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7/17/2008

Happytown > Happytown

HAPPYTOWN
Billy Manes
HOW MANY POLS DOES IT TAKE TO OPEN A GOLF COURSE? Four

 

Orlando Police Chief Val Demings would like you to know that, videotapes and statistics notwithstanding, there is absolutely nothing wrong with her force or the Internal Affairs Division that oversees it, so you shouldn’t worry about cops beating up civilians and getting off scot-free [see “Might makes right,” July 10].

“Do they get in their patrol cars and respond to a scene and say ‘Oh, I’m going to abuse somebody today?’ No, they do not, and that insinuation is absurd and ridiculous,” she told WDBO-AM (580) reporter Mike Synan, who asked her about the allegations presented in our story. “If you look at those 98 allegations compared to over 1 million citizen contacts, I would say for the most part the Orlando police officers are doing a pretty good job in the performance of their duties.”

Demings is engaging in a bit of misdirection. There aren’t only 98 allegations of misconduct; there are hundreds, every year. Rather, there are 98 allegations of a specific kind of misconduct – excessive use of force – which is what we reported on. And those allegations are always cleared by Internal Affairs.

Although not in WDBO’s report, Synan tells Happytown™ that Demings put the blame for Officer Fernando Trinidad’s light punishment – after pushing a woman down a flight of stairs and lying about it, Trinidad lost a vacation day – on former police chief Michael McCoy, who is now Orange County’s Public Safety Director. McCoy was in charge at the time, but it’s Demings’ signature on Trinidad’s discipline document.


Did you know people actually live in Orlando? Or that everything that’s “real” and “adult” about Orlando is actually in Winter Park (including Johnson’s Diner!)? Or that Orlando has a thriving underground arts scene that is redefining the city core? Or that Central Florida is a good place to get drunk, pass out and have someone shove salami in your mouth?

You do now, thanks to Samantha Brown and the Travel Channel, whose July 10 show Passports to Great Weekends featured our fair city, with a script that sounded like it could have been written by the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce. (City spokeswoman Heather Allebaugh denies any city collusion, though she says the Convention and Visitors Bureau was involved, so our theory was pretty close.)

Brown stayed downtown at the Grand Bohemian (of course) and upon arrival went promptly to the Winter Park Wine Room, where she got boozy and told some customers, “When you see me passed out on the floor, that’s probably the time to put a salami in my mouth.” No, we didn’t make that up.

She also hung out at the CityArts Factory, the Winter Park Farmers Market, NV, Johnson’s Diner, some Winter Park shoe store and Sky Venture, the faux-skydiving biz on International Drive that isn’t touristy at all.


From the Only in Orlando Desk comes this item: Orlando band the Queues, a modernized nod to the Beatles, is planning a free show late Saturday night at Denny’s, 8747 International Drive, to celebrate the release of their first CD, Noisemaker, thus making them our new favoritest band ever.

The band’s general manager, Kevin Boyd, calls it the first of many shows to “compete with International Drive’s colorful nightlife.” We’re more apt to call it an aggressive marketing stunt by struggling hipsters. The night will be fueled with an unusual lineup of people you’ve never heard of. Comedian Eric Felling, an Orlando local, opens the ordeal. That’s when we get into the performance art: Ianissimo the Magnificent and the Triscults. The Triscults, a female duo that bill themselves as a “dance troupe phenomenon,” will writhe on the floor in leotards, black bike shorts and bank robber–style masks. (Have they seen the floor at Denny’s?) In any case, the action starts at 9:30 p.m.


History alert: Did you know that Dubsdread was so named because the original proprietor of the historic golf course, Carl Dann Sr., wanted to put “dread” in the minds of golf novices, or “dubs”? Ain’t learnin’ fun?

A smattering of the kind of people who don’t work on Thursday mornings – and most of your city council – showed up early July 10 to ribbon-cut the reopening of the city’s 84-year-old municipal golf course (the city purchased the course in 1977). And they love this kind of folklore shit. Even the mayor reveled in the fact that back in the dry county days – when there was an officers club with booze, slot machines and drunk rednecks – Dubsdread was a sort of cracker paradise.

Beyond sticking a hand in one of the new sand traps – fine, but not too fine – we really weren’t all that jazzed about all of the improvements made to the course. We focused our attentions instead on a woman named “Diane,” who was standing next to us in a hat, lace gloves and an epic stole made of rodentia – with glass eyes glaring at us – draped over her shoulder. Dreadful!

Also (barely) present were geriatric former mayor Carl Langford and less-geriatric former mayor Bill Frederick, both flanking Dyer in a gray-haired power trifecta. Dyer cracked a joke about District 3 commissioner Robert Stuart’s bald spot, Stuart cracked a joke about national anthem singer Davis Gaines’ alma mater (Florida State), and someone brought out a giant pair of scissors to cut the ribbon. Immediately thereafter, Dyer and Stuart teed off as a gunshot boomed in the distance is that legal?).


So this is what happens when desperate Church Street businesses attempt to get people to skip work and drink for free on the day that the Dow dropped below 11,000 for the first time in two years: a hobo happy hour! A party like it’s 1929!

On July 11, at the City Skip Day Street Party – which was supposed to be an edgy homage to senior skip day for downtown’s middle-agers and a thinly veiled reintroduction of Church Street’s new business corridor – the whole “free beer” enterprise turned around and bit its promoters in the ass. The flashy, upscale, outdoor beach-bar atmosphere on cobblestones was overtaken by none-too-patient transients wanting to get their drink on.

So, to recap: You can’t feed the homeless downtown, but you can get them drunk. God, we love this city.

happytown@orlandoweekly.com
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