Anyone with an internet connection nowadays can go online and find a house party where like-minded political junkies are gathering to watch their favorite party luminaries in action. For example, Ann Calhoun and her husband, Roger, invited strangers to their Fort Lauderdale home to watch Barack Obama's acceptance speech. A week later, the Nova Students for McCain at Nova Southeastern University — led by a 22-year-old med student named James Berry — reserved a room on campus to watch John McCain's.
Tailpipe will leave it to talking heads to rate the candidates themselves. But the swingin' car part sure knows how to rate the parties. Here's the lowdown:
Venue: The Repubs showed McCain's speech via live webcast on the big screen in an, ugh, lecture room at NSU, while the Calhouns directed participants to park at Shooters, ride the water taxi to their waterfront pad (they paid the fare), and watch Obama on two big-screen TVs. Winner: Democrats.
Snacks: The Republican kids spared little expense, ordering in half a dozen pizzas, chicken fingers, and two huge plates of chocolate-chip cookies. The Calhouns, meanwhile, made homemade jerk chicken on the grill. Also, they offered booze. Winner: Dems.
Crowd: The buzz is that Obama has the youth vote, but McCain's party drew about 15 cool-looking kids, including one dude with a Mohawk. Although some of their logic was perplexing (one student favored sex education, a woman's right to choose, and health care for all — typically Democratic stances — but said he'd vote for McCain), some of the 40 or so mostly middle-aged Democrats, covered in Barack Obama buttons, likewise seemed unable to articulate their preference. Then again, their mouths were too full of jerk chicken to talk. Winner: Republicans.
Hosts, on the issues: Ann Calhoun: "For some reason, I can't even stand to hear the name Bush." Berry — who claims he was a biological weapons defense researcher for the Department of Defense at age 19 (didn't they make a movie about this guy?) and rattled off statistics. "Obama is such a good salesman, but no one's paying attention to what he is selling." Give Doogie props for ballsiness. But he loses points for spy-game creepiness. Tie.
Patriotism on display: The Calhouns looked really cute with their red, white, and blue party hats, but the Young Republicans stood up to say the Pledge of Allegiance. They also said a prayer that ended with the line, "In Jesus' name, amen." All right, give it to the Republicans.
Hospitality: While all of the Republicans were nice, friendly, eager, and accommodating, Roger Calhoun hit it out of the park. "If you start drinkin' too much," he said, "we've got three rooms upstairs!" Now you're talkin'. Winner: Dems. Hands down.
No Failin' Palin
As a member of the liberal media elite, rightly pilloried at last week's Republican National Convention, Tailpipe feels an obligation to atone for sins that newsgathering organizations have committed against comely vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin. Surely, there's no more media-battered fetus in America than the one growing inside of the veep nominee's 17-year-old daughter, Bristol, with husband-to-be Levi Johnston. In the spirit of altruism, Tailpipe humbly weighs in with a few suggestions for naming the little guy or gal, and the 'Pipe invites readers to write in a suggested name on their own ballots (keeping in mind that these names are already taken: Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper, Trig):
Puck Johnston — Because sports have inspired Palin names before, right, Track?
Hugh Johnston — No pressure, kiddo.
Waylon Palin — If the wedding doesn't take, the tyke has a rhyming name.
Calc Johnston — Because after you pass trig, you've gotta take calc.
Trooper Johnston — Born to cleanse the sins of that other trooper
Ohio Johnston — A clever way to rally a crucial swing state
Bunk Johnston — Old Klondike camping term
Got a suggestion of your own? Send it to the Governor's Office in Juneau.
A golden heart beats somewhere in Hallandale Beach, but probably not at City Hall. You may remember the little development-minded beachside city as the place where politicians elected to move 85 residents of the Tower Mobile Home and RV Park — many of them elderly and disabled folks on modest fixed incomes — to expand an underused athletic facility.
Some of the residents had put $20,000 or more into their homes, but the city offered a "generous" compensation package of $5,000. Make that, $5,000, take it or leave it. The city plowed relentlessly ahead to vacate the land, which is across the street from Gulfstream Park Racing & Casino. A handful of residents is reportedly still holding out, despite the city's steamroller tactics.
Still, there's one member of the Hallandale Beach City Commission who might actually produce evidence of breath condensation if you held a mirror to his mouth: Keith London.
Tailpipe is impressed by the man's earnestness. Relations between London, a former businessman and housing association activist, and his colleagues have been tense almost since he joined the governing body 18 months ago. London (who, incidentally, voted for the plan to buy out the mobile home park) says the contentiousness started with discussions about a trash transfer station planned for the predominantly black northwest section of the city. Who wants a trash transfer station in his neighborhood?
A resident asked London what he would do about it, and the commissioner said he'd educate himself on the subject. He began attending meetings on waste management at the county level. There were environmental issues, and thanks largely to London, the plan died.
The city, meanwhile, has a lawsuit simmering with Waste Management Inc. City Manager Mike Good voiced concern in May that someone might be leaking inside information about the lawsuit. The commission promptly passed a motion stating that "no city commissioner is to attend any meeting or discuss matters regarding waste management, trash, recycling, and related issues."
London says the motion was clearly aimed at him. "I'm the only one that attends those meetings!"
He denies that he's leaking information pertinent to the lawsuit. "When I signed up as a commissioner, I didn't leave my constitutional rights at the front door. I do my own research and homework, but they would prefer that I rubber-stamp things so that they can have a 5-0 vote all the time."
After trying to persuade his fellow commissioners to strike the wacky shut-yo-mouth motion, which London says is way too broad, the black-sheep commish has filed a suit against the city in U.S. District Court alleging a violation of his First Amendment rights to free speech.
"I didn't do this willy-nilly," London insists. "I've tried to handle this in every other manner."
Miami attorneys Richard Wolfe and Mark Goldstein, who are representing London, highlight the irrationality of Hallandale's garbage motion in the complaint. Under the commission's terms, their complaint notes, London "cannot discuss with his family members which one of them will take out the garbage or tell his neighbor to bring in his garbage from the curb because garbage is not scheduled to be picked up for several days."
The 'Pipe can think of some other limitations too. For example, London had better watch out what he sings in the shower. Let's see... there's a certain rock band whose-name shall not be mentioned. (Hint: The group's lead singer is a gal with a Scottish brogue named Shirley Manson.) And forget about singing the first line to the Coasters' 1958 jam "Yakety Yak." Let's be cautious here lest the 'Pipe himself get entangled in a court dispute. Just note that the song starts out: "Take out the papers and the [bleep]!"
"So what's a pretty gal like you doing in a place like this?"
With that pickup line — or some variation thereof — the City of Hollywood sidled up to the finest girl in the bar, WSG Development.
It was May 2007. Hollywood was drunk on downtown high-rises and desperate to score. The city had recently dumped a dysfunctional mate, the HART development team, which it had trusted with millions in loans only to have its HART... well, broken.
WSG batted her eyes, licked her lips, and whispered a sweet something into the city's ear: "Jump in bed with me and I'll fix that broken HART of yours," or something to that effect.
No, she wouldn't build a new theater like HART (Hollywood Art District) had promised, but WSG whipped out a blueprint for a 19-story condo on the same site. In exchange for pocketing 90 percent of the project's future tax revenue, she'd buy out the HART project and pay back $3.5 million in unpaid loans. How about it, cowboy?
This gal meant business. Had this been a sober moment for the city, Hollywood might have wondered whether it was too good to be true. But closing time was nigh: If the city didn't find a new partner, it risked losing control of the property.
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And, damn, WSG sure was pretty. One of the most popular developers around, she had already built the luxurious Sky Residence, a 28-story condo that glittered over Biscayne Bay. Hell, thought Hollywood, I'm lucky a high-class dame like WSG is even talking to me.
"Get your purse, and let's go," the city said in so many words. Months of ravenous love-making would ensue until, in July, the couple announced (Yes!) that they were pregnant. They would call their baby "ArtsPark Village."
A year later, the affair has turned sour. In July, WSG backed off its promise to pay the $3.5 million. And this month, the Daily Business Review reports that WSG has an ugly secret: unpaid debt that amounts to $16 million. WSG even owed money to Lehman Brothers, the same lender that was financing the company's venture in downtown Hollywood.
Tailpipe's not sure what this means for the child in question. Will it be the kind of geeky kid only its mother could love, cursed to stand forever on its corner of Federal Highway, casting a lonely shadow over festive Young Circle? Will folks shake their heads and say: "ArtsPark Village is a sad monument to its parents' wild indiscretions"?