The 'Pipe spends a lot of time rattling around the palm-frond-littered streets of Broward County and sitting at those long, long red lights. These frustrating pauses give one plenty of time to study the ads adorning the sides of commuter buses and taxi roofs, especially the ones that flog strip joints and singles bars. But this winter, most vehicular promotions have been touting AIDS Walk Fort Lauderdale on April 30.
That date echoed around this tube's noggin with a familiar resonance. Say, isn't that the same date as the venerable AIDS Walk Miami, now in its 18th year? The Miami event is sponsored by Care Resource, the oldest and largest not-for-profit agency in South Florida in the business of caring for and treating AIDS patients.
Tailpipe rang up Rick Siclari, executive director of Care Resource, who said that, yes, the Miami walk was scheduled for that date but that earlier this year, the agency's board decided to move it up to April 23 to avoid thinning the pool of walkers and contributors.
"It took a fair amount of undertaking because we'd already established it as the 30th," Siclari said. "We had to communicate with those who'd already registered, contact the grand marshal, check with the convention center. That was mid-January, and by that point and time... well, our planning is year-round."
The Fort Lauderdale walk is being run by a for-profit company called MZA Events, which also operates successful walks in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. The walk's primary beneficiary, AIDS Healthcare Foundation (AHF), is also big in those cities, but it's not a major player in Broward County though four smaller Broward agencies, like Broward House, will also benefit from the Lauderdale walk.
But, hey, AHF doesn't want to be greedy. It offered the Miami walkers a slice of the action. Siclari said Care Resource passed, mostly because all of his group's energies are devoted to the Miami walk, whose walkers come from both counties.
"I'm not happy that they have elected to do a walk in Fort Lauderdale that was to occur the same exact day as our walk," Siclari says. "I think it's a little too coincidental that you'd decide to build a walk in a very near proximity to a walk that has an 18-year history, on the same day. Frankly, it's somewhat opportunistic... cannibalistic." (AHF's spokesman, Joey Wynn, insists that all the money raised in Fort Lauderdale will be spent locally on HIV prevention efforts. The weekend was one of few suitable dates for the walk, he adds.)
Siclari is impeccably polite in his remarks, but there's a glint of steel in the prospect of competing AIDS walks.
The AIDS-walk rivalry doesn't quite compare with the bootlegging turf wars between Al Capone and Bugsy Moran in the 1920s, but the principle is the same. An enterprise-on-the-make moves into a competitor's territory, starts scorching its rival's operations, and, if a few people get knocked around in the process (figuratively speaking, in this case), hell, that's free enterprise, Mac.
Broward House's team leader for the Broward walk, Will Spencer, says the agency's team is contracted to receive up to $10,000 raised by its own teams. "Broward certainly deserves its own walk the same as Miami does," Spencer contends. But he concedes that there's some justifiable apprehension on the part of Care Resource. "I think they have the most legitimate reason for concern because they [AHF] now run a walk that's viewed as competitive," Spencer says. "But at the end of the day, you have to look at it like this: Helping one group helps the whole group."
Well, we'll see about that. As Deep Throat might have put it, "Follow the money." If the AHF money leaves Broward County in a substantial way, we'll know that the spirit of Al Capone is alive in Broward County.
In an alarming front-page story last week, the Sun-Sentinel documented how a panel of "Las Vegas oddsmakers, a tarot card reader, and a psychic" projected 2-to-1 odds that a monster hurricane would pummel South Florida this year.
But what about that sidebar that Sun-Sentinel brass decided to pull at the last minute? Tailpipe has obtained a copy of the unpublished sidebar, which, as an urgent public service, we reproduce here:
HURRICANE DOs and DON'Ts
Stock up on water and candles.
Call FPL as soon as power goes out.
Plan to go out of town Friday, October 13, 2006.
Place garlic and upturned horseshoes at four corners of your roof.
Go into a bathroom, turn off the light, look in the mirror, and say the storm's name five times.
Stand near an uncovered window.
Run generator in your living room.
Allow black cats near your house.
Walk under a ladder, break a mirror, step on a crack in the sidewalk, or say Macbeth within 48 hours before storm's landfall.
Cartoon in Your Face
Call it a case of the pen is mightier than the politician. Fort Lauderdale cartoonist Stephanie McMillan fired off this drawing (pictured) in response to South Dakota's strict new law that forbids doctors to perform abortions except when a mother's life is in danger, and there was an unexpected outpouring of pro-choice outrage. The cartoon took a jab at state Sen. Bill Napoli, who has said that abortion would be justified only if a woman were a religious virgin who was "brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it."
"I just started drawing," McMillan says, "and I thought, 'Why don't I see if his numbers are available?' And right there on the South Dakota Legislature's website were his home and work numbers. So I had to use them."
McMillan published the 'toon on her website, www.minimumsecurity.net, and soon the phones were ringing off the hook at the Motion Unlimited auto museum in Rapid City, one of the businesses owned by Napoli. Says Bill Marx, the museum's director: "We just take care of [Napoli's] cars. He was here for the last two days, but we hadn't seen him for probably three months before that. I'd say we received 500 phone calls in a week."
The calls got so annoying that Sen. Napoli himself came in to handle receptionist duties. He "answered phone calls for two days," Marx says. "It took a lot of time out of his schedule. He really is a nice man. We've got Democrats and Republicans that work in here. We don't talk about politics; we talk about cars." So far, no one has responded to a message the 'Pipe left at the home number.
Although McMillan hasn't called Napoli herself (she's "too shy"), she's happy at the response. "It's good to think of different ways these laws can be resisted," she says. "We can't go back to the days of wire hangers, that's for sure." To that end, she is auctioning off her original cartoon on eBay and planning to divide the proceeds between Planned Parenthood of South Dakota and the Ogalala Sioux Tribe. At press time, the highest bid was $485. Tailpipe can't imagine what would happen if the cartoon were published in a newspaper.
Beware of Me
One recent weekday morning, residents of the new "Village at Sailboat Bend" Lennar development awoke to find fliers stuffed under their windshield wipers announcing a "neighborhood alert."
"Bi-polar Individual," the pieces of white 8-by-11-inch printer paper read in boldface. "USE EXTREME CAUTION." The flier displayed a photo of a 30-something white male with longish brown hair, stubbly beard and mustache, and a close-lipped smile. A folded pair of sunglasses dangled from his white T-shirt. Only thing missing was any actual information about the man or the maker of the flier. No names or phone numbers.
Tailpipe studied the picture. If you saw it on a driver's license, you wouldn't think twice. Seeing it surrounded by warnings, it seemed that maybe there was, aiyee, a slight hint of madness around the eyes.
But who's warning us here? The Sailboat Bend Civic Association didn't issue the alert, said SBCA General Secretary Connie Jennings Weissbach. Fort Lauderdale police didn't either. So some lone vigilante must be out there, blowing the whistle on chemically maladjusted mental patients.
Glenn Krate, a former facilitator for the Gold Coast Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, was mystified. "In all the years of my running a bipolar support group, I never heard of anyone having this done to them," Krate says. Bipolar people are hardly threats to their communities, he adds. "The term refers to a condition of cycling emotions that alternate between depression and highs. There are bipolar people living and working with 100 percent capabilities."
But urban mythology creeps into the discussion. "The term bipolar, it's a very aggressive word," Krate says. "When people hear it, they think manic-depressive, and then they think maniac."
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In reality, they're more dangerous to themselves, says Lee Carty, communications director at Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law in Washington, D.C. "If they get depressed, they tend to commit suicide. And the most common thing they do in high moods is spend a lot of money. They go out on huge shopping sprees. Why should anybody use extreme caution about that?
"Probably this [circulating fliers] would be something that a bipolar person would do," he says. "That's a malicious act. The compulsion to point them out... this isn't a normal thing to do. I would question the person who put it out almost more than the person in the picture."
Tailpipe's theory is that, somewhere out there, a 30-something man with brown hair and a tight smile is Xeroxing fliers that try to keep a harsh, intimidating world at bay. That ain't funny. Come back, B-P man. We won't hurt you.
As told to Edmund Newton