I have seen important words printed on paper for most of my life. Living in New York City and reading my daily fill from the Village Voice always made me feel like a New Yorker. I proudly went to four shows a week, and the Village Voice gave me an opportunity to plan out my week, work, life and love. There are few tangible gifts like news and information printed on paper. Ones that hold your coffee, care, attention and distraction. They can make you realize what you are missing or in many instances, what may be in store. I'm not sure what life, in any city you love, would feel like without having these words to live by so handy.
Moving back to Tampa in the early 2000s was a culture shock for me. The pace, place, structure and attitude was a far cry from anything that I was used to. In the midst of my disarray, I found a familiar friend. I picked up my first Creative Loafing in the foyer of Mise en Place in 2003. At last, I had found what I was looking for. Music, food, events, insight, news and everything else that I was looking for to make me feel as if my new home actually had things happening in it. The look, feel, smell and ink on my finger tips made me realize that I was not too far away from my days in New York and the Village Voice that shaped me.
Creative Loafing and I would end up sharing a bond that not many people may know. In my young and adolescent years (I call them my 30s), I wrote and performed marriage ceremonies for close friends and family. One of these marriages was for a young woman named Taylor Eason. She was a bright, bubbly, breath of fresh air that I had met in her days of sipping wine in the bar at Mise. Eventually meeting her fiance and family, I quickly found out that this paper, Creative Loafing, was owned by her family. It was then that I started to understand why this paper was unique. Locally owned and operated, they put the people and subjects that they were writing about first because that's what they did in their actual lives.
Years later, I have seen this paper grow, evolve, change and elevate a medium in need of help. Creative Loafing continues to shed light on topics that need to be addressed, even if they are not popular. They continue to fight the good fight, one week at a time, by spreading the important message of what is happening in our city and what we can do to support it. I believe the words printed on the pages of CL are important, and that they are printed by good people, then and now. There should never be a time where this is not an option. To me, the voice that started to emerge when I first got back to Tampa has become the very fabric that makes Tampa unique and indistinguishable from any other city. Please help in keeping a piece of Tampa, stay in Tampa. —Ty Rodriguez