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Orlando Sentinel

Gringo Lament: First Plantains, Now The Oldies

By Mike Thomas, Sentinel Columnist

4 February 2005
Copyright © 2005 Orlando Sentinel. All rights reserved.

Well, talk about gratitude.

Here I've been a good little gringo and welcomed all you Latinos into Central Florida and what's my thanks? You stole my oldies!

I pushed the button for 100.3 FM yesterday morning and did not hear Aretha Franklin.

I did not hear Elvis.

I did not hear the Monkees.

I heard Spanish!

And I heard it on a Clear Channel radio station, of all places. Isn't Clear Channel supposed to be the last bastion of the Angry White Man?

Wasn't that Pat Campbell on a Clear Channel station spouting off about Mel Martinez speaking Spanish on the Senate floor?

This is an outrage -- the radio station, not Mel.

Well, Mel might be an outrage, but not for speaking Spanish.

Oldies are an Anglo tradition. We stole rock 'n' roll from the black folks fair and square, shipped it off to England for some fine-tuning, and now it is part of our culture.

Ah, the good old days of skipping class, cramming towels in the dormitory door cracks, firing up the bong and listening to Jimi Hendrix play "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Mis amigos! Why don't you just cut my heart out, throw it on the floor and stomp on it!!!

Excuse me, I need to take a minute and compose myself . . .

Now, where was I?

Oh, yes: Anglo outrage.

We need to pass an oldies-only amendment. We certainly could if the Republicans weren't so busy sucking up to Latino voters. Everybody wants in on the action.

Back when I moved to Orlando in the early 1980s, this was an oldies kind of town. People catered to our wants and desires because we had the biggest dollar in the bank.

You give me Elvis. I give you my demographic in the Arbitron ratings.

Those were the days when a white guy could make a nice living for himself in middle management, and every aisle in Publix belonged to us. By God, the bananas were yellow!

But now there are new dollars invading our one-dollar town. There are Asian dollars and black dollars. There are a whole bunch of Latino dollars.

Suddenly our Anglo dollar carries less clout.

Suddenly, businesses understand they are going to have to get along with a lot less of them. And so they will have to make up the difference somewhere else.

Do you know what this radio switch really means? It means young Latinos are a more desirable demographic than aging white people. It means corporate America has crunched the numbers and I lose.

Look at the picture at the top of this column. I'm in big trouble. Workplace diversity means the white guys at the top demonstrate their commitment to multiculturalism by whacking the white guys in the middle.

Yeah, first they started selling plantains at Publix. Then you had to press 2 to hear this message in English. Next went the oldies. Then the Buick dealership closed down. And suddenly I went from being picked as the 25th-most-powerful guy in Orlando to covering cops in Bithlo.

Protests are flooding in about 100.3 FM. But this isn't about the music. You can replace that with an iPod. This is about where people came from becoming a less-relevant place.

It's so hard to share. Hey, think you guys could play some Santana?

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