Columns > HappytownHappytown
If you’re anything like us (you aren’t), you probably spend ridiculous amounts of precious thumb-twiddling time down in your mother’s non-existent Florida basement wearing a tinfoil hat and torn pajama bottoms talking to yourself about state politics while crunching numbers and Cracker Jacks. “Am I paranoid? Am I fat?” you probably ask yourself, while switching frequencies on your ham radio in search of wonkish ethical scandals and ways to rank them. Well, lucky for you (meaning us), last week the do-gooders at Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington decided to go all Casey Kasem on July 20 when they launched their “Crooked Candidates” list online, including a very special long-distance dedication to the Sunshine State! Well, it wasn’t so much of a remember-that-time-you-attempted-suicide-in-high-school-so-here’s-a-Bread-song dedication as it was an atonal confirmation of what we already knew: Floridian politics on a federal level are a mess.
“CREW’s Crooked Candidates focuses on office-seekers who have engaged in unethical and, in one case, even criminal conduct,” reads the CREW website. “Their misdeeds range from quid pro quo schemes to abusing state office for the benefit of friends and donors, to an obscenity charge.”
The best part: Out of the cherished 11 positions available on this rather dubious list, Florida managed to clinch four of them! We’re like the fucking Beatles of political scandal! So let’s count them down, shall we?
Newly independent senatorial candidate Charlie Crist is cited for his appointment – and defense – of former Republican Party of Florida head Jim Greer, who, prior to some rather hilarious television perp-walk footage, allegedly engaged in grand theft, fraud and money laundering via his aptly named Victory Strategies consulting firm. Crist’s estranged boyfriend and senatorial-race foe Marco “Polo!” Rubio gets a stern nod for his involvement in the grand ol’ RPOF credit card scandal and some double billing on flying the friendly skies – $3,000 worth – that he promised to refund, but has yet to. Their Democratic opponent Kendrick “Who?” Meek is wrapped in his own laundry list of conflicts of interest including a multimillion-dollar back-scratch relationship with a developer, some questionable voting while in the Florida Senate and – perhaps most embarrassingly – his rise to the U.S. House on his mother’s apron strings. And then there’s Republican U.S. House hopeful Allen West who was basically kicked out of the army for shoving an Iraqi citizen’s head in a barrel full of sand and then shooting said barrel. These, ladies and gentlemen, are your greatest hits. Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the scars.
Or don’t! 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 proves that not all federal representatives from Florida (or those who want to be) are carved out of gold bullion and malice mucous – some are interminably righteous geeks!
It may come as news to none of you that our Alan is a bit of an extra-credit bookworm; almost every other word out of his mouth was once written in the trenchant calligraphy of the ages (or a science-fiction novel). But that kind of book learnin’ doesn’t usually carry much water in Washington, right? So Grayson’s done the whole “die quickly” schtick and carried his bad ties into several piquant pundit memes over the last couple of years, poetry be damned.
Not this time, though! Last week Grayson was faced with the horrid pedestrian political reality that we imagine he is always faced with, only this time it was personal. On July 19, after recalling the Depression-era woes of his father’s trips to “the dump” for things to sell, Grayson stumped hard against the Republican filibuster blocking the imminent (and necessary) restoration of expired unemployment benefits, saying, “And I will say this to the Republicans who have blocked this bill now for months and kept food out of the mouths of children. I will say to them now: May God have mercy on your souls.”
Uh-oh. Quick to respond – like a pussy, on Twitter – was conservative VP of the Media Research Center, Dan Gainor, who tweeted something about giving $100 to the first person to punch Grayson in the nose. Adults! Then, the next day, somebody stupid called in a death threat to Grayson’s office, forcing Grayson – literally, we have confirmed – to take to the e-mail machine himself and send off a personal missive.
“After FOX News spewed its usual clownish hatred about me yesterday, my office received a call,” his spindly fingers shook across the keyboard. “The caller told our receptionist – a young intern – that ‘10 people are going to kill the congressman within 24 hours.’ We gave that information to the Capitol Police; they are investigating.”
OK, we’ll skip the FOX math lesson involving 10 people killing big Al sometime within the length of a day because it doesn’t make sense. At the end of his e-mail – intended for fundraising purposes, natch, and subject-lined “Death Threat: The Widening Gyre” – Grayson pulled a big old Grayson and slouched his way toward Bethlehem like only he (or poet W.B. Yeats) can. That’s right: Grayson copy-pasted a Yeats poem and scared the bejesus out of us. “Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere,” it goes. “The ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity.” What-WHAT! It’s already been broughten, Republicans!
This Week in Geek: Tech bible Wired magazine’s website has always been a reliable funbag of geekgasm when it comes to “bloatware,” the military’s electric choppers or whatever bug is up Alan Moore’s butt that week, but recently the mag’s turned its bespectacled attention toward a niche group in Orlando that’s, according to Wired, becoming a substantial powerhouse.
Last time we checked in on Nerdapalooza, local organizer John “Hex” Carter’s festival of nerd music, it was uncomfortably squeezed into the proverbial locker of Taste’s music room in College Park. This year, however, the sweaty gamer masses were given room to wheeze at the convention center of the Orlando Airport Marriott and, according to Wired’s “GeekDad” blog, it was Revenge of the Nerds all over again. In a couple of different post-’palooza articles, the writers praised Best of Orlando runners-up the Krondor Krew, BOO winner Marc with a C and Emergency Pizza Party (sadly, perennial electronic favorites Yip-Yip apparently didn’t fare so well), while painting a picture of both the fest and its various associated parties (including one at A Comic Shop that sounds like it was a blast), as a kind of SXSW of dungeon masters. And although we’re not exactly the type to line up for Pokemon foil cards or a burlesque show with Watchmen’s Rorschach and the Riddler, we can certainly give props where they’re due for one of the few expanding and improving local fests.
You might’ve heard that Beach Boys hanger-on, future Glee dentist and former creepy uncle to the Olsen twins John Stamos enjoyed narcotic schadenfreude recently when a jury convicted a white-trash pair from Michigan for extorting the party hound with photos of him doing coke with strippers. But did you know that the nasty business went down right here in town – and didn’t even involve Tiger Woods? The criminal couple alleged Stamos hooked up with the then-17-year-old defendant during spring break around Disney World. According to Stamos, his buds brought him here to cheer him up after his split from the beautiful Rebecca Romijn. He met the girl at a local club, then took her to Disney, then his hotel room. When that was over, he admitted sending her flirty e-mails, including requests for “wild” pics. It all turned ugly quickly and led to an FBI sting that now has the pair going to jail.
Note to celebrities looking to let loose without horrible, life-altering, judicial consequences: Miami’s thataway.