Welcome to 19 Questions, a feature where we ask longtime Orlando residents 19 questions that are mostly related to living in the City Beautiful.
Nathan Chase is a web designer who was born in Nashville, Tenn., but came to Central Florida as a wee lad of three. He's lived in the "metro" Orlando area since 2001. As you can see, Nathan's hobbies include holding gourds and wearing collared shirts. Indie rockers might also recognize Chase as the drummer for local favorites the Pauses.
1. Who's your favorite Orlando resident, living, dead, real or fictional?
He doesn’t live here anymore, but Josh Freese was born in Orlando. He’s played drums with an impressive roster of musicians including Devo, the Vandals, Nine Inch Nails, Guns N’ Roses, Suicidal Tendencies, A Perfect Circle, Rob Zombie, Unwritten Law, Ween, Queens of the Stone Age, Weezer and Bruce Springsteen, just to name a few.
2. What's the best meal you've ever eaten in Orlando?
Despite it being a part of a larger chain, the chocolate soufflé at Roy’s on Sand Lake Road is the best restaurant dessert I’ve ever had. In terms of a recent memorable dinner experience, I was really impressed with Mama Della’s at Portofino Bay. We had a table-side chef, a serenade, a beer flight and a killer spicy lasagna. It’s like Buca, with less kitsch and more class. It might be the best tiny Italian restaurant in Orlando that no one talks about.
3. What was your first concert in Orlando?
Lollapalooza 1993. Primus. Alice in Chains. Dinosaur Jr. Tool. Rage Against the Machine. In retrospect, a completely incredible lineup. Also incredible: the price of imported Doc Martens.
4. When's the last time you went to Wet n' Wild?
I believe the last time I went to Wet n’ Wild was with my family maybe two summers ago. My first memory of Wet n’ Wild, however, was when the Black Hole didn’t exist, the Blast was still Raging Rapids, and the Hydra-Maniac was a back-splitting, face-spraying, aquatic nightmare.
5. Favorite beach?
Growing up, New Smyrna was ideal. You could get a season pass, get a bunch of friends together, and drive up and down the beach blasting Green Day, people-watching as you idle along. Frozen Gold has some killer post-beach butterscotch milkshakes, too. Daytona Beach used to have some of the best boardwalk concerts and phenomenal arcades. These days, I’m more into the quiet, calm and crystal clear west coast beaches like Venice Beach and Siesta Key.
6. What's your favorite Orlando attraction that no longer exists?
Absolutely and unequivocally Mystery Fun House. Their laser tag was astonishing. It had this elaborate pre-show where you’d climb into this APC transport-type thing straight out of Aliens, don your gear, and then get “air dropped” into the laser tag area. The fun house itself was bizarre, super-dark and relied heavily on blacklights, if memory serves. The arcade had a super-elaborate, archaic, mechanical shooting gallery. The mini-golf was solid. The ever-present local TV commercials pretty much guaranteed that you had to go and see it. It was so much more authentically quirky and unique than most of the types of entertainment we have these days.
7. What do you hate most about living in Orlando?
Most of the fantastic musical acts never bother to tour all the way down into Florida. If by some stroke of luck they do, they often skip Orlando. I miss venues like the Edge that catered to the larger acts in the '90s but kept prices low. You could see someone like Veruca Salt with only about 500 other people for $8, and then the next day see Pantera with 5,000 people in the outdoor concert field for $15. These days, great venue choices are few, for touring acts and potential audiences, and I’m just not going to pay $100+ to see Nine Inch Nails at Amway.
8. What do you hate least about living in Orlando?
We’re super spoiled having access to the best theme parks and water parks in the world at our backdoor, and we take it for granted all the time. Publix, of course, makes shopping a pleasure. We have some pretty excellent cinemas too, like the Enzian, Plaza Cinema Cafe, Downtown Disney Fork & Screen & Dolby Atmos theaters, and the only real, authentic IMAX in central Florida over at Regal Pointe.
9. I-4 or I-75?
The I-4 corridor. I’ve driven from Daytona to Tampa and all points in between more times than I can remember. You’ve got plenty of billboards to keep you company. The Mickey Mouse powerline. Dinosaur World. Fantasy of Flight. [Here's a] pro tip: Going westbound before you hit downtown, you always take the right as if you’re getting off at Ivanhoe or Colonial, but then keep to the left at the exit fork to get right back onto the interstate, and bypass all that traffic. Works every time.
10. In one word, describe your day job.
11. What's your favorite coffee spot in Orlando?
I like Stardust, but I also like Starbucks, and I also like Dunkin Donuts. I’m no coffee snob. As long as it’s a darker roast that doesn’t suck, I’m good.
12. Do you have an alcoholic beverage of choice? If so, what?
As of late, it’s a gin & tonic ... Hendrick’s or Bombay Sapphire. I’m also a sucker for a dark & stormy with some sort of spicy ginger beer and perhaps some Kraken rum. Otherwise, a top shelf Long Island works, or if I can’t think of anything else ... a rum & coke with grenadine. I’m not really into wine, but if it’s a beer we’re talking about, anything that’s amber or darker is good. I usually steer clear of pilsners and pale ales. If it’s a porter or a stout, I’m on board. I had a special “Barrel Room Collection” Sam Adams Thirteenth Hour Stout fairly recently that was like chocolate, coffee, beer and wine all blended together - and despite that sounding like a strange combination, it was glorious.
13. What do you think of Wesley Snipes?
I think of Blade. I think of Demolition Man. That about sums up what I think of. Never met the guy, but I imagine he’s got some interesting Hollywood stories to tell. I think he and Dennis Rodman should have switched places at some point in their careers. That, or made a buddy cop movie together. I’m sure there’s some more stuff we could implode around Orlando to make a new Lethal Weapon movie moment.
14. The Oviedo chickens: pro or con?
I must have missed the memo on this, but I’m pro-chickens, in general. They’re good fried, I hear. I like them combined with parmesan, too. I lived off Dean Road for a few years, but that’s about as close as I’ve been to that area. I’ve spent relatively little time in and around Oviedo.
15. Universal Studios or Islands of Adventure?
Both, of course. My wife’s been an employee of Universal Orlando for the past 11 years, and I’ve been incredibly privileged to swipe my spouse pass at the gates any time I like for either park. I’m a big fan of the Hulk and Spider-Man [rides], still love the smell of the E.T. queue line, but I do miss [the] Ghostbusters, King Kong, Back To The Future, [and] Hanna-Barbera [attractions], the Triceratops in Jurassic Park, the old queue of Dueling Dragons ... I am pretty excited though to see the new Diagon Alley stuff opening up in June. That Gringotts Bank cart ride should be spectacular.
16. How much is too much to spend for a vintage Shaq Magic jersey?
I surely wouldn’t spend a dime, but I’d imagine there’s a market on eBay for it. I imagine if it was actually worn by Shaq himself, with sweat stains still visible, that it would only increase the collectibility. [checks eBay] Looks like present market value is around $24.99.
17. Can you tell us about the first time you went to OBT?
I don’t recall anything magical, perverse, or scandalous about OBT in my personal experience, but perhaps I’ve just never driven it at the inappropriate time of day. I sadly don’t have any particular standout memory of my travels across Orange Blossom Trail. I imagine it was likely my Dad dragging me along as we hit up various music stores around town shopping for drums or other musical gear.
18. If you could give Orlando a new motto or nickname, what would it be?
Orlando: the city’s not exactly beautiful, but it has its merits. This would not win an ADDY award.
19. What makes someone an Orlandoan?
Well, I’d like to think that Orlando kind of acts as a proxy for a good portion of Central Florida, so as long as you’re south of Altamonte, east of Clermont, west of Bithlo and north of St. Cloud, you’re pretty much an Orlandoan. Culturally, we thrive on actually having a pretty wide variety of entertainment, the safety of knowing all shopping centers have a nail salon and a Chinese take-out place and a frozen yogurt place, and we don’t mind that it rains around 3:47 p.m. every afternoon.