Thursday, July 11, 2013

Charles Villa Hotel

It's part of the inherent Interzone-ness of it all that everything down here is constantly shifting, mutating, roiling, folding back in on itself. But even without acknowledging the paranormal energy which lends to Florida soil this especial quality, it must also be said that part of it has to do with the culture. You don't have to be a Buddhist to grok the transient nature of everything, but it's even more transient in Florida, where at any given time there are more visitors than locals.

In my other outpost-state of Kentucky, by comparison, one might note that a building could be built in 1950 and torn down in 1980, and that you'd still have an easier time trying to find an old-timer or a historian-geek to tell you anecdotes about it than in Florida. Often, the man on the street in Florida has no clue what was in any given spot 50, 20, or even 5 years ago because, probably like you, they just got here. Like Kurt Weill, I'm a stranger here myself.

The Charles Villa Hotel. Hmmmmmm. On December 11, 1947, the St. Petersburg Times ran a classified ad for it stating "NOW OPEN" at 14701 Gulf Boulevard, Madeira Beach and heralding "Scientific American, French and Egyptian cuisine." Let me just try to wrap my head around that for a moment.

Okay, I'm done. I got nothin'.

Like the initial classified listing, other later ads for the hotel seem to focus far more on the hotel's restaurant than the lodgings. But then consider their beautiful exotica-esque ad shown at top, which depicts a belly dancer far more prominently than the tiny micro-clip-art illustrations of the shish-kabob and such. Truly, this must have been a place of wonderment in its day, and I plan to spend a lot of time standing around at night waiting for its day to come back and haunt the place. The term zeitgeist, after all, uses the German word for "ghost" or "mind" even though it is popularly interpreted as meaning "spirit of the times" using "spirit" in its vaguer semantic sense (i.e. "getting into the spirit of things"). If there can be a ghost of a hotel, I wanna hang out with it.

So what's there now? Something called Dockside Dave's. Looks like some damn fine grub, too.

I'm going to go smoke a cigar and watch the tree branches move in the wind now. Let me know if you figure out anything else.

1 comment:

  1. I have a box of matches from the Charles Villa Hotel somewhere. I will try to find it and scan it for you.