Overheard in Orlando: The ghost of Fred Berliner

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All things Pointe to staying open
The Orlando Sentinel recently reported that the remaining restaurant for FMI, Funky Monkey at Pointe Orlando, wanted out of their lease, which was set to expire in 2019. Claiming that the construction walls that temporarily went up last year as part of an improvement overhaul of Pointe Orlando hurt their business, FMI balked. Of course, FMI had also filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy in December of last year. Despite the high International Drive convention and tourist traffic, often boasted on their Facebook page that packed the restaurant, Eddie Nickell said that he and Nick Olivieri (who co-own FMI) were looking to move their business elsewhere plan to expand into a larger space. As of last week, Eddie Nickell said they were in the final stages of having a plan of reorganization approved by the courts and, despite the Sentinel’s story, Eddie said all of their creditors are on board with them. The plan will be to continue at full operation until June.

Give & Receive
Twas the season of giving and all through the land, people were providing, but mostly to a bigoted red can. But in its place there are other diverse people with needs. Like GLBT Center and Hope and Help with a pantry that feeds. With a call put out to all the helpers out there, folks from Brighthouse to the Prime Timers showed up with good tiding to share. Bikes were delivered for children to ride and even basic toiletries to help those on the side. You see, this season is about love and community and helping those that help others that let live and be judgment free.

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Central Florida/Orlando 2015 WAVE Award Winners!

By : Watermark Staff
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1. Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan
2. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer
3. Former State Representative Linda Stewart

1. Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer
2. Jack and Margo Dixon
3. Former State Representative Linda Stewart

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2013 Orlando WAVE Awards Results

By : Watermark Staff
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Favorite local politician/activist
1. Patty Sheehan, Orlando city commissioner
2. Buddy Dyer, Orlando Mayor
3. Randy Ross
4. Joe Saunders, State Representative

Greatest straight ally to the local LGBT community
1. Linda Stewart, State Representative
2. Buddy Dyer, Orlando Mayor
3. Jack and Margo Dixon

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And Then Fred Came into My Life

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â┚¬Å”Environmentalists have a very conflicted relationship with their cars.â┚¬Â â┚¬â€œ Tom Arnold

Vincent is dead.

Honestly it wasn't like we couldn't see it coming, but the timing was more than a little inconvenient. To paraphrase a great writer: He should have died hereafter; There would have been time for such a word.

To be fair, Vincent served us well. He hauled drunken Canadians back and forth from downtown to the Disney area. He carried countless plants to countless plantings. He hauled marketing materials for the likes of Blue Man Group. On quite a few occasions he made the trek to the Cape Canaveral Seashore. He hauled us from here to there and back again.

He also broke downâ┚¬Â¦a lot. Brendan paid my dad $1000 for the red 1998 Pontiac Montana Transport (or is it a Transport Montana?) a few years ago. It seemed like a decent enough deal, but we have now lost track of the tally of repairs we made to him. The whole thing came to end a couple months ago when Vincent would stall once heated, then not want to turn back on. We took it to a trusted mechanic, and that was followed by a voicemail from a woman who mostly sighed through the entire message because she hated to deliver the message. The engine was dead and needed to be replaced.

Fuck that.

I'm not sure why our mechanic couldn't have figured out the engine was dead the week before when the charged us $600 to â┚¬Å”repairâ┚¬Â it, but I digress. You see, this story has a happy ending and I'm mucking it up with the details of life.

So I had no choice but to embark into the vile process of car shopping. I hinted to Dad that I'd like his help, but he gave me an unspoken tough love not-going-to-be-around-forever brush off. It was the first time I'd be doing this sort of purchase without Mom around, and somehow that made the process seem even more daunting.

Brendan and I started by doing research online. We would research cars at dealers, send them information and inquiries, but hear nothing back. Obviously trying to cushion this experience through the cyberworld wasn't going to happen. So I started going to the dealers in person, only to come away disgusted since they would try to sell me everything but what I came to see.

Clearly in need of professional help, I turned to the one therapist I can afford at the moment: Facebook. I don't remember by exact status, but rest assured it was bemoaning my car shopping hell in the best â┚¬Å”poor meâ┚¬Â tone my fingertips could type. Some of my friends commiserated with me, others professed to being experts and offered their services, many apparently could care less â┚¬â€œ all in all a typical Facebook reaction, leaving me feeling a bit listless still.

Then an e-mail from Dave Wegman (brother of Miss P) suggested that I contact Fred Berliner. Fred has been an advertiser in Watermark since before I was writing for it, maybe even the very beginning. It seems Dave went in to Don Reid Ford and wound up getting the royal treatment for mentioning the ad, even though Fred wasn't in that day! Contact Fred â┚¬â€œ an inspired idea. I liked the idea of supporting someone who had, in a sense, been supporting my work. Fred also had a solid reputation and, for reasons, I can't explain, I trusted him.

I decided to shoot Fred an honest e-mail, laying down the facts of my car hunt. The van is dead, but it's our only down payment. We were caught unawares, ironically when I just started working out of a recessionary career rut. We we're looking for the impossible â┚¬â€œ something around $6000 (afraid to commit too much in the current economy), low miles, good gas mileage.

Later I got a call from Fred who was just as honest with me. First there was no way I'd get something financed right now for $6000 as the used car market has blown up and banks will only finance looking at something higher. We were wise to look for something gas efficient considering the price of gas was rising and will be $5.00 a gallon soon. He ended the conversation by saying he had â┚¬Å”bearedâ┚¬Â his soul to me, making a pun on the community he identifies with. He left me to look at the website and give him a call, if we found something appealing.

By now we were beginning to feel pressure to get a new car. We were borrowing a car from Dad â┚¬â€œ our second borrowed car during this car nightmare â┚¬â€œ and he was not so subtly indicating that he wanted it back. Yes, it is his second car and, as his neighbor sassed him, you can't drive two cars at once. That would be beside the point to him.

Brendan and I started looking through what Don Reid Ford had to offer. Given our new knowledge about the price of the car we needed to look for, we began entertaining the idea of buying a new vehicle. It was beginning to feel like I was back in that listless zone again, when Brendan found something on the Don Reid site that we weren't expecting. A 2011 Smart Car with about 2000 miles on it, being sold for a reasonable price.

Despite the hopeful tone that is the very nature of this blog, I have to admit to being a bit of a pessimist, so I still have a hard time believing the great treatment I got from Fred Berliner. Each time we had contact, I would expect the worst and there would actually be good news; the warrantee was extended because of this or that, for example. Because of Fred's dedication, I wound up with a sweetheart of a deal, including getting way too much in the trade for Vincent.

Now I the proud driver of a Smart Car, being far kinder to the planet than I thought was feasible at this particular point in my life, getting 33 miles to the gallon when I'm stop-and-go puttering around town. How awesome to get be able to walk the talk, as they say. As you and I go along our SSTW journey, I'll be able to tell you the things I've observed about the American psychology regarding cars. Our dependence on petroleum is as embedded in our psyche as apple pie.

I took this occasion to register my new car with a treesarecool.com license plate. For those non-Floridians in my readership, we have specialty license plates in Florida that I've noticed are starting to crop up in other states. You pay $25 above the normal registration and you get cool looking license plate â┚¬â€œ well, actually that depends on the one you get, I think the arts one is icky â┚¬â€œ and the money goes to that organization. There's one that helps manatees, several that support colleges, and, for reasons I can't fathom, ones that support professional sports teams (I'm hoping the money goes to charity off-shoots). Anyway, my license plate supports the Florida chapter of the International Society of Arboriculture.

I've had all this good news about me, so I know about now you're wondering what's in it for you, right? Well, let me tell you! If you go to Fred Berliner at Don Reid Ford and tell him I sent you, I'll get $50 for the referral. Wait, â┚¬Å”bearâ┚¬Â with me, I know that sounds an awful lot like it's about me again, but if you do go and I do get the 50 bucks, I'm going to give that money to ISA. Helps to offset our carbon emissions, get it? Naturally I can't promise you'll get a Smart Car â┚¬â€œ that was some pretty good timing, on top of everything â┚¬â€œ but I'm sure Mr. Berliner can help you find something fuel efficient.

Oh, by the way, Brendan and I quickly named the latest addition to our family. We couldn't help by call him Fred.

Monday Ripples: A Closer Look at Homelessness

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â┚¬Å”Life is what you make it. Always has been. Always will be.â┚¬Â – Grandma Moses

I've been thinking a lot about people lately. People who do good, to be specific. Part of me thinks we should just be happy when people are willing to help out and disregard their motivation for doing so. Still I think you can put people who are out there doing good into two categories and the distinctions are worth mulling over.

There is of course the person who does good simply for the sake of doing it. They see a need in their community and they put efforts into being part of the solution. These folks may work with an existing organization, they might create an organization themselves, or they just work independently. Their pure intent makes them altruists in the truest sense of the word.

On the flip-side of the coin, you have people who, at the end of the day, are in it for themselves. They may not even realize it and think that their motives are pure. Maybe these people are simply looking for a bullet point on their resume. Maybe they're involved because someone of influence strongly suggested they should. They are quite easy to spot because they'll usually remind you â┚¬â€œ often â┚¬â€œ that they are donating their time and services or they might even plead that their reputation is on the line for this reason or that.

A quick visit to dictionary.com will tell you: people in that last category can hardly call themselves altruists.

Let's go back to my first point though. Does it matter which category you fall in, if you're out there trying to make the world a better place? Personally, I'd rather people leave their egos at the door, but maybe that's the bitter bitch in me.

Here we are on Monday. Monday gets a bad rap because it means the glorious weekend is over and we're back to work. (Naturally that depends on whether schedule is regular. Mine is not. Cue heavy, overdramatic sigh.) Below you'll find your Monday Ripples; I hope they will help you look at Monday as a fresh start, a chance to make a difference in the world. Click, surf, absorb, share, doâ┚¬Â¦it'll make the work week go down more smoothly, I promise.

Chain, Chain, Chain
Lock It Up
Having lost my trike, Latifah, just months after Brendan bought her as a Valentine's Day present, I'm sensitive to the issue of keeping your bike safely locked up. Latifah was locked up and the cable was sliced like butter and left hanging, as if to rub the theft in my face. So it takes you locking your bike up and the community helping to keep a watch out for it, one easier than the other. I do think the prevalence of bike racks should be a focus for any city, as we need to focus more and more on pedaling and not sucking oil. When the spot to lock up your bike is this creative, the cautious measure is turned into a joyous experience. I feel like you would feel the support of your fellow man when you lock your bike up to Leon Reid's creation.

Orlando, We've Got a Problem
Fed Up
It is an unpopular sentiment to say in front of some in my circle of friends, but I'm not a fan of Food Not Bombs. I've surreptitiously mentioned this in the past. One thing that is good about their controversy surrounding the group is the spotlight it has put on my hometown's homeless situation â┚¬â€œ case in point, this article by Jeff Gore. You have to look past the Orlando Weekly's usually â┚¬Å”the establishment is bad, mkay?â┚¬Â tone, but the article is filled with good information.

â┚¬Å”I certainly did something about it. I made you.â┚¬Â
Even for the most caring among us, it's hard to talk about the homeless problem without thinking of it abstract. We can forget that we're talking about humans, no different than us. Invisible People is a project that makes it difficult to forget that we are talking about our fellow man. The chilling stories it tells will remind that life can change in an instant. It can happen to you.

Smart in Pink Isn't She
Rare pink Smart Car in Royal Marsden Hospital Sutton charity auction
Thanks to unusually good timing and the hard work of longtime Watermark advertiser Fred Berliner of Don Reid Ford, Brendan and I recently purchased a Smart Car. I'm going to give you a post just about that experience, but suffice to say the total joy of driving this little car has Smart Cars on my mind. Through obsessive Smart surfing, I found this item about a pink car that was auctioned off for charity.

Publisher’s Perspective: Hanging in there

By : Tom Dyer
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TomDyerHeadshotThese are the dog days of a dog year. In fact, last night I walked my dog in humid 90 degree heat; normal for mid-July—except it was almost midnight! During those walks, with the moon and stars offering their distant perspective in the night sky, I often ponder how I might better exist in these relentlessly negative times.

Not only has this been the hottest year on record, but during much of it we’ve watched helplessly as millions of gallons of oil spilled into the nearby Gulf of Mexico. Across the globe, one war is winding down while another is winding up with increasing casualties.

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