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9/2/2010

Columns > Happytown

Happytown

 

With everybody’s post- primary-night hangovers firmly in check, U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson – who now gleefully faces stodgy old (alleged) woman-hater Daniel Webster in the November general election – made a strategic move toward strengthening his base: getting public endorsements from the region’s power-ladies at an 11 a.m. “Women for Grayson” event held at his downtown headquarters on Aug. 25. Most notably, former Colorado Congresswoman Pat Schroeder was in attendance (she now resides in Celebration), but she wasn’t the only sassy brass to make an appearance. Former Orange County “Mayor” Linda Chapin was there (she “loves” the Weekly, she said. Yay, us!), as were former Rollins President Rita Bornstein, State Rep. Geraldine Thompson and other local Dem-lady notables such as Nancy Jacobson and Planned Parenthood head Sue Idtensohn (Orlando Commissioner Daisy Lynum was scheduled to appear, but then again she always is … and doesn’t).

“It’s fun to be among friends,” Chapin said in her introduction, adding that Grayson “would be perfect if he weren’t so shy and retiring.” Wink, wink. (“I’m a MALE!” Grayson heckled back.)

Schroeder, who introduced herself as a “recovering politician in the 12-step program,” fawned a bit, too, allowing that “it’s so wonderful to have people around the country know that you have a gutsy congressman.”

That we do! Grayson delivered a considered speech on global inhumanity toward women (burqas, etc.) before pulling the gloves off to attack Webster’s stance on female issues, specifically his beliefs that being a woman – or even a battered woman – is a “pre-existing condition” and that “women should not work outside the house.” Then, in true Grayson-encyclopedic form, he called Webster “a man with a 19th Century name and 13th Century ideas.” 

Score!

Cornered by reporters after his speech, Grayson continued his diatribe on Webster – he sucked the life out of the Republican primary, he’s never going to win, that he is in fact deader than Elvis – before one reporter, Louis Bolden of WKMG Channel 6 News, jumped in with the never-advisable tactic of calling Grayson’s polemical barbarism out for making people “cringe.” Seriously. The whole thing descended into a mess of a discussion about whether “cringe” was a slanted word, whether that was a fair question, whether semantics are semantics here on this flat earth (honestly, it is a tired question, one that always appears at Grayson events, one that makes us actually sympathize with Grayson’s frustration). Grayson’s ugly side made its regular appearance (“Are we off?” he gruffly asked the assembled camera crews before laying into Bolden some more). Standard hullabaloo, then.

We tried to ask Grayson a follow-up question specifically regarding the importance of this event, this initiative, something ON TOPIC, but he just rolled his eyes at us and turned away. Yep, still hates us. 

Campaign manager Susannah Randolph did give us the goods on our softball, though, saying that “women are important in any election,” and that this would just be the start of the campaign’s attempt to get the word out on Webster’s anti-woman positions. Endorsements like that of Congresswoman Schroeder are important in getting thinking women engaged in what they may consider – and Grayson even said he considers – “a cakewalk” in November.

Now if Grayson could just stop throwing the cake so hard.

Well, at least he’s not throwing stones, right? Also emanating from the afterglow of last week’s political stakes was the stench of bizarro fundamentalism from Grayson’s seemingly reluctant opponent, former state Speaker of the House and Senate majority leader Webster. Turns out that one of Webster’s key supporters – besides the Orlando Sentinel – is Texas “Dominionist” (meaning he believes in a fucking theocracy), David Barton. You may have heard of Barton recently due to his successful campaign to revise history in his state’s textbooks; he sits on the advisory committee for the National Council on Bible Curriculum in Public Schools, for chrissakes. More interestingly, he is also a card-carrying member of the Providence Foundation which, according to website Unreasonable Faith

(http://unreasonablefaith.com), is but one of a number of “reconstructionist groups” that “aim to ‘reinstate’ Old Testament law, including the stoning of homosexuals, witches and disobedient children.” Stoning! It should be noted that Grayson launched his “Alan Grayson Saved Our Schools” campaign this week, revealing that his own five children go to public school where they probably don’t yet read Barton’s new history or get stoned (!) for fidgeting during algebra

As Ryan Grim at Huffington Post reports, Barton also “accidentally” addressed neo-Nazi hate groups twice: once at the Rocky Mountain Bible Retreat of Pastor Pete Peters’ Scriptures for America, then at Kingdom Covenant College in Grants Pass, Ore. A flack for Barton denied that this nice guy had any idea that these stops on his wingnut lecture circuit were “part of the Nazi movement.” Nope, just doing his job, ma’am. 

HuffPo contacted local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People head Rev. Randolph Bracy to see if maybe he had something to say about Webster touting Barton as some kind of hood ornament for his campaign. Not surprisingly, he did. “What does that say about your candidacy? You’ve got to know better in this day and time. Whether he repudiates it or not, it’s his call,” Bracy opined. “You’ve got to know what kind of person he is. If you don’t know, just Google the name and it’ll tell you.” (We did! Did you know there was a chain of gyms called “David Barton Gyms” where they serve vodka? Completely unrelated, we suppose). 

But Barton – who once argued that “Only majorities can expand political rights in America’s constitutional society,” somewhat suggestively – isn’t the one running for office. Webster is, and, at least according to the Grayson camp, which released its “10 things to know about Dan Webster” list last week, there’s plenty of guilt without association in his 28-year political record to pick at, including a “covenant marriage bill” basically forbidding divorce and a $32,000 spiral staircase for his office. (Well, what else would he be climbing to heaven?) OK, we’re already tired of this race. Next! 

It’s a rare occurrence, as fleeting as the wild woman’s whim, as sudden as winter’s first snowflake, but it does happen: This was the week we became so exhaustively bored that, for three minutes and 24 seconds, we were interested in yo-yos. And then it passed. But what a three minutes and 24 seconds! 

  From Aug. 12-14, I-Drive’s Rosen Plaza Hotel was the site of the 2010 World Yo-Yo Contest, an all-day, all-night frenzy of nerdhood so complete that everyone who stepped foot in the Rosen during that time was instantly made virginal again. The weekend’s breakout star turned out to be lanky, designer-jeans wearing Canadian Jensen Kimmitt, who put on a show-stopping number to win the 1A (One-Handed String Trick) division. 

Aided by Gorillaz’ thrilling song “Dirty Harry,” which now seems to have been made specifically for yo-yo contests, Kimmitt made his (ahem) toy dance, dangle in slow-motion, at times disappear and twice hop completely over its fully extended string to the roar of a crowd that could be heard booing him before he began

The video went viral (look for it in the online version of Happytown™ right now at www.orlandoweekly.com) and Kimmell got his 15 minutes thanks to his perfect combination of charisma, performance and song choice. Annnnd now we’re bored with yo-yos again. 

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