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9/16/2004

Happytown > Happytown

Code Pink and Hurricane Ivan

 

Though W. can't be bothered to attend a military funeral, the folks from the local chapter of Code Pink think the ever-escalating death toll in Iraq is something worth noting. Which is why about 30 of them gathered on the steps of Rep. Ric Keller's office Sept. 9 for a candlelight vigil. Keller wasn't there, natch, but if he had been he'd have been greeted not by an angry mob, but by a respectful gathering where nary a word was spoken. The effect was solemn and spoke more about the loss of life in this unnecessary conflict than anything else Happytown™ has recently witnessed.

So what to do when you're an entrepreneur and an American patriot with a social conscience and way too much time on your hands? Canvass businesses selling self-made anti-Bush T-shirts, of course. And for our first target, we zeroed in on a portion of Concord Street heavily laden with law offices and other cornerstones of civilization.

Our folksy opening pitch: "Howdy," we'd say cheerily to the receptionist or semblance thereof. "We're selling anti-George Bush T-shirts. Wanta check 'em out?" (Figuring that anyone called a receptionist would be a master of reception, we have to report that we don't think a lot of them have been practicing.)

Possible responses for which we prepared:

No. 1: Hurt expression, like they're dealing with someone who is not playing right. We must admit that we have diligently ignored the sensitivity training Republicans and Dem-ocrats alike have been administering free of charge, pretending that the United States has had a president since 2000, and that the person occupying that office isn't a disaster beyond anyone's wildest imagination.

No. 2: Recognition of an evil presence, aka an unwashed brain. This response is characterized by stony-faced rejection of our offer, rejection of us as Americans and thereby as humans, therefore making our homes eligible for smart bombing, the kind that obviously never landed on George Bush.

No. 3: "Not in this office," spoken by employees who realize their boss owns them, and that they are not entitled to an opinion while at work. This typifies the intolerance exhibited by the pleasure-seeking Bush supporters: The truth hurts, and they will have none of it.

No. 4: Declaration of sympathy with our outlook and our enterprise, but incredulous head-shaking at idea of wearing it on one's chest.

No. 5: Laughter at the humorous T-shirt we're wearing, a warm look of welcome and an offer of Coca-Cola or another delightful beverage.

After a less-than-vigorous hour and a half of "work," our tally reflected five No. 4s and one No. 5, minus the Coke. By God, this occupation makes you appreciate a smile when you see it. We basked in it like a chicken in a rotisserie.

As professional entrepreneurs, we had to move on to the next, umm, project. But if you feel like you grew up in a place commonly touted as the "land of the free," this kind of exercise can be a therapeutic exercise in futility – not one person in the "home of the brave" even asked the price.

Let's talk about something important: Hurricane Ivan. Here in the air-conditioned cardboard box that is Happytown™, we don't like to make a habit of wishing harm upon anyone (at least anyone who thinks the same way we do); after all, that's what the "happy" part is for.

But the peculiar neurosis we've been nursing with vodka and decorating with filigree for the past month – that which makes us think that there ought to be a hurricane coming – has virtually blue-balled us into irrational knee-biting this week, and we're not sure what to do about it. Here we were, thinking Ivan had bought us yet another paid day of personal seclusion amongst our sweaty kin, prelicking our wounds for a historic third-time-charm date with windy destiny, when something went horribly right.

So we tried staring Danny Treanor down on the television set, hoping (perhaps cruelly) that he had blurred the projections in a mistaken loop of prerecorded weather reporting. It didn't work. So now, as it turns out, Ivan is the one that got away. And don't even try to tell us that you didn't think the same thing, because we're liable to wish harm upon you. Oh hell, we'll probably take a couple of days off anyway. You know, for the anxiety of it all.

SEMI-REGULAR FEATURE
WHO, WHAT, HOW AND WHY:
ASK IAN THE I.T. GUY!

Q: A lot of people are saying that hurricanes Charley and Frances are God's wrath on Orlando for our sinful, wicked ways. But if that's true, shouldn't the Almighty be picking on more sinful cities, like, I dunno, Las Vegas or San Francisco or maybe even New York?

A: Charley and Frances were indeed God's wrath for Orlando's sinful ways. As to your question about whether God should be picking on other cities, it's a little-known fact that Vegas, San Fran and NYC are actually LESS sinful than Orlando. Vegas, for instance: Sure, you've got your hookers and your gambling, but prostitution is legal in Nevada, and gambling is the heart of Vegas, so He doesn't mind so much. And besides, Las Vegas has five times as many churches as Orlando – and five times as many churches means five times as holy, at least according to the Big Guy's scorecard. San Francisco, some might say, has an overabundance of homosexuals. But Northern California is God's country, arguably the most livable place in America, so should it surprise us that homosexuals, with their notoriously good taste, should choose to reside there? And NYC was filled with Republicans for the convention two weeks ago. Between that, their status as target for international terrorism and their proximity to Newark, I'd say that they're getting their fair share of God's wrath.

Central Florida in general, and Orlando specifically, has consistently defied the will of God, however – we're the home of the stunning display of hubris known as the Holy Land Experience, the ministries of Benny Hinn and the sin-inspiring froth whipped up in the unholy mix of mammaries, God and guns at Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede.

The larger question is, why should we find it surprising, when Pat Robertson warned us way back in 1998? He was right, those gay pride flags were our undoing. If only we'd listened.

askian@orlandoweekly.com

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