Columns > HappytownHappytown
While we would have preferred some sort of wink-wink confirmation involving Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” splattered with glitter and tears – welcome to Gay Days, stereotype fans! – last week’s announcement that former Talking Head (and current Imelda Marcos enthusiast … shoes!) David Byrne was pursuing a $1 million lawsuit against Florida’s favorite silver daddy, Gov. Charlie Crist, did bring us a touch of the ass-tingles.
The suit, filed in Tampa on May 24, centers around the Crist campaign’s use of Byrne’s band’s playfully bleak 1985 single, “Road to Nowhere,” in describing the flip-flop nature of Marco Rubio’s stimulus stance in an Internet ad, and was intended as a pretty solid hit-piece back when Crist was actually running against Rubio for the Republican Senate primary. Byrne had his friends at Warner Bros. Records contact the Crist folk, who promptly pulled the ad, but for Byrne the association with a (sorta) Republican who looks just like him wasn’t so easy to get over.
Byrne told Billboard Magazine that “in my opinion, the damage had already been done by it being out there. People that I knew had seen [the ad], it had gotten around.” He went on to clear the air that this was in no way a jerky-armed liberal protest, saying the suit “is not about politics. … It’s about copyright and about the fact that it does imply that I would have licensed it and endorsed him and whatever he stands for.”
Unless Crist stands for oversized suits and lyrics like “I’m just an advertisement for a version of myself” – which he should, because it’s true – we’d say Byrne has a point. At any rate, Byrne justifies his $1 million request by comparing it to similar licensing offers he’s received for his maudlin musical prose. Or at least his attorney does – the very same attorney, Lawrence Iser, who is representing Jackson Browne in his 2008 suit against John McCain for using “Running on Empty.”
Meanwhile, Rubio’s hands aren’t clean in the dumb Republican copyright scandal stakes, either. Steve Miller made old Marco drop his borrowed version of “Take the Money and Run” in one of his anti-Crist volleys but has yet to file any legal complaints. In other news, old rockers are relevant again, but not Air Supply! Sigh.
And now it’s time for another edition of What’s Up With Alan?™, our attempt to keep you up to date on the comings and goings of Orlando’s favorite congressman, Alan Grayson!
This week’s installment finds our funny Frankenstein pushing very important legislation regarding the general hot-girl awesomeness of Rollins College, bringing substantial grant financing to the region and to its bus company LYNX, then causing a vanity brouhaha over the potential of a giant Lite-Brite installation of his name’s individual letters in his downtown headquarters he shares with LYNX. Grayson’s gone wild!
First, and most ridiculous, was the stuttering build-up to Grayson’s house resolution, HR 1169, honoring Rollins College on May 26. It was happening. Then it wasn’t happening (because God knows there’s nothing more pressing going on out there). And then it happened. Wait, what happened? Rollins turned 125 years old, that’s what.
“In 1885, Florida was largely a frontier,” Grayson twisted a piece of straw between his teeth (in press release form). “A daring group of New England Congregationalists envisioned something more. They envisioned what Central Florida could be. So they established a small college on the shores of Lake Virginia in Winter Park.”
That small college has now grown into a party-girl panty-raid with Bieber-haired lacrosse-boys attached but also boasts such historic alumni as former Disney president Al Weiss, famous sweater-puller Fred (Mister) Rogers and Nobel Prize-winning chemist Donald Cram. Also, it’s totally number one among the 117 southern master’s-level schools ranked by U.S. News & World Report. Rollins, says Grayson, deserves his “best wishes.” Aww.
You know who deserves to grant best wishes to Grayson? LYNX! May 26 also brought the announcement that Grayson had secured $516,463 for the bus company’s “facility hardening” – cough! – through the federal Transit Security Grant Program. That will mean more fences, gates and security systems for LYNX and adds to the more than $206 million in federal funds Grayson alone has brought to Central Florida in the last fiscal year, thereby saving our lives.
So why shouldn’t everyone – including LYNX – be happy with the fact that Grayson wants to spell out his name (“G-R-A-Y-S-O-N”) from the fourth floor windows of his local headquarters in the glassy futurism of the downtown LYNX building? Well, because Rich Crotty sits on the board, and he’s backing Grayson-opponent Dan Webster, most likely. Grayson, who is not the least bit vain, claimed in the Sentinel that “People need to know where we are to get our help. I can’t do that in secret.” Grayson does not do secrets.
Crotty, meanwhile, is playing dumb. “Congressman Grayson sees everything as a partisan conspiracy,” he says.
The only solution to this conundrum: A Grayson hologram. Make it so!
Everyone knows Apopka is like a war zone sometimes, but an area weapons company is taking its cue from the real deal. Apopka-based Spike’s Tactical – which, by the way, has just marked down its personal brand M16s by 10 percent, just in time for the dementia-inducing summer heat – has branded its gunpowder-bloated vans with the message: “Stay 100 meters back, or you will be shot.” Below the English warning is the same phrase written in Arabic, a tactic employed by the U.S. military in the Middle East on their Humvees. Patriotic!
The terrifying, only-half-empty threat – 100 meters is about the length of 20 cars – comes on the heels of Apopka’s shining moment in the national sun last year, when it was reported that the city’s Wal-Marts and mom-and-pop arms dealers (awww) were running out of bullets, a fact not at all having to do with the 2008 elections. All of which has contributed to our favorite little factoid about Apopka, which is that the online Urban Dictionary defines the city as, 1) “smelling of human excrement,” and 2) “the most gangster town in Florida.” If you see a Spike’s Tactical van on the road, however, you should refer to the city only by its new nickname we just made up: “Freedomtopia.”
This week in fraternal love: Let’s hear it for tiny little Pensacola Independent News, a Gulf-area newsweekly that proclaims, “We’re old school, two-fisted journalism at it’s best,” and backed it up hard last week – grammatical “it’s” oopsies aside – when the paper’s publisher, Rick Outzen, exposed BP’s fairy-tale business acumen … literally. Working for his side gig as a Daily Beast contributor, Outzen brought to light an internal BP memo that outlined the limeys’ cost-benefit ratio in terms of the Three Little Pigs. The way the oil giant figured, they could build their refinery housing where certain workers lived one of three ways: with straw, sticks or bricks. Obviously, the “brick” housing would be the super-reinforced, blast resistant (and slightly more expensive) option, yes? No.
The memo sets aside the super-max option as something entirely different from the piggies’ tri-nario. Instead, the “brick” option was more the good-’nuff move, one that might take a “piggy life” or two (that’s an actual quote), but could be justified in cost. (BP’s first-quarter profit this year? $5.6 billion. Yeah, better go cheap.) When the big bad wolf blew up at a Texas refinery five years ago, 15 workers died – “piggies,” as their employer called them – and nearly 200 other employees were injured.
Outzen reports that the attorney representing the workers always referred to BP’s strategy as a Three Little Pigs analogy, but then, during discovery, he found a memo that confirmed his worst suspicions. BP had even drawn little piggies under their letterhead. And they allll lived happily ever after and never had cost-cutting-enabled disasters again. Huff. Puff. Spill.