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Christopher Spata, Times Staff Writer

Christopher Spata

Christopher Spata is a web producer and features writer for the Tampa Bay Times, focusing on entertainment, pop culture, social media and things to do. He also contributes to The Feed blog. A lifelong Floridian, he previously worked as a web producer and entertainment reporter for the Tampa Tribune, and covered sports for the Ocala Star-Star Banner. He graduated from the University of South Florida in 2011, and joined the Times in 2016.

Phone: (727) 893-8719


Twitter: @spatatimes

  1. Video: Food Network star Alton Brown tries Tampa's cuban sandwiches, says they weren't 'what I expected'


    As connoisseurs of classic, Tampa-style Cuban sandwiches will tell you, lettuce and tomato on a Cuban is controversial at the least, and downright blasphemous in some circles.

    So Alton Brown, James Beard award-winning cookbook author and star of Food Network's Good Eats and Iron Chef America, was a little taken aback to find both on a Tampa-bought Cuban on Friday.

    Brown was in town for his live show at Tampa's David A. Straz Jr. Center for the Performing Arts and posted a video to his Facebook page of a four-sandwich taste test of the city's most recommended Cubans....

    Alton Brown did a blind taste test of some Cuban sandwiches during a tour stop in Tampa. [Alton Brown via Facebook]
  2. Did you know Tampa's flag is a 'monstrosity'? No one else does, either

    Human Interest

    Tampa has a flag.

    It's flying over Old City Hall and Water Works Park and Tampa Police headquarters, and it was there hanging limp behind Mayor Bob Buckhorn as cameras rolled during his recent State of the City Address.

    And yet, despite having been around for 77 years, that news — that Tampa even has a flag — often surprises locals.

    Show it to a fourth-generation Tampa native and they might say, "Oh, that's what it looks like?" Show it to a professional graphic designer, and you may get a sneer. ...

    Guillermo Perez, left, says he brings this Tampa flag to all of the Tampa Bay Rowdies home games. He likes that it's a conversation starter.
  3. Gallery: City flags from around Florida and the U.S.

    Local Government

    Some of these Florida city flags were ranked in a North American Vexillogical Association survey of its members. Out of 150 flags that were part of that survey, St. Petersburg was the top flag in the state at No. 23, followed by Jacksonville (No. 38); Tallahassee (No. 65); Miami (No. 70); Tampa (No. 79) and Hialeah (No. 145). We've also included a sampling of other city flags from Tampa Bay and around the nation....

    Des Moines' flag incorporates the city's iconic bridge arches.
  4. Gallery: Homemade designs for a new Tampa flag

    Local Government

    For as long as people have been talking online about their dislike of the old Tampa city flag, people have been posting their homemade designs for a new one. There's nothing official about these submissions, but here's a look at some of the designs that have popped up on social media.

    Gallery: Good and bad city flags from around Florida and the US...

    This redesign of the Tampa flag was posted to Reddit.
  5. St. Petersburg orphan whose story went worldwide celebrates two years with forever family

    Human Interest

    Two years after he was adopted by his longtime caseworker, Davion Only Going is enjoying life with his forever family.

    The boy, who touched hearts around the globe after he went to a St. Petersburg church and pleaded for someone to adopt him, is now 19 and saving up for a car, according to a new story from the Daily Mail....

    Davion Only, second from left,  has his adoption finalized in 2015 at the Pinellas County Criminal Justice Center. New mom, Connie Going, left,  and new sibling Carley Going were there.  [Times files]
  6. Miami street renamed Moonlight Way after Oscar-winning film


    A surprise Best Picture win at the Academy Awards has culminated in a street in Miami's Liberty City being renamed Moonlight Way after the Miami-set film Moonlight, the Miami Herald reports.

    The film's creators Barry Jenkins and Tarell Alvin McCraney grew up in the Liberty City neighborhood. ...

    Andre Holland and Trevante Rhodes in "Moonlight."
  7. Richard Simmons hospitalized, but recovering, report says


    If you've heard the viral podcast Missing Richard Simmonsyou know it's a rare occasion that anyone knows where reclusive fitness icon Richard Simmons is these days, but on Monday he was in the hospital, according to a report.

    Simmons' rep told ABC News that Simmons was taken to an unspecified California hospital after "battling severe indigestion and discomfort while eating." The rep added, "He's already feeling better and is expected to make a full recovery."...

    Richard Simmons in New York in 2013.
  8. 10News WTSP ditches traditional newcasts for viral focus, introduces new anchors

    The Feed

    St. Petersburg-based CBS affiliate 10News WTSP debuted a new look Tuesday morning, complete with new on-air personalities, a redesigned set and even a new 10News logo.

    The new 10News Brightside is part of what the station's managers are calling a top-to-bottom revamp of its newscasts. The station is shifting its focus toward buzzy, viral stories that viewers are discussing on social media platforms, and away from the more traditional approach to delivering the news....

    Jackie Fernandez is among several new anchors and reporters who debuted on 10News WTSP on Tuesday. [WTSP]
  9. How to get free food and other stuff Tuesday for tax day

    Food & Dining

    With April 15 falling on a Saturday, and Monday being a holiday in Washington, D.C., Americans had a few extra days to pay their taxes in 2017. But now, the time has come. Today is tax day, and it's probably a bummer if you ended up owing money to the IRS.

    As usual, there are quite a few businesses looking to cheer you up with tax day deals and freebies. Here are some of the deals to take advantage of in the Tampa Bay area....

    Bruegger's Bagels is offering a bagel pack deal for tax day. [Bruegger's]
  10. Dyngus Day 2017: Here are five places to celebrate in Tampa Bay


    Get out the water guns, because today is Dyngus Day.

    Not familiar? Dyngus Day is a big Polish-American celebration that involves people throwing water over each other and sometimes some light spanking with pussy willow branches.

    If you're still unclear, you might want to ask a friend from Buffalo, Cleveland or South Bend, Indiana, where the nation's largest Dyngus Day celebrations happen each year on the Monday after Easter....

    Crabby Bill's in Indian Rocks Beach plans to uphold the Dyngus Day tradition of having a water fight, according to their Facebook page. []
  11. Watch: First trailer for 'Star Wars: The Last Jedi' features Luke Skywalker


    The first trailer for Star Wars: The Last Jedi was released today, in coordination with Star Wars Celebration in Orlando.

    It's high speed, action packed, and yes, at the end, you're going to see Mark Hamill as Luke Skywalker. ...

    The first trailer for "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" premiered on Friday.
  12. 'Broad City' really wants to shoot an episode at Publix


    Was it the subs? The fried chicken tenders? The fried chicken tender subs, perhaps?

    Whatever it was, the Comedy Central series Broad City apparently loves our region's beloved grocery chain, Publix, and would like to shoot an episode in one of their stores (psst, there's a really fresh, new one in downtown St. Pete, guys). ...

    If "Broad City" is shooting an episode at Publix, it has to be Florida, right?
  13. Interview: We asked bestselling yogi Sadhguru how to be happier


    Jaggi Vasudev, 59, is the motorcycle-riding, golf-playing Indian mystic and yogi known to the practitioners of Isha Yoga around the globe as Sadhguru.

    As the author of more than 30 books, including last year's New York Times bestseller Inner Engineering: A Yogi's Guide to Joy, Sadhguru promotes "yoga taught in its full depth." It's a traditional understanding of the practice and meditation. It's also more mental than physical, he says....

    Jaggi Vasudev, known worldwide as Sadhguru, will be in Tampa on April 29-30 for the Inner Engineering program.
  14. Report: Comedian Charlie Murphy dead at 57


    Comedian Charlie Murphy, whose epic tales of Prince and Rick James became pop culture phenomena, has died at age 57, according to reports. 

    TMZ was first to report Murphy's death, writing that the comic's manager said he'd died at a New York City hospital after a battle with leukemia....

    Charlie Murphy, seen here in 2012, has reportedly died at age 57.
  15. Good news: Long 'missing' Steve from 'Blue's Clues' says he didn't die


    If you're around 25 to 30-ish and still wondering why Steve, the host of the turn-of-the-millennium kids show Blue's Clues, mysteriously disappeared, first, we're sorry to hear that, and second, good news!, he didn't die or go to jail. 

    Steve Burns has been one of the most common subjects of internet death hoaxes and rumors over the past decade, probably due to a perfect storm of nostalgia and the way he totally vanished from the public eye after leaving the show unannounced....

    Steve was the host of "Blues Clues" from 1996 to 2002.