Arts and culture

Dear Dick Clark,

A lot of stories I'll read about you today will be about where you were born, your long career and blah, blah, blah.

All that stuff doesn't hold a candle to what you've meant to my life. 

Tampa City Council will vote today on a resolution “designating and authenticating” the “Historic Tampa Cuban Sandwich.” But, Miami’s Cuban community disputes Tampa’s claim to the sandwich.

The mixed meat sandwich, originally called a “mixto”, became popular in Tampa among Cuban cigar factory workers in the late 1890s and early 1900s.

The resolution specifies the ingredients of the authentic Tampa Cuban sandwich as sweet ham, mojo-marinated roast pork, Swiss cheese, dill pickles, mustard and Genoa salami.

You might already know about the Tampa City Council resolution to define a Cuban sandwich as the "Historic Tampa Cuban Sandwich."

But did you know they might try to trademark it?

It's on the Tampa City Council agenda for Thursday. The City's legal department is scheduled to provide a report "on whether or not the City of Tampa can acquire a trademark for the 'Historic Tampa Cuban Sandwich' as being Tampa's signature sandwich."

The Cuban Sandwich War

Apr 16, 2012

O.K., anyone who knows anything about the Cuban Sandwich knows it started in Tampa's Ybor City a century ago.

Cuban immigrants mixed with Italians, Germans and others to develop the pressed delicacy -- with Cuban bread, shredded pork, glazed ham, swiss cheese, Genoa salami, a pickle and mustard.

So why do folks in Miami have such trouble with the idea that Tampa is laying its rightful claim on the sandwich? Yes, they may have more Cubans...but we were there first.

Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn kicks off his quest Wednesday night to create a master plan for turning downtown into a vibrant, bustling place where people want to live, work and play.

When asked, Buckhorn enumerated mistakes he thought were made developing the downtown area:

The birthplace of the Cuban sandwich isn't Havana, or even's Tampa.

Watch David Audet, Cuban sandwich afficianado who has researched the history of the sandwich.

The sandwich itself consists of sugar-cured ham, shredded pork marinated Cuban sytle, Genoa salami, Swiss cheese, yellow mustard, sour pickle and authentic Cuban bread.

File this one under "Who knew?"

Polk County had the highest percentage of foreign homebuyers in the country for the last half of 2011, according to the Lakeland Ledger.

The story is based on an analysis by the Inman News real estate website

Florida had six metro areas in the top ten for foreign buyers -- Tampa was ninth and Orlando third.

Courtesy Katie Ball

I know Honda owners who brag about getting more than 200,000 miles out of their cars. That is, if they change the all-important timing belt. 

But one Orlando woman has them beat.  By hundreds of thousands of miles. 

Rachel Vietch is going blind.  And at 93, she's ready to hang up her car keys for good.

Major League Baseball opens Wednesday night at Miami’s brand new, retractable roof ballpark as the Miami Marlins host the St. Louis Cardinals. Along with the new ballpark, the team gets a new manager, Ozzie Guillén.

The Tampa Bay Rays open their season Friday at 3:10 p.m. against the Yankees at Tropicana Field with manager Joe Maddon, a two-time American League Manager of the Year.

Roadside America

Baseball history was made in Tampa on April 4, 1919, when Babe Ruth hit what many consider to be his longest home run ever.

Ruth was still with the Boston Red Sox at the time.  The team was in town for spring training at Plant Field, which was located on the current site of the University of Tampa.

Ruth led off the bottom of the second inning, facing pitcher George Smith of the New York Giants.  

Pilot-Athletes at "Sun n' Fun"

Mar 30, 2012

The Lakeland Linder Regional airport has become one of the busier airports in Florida this week because of the annual "Sun n' Fun" fly-in and air show.

Thousands of private pilots fly in to the event which is capped by weekend air shows that this year feature the Air Force aerobatic team, "The Thunderbirds."

Veteran air show announcer Rob Reider is at "Sun n' Fun" as announcers chairman, describing what's going on in the air for the people watching on the ground.

And he says that aerobatic pilots are more than just great pilots, they are athletes.

"Anything your school president can do, mine can do better," brags a new blog on tumblr that pokes gentle fun of  USF President Judy Genshaft.

It all starts with the picture of an excited Genshaft learning that the USF men's basketball team made the NCAA tournament.

My grandma used to say, "up yonder" and "man alive."  She was from Gainesville, Georgia.  My family's roots on my dad's side are steeped in Florida.  My ancestors were here before Florida became a state. 
So you'd think I'd be a veritable cornucopia of Florida-based words. Well, not really.  I do know that my dad used the term, "mosquito hawk" for a dragonfly when he was a boy.  And that's the same word my friend's mom used for mosquito.  She grew up in Hillsborough County, as my father did.

But other than that, I can't really say what term my family used for a heavy rain, for instance.  Was it gullywasher?  I only wish I knew. 

Jeff Vinik became the new owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning just over two years ago and quickly won over fans and local officials for what he’s done both on and off the ice.

He bought the team with his own money and privately funded $40 million in renovations to the publicly-owned Tampa Bay Times Forum.

Yet when Vinik first arrived in town, sports writers did not get a good first impression.

Bulls Go Dancing

Mar 11, 2012
USF Athletics

For the first time in 20 years, the USF Bulls' have made the NCAA Basketball Tournament. 

It was a nail-biting wait for the Bulls, who received one of the final four spots given to at-large teams. 

USF (20-13), a 12th seed in the Midwest region, plays fellow 12th seed Cal (24-9) in a "First Four" game at 9:30 Wednesday night in Dayton (broadcast on truTV). The winner will play 5th seed Temple in Nashville at 9:50 Friday night.

Cruise Critic (

A pair of cruise ship crime incidents involving ships based out of Tampa made headlines this week: one involving a ship employee facing child pornography charges, and the other involving a passenger who managed to access a restricted area and drop the ship's anchor.

It has the largest collection of Frank Lloyd Wright architecture in one spot anywhere. Now, Florida Southern College has finally been named a National Historic Landmark.

The Lakeland campus has long been famed for its iconic structures like the soaring Annie Pfeiffer Chapel and the only planetarium Frank Lloyd Wright designed that got built. Wright called the campus his "Child of the Sun," and it has been a tourist attraction for decades. But it wasn't until this week that it was named a National Historic Landmark.

Snow in Florida!

Mar 6, 2012
Florida Memory/Florida Department of State

While Florida is the place where many folks come to escape the winter up north, winter occasionally finds its way to Florida.   

That was the case on March 6th, 1954, when Florida received its greatest modern-day snowfall.  Four inches fell -- and stuck on the ground -- at Milton.  Pensacola received two inches of snow.

Meteorologists say snow in Florida is unusual but it does happen.  The earliest record of snow falling in Florida was during the Great Arctic Outbreak of 1774.  

Photo courtesy of

There’s been a rise of “citizen journalists” whether from the bombed out neighborhoods in Syria to the tornado ravaged mid-west towns in the U.S. And today, March 6, 2012, you have an opportunity to hear from “citizen journalist” Sohaib Athar who tweeted live about the raid on the Pakistani compound of Osama bin Laden.

USF Athletics

The USF men's basketball team is getting ready for Saturday's game against West Virginia--a game that some are calling the Bulls' "biggest home game in 20 years." 

With 19 wins, including 12 in the Big East conference and six in its last 7 games, the thought is the Bulls make the NCAA Tournament. However, even coach Stan Heath admits he's heard the doubters, telling the St. Petersburg Times: