Gram's Place Tampa Florida (7)

The Tribute

Gram's Place at Tampa, Florida tribute |ˈtribyoōt| (noun) An act, statement, or gift that is intended to show gratitude, respect, or admiration It was exactly two decades ago that a young man built a tribute in Florida to a musician he revered. It was no statue, though – no lifeless representation of what had once been. This young man decided to build a youth hostel as his tribute, and through the energy and vitality of the community that grew within it, he created a heaving and breathing monument that captured the spirit of his idol. Tributes have many layers and they often say more about the creator than the hero. Four years ago that young man – twenty years older but, by all accounts, light of heart – took his own life. The hostel didn’t close, though. It still remains today, still welcomes in visitors from around the world and still fills the night...

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11 November
civil rights, racial equality, deep south, america, usa, african american

Civil rights and wrongs in the Deep South

Deep South civil rights When it comes to civil rights and racial equality, there’s a lot of food for thought during a trip through the Deep South of the United States (and I’m not talking about the fried chicken!). Everywhere you go you’re confronted with overt signs of the gap between black and white. Sometimes it’s the poverty you notice, other times it’s to do with status, occasionally it’s about the opportunities. Mostly it’s a blending of many factors that makes you wonder how far this country has come in addressing deep-rooted social disadvantage. Let’s take New Orleans, for example. It’s a city with a population that is 60 per cent African American but when we went to a music festival there we saw predominately white faces and only a few black ones (Snoop Dogg, excepted). Then there was a moment when I was passing through an airport in North Carolina that had...

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10 November
New Orleans, Louisiana, crime, poverty, katrina, is New Orleans safe

The Big Easy is harder than you think

Crime in New Orleans Just a block or two from where I was out drinking one night, two people were shot dead and several more injured in altercations that escalated quickly. The next day the local newspaper had a big article about the murders, filled with the usual fist-shaking condemnations of police and politicians. Next to that, though, was a similar-sized article about what effect the shootings would have on tourism. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the essence of New Orleans. It’s a city where decadence meets dangerous and where it’s not just the drink prices that are criminal. New Orleans is one of the most popular destinations for visitors in the US but outside the purring tourist-fuelled economy there’s suburb after suburb of poverty, crime and hopelessness. Hurricane Katrina didn’t help, and it gets most of the attention these days, but it’s not the problem. It merely exacerbated it. There were many...

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08 November