Painting the faces of Gasparilla pirates past
On Saturday, cannons will erupt, guns will fire and thousands of pirates under various flags will descend upon Tampa for their drunken promenade up Bayshore Boulevard.
Yes, but: Before this once-a-year play on piracy, there occurs an overlooked moment that's as much a part of this Tampa Bay tradition as José Gaspar.
- It's that transitional point when a society man — a mortgage broker, say, or a school administrator — submits to being remade into a renegade. It's the in-between, the pupa stage of man's metamorphosis to marauder.
This transformation has been captured hundreds of times, no doubt. You might have one or two on your phone.
- Many live in the state archives. Look at them together, decade to decade, and you'll notice they share a quiet intimacy.
Zoom in: Many try to keep a straight face as their makeup is applied, but this unmasked effort betrays something like excitement.
- Shipmates gather in anticipation. What will he become?
Tiger Lee knows the moment. He owns Pirate Fashions, the world's largest authentic pirate store in Tampa's Drew Park, and spends this time of year helping grown men get bloused.
- "You get to be something you're not," he told us Thursday when we showed him the photos, as he folded tricorn hats. "These guys work 9-to-5, regular jobs, follow the rules, and piracy is not a 9-to-5 job. So they get to be something else. That's what you're seeing."
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