Orlando (Florida) Mayor Buddy Dire (misspelling intentional) said over the weekend on the city’s National Public Radio outlet WMFE-FM (90.7) that he thinks the city should buy the site of the now-infamous Pulse gay nightclub, the site of an earlier one-man massacre of 2 a.m. revelers. The site has become a national shrine. Mayor Dyer says he wants to ensure the city will have a hand in keeping the site available for a “Memorial” to the slain, wounded and affected. The jockeying for suzerainty of the nitespot – and its two-figure millions in donations – has been a mullti-party affair.
A fund ostensibly to benefit the families of the dead – often citing burial expenses – and the wounded and survivors (presumably of the traumatic effects of a near seven-hour ordeal in which nearly a half-hundred were killed by rifle- and handgun-fire and an almost eerie similar number wounded by a man some identified as a sexually confused Muslim or an adherent of ISIS or possibly a combination of the two) has birthed eventually what has been presented as an overarching foundation for monies collected. There are several funds and proposed funds and possibly future funds.
Funds perhaps is the key in this budding of celebratory image-making. While escorting the Prime Minister of Luxembourg and his husband through the Pulse scene, mayhap Mayor D found the nation- and world-wide fascination with the site – and the many, many bucks possibly already generated by such Massacre Tourism and the media’s fascination and inaccurate characterization of the site as the scene of the largest single mass shooting in American History (after first trumpeting this non-fact as gospel at least one radio talk station qualified – for a time but soon recanted – as the greatest mass shooting “In modern times” but the hype soon overcame history. The Sand Creek Massacre of peaceful Indian tribesmen in the latter stages of the 19th century with an estimated 600-to-700 dead qualifies as the tribes involved were at peace with the United States and the several state militias in their area of residence. But that does not advance further the narrative.). There’s tourist dollars in all things gay in Orlando – see the modest beginnings of Gay Days at Disney World decades past and its growth to a red-shirted tidal wave of spending.
Will fear of a repeat performance tamp down the possible throngs of revelers now grown somber through tragedy? Will Mayor Dire seek to gain control of the message by massaging the metrics? Will foundation or city or other source money be used to buy the property. Will the owner sell? Will some domain get eminented to ensure the city – read: Mayor Buddy and his minions – gets closer access to a potential fountain of tourist dollars of the macabre? And, will this new mecca aborning be a red cape flung in the face of islamist fundamentalist terrorists who might feel compelled to teach the lesson again – even if only by a “Lone Wolf” whose motives and deeper mores remain unanswered questions? As to the “Lone Wolf” aspect, current revelations about supposed single-actor situations in Europe reveal a troubling connection to Islamic terrorist organs.
If a “memorial” is the goal, wait. Find a new venue and reopen and make money fist over fist as gay, straight and everything in between comes out to fling love and defiance into the face of hate and horror. Better yet, knock down the old site and rebuild right there and use materials to create indoor and outdoor memorial walls. This time do the security thing right. Mayor Buddy says he thinks a year of facting – a listening tour if you will – would be appropriate before any decision on what shape or form such a memorial might take. Meanwhile, dead- and injured- and maybe shark-victims soon will line up for a dole from the already collected mega-fund. There are plans to bus in those without wheels to sign up for the grab-bag. Will all that be televised? Will the process also be open to media and public scrutiny? Will The City – ok, Mayor Buddy Dyer – take over and further cement Orlando as not just the NorthGate to Fantasy Land but also the home of FreeMoneyForMurdered (and traumatized) partiers on a Latin Themed night about town?
All that as-yet uncounted reason(s) for these questions might prompt someone with a flashlight to ask permission to shine on the proceedings.
After writing this, news of OneOrlando (which concept I call objectionable on its face – Orlando is not nor never has been and I hope never will be an homogenous one-think place) has 23-million in its to-be-disbursed account. The administrator, pulled from previous patronage pass-out post (The Gulf Oil Spill and Twin Towers) has said that this well be as dirty a business as either of his previous positions. That kind of cash attracts all kinds of schemers and skeievers and lowlifes and others willing to sell a shred of integrity for some public (or private) teat.
Again, let me repeat: wait on the memorial. Maya Lin did not build that silent rift-healing black granite the day before the last Huey left Saigon. The Mall’s WWII memorial saw most of the men and women it memorialized dead before it was built. Why rush to spend money to assuage our pain? Wait. Do it if you must. But, dammit! Do It Right!