The Week's Inanity: Oh Yeah Tampa? Well, We're, Well, Hm. Plus Ramen, Rare Beef, and Dunking Candy Bars

luvjnx flickr, under Creative Commons license
Really, Tampa? That's all you got? Glass and steel skyscrapers? Well, we've got, well, um, some of those too.

Tampa sucks. Sucks sucks sucks.

I’ve decided to bare my fangs in response to a new CNN directive called City Smackdown, which asks people in two “rival” cities to make videos and submit pictures to say why their city is great and the other city is steaming pile of dog poo. CNN will then, presumably, use all of this free snarky content to keep some commercial breaks from bumping together. In this case, Charlotte and Tampa are rivals because we each will have major political conventions in the fall. En garde.

Some people whose job it is to promote Charlotte are just giddy about this, because it’s another chance for our city to put its best face forward to the nation. Lately, that face has been using moisturizer and Crest Whitestrips. By comparison, Tampa has an acne problem. And they’re picking at it, which only makes it worse.

I didn’t always fake-hate Tampa. In fact, I was pretty neutral on the city until this CNN thing came out. Most times, when a city has a rivalry, it’s because my city’s team is playing your city’s team in a game of some importance, at which time each mayor agrees to make some lame bet. If we lose, we’ll send you our finest ham or something.

But because Tampa and Charlotte have this arbitrary rivalry over competing political conventions, it’s time to use the tricks the politicians use. The gloves are off. It’s no holds barred. And it’s a third hackneyed cliche.

For help, I called up Michael Kruse. He’s a guy who went to Davidson College and now writes for the Tampa Bay Times and ESPN. He’s written a few pieces for Charlotte magazine. He’s won several national awards for his smart and deep thinking about his subjects, and the superb crafting of the stories he writes. Analysis: Michael Kruse is a great writer and reporter. But he left North Carolina for the Tampa Bay area. So for the purposes of this story: Michael Kruse = COMPLETE MORON.

“Michael,” I asked. “Why would you live in the Tampa Bay area if it sucks so much?”

“Uhm, you presuppose that it sucks so much.”

Drat. I tried to Limbaugh him with the leading question. Didn’t work.

Michael was on the phone, so for all I know, he was sitting in his underground lair, stroking a white cat, while making this point about our competing cities: You’re not so different, you and I. You know how we get all upset about news stories that add N.C. after Charlotte? Tampa is peeved about the rule that mandates an Fla. in their dateline. We each have college campuses that were built on the outskirts of town: UNC Charlotte and the University of South Florida. When the boom times came to Tampa and Charlotte, we built outward, not always upward.

There are differences. We have Lake Norman. They have the Gulf of Mexico. We were able to build a light rail line. They’ve had four Super Bowls. Tampa has a monkey on the loose. The only thing on the loose here is Ric Flair.

Really, though, Michael and I agree on a lot. Both cities have had the same ambitions. Both are sensitive about how outsiders see us. Both cities feel like they have something to prove.

I went and looked at some of the City Smackdown entries. One from Tampa featured a man in his pool. His dog was floating on a raft next to him. We don’t need snow tires, he said.  Another guy points out, sincerely, that you can go to a bar in Tampa and hang out with Michael Jordan.

Somebody from Charlotte pointed out that we have food trucks here. Somebody else posted a picture of South College Street to make a point about Charlotte’s superior nightlife. “Sorry Tampa, we got this one,” it says.

The rest of the entries are fairly innocuous. They’re nice. They seem to be from people who are genuinely proud of their cities. Not really Smackdown material.

So have fun, Tampa. Have fun with all of the pundits, the politicians, the traffic headaches and the protesters. Have fun handling all of the unpredictable parts of hosting a political convention. Have fun with the teeth-gnashing over security and the journalists who might not always shine a light on the parts of town you want to show. You’re really in for it.

Dammit, so are we.

Charlotte. For when you’ve had enough ramen.

Finally. A rare hamburger in North Carolina.

“I know a lot of people who do this, and they sell some gas on the side, but most of their profit comes from these inspections,” N.C. Sen. Jerry W. Tillman (R-Randolph) this week, on why he helped shoot down a measure to get rid of state-mandated safety inspections for new cars, even though those cars almost always pass.

“It’s still a business. It’s feeding people’s kids and making mortgage payments. You close those places down, you take away those jobs,” Linda Dooley, co-owner of Cash Point Internet Café off Old Pineville Road, on why closing sweepstakes parlors would hurt the economy.

Sign at Amos' Southend says Winger is coming next month. Stewart will be pleased.

Richard who?

Here’s Anthony Davis in a Charlotte Hornets hat. OMG IT’S A SIGN.

Patrick Chewing interviewed to be the next coach of the Bobcats.

The real governor compared North Carolina to Mississippi. Mississippi was not pleased. A fake Bev Perdue account apologized. Real news outlets thought that was actually her and ran the story. HILARITY ENSUES.

The PPL, the organization that’s creating a workspace for independent media during the DNC, has a Hermain Cain ad moment.

Wait, one of the guys on the Bachelorette arrived at the mansion in a helicopter? Was the pilot a rogue? CUE DAVID THOMPSON.