Sarasota City Commissioners, pressured by downtown business leaders to resolve the noxious presence of transients, the homeless, disease-riddled prostitutes, vagrants, the criminally insane and more than a few former investors with Scoop Management who congregate daily at Five Points Park, brainstormed intensely for more than 4 1/2 minutes at their Weds. night meeting before coming up with the perfect solution--opera music will slay the beast!
Beset by the likes of Luigi Figaro, owner of The Barber of Seville Hair Styling Salon on Main Street, who told the commissioners, "My wife, Carmen, and I are losing business because of the bums panhandling outside my shop."
Other speakers complained about the alcoholics and the homeless hassling the passers-by who wander into the downtown park, whether by soliciting handouts or monopolizing the seating areas or peeing on tourists' shoes.
Suggestions ranged from importing a pack of wild pit bulls to disperse the transients, loading them onto a bus and driving them to a deserted area south of Arcadia, installing 220V electric lines to the metal benches and energizing them randomly, have realtors practice their sales pitches on them, letting the sprinklers run all night or, arguably the most sadistic scheme of the evening, turn loose the Jehovah's Witnesses on them. This plan made everyone in the audience shudder with horror and was quickly dismissed by the cooler heads on the dais.
Don Giovanni, head of the Sarasota Opera, had mixed feelings about the plan. "While I relish the idea of having great arias waft over the park, I'm not sure of the message we're sending by using opera as a sonic deterrent device instead of a pleasureable experience. I guess, however, Sarasota Opera could use the venue for rehearsals, so long as we don't run up against any noise ordinance violations."
City officials also approached the Sarasota Orchestra about performing in the park, thinking that symphonies would also have the same effect on the vagrant population. Joseph McKenna, president and CEO, immediately nixed the idea, as he has "no intention of paying those damn ingrate fiddle players one single dime in overtime pay."
Citing the often hostile tone of the recent contract negotiations, McKenna added, "Maybe a night or two in Five Points with all those drug-addicted, bug-infested, urine-soaked, drooling homosexual psychopaths would help them realize that this year's proposed pay cut might not be so bad after all."
I had my doubts about opera being a deterrent to sleeping off a monumental Mogen-David drunk, so I did a little investigative journalism by downing a quart and a half of Mad Dog 20/20 and washed it down with a goodly amount of rubbing alcohol as a chaser. I felt the bench beneath me start to spin, which I deemed a good sign, and laid my weary head down on my oaken accomodations for the evening, taking care to keep one hand and foot in contact with the ground, lest I spin off into eternity.
Surely, nothing would be able to rouse me from this near-comatose slumber and cause me to part with the smooth painted slats of my resting place this night.