A grim reaping

Art as a means of protest? Say it ain't so. We thought art was supposed to be pretty and make you feel good, then along comes this group of artists who are getting all political on us. And before an election even! Why, it's as if they want you think about issues and stuff before you fill out a ballot. Why do these "artists" hate freedom? We wonder if Fox News knows about this.

See this affront to all that's wholesome and patriotic yourself at COMMA Gallery's "Patriot Acts: Art Against the War" exhibition now through Nov. 5. While you're there, make sure to drop a few coins into the Diabolic Electronic Voting Machine, and check out Homeland Insecurity, the board game, which you may (or may not) recall was published right here in these pages in June 2003.

Hey kids, didya see the Oct. 6 issue of Rolling Stone? The one with a story titled "Bush like me" by Matt Taibbi? Seems Mr. Gonzo Journalist doesn't like Orlando too much. Here's an excerpt:

"For me, `Orlando` is hell on earth, the worst city on the planet, a place that would make me long for Kinshasa or Volokolamsk. But for Republicans, it is ideal: a scorching-hot paved inland archipelago of garish shopping malls and stadium-size steel-and-glass Baptist churches …."

Now, we certainly don't mind that Taibbi dissed O-Town; hell, on bad days we share his sentiments. And far be it from us to crab about him punking the Republicans by lying to get a job at Bush for President HQ (way to advance the cause of journalism, there, Matt; is that The New York Times calling?)

What grates is that we knew what Taibbi was up to a long time ago, but promised to keep it secret. He plied us with vodka at Scruffy Murphy's, bought on his bottomless Rolling Stone expense account, and told us about his plan to infiltrate the local Bush campaign. The idea struck us as stupid and we forgot about it right after the hangover wore off.

Only now do we realize that we should have outed him, because large parts of his story are clearly fake. The entire last section, in which our hero goes deep undercover at dinner with a fundamentalist couple, reeks of fabrication. Note how perfectly the scene supports his thesis (Republicans need enemies!); how he becomes the center of attention by playing to their fears (Republicans will believe anything!); how he fails to give even a single verifiable detail throughout the entire anecdote (Rolling Stone editors let me write anything I want!).

Gotta call bullshit on that one, Matt, and therefore the entire story, and therefore your entire body of work. Come to think of it, the vodka that night wasn't very good either.

We confess that we are no strangers to insanity here at Happytown™. Surprised? Well, "clinical" implies pills, right?

Still, we were taken aback by the madness motif of this year's Universal Studios bottom-feeding boo fest, Halloween Horror Nights. After that Mummy ride commercial featuring a snake slithering up guy's leg, we thought we'd never be surprised again. We were wrong.

It seems Universal marketing brass has managed to hawk the wrong stigma this time around. This year they've moved from the ghoulish to the insane, and making sport of the mentally ill isn't funny to some. Well, it isn't funny to at least one person, a local mental health advocate by the name of Cherie Faircloth.

Faircloth thinks those unfortunate enough to have experience with mental illness might be set off by this year's Halloween Horror Nights. So she, and others affiliated with the Florida Chapter of the Depressive Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), are attempting a small awareness coup as we speak, this being National Mental Health Awareness Week and all. They plan to picket, they plan to boycott sponsors and they plan to complain.

Faircloth contacted the powers that be at Universal, who told her (in their best theme park voice) that the nights in question are all about "leaving reality at the door."

"This is real. You can't leave this at the door," insists Faircloth. "It depressed me," she told us.

If you had a similar reaction and wish to join the crusade, address your comments to Universal Orlando Studios, 1000 Universal Studios Plaza, Orlando, 32819. Otherwise, stop by our office. We've got pills.

Debates are one thing, but feuds are a whole different can of Southern whoop-ass. And while we may be imagining things for our own secret redneck pleasure, we got wind that the Hatfield-McCoy nature of the Kerry/Bush dustup may be rearing its head right here in Orlando.

This one isn't about Iraq, it's about something much more tangible for most of us: parking.

Basically, there isn't much of it outside Kerry HQ. The adjoining parking lot is actually owned by and used for the neighboring Colonial Photo and Hobby. And it seems the business isn't wild about sharing its spaces with the liberals in the (rented) space next door, formerly home of a bicycle shop. Threats of towing have been bandied about, according to Kerry folks, anyway, thus relegating them to street parking.Nobody wants to go on record about it, but the resentment at the Kerry camp is palpable. "You should write something about how mean they're being to us," they sighed in our direction. OK, we just did.

Bob Morris likes to party – before dinner time, yet. When not partying, he likes to write. That's what we conclude from the fact that he's having a party celebrating the release of his new book Bahamarama, published by St. Martin's Press, no less. Which just shows that getting fired from the Sentinel is a career enhancer. We suspected as much.

Morris is notable in this space for two reasons: No. 1: He founded the Queen Kumquat Sashay, the unofficial parade that used to kick off Light Up Orlando back when the city was fun; No. 2: He was the Sentinel's star columnist in the '80s until he got popped on charges of plagiarism. But we don't care: We loved every word Bob Morris wrote in his folksy, self-amused columns. If any were "misappropriated," then give him credit for making good choices. Come hoist a Kalik with Bob (he's buying!) from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Oct. 16 at Palmano's Espresso Bar in Winter Park. Pssst … did you know thatThe Lone Star Iconoclast, hometown paper of Crawford, Texas, hometown of you-know-who, endorsed John Kerry for president? Gospel truth. The editorial, which ran Sept. 26, was titled "Kerry will restore American dignity." Just sayin' ….


Q: If the bulge in George Bush's back during the first presidential debate wasn't a radio, enabling him to take his cues from Karl Rove, what else could it have been?

A: Well, the idea that Bush might have been wearing a wire for the debates is the most rampant speculation, but it's certainly not the only theory. I'm particularly fond of the idea that, when his soul was taken as collateral back in his Skull and Bones days, his fellow Bonesmen had the foresight to install a special access panel in his back so as to facilitate the application of a certain chemical, or gypsy tincture, to blacken his heart. Of course, the problem with this theory is that, while also a member of Skull and Bones, Kerry does not exhibit a similar access panel.

Another popular theory is that there's a mechanism embedded in his back that will repeat a certain phrase every time the string is pulled. Amongst the selections: "war on terror," "He's changing positions," "It's hard work," and my personal favorite, "Who brought the blow?"

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