Archive for November, 2006

First Friday at Mall at Millenia – Michael Andrew & The Atomic Big Band

Michael AndrewFriday evening, December 1st, enjoy the “big band” sounds of Michael Andrew & The Atomic Big Band as they perform at the Mall at Millenia’s First Friday event from 5:30pm to 8:30pm outside the main entrance. Michael Andrew and the 18-member Atomic Big Band orchestra will perform holiday classics in the style of Tony Bennett, Frank Sinatra, and other big-band stars. Brio Tuscan Grille, McCormick & Schmick’s Seafood Restaurant, The Cheesecake Factory, P.F. Chang’s China Bistro, Blue Martini, and California Pizza Kitchen will all be serving food, cocktails and soft drinks while Lisa Maile Image Modeling and Acting models will be highlighting Fall and Winter fashions in an informal style. Admission is free and the Mall at Millenia is conveniently located at the Conroy Road interchange on Interstate 4. Visit the mall’s website or call 407.363.3555 for more information.

Gator-ade.

What’s this town coming to when you can’t even smoke some crack without being attacked by an alligator? First the imported and non-native swans and now the crackheads.

I think it’s high time (pun sadly intended) for a good ol’ fashioned gator lynch mob. Let’s get em!

Or perhaps we should just understand that we parked on their lawn, and every once in a while they are going to remind us of that.

Happy Thanksgiving, Orlando

Wishing all the MetroBloggers and everyone in O-Town a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Wow — how generous!

Picture this — your boss calls you into the office. It’s time to discuss your next raise. So your boss asks you… What do you think you should get? Ever had this happen? Actually, in some companies (like the mouse) it’s very much a reality. I think it’s a ploy .. a game to see if you think you’re worth a pay raise. Say too little, the might want to look closer at your performance. Say too much… you might be a liability down the road.

But picture this… you say… hmmmm… how about 18.5%?!?!?

Well that’s just what the Orlando City Commissioners did this week and will get approved at Monday’s meeting; if they’re lucky. Only they didn’t have a boss ask them to come into the office to discuss it, they just decided… and approved it. It’s on Monday’s agenda.

Wow. 18.5%. How generous they are with … errmmm… themselves!

It seems they also decided Mayor will get a pay raise too. A whopping 3% by comparison. Maybe I was hasty in my “generous” adjective a moment ago. Seems they’re only generous when it comes to giving themselves pay raises.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t always get a pay raise, and when I do… it more along the lines of the Mayor’s percentage and rarely in double digits.

I hope they don’t strain their shoulders when they give themselves a pat on the back after passing this important piece of legislation.

Last Word

Alright, we’ve obviously hit a nerve or two with our spirited discussions about Orlando’s reaction to New Orleans, and my theories about why we feel that way.

In the interests of fairness, check out these posts over here, here, here, and here on Metroblogging New Orleans. I think they raise some valid points and discuss the subject intelligently, which was the point of my posts, so mission accomplished.

Hey, I’m not pleased with myself for getting irritated with New Orleans. I’m just exploring the reasons why I would feel this way–why, even for a second, would I get mad at a city full of people who face years of cleanup and images they probably see in their nightmares? The one thing I have discovered through these posts is that everyone is myopic in their own pain…sort of like having your thumb slammed in a car door, and even if someone next to you has a broken leg, you can’t think about anything else until you get your thumb out of the freakin’ car door. And that’s probably the major issue here.

My mind has changed about a couple of things after reading the rebuttals on MB New Orleans. First of all, I should not have said that the entire city washed out into the Gulf. Portions, yes, but the Metbloggers aren’t posting from a remote island someplace. :) Second of all, this is less of a hurricane thing and more of a flood thing–which makes an ugly amount of difference to people’s insurance companies, I’m sure. Who was to blame for the flood? Let the debates begin. They’re going to rage on through the ages, so we might as well get started now.

But I’m tired about hearing blame and disaster. That’s the real reason we’re all becoming hardened to this thing. Do you realize how few GOOD things are reported about New Orleans right now? I think America’s perception will change as some major rebuilding projects get underway…we all have a strange intolerance for victims, but an incorrigible love of the underdog. (And yes, I probably just spelled “incorrigible” wrong.)

Hurricane Charlie victims in Port Charlotte lost their FEMA trailers this week. My friends went to volunteer in Mississippi to help with the storm damage, and they told tales of giant casino boats turned sideways and houses they couldn’t even find anymore. Lots of people who got slammed in the car door, don’t you think? Maybe we should have this discussion in five years and see what we have to say about things.

This is a fun post because MB Orlando will be mad at me for “backing down,” and MB New Orleans will probably say I “still don’t get it.” Comments are disabled; take your flame wars outside. And save me a barstool anyplace on the Riverwalk, if you’ll still have me. Just remember I’ve got a seat for you on Duval Street when Florida’s number finally comes up…

The Ever-Expanding Mouse

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Because we all know Disney is not big enough…check it out: This little rumor says that Disney could be adding more retail and hotel space to the western end of their property. This was brought on by the recent expansion of 429, which will ostensibly bring in more tourist traffic from a new direction, particularly once it connects with I-4.

I think they mean we’ll see more shops and hotels around the Blizzard Beach/Coronado Springs area, but I could be off with my geography.

I wonder what they might be thinking about for the area? Sea World recently created some kind of complex within their park that feeds the retail beast, but one wonders how much more retail The Mouse can handle with their gargantuan World of Disney store (pictured) already raking in cash at the Disney Marketplace. Pleasure Island is getting a facelift, too, which will turn the whole Downtown Disney/Marketplace area into one big entertainment, shopping, and dining mecca. With no additional parking. Fun times.

So what should they build in the free space? Personally, I’d like to see a real, official answer to Universal’s CityWalk. Disney has some major entertainment connections, and if they really wanted to, they could probably create awesome clubs and restaurants–and maybe even an entertainment center like Hard Rock Live. (The key phrase is, “if they wanted to.”)

And I know everyone feels that the new-park era is over, but I’d kinda like to think they could jam one more little one in there someplace. C’mon, do we need more hotels? Restaurants? Shopping? Let’s theme-park the tourists to death! Then they have to come back and spend money, don’t they? I picture a real AMUSEMENT park, with rollercoasters and a Ferris wheel and one of those puke-inducing tilt-a-whirl rides. Wouldn’t that be cool? Think about it: we have everything else on the planet here in Orlando, park-wise, but we have no answer for the Six Flags crowd. We could stuff a couple of ‘coasters in the dead space back there, couldn’t we?

Anyway, those are my big ideas. What are yours?

Orlando Goes to the Polls!

Is it just me or does anyone else see delicious irony in the stupid Amendment 3, which will require amendments in the future to pass only by a 60% majority vote, passing by only 57.7% of the vote? I guess what’s good for the goose is not good for the gander. What 57.7% of the voters in Florida decided was to redefine what democracy means, and I guess they think we have too much of it. But in it’s own way, this stupid act to me was still an act of Democracy in action, people deciding, and you gotta like that.

My voting experience was very smooth, I have to hand it to my precinct in the Conway area, nice job. There was a line but it kept moving and I was in and out in less than 10 minutes. No issues with campaigners on the property or hanging chads, or touchscreens. We had the connect the arrows type which seems pretty straight forward to me. There was a touchscreen unit available but people seemed to avoid it, including myself. Seems more trouble than it’s worth, I mean, do we need to really complicate a simple marker motion?

Country Mouse, Mickey Mouse, by “Rachel”, who you see in the comments often on the Orlando Metroblog, posted a great in depth analysis of why we don’t vote, or really do our civic duty at all often times. It very well could be the world’s first research driven blog post! After elections we always have to analyze how many of us did not get off our butts and how many more of us still complain of the outcome.

I also have other issues with the reporting in general of the main stream media and our own local election boards and the apparent non existence of third parties, which in my agonizing research (which entailed clicking links to candidate sites) I indeed discovered do exist. I was shocked and amazed to make this startling discovery and am prompty booking speaking tours to milk this discovery for all it’s worth. But, until I make it to your town, you can read about it here.

So how was your election day? Problems or kudos for your own local volunteers? Any surprises or grumblings?

Destruction of an Icon

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Orlando lost a little piece of its history yesterday when the old entrance to Gatorland (pictured) burned in a fire of still-unknown causes. The owners say they’ll rebuild and the folks in Kissimmee are right behind them.

Do you realize that A.) that place has been open since 1949 and B.) it’s still run by the same family?

I’ve actually heard Gatorland is a lot of fun. I don’t know if it can possibly be the same without this great, vintage entrance, though…I hope they rebuild it exactly the same.

(And no, those aren’t my kids–I found this old shot in the Creative Commons.)

Psychiatrist time!

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So I was talking to an out-of-state friend who had an interesting theory on this whole Katrina debate (see the last post for details). He said, “Are you sure you aren’t just making excuses why New Orleans was destroyed because it makes you feel better? I mean, isn’t Tampa mostly just a bunch of bridges? A major city in Florida could be ruined, too.”

I won’t lie: he’s partially right. Visions of the 275 bridge–does that thing have a name? It connects Tampa with St. Pete?–were dancing in my head as I watched the water slowly rise and soak coastal Louisiana. That is one heck of a long bridge and it’s AT sea level. It’s so close that I get nervous when I’m driving during a bad thunderstorm, never mind a hurricane. And Katrina was allegedly a Category 3 when she broke the levees. Imagine what a 5 would do. It could wipe out parts of Orlando; Clearwater would turn into the lost city of Atlantis.

Maybe it is some kind of defense mechanism. See, they SHOULD have done more, it COULD have been avoided, and since we’re smarter/ more experienced/ better prepared, it won’t happen to us. Is that what we’re all really doing? It could be that we’re unable to produce any sympathy for New Orleans because we can’t stand to think about it…deep down in our hearts, we know Florida could be next.

Katrina Overload

I’m not here to start a flame war, a “poor-little-us” pity fest, or a competition to see whose town is in more trouble. That said, I’m going to finally write what everyone in Orlando is thinking: we’re sick of Katrina.

Katrina, Katrina, Katrina, day and night. But how can we forget about something that wiped out a major North American city? Say what you will, New Orleans is GONE, flushed out into the Gulf and (in some places) ruined forever. That blows the mind. A city no longer exists. It was emptied out and now it’s just a waterlogged husk with a few people reluctantly headed home.

So why do Katrina victims get so little sympathy from us Floridians? Two reasons. First of all, let’s go with the obvious: where were the folks in Louisiana when three hurricanes wiped out OUR cities? Port Charlotte and Vero Beach weren’t exactly standing tall by the time #3 barrelled over the peninsula back in 2004. Those towns aren’t as big as New Orleans, of course, but what about the cumulative damage to all of the coastal cities–and let’s not forget poor Lakeland, which turned into a hurricane speed bump? I do not recall telethons to help our victims. FEMA was slow here, too, and nobody fired their boss over it. Some people in Winter Park had no power for upwards of a month! Winter Park ain’t the boondocks, you know. So don’t tell me the hurricanes weren’t a major disaster…but instead of help, we got late-night jokes on “Letterman.”

The second point is the deepest, darkest thought of all, and I’ll try to say this with as much tact as I can. Florida prepares better. We just do. Our hurricane comes faster, we evacuate with a minimum of drama, and…uh…oh, gosh, how do I say this? We know we’re near a hurricane zone and so we don’t live next to levees.

THAT DOES NOT MEAN THAT NEW ORLEANS “DESERVED” WHAT THEY GOT. No, no, no. Nobody deserves that. But in our most frustrated moments, it’s easy to remember how the city began evacuations a scant 36 hours before Katrina made landfall, and even then, the roads were clogged with traffic until the Superdome probably looked like the safer option. I remember the surreal experience of watching the backups with my dad, while he shook his head in wonder and murmured, “They’re killing all those people.” Why didn’t they open the southbound lanes of the highways to northbound traffic so people could get out of the city faster? Why didn’t they do it sooner? And above all else, why didn’t they at least make some kind of effort to shore up the levees as soon as Katrina appeared in the Gulf?

People who have been through tragedy sometimes lose sympathy for others. Period. It’s hard to see through your own pain in order to feel someone else’s. I think that’s what our real problem is in Florida; we tolerate no complaints from people who “should have done more,” like famiilies who live in trailers in coastal cities or the occasional nut who jumps on the Beeline/Beachline 4 hours before the storm hits and ends up getting killed. And when you think of it that way…that is not New Orleans’ problem, it is ours. Maybe the fault isn’t entirely on their shoulders.

So do Katrina victims get too much attention? Should we quit being so myopic here in Florida? Talk amongst yourselves.

UPDATE: Some people seem to have the impression that I don’t want to see New Orleans rebuilt, which is not true. I’m complaining about the fundraisers and telethons because New Orleans is not the only city that was devastated–I want to see all the hurricane-devastated areas get attention, not just them. I would like to see New Orleans come back as a better-prepared city with strong levees and more efficient evacuation plans. Actually, my real dream is to see it come back so solid that nobody NEEDS to evacuate, but given their location below sea level, I don’t know if that’s architecturally possible…

ANOTHER UPDATE: Here’s one more circumstance to chew on…did Florida only get a quick response because ’04 was an election year?

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