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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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Yet at the same time, there is plenty shaping the professional sports world outside of the courts, fields and Dwight Howard’s shoulders. Take Nov. 16, the day after the NBA Players Association announced that it would be disbanding and decertifying so that it could proceed with an antitrust suit. It was then that Mayor Buddy Dyer positioned himself as a rock of stability in a cold, barren world without overpaid basketball players: Along with the city’s Community Food & Outreach Center, he nobly offered to provide the families of arena workers unable to work due to the basketball contract debacle the meager crumbs that would normally come from their low-wage paychecks. “[It’s an] aggressive campaign … to help provide food for hungry families in Central Florida, rally community volunteers and help the thousands of families who are in need due to the NBA Lockout,” read the statement from the mayor’s office, bereft of any detail quantifying or qualifying the effort. What we did get out of it, however, was this advice to our homeless population: When a cop bothers you, tell them you’re sleeping outside because of the NBA lockout. Works like a charm!

Meanwhile, the Orlando Magic – a name that currently signifies everybody but the players, get used to it – announced on Nov. 16 that it had already done some volunteer teaching at a staggering 65 schools in Orange County. (We’re sure the students were thrilled to finally meet Magic V.P. of Community Relations/Government Affairs Linda Landman Gonzalez.) Like Dyer, the Magic wanted to clue us in to its civic-mindedness – the organization has performed nearly 30,000 hours of community service since its inception in July 2006, according to its own glowing estimates. How sweet of them! But wait, what’s this? “[The Magic Volunteer Program] is unique in that it allows employees to volunteer during work hours.” So is this community service or boredom? Sigh.

There was at least one piece of good news that came out of Orlando last Wednesday: we’ll be getting a hockey team! Sure, it’s not an NHL team – it’s part of the third-tier East Coast Hockey League – and sure, it’s the Solar Bears, a team we were glad to see die a decade ago simply because of the name and logo, but at least that giant electricity bill at the Amway Center won’t go to waste this fall. Oh, sorry, yes it will – the Solar Bears aren’t playing until 2012. Happy holidays!

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