It's official. Lou Pearlman's free fall from downtown savior to scumbag extraordinaire is such that, what with the bankruptcies and search warrants and more court cases than we care to count, another lawsuit against Big Poppa nary merits mention in this wildly popular column. Sure, we could point out — again — that before this city's intelligentsia jumped on the bandwagon, we correctly called bullshit on Glenda Hood's willingness to snuggle up to Captain Skeezebucket's Church Street Station plans. But really, what's the point?
That said, the federal lawsuit filed in Tampa March 5 is worth mentioning. Not necessarily because it's unique, but because of who's named as a defendant alongside our favorite boy-band impresario: none other than Gov. Charlie Crist.
Back when Crist was attorney general, his office investigated lots of fraud complaints related to Pearlman's various (and perhaps nefarious) enterprises. But in July 2004, Crist's office was "unable to find any substantial violation" of the law related to Pearlman's model-scout companies, 2,000 complaints notwithstanding. A few months before that, Crist removed chief prosecutor Jackie Dowd from the case, a move critics attributed to a too-tough-for-comfort investigation. (Dowd hasn't talked about it.)
One of Pearlman's critics, Les Henderson, even wrote a book called Under Investigation: The Inside Story of the Florida Attorney General's Investigation of Wilhelmina Scouting Network, the Largest Model and Talent Scam in America, alleging that Crist had in fact saved Pearlman's bacon.
And that allegation is why Crist's name is included in the 104-page complaint filed by Tampa lawyer James Lowy, himself one of Pearlman's alleged victims. "The nature of the relationship between Defendant Crist and Defendant Pearlman and Defendant Pearlman Companies on the one hand and the timing and circumstances related to the cessation of the investigations into the activities of and failure to prosecute Defendant Pearlman and Defendant Pearlman Companies … is suspect," the lawsuit says. "If the allegations are true, Defendant Crist and other officials knowingly, intentionally, carelessly, recklessly, negligently or improperly received and/or came to be in possession of tens of thousands of dollars that `were` misappropriated from Plaintiffs."
And what exactly was the "nature of the relationship"? According to the lawsuit, $11,000 in campaign contributions from Pearlman and Pearlman's companies and the use of Pearlman's private jets.
It's not easy being a Magic fan these days. The team sucks, the coach stinks and there are nagging questions about why Richie Rich DeVos can't contribute more money to pay for a new arena. What's a fan to do?
Protest, that's what. It's our God-given right as Americans. And it's also our God-given right to protest any damn way we please, up to and including stuffing an entire Taco Bell soft taco in our maws every time the team loses. No, we don't get the connection either, but hang with us for a second.
A group of Magic fans who call themselves "The Taco Bell Guys" — real names Troy McCafferty, Spenser Strode, Adam Papageorgiou and Ben Robb — have decided that Magic coach Brian Hill needs to be fired. When the team loses, they get together to shove soft tacos down their gullets in one bite, one for every loss since the protest began. It all started with a demoralizing loss to the Detroit Pistons Feb. 23. As of this writing they're up to seven tacos per sitting.
Check out the righteous gluttony for yourself on YouTube. Just do a search for "fire Brian Hill." Do it quick before they explode. (Editor's note: Do these guys know what they're doing to their colons? They should see the last item.)
One YouTuber suggested Taco Bell offer a new value meal: a soft taco and a glass of water, served only after the Magic loses. Hmmm, so how many times a week might that be available?
Of all of the unnecessary anniversaries we're likely to forget this year, we wish that this could be one of them: Monday, March 19, marks the end of the fourth year of the Iraq war (or at least the day that we were lied to on television by a redneck … again), and we're not ordering flowers this time.
Since that first strike in 2003, we've waltzed through quite a number of polite protests wondering, "What the hell? What the hell is this going to do? And why does it smell so bad?" If this war doesn't end soon, it's going to have to start kindergarten, and you know how kindergartners can be.
Anyway, at 4:30 p.m. on Monday various peace groups of the student (SDS, Campus Peace Action) and civilian (hippies!) persuasion will descend upon the amphitheater in Lake Eola Park for more speeches and more marching — as usual, to the offices of U.S. Rep. Ric Keller and U.S. senators Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez. Boring. May we suggest that it might be time for something different, a little Weathermen-style action, perhaps, or some real civil disobedience to make somebody not wearing hemp notice? Just a thought. Don't tell anybody where you got it.
Speaking of the SDS, so fed up are they with the University of Central Florida administration ignoring their complaints that on March 6 about 40 of them staged a campus rally on the "free speech" lawn, in which they taped off the area with bright caution tape to show that "free assembly doesn't even exist." From there, they marched into the administration building, gagged themselves, and stayed for about 20 minutes. Then they carried a cardboard cutout of Lady Liberty into the Student Union, leaving her at the Pegasus mural. Confusing, no? But at least they're earnest.
So earnest, in fact, that about 30 of them are heading up to Washington, D.C., this weekend to take part in the national version of the March 19 protest.
Don't know about you, but we've already earmarked a good chunk of March 20 to spend inside a colon. See, the entire Happytown™ crew is going to be shrunk to microscopic size and injected into a cooperative patient. Some of us will split immediately for the liver, a few have expressed an interest in kicking it at the pancreas, but for the most part we are going to throw down in the colon. It will be a fantastic voyage, for sure.
OK, that's not really going to happen. Do you believe everything you read? But we are going to be grooving in a giant inflatable colon that day, courtesy of M.D. Anderson Cancer Center of Orlando, 1400 S. Orange Ave. They're hosting a traveling 20-foot-long, 8-foot-high replica of said organ as an educational exhibit from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Colons are prone to cancer, which is prone to killing people, so your tour will include such delightful sights as the various stages of colorectal cancer and an up-close-and-personal look at Crohn's disease! It will be enough to make you want to get a camera shoved up your backside.
This week's report by Jeffrey C. Billman, Billy Manes, Deanna Sheffield and Bob Whitby.[email protected]