Thursday, October 23, 2008

Our beautiful mess

There's a strong chance the presidential election could come down, as it has in recent years, to Florida. And if that happens, then those 27 electoral votes could be decided by "a few square blocks in Tampa."

So, who are we?

We are diverse racially, economically, politically and ideologically, but the area is not so much a melting pot as it is a collection of tribes situated around a giant pool of saltwater.

We ascend from places like Jamaica and Cuba and Puerto Rico, and hang tiny flags from our rearview mirrors. We descend from states like Ohio and Michigan and Indiana, and unpack our futons and Midwestern values. More and more of us are coming from New Jersey and New York, our kids sporting Long Island blowbacks and white sneakers.

Since moving here in December, my stock response to "what's Tampa Bay like?" questions has been "like Houston but with better weather and beaches." That's partially true.

But of course, it's much more complex than that and I've never really been able to get my mind around the query. Ben Montgomery does the heavy lifting for me on this one.

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