The Home Issue

Can't afford to flee? Stay home.

It's the time of the season when everyone is trying to escape.

But this year, with gas prices in fearsome flux, the prospect of taking a long road trip or even booking a cheap room on lacks appeal. Suddenly the best option is not a vacation, but a stay-cation.

Maybe, we think, it would be better just to stay home.

Enter the Creative Loafing Home Issue. We've filled this week's edition with suggestions for making your home a better place to hang out. Take inspiration from the exuberant interiors of local artists' homes photographed by Megan Voeller. Listen up as Eric Snider advises on how to get more of a bang out of your home speaker system. Shop with Brian Ries as he lists the vital ingredients in a well-equipped kitchen.

We offer, as well, an array of close-to-home alternatives to that world tour you may have postponed. Lance Goldenberg highlights the latest eclectic lineup at the Beach Theatre: From France to Oregon to Rocky Horror, the Beach is an international filmfest pretty much all the time. Alex Pickett spends the night with the globe-hopping, guitar-jamming clientele of Gram's Place, Tampa's legendary hostel. And Wade Tatangelo explains how, with the right beverages, you can see Europe without leaving your apartment.

But home is hardly a source of unmixed delight these days, so we also look into the trials of renting, buying and owning one's own place. Leilani Polk speaks for apartment dwellers everywhere with her litany of troubles from down the hall, while Joe Bardi outlines the lessons he's learned in shopping for his first house. Ben Fry assesses the lofty realms (and loftier prices) of Tampa's high-rise condos, and Wayne Garcia helps voters navigate through the various property-tax amendments on the horizon.

This issue also marks the debut of a regular feature called Recessionomics. We know: It's apparently not a recession until Henry Paulson says it is. But for those of us who know an economy in the shitter when we see one, we'll try to provide answers to questions like, for instance, why it's going to cost so much to bail out Wall Street's "drunks" — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

Finally, we present our latest YouShoot winner: Diana Lucas Leavengood, one of our finest local photographers. She spotted the abandoned doll seen here in a park near her St. Petersburg home.

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