HAPPYTOWN 


;Whoa. What the heck is going on? Here we are, stumbling around in a tequila hangover stupor and trying to avoid the turkey coma that follows the office potluck, when we came upon the shocking … shocking! … news that Bill Nelson has cojones. Whodathunkit?

;;Our own Democratic senator, a man who doesn't get excited unless stroking his toy space shuttle, gave the Bush administration the middle finger and hopped a plane to Syria to have a little sitdown with president Bashar Assad. Nelson was taking the Iraq Study Group's advice to engage in chats with Syria and Iran to help end the Iraq debacle, but the U.S. Department of State was none too thrilled about his adventure, because Syria supports Hezbollah and Hamas. A bunch of other Democrats will probably — here are some words we never thought we'd write — follow Nelson's lead next year. Wow.

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;Know what's wrong with this city? No conviction. No guts. No imagination. OK, that's three things wrong with this city, but all three things are embodied in the weak-kneed, wish-ass-washy new slogan the Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau "unveiled" Dec. 15: "Built for families. Made for memories."

;;First of all, Orlando was not "built for families." It was built for white Europeans so they could settle here without getting slaughtered by the Seminoles. Is this slogan actually suggesting that history prior to the arrival of The Mouse is irrelevant? And if so, isn't that a grave injustice to our ancestors? A slap in the face to the Native Americans who were here first? Why does the convention and visitors bureau hate our heritage?

;;Second, what the hell does "made for memories" even mean? One of the definitions of "made" is "produced artificially," another is "invented or contrived," so that seems to fit; but how does one build an artificially produced or contrived place specifically to create a remembered person, thing, happening or act? Wouldn't it be exactly that which is not artificial or contrived that would be most likely to be remembered, and therefore become a memory?

;;Third, this slogan is a turd. Las Vegas has "What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas," suggesting all sorts of lurid, on-the-down-low fun in a place where you can check your inhibitions at the airport. We have "Built for families. Made for memories," suggesting … umm, nothing really.

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;Fourth, it says zilch about Orlando. To wit: "Sheboygan — built for families, made for memories." Works just as well.

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;Here's our suggestion: "What happens in Orlando goes on the Internet." Feel free to use it, no charge.

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; MURDER WATCH;
No. 46: David Tellis, died Dec. 15. Orlando police found 17-year-old Tellis’ body outside a recreation center on W.D. Judge Drive Dec. 15. They say he was shot multiple times while running away from someone. The city shattered its previous homicide record of 36, set in 1982, in August.
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;And now it's time for the final 2006 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!

;;We hopped on to Keller's congressional website (keller.house.gov) to see what was new. Certainly he'd pimp some speech he made during the lame-duck session on tax cuts or bombing some place in the Middle East. Or maybe there was a presser bemoaning the Democratic takeover of the House and how the ascension of Nancy Pelosi portends the end of all that is good and holy. (According to www.congress.org, Keller's power ranking will drop from 175 to 314 — out of 435 — come January. Ouch.)

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;;And what did we find? Nothing new. Keller's site, as best we could tell, hasn't been updated since July. As in five months ago. On the other hand, his campaign website (www.kellerforcongress.com) is totally up-to-date, headlined by Keller's announcement that he is seeking re-election despite his pledge to serve no more than eight years Congress. Relax, folks: "I meant it when I said it," Keller says. But there's more tax cutting to be done, and Ricky-boy just can't stand to leave Washington with such important business left undone.

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;;Thanks, Ric, for keeping us informed!

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;On Nov. 17, the city ran a;camp of homeless people from under the State Road 408 interchange near Sylvia Lane. If the homeless people weren't there to cart off their stuff, the city gathered it up dumped it.

;;Now this: At 8 a.m. Dec. 18, city officials and police pulled up to a nearby park - the only one where the city allows the homeless to be fed on a regular basis - that nearly four dozen homeless people called home for the last month, ordered everyone out and locked the gates. Feedings would now have to be approved by the city clerk's office. If the homeless didn't get all their stuff away from the park by week's end, it would be trashed.

;;Homeless advocates estimate that this city has 7,000 homeless people, but only 2,000 sheltered beds for them. And many of those are at the Coalition for the Homeless, which a lot of homeless people consider too dangerous. They'd rather live on the street.

;;So what of the Sylvia Lane homeless? They've scattered. Some will go into the woods. Some will wander downtown. Others will try to find other overpasses to live under.

;;And a Merry Christmas to you too, Mayor Buddy Dyer.

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; DISPATCHES FROM THE FRONT:;
; THE WAR ON CHRISTMAS! ;

ORLANDO — A senior citizen’s home was the scene of an epic struggle Dec. 14 when an employee was ordered to “cut the wings off an angel” on the home’s tree, according to a press release by the Longwood-based Liberty Counsel. In a bold defense of the baby Jesus, the Liberty Counsel faxed a letter to the nursing home’s managers outlining their displeasure. They then put out a press release that called for donations, noting that a donation in any amount over $3 will buy you an “‘I helped save Christmas’ button.”

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In a related development, the Liberty Counsel’s Mat Staver expressed outrage to CNN over the release of the slasher film Black Christmas on Dec. 25. “To have a movie that emphasizes murder and mayhem at Christmas, a time of celebration and joy around the world, seems to be ill founded,” Staver said.

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ORANGE CITY — A key battle was won against the forces of godless secularism Dec. 14 when an apartment building relented and allowed residents to hang up Christmas decorations. The victory, noted in a front-page story in the Orlando Sentinel, had residents “screaming for joy.”

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;;happytown@orlandoweekly.com

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; This week's report by Jeffrey C. Billman and Bob Whitby.

; happytown@orlandoweekly.com

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