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3/11/2004

Happytown > Happytown

Jerry's General Store and Shannon Burke

 

Those loveable purveyors of porn down at Jerry's General Store are at it again. In fact, despite the bumbling, heavy-handed efforts of Central Florida's own Keystone Cops -- the Metropolitan Bureau of Investigation -- the Jerry's crew never stopped renting and selling XXX tapes and DVDs, god bless their hearts. And now they've gone to federal court to protect their First Amendment right to keep peddling smut. Makes us proud to be Americans.

It's an old saga, and one that has been recounted many times on these pages. The short version is that the MBI has a long-standing vendetta against Jerry's that dates back to the days when Jerry Cooper, the original store owner and a man who brooked no infraction of his First Amendment rights, fought back after the MBI busted him in 1987 for selling adult material from the tiny store on East Colonial. Cooper printed up posters comparing MBI director Joe Cocchiarella and his henchmen to Nazi morality police. Cocchiarella, reportedly, was not pleased.

When Cooper died in 2000, his daughter, Roxie Hanna, took over the store. She predicted that the MBI would put the thumbscrews to her, and she was right. In November 2002, they arrested Hanna, her mother Diana Cooper, and her 75-year-old grandmother, Eileen Hart. (They later dropped the charges against Hart, saying she provided information. Hanna's lawyer says the MBI was embarrassed by repeatedly televised images of a 75-year-old woman in handcuffs for selling an adult video.)

The MBI hit Jerry's again in June for not paying sales taxes. Hanna admits to being a bit behind on her taxes, but says that doesn't make her a criminal. "They always trump up the charges so people will take a plea," she says.

But on Jan. 26, Jerry's struck a blow for pornography retailers all over Orange County by filing suit in U.S. District court to force the county to give her an adult business license, which it has refused to do because Jerry's does not comply with the adult business ordinance. Hanna counters that her store doesn't have to comply because it pre-dates the ordinance and should be grandfathered in. She's also arguing that the adult ordinance was written to curtail the expansion of "on-site" porno shops, what you and I know as "peep shows." Take-home porn, the kind you get at Jerry's, was never addressed in the ordinance, she argues. It's an argument that has worked in Texas and Michigan, notes Hanna's lawyer, Dick Wilson.

In lieu of a license, Hanna and her lawyers have asked the court to find the county's entire adult business ordinance unconstitutional because it unfairly restricts where said businesses can open, thereby infringing on the First Amendment. Were that to happen, we would (indirectly) have the MBI to thank for the ensuing proliferation of porn in Orange County. You guys rock.

The rumors are true: A printed version of OrlandoCityBeat.com has hit the streets, with the authoritative "thud" only a four-page publication can muster.

It's billed as "entertainment with an edge," which has us a little concerned, frankly. Not about the competition; we welcome that. What's got us in a dither is the excessive use of salty language on the website the printed version of OrlandoCityBeat.com exists to promote. For years, we've looked to the Orlando Sentinel as the stolid gatekeeper of morality in Central Florida. When a source says "fuck," they report "f***." When "nigger" was being bandied about during the mayoral race last year, you could count on seeing "the N-word" in the Sentinel. "Shit" shall not stain those chaste pages.

Except when the Sentinel is pandering to the kids, 18-34 years old. Then all bets are off on the potty talk. Shouldn't it be the other way around? That is, the Sentinel, a publication clearly aimed at sober-minded adults, should tell it like it is, expletives and all, while OrlandoCityBeat protects young ears?

Here then, reprinted only to make a point, is a list of words found on OrlandoCityBeat.com that you're likely never to see in the pages of the Sentinel (Did we mention that they are corporately one and the same? OK, just wanted to be straight on that): "pee," "nipple" (not in reference to Janet Jackson), "bastards" (not in reference to children born out of wedlock), "puke" (not in relation to Ric Keller), "fucking," "fuck," "douche" (also not in relation to Ric Keller), "humping" (not in a story about whales), "shit," "ass" (no Biblical donkey context in sight), "sex" (not in a story about troubled teens in need of intervention), "bitch" (also not about Ric Keller) and "crack whore."

Do they kiss their mamas with that mouth?

We're happy to report that streaking is back.

Days before America was appalled, outraged and/or pleasantly surprised at the sight of Janet Jackson's right breast, the decent folk of Winter Park were already groin-deep in a public indecency shocker at a sports event right in their hometown.

On Jan. 30, during a girls soccer match at Showalter Field, Winter Park residents Brant Jarvis and Daniel Bangert, both 18, sauntered on to the field wearing trench coats and pantyhose over their heads, a fashion no-no that generally signals one of two things: terrorist or streaker. (Or are these two things one and the same in George W. Bush's America? Ponder.)

"I noticed two white males enter on the field running from the east side," writes WPPD officer Jeff Biles in his arrest report. "Both males were wearing tan trench coats that were undone in the front and pantyhose over their heads. The suspects' coats were undone with no clothing underneath. Both suspects ran across the field exposing their genitals to everyone present."

The streakers were nabbed at a nearby baseball field where they had parked the getaway car. A search of the car turned up an empty container of Gaymode-brand thigh-high stockings and an unused package of Day Sheers Thi-Tops.

Police also found about a gram of marijuana in Bangert's pants, according to reports. Both were charged with lewd and lascivious behavior, while Bangert was also charged with possession of marijuana.

Between 400 and 500 spectators witnessed the exposed genitalia, police say. No word yet on the resulting emotional trauma.

StopShannon.com site devoted to putting conservative talker Shannon Burke off the AM airwaves, is pulling the plug in May. The site was established about a year ago to "stand up to the racist filth that was on the Shannon Burke show in the form of virulent Islamophobia and anti-Arab hatred," says the press release announcing the site's demise. Mission accomplished?

StopShannon.com's producers say their boycott of Burke scared off 15 advertisers, and forced Burke to change his tune regarding Islam and Arabs.

"I still hate 'em," says Burke of Palestinians, quickly adding, "not all of them. Just the ones who blow themselves up."

Burke says the boycott had zero impact on his bottom line. "My show is sold out." And some good has come of the whole thing, he adds. "I've gotten to know a number of Muslim people very well. I've made a lot of good friends."

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