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Music and mosh will touch few in fair city

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© St. Petersburg Times, published April 27, 2001

Because I am engaged to someone active in the promotion and renewal of downtown Zephyrhills, I step lightly around the subject of that fair city and its political and social vagaries lest somebody think I am unduly influenced or trying to influence.

But, darn it, some things just can't be ignored.

Like plans for an Ozzy Osbourne, Black Sabbath, Papa Roach and Marilyn Manson playing at a concert datelined as being in Zephyrhills.


A concert of Glenn Miller and Lawrence Welk music?


World shuffleboard tournament?


Sans-a-Belt men's fashion show?

Most definitely.

Artists best known for the kind of gruesome cross-dressing that gives transvestism a bad name, biting the heads off of bats and actually urinating on the Alamo (which I think is a death-penalty offense in Texas)?


Yeah, and there is going to be a mosh pit installed at the Shuffleboard Club next week.

Two things you have to remember.

One is that Zephyrhills has always been an eclectic mixture of age and social groups. Sports parachutists, who tend to be a young, fun-oriented upscale group known to drink a beer or two have frequented the parachute center now known as Skydive City. They have co-existed, usually peacefully, with the city's very large seasonal retiree population.

Zephyrhills actually has a larger middle class than nearby Dade City, where the population tends to polarize at the extreme opposite ends of the wealth scale, and is more amenable to wide open entertainment than its traditional image would have you believe.

Livestock, an annual hard-rock festival that has had its ups and downs, more ups lately, has drawn record crowds of fans (and cops) since 1990.

And it will return this weekend featuring the Black Crowes, and, no, I never heard of them and can live a normal life without every having done so.

Zen Fest, which turned out to be kind of a surprise for county political and law enforcement officials, took place in 1998.

County Attorney Karla Owens, better based in law than partying, told commissioners she expected that the music at the festival would be quiet. "Kind of that Buddha kind of music."

It was an all-night hard-rock rave where a whole slew of people got arrested for drugs and then set free because they were illegally searched.

So Zephyrhills isn't really Wrinkle City. (A line that I can now use because I have amassed a sufficient number of wrinkles to qualify.)

The other thing to remember is Festival Park, where all of this fun takes place, is not in Zephyrhills. It is about 2 miles out of town and except for increased traffic and slight elevations of commerce at convenience stores and junk-food outlets, these festivals take place almost unnoticed.

Datelines, though we try to avoid them, can be deceiving.

I once had a friend express horror when she learned I lived in Dade City. "I would never visit you there," she said, "Not with all of that crime."

Actually Dade City has only a minimal crime problem, but because the Pasco County Sheriff's Office is situated there and news releases about crimes in all of unincorporated east Pasco bear a Dade City dateline.

And although stories in our local editions may bear datelines such as LACOOCHEE -- or LUMBERTON -- in other editions we try to go with a city that will at least give the reader an idea of where the event occurred.

So Ozzy Osbourne can gnaw the head off anything he likes, and Marilyn Manson and his vampire chic drag can continue to be the ugliest woman in show business since Michael Jackson, and most Zephyrhills folks won't even notice . . . except for those who choose to attend.

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