It's 11:31 in the PM here in cold, rainy Durham, NC. At the time of writing, I have a little less than 6 hours before my family caravan departs for warmer climes; sunny, preferably dry Orlando, Florida. We head down south every other year for a trip to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, and this yea, the most convenient time for all involved happened to fall right before Christmas.
Now, as you may or may not be aware, PIC's resident old-timer, one Nathan Q. DeGraaf, lives in Tampa, which happens to be about an hour and a half drive from where I'll be staying. When he caught wind of my trip, Nate called me up and told me I should visit him down in the pirate cove town he calls home. As much as I wanted to oblige him, and in the process get blindingly drunk with a writer who I've been a fan of for a year or so, I won't be able to due to time constraints and my inherent unwillingness to bail on my family during a vacation they're paying for. I do have morals, believe it or not.
Talking to Nate these past few days, trying to work out the logistics of an excursion that never came to fruition, I've learned the following about The Flying Dutchman;
1) From what I can tell, every time we've spoken, he's been either drunk or in the pursuit of achieving said goal. This is obviously a good quality in my book, which will be out next spring.
2) The man likes to talk. Listening to Nate ramble on the phone is like a chaotic and sporadic edition of the observations that frequent (or used to frequent) The Nate Way. He's got a thousand fucking stories about his younger days, his trips overseas, his family, his friends, and whatever happened to him that night when he was making the rounds at his bars. These stories are often hilarious, and unlike a lot of his writings, have a point.
Also, the way this guy interrupts himself and goes from unrelated subject to unrelated subject would make a damn good case for the existence adult ADD. Or the benefits of recreational drug use.
3) Nate hates Orlando.
When I say that he hates Orlando, I don't mean that there are certain things about Orlando that he dislikes. I don't mean that he's had some bad experiences in Orlando, and therefore harbors some resentment towards the city. I don't mean that he casually mentioned this fact and them moved on.
If Nate had his way, I have all ideas that Orlando would have long since been reduced to a smouldering pile of radioactive quarantine. If Nate had his way, he would have loaded up a flamethrower and laid waste to the area, fire and destruction raining down from on high, Old Testament-style. The way he was yelling about Orlando, you'd have thought that Sodom and Gomorrah had risen again, and Nate was the righteous wrath of The Lord.
For a good ten minutes, Nate spelled out just why he detested the city, why he abhorred Disney Corp., and why I too should take up arms against this most wretched and depraved society. I won't outline why here, I'll leave that to the man himself, if he hasn't already covered it in his blog sometime in the past.
I did, however, make the case that, since I have been going to Disney with my family every other year since I was 18 months old, that I had some pretty good memories of the place and rather enjoyed my time down there. From what I remember (I was pretty sloshed at the time, too, dontcha' know), he shrugged this off as me being brainwashed by the razzle and the dazzle and the flim-flam floozle of the place, or otherwise just called me a fuckin' idiot.
Well, I'm gonna prove the bastard wrong.
This week, in lieu of my regularly scheduled blog programming, I'm going to do a three-part series on exactly why Disney and Orlando ain't that bad after all. Nate would say that my view is skewed because I don't live in Florida, and therefore am unable to really see just why Orlando is a region of FL that all good Floridians love to hate. This is true. I'm not from Florida. I'm from Durham, North Carolina.
The vast majority of people in this world, and indeed that visit Orlando, also aren't from Florida. So, therefore, my view is one of the masses, whereas Nate's is from the percentage of natives that hate Orlando in all of its Walt-inspired glory.
So, Nate ol' boy, I hereby issue you my first writer-to-writer challenge here on PIC. I want you to do a piece (or three, if you wanna follow my lead, here) on why Orlando is Florida's asshole. From what I've heard you scream into the telephone thus far, this shouldn't be a big stretch for you. Me, I'll write about the positive aspects I observe while down in your region. Once the dust settles, the crowd clears, the dead have been buried and the wounded have been bayoneted, the readers can decide who got it right.
Stay tuned, folks. As for me, I have a challenge to issue via late-night phone call.