Sometimes when the phone rings here at Happytown™ HQ there isn't a livid right-winger in our left ear telling us how disgusting and unpatriotic we are. Sometimes we pick up to find a real person on the other end, someone who restores our faith in the mud bog of political apathy that is Central Florida. Such was the case last week when Georgette Pickarski called to tell us she was driving around town in a 40-foot pig mobile, and invited us along for a ride.
Be right over!
We met Pickarski in a strip mall at the intersection of University Boulevard and State Road 436. Minutes earlier, she'd been evicted from another strip mall across the street on suspicion of not supporting the troops. "The security guard took my picture," she told us. "I just stuck my head out the window and smiled."
Pickarski was at the wheel of True Majority's Pig Mobile, a rolling three-hog demonstration of the topsy-turvy spending priorities of the Bush administration. The first and biggest, and thankfully air-conditioned pig represents $200 billion spent on the Iraq war. Pig No. 2, much smaller and mounted on a trailer, stands for the $34 billion the federal government spends annually on education. Way in the back is pig No. 3, a scrawny little thing that represents the $10 billion annual outlay to reduce world hunger and poverty.
You may recall that True Majority (www.truemajority.org) are the same folks who brought the Pants-on-Fire Mobile through town in January. That baby a 12-foot-tall, rolling statue of Shrubbie with paper flames shooting out its backside was nothing if not subtle. Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's fame is the money behind the group.
We hopped in the pig and went for a spin downtown while Pickarski, a self-employed grandmother living in Bithlo, regaled us with tales from her activist past: tear-gassed at a demonstration at 17, arrested at the Democratic National Convention in Miami in 1972, arrested in Los Angeles for walking, which apparently is a crime there.
Onlookers were, for the most part, befuddled. One guy in a station wagon got pissed and started yelling, one lady at a stoplight couldn't stop laughing, one Weimaraner in a convertible was scared senseless, probably because Pickarski hit the pig mobile's "grunt" button and cranked the volume up all the way.
Our favorite reaction, however, was the "quick-side-glance-and-turn-away," as if a 40-foot pink porcine parade inching down State Road 50 was just frightfully common.
In case you were wondering, Pickarski considers herself a very patriotic American. "Even war is sometimes necessary," she told us. "But give me a good reason. Don't lie to me."
That sinking feeling there's no other way to describe the disappointment we felt last week at an otherwise earnest open house for John Kerry. The official representative from the John Kerry for President campaign was a nice, scrubbed-faced kid in a clean shirt, on a mission to make sure the American dream the one his immigrant parents were free to pursue remains possible for future generations.
But there was no passion for Kerry in the room full of Bush-haters waiting to hear something, anything, to make them cool with Kerry. The only piece of collateral the kid had to offer, besides the sign-up sheet for precinct captains and receipts for contributions, was a video full of the same old chapter and verse about Kerry the Vietnam War veteran. Enough already with the accolades by Max Cleland and other former brothers in arms. We know Kerry's brave and courageous and appreciated by many who have lost limbs, but can he handle a world full of nuts? If Kerry can't convincingly convince us, it's probably better to blindly sell voters on anti-Bush sentiments.
The Kerry campaign rolls out its precinct-organizing activities with help from the Orange Democrats at 9 a.m. Saturday, June 26, at Lake Eola Park. After a brief rally, Dems will be called on to head out and knock on doors to solicit support for Kerry. Let's hope they're packing a more compelling message than "Go to the John Kerry website to order a yard sign for $3."
While the liberals swarm Lake Eola Park, the south side will be swelling with angry librarians gathering for the American Library Association's annual conference at the Orange County Convention Center. Take a look at the agenda and you'll realize these are not your father's librarians: "The American Library Association (ALA) OPPOSES any use of governmental power to suppress the free and open exchange of knowledge and information or to intimidate individuals exercising free inquiry ... ALA considers that sections of the USA PATRIOT Act are a present danger to the constitutional rights and privacy rights of library users."
On Saturday, Richard A. Clarke the former counterterrorism czar for Bush (and Clinton before him) delivers the keynote address, talking about his book Against All Enemies: Inside America's War on Terror. Saturday's calendar also includes some ad hoc protests, including one staged by the Anarchist Librarians (www.infoshop.org/library2) outside the room where the "Service Disney Style" program will be taking place (8:45 a.m.-9:15 a.m., room 320). The group objects to Disney's stances on preventing its subsidiary Miramax from distributing Fahrenheit 9/11 (see review page 18); preventing the Mickey image from entering the public domain via congressional approval to extend corporate copyright protection, again; and supporting the concept of corporately structured libraries that "serve" their "customers."
We tried to find out more, but the Anarchist Librarians apparently don't believe in talking to the media.
They're such a couple of cuties, Steve Burry and Kim Fox. It's hard to believe that by the end of June the sweet singer/songwriter and sassy graphic designer, respectively, will be cozied in their new power home in Pittsburgh. It's located on Buena Vista Drive (what are the chances?) in the artsy Mexican War Streets neighborhood.
It's time to go, they both say, looking forward to the change and acquiring winter gear. Steve says he's excited about going to "a place where nothing looks familiar." It was little more than 10 years ago that they hooked up over wet willies in the parking lot at the Mill on Fairbanks Avenue (a popular brewery now a bridal store where Steve and other local musicians honed their sound).
Through the years they've dedicated themselves to art and outreach they are leaders by example. But Kim was enticed by a promising job offer with Wall-to-Wall Studios Inc. in Pittsburgh, even though she hates to leave her gig at Lure Design. "Kim has been an inspiration to us professionally and creatively. She is also a good friend. She will be greatly missed," wrote her co-workers Jeff Matz and Paul Mastriani in an e-mail.
And to set the record straight: You might have heard (or read in the Weekly) that Fox and Burry legally commingled their last names and came up with "Foxbury." It's not true. But it's a good and very cute story anyway.
WHO, WHAT, HOW AND WHY: ASK IAN THE I.T. GUY
Q: If the Internet had a flavor, what would it be?
This week's report by Bob Whitby, Jason Ferguson, Jeffrey C. Billman, J.J. Marley and Ian Monroe