Greetings, Orlando Weekly readers. It is I, Jeffrey Billman, former OW senior writer/prodigal son back from Philly, here. (Perhaps you remember me from that time I made up a story about eating manatees or got a town full of rednecks to hate me—or when I reported on OPD’s tendency to rough up people four years before some cops broke an old man's neck and the Sentinel finally took notice.)
You may have noticed that there's a big political shindig going down on the other side of I-4, and for the next few days—unless Hurricane Isaac takes a swat at New Orleans on Wednesday, which coincidentally is the seventh anniversary of the devastating clusterfuck known as Hurricane Katrina—you'll be hearing plenty about Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan and Chris Christie and Marco Rubio and the entire Etch-a-Sketch effort to place a warmer, gentler gauze over the GOP's plans to gut Medicare, bring back the gold standard, eviscerate abortion rights, ban gay marriage, deport brown people, etc. (Hey, look: it's starting already!)
Lots of media outlets will cover those things. C-SPAN will go gavel-to-gavel on the convention floor, in case you’ve been having trouble sleeping. The broadcast and cable nets will air the evening speeches (bold prediction: Fox will love them, MSNBC will think they suck, and CNN will have a hologram of Ronald Reagan). But not us.
No, Billy Manes and I are driving over to Tampa this afternoon to show you the other side of the convention—the parties, the strip clubs, the liquor-laden brunches that begin at 10 a.m., the stuff that keeps America’s body politic lubricated and ready for action. On our agenda—weather, time and energy permitting—are fetes for anti-taxer Grover Norquist, a Hispanic-themed, business-attire-required fiesta featuring Jeb! and Marco Rubio, something called Homocon at a place called The Honey Pot, the Wonkette Drinky-Thing and maybe, just maybe, if we (read: Billy) get drunk enough, a visit to the Ybor Resort & Spa, Tampa’s only gay bathhouse, which is offering free admission to GOP delegates. We’ll also hang out with protestors and assorted liberal groups and maybe kill a few hours in the casino and Mons Venus, because that’s where the non-Jesus-freak convention delegates (and probably some of the Jesus freaks, too) will be spending their afternoons.
Along the way, Billy and I will be blogging and tweeting and Faceb0oking, so update this page regularly or follow us on social media for all the latest. We'll be using the Twitter hashtag #OWRNC.