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COLUMN

Happytown

The local Democratic machine gets a swift kick in the ass, a Food Not Bombs founder exchanges anarchist recipes and we take a look at the sports that happen when no sports are happening. It's a Happytown Thanksgiving!

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Remember Keith McHenry? He’sthe portly, hirsute 50-something who co-founded Food Not Bombs more than three decades ago with a cohort of his anarchist chums in Boston. Though he’s usually stationed in Taos, N.M. (he lives in his van), he’s got a substantial rep here in Orlando, where he spent a considerable amount of time this past spring. It was then that 27 Food Not Bombs volunteers were arrested for violating the city’s large group feeding ordinance; McHenry was the only one to be arrested twice. He was also the only member – using the term loosely – of Food Not Bombs to be profiled by the Orlando Sentinel.

On Nov. 16 McHenry was back in town, at Urban ReThink, to promote his new book titled Hungry for Peace: How You Can Help End Poverty and War With Food Not Bombs. We flipped to the first sentence of the introduction: “My young Serbian guide, Rebel Mouse, pried open a crack in the metal fence that surrounded the old brick mansion in Belgrade.” Suspense! We skipped to the end of the book – where the climax is, right? – only to find a cookbook full of recipes such as “Tofu Smoothy,” “Macaroni and Cheeseless for 90,” and “Hummus for 100.”

With a crowd in the single digits – we didn’t see a single book signed, or sold – it wasn’t hard to talk to McHenry, who enjoys talking to the media anyway. He gave us a rundown of his tour of America’s various Occupations: first, in “Hopeville” (a St. Louis homeless encampment which he regards as the predecessor to this year’s Occupy movement), later to Washington, D.C. (where his van nearly caught fire from oatmeal left on the portable stove), then to Boston (the occupation being held at the location of the first Food Not Bombs meal ever served in 1981), then to Poughkeepsie, N.Y., (“really tiny, but really positive”), down through Columbia, S.C., Charlottesville, Va., Norfolk, Va., and finally meandering to Occupy Orlando, which he regards as one of the “funnier ones.” “Of all the [occupations], it’s most libertarian,” he said. “The people that are the most organized seem to be more conservative than in other occupations.”

As a professional anarcho-activist, McHenry leads an alternately hardscrabble and comfortable life. Although he slept outside with the occupiers here in Orlando, he also spoke at an event hosted by Amnesty International at the University of Central Florida, for which he was compensated handsomely.“Honorariums have been around $500 this year, which is better than it has been,” he says. “Last year, I was really struggling to get $250 from clubs.”

And now, an update from theOrlando professional sports world, where so much has happened – amid nothing happening! Let us explain. On the one hand, there is no actual sporting going on whatsoever. The Orlando City Soccer Club is in its off-season, Major League Baseball’s spring training is still months away (duh) and the Orlando Magic’s players, along with all others in the NBA, are still unable to extract themselves from a disagreement with team owners over how much cash in which they’ll get to swim.

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