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Thursday, May 24, 2018
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Otto: Be careful during these hot times in the city

It’s June, it’s hot, it’s Florida and it’s going to get worse. Those horrific tornadoes that swept across the Midwest were awful, but officially it’s now our turn to keep a weather eye out for those giant hurricane honkers blowing in from almost any direction. In the meantime we are going to have to deal with sticky heat, world-class mosquitoes, bank-busting electric bills, dehydration, dumb dress codes and stress-spreading traffic. Why would anyone wear a tie in Florida in the summer? City council ought to pass an ordinance and arm law enforcement with scissors to eliminate anyone caught after May Day with one.
Of course, if you’re an old Floridian you know the “real’’ hurricane season doesn’t get cranked up until mid-August, when you start paying attention to those spaghetti-like lines on the weather shows. Someday that’s going to get us in trouble. This region could take a catastrophic hit anytime no matter what the calendar says. Just have a clear idea of where you’re going if you are in a flood zone and don’t wait until the last hours to hit the road. I was standing at the convenience store at the corner of Gandy and MacDill when they evacuated Pinellas County around midnight, and suddenly there were thousands of cars dead-ending at Bayshore Boulevard in Tampa where the roads were flooded and panic was setting in. People were fighting over everything from candy bars to who was next in the gas pump line. Civilization has a way of coming apart pretty fast when it’s midnight, you’re scared and there’s nowhere to go. Remember your pets, not just during storms but especially in the summer. Last weekend I was a part of Scott “Pinetop’’ Peterson’s 17th Annual “Scratch My Back’’ concert at Skipper’s Smokehouse. Pinetop has put this thing together every year for 17 years since his dog Molly was accidentally left by a sitter in the back of a car for only a few minutes. The Lab died and obviously suffered. Be real careful. The concert raised more than $5,000 for the Friends of the Hillsborough Animal Shelter. Speaking of the heat, when I was a kid if you couldn’t go to the beach, one of the best ways to beat the summer blasts was to find a movie theater. The very best was the 1926 classic Tampa Theatre downtown. There was a sign out front with a penguin saying to come inside, “It’s cool in here.’’ I believe it was the first commercial building downtown to have air conditioning. Last week the Tampa Theatre was named one of the top 10 movie theaters in the world by the Motion Picture Association of America. And it still is cool. It still has the mighty Wurlitzer and the stars in the ceiling that twinkle. They don’t show movies like the ones I used to see. My favorite was “The Bat’’ with Vincent Price. They had a bat strung out on a wire. At the right moments in the movie it would swoop around the theater and even up into the balcony. I doubt something like that would go over in today’s world where every kid stares at a video game on an iSomething, blowing up things left and right. Their loss.
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