel when they see the thousands of films and TV shows which feature their home cities? Is this how longtime Clevelanders will feel when they view Avengers in the spring and recognize portions of our downtown? Because it is strange, very strange, to see long shots of Tampa's business and club districts, to see Fort DeSoto masquerading as Puerto Rico, to see John Travolta holding court next to a tall downtown building which goes by the local vulgarity "The Beer Can." I even got a little maudlin when a scene happened to take place in a location which looks a lot different now (the old ampitheatre behind the art museum, if you're following along).

(aforementioned Beer Can and the "Saints and Sinners" club)

That paltry night skyline! The neighborhood where my sister and I owned a house! The beautiful mosaics of the Columbia! The bridge to Davis Island! The spires of UT! 2001 Nude Odyssey! That's me: that's my city: a glorious sprawl of strip joints and mansions and tawdry apartment complexes and rotting cigar factories which could be historic if someone would just give a damn.
So, Thomas Jane and company: thanks for this, at least.

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