In 2004 a co-worker invited me to a party at his house to “celebrate” the season premiere of “The O.C.” You remember that show. In all the early commercials, the main kid gets roughed up and one of the bullies says something about 8 Mile. Either “This isn’t the 8 Mile, punk!” or “You’re not living in The 8 Mile, punk!” or “God, stop watching 8 Mile every day, it’s rotting your goddamn brain, punk!” I don’t remember exactly.
Never one to refuse an opportunity for social interaction and free finger foods, I agreed to attend this little soirée. I don’t remember what time I showed up but nobody was there when I did except the co-worker who invited me. There was an awkward pause after I stepped in the door.
“Where is everybody?”
“I lied. There is no party. I thought if I just invited you over to watch ‘The O.C.’ you wouldn’t come.”
He had me there. It was around this time I noticed the floors were concrete. I looked around for a small drain. The kind blood might seep down.
“Look, if you buy me Chinese food, I won’t call the cops.”
My co-worker agreed and I’m happy to report I did not get murdered or molested during the subsequent “O.C.” viewing (although the program itself almost put me in a coma). I think this guy meant exactly what he said: he thought I’d like “The O.C.” and wanted to hang out but didn’t want to seem weird (despite fabricating a party). We’ve stayed pals, he’s a good dude.
Yes, this all really happened.
when I was a kid
they made an oatmeal
with packets of sugary red goo
you could squeeze
on your oatmeal
a smiley face
it always looked
like blood-laden slugs
tasted like it too
happy national oatmeal month
where were you
when you found out
enjoy this box
of novelty cereal
4 Christ’s Mass
For Halloween this year I finally answered the question what would it be like if Michael Myers went on a Florida vacation? No way he’s wearing the mask in this humidity. I don’t need it anyway—I’m pale and shapeless enough.
The aerobic figure to the right is actually Laurie Strode herself (click here for proof), though her appearance here is coincidental. My roommate is involved in legitimate theater and as such has an enormous print of Jamie Lee Curtis from Perfect. We stuck it on the side of the fridge a long time ago for reasons I fail to remember. Forgot she was there when I snapped the above pic.
Hope y’all had a spooky ooky Samhain. I sat around the house listening to Slayer and eating pierogies, because I’m an American and that’s my right.
Splendid China: one of Central Florida’s more noteworthy theme park failures. “Failure,” of course, is a relative term. The seventy-five acre space that recreated in miniature some of mainland China’s finest attractions (the Great Wall, the Leshan Buddha) managed to remain open for ten whole years. That’s twice as long as Boardwalk & Baseball.
Unfortunately, for more or less its entire existence, Splendid China was plagued by controversy. Critics lambasted the park, which was purchased by the Chinese government before its 1993 opening from Taiwanese American founder Josephine Chen, for appropriating from other Asian cultures, pushing Communist propaganda, and financial mismanagement (the gov’t owners insisted on importing building materials from China, often at sixteen times the cost). Once Splendid China closed its doors permanently it became a hotspot for ne’er-do-wells, who snuck in through the poorly sealed entrance to steal and/or destroy the abandoned miniatures.
What was left of Splendid China was allegedly demolished last year, but there’s still a large satellite monument to the deleted park’s existence. On West Irlo Bronson Memorial Highway in Kissimmee you’ll find an entire shopping plaza that mimics the architecture we all associate with the Far East (though only in Florida will you find turquoise pagodas). The plaza’s centerpiece is a Winn-Dixie, but you won’t see that grocery chain’s familiar logo anywhere on the building exterior. The only signal anything occupies this space is the presences of Winn-Dixie’s less recognized subtitle, “Marketplace,” above the entryway.
The photo above depicts what you see the moment you enter Kissimmee’s Splendid China Winn-Dixie. Three tiny figures on the balcony of a more realistic-looking pagoda, beckoning you in with warm off-brand “It’s A Small World” charm. As you can see, this store also makes extensive use of track lighting. I’m not sure how true that is to Chinese custom but it certainly gives a grocery store an otherworldly atmosphere.
What’s most interesting about the Splendid China Winn-Dixie is how it seems to cater most exclusively to a British clientele. At any given moment I’d wager a third of Kissimmee’s population is British tourists killing time between laps around the Magic Kingdom. This supermarket is one of the closest there is to Disney, and their selection of imported English products is staggering. Entire endcaps overflowing with big blue cans of Heinz Beans, Lion bars, and slim glass bottles containing a creamy liquid identified only as “salad sauce.”
I didn’t engage any of the employees about what their professional lives are like at the Splendid China Winn-Dixie, but you can sorta see it on their faces. They know they work in a store that’s still modeled after a theme park that closed in 2003. Talking about it isn’t going to make stocking shelves under track lighting any easier.
And yet the place somehow seems decidedly less bizarre than the Planet Hollywood that continues to thrive on Disney property, that drab grey globe surrounding itself with a moat(!) and the miserable spirits of ’90s Hollywood hubris. A restaurant venture between Stallone, Schwarzenegger, and Bruce Willis is something that should have remained relegated to the margins of Last Action Hero, not formed fully in our three dimensional world.
A: Con if we’re talking about eating it. Pro if we’re talking about skipping it across lakes or loading into slingshots or using it as earplugs. They should call sweet corn candy corn and candy corn chewy flavorless sugar nuggets.
It’s late August. You know how I can tell? People are starting to lose their minds about pumpkin spice lattes. Like bald eagles in heat they screech: “PUMPKIN SPICE LATTES ARE COMING! PUMPKIN SPICE LATTES!”
At some point in the past five years this artificial coffee flavoring surpassed Thanksgiving and the leaves changing as the apex of the Fall season. The wonder of nature? The warmth of your family? Fuck that shit, we can make hot liquid taste like a gourd!
But I kid the industrial beverage complex and its tight stranglehold on our emotions. Living in Florida I of course welcome the arrival of PSLs, as they provide the only concrete evidence that the season is actually changing. It’s a blistering ninety-five degrees here year round. Oh sure, for a couple days in February it pretends to be cold, but generally there’s nothing in FL to counter the belief that pool season is eternal.
That can really gum up your melon, the endless summer. How can it be Columbus Day? I’m still wearing shorts and flip flops and this Orlando Magic jersey from 1996. Thankfully, the pumpkin spice latte sends important signals to my brain, saying, “Christmas is coming. You’re gonna be broke again!”
This is a good place to note that Pumpkin Spice Latte would be the perfect name for a celebrity baby. Pumpkin Spice Latte Kardashian. Pumpkin Spice Latte Theron. Pumpkin Spice Latte Ciccone Penn Ritchie Kabbalah.
How’m I doin’ on time? I can stretch this out for another five minutes.