Not that we like to brag about the number of times that we've been in bed with lawyers (at least lawyers whose names we remember the next morning), but it's entirely possible that we might have engaged in some pillow talk last week.
At about the same time we were putting together our cover feature ("Look who's knocking," Jan. 18) on the evils of Orlando's new arena sponsor, Amway, superstar attorney Willie E. Gary — along with some of the brass from Boies, Schiller & Flexner LLP — filed a class action lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California against Quixtar, Amway's ugly(er) sister.
Gary's taken on Disney, Anheuser-Busch and the Orlando Sentinel `Happytown™, May 19, 2005` in the past, AND regularly represents luminaries like Don King (!) in vanity defamation suits. His small stature and Goliath-hating tendencies have earned him the name "The Giant Killer."
The 41-page complaint is seemingly ripped straight from the late-'70s anti-Amway playbook. It lists plaintiffs Jeff Pokorny and Larry Blenn and those similarly situated, alleges multiple acts of fraud and racketeering and concludes: "Contrary to the pronouncements on its website, Quixtar operates a pyramid scheme, and its rules and policies are a sham …."
So what do you really think, Mr. Gary?
If anyone can take on the Amway/Quixtar behemoth, it's Gary. We've seen his private jet, and it's big. And the faucets have gold handles. No, we didn't sleep in it.
Wonder if it's time for Orlando to invoke the clause that allows them to back out of the arena-naming deal if the sponsor is an embarrassment to the city.
Those kinda politely radical University of Central Florida students of Campus Peace Action, along with the more wily miscreants of Students for a Democratic Society, staged a phenomenal anti-war rally at high noon Jan. 18, protesting the more than 650,000 Iraqi deaths and 3,026 American deaths that have resulted from Shrub's dogged determination to intervene in stuff he doesn't understand. Why here? Why now?
"To bring more attention to the troops and Iraqi citizens who have died," Campus Peace Action chair Mychel Estevez told us, quietly.
No worries, though. With the SDS in attendance, heady shenanigans were unavoidable. (For the record, we are pro-shenanigans — and we vote.) After a reading of a Martin Luther King Jr. speech justifying his civil-rights stance and his anti-war stance (in some playful updating, "Iraq" replaced "the Nam") and a few calls of "No more war!", a throng of punky pallbearers carried two black cardboard coffins up to the stage.
Next, students filed onstage to toss rolled-up pieces of paper resembling diplomas (duh) into the coffins while the names of the American dead were read aloud.
Meanwhile, up in the high windows of the Student Union, police officers were peering down, while more fuzz surrounded the proceedings on the ground. Eek! There would be no scuffles, though, as about 75 students marched their "Fuck this war!" funeral procession all the way across Alafaya Trail (at one point blocking traffic! Lawlessness!) to an Army recruiting center in a nearby strip mall. Arms linked, megaphones boomed and the Army … well, they locked their door for a couple of hours. (One did come out to snap a photo, though.)
"It's a sign that the militants are rising," said SDS member Matt De Vlieger, combat boots over his jeans. "People aren't so afraid to get involved."
Is a transportation gang war imminent in downtown Orlando, now that those little electric cars have arrived on the scene? Perhaps. Watch your back.
O-Cartz — a tiny-taxi service a city spokesperson gleefully declared to be "culture" — opened for business Jan. 15. And shortly thereafter we started thinking Jets versus Shark(z), because the pedicab drivers are territorial as all hell. Apparently, we weren't that far off.
Quizzed as to the reaction to his cuddly cartz, O-Cartz owner Corey Lamb says the pedicabista referred to him as "the enemy."
Why can't we all just get along, wondered Lamb. "It's free enterprise. I didn't know that McDonald's thought Burger King was the enemy."
Lamb (who considers himself "very eco-friendly") has a fleet of just three six-seat electric cars — with an eye on expansion — and four drivers. Whereas pedicab drivers typically pay a $50-per-shift rental fee and reap the rewards of tips from sodden customers, O-Cartz drivers make an hourly wage, a commission and tips driving lunchtime weekday crowds and weekend boozehounds around for $3 a head.
Then again, pedicab hustlers have the "hot chick advantage," wherein they hike up their shorts and Daisy Duke—tie their shirts as a means of gaining market advantage, at least for a certain clientele. Don't deny it; you people know who you are.
Orlando — being the vibrant, 24/7 metropolis it isn't — is hot and bothered to slap some regulation on this burgeoning bit of capitalism. The city is in the first-reading stage of a regulatory ordinance that will apply to both the O-Cartz and the pedicabs on issues of pricing and insurance. The rumble, however, remains unscheduled.
While we've got you in a civilly disobedient mood, get your protest pants back on by 5 p.m. Jan. 30, because several groups — the ACLU, Stop the Ordinance Partnership, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, the local NAACP, ACORN, Students for a Democratic Society, to name a few — will gather in front of City Hall to let Orlando officials know just what they think of the city's policy restricting homeless feedings. (Our guess: They don't like it.) The keynote speaker is none other than Lee Vern Jones, whose homeless brother died in December, a few weeks after city officials confiscated and trashed a bag that contained his heart medication (see "Did Orlando kill Bobby Jones?", Jan. 4).
But don't call it a demonstration. Under city rules, that would require a permit. Instead, this is a permit-free "super supper summit," says local ACLU head George Crossley.
"The city's done everything to try to divide us," Crossley says. The goal now is "broadening the coalition."
This week's report by Jeffrey C. Billman and Billy Manes.firstname.lastname@example.org