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COLUMN

Happytown

We got preoccupied with the Occupation of the City Beautiful, then we snapped out of it and measured imaginary drapes with the latest mayoral contender. Orlando is on fire! Run for your lives!

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“Please take these rules to heart,” Faux said. “It’s very important that we follow these rules if we’re going to be taken seriously, if we’re going to be taken anywhere away from the negative spin that we’re already receiving in the news from several stations.”

Until the past week, the Occupy Wall Street movement, and all of its associated spinoffs in various cities, weren’t receiving any media at all; but now major media outlets, including CNN, MSNBC, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, are falling all over themselves trying to make sense of the fact that so many people – mostly young, educated, struggling to get by – are suddenly sleeping out in parks, taking over bridges and getting themselves arrested by the hundreds to make a point. The message the media has managed to hammer the protesters with over and over again is that their point – that the system is brokenand someone needs to fix it – isn’t clear enough and that the movement is mostly young, disgruntled kids more interested in making a scene than in making change.

Faux says that’s not the case: “The reality is that there are a lot of young people out here,” he says. “I think the majority of the people we have are young, but a lot of young people are unemployed right now.”

Young people also know how to best exploit social media, he says, so the word has been spreading fast among 20-somethings about the occupation efforts.

Before the evening is up, a crowd of more than 300 people have stopped to check out the goings on; most are keyed in to what’s happening and stay to watch. A few, though, are just so Orlando.

A young blond woman walking toward Wall Street Plaza pauses and looks at a guy holding up a sign reading “Tremble Plutocrats.”

“What’s going on?” she asks, and someone tells her it’s Occupy Orlando, a spinoff of the Occupy Wall Street thing in New York. She hasn’t heard of it. They try to elaborate. “Oooh,” she says, clutching her handbag closer. “Awesome.”

And with that she toddles off into the evening – off to visit the Orlando she’s used to. The one where it’s always Happytown.

On Oct. 15, Occupy Orlando plans to hold its first “tour of shame” at 8 a.m., beginning at the Orlando Regional Chamber of Commerce, 75 S. Ivanhoe Blvd. The real shame would be if nobody showed up. So get out there and make some noise.

Speaking of quizzical rebellionsfueled by angst and ambition, there’s a scrappy new mayoral candidate in town! We trudged our way down to the steps of City Hall on Oct. 4 for newbie Mike Cantone’s super-big lunchtime campaign announcement, and while we still remain somewhat skeptical about an outsider’s chances in a standalone April 5 municipal election (snowball, hell),we had to give Cantone credit for his love affair with hyperbole. To hear him tell it, Orlando is “no longer a small town of citrus farms run by good ol’ boys” and his “bold vision that invests in people” will “return Orlando’s virtue” and reinvigorate “discouraged youth” and the middle class. C’mon, everybody! It’s a progressive sing-a-long!

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