It was a bit like pawing through your dead father's estate sale, post-funeral, if your dead father happened to be a crazy fat man who ate Orlando and then wiped his mouth with shirtless young boys.
Still, the June 11 pre-auction viewing of Lou Pearlman's personal effects down at Trans Continental headquarters on Church Street did offer its share of eccentric delights. There were the three "Making the Hit" multimedia sets (with microphones!) designed to allow you — pitiful wannabe — the chance to record your own demo tape at home. Lot 93 was a couch and loveseat set (with tassels!) perfectly designed to fit five boys of varying builds and skin shades in "You're going to be huge!" meeting mode. A lava lamp sized specifically for Lou (giant!), a gazillion platinum and gold RIAA plaques, a collection of snow globes (including one for Church Street!) and stacks of high-end stereo equipment lined the walls, serving up a healthy reminder of just why Daisy Lynum felt it necessary to give this fat jackal a key to the city.
We stumbled into the bathroom long enough to sit on Lou's own toilet and stare into the shower, where there was still a hint of Big Poppa's essence resting in a caddy: a bottle of Pinaud "Clubman" talcum powder.
Our favorite item, though, was the 2006 painting of Lou by Tania Nicoll, featuring the monster's giant head — with a halo-like haze around it — superimposed on the Trans Continental megaplex, awards scattered in front of him. We will not sleep until it is hanging proudly here on the irony wall at Happytown™ HQ, right next to Richard Nixon.
"Hey Weekly guy! Hey Weekly guy!"
Oh shit, Linda Stewart just saw us, and now she's running across the Peabody hotel convention room in our direction. Duck! Dammit, too late. Time for polite conversation. (We kid because we love, Commissioner. Honest.)
We were at the Peabody for Rich Crotty's June 8 State of the County Address — fun fact: Did you know his 2006 speech was awarded best speech by a county official by the National Association of Counties? — which he's titled "Taking Orange County to the Next Level of Greatness." We'd point out that if there are differing levels of greatness, then some levels of greatness are not as great as others, but we'd be picking nits. So how do we climb a rung on the ladder of greatness?
"I don't know how we're going to do that with no money," Stewart noted. She's referring, of course, to the fact that the Florida Legislature is about to lower the guillotine on property taxes, so all those things your elected officials want to do with your money are going to be really tough to pay for. On to the speech!
What is the state of the county? Fucking awesome! (Paraphrasing there. Crotty actually said "strong.")
Crotty kicked things off with a 15-minute video telling us how wonderful he is. Specifically, the video touted 25 of his proclaimed victories, from the Burnham Institute to the Orange County Convention Center expansion to environmental protection to Rich DeVos' Golden Pleasure Dome™, which Crotty's not ashamed of for some reason.
Then we got down to business, and Crotty told us he was gonna ditch the script and speak "from the heart." And he did, as the speech he gave didn't follow the prepared remarks his staffers gave out to the press at all. See, Crotty's not the most gregarious guy, and when he's reading off a teleprompter he's sleepier than a double dose of Ambien. Speaking extemporaneously he came off … almost … human. Weird.
So when he said of Burnham, "Folks, this is a big deal for our community," it felt honest. Crotty's a better politician when he's not running for anything. He kinda supports the property-tax cuts, but politely begged the Legislature not to go crazy since that would mean cutting projects he considers part of his legacy.
The speech ended; everyone milled about for a few minutes and left. But we did hear a couple of things we thought we'd pass along:
First, commissioner Bill Segal desperately wants someone to run against him next year. He wants to kick someone's ass, and he plans to run for county mayor in 2010, so he needs to spend tons of money pumping up the name recognition.
Second, Crotty's chief of staff and longtime aide is leaving for a high-paying executive job with the Burnham Institute. Oh, the synergy.
When the drug czar is in town, you can bet Happytown™ will be in the audience. We like drugs, we are pro-czar and we vote.
We figured that the joke was on us when we got to the dull beige conference room at the Center for Drug-Free Living and were only offered coffee and cookies. Not the good kind of cookies, either.
No matter. We were there to see White House "drug czar" John Walters and Florida's mini-"drug czar," Bill Janes. They were going to expose us to the fact that there's an alarming rise in prescription-drug abuse among bratty teens. In fact, one-third of the latest abusers of legal happy pills fall between the ages of 12 and 17, they told us, and not only do most kids get them from mommy's medicine cabinet, but they also think that — because the drugs are actually handed out by doctors beholden to Big Pharma — they are a safe, pure means of becoming "more engaged in social situations" and "losing weight."
It was at this confab that we learned of something called "trail-mix parties," a rowdy affair the kids are into these days. Just throw all the pretty pills into a bowl and eat 'em like M&Ms. The czars advised adults to dispose of any unused meds, either by flushing them down the toilet or by dropping them off at Happytown™ HQ for proper disposal. (Kidding!)
After the standard round of softball questions from affiliate A-listers (that means you, Gustavo Almodovar), we asked our own question: Why the lack of pressure on docs not to overprescribe in the first place?
"That's a good question," answered Walters, before explaining that he believes that Vicodin and Oxy-Contin actually do have good uses beyond teenage addiction. Happytown™ has a headache. Got any dolls?
Our hot-pink scooter was down for repairs June 10, so we had to find another way to get to Scooters4Hooters. After all, who would want to miss an opportunity to see naked chicks on mopeds?
Um, it didn't exactly work out that way when we got there. Turns out the event, a scooter rally, was a fund-raiser for Libby's Legacy Breast Cancer Foundation, a group that provides trips to Italy and Alaska, among other forms of assistance, for breast cancer patients. Never let it be said that we don't support worthy causes.
The scooteristas assembled at 903 Mills Market, which quickly turned into a sea of pink shirts. Then they blasted off in a haze of two-stroke smoke, destined for Orlando Brewing, no doubt striking fear in the hearts of citizens all along the way. Get your motors running.
This week's report by Jeffrey C. Billman, Billy Manes and Deanna Sheffield.firstname.lastname@example.org