Orlando… Sucks… or Does it?

There is one thing about Orlando that is both good and bad. If you want it, you have to make it yourself.

In other words… if you want a vibrant art scene, you have to make it yourself. If you want to sip coffee and listen to a “real” poetry reading not just an open mike… you have to make it yourself. If you want to add culture, you have to add it yourself.

That’s great in the sense that Orlando is a bit like a blank canvas. Anyone can come in and add a little bit and make a huge impact. I always thought that it was because Orlando was a small pond, and those people were the proverbial big fish. But Orlando isn’t really that small. Orlando is a large and growing city, and there are plenty of smaller places with better music, museums, and culture.

So… Orlando Sucks… but only if you don’t have the gumption or the wherewithal to make a positive change. Personally, I don’t have the money or the time to do much of anything about it. When opportunities present themselves, I support local artists. I’ve read poetry in public venues here and there, but open mike night was never my spiel so I stopped. I visit museums and art galleries. I try to support local businesses that support arts and culture.

What’s really weird is that I used to think Orlando was headed in the right direction. I have always been part of the underground… whether it was the music I listened or the places I frequented for recreation… and definitely the people I counted among my friends. Orlando had a vibrant underground when I moved here. Somewhere along the way, the underground faded, but the heartbeat could still be felt. Then around the turn of the century, something shifted. Most of the underground gave up, and moved away. The few that remained soldiered on, but a new generation of people had by then filled the void that was left by this mass migration with insipid boy bands and places that catered to that image and lifestyle.

So… for me Orlando isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but a go-getter with the right set of tools could make Orlando something to truly be proud of. I’m not that go-getter. Orlando Sucks… ;p

9 thoughts on “Orlando… Sucks… or Does it?”

  1. Yeah, I have been haphazardly looking for things like this since I got here but have, for the most part, come up empty-handed so far.

    I wasn’t sure if I was just inept at looking for them or if they just weren’t around.

    Going by what you are saying it looks like they aren’t around.

    Oh well 🙁

    Of course, I am not sure how well I would mesh with that sort of scene even if I found it sooo…..

    Jesse Dean

  2. I’d love to read my poetry and all that, but I am not so sure open mic nights are the way to go. Especially not since the Poetry Slam is the major thing in the poetry scene, so it seems.

    Wow. That whole thing there could be made into something. …or something.

  3. This was sort of how the punk scene in South Florida was. When I first came in it was great.. then slowly after the years the clubs started closing.. people started disapearing… and the music faded.

    Nothing good can last forever.

  4. Oh… there are still a few cultural venues out there, and I think you would be surprised to find how well you might mesh with the people. Most people are friendly… there are a few that aren’t, but thos are easily avoided.

    Places to go…

    Guinevere’s on Magnolia… coffee and art…

    Oval on Orange… local artist gallery… cool stuff… if you go during the day you can talk to an artist at work (well, if you have the gumption).

    Stardust on Corrine and Winter Park… coffee, videos, a little bit of art, and a decent open mic scene

    Enzian on 17-92… art house movies in a relaxed environment

    Loch Haven Park on Princeton… home of the Orlando Museum of Art, the Science Center, and the Menello Folk Art Museum

    Cornell Museum on Park Ave

    Rollins College Campus… for the Spanish Architecture… especially the Chapel and the Theater

    Back Booth on Pine… for supporting local music (and national acts)

    Independence Bar (formerly Barbarella, formerly The Beach Club)… the oldest bar in downtown has changed names on occasion, but they haven’t changed their attitudes and they still play that sweet 80’s music.

    The Bodhisattva Social Club… small bar, but they also feature local talent and a great clientelle

    The corner of Mills and Colonial. Not only does this vibrant part of town support the burgeoning Asian community… if you travel a few blocks north you will find several gay-owned businesses and restaurants.

    Ivanhoe Row on Orange Ave… This stretch of Orange Ave is known for its antique shops.

  5. Actually, there used to be a great coffee house downtown called Yab Yum (later renamed Harold & Maude’s) that had several poetry readings and art showings. The venue was great, but the owners eventually made some poor business decisions and had to bail out of the downtown scene. I’m still friends with them, and one of them was a key designer of the recently opened EyeSpy bar.

    I’m not a big fan of Poetry Slam… because it’s more about performance. I like to read the poetry straight up… no chaser

  6. Actually… I beg to differ. There are punk scenes in certain cities that never seem to die. Some of them evolve with the times, but they don’t die… and eventually they return to their roots. In that sense it’s cyclical. It also requires that old punks stay active in the scene.

    The problem with punk scenes in South Florida is that one of the majority cultures is Hispanic… and Hispanic kids generally don’t get into punk. That’s not to say that there aren’t a few notable exceptions. I mean… heck… I’m Hispanic and I used to listened to punk and industrial and metal.

    Another issue with punk scenes in South Florida is that the old punks don’t stay… they get a little older and they move away… or they get a little older and they change scenes. A punk scene requires a good bit of angst… and, well, the older we get the less angst we have.

    Good things can last forever with the proper watering and sunlight. The reason why certain scenes “die out” has more to do with money (watering) and patronage (sunlight). You can’t rely on outsiders to build and maintain your scene. You have to either be an active participant or take ownership. I prefer being an active participant over being an owner. I think a lot of us wish we were owners, but either don’t have balls or the acumen to make it work.

    –sam

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