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11/4/2009

Columns > Happytown

Happytown

 

While it might have been more hilarious had it included a tiny black tuft of lip hair, last week’s half-assed Hitler-as-Charlie-Crist YouTube parody did succeed in drawing some national attention to the desperation of the Sunshine State’s Republican schism in the race for the U.S. Senate. Former state House speaker Marco “Polo!” Rubio has been gaining traction out on the far right, forcing mild-mannered Crist out of the moderate tanning spotlight and back into the conservative closet. That Obama hug? Never happened. Now it’s getting ugly, as these things will.

On Oct. 24, an anonymous act of tired political meme reduction – not to mention cinematic plagiarism – magically appeared on the popular video-sharing website. Like similar polemics preceding it, this one involved rewriting the subtitles to the 2004 end-of-the-Third Reich opus, Downfall, to suit current events, because the unintelligible gesticulation of those crazy Germans is always funny. In this case, it was Crist sitting at the table – looking a lot like Hitler, or at least actor Bruno Ganz – reprimanding his underlings for the crisis at hand. That crisis, naturally, was Rubio.

“The fact is, Republicans hate your guts, governor,” offers one of the advisers in the room, leading Adolf Crist on a tirade that includes community organizers (“Be nice to liberals, they say. Take pictures with ACORN”), gambling (“What I should have done is let the Seminoles pave the Everglades”), pigs in lipstick (“And now Palin is supporting conservatives, and that’s not me”) and even his predecessor (“Fuck Jeb!”). In the end, Crist accepts his own defeat.

“Now I’m going to end up running a day spa in St. Pete,” he says (or somebody types). “Greer, bring in my sun lamp.”

The video, as one might imagine, brought with it a stream of e-mail blast controversy. Cue the reaction from the Republican Party of Florida’s usually reticent Jewish Leadership Council chairman, Dr. Jeffrey Feingold:

“I find it completely distasteful and utterly wrong that someone would create a video which attempts to compare the governor of the state of Florida to Adolf Hitler, a man who committed persecution and genocide against millions of people, for political purposes. This blatantly insensitive video has no place in the U.S. Senate campaign, and its creators, whoever they are or whoever they are affiliated with, should be ashamed,” said Feingold. “This video is not only offensive to members of the Jewish community, it is offensive to all Americans, and I, on behalf of all Florida Republicans, condemn this video and demand a full investigation to find out who is behind this disgraceful political attack video.” 

The wingnuts over at RedState.com declared that they had already gotten to the bottom of the hullabaloo Oct. 28. Somebody (Crist) had coincidentally launched an anti-Rubio website on Oct. 27, TruthAboutRubio.com, and it featured the offending video. Moreover, hidden in the source code for the website was the name of Crist campaign advisor Rich Heffley; also, Heffley’s business address is the same as that of the RPOF. When RedState.com contacted Heffley, the website was taken down temporarily and the video (along with Heffley’s name) was removed. The sleuths at RedState.com had achieved their Scooby Doo moment.

“Why would the allegedly anonymous website designed to attack Marco Rubio scrub both Rich Heffley’s name from the website and delete all references to the Hitler video and its possible ties to Rubio unless Heffley and the Crist campaign were connected to both?” they asked, rhetorically.

Because Crist is Hitler! No? Oh.

Anyway, Rubio had his own brush with Internet notoriety last week to deal with. Somebody hacked into his Twitter account and used his name to sell a colon-cleansing product, CleanseProX. Hearing of the mix-up, Rubio promptly tweeted, “I got hacked selling something? Could be worse. They could have written Go Noles or Go Jets as if it was coming from me!”

Republicans are awesome.

Weather got you down? Well, it could be worse than a forehead sheen of vodka flop sweat at the beginning of November, fat boy. Think how hot you’ll be at the end of the world! Or so goes the logic of the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO!) as funded by the National Center for Environmental Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. On Oct. 30, NACCHO chose our Orange County as one of six guinea-pig counties to receive grants to increase staff in order to better handle the “public consequences of climate change.” Yikes!

“The health effects associated with climate change have the potential to impact public health here in Central Florida and in many places around the world,” said Orange County Health Department director Dr. Kevin Sherin. “This grant will provide an opportunity to share these anticipated impacts with the public to help prepare and educate them for the challenges to come.”

What challenges? Long-term heatwaves and “increased populations of disease- bearing insects.” Giant mosquitoes will swallow you whole!

Basically, the health department will receive $49,990, which they will spend on ice cubes and industrial-sized cans of Off! It won’t work. In the long run, we’re all dead.

It’s a sad day in Seminole County. Jai alai is dead.

Jai alai is dubbed “the fastest sport in the world,” even though it isn’t. The rules are largely inscrutable to most Americans, and frankly irrelevant. The point wasn’t that you would actually go to Orlando Jai-Alai and follow one of the closely contested matches. No, sir. You went there to soak up the dank, quasi-immoral atmosphere of one of the few places you could place a bet on anything in Central Florida, and do it without the PETA nags weighing on your conscience the way they do at a dog track. You went there to put a few bucks down on something you didn’t understand in the slightest and hope Lady Luck would smile on you just this once. You went there because it would be cool to see some dude dressed kind of like a jockey get clocked with a pelota traveling in excess of 150 mph. There used to be a strip club nearby. It was Casselberry’s little red-light district.

And now it’s all gone.

We’re not sure which is worse: the fact that Orlando Jai-Alai is closing after 48 years, or the pucker-butted response the news brought from Casselberry mayor Charlene Glancy, who seemed delighted that her little River City was going to be that much more moral for it. “It’s possible the time for jai alai has passed, and there will be a stronger interest for a different type of business there,” Glancy told the Sentinel, her hair doubtless wound into a tight bun. “We’d love to have it if it could be something else.”

That something else will probably be yet another strip mall, and Central Florida will become just a little less interesting. Sigh.

happytown@orlandoweekly.com
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