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click to enlarge Billy Manes, ex-'Weekly' columnist/deserter

Rob Bartlett

Billy Manes, ex-'Weekly' columnist/deserter

Good night. And good luck. 

Quote of the Week: “I have never been a quitter. To leave office before my term is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body. But as senior staff writer, I must put the interests of Orlando first. Orlando needs a full-time staff writer and a full-time editorial staff, particularly at this time with problems we face at home and abroad. To continue to fight through the months ahead for my personal vindication would almost totally absorb the time and attention of both the staff writer and the editorial staff in a period when our entire focus should be on the great issues (and special issues) of peace abroad and prosperity without defecation at home. Therefore, I shall resign from the Orlando Weekly effective at noon tomorrow.” – Former Orlando Weekly senior staff writer, Billy Manes

All good things must come to my end, somebody once said (Did they? – ed). Well, for me all the good things in Orlando, even Florida, probably already have. For a decade, I have played a part in making Happytown™ a destination wedding for political deviants and hilariously unstable commenters alike, chest-bumping former Florida House Speaking Keg-stand Will Weatherford, R-Wesley Chapel, while simultaneously running my hands through Congressman Alan Grayson's luxurious locks of strangely sensual hair. It's been a taxing and titillating road, but I've done it all for the betterment of humankind of the Orlando variety. I've lived. I've worked. I've played. And I thought, according to my former paramour-on-an-imaginary-yacht, Mayor Buddy Dyer, that was all I had to do. (Just ask Dyer's ex-wives Cameron Kuhn or Lou Pearlman about making it in Orlando).

18: Number of years senior staff writer Billy Manes has worked for the Orlando Weekly in varying capacities

Today, with a heavy heart, I must tender my resignation to the city that I once loved with a passion, but now only love in my glorious mirrored reflection. I'm off to California next week, as some of you know, but the secret I've been keeping is that I'm off to California for good. Like Jerry Brown good.

The reasons beyond a growing hump of hubris that resembles a goiter on an untold portion of my anatomy are manifold. This publication, it seems, is turning a corner of its own (see story page 17), and without me, it's nothing, for one. But mostly, as a newly married gay man, I'm not sure I care to further exist in the startling glow of the noggin of a bald governor who refuses to accept that my people really exist; we're like climate change! Love it or leave it? I'm leaving it.

2: Number of times he's been threatened with the potential of maybe, possibly, a politician pursuing a lawsuit against him because he was so awesome. Also the number of times someone accused him of ruining his or her life via writing.

But I'm not leaving without fond memories. Oh, the cocaine salad days of the late '90s when I weaseled my way into the Weekly's bosom via a gig in its classified advertising department. ("He's intelligent, but he seems to lack any degree of focus," was something uttered in my initial interview. That's because I was high, though, OK?). The Blister and B-List columns that found me staring down pubic hairs in public bathrooms and swingers at bars and Peggy Fleming at the Convention Center for bolded copy to fill the "gay hole" of that Weekly iteration are the stuff of legend. The short-lived serious face that accompanied my unlikely run for Mayor of Orlando in 2005 eventually led to somebody (former editor Bob Whitby) taking me seriously (I wrote about grocery carts! What's with all the carts?!), and the spore of a public figure was stuck beneath a desk next to a piece of twice-chewed gum where it would grow into a full, toxic mold.

1,000: Number of tears Manes is wiping up off the mat under his desk chair as he writes this

Seriously, though, it's been an amazing ride, and I appreciate those of you who have taken it with me. No need to unearth the sad bits, but when you live like an open book that is dancing just for himself, the sad bits are sometimes all you have, and I am thankful to this paper and this community for carrying me through some REALLY sad bits. Also some happy ones, though! And some really scathingly political ones, too. To my fellow cast members – er, editorial staffers and the rest of the lot in the building – I wish you the best in the future. I'm off to watch a sunset that's really a sunset, to ride a dream I never really had, to make vague statements like I always have. This town has grown so much since I showed up, a spiky gadabout in plastic pants in 1997. I take all the credit for that. Good night. And good luck.

Editor's note: This story was published on April 1, 2015. April Fools Day. Yes, it was just a joke. Thanks for playing along.


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