Fear and Loathing in Tampa

From cash-hungry strippers to protesters dressed as vaginas, your gonzo guide to the Republican National Convention

Scott's decision isn't popular in left-leaning Tampa, but it has gone down well in nearby, rabidly Republican Hillsborough County.

"Who's more likely to have a gun: a pinko commie liberal or a God-fearing Republican?" reasons Joseph Wendt, a Romney supporter in the area. "If you're a bunch of liberal activists going to protest a conservative event where people are legally allowed to carry guns, you better behave."

Buckhorn's stance hasn't exactly endeared him to progressives plotting to protest the convention, either. They decry his plan to put them in three "clean zones" located several blocks from the Times Forum. And they fear retaliation from the 4,000 heavily armed police officers—paid for by a $50 million Homeland Security grant—who will cordon off downtown.

"We're not going to do anything illegal," says Corey Uhl, head of Students for a Democratic Society at the University of South Florida. "But with the recent frame-ups of NATO protesters in Chicago, you never know what the government will do."

Others are arguably already breaking the law. A group called the Poor People's Economic Human Rights Campaign rented the land behind an Army surplus store near the Forum. They spread mulch on the parking lot, set up a portable toilet, erected Pepto-Bismol-pink tents, and called it "Romneyville." Local officials say the tents violate zoning laws, but protesters say they'll handcuff themselves to fences rather than leave.

"Republicans can't ignore us," says Bruce Wright, one of the campaign's organizers. "This is the future of the United States if things don't change."

Buckhorn's office has tried to contain the craziness by barring protesters from bringing props such as puppets and masks. But he will have his hands full with Code Pink's vagina costumes.

The outfits were inspired by an incident last year when a Democratic state rep joked that the only way for a Florida woman to avoid Republicans' invasive reproductive regulations was to "incorporate her uterus." Republicans scolded him for using the word on the House floor.

"These stupid, old boy white men want to legislate our vaginas," says Anita Stewart, a home health care practitioner. "They came out of a vagina and spend the rest of their lives trying to crawl back up in one, but they don't want to hear the word.

"We're not in the 17th century anymore," Stewart says. "Vagina!"

"Governor!" The shout spun Rick Scott away from his budget presentation and toward the press pool. "You benefit from hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars every year," said a reporter he didn't recognize. "So would you be willing to pee into this cup to prove to Florida taxpayers that you're not on drugs, that you're not using that money for drugs?"

"I've done it plenty of times," Scott stuttered.

"Would you pass this forward to the governor?" the reporter asked, handing another journalist an empty plastic piss cup.

Sadly, Scott didn't take a leak. But the governor had been punked. Two months later, the stunt aired on an episode of The Daily Show, lambasting Scott for his welfare drug testing.

It was the most visible victory yet for a native son bent on airing his home state's unparalleled craziness. "When I first came to Florida as a boy, I said to myself, 'One day, I'm going to ask the governor of this state to give me a urine sample in the middle of a press conference,'" says Aasif Mandvi, the comedian-cum-satirist. "Finally, my dream came true, and I can cross it off my bucket list."

Daily Show host Jon Stewart insists the program is "fake news," yet its skits surgically expose political hypocrisy better than any 60 Minutes piece. Florida is a favorite target, and Mandvi, who grew up in Tampa, is the perfect guide.

Born in Mumbai, Mandvi moved to northern England when he was a year old. Fifteen years later, his shop-owner father saw ads for real estate deals in Florida and moved the family to Tampa. "I came from an all-boys British boarding school to a place where girls were wearing short shorts, and everyone was running around on skateboards," he remembers. "It was completely another dimension for me."

As a Muslim Indian with a British accent, Mandvi was triply out of place. His new neighbors didn't know what to make of him. "I don't think that in the 1980s Americans knew that there were other countries," he jokes. "They knew that the oil came from somewhere, but they weren't sure where exactly."

After high school, he stayed in Tampa to attend the University of South Florida. He majored in theater and later landed a job making fun of guests as part of a wandering improv group at Disney-MGM Studios. Three years later, he moved to New York.

Watching the city grow suspicious of Muslim-Americans following the September 11 terrorist attacks, Mandvi turned his comedy political. In Off-Broadway plays, he mined the "idea of sitting between cultures, between East and West, being Muslim-American but having that experience of being a kid in Florida." The Daily Show asked him to audition in 2007, and he was hired the same day.

During the past four years, he has traveled the country for segments, but many of his most memorable moments have happened in the Sunshine State.

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30 comments
JPMcMahon
JPMcMahon

Well, the convention is over, and only about 300 protesters showed up rather than the 15,000 predicted in your article. There are a lot of reports out there that the strip clubs actually made far less money while the convention was in town than they would have made during a normal week. When you write your companion piece about the Democratic convention in Charlotte, I hope that you don't waste over half of the article talking about stuff that really didn't turn out to be of any consequence to the event like you did with this one. Maybe you should do like Hunter S. Thompson did, and actually go to the convention and write about it afterwards.

Zoiks
Zoiks

This is a great article.  The "stand your ground" law is a great example of how what these anarcho-fascists do in their Florida "test lab" can spread like a cancer through the nation. 

defrockedbitterapost
defrockedbitterapost

"Believe in America" from a tax fraud that closes companies and lays off workers and sends their jobs to third world countries while he pockets tents of millions of dollars each time all while refusing to pay taxes, hiding his money in secret numbered bank arrounts.

 

These Republican dung heap Christians are evil. Every one of them. They don't "believe in America," they believe in war crimes, baby killing for Jesus, and treason of every country they infest.

elawgrrl
elawgrrl

@craigtimes jerks - however, if that keeps a few carpetbaggers away I'll take it!

organicsulfur
organicsulfur

Organic sulfur can make those stupid enough to go the the Fear and Loathing Party smart enough to vote for Anonymous over Mutt or Jeff.

If you have your health, life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness,is a cake walk.  Mutt or Jeff just want to make your sickness profitable to the one percent, we don't need no guns to let reason and the almighty dollar function.  Want to scare a CEO, whisper boycott in their ear.

Hunter Thompson received a 1776 belt buckle from this artist, advertised as "bullet proof."  Fear and Loathing is what drives the republicans, democrats as well, left brain triggers, "you nigger!"

Organic sulfur addresses stupidity, born or acquired from the fear and loathing of our vaccination program based on a lie, and profit.  Somebody pays, too often our children or parents.

It could be too late for Tampa, we will send the sulfur punch crew, and are taking applications for those who wish to be a citizen, and a Republican.

Organicsulfur@sisna.com is the Cellular Matrix Study and the Campaign headquarters of Anonymous for President, the third parties best hope to avoid "fear and loathing."

Gill Scott Heron, died not from Heroin but from the fear and loathing in that hospital, his words ring on, the revolution will not be televised, but we win.

As Hunter S. Thompson said in some interview, if we would all vote, all of us, we can prevail.

The Name of Anonymous will be revealed the day before the election, who can Mutt and Jeff attack?

We are 270,000 since Hunter S. Thompson referred to the one percent, they are still the one percent when it takes  two to tango and 3% to rule.  Isn't greed interesting?

Anonymous  for President 2012.

 

@

 

ejstembler
ejstembler

@joelintampa Wow, that article is bad

BeerTampa
BeerTampa

@joelintampa @bobbuckhorn seems like this story was more about FL and the governor than Tampa.

thommyberlin1
thommyberlin1

Re-e-e-e-e-ally. I'm a Floridian. I've been fighting against these bastards longer than anyone I know. While these charges are mostly true, it is not the native Floridians who should shoulder the blame for these imported fucks, and I'll be damned if I get painted with the same brush. Watch the polls Michael, and mind the sharks.prusin, you wouldn't know a fascist if he fell on you.  (hey... fascists are conservatives... dumb ass)

prusin
prusin

Redner should be looking at the current CinC (Barry--BarackHussein Obama, Jr.--FrankMarshall--Davis-Soetoro) for a Reich style takeover of the U.S. Barry is for certain a Marxist with National Socialist leaning tendencies. For all those on the left who don't see it, well, you are in for a big surprise when you become an unemployed state slave, and/or a slave to the state (super high taxation) if you are employed. Redistribution always brings everyone down to the lowest common denominator (the poorest individual), which is what we are about to become under Barry Hussein Soetoro if he is elected to another 4 year term.

prusin
prusin

Mandvi is a "native son" (of Florida) from Mumbai, India, via Great Britain? EGADS! Who writes this nonsense? You cannot be native unless born here. Mandvi is not native, unless your being racist here in describing him as a "native.' Where I come from that, also, often, means "primitive." V V wouldn't be making a funny would it? If so, it's not humorous.

prusin
prusin

I've never heard so much scare tactic drivel about anything in my life. The scariest part of page 2 is that there are leftists and anarchists who talk about riots, and bloodshed, fighting, and mayhem if they don;t get to do what they want where they want to? Really? Of course, "rule of law" long ago died in the U.S. thanks to leftist introductions of rights (job, Health Care, housing) that don't exist w/o the responsibility to provide them yourselves by working your tail off if necessary. Even the right to keep & bear arms comes with the responsibility to do so in a manner consistent with the constitution, and within the parameters of not only protecting others rights, but making sure you do not intrude on their right(s). The Republicans have as much a right to "peaceably" assemble as do the protestors. But the protestors instead threaten anarchy, rioting, mayhem, death? That's the left for you.

lesheight
lesheight

I've lived in Florida my whole life of 50+ years and you've got the place down cold.

prusin
prusin

How can a law to test applicants to a give away program (welfare) be unconstitutional (4th Amendment)? If one doesn't wish to take the test, they need not apply for the welfare. But, you;d think the VV would want people to get drug tested if it helps them become productive citizens n the long run, right? Apparently, not. It would prefer people be drug laden, future suicide s, to them getting any real medical help with their addiction problem. Huh! Sounds a bit ridiculous to me.

prusin
prusin

A bit hoplophobic Village Voice? Why the EMPHASIS on guns so often in the article? Why the belief that Republicans are all of one mold, and all pro-gun, or anti-gay? And what makes the VV so willing to believe that anyone with a gun is going to get into the Republican convention? I would be more likely to see a Democratic nut job outside the convention trying to see if they can pop off a few rounds at some Republican. As to your contention that we are all willing to kill any opponent, I would really like to see where you get your false statistics, or, is this purely rhetoric to scare people away from the Republican Party? Yes, thinking minds know what is what regardless of the drivel this paper sometimes promotes as fact. As for Hunter S. Thompson quote, I've yet  to hear more drivel from the LameMainStreamLeftMedia in a long time.

Fresh_Pineal_Gland
Fresh_Pineal_Gland

The illustrator, Rick Sealock, is channeling Ralph Steadman beautifully. Great work!

encyclomedia
encyclomedia

... I'm so happy journalism is still alive ~ thank you VV!

GreatMartin
GreatMartin

When the hurricane hits will the preachers blame the Republicans for His wrath???

Tessa
Tessa

Amazing story, loved it, shared it about 4 times already on Facebook and I just got to the last page. Bravo! Excellent reporting by the VV as always!!

Jen Setteducato
Jen Setteducato

Wish HST was here today to comment on this year's circus, er, election.

repete86
repete86

@villagevoice as someone who lives here, I think that you're being too nice to this strange time capsule of the worstworst of the 1960s.

Flaman
Flaman

Miller seems to have caught the right drift of the State of Florida particularly well.  Especially our esteemed Governor who made his fortune off purloined government  welfare payments.  The saddest aspect of this hilarious essay is the hollowness of the protesters:  Abortion zealots and know nothings.  Alas, the pending hurricane will steal the show.  Well written.

vito33
vito33

The trees are the right height!

j_swinbanks
j_swinbanks

@lukebuckmaster @villagevoice Agreed, great article.

LiveWithUsNYC
LiveWithUsNYC

@villagevoice are there any rnc viewing parties for liberals in the city?

igmo123
igmo123

 @thommyberlin1 LOL....ooooooo...scary.....you reek of flop sweat and fear, the signature scent of the poseur's cabal...man up tommy, this clown is done.  There's a poll being conducted in early November...watch it.  

leaf
leaf

 @prusin I don't believe that you understand either Marxism or National Socialism. How could a Marxist (far left) have National Socialist (far right) tendencies? If your comment is full of logical inconsistencies and displays a lack of knowledge, then why should people listen to what you say?

 

Moreover, the President's name is Barack Hussein Obama, not "Hussein Sotero". Choosing to refer to him by a name you know to be incorrect is not only rude, but makes it sound like you think that implying someone to be of Middle Eastern, East African or South Asian descent is an insult. It makes you sound like you don't think of Obama as being as American as you are. All of those things reflect badly on someone, but it's not President Obama.

prusin
prusin

 @leaf  I understand Marxism/Socialism, communism, NAZIism quite well, It is you who apparently have been misled. Socialism/communism, and National Socialism are two sides of the same coin. Both are socialist in nature. At their core belief is socialist policy where all work together for the betterment of the community. Who guides those depends on the path they follow. In Germany, following Hitler led to World War, concentration camps, and millions of dead. Communism such as that practiced by the Soviet Union resulted in the deaths of tens of millions from starvation, and purges. In the u.S. Republicanism with a Constitution as it base is the right, It is a right that determines individual freedom , and rights. See, once upon a time i thought similar to you. I believed what the 'tards who teach today taught me until I got schooled myself. Then I learned something else, something problematic; that being that the public education system, the LameMainStreamLeftMedia, the socialist party (Democratic Party) are all in cahoots to revise history. You are just a dupe for them. 

 

What I call Barry Hussein, or whoever he may be (he called himself Barry Soetoro in high school), has no bearing on truth, because the truth is, no one knows who Barry Soetoro is. He may not even know himself, except for knowledge he is a devout Marxist with totalitarian NAZI tendencies.

 
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