LAWBI #79: Peak Scene

glass with beer

I first thought it might be true a few months ago, when I wandered into the Flying Pig Taphouse on Central Avenue out of lazy weekend half-curiosity and more than a bit of thirst. Cool, clean and modern, the place was nice enough, but it didn’t really feel like a brewpub. It didn’t feel… indie. It felt like a really, really well-done franchise.

I was sure it was true a couple of weeks ago, when we were working on The Drinking Issue. Somebody mentioned that there were more than 20 craft-brew places, either open or within months of it, in the Tampa Bay area alone. That couldn’t be right, could it?


Last weekend’s unmitigated ass-hattery at Cigar City Brewing’s annual Hunahpu’s Day tradition (the last one, as it turns out) only confirms it:

We’ve reached Peak Craft Beer.

Craft beer isn’t “over,” of course. It won’t be for a few years yet. Locally, however, it’s in the process of breaking through to an audience exponentially wider than the one that initially nurtured it. Craft beer is the grunge, the t-shirts-over-dress-shirts, the sun-dried tomatoes, the superhero movies of the mid-20teens. Its original fanbase has already noticed the saturation; now, those aficionados have to put up with a seemingly endless period of mispronunciation and misinformation as everyone rushes to exploit the latest cool thing.

Read more at Creative Loafing

LAWBI #78: The Flappy Flap

In the late spring of 2013, a deceptively simple-looking game appeared in Apple’s App Store. The premise was very straightforward: a player tapped repeatedly on a phone or tablet screen to keep a character with a rudimentary resemblance to a bird flying through an obstacle course of pipes that appeared stolen wholesale from Super Mario Brothers 3.

The game, Flappy Bird, sat around the Apple and Google Play stores, garnering somnews_LAWBI_Flappybirde notice and reviews without really making a splash. And then suddenly, last month, the game exploded. It shot to the top of the stores’ most-downloaded lists, earning hundreds of thousands of rave reviews and reportedly generating somewhere around $50,000 per day in revenue from the ads that popped up during gameplay. It also made an overnight media darling of its creator, Vietnamese developer Dong Nguyen.

Flappy Bird became more than a “meme” or “trending topic” online — it became a bona fide craze. Despite the fact that, aside from an increasing level of difficulty, the game doesn’t change much and is, as far as anybody knows, pretty much unwinnable.

Dozens of theories have been put forward to explain the game’s success. It was word-of-mouth. It was “bots” — automated programs designed to post fake reviews and artificially inflate download numbers. It was a cleverly designed stealth marketing campaign. Nobody really knows why Flappy Bird took off.

Read the rest at Creative Loafing

LAWBI #77: Letter to a Young Panhandler

I’m sure you don’t remember me not giving you any money. I was probably one of dozens who mumbled something to the effect of “sorry, can’t help” as they passed, and those dozens probably made up just a small percentage of the total number that rebuffed you.

On your end, you’re one of maybe 10 or 11 folks who’ve hit me up on the street in just the few weeks since the weather cooled. I’ve given money to some; I haven’t to most. I have no special reason to remember you, either.

But you’ve been on my mind a bit. I’m one of those sort of naturally guilt-ridden types, anyway, but I’ve specifically been wondering about you, and my decision not to throw some change your way. You see, I’ve got a lot of mixed feelings about panhandling — some charitable, others not so much. They’re the kind of views that will probably never be reconciled. I’ll probably always deal with the subject on a case-by-case, gut-feeling basis.

In the interest of a bit of indulgent navel-gazing, though, please allow me to try to work some things out by examining a few of the possible reasons why I might’ve shut you down.

Read the rest at Creative Loafing




Hello again, world.

Obviously I haven’t been keeping up with the site, but look, that’s changing — and so is the site itself. This “blank canvas” theme is just a placeholder for the time being (though I do appreciate its spareness). Expect something to happen, at some point. New content will be flowing regularly, though.

So, the big news: in February, I became the new Managing/Online Editor for Creative Loafing, the Tampa Bay alt-weekly newspaper where I spent five-plus years as a staffer and have been contributing more or less continually for more than a decade. My friend and former co-worker Joe Bardi jumped ship for another gig, and Editor In Chief David Warner (another former co-worker; actually, my old boss) invited me to fill the slot.

I’m starting to find my groove, and really enjoying collaborating with old and new co-conspirators. It’s put the current book project back a bit, but not too badly, and it’s worth it to have a full-time spot that I can honestly say excites me.

OK, more later.

LAWBI #76: How to Explain the Cloud to Your Parents

The cloud. It’s the future of personal computing!

Actually, it’s been the present of personal computing for, oh, about six years now. Which means it’s time for one of the concept’s biggest service providers, Dropbox, to follow in Twitter’s footsteps and make tech headlines of its own by dint of an astonishingly high valuation and impending IPO bid.

That cloud computing has now been around long enough for early adopters to tire of the term also means your parents just heard about it.

Just in time for them to have mastered email, and started looking for the next computer thingy by which to be terrified. Just in time for them to want to know if “the cloud” has something to do with why their new smartphones are clogged with photos, or maybe how the FaceSpace works.

Just in time for the holiday visit.

Here’s a handy guide to help you through the inevitable conversation.

Read the rest at Creative Loafing