Gay Days and (blank) is the new (blank) 

Here's a rumor that nobody (or everybody) saw coming: Buddy Dyer is gay! Well, not really, we can heartily (if not hopefully) assume. But similarities to Bill Clinton's winsome bloat do make the mayor something of a sex symbol for the chubby-chasing set, and Dyer only fueled the fabulous fire by synchronizing his oath of office with the official kickoff of Gay Days, both of which took place June 1 at 5:30 p.m. – sadly, too late for Happytown™ put down its bottle and actually put on shoes.

Previously, this (happy) town was abuzz with alternate rumors regarding a proposed appearance by Boy George at the Gay Days kickoff's original host site, the new gay nightclub Pulse (where Dante's used to be on South Orange Avenue). Most thought his limo would just keep on going past the residential hole and pull up at the Trail for a smack refill or just a heavy load of personal paint. Some supposed it was all a joke anyway and were planning to stay home with their copies of the Culture Club box set and do their own makeup.

Either way, the proper permits were not obtained by Pulse in time for its grand gay christening, and a few gay people ended up on Buddy Dyer's lap. Here at Happytown™ we had a giggle thinking that perhaps Dyer had pulled the plug on Pulse himself, forcing the masses of red-shirted homo-hoppers into his City Hall lair. But here at Happytown™ we think too much.

So do the people at Central Florida News 13, it turns out. We tried to come up with a drinking game for all of the euphemisms Jackie Brockington used for "gay" on the morning news June 1. Apparently, being gay is both "interesting" and "different." But two drinks do not a fun game make. Maybe 7 a.m. is too early for us to start drinking anyway.

Cliché of the week: "(blank) is the new (blank)."

Like a blackberry seed stuck in a molar, this played-out expression has been irritating us all year; it reached critical mass when, browsing magazines at Barnes & Noble, we ran across an article titled "Nuts are the new broccoli!" Even William Safire twigged in The New York Times Magazine this week: The column was devoted to the tortuous journey of the phrase "the new black," which has become synonymous with "the next big thing," and has been parlayed by lazy headline writers into any number of tired-ass comparisons. A random sample:

"Veterans are the new soccer moms" (National Review Online, June 1)

"Butt crack is the new cleavage" (, May 28)

"30 is the new 20" (Los Angeles Times, May 18)

"Fat is the new tobacco" (The Heart and Stroke Foundation, February 2004)

Even we were not immune to the lure of "the new": "Anal sex is the new blow job" (< a href="">Orlando Weekly, Feb. 12).

As our own Steve Schneider put it, "'The new' is the new 'on acid.'" So listen up, people, get a life and just don't do it. The tribe has spoken: You're fired.

You'd think that The New York Times issuing yet another mea culpa – this one on May 26 about shoddy reporting and self-serving sources that helped lead this country into a needless and bloody war – might warrant a little soul-searching at newsrooms across the country. And in places like Cleveland, San Jose and St. Louis you'd be right. But we live in Orlando, and we're stuck with the Orlando Sentinel, where even hindsight isn't 20/20 if it means being a disobedient little lap dog.

It's hard to overstate the case: The Times, the biggest name in American journalism, says they screwed up and believed stooges like Ahmad Chalabi who beat the drums relentlessly for war. They said their reporting misled the public. They said they were suckered. When the Times gets suckered, so do the 300 other newspapers that subscribe to The New York Times News Service, including the Sentinel.

Headline: "American newspapers report false information about need to go to war, thousands die, billions of dollars wasted." Sound like something that might interest a "public editor," whose job it is to be a sort of watchdog of the watchdogs? Yeah, it kinda does. Except if you're the Sentinel's public editor, Manning Pynn, who apparently spends his days scrutinizing the size of headlines in relation to photos, but can't be bothered to call into question Sentinel stories that imparted fake urgency to invade Iraq.

The only contrition we got from the Sentinel regarding the Times apology was a note in a story on page A18 (could we bury that a little deeper?) that the Sentinel "ran several Times reports mentioned in the editors' note." Pynn used his May 30 column to lament the fact that, gee whillikers, no one's writing about all the good news that comes out of Iraq these days. (Now where have we heard that story line before, hmm, oh yeah: Dan Senor, head flack for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq, has been flogging it for months).

Sentinel readers should demand an apology, and an explanation. They'll get neither, but they should demand them nonetheless.

We were wrong about Mel Martinez. All this time we thought that our Mel – the guy who crafted Orange County's slow-growth policy a few years back – was some kind of moderate, a thinking man's Republican and not a mindless ass-kissing Bush sycophant like Ric Keller.

As evidence we offer Martinez's recent fund-raising letter, in which he asks fellow Republicans to support him because, "The Democrats are scared to death that you will help elect me to the United States Senate where I'll vote for George Bush's conservative policies every chance I get."

Translation: "Vote for me – I won't think for myself!"

We know it's a Republican primary, and that Martinez will have to battle GOP freakazoids like Bill McCollum and Johnnie Byrd, but this is the kind of letter that could really bite him in the ass when he heads for the center before the general election. He's trying like hell to tie himself to Shrub at every possible opportunity, but that's to be expected, considering that Republicans seem to have some sort of fondness for that buffoon. Still, declaring that "I can't think of anything that will threaten our constitutional rights more than John Kerry in the White House and another Florida Democrat in the U.S. Senate" is pretty bold.

Um, USA PATRIOT Act, anyone?


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