Sunday 23 March 2014

Industrial Grime in the Sunshine State

The British consumer is a compliant creature, always ready to pay up for the latest techno-gadgetry or dutifully embark on long-haul holiday flights to exotic destinations. Florida is one such popular choice - about one million UK citizens visit the state every year of whom two-thirds arrive in Orlando, the theme park capital of the world. For most the purpose of the trip is to haul the family around Walt Disney World, SeaWorld Orlando, Universal Studios Florida, the Orlando Odditorium – Ripley’s Believe It or Not followed by a shopping spree at the Florida Mall and a day at the beach if time permits. The visit will pass in a blur of hyper-consumption and fast food outlets. The rationale is to protect the family from any stigma that might attach to the less advantaged for whom such a trip would be unaffordable. An average visitor will discover nothing about Florida’s social or physical topography unless they have the misfortune to be a victim of crime or to fall foul of the law. 

This would not be my choice but if I was compelled by circumstances (such as a lucky raffle win with no cash alternative) to travel to Florida I would explore the industrial Florida to be seen in these postcards. Other than agribusiness the principal industries are electronics, food processing and chemicals. I’m confident I could quickly locate the least salubrious industrial suburbs and if I can’t be found there I shall be in Polk Street in Tampa observing the mile-long freight trains that nose their way through the traffic in the downtown district, as seen on YouTube. At the end of Polk Street it’s a left turn for the Tampa Museum of Art but I might just go to Clearwater for more of the same. The day’s soundtrack will be Ry Cooder’s Going to Tampa from the Election Special album. 

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