© St. Petersburg Times, published November 28, 1999
"When man tries to imagine paradise on earth," French author Paul Claudel said, "the result is a very respectable hell."
That's a clever line, but it doesn't stand up to scrutiny. We've seen paradise and it is better than that.
We know because our writers have told us. In the first issue of Turn, we introduced a feature called "Paradise Found," touting "underappreciated experiences in Tampa Bay." The idea was to describe, as briefly and colorfully as possible, some of the little-known pleasures of life in this area.
Inevitably, several contributions have involved food.
One writer rhapsodized about the blend of coffee and cultures in a Tampa restaurant. Another described the reaction of the waitress when she asked for ketchup at a St. Petersburg hot dog joint. Yet another suggested a treatment for hurricane-induced anxiety: sugar cookies.
This month, a writer argues that the best rib place in Tampa Bay is black and white and red all over.
When our writers aren't sitting down to eat, they're looking around. Have you noticed the way the sunset reflects off Boca Ciega Bay, putting a Midas touch on the glassy castles of Tierra Verde? Have you ever waved to that ragged, crabby guy on Fourth Street, just to see what he would do? Ever heard a car rush by -- from below?
Our writers have. They'll never forget those experiences. We hope you won't either.
Some of my favorite contributions have described fleeting moments, milliseconds trapped in a jar: The look of surprise on a little girl's face after she scored a goal in soccer. The silvery whirl of a bicycle wheel. Green treetops glimpsed from the seat of a convertible.
So far, all the contributions to Paradise Found have come from our own staff.
Well, now we implore you: Try this at home.
For the December issue of Turn, we are seeking contributions from our readers. We need brief (three or four paragraphs), well-written stories about memorable experiences in Tampa Bay. They should be experiences other people can easily go out and duplicate, so don't tell about the time you won the lottery or ran into Tony Dungy at the bank.
And don't tell us what we already know -- that the sunset is nice on Pass-a-Grille and the steak is tasty at Bern's. We're looking for the new, the unusual.
Paradise lost, and now found.
The deadline is Dec. 7. Send your contributions by e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or by regular mail to:
We're confident that your idea of paradise will be brighter than Claudel's.
While you're at it, why not tell us what you think of this month's cover story, "25 Who Mattered?" Anybody you would have left out? Anybody you think we should have put in?
Please write. We'll publish some of your letters in the December issue.