11.1.18 Publisher’s Desk

By : Rick Claggett
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I have a terrible sense of humor. I’ve written about this before and how I credit my father for just how bad it is. Dad jokes are the best, and the worse they are the harder I laugh.

Here’s an example: I have an insane love of ice cream, so much so that my trainer and my scale yell at me about it all the time. St. Pete has this wonderful little shop that sells mini-doughnuts basking in a tower of ice cream. Every time we drive by it, my partner says, “We can get mini-doughnuts.” To which I reply, “How many?” Then I laugh like I’ve never heard it before. I don’t mind laughing alone.On the opposite side of silly puns lives another level of humor I like to call “sitcom funny.” It’s darker and more biting, and something I’ve always been attracted to because it’s witty and makes you think. When I was a kid my brother had a friend that was making fun of me. After I shot back at him, the room was silent and confused. My brother told all of his friends that it would take them about five minutes after I left to realize that I was making fun of them. I’ve watched a lot of TV in my life and I credit “Cheers,” “The Golden Girls” and “Friends” for this aspect of my humor. Although our Central Florida Bureau Chief Jeremy Williams thinks I’m more of a Ross from “Friends,” I always thought of myself as a Chandler—more of a Sophia than a Rose, if you will.

This kind of punchy humor became my thing. I’d make jokes to people at work, taking lighthearted jabs at silliness that comes about in day to day life—all in jest, looking for a cheap laugh. In fact, for years I’ve been giving out mock WAVE awards at our holiday parties, poking fun at the mishaps the staff had made throughout the year. People seemed to find them funny. Only one person in many, many years got offended.

Last year was an emotional year for the staff, so I took the opportunity to praise their good work rather than the usual shtick.

I had every intention of bringing these sarcastic superlatives back this year, but I was introduced to a Ted Talk that got me thinking. It was about civility and how important words are. Sitcoms are funny, probably because they only last 30 minutes. Can you imagine eight hours with Chandler Bing? I couldn’t! This video talks about discovering the kind of person you want to be and using the language that person would use. It really resonated with me. Civility seems to be lost these days. It started with keyboards on social media and has now spread out into the real world, or the real world has become social media.

This has never been more evident than it is in recent politics. Now that it’s time to vote, the rhetoric has gotten worse. It’s hard to sift through facts when misinformation comes at you so fast. For example, I was asked just today if I support Andrew Gillum even though he wants a state income tax. Well, Gillum can’t impose a state income tax because our state constitution won’t allow it. It’s a scare tactic.

I encourage everyone to listen to what politicians have to say. They always reveal who they are and what they really support when they talk. Take John Mina for example. He is listed as NPA on our ballots for Sherriff of Orange County. Some people reading this may want to vote straight Democrats this election, but I encourage you to listen to what Mina has to say about the LGBTQ people of this community. It’s important to be informed.

This is our election issue. Watermark’s editorial team has decided not to endorse candidates, but to allow them the space to make their case. Take a look at what they say. Did they take the time to respond? Andrew Gillum did. John Mina did, as did Anna Eskamani, Carlos Guillermo Smith, Sean Shaw, Jennifer Webb and Charlie Crist. Vote for the people who speak to you. Vote for the people who speak the way you want your leaders to speak. Hopefully that’s a little more like Phoebe than Chandler. Hopefully we can bring civility back.

Aside from politics, this issue covers the LGBT+ Center of Orlando’s 40 year celebration and reports on a confrontational bathroom encounter a breast cancer survivor faced at a Bucs game. In entertainment, we talk to the cast of “Bohemian Rhapsody” and highlight a transgender-themed children’s book, “Jack (Not Jackie).”

We strive to bring you a variety of stories, your stories. I hope you enjoy this latest issue.

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