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Happytown

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It wasn't exactly the day the music died, but the morning of Aug. 21 may well have been a rough one for those with periodic chest pains and pills dissolving under their tongues.

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To the tune of Don McLean's seminally depressing "American Pie," a couple hundred cardiologists and the people who love (or need) them showed up to Lake Eola's Walt Disney Amphitheatre in scrubs, white jackets and whatever variation on jean shorts heart patients wear to celebrate Florida Heart Day.

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Well, maybe "celebrate" isn't the word. The throbbing cardiovascular throng was actually in protest mode, specifically over the looming fear of Medicare cuts scheduled for January 2010, which they claim will bring "less access, less quality and higher costs" for the heart-troubled in Orlando. It was enough to make some doctors, gulp, close their offices so they could show you just what it would be like without them. Kill 'em with kindness!

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The prevailing argument at the event centered on perceived delays and quality-control issues for heart patients who may have to receive their "gold-standard" care in acute-care hospital settings with the rest of society's dregs. As if on cue, the term "rationed" was included in the literature, along with invectives like "hassle" and "aggravation." More people being healthy is going to really cut into your health, you see, and the BMW payments of your health-care provider, too. He may just have to hang up his stethoscope.

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Naturally, any event touting health care in its headline is bound to bring out the crazies, and this one was no exception. In addition to a Santa Claus (in August!), there were anti-abortion old people ("I'm not a fetus. Don't O-bort me," read one sign, with the "O" being that Obama logo "O" that we're all growing tired of) and old people with page-number fetishes ("Private health insurance will become illegal! It's in the bill! Page 16!" read another). All told, though, it was a fairly subdued affair, more shuffleboard than AstroTurf, and we should all be thankful that nobody thought to include Don Johnson's "Heartbeat" in the festivities. That would have been heartbreaking.

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Continuing with the theme of heartbreak, we got a cubicle visit last week from our very own former IT helper, Nick-the-intern, who has ascended into the ranks of the homeless-feeding revolutionaries Food Not Bombs.

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According to Nick – who is very earnest – there seemed to be a scandal afoot with the group's regularly scheduled 8 p.m. Monday and 5:30 p.m. Wednesday Lake Eola charity potlucks. FNB, who are not noted for their clean appearances but rather their clean souls, found themselves without the means with which to clean up their dishes. Naturally, there was some suspicion that the city – which continues to fight the federal judgment that allows the hippies to feed the transients in public spaces – might be behind this irrigation irritation, especially because somebody's van got booted, too! With the nearby spigot not producing liquid, Nick was forced to walk all the way over to the other side of the lake and fetch a pail of water just to clean the mess up. Frustrating!

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But, get this! City talking head Heather Allebaugh looked into this situation and came up with a surprising explanation. According to the "parks folks" she spoke with, who knew nothing of the problem until they went and checked it out, some lone "citizen or somebody" may be responsible for cutting off the flow at a remote location. The city has stepped in to fix that bit of vigilante nonsense. Now the water can only be cut off by one person: the man in charge of irrigation. See, the city does love homeless people.

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We already warned you about the tedious teeth awaiting Orlando residents around the proverbial corner when the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau launches its "67 Days of Smiles" campaign Aug. 27 (see Happytown™, July 30) in tandem with Orlando's Downtown Development Board.

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But now those teeth have faces attached to them. A chipper NYC "pair" – probably not a "couple," because he (Kyle Post, 25) is an unemployed Broadway Betty with comp cards from Rent and Godspell, while she (Stacey Doornbos, 25) works with at-risk kids in Harlem – were picked from a field of 10 earlier this month to social-network their way through our schizophrenic home base for 67 days. Why 67 days? Because 67 eight-hour days is what the CVB scientifically determined was the proper amount of time to reach that threshold between distraction and disgust in the City Beautiful and on its surrounding roller coasters.

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The dynamic dental duo – who learned of the initiative through one of their mothers watching Hoda Kotb and Kathy Lee Gifford Jell-O wrestle on the Today show, barf – will be put up in a Paramount on Lake Eola condo unit (two bedrooms!), paid $25,000 (which they have to split), provided with cell phones and cameras and rainless days of candy sunshine, and generally be unbearable on Twitter, Facebook and their own blog, KyleandStaceySmile.com. The city claims it's not throwing much money into this Up With People iteration; most of the comps, secret handshakes and random compliments are fruits of the fiscally translucent CVB, although the DDB is promising to throw in up to $2,500 to make sure that downtown figures nicely into the imaginary affair.

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You have to hand it to the executives in charge of this whole pantomime, though, whittling down all of the foreclosures, Disney deaths, homeless hating and budget shortfalls into one succinct marketing statement: "Orlando Makes Me Smile." Us too!

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Speaking of image-whoring, from the Apocalypse Now desk comes this slice of voyeurism certain to swallow whatever shreds of romantic dignity remain in your relationship. Jerry Seinfeld – the man who brought you that little "show about nothing" that included such miscellany as embarrassing dancing at work parties, a contest celebrating lack of self-stimulation and Asians sleeping in your underwear drawer – is developing a new reality show called The Marriage Ref. "Created by Seinfeld himself, this is relationship advice … with a comic twist," drips the press release, before asking questions like, "Is there an object, a person, or a habit (e.g. computer, pet, a friend, the remote control) that is a third wheel in your relationship and causes a problem?" and "Does your partner have an annoying obnoxious habit or item that causes fights?"

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In other words, are you married and interested in a Gosselin-style divorce under the glare of Seinfeld's sarcasm?

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You can have the chance to explain your probably made-up gripe – if you're married; sorry, gays – to a group of NBC casting agents when they come loser-fishing in sunny Orlando soon. Interested parties and assorted "low-talkers" are encouraged to contact bclark@; shedmediaus.com. (If your trailer doesn't have Internet access, we suggest the public library.)

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Sane folks are advised to look the other way and wait for the return of scripted entertainment. Come back, Mad Men! Oh wait, you just did.

happytown@orlandoweekly.com

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