I don't remember anything. I don't have to.
Historically, Orlando has no real history. A winding series of orange trees, gay mice, real estate and rave regulations may distract the myopia long enough to roll an eye, but when it comes down to it, the City Beautiful is only about as old as Delta Burke is popular and about as full of cultural import as your last spilt-glass of cheap champagne.
We sold our souls to the devil from the get go, really. Our Epcot futures, our space leaps, our Cyber Zones -- all disposable. The castoffs that come from such idealism -- the beach balls, the Jimmy Buffets, the "I Dream of Jeannie" -- offer some shadowy context, but the ornamental elements can't be taken seriously, can they?
Leaks in the system
How would I know? I'm merely popping lids at a beer tub, just inside the gates of the opening festival for Orlando's largest, most expensive act of vainglory and aesthetic overstatement, ever -- The Orange County Regional History Center. Don't know how I got the beer gig. Don't care (only know that later I'll be belligerently escorted away from it by someone who senses my own lid-popping a little more each hour.) But through the beaded sweat on a Kalik bottle popping up out of a large basin may well be the best way to take this particular civic fantastic in. And with all the throaty howling promised by Orlando's finest Steves and Mary Threes, there ought to be plenty of room in necks and brains alike for a little alcoholic numbing. I can see clearly, now.
Only there's nothing to see. Apart from coagulated slices of pizza from an as-yet-unopened "Mediterranean" restaurant (pizza?) and a chance to see all the same people who you see downtown every weekend (the guest-list crowd of haircuts and their shoes), there are only a few random business kiosks and curious consumers littering the recently ungated Heritage Square park area. Oh, them and the pewter gator sculptures leering around the miniature amphitheater -- one of them being wrestled by a flip-hatted settler, no doubt fighting for his place in Orlando history. Earnestness abounds as the music kicks in, sending competing acoustics into a clash overhead as two stages worth of blind ambition are crammed down into one tiny morsel of actual interest.
"Dude, I love your shirt. You wanna smoke out?" asks the lead singer of one up-and-comer. Oh this is Orlando. We have become ... cumbersome.
Time to reboot
Fitting, then, that this should be the same week that rave heydayers Moonshine Records would bring their traveling dead-horse DJ circuit tour to Tabu for another night of bloated rave revisitation. Superstar DJ Këoki (who spell checks as "Kooky") -- still unfresh from his stint as hot-boy tagalong to famed New York club-kid-murderer Michael Alig, 10 years ago -- has always been a solid draw for the "just-got-my-own-dorm-room, do-you-have-a-blowpop?" circuit. He's also notoriously a sloshy mess who can somehow fall asleep on his own turntables while spinning. We could be heroes.
Anyway, back in the day ... blah, blah, blah ... Orlando used to be cited regularly, for reasons nobody should be all that proud of, as the rave capital of the world. Products of their parents ceaseless futurism, taken to the next narcotic extreme, the Orlando rave population consisted mainly of dirty kids with lip sores sucking the dirt out of pacifiers while staring blankly off into, well, the future. "Dude, this music feels good," etc. The sterilizing forces brought apathy back into the bedroom a few years ago (thankfully?) though, and tonight's gig seems particularly impotent without a grinding ecstasy jaw.
Even more impotent upon arrival, when we find that not only have all the pacifiers been sucked dry and replaced with $8 martinis, but so have all of the kids. Nobody, literally, seems to be in attendance. The floor is littered with a hand-picked selection of hired dance help and nondescript receding hairlines dancing bar-mitzvah dances with their submissive girlfriends.
"Will I be able to speak to Këoki with this?" I motion, waving my pretentious "PRESS" laminate.
"Um, well, you know how Këoki is. He's very serious when he's playing out, but I'll check the contract rider," offers the breezy hostess. Very serious.
Personally, I don't know if I would fit on the rider next to the 4-foot mirror, four packs of Marlboros, bottle of Jack Daniels, four pounds of ketamine and a Manic Panic retouch, so I concede and sit pretty behind the star on the back of DJ Sandy's Rockstar head.
Stumbling on the way out, a pair of aging club-adults dressed and painted to resemble cyborgs or something that Këoki might have awakened from a K-hole in fear of, approach and demure for photographs that make no sense in hindsight. It's a fitting end to a dying era where your dad is hired as a photo-personality for a rave event.
Ten minutes and a hundred yards later its back to History Park, and the once belligerent beer top-popper-stopper is weaving to my left. We park it at a bench where he then proceeds to assume his role as christener of Glenda's good wish. Two docile vomits later and the evening is gone.
I don't remember anything. I don't have to.