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Happytown > Happytown

Down with Deep Throat and Fringe foibles


If you're like us – and we know that you know you are, whether you know it or not – you've been positively glued to your favorite cable news channel during in the glorious unmasking of one W. Mark Felt, aka Deep Throat.

As wee lads and lassies in J-school lo those many years ago, we were forced to familiarize ourselves with Mr. Throat's role in bringing down President Richard Nixon – thank you, thank you, thank you – and we even read Bob Woodward's book on the subject a few times. We've been chortling nonstop at the parade of Nixon sycophants – many of them ex-jailbirds – with the cojones to go on national TV and accuse Felt of being unethical. G. Gordon Liddy and Henry Kissinger as pillars of ethics? We couldn't write caca that funny.

So some eyebrows were raised (note the use of the passive voice) when we got a press release from Exodus International – our homegrown group of ex-homos – touting Watergate felon and fellow Felt-basher Chuck Colson's new book The Good Life, a set of stories about the search for "meaning, purpose and truth," at least according to the press release. Post-Watergate, Colson turned fundie and is now just another in the cadre of right-wing mouth-breathers that pass for pundits these days.

Exodus is touting the book – which we haven't read, and don't plan to – because one chapter profiles Randy Thomas, Exodus' ex-gay membership director. We've met Thomas, and he's a pretty nice guy as far as we can tell, though we're not big fans of Exodus' agenda. So no hard feelings there about his appearing in the book. It's just interesting how forgiving wing nuts can be of felons who now espouse their point of view.

Kids these days. They're all hooligans, ne'er-do-wells, hoodlums, bad seeds, trouble brewin'. Why, when Happytown™ was little more than an unincorporated neighborhood, we had respect for our elders. But that don't happen these days, no ma'am. So we would like to take this opportunity to praise Orlando city commissioner Vicki Vargo for her tireless efforts to keep her constituents safe. Vargo sent out an e-mail on May 27 to residents of the Rosewood neighborhood, warning them that the Orlando Police Department had seen an uptick in crime on Cinderlane Parkway, and that school-skippers were to blame. With school out for summer, watch your purses, ladies!

Vargo suggested ways upstanding citizens could help staunch this crime wave, namely reporting "suspicious activity" to OPD. And what, pray tell, constitutes a suspicious activity in Rosewood? "People walking or riding a bicycle with a backpack," Vargo instructs. Because kids on bicycles with backpacks just have to be up to no good.

It seems like only yesterday that Happytown™ and its minions were scrambling all over the Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival to bring you the latest poop from the world of cutting-edge theater. But it wasn't. Believe it or don't, it was a whole two weeks ago. With official figures in, we now know how many intrepid civilians followed our lead in taming the wild Fringe. Numbers released for the 2005 festival show 15,839 tickets sold, with another 2,122 distributed or held as comps. The grand total of 17,961 seems a slight decrease from last year's 18,507 – until you remember that the 2004 Fringe had more shows (69 to this year's only 50). A total of 7,000 entry buttons was shifted, up a bit from 6,430 last year. And the dollar amount returned to the performing artists rose considerably, from $98,456 to $112,419.

That should be music to the ears of the participating theater groups, whose palpable concern over their finances was just one factor that helped push the festival to yet another distinction: From where we sat, it was just about the ugliest Fringe in memory. Starting about midweek – when some antsy thesps began to worry that they might not make back their greatly increased venue-rental fees – an atmosphere of barely contained hostility reigned. Performers and their friends swore openly at Fringe representatives. Late-arriving audience members tried to fight their way into shows – in one instance requiring ejection from the premises. Indignant actors dressed down working theater critics in the beer tent. Some volunteers (and other staffers) met patrons' concerns with a defensiveness that bordered on indifference. And just about everybody had something sour to say about the way the festival was being run and the unfair expectations that were being placed on them personally.

Some of that ill will should be ameliorated by one change that the Fringe's executive producer, Beth Marshall, intends to make next time: eliminating the so-called 10-minute rule, which stopped ticket sales at 10 minutes before a given performance. Intended to give ticket buyers time to get to their venues, the arrangement was blamed for a significant loss of last-minute walk-up business. Next year, the onus will be back on the patrons to allow themselves enough time to buy tickets and find their seats, Marshall says.

A few other details for 2006 have already emerged. The festival will again be held entirely in Loch Haven Park. The centralized ticket booth will stay in place; the ability to purchase tickets at the individual venues has now officially gone the way of the dodo. Barring some unforeseen calamity, Marshall will again be running the show, she says. And the event dates have been set for May 18 through 29 – which gives everybody involved ample time to take an enormous chill pill and try again. Smiles, everyone, smiles.

Real e-mails from the mayor's in-box!

Dear Mayor:

It would be such an honor for me if you could please send me a couple autograph business cards to Michael Ovsanik, P.O. Box 1995, Auburndale, FL 33823. Could you please sign it to Michael and date it? I collect signed business cards from sports executives, athletes, sports teams, political related, pro coaches, college coaches and celebs. Could you also please send a city lapel pin? Could you please wrap it up in tissue paper because sometimes they can get stuck in the mail sorting machines.

Well I will tell you a little about myself. My full name is Michael Francis Ovsanik. I am 22 years old. My birthday is June, 27 1982. I have two pet dogs named Sparky and Logan. I hope to one day have a successful career in politics. I am currently attending Polk Community College and I plan on majoring in political science. Three questions I would like to ask you is what is your most memorable moment in your political career, when you were a kid did you have any idols, and do you have any advice for a young person who wants to have a successful career in politics like yours?

I hope hear from you soon. Have a nice day. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter.


Michael Ovsanik

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