A major attraction of Tampa’s annual Gasparilla Pirate Fest “is its very anti-authority culture,” writes Kevin Walker of The Tampa Tribune.
“It celebrates pirates, after all, and pirates know how to have fun. So does Tampa.”

But if you plan to join the party on Saturday, city officials want you to be nice. Actually, they’re insisting on it.

To be on the safe side, check out Kevin’s list of do’s and don’ts for a more civilized pirate invasion. (Hint: Public peeing is a “don’t.”)

Click HERE for the full story from the Tribune’s Friday Extra section and




OK, so if Independents finally are becoming a major component of the country’s political landscape, shouldn’t they have their own animal-based icon (like the donkey and the elephant) that the TV networks, newspapers and magazines can toss around whenever they’re trying to boil things down to an overly-simplified partisan cliche?

It would need to be something that could work in a basic silhouette. Everyone recognizes the donkey and elephant silhouettes, even when they’re crudely rendered and poorly proportioned – whether the whole body is shown, or just the head. Of course, it helps that we’ve gotten used to the blue and red coloring they’re typically given now.

(What color should the icon for Independents be? White? Black? Gray? Plaid?)

I suppose the animal would need to be roughly the same size as the donkey and elephant (which, as we know, aren’t anywhere CLOSE to the same size in nature – but what’s done is done). I wouldn’t really want to see an oversized Independent Penguin standing between our familiar old donkey and elephant, would you? And showing a normally-scaled penguin might seem like a slam on the Independents.

Maybe we should look outside the animal kingdom for inspiration: A robot, maybe? Or would that seem like an icon without a mind of its own?

How about Godzilla? Or an anthropomorphized populist log cabin?

Hmmm …

Another iconic possibility for Independents, as suggested by Twitterer @tomiefox, is the Bear – representing “wisdom, strength, courage. Don’t mess with mama bear’s cub – she will rise up and protect her young!” The icon’s color, as suggested by Michael Martin: “Whatever it is should be purple.”

And here’s yet another proposal – from my son, Jeremy: His 10-second sketch of an eel represents Independent voters, he says, “because it’s an eel.”




Lamar Sparkman, a sports cartoonist whose work appeared on the pages of the Tampa Times and The Tampa Tribune for 40 years, died Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2010. He was 88.

Sparkman also designed the original “Bucco Bruce” logo for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The farewell illustration shown above was adapted from a Sparkman cartoon that appeared in the Tribune on Dec. 16, 1984. To read Joey Johnston’s story about Lamar Sparkman from, click HERE.

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