Saturday, July 19, 2008

Postcard From Tampa

We've written often about the value of seeing ourselves as others see us. Here's a recent email we got from Brian DuLong, a visitor from Tampa:

I read your post with great interest having just returned from Memphis as a "tourist" from Tampa. I'm writing to you of my experience only to help you in your post.

I recently visited Memphis to see Graceland, Mud Island for a concert, and Beale Street.

I admit I was asked by a pan-handler for money at each one of these places. I remember seeing a police presence at each place, but they seemed too "busy" to address what you speak of here.

Shame on the mayor, police chief, or whoever is responsible for this. I also have to admit, maybe I "helped" the problem, by giving money?

The "foot patrol" on Beale Street was busy talking to the shop owners. Police walking the street would have cut out the guy asking me for money, when the streets were not quite closed, but not many other "tourists" out either.

There were police, however, in cars on my walk from South Main to Beale Street, finishing their paperwork no doubt from a massive two car accident with a Toyota pick-up. I felt safe "Walking in Memphis." :)

I was surprised it was difficult to get a bowl of gumbo on Beale St. at only 11:40p.m. Most of the responses I got from door personnel were that the kitchens were closed. It was a Tuesday night, but 12 seemed just a little too early to close.

Again, I loved your city. Memphis is a jewel of the Mississippi. Having never seen the big river before, I was not let down.

Thank you again for your warm Southern hospitality and I hope to return soon. Peace~


Anonymous said...

Wow, is some asshole from Tampa really chastising us for the poor people asking him for money? Panhandling is sad and giving to those who ask is generally unproductive - but do we really need to criminalize poverty further?

Zippy the giver said...

No, we need to make it inhospitable TO panhandle and hospitable to SEEK SHELTER and to BE REHABILITATED or TREATED for mental illness.
Tampa is a beautiful town.
I knew a man who was homeless for five years, he became homeless as a kid. I told him I would like to be homeless and he said no, you wouldn't. He told me of some of the atrocities that hapen when you are homeless, but, what he took particular care to impress upon me was this:
"Being homeless turns you into an animal and you have to act like an animal to survive when you're homeless."
He said that is "the most important thing to keep in your mind" when you are homeless if you want to survive.
When you feed a cat, it never goes away, or a dog, elephants, coyotes, and Homeless people. All had previous contact with people, can't just continue to let them fend for themselves as if we live in a jungle. Can't keep operating Memphis as if all the citizens think it's OK to act like sociopaths towards the homeless. The cops pick them up and services take them to shelter. That's the way it's dome in paces where the problem is much bigger.

k. irène said...

I just moved back home from St. Petersburg (right across from "beautiful town" Tampa--oh please! It is pathetic!) and without ruining my Sunday AM relaxation by railing on here for an hour, that area is RIFE with the same sort of issues that Memphis is. The homelessness in Downtown Tampa and St. Pete is much more glaring and if this man wants to get fed period outside of a Taco Bell drive through in either of those towns past 10 PM, good luck.

So so so very tired of all the Memphis bashing already. It is going to take work; if you aren't into recognizing that, go live in Tampa and see how you feel. There is so much work to be done there, it is overwhelming, especially because so many people don't even care; they'll just stay in their communities miles from Downtown and show up once a year for a hockey game and leave. Try to afford buying a house there,too, while you're at it.

Memphis has so much potential and sometimes it takes actually living outside of it to see it. I am not averse to people stating negative facts about this place, but the defeatist grumbling drives me bananas.

Brian said...

Hey Anonymous, First I will respond to your obviously ignorant comment, to call me an asshole. You dont know me, and obviously you didn't read what I wrote. I was responding to a question someone had ASKED about panhandling in Memphis, and lack of police action about it. Somehow that part was left off the begining of this thread. I dont know why they posted my response here, showing you how others see you. I was only sharing that Yes, I also was approached, like in almost any other city I've ever been to, New York, Paris, Tampa, London, Boston. By not leaving your name, and making statements like that, it makes me think your the asshole.
Secondly, to k.irene, I have re-read my note over again, just to be sure, but I dont see where I EVER said "beautiful town" Tampa! You also need to re-read what I wrote. If you want to ASSume what I think or feel of Memphis, why dont you try reading what I wrote in my 2nd to last paragraph! Since you have a problem READing I'll copy it for you "Again, I loved your city. Memphis is a jewel of the Mississippi. Having never seen the big river before, I was not let down.Thank you again for your warm Southern hospitality and I hope to return soon. Peace~" WHERE was I "bashing Memphis" ? Did I upset your morning ? Maybe you should try to read, it truly is fundamental. You didn't like your stay in St.Pete ? Sorry to hear that, but glad to see you go. We have enough traffic here already!
I may have to rethink that whole "Southern Hospitality" comment.
After reading the both of your comments though, do you want to know how I see you ? As people who cant read when someone gives a compliment!

Brian said...

I want to add that the part I wrote about a "massive two car accident with a Toyota pick-up." I was referring to an accident that night with a horse drawn carridge, and a Toyota pick-up. I was really trying to make a joke, because there had to have been 25 cops there, you would have thought it was a pile-up of 40 cars. I suppose humor doesn't mean much to people so overly sensitive.
By the way k.irene, since you lived in that cesspool/hovel Tampa/St.Pete, you must also know the homeless people here have small tent cities, and aren't out in front of say, Busch Gardens begging for money. I work nights here at Tampa airport, and have never had a hard time finding lunch at 3am here. Guess if you prefer Taco Bell over in St.Pete thats cool, but I know this city, and know where NOT to go.

Smart City Consulting said...

We value Brian's perspective and we are grateful to him for this distinctive look at our city through his eyes.