5-Piece Column, Original Recipe

The roads not taken (and for good reason).

Roberto Gonzalez

Myriad musings as I continue to kick myself for not snatching up a bottle of KFC-scented sunscreen over the summer:

* I’m not sure why, but there’s something very satisfying about voting on the actual Election Day, even if you do have to stand in line. That’s why I’ve never cast an absentee ballot or voted early. I just show up at the poll on the day I’m supposed to. In late August, there was no line at all at my precinct station (sad). In November, who knows. I do worry that we who choose to wait and sacrifice some convenience by voting on the big day will soon be regarded as dinosaurs, seen as behind the times and acting as irritants to the pundits itching to declare winners before the 7 p.m. poll closings. To them I say: Bug off.

* I once thought that the road not taken—i.e. Interstate 4 during its ultimate reconstruction—would save me a lot of frustration going to and from work. Who would think that some of Orlando’s downtown residential streets could also become a nightmare? But these days, I  find  my line of sight blocked by cars parked along spaceless curbsides along our beautiful brick streets as I try to exit  parking lots. Or face off with another motorist a few hundred yards away in a game of rush-hour chicken, deciding who will jump out first to speed down the narrow single lane sandwiched between parked cars on both sides. For real excitement, I head home on heavily traveled Summerlin Avenue where, between East Colonial Drive and Marks Street, darting in and out among parked cars has become a near-bumper cars adventure. The city needs more ugly garages! Wait, I take that back. But it should at least limit parking to one side of the street from dawn till dusk—and ban it altogether along its busiest downtown streets during the day.

* Enough griping about crowded streets. Here’s a great reason to pack them: the Creative City Project, the annual huge artistic extravaganza, is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 15 on the streets of downtown. The immersive, interactive event, organized by artistic entrepreneur extraordinaire Cole NeSmith, will feature more than 1,000 artists and performers, from Cirque du Soleil to the Orlando Philharmonic. Art installations and culinary tastings will abound. Go to creativecityproject.com for more information.

* One of the groups performing at the Creative City Project event—on five stages no less—will be the orchestra from Central Florida Community Arts. In this month’s issue we profile that grassroots organization and its leader, Joshua Vickery. Elsewhere in this edition is our annual fall fashion overview, shot at the stunning Stetson Mansion in DeLand. Our new Flashback feature looks at the opening of another famous mansion 45 years ago—Disney World’s Haunted Mansion. The Home+Garden section explores how to make a splash with fountains, pools and ponds. And dining critic Joseph Hayes guides us to “one-note wonders’’—eateries that focus mainly on one type of food and do an admirable job, whether with potatoes, meatballs, bao, grilled cheese, chicken salad or chicken tenders.

* And speaking of chicken—that opening line about KFC sunscreen was no joke. In a recent online promotion, the chain gave away 3,000 promotional bottles of SPF 30 sunscreen that smelled like the extra-crispy variety of Colonel Sanders' product. (“Its SPF helps protect your skin while the real fried chicken scent leaves you smelling delicious!’’ its company website clucked.) They were gone in two hours, but eBay entrepreneurs have come to the rescue. You can own an extra-crispy piece of history if you’re willing to fork out $300 for what could be the ultimate chick (or dude) magnet.

Praise the Lord and pass the tenders.

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