Protest over protestor numbers

Just how many people were there in the streets of New York protesting the Bush administration Aug. 29? Depends on your source. Our beloved Orlando Sentinel put the figure at a mere 100,000, because really, how many people could there be who actually disagree with Shrubbie? The Washington Post put the figure at 200,000, a decent turnout, but, y'know, not the event of a lifetime. The New York Times, quoting an unofficial police source, put the figure at 500,000, but they're liberals. CNN reported the 400,000 figure spoon-fed to them by protest organizers.

Fox News put the number of protesters at a little over 75, primarily radicals and malcontents.

No matter. Here in Orlando we had our own little show of discontent in the form of a protest co-sponsored by Code Pink and Orlando Direct Action. Code Pink, as you might infer, is a group of people desirous of giving Bush a pink slip. And they wear pink slips. Get it? Added bonus: They were passing out pink bananas with slogans like "Say no to the chimp" written on them. Florida will not be the site of another banana-republic election if these folks have anything to say about it.

Orlando Direct Action is a group that "opposes all forms of oppression, inequality and injustice, and takes action to counter them directly," according to a long screed on their website, They need a gimmick, like pink bananas.

In any case, Happytown™ was on the scene at the protest, as is the case whenever lingerie is on display. We put the crowd estimate at 10,000; unofficially, of course.

When Happytown™ noticed last week that the Johns (Kerry and Edwards) had opened their Orlando HQ at 618 N. Mills Ave., in the old Colonialtown Cyclery building, we had just one question: What the hell took you so long? Orlando is the epicenter, the watershed, the great divide, ground zero, the Death Star, Mount Doom, the stairway to heaven, the highway to hell ... OK, we'll stop now ... of the 2004 presidential race. Any strategist with half a functioning lobe would have been here six months ago.

"We've actually had people on the ground in Orlando since early May," says Florida campaign rep Matthew Miller. "We're just now doing the office opening, but we've been working here for months."

Which is probably news to local Dems who've been kvetching about lack of coordination between the local party and Kerry campaign for months. Can't we all just get along?

We've gone through three TV sets since Georgie Junior "won" the 2000 election. Seems every time his mug shows up on our set, something gets thrown at the screen. Oddest thing.

Apparently we are not the only ones assaulting innocent Zeniths. This is going on throughout the land. It's so common that Al Franken, currently of Air America Radio, is organizing The Great American Shout Out. On Sept. 2, at about 10 p.m., just as the prez is taking to the podium to accept his party's nomination for a second term, Franken is urging frustrated Americans everywhere to thrown open their windows and shout "fuggedaboutit!" into the night. No obscenities, and everyone quits when Bush's speech starts; just a nice, clean show of free speech, American style. And if you want to organize (or attend) a party and yell your freakin' head off among like-minded yellers, check out the website at Friends don't let friends endure Bush's acceptance speech alone.

Congrats to Alan Yurko, now free for the first time in six years and 125 days. Yurko was released from prison Aug. 27 on charges of shaking his infant son to death after Orange County circuit court Judge C. Alan Lawson ruled that Orange-Osceola medical examiner Shashi Gore botched the autopsy so badly as to compromise the conviction. Chalk up another mistake to Gore, who has since retired and was vacationing in Europe on the day Yurko was released, according to the Sentinel.

Lawson granted Yurko's wish for a new trial, but prosecutors settled for a lesser charge of manslaughter and time served, so Yurko walked. You first read about baby Yurko's botched autopsy, by the way, in the pages of this very newspaper.

Attacking George Bush's environmental record is a bit like shooting fish in a barrel. But simplicity sticks with voters; how else does one explain the Swift Boat Liars Club? The League of Conservation Voters Education Fund has found their niche in the last few months, and that niche is mercury – the metal, not the planet or the car.

Junior's Environmental Protection Agency wants to allow 300 more tons of mercury to be dumped into our water than the Clean Air Act would allow. That's not good for pregnant women, who, according to the LCVEF, have a pretty good shot at having enough mercury in them to damage their developing babies' health. So the LCVEF wants you to pressure Congress to reject the EPA's decidedly pro-industry agenda, and help children and pregnant women instead.

And you get the feeling – though with the LCVEF being a nonprofit they can't come out and say it – they'd prefer you vote for someone other than the current president.

Anyway, to drive the point home, the LCVEF, along with fellow hippies Greenpeace, Clear the Air, Florida PIRG and a particularly talkative Ben Markeson, congregated in front of City Hall Monday, offering to snip a lock of your hair and send it off to a lab in North Carolina to be tested for mercury. Early next year, all the samples will be calculated in a nationwide study of mercury levels. To sweeten the pot, they included fake (soy) fish.

We got our hair cut, but only after being assured that the lab would test for mercury and nothing else. Enough said.

Orange County commissioner Linda Stewart showed up too, acting far more like a politician than usual. She gave a sound bite about awareness for the two TV cameras on hand, then got a big ol' chunk of her locks snipped off.

"That's a lot of hair," she said. (The test requires a gram.) "Oh my God. No one told me that."

Don't worry, commissioner. No one can tell.

While we're on the topic of hair, you can imagine how erect the fuzzies on our collective nape are this week at the announcement of the Hair Olympics.

Our thoughts drifted to images of shirtless contestants jumping tossing giant knots of the stuff in the hairput, but we're funny like that.

What's really going on is Tabu's Hair Olympics gala on Sept. 4, wherein aspiring stylists will compete to raise funds for the U.S. Ladies Hairstyling Team (bitches, all of them, we hear) to travel to the HairWorld 2004 World Championships in Milan. For a mere $5 donation (er, tip), you can bear witness to ridiculously over-the-top coif construction in a dim nightclub where the music is louder than at your favorite strip-mall cuttery.

We were surprised to find out that this follicular challenge is oddly serious, tracing its roots back to the early 20th century. Apparently, it has produced a whole bunch of revolutionary haircutting techniques that have made the world a better place, plus there's even a cult of snobbish followers. So it's kind of like a beauty pageant, with sharp objects. Imagine the fun.