This week, a friend of mine came to visit our fine lower-intestine-shaped-state, and we showed him a pretty good time. This of course comes as a total surprise to the denzians of our little city affectionately known as a family fun spot - provided your family isn't Caylee Anthony's - or as we affectionately call it: Whorelando. A lot of people here complain - a lot - about how there is nothing to do. But there are things to do, and we did them all over the course of a week - all in service of one hell of a vacation.
We made a semi-annual trip to Gatorland, a forgotten redneck-gem in the middle Florida's tourist-trap wilderness. Watch out-of-staters squirm not at the sight of alligators, but at the possibility of kneeling down in the sand to sit on a hog-tied reptile for a souvenir photo. Sure there are more put-on Florida cracker personas than you can capture in camera phone memories, but who else do you really want to watch wrestle an alligator? Certainly not your grandmothers (even though they all probably live here.) You can pet some goats while you're at it - touch more goat heads than anywhere else short of a Morbosidad show. One even ate a map. And by A map I mean MY map. Joke's on him, I wasn't going to eat that map anyway.
We went to a few used book stores and picked through 40,000 copies of Dan Brown doorstops, pop-politics, romance novels for waspy Winter Park housewives, and what must amount to Oprah's entire book club - only to be wonderfully and occasionally interrupted by some genuinely good finds and conspiracy fiction.
Then to Orlando's record stores including:
* Vinyl Ritchie's Wiggly World of Records, the blink-and-you'll-miss-it local favorite and home of Florida's Dying (who just released Yussuf Jerusalem's newest effort - more on that soon...)
* Park Ave CDs: where I resisted a Clan of Xymox LP, desperately clinging to some hope I'll find another way to win street cred with goth girls without breaking my tiny bank account or buying a pvc wardrobe.
* Rock n' Roll Heaven: where admidst the petchouli haze I balked at the price of new wave singles, desperately scoured tape sections for bargains, and pined over a Witchfinder General picture disk so expensive it could buy me a month's worth of food and then some.
Final night: show time - Toxic Holocaust. A few familiar faces, but moreso a crowd so young and unfamiliar you wonder where these kids are at the other shows in Florida that play to nearly empty rooms. There may have been chaperones and I swear one kid must have been there from the make-a-wish foundation - a possibility I considered until I saw him stagediving. Joel Grind and Toxic Holocaust killed it as always and Holy Grail are still my favorite speed metal revival band band with a guitarist resembling John Redcorn. Oh and it was Joel Grind's birthday, how about that.
Orlando's some fun even if I am a jaded asshole, and it takes an outsider to see that. Go out, have fun. You don't have to be in Florida forever, but you are most likely here for a while. Time to buck up, leave your nerdcaves and enjoy things.
Oh, and if there's a chance anyone reading this is in Chicago or Los Angeles, Florida's own Maruta are playing two Scion matinée shows with Gridlink and Phobia this weekend, which you would be an absolute dickhead to miss. Go out and support some good guys, listen to the new record, and buy some swag if you dig it.