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11/13/2008

Columns > Happytown

HAPPYTOWN
NOT IN GOOD HANDS? Try the Orlando Foreclosures Expo

 

You know how our friends at the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation are on a mission to erase sexual vice from our midst? No more rub-and-tug massages. No more $20 blow jobs on the Trail. No more blowing on a stripper’s vagina, except when done during the course of an “investigation” [see “Something’s fishy,” Nov. 9, 2006].

Last year they arrested three of this newspaper’s classified sales employees for selling ads to undercover agents posing as prostitutes, under a cockamamie legal theory that doing so was somehow illegal. Before we could argue that it wasn’t, they agreed to drop all charges if our workers did community service [see “Victory!,” Feb. 27]. And when we wondered in print whether maybe those arrests were payback for critical stories we’ve written about these dunderheads over the years, the MBI pointed to a sternly worded letter it sent to Craigslist, an online site where you can sell just about anything, sex included.

Craigslist told the MBI to get bent, primarily because the agency had no jurisdiction. But on Nov. 7, Craigslist announced an agreement with 40 state attorneys general across the country to regulate its “escort services” section by requiring anyone who posts an ad to provide a working phone number and pay a fee with a valid credit card.

Now, it should be noted that Florida isn’t one of the 40 states that entered the agreement, so our MBI is still nothing but a huge fail. As of 2:12 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 10, visitors to www.orlando.craigslist.org could still “CUUMMM ENJOY CANDY’S INCALL SPECIAL FOR THE WORKING MAN.”

Thank God the MBI has cleaned up this town.

Facing foreclosure and looking to unload? If you can hold lenders at bay until Feb. 7, you might have a shot at getting out from under your American dream via the inaugural Orlando Foreclosures Expo at the International Plaza Resort and Spa, 10100 International Drive. The place will be swarming with bottom-feeders ready, willing and able to give you 20 cents on the dollar for your house, plus you have a shot at winning a foreclosed house and someone else’s crushed dreams. How sweet would that be?

The novel idea popped up because foreclosed properties aren’t listed in the go-to real estate data bank, the MLS. In other words, it’s apparently sort of difficult to find houses people are buried under. Says event organizer Phil Peachey: “The foreclosure industry has been more like a private club where the public cannot obtain a membership. The Orlando Foreclosures Expo will break down those barriers.”

Give you $50,000 for that Windermere McMansion.

Back in August, we cast a slightly suspicious light on a new real estate upstart called Housing Solutions Program and its associated nonprofit, Earth Angels United (“Real estate agents are people, too,” Aug. 14). The Apopka-based network designed to walk you through your foreclosure issues – while simultaneously selling you add-ons like home security systems – boasted an uncanny altruism, even though many of those involved were directly tied to the lending industry.

Anyway, Earth Angels United seemed (via tax records) to be little more than a front to seal the deal. After all, who talks about angels when they’re not knitting or dying? Well, it seems that Seminole County does. The Seminole County Circuit Court recently announced that it would be enlisting those Angels to mediate its foreclosure cases, possibly with both a wing and a prayer. Its caseload has increased by 200 percent in just the first half of 2008, according to the Orlando Business Journal, and, well, they’re tired.

Every time you miss a mortgage payment, an angel gets its wings.

When Orange County Animal Services is not out catching problem dogs and scooping up roadkill, they’re lighting the bonfire at their Millenia Mall–area crematorium to burn dead animals. And because this is the government, they keep records!

From fiscal year 2000 to 2007, the county scorched at least 91,670 dead animals that came to them as roadkill, dead wildlife, foster-care cremations, animals that died at the kennel and euthanized animals.

Torching puppies and flattened armadillos isn’t an activity relegated to just one lucky soul; all the animal services workers trained to fire up the oversized pizza oven get a shot at the big barbecue. And what could be more exciting than a job that combines fire and dead things?

In case you can’t get enough Disney – and honestly, who can? – you’ll be happy to know that the Mouse has branched (mutated?) into all aspects of your life. Not only can you live at Disney (Celebration), you can now get a Disney wedding gown ($3,900), a Disney fountain pen ($1,200), a chandelier patterned on the one in Walt’s office ($6,000) and Disney dresses based on the colors in Fantasia.

According to a Nov. 6 story in The New York Times, the new line of Disney merchandise often doesn’t even bear the Mouse’s image or logo, because that’s cheap and touristy and Disney wants to worm its way into every aspect of your life without you necessarily knowing it. They hope to make a lot of boodle doing it, too:

“Disney says that sales of its home and lifestyle products will total about $85 million in the next 12 months, making up 1 percent of the consumer unit’s revenue. Within five years, the company projects the category will deliver $500 million in sales a year.”

Be vigilant, people.

Here in the Happytown™ HQ gallery loft fabric workshop, we’re always darting our half-moon horn-rimmed glasses in the direction of fashion’s eternal battle between form and function. Nothing, however, could have prepared any of us for this week’s fashion challenge, when a press release (followed by a phone call) announced, “Bullet resistant undershirt launched to save children”!

The Armor TEE is the brainchild of one Everton Cooper, a senior executive at “a U.S. defense supplier,” and he thought of it, as one might, when he was reportedly “confronted on a business trip by an armed assailant.” In the press release he proclaims, “The war is not only in Iraq but at home in our communities. Armor TEE is indeed ahead of its time, yet it is necessary.”

The bulletproof T-shirt targeted at “grandmothers, teenagers and innocent lives across the U.S.” is said to use military technology in reducing the impact from small-caliber handguns while still looking like a plain old T-shirt.

“Why wear an Armor TEE?” asks the FAQ on the company’s website, before answering itself: “Why not?” Well, the hefty price of $127 for the basic setup (down from the original $314!) might be a clue. All hail the new paranoia fashion. You are auf’d!

happytown@orlandoweekly.com
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