World Travel Council predicts Orlando tourism will rebound from Pulse massacre

This memorial to the victims of the Pulse shooting was put on display at Orlando's lake Eola Park. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

This memorial to the victims of the Pulse shooting was put on display at Orlando’s lake Eola Park. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

ORLANDO — For a region that likes to bill itself as “the happiest place on Earth,” three shocking and tragic incidents over the course of a few days brought round-the-clock international coverage to the Orlando area – and not in the way the city wanted.
But it’s not yet clear if these incidents — which include the worst domestic terrorist attack in the nation since 911 – will have a lasting impact on the Orlando area’s tourism industry. In fact, the president of the World Travel & Tourism Council predicted that Orlando’s tourist attractions would likely make a quick rebound.
For Orlando, the grim reports started on June 10, when Christina Grimmie, the 22-year-old singer from NBC’s “The Voice,” was fatally shot while signing autographs after a show at The Plaza Live theater in Orlando. A man approached her and opened fire. The shooter, later identified as Kevin James Loibl, shot and killed himself after the singer’s brother, Marcus Grimmie, tackled him.
The shock that that incident was rapidly followed by an even more devastating attack on Sunday, June 12, when a gunman entered Pulse, a gay nightclub near downtown Orlando, and shot and killed 49 people and injured 53 others. The shooter, Omar Mateen, was killed by Orlando police after a three hour standoff. Mateen had expressed hatred for gay people and had sworn allegiance to ISIS. Continue reading

Freeline Media Review: “Nine”

Jane Shepard's play "Nine" is being performed at the Orlando Fringe festival.

Jane Shepard’s play “Nine” is being performed at the Orlando Fringe festival.

ORLANDO — As she stands over the woman kneeling close by her, the first thing you notice is the strength and authority in the woman’s voice.
There’s a great deal of compassion as well. The woman nearby looks totally devastating, but rather than trying to quietly console her, to be empathetic to her pain, to gently reassure her, the woman standing up approaches the situation in an entirely different way. She keeps pushing the other woman to get over it. Get up. it’s not going to get any better, so you just have to deal with it.
The woman on her knees isn’t ready to hear this. She wants her to stop talking.
But she doesn’t. She keeps pushing her to fight back in the only way she can, by finding some inner strength, by getting stronger.
And in those first few moments, the scene feels like it could apply to scores of different scenarios: a woman reaching out to a heartbroken daughter. Two lovers reacting after a bitter feud. A co-worker assisting someone who has just been fired.
Of course, no one in the audience is likely to assume the play “Nine” is heading in any of these directions. Both women have steel chains around their necks, and they are prisoners. It’s immediately obvious this is not an American prison cell: the women are not in standard prison jumpsuits but in torn clothing. And both are covered, from their legs to their arms to their faces, in ugly bruises and wounds. Continue reading

Some thoughts on ghosts in historic places

The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast and Museum is at 92 Second St. in downtown Fall River. (Photo by Michael Freeman).

On Oct. 11, 1998, I started writing a diary. I continued adding to it until Oct. 10, 2002.
At the time, I was living in a beautiful and historic Colonial house in Swansea, Massachusetts, built in 1889, and located on a pond.
I stopped adding to the diary only because I knew that in April 2002, I would be moving to Orlando, following the lead that my sister and her family made in 1999. I had sold the Colonial and was packing up to say goodbye to Massachusetts, the state I was born in.
The diary was not a daily recollection of my job, home life, family, or private thoughts about world events. I started writing it, sporadically, for a very different reason: I had come to conclude that the house was haunted, so I began writing down the eerie, spooky incidents happening inside those walls.
Pictures falling off a wall, even though they were securely attached to a nail. Loud banging in our basement, with no indication of what it was when we went to investigate. One of my cats staring down a dark hallway, and suddenly all the fur on her back standing up — and there’s nothing there. This happened over and over again.
The house, by the way, was right across the street from a graveyard.
Check out this entry from Thursday, Feb. 17, 2000: Continue reading

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