Competing Histories
Re: "This Party's Dying." by Eric Snider (March 12-18) and letter from Sara Romeo, Ybor property owner (April 2-8)

I have to smile when I read Sara Romeo's lament of the death of Ybor City's current incarnation. It seems only yesterday when she and her cohorts waltzed in and took over the businesses that started there for their "Art District." I miss places like: Sweet Charity, Dog Eat Dog, N-R-Bones, 3 Birds, Angelica's, Ybor Pizza and Subs (still open in Seminole Heights), The Blues Ship, Blue Chair Music and all the others. They were the ones who sported the underground movement that brought the big money there in the first place.

I worked at Blue Chair for about three years and watched the Ybor City nightlife multiply exponentially during that time. People started to migrate from Tampa Bay's cold and sterile strip mall districts to the warmth and freedom of the old red brick facades of Seventh Avenue. We promoted local bands and had live performances every weekend. Then Ybor was about local music, poetry, art and, in my mind, partying. As more and more people flocked to the area, the higher and higher the rents became, essentially forcing out the small businesses that existed there.

Sara Romeo headed the Ybor Arts Council at the time and also took part in the "upgrade" of the bohemian mentality to a snooty "Art district". The buying of the original Blue Chair Music (originally the Burns Furniture building) and forcing the store to move down the street at a moment's notice (ask Marty Clear for details if necessary) for the sake of Romeo's Furniture is just one example. Blue Chair never recovered and eventually failed.

The funniest part about all this is that an actual story in one of the local papers at the time doubled Ybor's attendance in one weekend. I have no clue as to the exact date but Rosewater Elizabeth played to an overpacked house that night as I worked the door. She had commented on the existence of gang violence in the area and hundreds (maybe even thousands) packed the streets to see what the commotion was about. Shortly thereafter, Seventh Avenue had to be closed on weekend nights due to all the excessive vehicle traffic.

The reality check here is that Ybor will mutate continually until those old brick buildings fall apart. I was happy to be part of what I consider the "old days."

And Sara, "The bars did not build Ybor" but you didn't exactly build it either. You just picked up on it on the ground floor.—Zelda SledgeHammer, a.k.a. The Ybor Howler

Losing Battles?
Re: "Propaganda is a Tool of War" by John Sugg (March 26-April 1)

I just wanted let you know how much I enjoyed John Sugg's commentary. I am afraid, though, that he may be fighting a losing battle. I find that most Americans of my acquaintance simply don't want to hear it. I know that people tend to tune me out when I ask even mild questions about Dubya's war. You are right — most people cannot see that it is possible to support our troops, but be against the war.

Unfortunately, I think you are also correct when you say that the present administration is not above fabricating evidence, if they can't find what they need to justify their actions. I am afraid I don't have as much faith in the foreign press to uncover the truth as do you. Once the Bushies have complete control over Iraq, it won't be all that difficult for them to plant evidence with impunity. I am sure I don't need to point out what Dubya's daddy did for a living, prior to the Presidency. Certainly, he has friends who could pull this off. After all, whatever biological or chemical weapons are "found," Halliburton or another conspirator will probably be awarded the contract to "destroy" them.

I will be looking for Sugg's byline in the future. I hope he will continue to speak out, as will I. John Condron

Please tell me that your "Propaganda is a Tool of War" column was an April Fool's piece. If it was a serious essay, I am disturbed at the depths to which the liberal fringe has sunk in its efforts to poison the minds of America against the Bush administration.

You tell us of a "hidden agenda of initiating a long series of conflicts" and that the Iraq war is the "first of many to ensure our global dominance over resources" without any effort to justify these comments. While you are at it why not aver that Jews eat Gentile children and that the Catholics are amassing weapons in their basements in preparation for a coup? Your pathetic conspiracy theories are no less absurd than these tried-and-true classics from bygone, hate-filled eras.

Guess what, John? You are the propagandist here. You have become the frothing mouthpiece for the radical left, whose efforts to defame anything that smacks of moderation or conservatism will apparently stop at nothing

Though I take issue with almost everything you say in that column, I would like to address a few items specifically.

1. "Our spooks will make sure evidence is found." By supplying, in advance, a scenario like this, you are hoping to avoid the uncomfortable possibility of American forces actually proving this war may have been justified. It occurs to me that the specter of this outcome absolutely terrifies you and your ilk. And what better way to combat that threat than to pre-negate it with the promise that it will all be a grand deception? If you respond to all contradictions in your theory or failures of your predictions with "it only seems that way because THEY are lying" then your position is unassailable, is that it? This is no better than the fundamentalist folk who cling to "because the scripture says so" when confronted with challenges to their world-model.

2. "Bush has ... rendered America hated, despised and disbelieved by most of the world." America was hated and disbelieved by most of the world, particularly by most of the Middle East, since long before Bush was president. You really need to wake up to this fact. Perhaps his questionable tact has put a sharper edge on the rhetoric, but their attitude towards us shaped our president more than the other way around.

3. "[The war] deflects attention from a devastated economy" Look at recent history: the whole American psyche, including and especially our economy, went into shock after Sept. 11, 2001. What recovery was possible after that has been dampened by fears over the very conflict you now say is a distraction. This belief is untenable. The surest way to raise the flagging spirits in the business sector would have been for Bush to abandon war and rumors of war. To posit that the conflict is an effort to deflect attention is ignorant to the point of moronic.

P.S. What is this "uniform" you keep referring to? Did you work for the Post Office, or are you trying to tell us you were in the armed forces and completed a tour of duty in Vietnam?David Pilver, Tampa

Editor's note: Sugg volunteered for the U.S. Navy in the mid-1960s, when he was still in high school. He was honorably discharged as a Petty Officer Third Class.

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