Best Of 2021

Staff Pick — Best Non-Human Ambassador of Downtown Orlando: Lulu Unleashed
Photo by Matt Keller Lehman

No need for a hashtag; if you know, you know. There's a third mayor in this town. And his name is Lulu. (Yes, his.) He doesn't swing left, nor does he swing right (though his tail often does); politics aren't his concern. A Thornton Park resident, he's out daily mixing with his constituents, shaking hands and kissing babies. Snacks, pets and water breaks at the bars? Yes, please. Chats and naps at the local salons? Don't mind if he does. Hiding under the Falcon's picnic tables after his curfew just to hang out and listen to Sonic Youth? Sittin' like a kitty. He's hip and he's got my vote! Lulu doesn't put up with bullying from ruffian ferals, he yawns at the logic of crosswalks, and most people in Thornton Park think he's actually human ... and can probably beat you at Scrabble. He's Lulu "Unleashed." Rock the vote. (Lulu Unleashed)

Are you down?
Photo by Matthew Moyer
Are you down?

One of Orlando's newest pieces of public art is a bright yellow sculpture that needs to know one thing and it needs to know it now: Are you down to Orlando? Orlando's Downtown Development Board unveiled the new sculpture in May to commemorate their 50th anniversary — and it immediately raised text-savvy eyebrows around the city. Ostensibly, the letters DTO are meant to signify "downtown Orlando." (But ... "downtown" is one word ... oh, never mind.) Still, we can't help feeling like the sculpture belongs on a Readers Digest list of "cellular text message slang that you might find if you pick up your teen's phone." The giant lexical sculpture sits outside the Discover Downtown visitor center on Orange Avenue, easily visible all day and brightly lit up at night. Because if you're Down to Orlando, you're DTO 24/7. Meanwhile, the less said about the awkward patch job on the O, the better. (Discover Downtown™)

Staff Pick — Best Thousand-Yard Stare
Photo illustration by Matthew Moyer

Look, it's life or death right now with this pandemic and we understand that fully and it's our daily reality. But sometimes, while watching Orange County Mayor Jerry Demings' coronavirus briefings, we've started to see hints of the same existential despair found in the old "Steve Harvey Doesn't Want to Host Family Feud Anymore" mashup videos. Maybe it's just our quarantine-addled brains, but it seemed like every time a reporter asked about the coronavirus strike teams, or what dickheaded move Gov. Ron DeSantis made to put this entire county in jeopardy this week, Demings would stare quietly off into the distance for a brief second that stretched into an eternity, perhaps mentally going to his happy place, then compose himself, purposefully not break into a primal scream, and instead matter-of-factly state something like, "There is nothing unprecedented about local governments trying to provide for and protect residents during a pandemic" (March 2021) or "I really don't feel like I have to go to the governor to ask permission to be the mayor of Orange County" (Dec. 2020) or just mildly suggest yet again that, hey, maybe everyone needs to get vaccinated sooner rather than later. Sometimes a man's face communicates more than his words ever could. (