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5/26/2005

Happytown > Happytown

Happytown

 

After attending a frisky selection of shows at the opening weekend of the Fringe Festival, we were saddened at the lack of Orlando Weeklys available. We figure that the more potential attendees can read about the Fringe, the better. And frankly our coverage will rock your world, unlike the coverage of some other local media outlets. Ahem.

So we called Mary Ann Dean, executive director of the Orlando-UCF Shakespeare Festival – and an upright person – and she agreed. She said that the Weekly circulation box had been moved to eliminate clutter in the lobby, but that she'd been out of town and didn't know the Fringe edition of the paper had been out of sight. Your world can now be rocked.

Pick up a copy of last week's issue to get the poop on all the shows, and this week's to see what our critics are saying. Pardon us for saying it, but nobody does Fringe better than we do.

The not-so-secret thing about City Hall is that no matter how much your elected officials talk about conducting business in the sunshine, they'd much rather do it in the dark. They're like cockroaches that way.

There are a few exceptions – city commissioners Patty Sheehan and Phil Diamond come to mind – but we're not too far removed from the days when Glenda Hood ran the city behind closed doors because she knew best and you didn't. In many ways, Buddy Dyer is Hood's spiritual successor, though he has publicly admitted that he's a changed man after that indictment mess.

So when we heard that Dyer was going to meet with city commissioner Daisy Lynum May 20 to talk about Parramore, we wanted to be there. In Florida, any meeting between two elected officials is public and anyone has the right to see what's going on. That's how backroom dealing is supposedly averted.

But Orlando is a small town, and some city officials (who shall remain nameless) are less than enthused when the public actually shows up to see what's going on. So we sent our intrepid intern, armed with a tape recorder, to the meeting. We wanted to find out what these two had cooking for Orlando's most blighted neighborhood; we were also hoping for some fireworks, because Lynum has made it clear she isn't the die-hard Buddy booster she once was.

When our intern arrived, she discovered she wasn't the only snooper. Ax the Tax man Doug Guetzloe had sent out a crew, one of whom had a video camera. The guy joked that Lynum probably wouldn't show up. He was right.

A few minutes before the 11 a.m. meeting was supposed to start, Dyer walked by the meeting room, glanced in and saw the crowd. Then he disappeared. A few minutes later one of his staffers told the gathered Lynum had canceled. Call us cynical, but we're guessing Dyer headed to the nearest phone and told Lynum not to show up. We could be wrong, but we've come to know these two too well.

It's seductively easy to make fun of a group with a tight-sphinctered name like the Society of Professional Journalists – until it looks like they might give you something.

In a laudable admission that Orlando can indeed be a vital contributor to the fourth estate, the SPJ has named two local entities as finalists in the "Newspapers & Magazines" division of its 2005 Sunshine State Awards. Orlando Weekly managing editor Lindy T. Shepherd's Sept. 16, 2004, cover story, "Dispose of Properly," is a contender in the category "Feature Reporting – Small Division" (a size-referencing designation that reflects, we're certain, on the circulation numbers of papers like ours, not their mighty influence nor Ms. Shepherd's lofty personal stature). Elsewhere, the Orlando Sentinel scores its sole nom with a "Criticism" category nod for erstwhile movie reviewer Jay Boyar. His tribute isn't for a specific write-up, but for a general body of work – the same body of work, you'll recall, that his paper chose to acknowledge last fall by shunting him to the travel desk after 22 years on the cinema beat.

Congratulations to Shepherd and Boyar – and to the Sentinel, for proving that the business of running a corporate media outpost in no way depends on knowing which horse to ride.

We hate Happytown™! We're, like, so over typing – all it gets us is dirty fingers. We're moving on to a P-Diddy vanity project and that's that.

MTV's Making the Band 3 is coming to town to audition for talent to flesh out its failed attempt at girl-band glory, retaining Aubrey, Malika and Aundrea and adding us … er, you … to the mix for more senseless catfighting set to the beat of the career of Carmen Electra. May 28 at Club Paris, the MB3 people will be hosting an open call for girls who can touch their middle toe to their scrunchie – lineup starting at 7 a.m. – without any irony! We'll be about fourth in line, sporting legwarmers and a cold sore.


Crazy from the heat
by Paula Ferguson


MAY 13, 11 P.M.: Somani S. was helping customers at a Citgo gas station in the 1900 block of Tallokas Avenue, as on any other evening. The occasional visitor came in to grab a soda the size of his head. Refrigerators stuffed with burritos and milk hummed under buzzing, yellowish lights. But all was not cool.

Perhaps tormented by the intense pre-summer heat, a perspiring perp eyed a prize on the roof of the Citgo: one sweet air conditioning unit.

Mr. S. heard a thunderous crash outside, but thought nothing of it until warm air began gushing through the store's vents. The sweaty suspect had pushed the AC unit to the ground, dismantled it for parts, then disappeared into the heat of the night. Mr. S. told Orlando police he had not given anyone permission to rage against his air conditioning machine.

MAY 11, 10:30 P.M.: Oddly enough, just two nights earlier a climbing criminal struck Spartan Premier Staffing, in the 1200 block of West Central Boulevard. Three Orlando officers responded to the building's alarm at 10:34 p.m. Finding all the windows and doors locked, the trio left a false alarm notice.

Not until John B. flagged them down a short time later did the officers reconsider their conclusion. A Spartan employee, Mr. B. left the office at 7 p.m. after securing the premises. Later he spotted evidence of evildoing. A skylight had been smashed, creating an entry from above. Another rooftop burglar had struck under cover of night.

Passing up the opportunity to pilfer filing cabinets, computers, petty cash and staplers, the thief rummaged through the drawers of a single desk, finding – and stealing – a pair of LYNX bus passes.

The only detail more mysterious than this paltry pilferage was the burglar's means of escape. Like a combination of bat and man, the burglar apparently leapt back through the broken skylight and into the humid night air.

MAY 11, MIDNIGHT: Spring is a time when people's fancy turns to fashion. But fashion can be a cruel mistress, leading some to turn to crime.

Nestled in a corner plaza in the 2100 block of Bruton Boulevard, well lighted and in view of all who passed by, My Shoe Store was closed for the night. However, it wasn't dark. Fluorescent lights illuminated the merchandise inside. The temptation was too great for one wrongdoer.

The criminal in question obtained a jumbo-sized chunk of concrete, chucked it through a glass door and prepared to plunder. Time was of the essence, as the store's alarm was ringing by this time, and the evening's frantic grab produced a new criminal tool: the merch rack as burglar's aide. Rather than hooking stolen purses onto both arms, the burglar employed metal shelves holding the goods themselves as a convenient carrying case.

The suspect raced back out the door, slivers of glass crunching underfoot. A telltale trail of merchandise hinted that the perp had escaped in a southwesterly direction. Police canines sniffed the trail, which by this time had grown cold. Damage to the front door totaled about $200, considerably more than the value of the merchandise stolen, which was worth about $24.

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