We cruising with losers and marathon man misses his mark

Yes, we were disappointed in November's election results. And for a while, we too entertained conspiracy theories in a vain attempt to explain the unexplainable – Diebold stealing votes, aliens stealing brains – before finally reaching the conclusion that Kerry lost and we had to accept it. The sad fact is that even if the right did cheat there is no way to prove it, and there never will be. And if that depresses the hell out of you, try a couple of shots of Jack Daniel's. It helped us.

Some folks are still in denial, though, still deluding themselves that we live in a representative democracy where the will of the people is done. Some of those people call themselves People for the American Way, and they held a public hearing at Orlando City Hall Jan. 27 to discuss election problems. PFAW doesn't cop to a sense of bitterness; they want to look into voting irregularities so they aren't repeated. More power to them, but it was hard to sit there and not get a palpable sense of "We're not over it."

In two hours we heard the same complaints we've heard since 2000: The felon lists were inaccurate, the polling places were too small, there weren't enough poll workers to handle a large turnout, there weren't enough ballots in languages other than English, absentee ballots arrived too late, etc. There were some new complaints as well: Long lines at early voting sites turned off voters, and voters in minority precincts were called the night before the election and told their precincts had changed when they hadn't. One man, Gary Kolson, complained that while he was handing out literature for Election Protection, an arm of PFAW, he was forced onto the sidewalk. Apparently, he didn't understand that Florida law requires that pamphleteering be done from the sidewalk.

Committee chair Reggie Mitchell promised to take the sworn statements to state and federal lawmakers in hopes of getting some new legislation. More power to them. Here's hoping they overcome the stigma of being sore losers.

Very quietly – meaning with zero discussion – the Orlando city council again cracked down on adult-entertainment establishments, tattoo parlors, escort services, palm readers and other assorted naughtiness at its Jan. 24 meeting.

Ever since Glenda the Prude was mayor, the city hasn't exactly embraced these sorts of businesses. Hood made life hard for them in an effort to clear them out of downtown.

Last week the city went a step further. A provision buried in a 44-page package of omnibus land use amendments declared that "adult entertainment establishments, body scrub facilities, commercial physical contact establishments, escort services, fortune telling/psychic service establishments, health spas, massage establishments, modeling centers, pawn shops, tattoo parlors/body art shops and temporary labor facilities" could not be operated as "accessory service uses."

Which is to say that if, for example, you operate a grocery store, you can't open a body scrub storefront as an adjunct, explains Orlando planning director Dean Grandin. Without this ordinance change, Grandin says, some of these businesses might pop up "through the back door" – pun unintended, we're sure.

So much for the Happytown™ massage parlor/soothsayer/oil change megastore we had on the back burner.

Sometimes dreams die. You build a baseball field in the middle of nowhere and ghosts just pass you right by. Life can suck.

So it's with no small amount of chagrin that we report that local hero Dave Plotkin's valiant attempt to shatter the world record for the longest radio broadcast by a single DJ missed its mark. In fact, 91.5-FM WPRK's 110-hour marathon was doomed from the start.

It turns out that some Australian doofus by the name of Suresh Joachim had already scaled the sleep-deprived heights of 120 hours, dying slowly on a Canadian radio station back in 2003. A compulsive record-setter, he also holds the record for standing on one leg and for walking around with a milk bottle on his head (big deal), but had only recently been awarded with the official record by the bureaucratic tortoises at the Guinness Book of World Records.

"It would've been nice of Guinness to drop us an e-mail, considering they knew we were doing 110. We should have checked with them on Monday morning, right at the beginning of our attempt," says Plotkin. "I'm not upset at Guinness; some did, after all, go for longer. But I think everyone knows I would have gone 125 had we found out during the marathon."

So to avoid being perceived as a "schmuck," Plotkin plans to go all Karate Kid II on our asses and launch another marathon next year, aiming for 144 hours. At least, he will if the nice folks at Rollins let him, and they'd be fools not to: The recent pseudo-telethon raised more for WPRK than 52 years of fund-raisers combined.

"I don't want to become the Jerry Lewis of WPRK," he insists. "I'd like to move on to different kinds of marathons, maybe with live music."

Still, Plotkin's feat stands atop the flimsy cultural cake of Central Florida, and ought to lend him license to do just about whatever (or whomever?) he wants. Would he do anything differently?

"Yes," he says. "At about 110-120 hours, I'd start ingesting caffeine. And I'd have a couple of mental health people there in the final 10 to 20 hours, just to tell me where I am."

Where you are now, Dave, is in the dog-eared annals of our own selective history.

"And, as you'll see, I will still hold the United States record," he says.


Q: What's eventually going to happen in Iraq?

A: First of all, it's going to look very occupied for some time. There's no plan to remove U.S. forces, and I can't imagine it will happen until Bush is removed from office, if then. There have already been reports of clandestine U.S. operations into Iran. Israel has been rattling its saber because of the apparent growth of Iranian nuclear programs. So this is how I see it playing out:U.S. forces in Iraq will continue to expand, and additional, semi-permanent bases will be built there to facilitate "nation-building" and the "democratization" of the Middle East. Iran will continue its advances toward nuclear capability. Israel, perceiving this as a threat, will send in special forces to attack Iran's nuclear facilities. Al Qaeda will use this as further evidence of the jihad against non-Muslims, and use it as a tool to recruit new members, training them in northern Iraq, southern Afghanistan and Pakistan. The Dome of the Rock will be destroyed in a bombing of Jerusalem by Iran, or possibly by Christian extremists. The evangelicals will take this as evidence of the imminent eschaton and start freaking out. And all of us 21st-century secular humanists will be left to fight off radiation poisoning and random attacks by lunatics who think that they have permission from God to commit murder – including those in our own administration.

In short, Iraq will end up being our ticket into much larger, more deadly, less justifiable conflicts that may, ultimately, reduce our great nation from superpower to economic collapse, all in the pursuit of some unilateral "mission civilisatrice" initiated by a man who thinks that God talks to him. Thanks, George. Thanks a lot.

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