HAPPYTOWN 


While Anna Nicole Smith's carcass decays in a South Florida freezer into something resembling Suzanne Somers — damn you, Howard K. Stern! — the thoughtful (and usually pensive) folks-with-espresso-machine-burns at Stardust are doing their best to keep her well-endowed spirit alive.

Starduster Alli Long, with the assistance of quirk-ubiquity Doug Rhodehamel, have launched a fitting memorial to the dead Skyscraper star with a nice rack … on the bike rack.

"There's no place I know of in Orlando that people can go to and express themselves," sniffles Rhodehamel. "We wanted to give everybody a place to come and mourn."

Ha! Ha!

"Why are you laughing? Oh, you're crying."

The rack has attracted flowers, sketches, a penny, scribbled notes and a giant photo of Anna over the caption "never give up." Long reportedly hopes to buttress the affair with a never-ending audio loop of "Candle in the Wind" in the near future, and when that happens the shrine will be awash in this wildly popular column's tears. Rhodehamel jokes (we think) that Stardust will soon change its name to Anna Nicole's and be painted pink.

Like most Orlandoans, Rhodehamel is beside himself with grief.

"Seriously, I can't really think about it without crying, so I try not to think."

Goodbye, Anna Nicole.

Goodbye, Anna Nicole.

Heeding our own advice from last week, we headed over to the J.B. Callahan Center Feb. 22 for the Creative Village open house with a notebook full of queries about the majestic fountain slated to be built there.

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Rate the protest!

Who: Alliance for Freedom From Alimony

When: Feb. 26 in front of the Orange County Courthouse

Scene: Half a dozen protesters gathered to demand alimony reform, hoping to nix lifetime alimony benefits. Alliance for Freedom From Alimony members called alimony an “unconstitutional form of slavery” that “destroys any incentive for marriage.”

“Our system is badly broken,” notes Bill Cabana, a retired doctor with Alzheimer’s who has been paying alimony to his college professor/interior designer wife since 1991.

While consisting of a meager crowd, this one gets bonus points for inmate and reaper costumes. Not to mention creative signs that puzzled those cruising by during their morning commute.

You remember Orlando's Creative Village, right? The technological Xanadu (with a fountain) planned for the Amway Arena property; the place "where the idea begins"? Well, even though we never got the chance to pose our water-feature related questions, we were able to cull one thing from this one hour of life we'll never get back: the city has no idea what it's doing. Surprise!

An audience of about 40 (half of them white city employees) gathered to show off 10 posters with bullet points and sparse illustrations, because an actual PowerPoint presentation detailing what in the hell is going on would be too impressive. Amateur hour at the urban planning oasis went on to include barely there presentations from Creative Village concept team chairs Suzy Allen and Ben Noel, as well as a lesson on the word "excitement" from concept-teamer Vernice Atkins-Bradley, a talk suitable for kindergartners.

Orlando commissioner Daisy Lynum did her part to make certain that Parramore remains the Oprah Winfrey production of a Maya Angelou book (nice ladies with hats) that only she thinks it is, while thugs outside milled around with crack in their pockets.

But the real kicker came in the question-and-answer segment at the end, when residents' inquiries regarding what the city is plopping down in their midst this time were met with the glibness of a used-car sale, rims not included. Would it kill the city to get real experts in to give a real presentation? Would it kill the city to actually know what it is talking about?

At one point city staffer Brooke Bonnet struggled with a pretty common term, considering this is going to be the beating heart of Digiwood and all. "Fiber … um, fiber … fiber what?", Bonnet muddled. "We should ask the guy from the Weekly."

"Optics," our correspondent murmured. (Where do we send the invoice?)

Mark our words: This is going nowhere.

OK, here's the deal: You get us liquored up, we will write about you. Agreed?

As proof we offer the following: Anheuser-Busch dropped by Happytown™ HQ Feb. 21 to hip us to some re-vamped products, which we care not a whit about. Buy an ad. However, they did bring along a nice supply of beverages for sampling, which immediately elevates their status.

It seems they've re-worked the recipe for the Michelob family of beers, which now suck much less than before. (Was that the actual tag line for the new stuff? If not it should be.) Oh, and they have new bottle design, which is apparently very, very important; the press release they left us spends four paragraphs talking about the bottle and only two about the beer.

So there you have it, quid pro quo. Who's next?

Jobless in Orlando? Then you must be sitting on your duff, sipping a beer and watching infomercials telling you how to train for a fantastic career in exchange for two weeks of your time and the loan of your left kidney. Because according to the omni-potent folks at Forbes, Orlando is ranked No. 4 on a list of the best American cities for jobs.

Of course no one really mentions that this abundance includes a disproportionate number of service-industry jobs paying, oh, $8 an hour.

Why not No. 1? Well it seems those pesky hurricanes knocked the City Beautiful back a couple of notches. Hurricanes and eternal opportunities to wait tables or work at a theme park. Now that's what we call opportunity!

This week's report by Billy Manes, Ian Monroe and Deanna Sheffield.

happytown@orlandoweekly.com

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