Though the RNC is going to make traffic in Tampa a nightmare for the week ahead, the events and celebrities coming to the fair city will make all the transportation frustration almost worth the inconvenience.
The Oracle has compiled a list of places, people and parties to check out during the week. Be ye Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Socialist, Communist or Anarchist, there is something for everyone offered during the most exciting week in Tampa Bays long history of exciting weeks.
Liberty Plaza is the place for music during the RNC.
As with most of the parties and events during the RNC, the local public is not invited. One can, however, get close enough to hear the sounds, if not see the sights. Sean Daly of the Tampa Bay Times recommends setting up shop at Gilligans Hideaway, which offers outdoor patios conducive to eavesdropping on super loud rock music. Some of the acts scheduled to perform are conservative country sensations Trace Adkins (Tuesday), as well as Joe Dirt star and occasional musician, Kid Rock (Wednesday).
[Liberty Plaza, 180 S Morgan St., Tampa; Gilligan’s, 202 N Morgan St., Tampa, (813) 301-9050]
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino
Who knew the Republican Party was all about rock music? The Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino will be hosting right-wing singer Lee Greenwood on Monday night, with ticket prices starting at $30. Greenwood is famous for his 1984 hit God Bless the USA, which became the campaign theme song for the 1984 Reagan campaign. Perhaps the Romney camp believes lightning will strike twice.
If you dont care for the musical stylings of Greenwood, go for the opportunity to exist in close proximity to celebrities and politicians. As this is one of the few events actually open to the public, it provides a chance to rub elbows with Republican stars like LL Cool J and James Earl Jones.
[5223 Orient Road, Tampa; (813) 627-7625]
Even the leaders of the free world need $100 socks from Nordstrom on occasion, and where better to drop taxpayer money than at the priciest, classiest shopping center in the city of Tampa? If you go to International Plaza to gawk during the week of the convention, be prepared to deal with massive crowds and long, long wait times at restaurants such as the Cheesecake Factory and The Capitol Grille, where the whos who of the Republican Party will likely be frequenting. It may also be worth it to save some money and go to Chik-Fil-A, located in the food court. Something tells me that this fast-food establishment is a favorite among the conservative crowd, and you may just run into Mike Huckabee.
The real RNC action at International Plaza, however, will be centralized on Bay Street, particularly the Blue Martini and Bar Louie, where you may be lucky enough to strike up a conversation with a writer from The Daily Show or watch Newt Gingrich down a couple of Bourbons while mapping out plans for the moon colony.
[2223 N West Shore Blvd., Tampa; (813) 342-3790]
This will not be your typical Thursday college night in Ybor. Think more along the lines of a scene from Mad Men with powerful people in expensive suits enjoying a fine hand-rolled cigar. Jay Cridlin of the Tampa Bay Times suggests the Columbia Restaurant, Tampa Bay Brewing Company or Gaspars Grotto as the likeliest places to mingle with the Republican elite. Bring a classy lighter so when they lean in to allow you to light their cigars, they can whisper government secrets in your ear. [Columbia, 2117 E Seventh Ave., (813) 248-4961; Tampa Bay Brewing Company, 1600 E Eighth Ave., (813) 247-1422; Gaspar’s Grotto, 1805 E Seventh Ave., (813) 200-7731]
Glazer Childrens Museum
The museum will hold a gig co-sponsored by the nonpartisan organization Got Your 6, which assists military members in readjusting to civilian life, and Lifetime Television. The event will be hosted by Cindy and Meghan McCain, John McCains wife and daughter, respectively. Meghan McCain will be signing copies of her newest book, America, You Sexy B—-.
Meghan also wrote a book a titled Dirty, Sexy Politics, a surprisingly well-written and scornful critique of her fathers campaign and the Republican Party in general, so her appearance alone is a draw for fans of political literature. The main event, however, is a performance by ex-Fugee Wyclef Jean, who was called in to replace legendary country singer Randy Travis after Travis was arrested. The events start at 10 p.m. on Aug. 29, but its a limited-invite event only, so youd best get started.
[Glazer Childrens Museum, 110 West Gasparilla Plaza. (813) 443-3861]
Tampa Bay Times Forum
Everyone knows the security around the forum is going to be tighter than a gymnasts ponytail. No one is getting inside unless they have a permit or are Mitt Romney himself, and even he will probably be frisked. But this doesnt mean anything to the people of Occupy the RNC, who plan to protest the convention in the areas surrounding the Forum. If you are very brave, or if you really dont like Republicans, this is a great spot to either gawk at the protesters or join them in their outrage. Just be very aware of your surroundings with Congress spending $50 million on security for a single week, it seems like they pretty much expect something untoward to go down.
[Tampa Bay Times Forum, 401 Channelside Drive. (813) 301-6500]