From time to time, your friends at Happytown™ like to take a break from chronicling the scandals, imbroglios and peccadilloes of life in The City Beautiful, and reflect on the good, the positive, the triumph of the human spirit. We'll call this semi-regular feature (which begins right now) "Reasons Orlando Does Not Suck as Bad as the Rest of the World Thinks We Do," a ponderous if descriptive title, don't you think?
This week's installment of RODNSABATROTWTWD took place at Lake Eola Park Aug. 17, when some 300 people gathered to express their support for Cindy Sheehan, the grieving mother who, until recently when she left to be with her own ailing mother, was squatting roadside in gawdawful Crawford, Texas, trying to get an audience with W. Sheehan, as you've already read somewhere else, wants some answers from Boy George himself about what the friggin' hell, exactly, we are doing over there.
What you didn't read elsewhere notably not in the Orlando Sentinel was any coverage of the Orlando event, or any mention of the hundreds of others like it around the country. Even though polls consistently show public support for the Iraq war slip-slidin' away, mainstream coverage would have you believe that everybody who thinks Iraq is a colossal waste of blood and treasure could fit easily into a roadside camp in Crawford.
What we witnessed at Lake Eola was among the largest anti-war rallies we've seen in Orlando, and we've been to most of them. It was somber, well-mannered and respectful. People brought signs, candles and their kids, and stood on the sidewalk making their feelings about this war known. There was no shoving, no shouting and no anger. We did not hear "Kumbaya" sung even once. We saw two people in attendance who supported the war, one of whom held a sign stating that MoveOn.org organized the rally, as if that were somehow so damning as to justify waging war on a country that never attacked the United States.
So there you have it, gentle readers, our very first RODNSABATROTWTWD. Stay tuned for more, and in the meantime, hold your head high.
Apparently dissatisfied with the dwindling fruits of his reverse take on the Midas touch, local large-man-with-an- insatiable-appetite-for-the-exploitation-of-young-boys Lou Pearlman is branching out, bilingual-style.
According to this week's Billboard magazine, Pearlman (who, when we last checked, was busy not saving downtown) has just launched Trans Continental Latino, a record label poised to appeal to the weaker strains of the Hispanic market. Pearlman, who is noted in the feature quipping that "boy bands will be over the day God stops making little girls," is banking on his revamped collective, C-Note, to do the trick, mirroring the marketing ploys that made Menudo the kings of Saturday-morning Spanish-alphabet singalongs. (We saw C-Note recently, and by all appearances it was a wholly different kind of trick they were turning. And their knowledge of the alphabet seemed a bit iffy.) "We thought the Latin market was an up-and- coming market," Pearlman told Billboard, seemingly unaware that said market shook its bon-bons into obscurity years ago. It was up. And then it came.
While not averse to shirtless crooners in search of a harmonic plateau, we are nonetheless bored by this development. Mostly because no matter how many pectoral flexes Pearlman adorns himself with, we can't even hear the music over the wretched grumble of commercial indigestion.
If it seems like your friends at Happytown™ have all the zeal of the newly converted of late, that's because we are newly converted: to Flying Spaghetti Monsterism. Ramen.
In the pantheon of world religion, ours is a suckling babe, created only in June by the prophet Bobby Henderson, who sent a letter to the Kansas State Board of Education demanding that if Intelligent Design was to be taught, then FSM ought to be taught right alongside it. Our teachings are simple: The universe was created by an invisible and undetectable Flying Spaghetti Monster, who sprinkled clues pointing to evolution throughout the natural world to test our faith much as you might sprinkle Parmesan on a plate of linguini; that natural disasters and global warming are a direct result of the decline in the number of pirates since the 1800s; and that our reward after a life of devout FSM worship will be a stripper factory and a beer volcano. We call ourselves Pastafarians. Ramen.
Few took us seriously, until the folks at Boing Boing (www.boingboing.net) posted their Intelligent Design Challenge, which offers a delicious $1 million to anyone who can provide empirical evidence that Jesus Christ is not, in fact, the son of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. The challenge was in response to a similar (if stingier) reward offered by Kent Hovind, the Pensacola-based creator of Creation Science Evangelism (www.drdino.com) who has offered a $250,000 reward to anyone who can prove to his satisfaction that evolution is true.
Of course, we are not asking that the teaching of Intelligent Design be banned; here at Happytown™, we believe the truth can only be arrived at by examining all sides of an issue. All we ask for is equal time, that Flying Spaghetti Monsterism be included in the curriculum so that our children can make an informed decision. Ramen.
More weirdness from our friends at the Black Business Investment Fund of Central Florida Inc., the Daisy Lynum-centric nonprofit that recently closed on just over an acre of city property for far less money than what that property would have sold for on the free market, and $400,000 less than a last-minute competitive offer the city received from a group of Parramore businessmen:
The BBIF, on its website and in documents it provided to the city, markets itself as a nonprofit organized under Section 501(c)(3) of the United States tax code, which means it can receive tax-deductible donations. Only it isn't a 501(c)(3). Internal Revenue Service documents reveal that, in fact, the BBIF is organized under Section 501(c)(4). The latter grouping is more accurate, as it is reserved for social service groups, which the BBIF is, at least ostensibly. And the BBIF may like some (c)(4)s actually qualify for some level of tax-deductible status, though it's unclear from the documents we saw whether it does or doesn't.
Why is the BBIF misleading the city about its tax-exempt status? Happytown™ called the BBIF for an explanation, but they never called us back. How odd.
For the backstory on this "charity," check out our BBIF cover story, "A sucker deal," July 28.
This week's report by Jeffrey C. Billman, Billy Manes and Bob Whitby.