Lou Pickney's Online Commentary
October 31, 2005
"I've got pictures to prove it
I'm not just blowing smoke"
-The Mighty Mighty Bosstones "Pictures To Prove It"
"Oh nooooo, light wind, light wiiiind, what will Hawaii do?"
-Triumph the Insult Comic Dog
The fifth installment (for me) of the Tampa Halloween weekend tradition known as Guavaween had a great deal of build-up, and quite a history to live up to (as chronicled on here.) But despite the high bar, Guavaween 2005 met the expectations, and was in many ways the most fun Guavaween event yet for me.
The participants this year were: me, my brother Matt, Richard Karg, and first-timer Andy Karg. John Pouncey and Dustin Gremmels, who had hoped to make it down for the event, both had to bow out due to time/distance/etc. So we had a quartet, but with my one bedroom apartment having limited space, it's probably for the best that we didn't try to sardine more people in there.
|Kris, Rich and Andy hung out in my apartment.|
On Friday afternoon, Matt, Rich and Andy went to Hooters for a late lunch with their friend Kris, who Rich knew through baseball. Kris lives in Tampa, but this was my first time meeting him. That worked out great, as I had to come back to work after I picked them up from the airport.
Once I finished with work, I went to the Mystic Tan place to go from being the palest man in Tampa to have a spray-on tan applied. It really was a must for the weekend, both from an aesthetic standpoint as well as to further look the part of Stone Cold Steve Austin.
The Friday night experience in past years has been a good time, and this year was no exception. We contemplated riding the trolley down to Channelside to go to Banana Joe's, but by the time we finally made it out of my apartment (with plenty of Jägermeister, whiskey and beer in our system), it was late enough where we decided that leaving Ybor City wouldn't be in our best interest. Instead, we went to Prana.
Prana is a club that I'd been to a number of times in the past, but it had tended to run a bit snooty (and on the expensive side) in my experiences there, so I hadn't been to Prana in a long time.
We made our way up to one of the middle levels of the multi-level club... and the fun was on. It was very crowded, and the people in attendance weren't quite the snobbish types that I had run across in the past. As is prone to happen in a group of five (the quartet plus Kris, who came back to Ybor that night and met up with us), I got separated from the crew at times, though we were able to meet back up later without too much trouble.
Upstairs they have a nice chillout/relax section, which is where we ended up toward the end of the night. If the story seems a bit spotty, it's because there were a few "Scene Missing" spots for me. As I once wrote: When in doubt, place the blame on Jägermeister. Matt and Rich were each talking with a girl that they had met; no such luck for Andy and I, but we had fun commenting on the scene around us, which included the great movie Goodfellas playing on one of the big screen TVs in the club.
|I didn't bring the girls back, I don't know who they are... but I have the pictures to prove they were here. At least neither of them tried to pee in my refrigerator, a la 2003.|
The girls ended up over here at the Hotel Guinness (aka my apartment), which is a Guavaween tradition itself. They weren't able to stay just a long time, but I know that they were here thanks to the photos that were on my digital camera the next day.
Saturday morning, yours truly woke up with a slight hangover. It wasn't as bad as I had feared, though; drinking in moderation (and only on the weekends) is good for me, but the downside is that a lower tolerance means bad times when it comes to hangovers. Or maybe it's just another sign of getting older. Or some of both. Either way, I was in ugggh mode for a little while, but nothing too terrible. Having a full slate of college football to watch helped with that. Thanks to DraftKing.com, I know enough about some of the standout NFL prospects to be able to chime in on the non-SEC stuff. Matt has me trumped when it comes to SEC football, though; I follow the SEC pretty closely, but not like he does. So it helps to have him to bounce ideas off of from time to time.
|Some parts of the weekend are only remembered like this.|
At halftime of the Florida/Georgia game, we loaded up in Lou Junior (my Honda Accord) and headed over to Wal-Mart to get an air mattress pump (which I was lacking for the air mattress that I had so that everyone would have a place to sleep; luckily Rich was able to make do with the floor on Friday night) and some costume accessories. I had wanted to leave earlier, but there were some good games on TV. Traffic can get tangled and twisted in Ybor on Guavaween, so I knew the sooner we got back, the better.
It was the first time I've driven with someone sitting behind me in back left side, and even though the Accord is pretty spacious, I felt cramped driving with the seat pulled up. That happens when you're 6'2".
As I've noted before, the Dale Mabry/I-275 Wal-Mart is not a favorite of mine, and it can be really hit-or-miss as far as things go, from the workers helpfulness to being able to navigating the aisles (when they decide to restock the shelves at two in the afternoon or whichever busy time they pick) to the crowded parking lot. Luckily, this time around was a good one, as we were able to purchase the tape to go with our costumes that Matt really wanted us to get. Also, I had a duplicate house key made, just in case we were separated in the Guavaween crowd (another tradition) and they needed to get into my apartment.
|Rich, me and Matt were pimped out in our shades.|
From there we hit Wendy's for dinner, which was a funny scene in that the woman working the counter, Miracle (no, not Ybor Secrets Miracle), was anything but pleased about having to work, since her shift was almost over and the person taking the next shift was apparently running late. Also, it's worth noting that Wendy's has abandoned its 99 cent menu, and moreover it has totally redone its Frosty concept, going from the big cup Frosty gimmick to a tiny cup (for a more expensive cost) with a little bag of toppings to try and trick the public. It's actually a healthier thing, to be sure, but it's clear that they're cutting corners to work on the bottom line. Somehow I don't think that would have been allowed if Dave Thomas was still alive.
Matt really wanted to find some Slim Jims to go with Richard's Macho Man outfit (since the Macho Man was a spokesman for years for Slim Jims.) I was a bit impatient about the whole thing, since I thought we weren't going to have any luck with it. The BP station on Dale Mabry didn't have any, but I went ahead and drove down under I-275 to the Shell station which, as it turned out, had them. It ended up being a great thing to go with Rich's costume, and Matt was right about that. I was just picturing gridlock in Ybor, and the clock in my head said it was time to get to drinking. And, once we returned, drink we did.
It took some time for everyone to get their showers and to get into their respective costumes. Well, not so much for me, since my Stone Cold Steve Austin outfit was pretty simple, but Matt had to go through some elaborate work to get his Ultimate Warrior face paint going. I already mentioned that Rich went as Macho Man Randy Savage (circa 1989, not the modern-day self-parody); Andy went as a referee.
|The quartet: Macho Man (Rich), Ultimate Warrior (Matt), Referee (Andy), and Stone Cold (me).|
We had the late college football games (Tennessee/S. Carolina and Michigan/Northwestern) on, but Andy wanted to watch some of his Triumph The Insult Comic Dog DVD, so we took turns on that. It's a hilarious DVD, and I highly recommend it. Along with the Hawaii weather segment that I mentioned yesterday, which is hysterical, there's plenty of laugh-out-loud funny stuff on there. Robert Smigel (who does the Triumph stuff) is a genius. They had a clip of Triumph joking on the great Don Rickles, which lead to me breaking out my DVD of Dirty Work to show the great scene where Rickles goes off on Norm MacDonald and Artie Lange in the movie theatre lobby. "You look like a baby gorilla." Hilarious stuff.
The alcohol was flowing. Beer, shots (Crown Royal and Jägermeister), Jägerbombs... you get the idea. Hey, if I was going to play the Stone Cold Steve Austin role, I had to live up to the 100% Alcohol Fueled tagline.
We made it out to 7th Avenue, which is in walking distance from here, for the record (I don't want anyone thinking I drove or anything.) In yet another Guavaween tradition, we were there too late to see the bands, so no Breaking Benjamin or Saliva for us. The only time I've actually managed to see a band was at Guavaween 2002, when my friend James and I saw Sevendust.
|Is that a Slim Jim in your pants, or are you just happy to see me?|
Matt and Rich stole the show with their costumes as the Ultimate Warrior and the Macho Man. And, contrary to what I had thought, the Slim Jims added a great effect to Rich's costume; what can I say, I was wrong in my prediction on that one.
Some pictures were taken, and we tried to play up our characters. Unfortunately, that lead to me scowling more than I wish I had for pictures in hindsight. Only later was I legit pissed, but there are more pics than I like where I look either angry or sad.
After having fun in the crowd for awhile, we ended up going to a nightclub called Code, which is located at the place where Club Fun and Twilight used to be. I had many fun experiences at those two clubs in the past, but the way things ended at Code will make me forever hold a grudge against the place.
Keeping with Guavaween tradition, I managed to get separated from Matt, Rich and Andy inside the club. The place was pretty packed anyway, so I wandered out for a bit to do some more exploring.
|This is Matt inside of Code, just past the front entrance. If there was a problem with his attire, they would've handled it there, right? Notice how he wasn't being belligerent or bothering anyone.|
Back inside, I actually managed to make cell phone contact with Andy... who it turns out was just inside on the second floor; I was out on the balcony, looking out at the crowd, hoping that perhaps I could spot them if they were out there.
What transpired next happened quickly. We were eying a couple of girls dancing up and down a pole, while Matt was sitting in this chill-out area they have upstairs with a girl he had met. The next thing I knew, I saw Matt being pulled toward the exit door by three guys. Angry Drunk Lou kicked into full effect, with my Stone Cold Steve Austin persona only further enhancing things. Remember, I'm 6'2" with a shaved head, and that tends to intimidate some people, which is ridiculous but one of those realities of first impressions.
This extra security guard saw me approaching and stepped in my way. I could see fear in his eyes, but he put his hands up and gave me the universal back up, back off sign. When I realized that it was security that had Matt (and was throwing him out), and not a pack of thugs preparing to beat him down, I calmed down and decided to follow him out, with Rich and Andy close behind me.
We went down some back staircase, and then Matt was pushed unceremoniously into the street. My demands to know what was going on were ignored by security. Matt even seemed a bit stunned by it all. Apparently Andy had snapped a picture of Matt a moment or two before, and that had set off security. How that equated to eviction for Matt, I don't know. But we paid $5 or $10 each (or whatever it was) to get in there, and for him to be thrown out for no reason at all... Well, all I know is that if you screw with my family, you screw with me. If there was some no shirt, no entry policy, how did Matt get inside?
|This is what we think of Code in Ybor City.|
On top of that, while I was finding out what the hell happened, some asshole from the top floor came out onto the catwalk with a flashlight and shined it on us, like he was a cop or something. Angry Drunk Lou really came out then. "Get that goddamn light off of us, you f***ing son of a bitch!" Initially he walked toward us, but I swore at whomever it was for a good 15-20 seconds until finally he turned off the light and went back inside. Fighting doesn't make you cool, but an Ybor City street brawl would've ensued had he come down and told us to get moving. And it wouldn't have ended until either him or I was unconscious, I assure you. As Captain Dudley Smith said in L.A. Confidential, "It’s best not to bother him when his blood is up."
So I call on everyone who reads this, now or ever, to boycott Code. Don't go there, ever. Refuse to support it or any of its associated ventures.
The four of us made it back to my apartment... and it was time for me to crash. I heard later that an exhausted Matt fell asleep in the sofa chair in my front room, sitting up. How he managed to do that, I don't know. It's the magic of Guavaween, I suppose.
Sunday was a rather groggy day, as you might expect. I'm just not in my drinking prime anymore. Andy had to be back to Nashville early, so I took him to the airport toward the end of the early NFL games. We had ordered pizza for lunch, as going out for anything really didn't appeal right about then.
For dinner we did hit it up right, as Matt, Rich and I ate at the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor, which is a wonderful restaurant that is 100 years old.
This morning they both had early flights, so I had to be up at 6 AM (a trick when we were used to stayed up until 3 in the morning), and then I worked a long shift here at the office. Grueling? Yes. But it was, without question, worth it for the very fun time that was had by all this weekend.
(Note: Many more pictures are forthcoming)
My Guavaween History
2001 (scarcely chronicled -- such a pity!)
2003 (and the pictures)