Best Of 2017

BEST BODY FARM

Body farms, or places where donated corpses rot naturally in the name of science, are simultaneously unsettling and ever-so-fascinating. Studying how bodies decompose in various climates and conditions can help police solve crimes, and train forensics scientists to estimate time of death with hands-on learning about how carrion insects crawl in our orifices and lay eggs that become maggots that eat us from the inside out; then those cute little maggots grow into flies who get busy with the important work of eating the newly dead. The circle of life. Five creepy acres in Pasco County, forensics.usf.edu. —Amy Beeman

BEST BOON TO THE LOCAL ECONOMY BECAUSE OF IRMA

First of all, thank you — not only Duke Energy (we’ll go back to being pissed about the nuclear thing and our high bills soon enough, don’t get used to this wash of kindness) but to all the out-of-state power companies who sent linemen here in one of our hottest months (was that fun for you, Quebec power company?) to restore power to Tampa Bay in what, really, was a ridiculously short amount of time. Think about all the meals, hotel rooms and incidentals these men and women bought from our local businesses, who certainly could use the cash after losing at least three days of revenue. —Cathy Salustri

BEST BREAKING THE STEREOTYPE OF “NOT MY JOB” BUREAUCRACY

The Saturday before Irma hit, the city told all non-essential staff to go home and take care of their homes and families and to return to work after the storm passed. Then the police received a call about someone setting out a big-ass pile of garbage — including a lot of glass — that would become airborne when the storm came through. Damon Weisz, one of the few staff who can run the city’s bulk pickup claw truck, volunteered to get the pile. He didn’t stop there, though — he made passes throughout the city and picked up as much debris as he could to protect residents and businesses from flying debris, not stopping until Sunday evening when the storm arrived. —Cathy Salustri

BEST CAUSE OF HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE AMONG ARMCHAIR COPYEDITORS

Look, everybody lets a typo slip by every once in a while. CL is as guilty as the next news site. But online outlets like wtsp.com, abcactionnews.com, wfla.com and others are often so choked with misspellings, grammatical errors and mishaps of syntax that it inspires one to wonder whether the stories are being written by fledgling robots or enthusiastic but unsupervised children. I gotta read the feeds every day to cull stories for Sh*t Happened. Please, people — don’t make that part of my job more painful than it needs to be while alienating smart readers in the process. —Scott Harrell

BEST DISPLAY OF RELIGIOUS DEVOTION

Oh. My. God. And by God, I don’t mean Tim Tebow. Although I’m sure he can raise the dead and walk on water. Because that’s how he was portrayed by the media, particularly the Times, during the  — what was it, a week? — when he descended from the heavens to grace us with his presence as a not-very-good minor-leaguer playing for the St. Lucie Mets. Martin Fennelly, dazzled by what he called “The Tebow Effect,” reported that when Tebow was the 10th player to strike out against the Charlotte Stone Crabs, ticket holders got a free Frosty from Wendy's. “It wasn't loaves and fishes,” said Fennelly, “but Tebow provided.” OK, tongue-in-cheek, maybe. But the hero worship continued when St. Tim arrived, with headlines like “It’s a feel-great meet and greet for Tim Tebow in Tampa” and just a few days later, “A Tim Tebow birthday gift of perspective” (ending with this quote from a fellow Gator: "I don't think we'll ever see someone like Tim again”). Gag. Look, he seems to be a perfectly nice, upstanding guy, but the non-stop hagiography just seems a little, well, tiresome. And not a little icky. —David Warner

BEST ELECTRIFYING STORM SUPERHERO

Once again, we have someone shattering the “do-your-eight-and-hit-the-gate, good-enough-mentality” stereotype of a lazy government worker: Casey Jones went from working as Sewer Team Operations Leader to Push Crew Leader for the storm, and, according to city management, he “hit the ground running” to be part of the First Push. Seems he spent a lot of time making sure no one got electrocuted by downed power lines — not only first responders, but anyone out driving at all. He also cleared trees and dealt with eroded right of ways. Yay, climate change! No, wait, that’s not right — yay, Casey! —Cathy Salustri

Best explanation for our declining liver function
click to enlarge WHITEHOUSE.GOV
Whitehouse.gov

Critics have called him a historically ineffective president, but our supreme leader really does have one superpower: the mere thought of him is capable of making an entire bottle of rosé disappear in just minutes! There's just something about the level of anxiety that makes us want to tie one on more often than we should, to kill that ever-present sense of dread with fire. Or, more accurately, shots of Fireball. Oddly, the man himself reportedly doesn't drink alcohol, which makes alcohol all the more appealing. —Kate Bradshaw

BEST FAKE NEWS

Don’t get us wrong, we love the idea of having an office in St. Petersburg. (Some of us could even walk to work.) Thing is, the big headline on the Tampa Bay Times’s website last April, “Rum craft distillery, Creative Loafing to move into ‘town square’ planned for St. Pete Warehouse District,” was fake news. Flat wrong. Published without first going to an important source for the story — namely, Creative Loafing. Kinda lazy, considering all those Pulitzers they tout over there, but maybe reporter Charlie Frago was too busy digging up sewage stories to bother with accuracy. Granted, he did call CL publisher James Howard after the story ran — and when Howard told him that he’d signed a letter of interest in the distillery/town square project but any decision about moving anywhere was years away, Frago responded that he’d thought that the story and headline might need to be “tweaked.” And “tweak” the Times did, by inserting a lot of “maybe’s” — as in (we kid you not), “Craft rum distillery, maybe [italics ours] Creative Loafing, to move into town square...” etc etc. If it ever happens, Charlie Frago, we’ll give you a call. Rum’s on us. —David Warner

BEST FREE SUNSET POOL DIP YOU CAN SNEAK INTO

My wife’s gonna kill me, but maybe you’ll forget about the sweet views (hey minarets) and free vibes at the downtown Tampa Sheraton (where you can walk in and swim in the pool unharassed) by the time summer rolls back around. Tip your bartender should you find yourself looking for a pina colada. Sheratontampariverwalk.com, 200 N Ashley Dr., Tampa. (813) 223-2222. —Ray Roa

BEST GONNA DO IT ALL BECAUSE HE’S THAT KINDA GUY

Crew Chief Troy Palmer oversaw the move of every city document, electronics and vital equipment before the storm — no small task when you think about every piece of paper even a small city generates. After the storm passed, he was one of the first city workers to report for duty to set up “First Push” response — which meant clearing the roads of debris so first responders could help people. At press time, the city manager tells us he’s still full steam ahead to do whatever he can to help get life back to normal for the city, its residents and its businesses. —Cathy Salustri