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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
   Now in our ninth calendar year
    PCR #409  (Vol. 9, No. 4)  This edition is for the week of January 21--27, 2008.

The Fabulous Architecture of the Tampa Bay Region: Part 6  by William Moriaty
The 80th Annual Academy Award Nominations  by Mike Smith
Pirates! Pirates! Pirates!  by Terence Nuzum
FX -- An Interview With Mike Herz  by ED Tucker
DVD Grindhouse: Parts: The Clonus Horror by Andy Lalino
Book Review: Darkness Falls by Kyle Mills  by Lisa Ciurro
Birthday Boy....New Furnishings....Politico....Rondo Awards....Masters of Horror....Heath Ledger  by Matt Drinnenberg
I've Got An Erection! .... The Anti-Oscars .... The Name Is... Lost .... Passing On .... And The Oscar For 1969 Should Have Gone To... '  by Mike Smith
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The Fabulous Architecture of the Tampa Bay Region: Part 6

The Lee Home Furnishings store housed at 1698 34th Street North in St. Petersburg is a prime example of a mid-century modern showcase center.
Immediately next door to Lee's Home Furnishing's is the drop dead classic Florida (or southwestern U.S.) motel, the Cactus Motel at 1600 34th Street North. If you look hard enough you can see canted bean pole supports along the courtyard roof line, a staple of Googie motel architecture.
Another elegant example of a mid-century modern office building at the northwest corner of 21st Avenue North and 16th Street North in St. Petersburg.
Googie to the max is brought to the fore in this shot of a shopping plaza on 16th Street North south of 21st Avenue North of St. Petersburg.
And our journey ends further back into this past at this Art Deco structure that currently houses the Manhattan Hairstyling Academy at 1720 16th Street North in St. Petersburg. A former Publix Supermarket, the nighttime neon on this structure is absolutely dynamic!
A Look at Mid-Century Modern Architecture in Pinellas County
There are no truer words spoken than "you don't know what you got until you lose it."

The entire time I lived in Pinellas County, Florida between the mid 70's and late 80's I never gave the mid-century modern architecture that was then quite plentiful a second look. It was as much a part of the landscape as the Slash Pines dotting the yards of houses in the Jungle Prada area of St. Petersburg and the Queen Palms and lining the streets of once plentiful mobile home parks populated by retired Northerners.

But as all things change, the real estate boom of the first half of the first decade of 2000 saw many mobile home parks fall by the wayside and also saw mid-century modern hotels along 4th Street North, 34th Street and Seminole Boulevard fall further into disrepair. Strangely, when "Miami Vice" was a hit TV show between 1984 and 1989, Americans were marveling at the Art Deco motels in Miami's South Beach that were half a century old at the time and falling into decline. Art Deco preservationists and Florida Folk Heroes Barbara Capitman and Leonard Horowitz fought valiantly to save the Art Deco hotels from the wreckers ball, much to the chagrin of many of the politicians of Miami Beach. But their legacy lives on and the South Beach is now one of the highest priced pieces on real estate on the planet.

Now the mid-century modern buildings, those from my own birth and youth, are now half a century old and falling into decline. Will there be any patron saints like Capitman and Horowitz to speak up for these incredible structures from an era where the American spirit saw no end to the promise of the future? There are starting to be some glimmers of light. A movement has surfaced in the Miami called "MiMo", and Florida Folk Hero and architect Grant Rimby of Temple Terrace, Florida has been hard at work to call attention to the stunning Mediterranean Revival and mid-century modern (or atomic) ranch style houses in that community. In addition, Grant is determined to rebuild Temple Terrace's bat tower that was lost some thirty years ago (I remember it well).

If there is a voice for this wonderful form of architecture in Pinellas County, I haven't heard it yet. Until I find out different, I may be that lone voice for these magical structures hoping that a chorus will one day join me!

On A Closing Note to Our Readers
As you have undoubtedly read in previous editions of La Floridiana, my wife and I are faced with major challenges due to the gutting and renovation of our house. In addition, it is my intent to seek new employment, and as a result, I may be relocated outside of the Tampa Bay area on a temporary or permanent basis. Lastly, there is T.R.E.E. Inc. that I still preside over and this "child" of mine will celebrate its 25th anniversary on February 8th!

When it comes to the production of this column I have always been uncompromising in my commitment to its quality. I try to offer you, my valued reader, nothing less than my best and I apologize if I have not always lived up that self-imposed benchmark. Regardless, based on the challenges I have mentioned above, this will probably be one of the last La Floridianas in the foreseeable future.

It has been an honor and a privilege to provide you with the sights and insights that makes Florida so special to me. I hope you have enjoyed reading this column as much as I have enjoyed writing and producing it, but at this point in time please understand that much more serious matters need attending and will be demanding my time and energies. Hopefully, I will have some time here and there to share with you on your computer screen a little slice of the Heaven that I call La Floridiana!

"La Floridiana" is ©2008 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 ©2008 by Nolan B. Canova.