ANSWER MAN

Light’s Out at City Hall, Not That Anyone Noticed




Tower: Tina Russell

Are the Lake Eola Fountain and that glass tower in front of City Hall related?

ANSWER: Answer Man went to the Mormon genealogy website, familysearch.org, and plugged in the fountain and the sculpture (it’s called the Tower of Light), but got no hits. And he can’t afford an account on ancestry.com.

Perhaps they look related because both possess a blue-green hue.

Further research reveals the fountain was designed by the late Atlanta architect William C. Pauley and plunked down in Lake Eola in 1957. The Tower of Light is the work of Portland, Ore., artist Ed Carpenter and was installed in 1992.

The fountain is loved by many and has become the symbol of The City Beautiful. When it stopped squirting water last year—after being struck by lightning—it was big news and the city fixed it.

The tower, meanwhile, is loved by few. The 60-foot glass-and-steel structure, nicknamed “The Asparagus,’’ has become the poster tower for misguided spending on public art (it cost $465,000).

How unloved is the tower? Well, its lighting system broke several years ago and nobody has seemed to notice. And in this era of budget cuts, it won’t be fixed any time soon.

“The technology is out of date and would need to be completely updated to get the lights working again,’’ says city spokeswoman Cassandra Lafser.

What’s worse, cutbacks also mean the glass isn’t cleaned very often, either. As Yoda might say, Gone over to the Dark ’n Dirty Side, it has.
 

Why do Orlando’s most famous mascots—Mickey Mouse and the Magic’s Stuff—never speak?

ANSWER: Few among us could hold down a job if we constantly wore idiotic facial expressions and said nothing, choosing instead to gesture wildly or shake our backsides to communicate. Yet these two thrive on such behavior.

When Answer Man asked a Disney spokesman why the theme park Mickey doesn’t talk, he gestured wildly and pointed to a recent online clip in which Mickey DOES talk—chatting it up with kids and their parents in his dressing room. The voice appears to be genuine and not piped in (Mickey reacts to a kid’s hug with “Awwww’’), and it does resemble that of the movie Mickey.

An amazing clip, right up there with Bigfoot and Zapruder, because generally mascots remain silent so as not to ruin our individual vision of a character. I mean, what would we think of Stuff if he bellowed in an Irish brogue, “The Magic are a-gunna wheep LeBron’s arse!’’?

The dragon mascot, unlike Mickey, has never spoken, period. And never will.

“We want to keep it mysterious, keep it fun,’’ says Roman Vega, the Magic’s vice president of brand management. “People wonder who Stuff is, where did he come from, what does he do, and I want to keep that mystery alive because it keeps people engaged.’’

There’s another, more basic reason that Stuff doesn’t talk.

“Technically, when you look at him, he doesn’t even have a mouth, so to speak,’’ Vega notes. “There’s not a lower jaw.’’

Well, shut my mouth.

Answer Man welcomes your questions about the Orlando area. Send queries to answerman@orlandomagazine.com

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