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7/7/2010

Columns > Happytown

Happytown

 

“I’ll just die if I don’t get this recipe. I’ll just die if I don’t get this recipe. I’ll just die if I don’t get this recipe.” In a brief hot-flash of Internet virulence last week, Florida once again positioned itself as a creepy haven for Stepford Wives eugenics dinner parties. At issue was a Time expose on pediatric endocrinologist Dr. Maria New of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Florida International University and her recent treatment of pregnant women as a means of preventing birth defects, specifically – well, at least in common Internet parlance – defects that might make little baby girls grow up to be lesbians. Naturally, the argument isn’t that simple. New has been engaging in trials of the hormone drug dexamethasone in pregnant patients who are carriers of congenital adrenal hyperplasia. So what exactly is CAH? OK, grab a trashcan. According to the National Institutes of Health, kids born with CAH have the potential for “an enlarged clitoris that has the appearance of a small penis” (hello, Gaga!), a fused labia that looks like a scrotum and other general naughties that imply hermaphrodism. The problem is that New, in her adjacent ugly-science-lady literature, used terms that seem to imply that prenatal dexamethasone treatments could also be of service in treating such “abnormalities” as boyish behavior and a lack of “maternalism” in CAH kids. Uh-oh. Medical ethicists and gays – including our gay boyfriend Dan Savage – are atwitter about the potential for this kind of prevention-of-the gay science to creep up and knock down the few victories that gays have managed in this horrible life. Others argue that this is a specific treatment for a very real (and potentially life-ruining) problem, so put down your placards, Mary. Us, well we’re just staying away from the water. 

In other, distinctly more charming gay news, last month’s (still unfathomable) annual Pride reception at the White House was made all the more unbelievable when, as depicted in a YouTube video that made it all the way to the Huffington Post, Equality Florida executive director Nadine Smith was able to grab President Barack Obama and rub a little Florida-flavored injustice in his face. Actually, it didn’t happen quite like that, but Smith did manage to get Obama to accept a personal letter with a photo attached. In that photo were two small children – the same two tots that the president invited up for the White House Easter Egg roll earlier this year – who are currently tied up in the travesty that is Florida’s gay adoption trial; they are the kids of South Floridian Martin Gill. 

“Every Wednesday for almost a year these two boys wonder if the court will decide to let them be adopted by their foster dad of five years or whether they will be torn from their home and likely separated,” Smith’s note read.

“I’ll read this,” said the president as he put the boys in his pocket. “I’ll take a look at it.” It’s a start! 

It was only a few weeks ago when we (the collective Orlando Weekly we, that is) had this whole, sweet office building at 1505 E. Colonial Drive all to ourselves – since we were the only tenant in the building, parking was plentiful, everything was quiet and we could walk around naked in the halls. (Just kidding on that last one – you gotta keep your socks on to get a good slide going down the hallway.) It was the best of times.

Then, last month, we got a new downstairs neighbor: The Florida Safety Council, a nonprofit organization that teaches driver-training and safety courses. It took over the whole first floor, bringing with it cars and commotion and a steady stream of people who needed to learn to drive or buckle a car seat in the right way or redeem themselves after getting a DUI. Judging by the ever-changing array of smokers gathered outside our building’s front door at all hours of the day, this town is full of red-light runners, 16-year-olds and irresponsible drinkers.

Or, maybe we just have a lot of ticket-happy police cruising the streets looking for easy targets. According to a report released July 1 by the National Motorists Association, our big, dumb state tops the list of places you’re most likely to get a speeding ticket (Georgia and Nevada tied for second). We checked the organization’s website and found that our big, dumb city (just kidding, Orlando, you know we love you) actually gets a “dishonorable mention” for being one of the worst in the nation for speedtraps.

That’s where the Florida Safety Council, home to the Florida Traffic School, comes into play. For just $29.95, it offers a “Basic Driver Improvement Class” for people who get hit with tickets. Classes are “available seven days a week – morning, afternoon, and evening.” There’s a four-hour class for minor scofflaws and an eight-hour class for serious speed addicts. You take the class to reduce your fine, keep the points off your license and (hopefully) keep your insurance rates sane.

A worthy mission, for sure, at least if you’re the traffic violator. But not so much fun for us, your columnists, who can’t kick a ball around the empty cubicles on the first floor of our building anymore and who must now cough our way through a crowd of loitering smokers on our way into work (Hi, Billy).

So here’s a public service announcement for those who’ve been recently nabbed by the long-arm of traffic law: A lot of the Florida Safety Council’s four-hour courses are now available online. You can learn to drive safely from the comfort of your own home, which means no waiting for smoke breaks because you can smoke while you take the course.

Bonus: We can get our parking spot back. 

Not since Lindsay Lohan has loading a kid up with drugs then watching him perform for the camera been quite so lucrative as with the case of Orlando’s viral fungus, “David After Dentist.” You’ve seen the clip: a little boy trips out after getting his teeth worked on and proceeds to paint with all the colors of the wind. “Is this real life?” the 7-year-old drones to his bemused father, who promptly started a website selling cartoon versions of his progeny on T-shirts and stickers. Now, Business Insider reports the family has made about $150K off the little day-tripper this year. His father even quit his job selling residential real estate around these parts. (Good thinking!) “Nothing has happened that we felt uncomfortable doing,” said the elder David DeVore to CNN. Wish we could say the same!

Hey, Pennsylvanian, are you too crazy and untrustworthy around loaded weapons for that stodgy old state? Ask Florida! A major battle is being waged in the Keystone State over a gun loophole that allows Pennsylvanians who were denied gun permits to get them online from the much more loose and easy (read: awesome) state of Florida, even if they have no connection whatsoever to the state. Florida’s rationale is that we want the tourism dollars from the “snow birds” up there, so we should entice them to feel free and let their gun shafts hang out of their holsters a bit. What could go wrong? “Meet Sanford King,” responds the Philadelphia Daily News. King took advantage of our gaping hole and pulled it on a woman whose cell phone he stole. Even though King is now in jail, the state of Florida is still considering whether or not to revoke his permit. When pressed by the liberal pussies in PA, we claimed we “lost all the paperwork” on the case. Whoopsies! Of course there’s a gubernatorial race going on there, and of course the Republican freedom-fighting nominee, Tom Corbett, says there’s no problem. Also predictably, Second Amendment-hater Dan Onorato, the Democratic nominee, wants to close the loophole. Meanwhile, down here in Florida, we just wanna shoot somebody. Got a problem with that? 

happytown@orlandoweekly.com
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