Time is running out for the Great Wall of China. If someone doesn't step forward soon, the sucker's gonna get bulldozed. All three vertical feet of it. (Which Great Wall did you think we were referring to, exactly?)
Lake Mary resident Steven Phillips wants to be the latest owner of the Great Wall replica at the shuttered Splendid China theme park in Kissimmee. The park closed in late 2003, and most of the miniatures have since been auctioned off, including the Great Wall. But the first owner balked when he realized that, though miniature, the 1,800-foot long replica weighs something like 3 million pounds. He wanted a new fence for his yard, but that's a mofo of a fence. Plus it's not even tall enough to keep your neighbors from peeping when you're grilling in the nude, ya know?
So ownership of the wall reverted back to the company that operated Splendid China, and in stepped businessman and Actual Great Wall devotee Phillips, who dreams of hiking the entire length of the real thing someday, and is apparently undaunted by the prospect of carting off a 3-million-pound souvenir. Phillips wants to keep the wall intact and eventually put it on display somewhere. Just to get started he'll have to come up with $50,000 to cut it into 200 pieces and move it to Lake County for storage.
So far, no one has ponied up the cash. "I'm not wealthy, and I wasn't able to find someone in the Central Florida area," he says. So Phillips and a couple friends chipped off 8 percent of the wall to sell on his website (www.greatwallreplica.com) in an effort to raise the necessary yen. Prices for pieces range from $10 for a 10-brick "domino cluster," to $100 for a crenelated brick cluster. Phillips estimates he's sold about $4,000 worth of bricks to date.
The original deadline to tear down and move the wall was March 11. If Phillips gets a clear title to the replica, which he says could happen as early as this week, he'll probably have to move it by mid-May. All the world is watching and wondering if Florida is going to raze yet another piece of its history, says Phillips, so if you ever coveted a miniature piece of a miniature replica of the maximum wall, now's the time.
"People in China want this replica saved, and they want Americans to save it."
The Terri Schiavo debacle was proof positive that Florida legislators have lost their minds. Chief among them would be Ocala's own Dennis Baxley, recently described by Florida Baptist Witness as "not just a politician. He is a man on a mission."
A funeral-home owner and the son of a Southern Baptist preacher, Baxley is currently pushing a bill through the legislature on behalf of David Horowitz, the lefty-turned-righty who believes that universities are a recruiting ground for the Communist Party. He's stumping across the country promoting a "student's bill of rights," which would protect poor, abused conservative students from having liberal dogma crammed down their throats.
Normally, one could dismiss such a move as conservative grandstanding, but the bill got an endorsement from Gov. Jeb Bush. So the bill bears some examination, at least until out-of-control activist judges strike it down. Damn that Constitutional separation of powers!
Baxley's bill says that students have a right to a learning environment that doesn't discriminate based on religion, and that student activity fees should be distributed from a "viewpoint neutral" perspective. Also, profs "should make their students aware of serious scholarly viewpoints other than their own ... ."
Which sounds nice until you break down what it really means. So we'll take it from the horse's mouth: "Some professors say, 'Evolution is a fact. I don't want to hear about Intelligent Design, and if you don't like it, there's the door,'" Baxley said in comments picked up by the University of Florida's student newspaper.
In cases of such "discrimination," students should be able to sue, Baxley believes: "Freedom is a dangerous thing, and you might be exposed to things you don't want to hear."
Like the fact that Baxley is up a tree, perhaps?
Here at the recently relocated, even more urban than Urban Cowboy (check the giant redneck cow adjacent) Happytown™ HQ, the most trimming we do is a couple of swipes of the Flowbee through our undershorts. And water features? No dear, those are just urinals constantly hissing at your notions of feng shui.
But over in Historic Lake Eola Heights (pissing distance from our office), the green thumbs and nosey noses are stuck way up this week, what with the Second Annual Private Gardens tour imminent (noon-5 p.m. Sunday, April 17). Residents of the area have received notices (and we know because they say "N O T I C E" across the top of them) to curb their unseemly behavior in light of the walking Stepford tour. "Please do not put garbage or trash on the curb until after 5 p.m. on that Sunday," it reads. "Please do not park or block sidewalks as some guests may be in wheelchairs or strollers. Please drive with extra caution as we are anticipating large numbers of guests walking."
OK, so it's a sort of polite horticultural lockdown, replete with an elderly/infantile element; maybe a little demented and sad, but social.
Finally they advise residents to, "Please make certain front yards and porches are tidy." Ha! Well, you can check the front yard all you like, Mary Pop-ins, but you might want to avoid the backyard, if you know what we mean.