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6/17/2004

Happytown > Happytown

Protesting and changes for Back Booth

 

What makes this a happy town, as opposed to a just another repressed, conservative, Southern town? Protesters, baby, protesters. We love 'em, bless their little bleeding hearts. Anybody who would stand on the concrete outside City Hall at noon on a Saturday in June to tell passersby that Bush is a poopy president and Rummy's gotta go is A-OK in our book. (Hell, if they were out there objecting to a ballot purge in American Idol voting we'd still love 'em, because it's not the message we dig, man, it's the medium: young, and not-so-young, people speakin' their minds.)

So we stopped by June 11, but it was too hot to stick around for long. We did gather that the gathered want Rumsfeld to fall on his sword. Apparently the Donald didn't get the message these 30 or so folks were sending, because as of presstime he's still in office.

What's the best thing about going to a protest in O-Town? Comments from passersby, of course. Frankly, Happytown™ thinks you'd be surprised at how many motorists honked in solidarity with the protesters. We'd even venture a statistically invalid guess that the majority of people passing by this street corner agreed with the following statement: Bush sucks, Rummy blows.

Our favorite comment, however, came from a guy driving a dump truck. He slowed down, stuck his face out the window and yelled: "You're all just a bunch of communists! That's what you are, communists!"

On Sunday, June 13, the face of one of downtown's most dependably friendly bars underwent a big change. Back Booth – tucked between Hypnotiq and Blue Room on Pine Street – has long served up a mélange of stiff drinks, underground music and performance oddities (Tammy Faye Starlite, Bloody Midgets), as well as bacchanalian binges such as Andy's Beer School. The Andy behind Andy's Beer School, Andy Gurjian, has been an integral part of the Booth since it was a coffeehouse called Java Jabbers near the UCF campus. He always made sure that the bar had a wide variety of hard-to-find beers on tap and, more importantly, that an atmosphere of grungy sophistication was maintained.

But recent disputes with the bar's owner inspired Gurjian to walk away from his position as manager, prompting the entire staff to leave with him. Although Gurjian's move doesn't appear to have affected upcoming events on the Booth's calendar – Friday's Funkstörung show is apparently still on – it will undoubtedly affect the character of the bar. Happytown™ could always depend on the Booth for a good beer and a long conversation about poker, hip-hop or Thai food. But without the long-standing crew behind the bar, we're temporarily mourning the passing of one of our favorite places.

Gurjian, however, is already making plans for a new bar in a new location, to which our only question is: When's the next Beer School?

You know the summer doldrums have set in when Happytown™ reports on the Independent Women's Football League ... er, we mean, did you hear the news? Orlando has a new women's football team.

That's right, fans o' female football, the Starz are gone. Long live the Orlando Mayhem. (Barring that, how about, "Survive the first season!")

Happytown™ spoke with David Hodges, the Mayhem's new "delegate." Don't call him a coach, because he isn't one, Hodges took pains to point out to us. "As far as football, I've never played a down in my life." Perfect.

Hodges is, in fact, a professional golfer who was tapped to help the Mayhem finish the season the Starz left in shambles when the team fell apart this spring. "In a nutshell, the owner had a problem with the coach and she fired him," he says.

But the Starz players didn't want to quit playing. So they took their case to the league and the league asked Hodges to pull the thing together and finish the season. The team was reincarnated as the Mayhem, and went on to get flattened by the Atlanta Xplosion 22-0 June 5, thus ending a perfect 0-5 season.

Plans for next year include finding a coach and winning a game, according to Hodges.

And the Happytown™ award for biggest waste of public funds while trying to bask in Ronald Reagan's legacy goes to: Seminole County! The fine right-wingers just to the north of us honored the Gipper – you know, the guy who made a political career out of lambasting government spending as wasteful for the most part – by shutting down county government Friday, ostensibly so all county employees could watch Reagan's funeral on TV or go get plowed, or something. We think they went to the beach instead, which is exactly what Ronald Reagan would have wanted them to do.

No other local government saw the need to shut down, but Seminole's a very Reaganesque kind of county, being all fiscally conservative and such, so if they want a holiday to remember St. Ron, whatever. What sticks in our craw is that by declaring Friday a county holiday, Seminole County Commissioners effectively mandated that the firefighters, cops, 911 dispatchers and parks personnel scheduled to work that day – necessary workers who couldn't just cut class and crack open a Corona received overtime pay. Total bill to taxpayers: $100,000-plus. The Gipper would be proud.

Who, What, Where, Why: Ask Ian the IT Guy

Q: Do you think the World Wide Web will eat itself?

A: The World Wide Web is an alliteration, and so I will use alliteration to answer your question: Commercial capitalist coffers can't conquer communities craving creativity.

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