Monday, April 13, 2009

Orlando: A Horrible Place

We moved down to Orlando almost half a year ago. It has been warm just about every day of the winter, and we even went to the ocean a few times. But now that I've lived here, I can confidently say that Florida is one of the worst places in the world.

This town runs on tourism. Disney World, Universal Studios, The Holy Land Experience. It's all here for you and your family! People can spend a week or two in the sunniest, happiest places in the world. There's just one problem. It's all fake.

Of course, a vacation should be a bit of a fantasy trip. If people brought their dread with them to Disney, Goofy would just look like a crazy, tall man in a ridiculous costume. People need to lose their minds a little bit in Orlando. They have to pretend that there's some happiness outside of their dead-end jobs. They need to appease their bratty kids. They need to forget their troubles.

I can't even imagine how sad that kid in the Goofy costume must be. He's probably an alcoholic. Or maybe even a cutter. And even if that big, dog face is smiling on the outside, there's a depressed, crying college dropout on the inside. He knows that his whole job is making people think that they're happy, when in reality they're just slaves to their jobs.

This is what Orlando runs on. The great Disney artists have nearly turned me into a philistine. I love art, but in Orlando, it's been co-opted. Art is utilitarian here. The tourist dollar is what it gains.

I went to a bar in downtown Orlando a few weeks ago. It's called the 'Independent Bar,' and they proudly, loudly serve PBR. And they play Death Cab for Cutie and The Shins. 

It's. So. Indie.

See, here's the problem: Orlando is trying to be cool. It doesn't have a scene of its own (unless you count Anberlin or Copeland...), so it copies what can easily be found on Pitchfork or Garden State. The result is embarrassing.

But can I really say that Orlando is one of the worst places in the world just because of its insincerity? Well sure I can. The two worst parts of Chicago are Navy Pier and Wrigleyville, and for the same reasons. People don't come to these places to be engaged in any sort of brain activity, they come here to get away from it. Orlando is an entire city of this mindset.

My wife recently heard an Orlandoan say "I love it here. Cultures from all over the world come here to see our theme parks. Every culture, we don't even have to travel anywhere because everybody else comes to us." Which is to say, Orlando doesn't really have any culture of its own, it just steals everyone elses. It doesn't have anything substantial to offer, not to its visitors and not to its residents.

I could go on like this, and I probably will on another day. But to all of my dear readers, please don't come here. If you have take a vacation, go to the mountains. Or California, at least a place with some sort of character. Orlando is a joke. And as long as I live here, I deserve to be laughed at.

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