Urban Explorer's Handbook '07: The Sensory Overload Edition

It's a multi-sensory tour of Tampa Bay: Sky art. Lap dances. A bridge that makes music. And some smells and tastes that can't be ignored.

Is it inevitable that the longer you live in a place, the more you take it for granted? Close to three years ago, I waxed enthusiastic in my first editor's note about everything I was noticing in my new home, Tampa Bay. The clouds, the lizards, the beaches, even the strip malls, all filled me with addlepated wonder. Now the clouds are ... OK, better not to go on like Joni Mitchell singing "Both Sides Now," but suffice it to say that as these things lost some of their newness, I lost some of my wonder.

Recently, though, I've started attending to a more circumscribed part of my world: the route I take every morning when I walk the dog. My partner and I obtained a ridiculously appealing Norfolk terrier named Harriet last fall. We'd never owned a dog, so I hadn't been inclined to interrupt my three-newspaper morning routine before with ventures into the outside world. I might have tried — we live in a particularly bucolic corner of St. Petersburg, so the dawn's early light should have held plenty of appeal — but it was not until I was confronted with the irresistible demands of Harriet's bladder that I was forced to get out of the house by 8 a.m. and start walking.

And my god, I realized more viscerally than I ever had, it's pretty around here. And noisy. And smelly, if Harriet's constant sniffing of everything is any indication. One of the people you'll meet in this week's issue comments that dogs have 10,000 times better smellers than humans, and that certainly seems to be so, because Harriet's view of the world is definitely nose-first. But her intensely investigative bent, plus my increased sensitivity to sights and sounds that might offer threat or temptation to her, have made me much more conscious of what's around me in my neighborhood. The amazing variety of yakking birds and the barks of angry squirrels; the rush of water in the creek, which always sounds like approaching traffic; the whoosh of actual traffic, which means it's time to pull the dog in closer; the ominously anthropomorphic shapes of fallen palm fronds; the chicken bone in the grass that Harriet almost gets to before I do; and the fresh views of the landscape I experience when I have to stop, wait for her and look around for a while.

In thinking about this year's edition of the Urban Explorer's Handbook, I was inspired directly by an event and indirectly by Harriet. The event is Creative Loafing's annual multi-disciplinary arts event, Sensory Overload, which is timed to coincide with the publication of the Handbook, one of our biggest issues annually. This year we decided, why not give the issue the same theme as the event? Because, just as the idea of Sensory Overload provided a useful framework for an arts party, it also suggested a new way of exploring our region, a guide to Tampa Bay via the five senses. Ears perked, eyes wide, nostrils alert (OK, I'll stop now, don't want to take this Harriet thing too far), we asked ourselves, and we're asking you: What are the sights, smells, sounds, tastes and textures that say Tampa Bay?

We came up with a wide variety of answers. Some you'll no doubt agree with (the smell of oranges, blossoming or processed); some may surprise you (the Cass Street Bridge in downtown Tampa can produce B-flat chords?); others may leave you with wrinkled brow and/or nose (lap dances and sewage plants, to name a few). You'll meet artists making discoveries about Tampa's physical environs, see St. Pete through the eyes of a blind man, taste some very nasty fruit and even pet a few goats.

Here's hoping you enjoy this year's journey, and that you let us know at [email protected] what your five senses tell you about Tampa Bay. And come by the Cuban Club in Ybor on Saturday, March 24, for Sensory Overload the event. Between the skateboarders, the rumfest, the rock bands and the painters/ sculptors/ filmmakers/ installation artists, your senses are going to be very busy.

– David Warner

Urban Explorer's Handbook 2007

Sensory Overload Edition

Intro: Coming to our senses

Sight


The Sky Collector
Urban Explorer's Handbook
Tampa's 2006 Photographer Laureate talks about what he sees when he shoots the city (and its skies).
BY MEGAN VOELLER
Seeing Stars
Urban Explorer's Handbook
Where to view the wonders of the universe – despite the lights of Tampa
BY ANTHONY SALVEGGI
Starstruck
Urban Explorer's Handbook
Forget Miami – Tampa Bay gets its fair share of celebrities, too.
BY ALEX PICKETT
The eyes beside him
Urban Explorer's Handbook
A blind man's tour through a St. Pete neighborhood, with the help of a pup named Accelerator.
BY DAWN MORGAN
Drive-by sightings
Urban Explorer's Handbook
Seen from the windows of the car.

Sound


Take It to the Bridge
Urban Explorer's Handbook
He heard music in Tampa traffic – and started to compose.
BY ERIC SNIDER
Noise Pollution
Urban Explorer's Handbook
Peace and quiet and the eternal screech.
Turn It Up
Urban Explorer's Handbook
The loudest band in Tampa Bay, without earplugs.

Touch


THERE'S THE RUB
Urban Explorer's Handbook
Licensed massage therapists go franchise, with monthly memberships.
BY WAYNE GARCIA
Touch and Go
Urban Explorer's Handbook
The art – and commerce – of the lap dance.
BY WAYNE GARCIA
The Happy Ending
Urban Explorer's Handbook
When the business of touch goes all the way
BY WAYNE GARCIA
Heavy Petting
Urban Explorer's Handbook
Noah's Ark brings the zoo to you. Don't forget the hand sanitizer
BY JOE BARDI

Taste


Are You Really Going To Eat That?
Urban Explorer's Handbook
We wanted to try something nasty. We got it.
BY ERIC SNIDER
Do Drink the Water
Urban Explorer's Handbook
If it comes from the refrigerator, that is
BY DAVID WARNER
The Year's Top Tastes
Urban Explorer's Handbook
Brian Ries' best-reviewed restaurants, 2006-07.

Smell


Getting The Stink Out
Urban Explorer's Handbook
The Marshall Street Wastewater Treatment Plant puts the 'clear' in Clearwater
BY ALEX PICKETT
SCENT MEMORIES
Urban Explorer's Handbook
One whiff takes them back

Sensory Overload: The party


Sensory Overload: It's More Than a Party
Urban Explorer's Handbook
CL'S signature arts event returns March 24 with a new curator, new partners and four floors of fun (plus more than a bucket of rum).
BY DAVID WARNER
Photoshop Tennis, Anyone?
Urban Explorer's Handbook
From skate-pipes to "Orgasmatic," veterans to newbies, there's a wide range of artwork in SO '07
BY MEGAN VOELLER
Curated Visual Artists at SO '07
Urban Explorer's Handbook
COURTYARD Craig Kaths, skate ramp Booty Art Expo, live mural painting CANTINA (ground floor) Kim...
SENSORY OVERLOAD: THERE'S MORE!
Urban Explorer's Handbook
The Musical Lineup Curated by Jack Spatafora/Aestheticized The Cantina (ground floor) 8 p.m.: Rop...


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