It's getting cheaper to support the Buddy Dyer for mayor campaign, and paradoxically, a hell of a lot more fun.

Two weeks ago a spot at one of big Buddy's fetes would have set you back $250. On May 16, you could get in on the action for $25 at Urban Think. Of course we didn't pay the $25 — working journalists, here — but YOU could have gotten in the door for that money. A couple of women were piped in from the Washington Shores demo, some city staffers were sprinkled throughout and the SAK Comedy Lab showed up for no apparent reason.

Things were so cozy, we thought it appropriate to actually interview Buddy. And he even pretended to like us! We were totally melting. He said some stuff about the venues, we countered with a witty comeback about Harris Rosen and everyone was happy. The end.

And then … bang! bang! bang! Within seconds a 50-hippie protest exploded outside — an angry one, too — and everything took on a crisis tone. What is this, Berkeley?

The STOP Coalition (with SDS and Food Not Bombs) pressed their faces, fists and placards up against the storefront window with ravenous abandon. Were the hippies going to eat Buddy?

"We intend to dog the Dyer campaign!" Ben Markeson told us as we journalistically ventured out into the throng.

"This is a war and I'm gonna wage it to the bitter end!" added ACLU Central Chapter mouthpiece George Crossley.

"They started it," SDS alum Matt DeVlieger chimed in.

Crossley told us that they had been looking into picketing outside the homes of both Buddy Dyer and commissioner Patty Sheehan (not legal), and decried the fact that local government is "in love with the developers."

Back inside the bookstore you wouldn't have known anything was amiss. Dyer proved unflappable, going on with his speech (though moving it away from the front window). He mentioned the words "partnerships" and "fund-raising" the requisite 67 times.

The speech ended on a creepy note with the improv "talents" of the SAK troupe doing a little musical number called "Re-election Blues." So we had a rich white guy being serenaded by white men singing music traditionally associated with black poverty while homeless people pressed themselves up against the glass. Orlando, your portrait is ready.

So, did you notice the lane blockage and pimped-fancy cars outside Firestone May 16? No? It was just a pit stop for an auto race/scavenger hunt that operates under the title of "Bullrun" and is aired on Spike TV.

The fun part was supposed to be that Paris Hilton would be in attendance near the cars — thus spawning a million DUI jokes — but the fun part didn't happen. Instead, most of the participants were just crazy people willing to pay $17,500 to drive from Montreal down to Key West. That should about cover the gas.

At their Orlando stop, the sweaty mass partook in a go-kart race behind the club for some B-roll footage; one even ran into the rail right in front of us and almost took our happy little life.

We did meet scruffy Ryan Dunn of Jackass fame, and he promised to talk to us later in his bubble bath. We didn't want to get with him as much as he did us, so we left. On the way out, we passed by a giant "Girls Gone Wild" bus — here for that night's VIP party/reception — and lifted our shirt. Nobody looked.

Extreme baseball? Really? Apparently so. What could possibly be "extreme" about the most boring sport on the planet? Enter the National Xtreme Baseball League — when did it become uncool to spell correctly? — which wants to sprout a league with 20 to 30 teams by next year. This year, in hopes that people will actually care, the league is sponsoring a series of exhibitions.

Orlando's is set for 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Tinker Field. Can you feel the excitement? We're tingling. So much that we looked at the website (http://www.ssa.cc/nxbl.htm) to figure out how xtreme it really is. We're still not sure, but it's damn confusing.

Basically, there are two teams on the field at once: two pitchers, two batters, two sets of bases, two of everything. Then they play baseball, only with one of the teams going the wrong way around the bases. Then everyone in the stands gets xtremely drunk.

And now it's time for another installment of What's Up With Ric?™, our attempt to keep you up to date on the comings and goings of Orlando's favorite congressman, U.S. Rep. Ric Keller!

This week's episode finds MC Ric spitting dope rhymes on the House floor, fawning over Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and praising Bill Clinton.

Back it up to May 10. The scandal-plagued Alberto Gonzales is testifying before the House Judiciary Committee, upon which Ric sits. While other pols are ripping into Gonzales for playing politics in firing nine United States district attorneys, and some are even demanding that he resign, Keller sucker-punches Gonzo with this deep, probing question: "Tell me what your top priorities are going to be over the next 20 months that you'd like to accomplish." A minute later comes the crushing follow-up: "As a prominent Cabinet member, U.S. attorney or U.S. attorney general, you could leave today and make $1 million a year at a law firm pretty easily, but you're staying on and want to stay on. Is it because of your passion for those three things: violent crime, terrorism and getting after child predators?"

Then Keller said the scandal isn't that important, and opined that even if it were important, Gonzales is of course innocent.

A few days later, Keller found himself on the House floor touting a cop-funding measure originally passed under President Clinton that had languished under the Republicans. Keller channeled LL Cool J, of all people: "Don't call it a comeback, I've been here for years."

What he meant to say was that he was for funding more cops long ago, so this wasn't an act of political convenience. (The measure passed 381-34, because everyone loves cops.) And then he sang Clinton's praises.

Well, not really. But he did point out the obvious: The Republicans who voted against this thing hate Clinton so much that they refuse to support anything that he supported. As Keller told the Sentinel: "It's a good thing Clinton didn't invent the light bulb, or we'd be having this debate in the dark."

Thanks, Ric, for keeping us amused, and only slightly ashamed.

This week's report by Jeffrey C. Billman and Billy Manes.


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