Accordion Bay report #3: #FailureFactories, reward for info on deputy shooting, food scene, Channelside development, a geeky double bill, and Bud lost

Failure Factories: Pinellas County’s terrible schools

failure factories

Campbell Park, Fairmount Park, Lakewood, Maximo, and Melrose are elementary schools that occupy a six-square-mile zone in one of Florida’s most affluent counties. They’re also among the worst schools in the state: in standardized tests, eight in 10 fail reading, and nine in 10 fail math. They’re worse off than they were ten years ago, which was before the school board ended integration. This Tampa Bay Times piece on these schools, which they’ve dubbed “Failure Factories”, is both informative and heartbreaking.

$3,000 reward offered for info in Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office deputy shooting

A $3,000 reward is being offered for information to help catch a man who shot a Hillsborough County deputy on Thursday morning. The deputy is going to be all right, but the suspect is at large.

Travel + Leisure loves our local food scene

fodder and shine

Citing wonderful examples like Fodder and Shine and The Refinery in Seminole Heights, and Ulele closer to downtown, Travel + Leisure are fascinated with the new restaurants popping up here in Tampa.

While we’re on the topic, I’d like to plug Sea Salt in downtown St. Pete, where we had dinner last night before heading to the Weird Al concert. Their 5 p.m.-to-6 p.m. prix fixe gives you an appetizer, main, and dessert for $28 and provides a lot of tasty bang for the buck. Here’s a video of the dessert we had: a strawberry panna cotta covered with mango sauce on the side. The sauce is applied by pouring it into a container on the side, which has a couple of pieces of dry ice in it:

Proposed mega-development in Channelside

proposed channelside development
Channelside is the home to Amalie Arena (formerly the Tampa Bay Times Forum, formerly the St. Pete Times Forum, formerly the Ice Palace), the Aquarium, cruise ship docks, the History Center, the SS American Victory, and somehow, in spite of all this, a whole lotta nuthin’.

Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeff Vinik is trying to change that with a big development plan to create an actually walkable hub in the area, and now Port Tampa Bay has announced their “vision plan” to develop the area. It includes wavy 75-storey buildings and looks interesting; will it bring people to hang out?

Star Wars fandom’s yin and yang were here

kevin smith - weird al

If you like geek culture and Star Wars, this was an exceptionally good week to be in Accordion Bay, as both the good-clean-fun and potty-mouthed yin and yang of Star Wars fandom were here. Kevin Smith did his “Evening with Kevin Smith” schtick at the Tampa Improv on Wednesday, and Weird Al’s 82-city world tour played at Clearwater’s Ruth Eckerd Hall on Thursday. Anitra and I caught both of ’em, and both were geektastic.

Smith is smart: he knows to play to the locals whenever he does his monologues. When he comes to Toronto, he always talks about his love for the Degrassi Junior High, which is set on Toronto’s Degrassi Street (the street exists, but there’s no school on it). For the Tampanians, he told us that he wrote “half of Chasing Amy” here in Tampa for his then-girlfriend Joey Lauren Adams while visiting her when she was here shooting Second Noah.

He also talked about his friendship with Johnny Depp, whom he said considers himself a “failed Floridian musician”. Depp was enjoying some success with his Florida-based rock band, The Kids, when they decided to move to L.A.. The band didn’t do that well, but he went on some acting auditions and ended up having to leave the band to focus on a gig for a then-new show called 21 Jump Street.

Weird Al put on a great show last night and even broke out the accordion to play some of his hits from those heady Dr. Demento days in the 1980s, including Yoda. In all this time, I’d never seen Weird Al live before, and it was great to finally do so.

“Clean up on I-75!”

This happened not too far from Tampa when the driver was distracted by his dog. At the very least, we can take comfort in the fact that no good beer was lost:

crashed bud light truck

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