Arts and culture

What Americans Earn

Jul 16, 2012

With all the talk about what to do with the Bush tax cuts — and whether they should be extended for no one, everyone, or everyone under a certain income cutoff — we thought it made sense to check in on how much Americans actually make.

Roughly $50,000. That's how much the median households makes in income and benefits per year. In other words, half of American households made less than $50,000 and half made more.

Art lovers in Pinellas County have a new virtual watering hole. is an offshoot of Creative Pinellas, a nonprofit started last year to promote and fund the local arts scene.

The new website is anchored by six blogs:

On Florida's northeast coast, trams filled with families and school groups run constantly in St. Augustine, hitting nearly all of the old city's historic sites.

But down a side street lies an important piece of St. Augustine's history most visitors don't see, because it's only open one day a month.

"This is Tolomato Cemetery. It was formerly the parish cemetery for what is now the cathedral parish," says Elizabeth Gessner, who heads the cemetery's preservation association.

You've probably heard about how CNN and Fox News screwed up the Supreme Court decision on the Affordable Care Act.

It's "Dewey Defeats Truman" all over again.

So how did the big news organizations get it wrong, and the five-person SCOTUSblog, with only one credentialed journalist, get it right?

Hot tea on a hot day? Not for me, thank you. Not my idea of how to cool down.

Steve Newborn / WUSF

You may have been putting off a trip to the new Salvador Dalí Museum because you've already seen the artwork inside.

But what about the artwork on the outside -- as in, the building itself? A new ranking says the St. Petersburg structure is worth a visit for its architecture alone.

The arts and culture website recently released this list of the world's 20 most beautiful museums, in no apparent order.

Herschell Gordon Lewis is cheerfully ambivalent about his place in film history. "What's really puzzling: if you go to a legitimate distributor such as Netflix, Netflix has a number of my movies," says Lewis from his home in Florida. "And again, that's a very sad commentary on what's going on in the world of motion pictures — but I'm not about to object to it."

Landrau / Flickr

If all press is good press, then Tampa Bay is on top of the world. After Men's Health declared Tampa the most vain city in America last month, this week the region received two more dubious honors.

In the 1960s, Al Black could be found cruising up and down Route 1 in his blue-and-white Ford Galaxy — with a trunk full of wet landscape paintings.

At the time, he was a salesman who could snatch your breath away and sell it back to you. As artist Mary Ann Carroll puts it, he could "sell a jacket to a mosquito in summer."

"A salesman is a con-man," Black readily admits himself today. He's a storyteller. And does he have stories to tell.

In the 1960s and '70s, if you were in a doctor's office, or a funeral home, or a motel in Florida, chances are a landscape painting hung on the wall. Palms arching over the water, or moonlight on an inlet. Tens of thousands of paintings like this were created by a group of self-taught African-American artists, concentrated in Fort Pierce, Fla.

Ambro /

For retired singles looking for love, Florida has all the right places -- or at least most of them.

A new survey by the 50-plus dating website ranks the Top 10 U.S. Cities for Retired Singles Looking for Love. Seven are in Florida:

1. Ocala
2. Cape Coral
3. Bradenton
4. Delray Beach

5. Mesa, Ariz.
6. Naples
7. Clearwater
8. Boynton Beach
9. Vancouver, Wash.
10. Salem, Ore.

Steve Newborn / WUSF

As U.S. cities are experiencing some of the warmest temperatures on record, it's easy to take for granted the ability to feel almost instant relief from oppressive heat with the push of a button or the flip of a switch. Today about 87 percent of U.S. households have an air conditioning unit.  

When 93-year-old Rachel Veitch picked up the newspaper on March 10 and realized that the macular degeneration in her eyes had developed to the point where she couldn't read the print, she knew it was time to stop driving.

But there's much more to the Orlando, Fla., woman's story.

The decision meant she would no longer be getting behind the wheel of her beloved 1964 Mercury Comet Caliente, a car she calls "The Chariot." Veitch has pampered her ride for nearly five decades and 567,000 miles.

MarketWatch calls this CNN and Fox's 'Dewey Defeats Truman' moment. For several surprising minutes this morning, both media companies wrongly announced that the Affordable Care Act had been overturned by the Supreme Court.

Chris O'Meara / AP

Tampa, you're so vain, you probably think this study is about you.

Actually, it is! Men's Health has completed a highly-scientific study of vainness, and Tampa has come out on top.

We even beat Miami (No. 8, take THAT South Beach.)

I've always thought of the Tampa Bay area as more "Margaritaville" than "Miami Vice." But numbers don't lie.

How, you may ask, did Men's Health come up with these rankings? It's based upon these factors:

The Ledger/Michael Wilson

The City of Lakeland has a message about its bus system this week: buses aren't just for those who can't afford a car. They're teaming up with artists to make riding the bus a little more fun, and on Tuesday WUSF's Robin Sussingham went along for the ride with Bev Hendricks, who is one of the event's organizers.

As part of "Art on the Bus" week, Hendricks brought her violin to Lakeland's downtown bus station, and prepared to play on the bus. She's the former executive director of the Imperial Symphony Orchestra and now does mostly volunteer work for several arts organizations.

Sarasota is one step closer to buying a sculpture by artist John Henry. 

It's called "Complexus" and stands seven stories high.  Early this week, the Sarasota City Commission approved The Sarasota Art Fund (SPAF) request to purchase the work and give it to the city.

"Art in public view plays a vital role in a city's appeal, quality of life and economic viability. That's why so many of us are extremely motivated to keep 'Complexus' in Sarasota," said SPAF president Thomas J. Savage.

This media morality tale involves Sen. Marco Rubio, a rumor, and one day of media spin.

The day began with ABC News reporting that Sen. Marco Rubio was not being vetted by the Romney campaign.

“What I have learned is that he has not been asked to do even the first step. He has not been asked to fill out any questionnaires, he has not been asked to turn over any personal documents by the Romney vetting team.”

Bobbie O'Brien

Jurors will resume their deliberations over the fate of famed pitcher Roger Clemens this morning. The seven-time Cy Young Award winner  is on trial for perjury after his denials to Congress that he used steroids or human growth hormone.

Clemens’ legal saga has gone on for more than four years including one mistrial. It’s changed the public image of the veteran ball player, but it’s also drawn his family closer together. During closing arguments Tuesday, Clemens’ four sons sat behind him in the courtroom.

“And that’s the way it is.”

When Walter Cronkite ended “CBS Evening News” with that signoff, millions of people believed him. The major networks and newspapers exposed Americans to a diversity of viewpoints – at least in theory.

But in the digital world, we each live in our own bubble, according to Kelly McBride of the Poynter Institute’s Sense-making Project.