Sunday, February 1, 2009


Let's face it. We all moved to Orlando for basically the same reason: warm weather. I took this pic two weeks ago (not 2007). And no, it didn't seem quite as funny at the time.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Orlandope Sentinel

Want to know why the Orlando Sentinel is really flat-broke? It doesn't report the news. Not news that matters, anyway.
My first indication? The Obamastyle series that ran between mid-November and January 19th. It was interesting for the first week and a half, like an ongoing biography of a great American. But then it just got ridiculous. It became "Obama-Fashion" and "Travel-the-world-to-retrace-Obama's-childhood." That's 1)creepy and 2) mind-bogglingly unimportant.
Second sign: The "Caylee Anthony" tab under "News" but above "Buisness" on the navigation bar of the Sentinel website. C'mon people! That's tabloid stuff. The world financial system is falling apart but all we read about in the Sentinel is a psychotic hick.
Third sign: There's actually very little news content in that paper. Seriously, between the car ads, incoherent opinions, and the "National News" articles so trivial that they would barely qualify for the local section anywhere else, I think there's actually more news content in one issue of Orlando Weekly than in a weeks worth of the Sentinel.
And they wonder why people prefer the internet to get their news...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Where it's at: Coco Bongo's

Traditional Hispanic cure to Pre-Bowl-Blues: Saturday night at Coco Bongo's.
If you find yourself bored this weekend in south Orlando, make your way to Club Coco Bongo's, where my old friend DJ Enzo is DJ-ing this Saturday. Coco Bongo's is the local fave for high-energy spanish clubbing, with emphasis on salsa, merengue, and reggaet├│n. C'mon- now's the perfect time to try out the Latin moves you learned in that overpriced dance studio last year.

$10 cover
11370 S. Orange Blossom Trail
Orlando, FL 32837

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Best lunch in the city

Press 101 is quickly gaining a reputation as one of the hottest concepts in Orlando dining. It specializes in Euro-style bistro food, and sandwiches and wine take center stage. By placing emphasis high quality ingredients and letting the natural flavors shine, its a breath of fresh air on restaurant row, where chefs typically rely on frying or heavy spices to impart flavor.(Not that theres anything wrong with that...)
I sat down recently manager Brian Hoening to talk about Press 101. Hoening is actually a personal friend of mine, as well as a culinary mentor. Our conversation:

Describe Press 101 in one sentence.
A sophisticated, upscale, neighborhood sandwich and wine bar.
What are your favorite dishes?
The grilled-cheese [sandwich], turkey and brie sanwich, and garlic roasted salmon salad.
Why should people choose Press 101 over the other restaurants in the area? It was voted Orlando's top outdoor dining and top power-lunch restaurant
Anything else you want people to know?
Great atmosphere, great food, and live music every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Ask for Brian!

VERDICT: Next time you find yourself near restaurant row (the strech of Sand Lake road between Turkey Lake and Apopka Vineland) make sure you stop by for some exceptional food in a friendly (and non-touristy) atmosphere.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Smoke for Florida schools...?

This March, legislators desperate for a looser budget will consider various ways to raise money through indirect taxes. Proposed include an internet sales tax, closing of online tax loopholes, and, most importantly, increasing the tax on cigarettes.
Since 1943, Florida has had a 33.9 cents-per-pack tax. This is an abnormally low amount compared with the national average, $1.12/pack. Larger taxes on cigarettes would raise millions and millions of dollars annually that could go to, I don't know, say, PUBLIC SCHOOLS? Higher taxes would also help to discourage Floridians from smoking, which would be nice because the state currently spends more on smoking-related health problems than it receives from cigarette taxes.
WHERE I STAND: Millions of dollars in tobacco-tax revenue would be a godsend for Orange County Public Schools, which is culling teachers and programs left and right considering radical solutions to cope with budget cuts. It's getting pretty intense; last year school starting/ending times were completely overhauled to save a few mil on bus costs and a few months ago word went around that the school week might be shortened to save a few more.
Although those millions would be well-appreciated, I doubt tangible change will come due to the strong presence of Big Tobacco lobbyists in government. Politicians' famous addiction to tobacco-industry campaign funding doesn't help either; those donations will likely- go up in smoke?- if a politician legislates against the will of Big Tobacco.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

CSA Plates- No Way

So a few years ago, a group (of hicks) called the Sons of Confederate Veterans started a campaign to get a new specialty Florida license plate on the road. The group was tasked with finding 30,000 Floridians who would support the tag (pictured), and it took them a full three years to find them and raise the $60,000 required for the state legislation to greenlight the plate. The state has more or less ignored their requests, and now the group is suing. Apparently they are, in fact, bright enough to do that.

The SCV say that the plate is not racist, but their claims run contrary to popular opinion, which associates the confederate flag with racism. Seeing as how the Confederacy basically fought the civil war so it could keep the institution of slavery, I side with the vox populi on this one.

WHERE I STAND: Can't they choose some other, less offensive FL specialty tag? Like NASCAR, Save the whales, or the already existing veterans plate? Regardless, I can tell you one thing- ambiguously racist license plates will do nothing for our already slumping tourist trade.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Economic Reboot

Would you believe that I didn't know that there was such a thing as a state income tax until I was in my teens? It's true- the tourist tax in Florida prevents the need for a statewide income tax on residents, so I never heard about it until a trip to the northeast. The problem, however, is that when tourism dries up, government income dries up, putting immense pressure on state and local budgets
Long story short, funding and support for public projects fluctuates with tourism, and right now tourism's not so hot. The Orlando Sentinel released an article a few days ago stating that funding for the planned Dr. P. Phillip's Performing Arts Center (DPAC) might be cut as a result of tightening budgets. The DPAC people replied right away, denying the Sentinel's allegations and stating such positive sentiments as "Our board of directors and donors are solidly behind the project... is moving forward and our vision remains steadfast," and "Our project is moving forward and will be built..." Linkage to full article here.
WHERE I STAND: The arts center will be a major boost for Orlando and will definitely help central Florida out of the economic slump. It will breathe fresh life into local tourism by redefining Orlando as a world-class and refined city; more than just the parks. I know we already have the Bob Carr, but it pretty clear that the Bob Carr is NOT the performing arts center of a world-class city.
(Photo Props to DPAC)