Eros’ Spell

John Barry: YBOR CITY – Long ago at the Columbia Restaurant, a waiter made his way through the tables, flaming cocktail teetering aboard his tray.

The drink was called “Spanish Flag on Fire.” It had been invented by Columbia’s flamboyant violinist/owner, Cesar Gonzmart. It was a mix of green Spanish Licor 43, red grenadine and Bacardi 151 rum – green, red and white, like the flag of Basque.

Waiters darkened the room and set the thing ablaze before they served it.

On this fateful night, the waiter tripped over a purse in the dark and dumped his “Spanish Flag on Fire” down a woman’s blouse. She ripped off her top. She wasn’t wearing anything under it.

Cesar, grasping violin and bow, rushed to her aid. He kissed her hand.

“You should not be embarrassed,” he said. “You have beautiful bosoms.”

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12 thoughts on “Eros’ Spell

  1. A full quarter of the inch-count is te obvious raidof the newspaper archives of the 1967 riots.
    The news? seems to be that there was a renovation.
    but the intro tone is that something compelling and important is coming.
    It’s not.
    It’s a feature about a local dive. Which I think is fine.
    But why waste good writingon shit that so totally doesn’t matter? And why celebrate the writers that write that at a time when narrative and long form journalism are under fire?
    Stunned. I’m stunned.
    Posted like a pretty picture? Fine.
    As an example of where reporters should spend their time?

  2. I think you’ve got something of a point, Snake, but the logical conclusion of what you’re suggesting would be a paper that contains nothing but serious, big, important things every day.

    We’ve got to smile sometimes. And I did while reading this piece.

  3. I also think I see your point Snake, but your theory could get a little dicey. Good writers can’t always be “on” and “focused on the big important stuff.” The inconsequential things, well written, keep newspapers in the hands and before the eyes of readers, which is what all of us want (I presume).

    There’s nothing wrong with a “Hey Mabel, the Times did a piece on The Columbia, it’s pretty funny.” There’s nothing wrong with the 60-year-old, in high school in ’67, remembering once again the hot days and having them confirmed. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the 17-year-old, who’s never known the stories of The Columbia, finding out some cool facts in the Times. If I understand what we’re all about here, there’s a lot right with that.

    If good writers are going to live up to their reputation, they need to write the mundane and inconsequential with the same flow and grip as the big important stuff — make us all glad we read it, and make the mental note to read that guy’s stuff the next time we see his byline. ccf

  4. “And why celebrate the writers that write that at a time when narrative and long form journalism are under fire?”

    Really? Under fire?

  5. Does anyone else see a glimmer of hope in the Web like I do? I’m a GA, but whenever I write a cops story, I do inverted pyramid for the Web, then tell a story for the paper. This did not fly with the bosses a year ago. It does now. I’m still preached to about the nut graf and getting to the point quicker and all that, but by God there is narrative in the paper now where there was not before. This is all because of online. Now, truth be told, I work for a Gannett paper, so “long form” here is 35 inches and you’re lucky if you get two days to work on a “project.” And I don’t dispute that there may be a larger trend away from narrative, but here in my little corner, at least on daily stuff, it is not so. Just yesterday, I covered an apt fire. Did four online updates, just the facts ma’am kind of stuff. But what’s in the paper today is an actual story.

  6. On seeing more narrative in breaking news.

    That might be true. But narrative was supposed to help redefine news. While it might be true that there’s more hard news narrative, what I’m not seeing as much of is stuff like this: In fact, you can bet your pimpled buttocks that we’re not going to see such stories in the THR, anymore. Yet, we need papers to encourage such writing if we are to make newswriting better. That’s where I think we are losing the battle.

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