Now that 2010 is officially outthe door, we can finally talk about it behind its back. And because it’s the day after New Year’s and my head is still ringing with “Auld Lang Syne,” I’m prepared to dish the dirt. Here’s my not-so-fond farewell (in completely random disorder) to the worst of 2010 in Orlando arts and culture.
First, drive an hour west of Orlando into the wilds of Plant City, where finding a parking spot is a life-threatening adventure. Next, load up on an array of lard-laden snack foods, from chocolate-dipped bacon to deep-fried butter. Finally, strap yourself into a rust-coated carnie contraption that tosses you around like a rag doll. Welcome to God’s greatest gift to cardiologists, the 75th Florida Strawberry Festival. Please leave your Lipitor and last will and testament at the livestock tent.
Brian Feldman’s 67 Books reading marathon was a fine way to honor last April’s National Library Week, but I have to be honest and declare my contribution a low-light of the project. My weekday afternoon time slot assured an audience composed mostly of homeless people, who intermittently listened to me read one-third of Cory Doctorow’s Down and out in the Magic Kingdom off my iPhone. I may have single-handedly doomed the printed word in America. Oops.
It’s Nerdapalooza, Orlando’s annual geek-music gathering. Local indie singer-songwriter Marc with a C is onstage playing the opening verse of his epic “Stairway to Heaven” and “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” mashup. He strikes a Jimmy Page pose, his knee pops out from under him and he tumbles to the deck. Despite a dislocated patella and torn anterior ligament, Marc insists on finishing the song and his set. And I, as a concerned friend, shoot video of the whole thing and post it online.
You wouldn’t expect a couple of middle-aged Brit synth-pop rockers to attract an audience largely made up of alcoholic assholes, but the free outdoor Tears for Fears concert at the end of August was like an overcrowded concentration camp sponsored by Budweiser and Jack Daniels. An hour in that “Mad World” and I was ready to “Shout” for a hot shower.
I’m the kind of cheap bastard who prides himself on not spending a dime more than I have to on food inside the theme parks; the only soda you’ll ever see me drink at Disney is the free stuff they hand out at Epcot’s Club Cool. But since Universal’s Harry Potter attraction opened, I’ve ordered at least two dozen cups of fatally addictive frozen Butterbeer. At 200 calories and $4 a pop, I’m well on my way to being Hagrid-sized and house-elf poor.
We at OW work hard so that readers can depend on our recommendations in the Selections section, but every so often we blow it. In July, I suggested seeing magician Remy Connor’s The Traveler’s Rest, promoting it as an “unforgettable showcase” based on the performer’s resume. But the act I ended up attending was awkward and amateurishly executed. To anyone who wasted $15 based on my word, my deepest apologies (but no refunds).
When it comes to touring companies at the Bob Carr, I couldn’t expect great art out of stuff like Xanadu The Musical or the umpteenth return of Phantom of the Opera. But I had high hopes that the Tony-winning In the Heights would be the breath of fresh air I was craving. No dice: Despite the novel Nuyorican flavor, the show flailed and failed thanks to sub-Eminem-quality rap songs and sappy sophomoric storytelling. At least Xanadu had a flying unicorn.
As omnipotent masterminds who manipulate the global media (at least according to Juan Williams), we Hebrews are responsible for the world’s great art, along with some god-awful schlock. But nothing made me ashamed to be a member of the tribe like Gimpel the Fool, actor-director Howard Rypp’s ham-fisted klezmer monologue at the 2010 Fringe Festival. This bastardization of beloved Isaac Bashevis Singer stories made Jews look so cruelly pathetic it could have been a stealth skinhead-recruiting tool.
Producer Paul Castaneda was too polite to say so in our December interview, but I’ll say it for him: The Greater Orlando Actors Theatre got royally screwed in the Cherry Street Theater debacle. The nonprofit troupe lost thousands of dollars and a year’s worth of sweat equity in a vain effort to appease the City of Winter Park’s fire marshal. No one wants another deadly Great White-style disaster (100 people were killed at the band’s 2003 show at a Rhode Island nightclub), but if code enforcement is going to be so opaque and expensive for small arts groups, they could at least throw in some lube.
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