October 22, 2012

REVIEW: DARK SIDE OF SUNSHINE by Paul Guzzo


  
 
“The moral of the Tampa story is this: if good citizens of a community shut their eyes to wholesale violation of a law – even if it is a law prohibiting something that a lot of people happen to like – law enforcement and honesty in public office will go to hell in a handcart. It happened in Tampa. It can happen anywhere.” --Estes Kefaurver




When we think of Florida, we think of Disneyland, white-sand beaches, gentle breezes, great nightlife, Cuban food. If we think about a “wild” place in Florida, we immediately think about Miami. But it is Tampa that “has always been equal to Dodge City, Laredo, Deadwood and all those dusty cow towns of the Old West.” Tampa, the cigar capital of the world, one of the nation’s “best cities,” is the city with the troubled past.

Paul Guzzo has put together an exciting collection of stories on some of Tampa’s most colorful and darkest characters, including Robert Anderson aka The Killer, one of the nation’s first serial killers; Charlie Wall aka the White Shadow, the first Godfather; Bobby Rodriguez, Tampa’s strip club pioneer who introduced the first GoGo bars and later full nude bars to Tampa; and Charles Perkins aka White Chocolate, the Faux Pimp, who hosted a raunchy Public Access television show.

And, where there are bad guys there are always some good ones too. Take lawman Captain Ellis Clifton, whose secret weapon to taking down the Mafia’s organized crime in Tampa turned out to be ….Fidel Castro. (True story!) And, poor Carlos Carbonell, who believed in Castro and a free Cuba. He fled the U.S. to escape persecution and took sanctuary in Cuba, but it wasn’t the Cuba he envisioned or expected, and a couple of years later, he found himself ironically fleeing Cuba back to the freedom of the U.S. Then, there was Al Fox, who founded the Alliance for Responsible Cuba Policy Foundation with the purpose of helping educate U.S. citizens on the truth about Cuba by offering tours to the island, but all he got for his efforts was to be labeled a Communist and a traitor.

The different stories graphically portray how nothing has changed in Tampa since the turn of the century and how the same issues still plague the city today – violence, murder, mobsters, sexual exploitation. Why? Paul Guzzo blames it on the people’s indifference. When people turn a blind eye to corruption, they are just asking for trouble.

This book was entertaining to read. The stories flowed from one to the other seamlessly. Readers can’t help but be absorbed by the stories, the characters, the city. And, if not for this collection, some of Tampa’s most colorful characters would have been lost forever. Kudos to Guzzo on this thrilling collection.###



ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Born and raised in Trenton, New Jersey, Paul Guzzo moved to Tampa, Fl. in 1999. He spent 10 years as head writer at La Gaceta Newspaper - the nation's only tri-lingual newspaper - where he wrote a weekly profile on Tampa Bay's most prolific personalities, from mayors and governors to CIA agents and military generals to artists and athletes. He continues to work for La Gaceta on a freelance basis. He is also senior writer for Cigar City Magazine, a Tampa-based history magazine. Along with his brother, he has produced numerous independent films that have shown all over the world, and have won dozens of awards along the way.