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Sticky situation 

On Oct. 8, Orlando Weekly received an anonymous postcard from another dissatisfied customer. What follows are the exact allegations contained in that missive, paired here with the facts behind the fury.

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The anonymous correspondent's charges of "greed" drew a vigorous defense from Orlando Weekly spokesman Alex P. Keaton. "Greed is good," the hard-working PR flack clarified. "Greed works. Except maybe on Fridays, when it tends to cut out early for happy hour at Scruffy Murphy's." To further undermine the letter-writer's assertion that a profit motive underlies the Weekly's sin-spreading efforts, Keaton provided a detailed breakdown of the paper's financial underpinnings: Cost of an issue of Orlando Weekly -- Free. Average salary of a typical employee -- Subsistence-level. Chance to infuriate Bible-thumping fruit loops who display inferior penmanship skills -- Priceless.

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In fact, most close observers of the Orlando cultural scene were unaware of the blossoming courtship between Florida's finest newspaper and Old Scratch. Though the two had been seen together in public on several occasions -- most notably at a fund-raiser for Green Party candidates -- the society pages reported a mere friendship borne of similar work schedules and interests. Eschewing the Page 6 overkill fostered by the likes of Ben and J. Lo, the love-struck Weekly chose to silently pack its things in anticipation of its matrimonial cruise down the river Styx. (Meanwhile, attorneys for both sides were hashing out an exhaustive prenuptial agreement: In the event of a split, the newspaper would get to keep its Robert Johnson records, while the Devil would get to keep Robert Johnson.) The lovebirds finally moved in together in early October, pushing up the timetable a few weeks due to Satan's cryptic claim that He would have "pressing business" on Nov. 5. The new cohabitants are said to be doing fine and even discussing the possibility of children. For those who would like to send their best wishes in the form of a thoughtful gift, the happy couple is registered at Bed Bath & Beyond.

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According to the National Weather Service, the respective temperatures of Hades and Orlando differ by only a few degrees, especially in summertime. This statistic was confirmed by a random, unscientific survey of pedestrians along Orange Avenue, who, when asked to describe the local climate, most often responded with the phrases "hot," "ass-reamingly hot" and "When does the bus leave for Buffalo?" Reports from Hell were understandably harder to procure, though a few inhabitants could be reached for their own mercury-centric analysis. "You shouldn't know from it," moaned Sept. 11 hijacker Mohammed Atta, leaving roommate Richard Nixon to make a more qualified assessment: "It's not the heat, it's the venality."

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The allegation that Orlando Weekly is unsurpassed in its devotion to the Evil One failed to impress a certain Damon Nocturnus (known to close friends as "Carlos"), recently celebrated on VH-1's "Fanclub" series as a Devil-disciple without peer. "I've got all the tour books, the backstage passes, the commemorative PVC goat heads," the offended young man explained, furiously tugging on his nascent goatee. "I even won a personal phone call from Satan on my last birthday, just for knowing that his favorite pope was Leo X. What does that wack gossip rag have? The personal phone number of some 15-year-old chick who wears a dog collar to fetish fashion shows? That's not evil, man; that's sick."

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Upon receipt of this impeccably turned argument, Orlando Weekly employees immediately began to investigate new and more rewarding spiritual paths. Reporters signed up for missionary duty in the Far East, salespeople started to mentor communion classes, and delivery drivers took after-hours jobs reading to the blind. On the executive level, some brave decision-makers even considered giving up their lifelong cocaine habits, or at least scaling back. And it was all due to a bumbling but good-hearted angel named Clarence, whose failure to sign his letter had not in any way hidden the role he had played in one soul-sick periodical's miracle of redemption. Remember, children: Every time a dumbbell rings, a "trashy mag" gets its wings.


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More by Steve Helling


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