On the airwaves with marathon man and Light Up Orlando burns out

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For some reason the radio here at Happytown™ HQ seems to be stuck on WPRK-FM (91.5), Rollins College's adorable, endearing and addictive spot on the dial. Where else can you park your tuner and hear The Token Lesbian, classical music, Audio Terrorism and a show lachrymosely titled "The Saddest Music in the World"? Plus it's free. Screw satellite radio.

This week is an added treat, as listeners get to tune in and witness DJ Dave Plotkin disintegrating before their ears. Plotkin's trying to break the world record for the longest continuous radio broadcast by a single DJ in history. Yeah, good luck with that and all, but the fun part is listening to Plotkin get progressively more crabby and crazed as sleep deprivation takes hold. On Monday morning, Jan 17, he started out chipper as a Boy Scout. By Tuesday (our deadline) he was getting disoriented, short-tempered and curt. By Thursday he'll think he's Napoleon. By Friday he should be well into visual and aural hallucinations, chewing on his own limbs and drooling. Try and find radio like that on Clear Channel.

Happytown is saddened – OK, nonplussed – to report that Light Up Orlando is once again on hiatus. Longtime O-townites might remember that from 1989 to 1993, the annual street party was the one time each year Orlando shook off its straight-laced rep and partied like a sorority girl with dad's credit card. Then, in 1994, Glenda Hood decided that all the partying was too much like New Orleans and ordered a tamer event. Attendance tanked.

In late 2003, downtown lawyer/bar owner Mark Nejame got the ball rolling again. But the city foolishly insisted on a "family friendly" event, and only 50,000 people turned out. The promoters blamed the weather, but we place the blame squarely on the musical headliners: .38 Special, fer Chrissakes.

Light Up Orlando 2004 never happened. It was put off until early 2005. The city council even budgeted $25,000 to help move things along. But once again, it looks like this party ain't gonna happen. Downtown Development Board director Frank Billingsley announced that the party might come back later this year. Emphasis on "might."

In case anyone is interested, here's our recipe for success: closed streets, lots of bands, beer booths, a parade and no admission charge.

In September, the city booted the Orlando Seals from the TD Waterhouse Centre, saying the relationship with the minor-league hockey team "will operate to discredit the city." The city had every reason to be pissed. The team changed leagues more often than we change underwear. And then there's the fact that the Seals stonewalled on $150,000 in back rent, then tried to force the city to change a lease retroactively to erase the debt.

A month later, the Seals announced they were moving to the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee and would start up again in October 2005. Moreover, the Seals said they'd recoup lost revenue for the year by suing the city for breach of contract. The Seals filed that lawsuit in September, according to the city.

But if the city needs reassurance that it did the right thing, check out the Macon Trax, another minor-league hockey team that, like the Seals, is owned by Celebration resident David Waronker. A Jan. 6 story in the Macon Telegraph reports that the Trax canned two of its front office employees in an effort to shore up its financial viability. Waronker told the Macon paper that he lost $100,000 this year.

Our favorite swanky crooner Michael Andrew may end up swatting himself for adding his smooth style to the 55th Presidential Inauguration, a four-day affair, Jan. 18-21. Andrew and nine-piece band Swingerhead are on the bill for the so-called Liberty Ball (7 p.m. Jan. 19), a party dedicated to Florida, a state still acrimoniously divided. We talked to Andrew two days before the event, and he was blindsided by the possibility of controversy erupting over the Bush gig.

"I feel it's an honor," says Andrew. "He's our president; the election is over. I'm proud to be doing it. It doesn't really have anything to do with anyone's politics."

Maybe not, but a quick check of the world in which Bush is throwing the most expensive party in inauguration history hints of a commander-in-chief who is either out of touch, or doesn't give a shit: our soldiers dying every day for a baseless cause; the economy and infrastructure of Iraq in ruins; the trade deficit at a record high, etc. Bush's response: If you're a Republican, let's party!

Other entertainers at the inaugural – whom you can laud or shun, your choice – include Gloria Estefan, Ruben Studdard, 3 Doors Down and the Temptations. (For a list of entertainers, check out www.inaugural05.com).

The $40 million being spent on the hoedown could buy 200 armored Humvees or pay for vaccinations and preventive health care for 22 million kids living in tsunami-affected areas. We're just sayin'.


Q: Why do we need to spend any money at all on a second inauguration for George W. Bush? Is there any technical "chink" in the armor cyber-anarchists might be able to exploit for a little fun/political gain?

A: Obviously, the answer to your query is that we DON'T need to spend the $40 million or so that Bush is going to use on his inaugural ceremonies.

While there's always a swearing-in ceremony, most of the festivities occur at the pleasure of the president-elect. There were no official festivities, for instance, before James Madison's inauguration in 1809. Woodrow Wilson decided to forgo any kind of inaugural ball at all.

Bush, for his second term, is having no less than nine balls, a parade, a youth concert, a prayer breakfast and several candlelight dinners for his biggest donors. Bush wants to reward his cronies, create opportunities to publicly push his agendas forward and, of course, indulge his narcissism.

The good news is that it's being paid for (mostly) by soft-money donations from major Republican campaign contributors.

As for how one might exploit such self-indulgent vanity, I would say the best thing to do is to help the man get what he wants, which is to be seen. Videotape his speeches, record the movements of his swarm of limos, make MP3s of his gaffes and misstatements, and then share the raw data on the Internet, remix it and show the juxtaposition between what he SAYS is happening and what is REALLY happening. Make media that reflects the duplicitous nature of this regime, and that illustrates the chasm between the administration's rhetoric and the administration's actions. Then share it with your friends and family, and encourage them to do the same.

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