Thursday, August 11, 2005

The Quick And The Dead

New World 4.75mi

I think I’m feeling the effects of my little speed session yesterday.
One of my strategies to fit running into my day is to use the run as transportation. Joel called and said that he had finished his final exams and wanted to go out for a beer. I told him I would meet him at New World in Ybor in a couple of hours.
I had just gotten my Camelback hydration pack in the mail and I was anxious to try it out. I loaded up with water, ID, and cell phone and headed out.
While checking out the aerials for this route I realized that Ola Avenue runs due south from Seminole Heights to the end of Seventh Avenue by Tampa Armature Works. Ola is a small neighborhood street with good tree cover for most of the way.
For years, the section of Ola between MLK and Columbus has been on my Tampa tour itinerary for visitors who wanted to see the historic and eccentric side of Tampa. Running south on Ola below MLK there is a house on the west side of the road with a large (maybe 10’ tall) Ferro cement sculpture of a hand in the front yard. On Indiana just west of Ola sits the original sight of the Hampton House of Jazz. Starting around 1997, Marcus Hampton (a trumpet player from the illustrious jazz family including Slide and Lionel) and his wife Rose hosted monthly concerts in their backyard featuring some of the best of local and national jazz musicians. On the last Sunday of each month a broad spectrum of people would gather to enjoy the entertainment as well as Rose’s cooking.
I always thought it was kind of ironic and maybe a little sad that the house where these aging musicians gathered was directly across the street from the Showmen’s Rest Cemetery. A part of the Woodlawn Cemetery, Showmen’s Rest is actually the resting place of many of the area’s carnival workers, most notably the famous Lobster Boy. The other cemeteries on this site, Centro Asturiano, Sha’ari Zedek, and Rodef Shalom hold the graves of many of Tampa’s Jewish and Latin residents. At the southern end of the cemetery, across Ola, is Gram’s Place, a somewhat haphazardly constructed bed and breakfast dedicated to the late singer/songwriter Gram Parsons. A Florida native, Parsons’ own body was destined for burial in New Orleans when it was stolen from the LA airport by his road manager Phil Kaufman. Aided by an accomplice, a borrowed Hearse, and a large quantity of alcohol, Kaufman transported the body to Joshua Tree National Monument where he doused the casket in gasoline and set it ablaze in accordance with Parson’s wishes. As I pass the compound I can hear the strains of Parsons’ duet with Emmy Lou Harris “We’ll Sweep Out The Ashes In The Morning”.
About 55 minutes in I arrive at New World and realize that I’ve beaten everyone else there. I read somewhere recently that immediately following a run, your body’s “tanks” are wide open and ready to be replenished. I spend the evening topping them off with pizza and beer.


Anonymous tommy said...

this is an awesome blog...

5:04 PM  

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