Spring Break Forever

*Available online and print in St. Petersburg High School’s school paper, Palmetto & Pine, volume 110, issue 3.

With love from St. Petersburg, “Spring Breakers” is an indie film for the record books that’s got residents in a tizzy.

As far as I’m concerned, there is no better description that could sum up Harmony Korine’s “Spring Breakers” than this tweet from Tampa Bay Times journalist Sean Daly: “#SpringBreakers is a totally irresponsible fantasy, a Day-Glo postcard from St. Pete-as-Sodom”.

Personally, it’s my review that the aforementioned “Day-Glo postcard” of a movie was a stroke of independent film brilliance.  Destined to either be a smash hit or titanic mistake, director Korine rose to the occasion with a rather raunchy, violent, blindingly neon hyperrealistic film to teach a lesson about the dangers of hypnotic illusions and transformation.

In March 2012 it was nearly impossible to miss the news of some of Hollywood’s hottest young actresses, Selena Gomez, Ashley Benson, Vanessa Hudgens, Rachel Korine, and star James Franco coming to town.  We should have all known right then that this movie would be embarking on a difficult task: to create a deep independent film with famous actors in a sure attempt to conquer the box office.

That’s where it flopped.  With a less star-studded cast, the movie would have been easier to take seriously.  On the flip side it probably would not be the global sensation it has become.  Franco’s character Alien would have been much more believable had the audience not known who the actor was.  The acting was in fact surprisingly very convincing, but it seemed to be a struggle to separate the characters from the actors that created skepticism for most.

As a St. Petersburg resident, it is perhaps a bit difficult to take most aspects of the story seriously, whether it was dweeby, very white Franco portraying a “gangster with a heart of gold” or throngs of topless women on our beaches.  I can’t help but wonder if other theaters across the world were filled with badly timed giggles and sneering faces.  Other cinemas certainly didn’t have movie goers trudging out of the theaters whining about how trashy it made the city look or how unrealistic the characters, storyline, and/or events might’ve been.

I’d venture to say a fair amount of residents are missing out on a fantastic film, I believe it’s one worth giving a second watch.  The tale is timeless, the scene a post-modern effervescent spring break wonderland.  To fully embrace “Spring Breakers”, I suggest students and teachers cast away expectations of a popular plot-less movie and relax.  For those who have already seen it, the second time around stop trying to pick out familiar faces and places, it’s more enjoyable without trying to gauge its realistic value.

Warning to those who have not yet seen “Spring Breakers”, it isn’t for the faint of heart.  If you can’t appreciate the vulgar, the violent, or the overwhelming, I don’t advise you waste your money.  Additionally, be prepared for lots of underaged “Pretty Little Liars” and Disney fans chatting throughout the movie.  Don’t forget that the movie is rated R.  My best advice is to see the movie in the day time; it will help avoid the crowds and give you time to digest the slightly disturbing aspects of the flick before bedtime.

In conclusion, if you’re prepared to dismiss your recognition and perceptions of St. Petersburg, “Spring Breakers” is worth the ticket price.  It’s authentic enough with a neon dream twist; I’d give it a solid four stars, and maybe, just maybe, even buy it on DVD.

Bon jour, La Creperia Café

*Available online and print in St. Petersburg High School’s school paper, Palmetto & Pine, volume 110, issue 2.

Located in a quaint steel trailer on the street corner at 2901 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, is one of downtown’s hidden treasures, La Creperia Café. Also located in Ybor, “The Bistro and Expresso Bar” replicates the delicious tastes of France in our own backyard. They offer well over 30 types of crepes along with soups, salads, sandwiches, and my favorite handmade frozen lemonade.

My personal recommendations consist of the Café’s signature sweet crepes, all with delightful names such as the “Romeo y Juliet,” although they have many options ranging from savory ham or turkey crepes, to seafood or multiple vegetarian options. My absolute favorite is “The Sunfl ower,” made of honey, walnuts, banana, and lemon juice. I would also strongly recommend the “Evita,” made of Dulce de Leche and banana, as well as the “Bolero,” consisting of sugar, butter, and lemon. Clearly, I have quite the sweet tooth. But as I mentioned before, their handmade frozen lemonade is to die for, there are even flecks of lemon zest in the ice that reassure me it’s not from concentrate. And if you’re a Nutella lover, welcome to paradise: I counted at least 13 different crepes with Nutella, plus it can always be added.

All food is reasonably priced between 3 and 12 dollars, and the menu can be found ahead of time at http://www.lecreperia.com.

La Creperia Café is great for all occasions, whether it be a leisurely stop while shopping downtown or a quick, delicious meal on the go. A hidden jewel among St. Petersburg’s Art District, I predict it may become a hipster’s mecca, but that doesn’t make the food any less enjoyable, or the one actual French employee usually on hand any less charming. After all, who doesn’t dream of eating a meal in Paris?

Picture-perfect life? No, but worth it.

Appeared in print in TB-Two* November 8th and online:

Screen Shot 2013-09-19 at 1.13.52 PM

Olivia Greenfield stands five foot eight, has buttery blonde hair and sparkling jade eyes. She smiles a lot.

Just like most high school students, she gets breakouts, fails the occasional test and worries about being late to work.

In her case, though, work makes her life different from most high school students. She is a model who can be seen in Seventeen magazine, Urban Outfitters catalogs and Wildfox Couture ads, jobs that take her to New York and beyond, including Mexico. She has swapped classes at St. Petersburg High for online school that better fits her schedule.

“It’s hard sometimes, being a model. There’s so many people you have to leave behind to chase your dreams,” Greenfield said. “I’ve lost friends, but the people I’ve met in New York are so great, too.”

Greenfield began pursuing her modeling career at age 14. She sent photos to agencies, signed to Wilhelmina Models in Miami, did catalog jobs for stores such as Bealls and Kohl’s. Before she knew it, Greenfield was splitting her freshman year (and two more to come) between Seventeen magazine photo shoots and Green Devil football games. It was like pulling off the Hannah Montana balancing act, only her modeling was never a secret.

“I enjoyed my first year of high school, but after that I was sick of it,” said Greenfield. “The first time I ever went to New York was to shoot for Seventeen, (and) people at school never really asked me about it.

“Some people actually cared, but there’s a lot of girls who judged me on it, which isn’t right, but I learned to live with it,” she said.Greenfield said she dealt with subtle digs about her modeling work (“That doesn’t even look like her!”) that left a sting. “People assume models are stuck up — that’s the biggest stereotype,” she said.

While she was juggling regular school and her modeling schedule, Greenfield worked hard. Being a model may seem more glamorous than being a barista on the clock, but at the end of one week and six auditions in New York, she still might not have booked a single job. Plus, there was all the missed schoolwork she had to make up.

By the middle of her junior year, she made the change to the Marilyn Agency in New York. By then she was commuting more to photo shoots up north but also to Mexico, where she shot many photos for the latest Urban Outfitters catalog. As her senior year approached, she faced a choice: Quit regular school to pursue the career opportunities of a lifetime, or cut back on modeling until after high school graduation.

Greenfield said her decision to pursue modeling full-time and take online classes so she could still graduate with her class seemed pretty easy. “My parents were okay with it,” she said. They encourage her education as well as her modeling career. “I love St. Pete, but I can’t wait to get away.” She plans to relocate to New York after graduation.

“Missing my senior year has been harder than I thought it would be,” she said. “I (won’t) actually go to college, maybe online college, but I can’t really go. All my friends are going ‘I got into this college!’ and I’m like ‘oh . . . I’m a model!’ ”

The demands of modeling “will be worth it in the end,” she said. “Luckily, I have pretty good self-confidence.”

Can’t Say No to Conor Maynard

*Available online and print in St. Petersburg High School’s school paper, Palmetto & Pine, volume 110, issue 1.

Another British pop sensation is setting sail for America, will he be able to measure up?

Welcome to the Digital Age, where you don’t need to move to Los Angeles or win American Idol to become a pop sensation.  For the last five plus years, YouTube has given birth to acts ranging from Rebecca Black to Justin Beiber.  Come January of 2013, 19 year old British chart topper Conor Mayard will bring us something special to ring in the New Year as he drops his first album Contrast on U.S. shores.  Maynard’s album has already been released in several other countries including nations like Italy and Germany as of July, but now it’s time for our turn to witness the making of what may be the next international YouTube success story.
Maynard was discovered by the American singer- songwriter Ne-Yo, who was so astonished by Maynard’s rendition of his song “Beautiful Monster” that he got in touch with him and made an offer that few could resist: a record deal. From there, Maynard dropped two hit singles in his native country, “Can’t Say No” and “Vegas Girl” that can be found on the upcoming album.

The voice is soulful, the lyrics catchy, and some songs feature voices of Rita Ora and Ne-Yo himself. This is an album full of surprises.  Thanks to YouTube, fans in America have already been able to listen to the album in its entirety, however it will be made officially available to download in the States this upcoming January.  My top rated tracks are “Vegas Girl,” “Better than You” (featuring Rita Ora), and my personal favorite, “Glass Girl.” Additional favorable Maynard songs can be found circulating the internet such as “Drowning,” a promotional single released as an iTunes bonus track, and his daring cover of the popular Drake song, “Marvin’s Room,” also found on YouTube.

Who is Jeremy Kerr?

*Available online and print in St. Petersburg High School’s school paper, Palmetto & Pine, volume 110, issue 1.

Brains or Brawn: the story of how is senior Jeremy Kerr is paving the road to the University of Miami
“Well, Jeremy’s just always Jeremy,” said teammate, junior Robert Tribolet. Of course Jeremy Kerr is just that, himself, but who else might that be?

Kerr, a senior and star tight end on the football team, is hard to miss as he thuds through the halls of SPHS, all six foot six and 250 pounds of him. On a Friday morning, Kerr’s crooked smile and usually good natured sense of humor are his common defining features. But by seven p.m. a mask of sweat, a furrowed brow, and an intense stare are all that remain at game time. Those thudding steps of athletic shoes against concrete are replaced by the sound of wind rushing against multiple hulking frames thundering against the grass, raising dirt beneath their feet with each play.

Last June, Kerr made a verbal commitment to the University of Miami and their football team, thus adding himself to the ranks of some of SPHS’s most successful student athletes. It’s nearly miraculous how Kerr, a virtually unknown entity on the football field until his junior year, has created such a buzz amongst recruiters. Schools like Florida State

University welcomed him with open arms last spring, scouts kept keen eyes on him at spring football games, just type the name Jeremy Kerr into a Google search and results about our fellow student pop up from ESPN, Rival (a Yahoo recruitment site), and his highlight reel are among the earliest results.

“God first, family second, football third,” said Kerr, who manages to live life off the field much like other teenage boys including hobbies like fishing, spending time at the gym and with his family, who play a big role in his life. In fact, his father Charles Kerr even played football at the University of Florida, perhaps inspiring his son to follow in his footsteps. By the 11th grade Kerr decided to leave his previous life in baseball behind and dedicate his time to football, which he’d only began playing the year before.

Sure, you could label Kerr as the stereotypical jock: popular, loud, gigantic in size, full of school spirit, but perhaps that’s not all. “The biggest thing that always fru-frush”—Kerr struggled to find the word—“frustrates me is that people think that I get scholarships for nothing, that I don’t have to work for anything, but I can guarantee that I put more work into football than what anyone does academically.” True enough, not only is UM famous for its athletics but rigorous academics. According to their website the average incoming freshman grade point average is a weighted 4.20, When faced with criticism from fellow students, Kerr believes that the bottom line is “3.5 [unweighted] is a pretty good GPA, I don’t think that’s dumb.”

And that ambition translates on the field where Kerr turns into a whole other animal. During a game or heated practice Kerr transforms from a clunky, oversized student to a graceful elephant with the demeanor of a hungry dog, one that is often leading the pack. Green Devil football is unique in that it doesn’t select captains, rather all seniors are given the label and it’s up to them to decide who really steps up. “A lot of the younger kids like to see where you can go if you work hard, a lot of them look up him,” said Tribolet, confident that Kerr’s commitment to UM has encouraged other students rather than discouraged or caused any resentment amongst teammates. The greater the accomplishment however, the greater the expectation it may seem. It doesn’t take Pip to foresee some possible obstacles that come with a role of leadership gained by success, even if that success is derived from good old fashioned hard work. “Some people expect me to do some godly like things but you can’t expect that. It gets stressful a lot of times, and when it does I can pray about it, that always seems to help,” said Kerr. “Not everybody can make big plays all the time, but if you’re not doing it because you’re lazy that really gets to me.”

“I always say he’s like a big Labrador retriever puppy,” said head Coach Joe Fabrizio, “When you see him walking around he’s like just big Jeremy, but when you get him on the field he gets a little mean. He’s got about a 180 degree personality.

Social Media Reportering: a Thunderful Idea

As seen on Bolts by the Bay


One Direction Mania

*Story available in print n St. Petersburg High School’s school paper, Palmetto & Pine, volume 109, issue 4.

The North American continent has been invaded,  is it the return of the boy band?

   Let’s be honest, after the Backstreet Boys’ last hoorah, “Black & Blue” in the fall of 2000 and N’Sync’s “Celebrity” in 2001, it seemed N’sync dance steps and backup bands for pretty boys had become a thing of the past.

   Until lately, that is.

   On Valentine’s Day, 2012 a band of British heartthrobs (with an Irish lad too) crossed the pond and landed in the U.S.A. with their American debut smash hit “What Makes You Beautiful.” Since that fateful February day, it seems incredibly likely that One Direction are on their way to total world domination.

   Some call it the ‘One Direction Infection’ because since their third place stint on “The X-Factor UK” in 2010, the band has swooned massive populations of both teen age girls and their mothers across the globe. Starting from their base in Great Britain, five young boys now ages 18-20 have embarked on a journey across planet earth sharing unbelievably catchy pop music, lady killing, and everything else that comes with being quite possibly Simon Cowell’s biggest musical prodigy to date.

   It seems as if America is one of the last modern countries in the world to be graced by One Direction after their CD release and highly successful tour across Europe, including countries like Sweden and Italy. It was well worth the wait. On the 21st of March 2012 One Direction’s debut album “Up All Night” reached number one on the U.S. “Billboard 200″, making them the very first British group in history to accomplish that.

   So what exactly makes One Direction so irresistible? It’s obvious what makes them beautiful, the sparkling eyes, dazzling smiles, perfect hair, and not to mention the general female preference for foreign accents, but as to what makes their music such a hit? After One Direction’s miniature tour of the states (excluding Florida) with Big Time Rush during March, new tour dates were announced. More dates are planned for North America, with the World Arena tour starting in 2013. All are sold out.

   While some naysayers don’t “get” the popularity of this boy band, one thing is clear: their ticket sales are going one direction: up.


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