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11/25/2009

Columns > Happytown

Happytown

 

Another one bites the dust at CityArts Factory.

Jim Faherty and Steve Jones of Church Street Concepts & Events LLC, who operate out of the Pound Gallery, have moved out over financial disputes. As the longest-resident tenant in CityArts Factory, Faherty had just moved into the largest space, so the financial disagreement that caused the late-October break was all the more surprising. And difficult, too, according to Monte Olinger, chairman of Downtown Arts District Inc., which runs CityArts.

The departure is yet another breakdown in the DAD enterprise (see “Dear old DAD,” Sept. 30). Yet the CAF galleries were hanging full at the Nov. 18 Third Thursday. Even regulars couldn’t put their finger on what was amiss, except maybe that Pound looked bigger without the desks and office clutter.

Olinger recognizes the challenge of keeping tenants. “As you know it is proving difficult to create a tenant mix that has been effective in the current economic environment. Our Executive Board is aggressively addressing this issue and have come up with some initiatives that are going through a threshing out and viability review,” he says via e-mail.

What initiatives? “Our new strategy to fill vacancies (all but one are currently leased – Pound) is to utilize short term lease agreements, as well as programming the available space (galleries) with sponsors like the Kiene-Quigley Community Gallery and Orlando Magic Foundation Classroom. This kind of use has been fairly effective.”

DAD is a nonprofit private foundation that pays CityArts’ $26,000 monthly rent, in part, with help from an annual $375,000 endowment from the city. So ultimately, the taxpayers are on the hook if the place can’t make its rent.

You know what’s funny? Florida. At least that’s the conclusion of a recent study released Nov. 18 by upstart restaurant marketing Internet service Tableseed.com. The company – which annoys your e-mail box with offers of dining discounts on your birthday – decided to get all analytical on the Associated Press “strange news” feed and figure out just where the wackiest barefoot hookers turn cartwheels over monster trucks for the amusement of all. Answer: Florida.

Among the 169 headlines culled from the Sunshine State were “Man calls 911 after eatery runs out of lemonade,” “Florida Lotto winner seeks to open a nude dude ranch” and “Man allegedly flings jellyfish at teens at beach,” none of which are all that funny. But when you combine such superfluous wire reporting with the actual crazy that maligns our state – gay adoption bans, Casey Anthony, Lou Pearlman – it’s easy to understand why we’re a laughingstock.

While Florida may have topped even Alaska in pure cement-headedness, only one city in our dumb state managed to eke into the top 20 strangest cities, and that city was Tampa, all the way down at No. 20. New York took first because turtles on the runway delayed flights at JFK airport. Damn Yankees.

Uh-oh. Just when you thought it was all wild-eyed momentum for the laissez-fairies now known collectively as Libertarians – what with their anger and teabags, wigs and paranoia – the moody temptress of political gamesmanship had to go and make the “get off my lawn!” party divided, just like its two older brothers.

Self-described Libertarian Franklin Perez, who ran failed no-party-affiliation bids for the state House representing Seminole County in 2006 and 2008, shot out a press release Nov. 19 laying down the gauntlet: “Franklin Perez Expresses Disgust & Anger at Libertarian Party of Florida for Not Passing Anti-Hispanic & Anti-Censorship Condemnation Motions.” What?

Back in April 2004, Perez received an e-mail from the former chairman of the Libertarian Party of Seminole County, Mark Clifford, that really pissed him off – so much so that, despite being a Libertarian at heart, he renounced the party but kept their platform. The e-mail in question accused Perez of being hot under the collar in a semi-racist way. “Your Hispanic nature appears to start creating conflict,” wrote Clifford. “Being machismo does not serve you and it slows your progress. (It works when it serves to scare away your opponent, but we are not your opponents).” All of which, of course, made Perez’s collar that much hotter.

Now Perez is seeking election in 2010, this time as a bona fide Libertarian, by pointing out the failures of his own party, because that always works. In his missive he states that unless the Libertarian Party of Florida publicly condemns Clifford for his five-year-old e-mail, he’s a-gonna “run as a candidate under the Libertarian Party so that voters will know my political philosophy, but I will keep an arms-distance relationship with the Libertarian Party of Florida.” That arm’s distance will likely include more e-mail blasts including the words “DISGUST” and “ANGER” in all caps.

Perez only had one volunteer on his campaign according to a blog entry two months ago, so we’re certain this will not mean a lot to everybody involved. Revolution!

This week in gay: Adoption in the Sink and a vandal scandal!

On Nov. 15, choppy-haired, Southern-accented nice lady Alex Sink, who is Florida’s chief financial officer but is squinting toward the governor’s office, was honored in Broward County by Equality Florida as this year’s “Voice of Equality.” Despite her power hair, Sink is not gay (her lawyer husband, Bill McBride, lost a bid for guv in 2002), though she does have a history of fighting the equality fight – both in Tallahassee, where she vocally opposed Amendment 2 and gave domestic partnership benefits to her staff, and in her previous gig at Bank of America, where she fought discrimination too! Yay, her!

Now, with the campaign against presumed opponent and noted gay-hater Bill McCollum heating up, Sink has publicly taken a stand on gay adoption. According to an EQFL news release, Sink told supporters at the Broward event that “family law judges and child welfare experts should make adoption decisions based solely on the best interest of each child.” Not a rainbow-flag-draped baby carriage, but it will do.

Republican attorney general McCollum has registered the opposite opinion and is working toward challenging a lower court ruling allowing a gay couple to adopt their two special-needs foster kids last year. We’re aware of how referendums on gay issues go in this state, but it’s nice to know that somebody running for the governor’s office gives a damn.

In related news, on the same Sunday night that saw Sink virtually coming out of the closet (er, politically), some local spray-paint artist with spelling issues was attempting to seal the doors shut.

The ViMi district’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual Community Center (or “The Center”), Foodie Catering and Ritzy Rags were decorated Nov. 15 with a swastika and inexplicable nonsense tags like “Gay Pawer” and “Kells Gay.” It was enough to send the local television news outlets out with a roving camera and to get Mayor Buddy Dyer to publicly wax philosophical.

“A crime like this is more than just an act of vandalism,” said Dyer in a press release. “It’s a hate crime that threatens our community’s diversity. I encourage our city to join together, celebrate our diversity and stand against these types of crimes.”

Meanwhile, one of the victims – Leigh Shannon, who owns Ritzy Rags – came out with a statement of his own, asking not to be involved with any of the rallying and fundraising to, well, scrub paint off the walls.

“We are puzzled by the attack, for my business is not a gay business only,” he writes, referring in part to the wigs they provide to cancer patients. “Gay people are killed and discriminated against every day and that should be a major focus,” he adds. “Paint can be painted over and scrubbed off.”

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