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Orlando Pop Culture

Getting a feel for modern Orlando from books and movies is difficult; it’s too new and changes too fast. African-American author Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) wrote about her hometown, Eatonville, in "Their Eyes Were Watching God" and there’s a museum devoted to her in Eatonville, just west of Winter Park. Jack Kerouac wrote "The Dharma Bums" while living in College Park; the house is now used for a writers-in-residence program, trying to glean some Beat vibe from the worn walls. To get a feel for Central Florida before the tourism boom, pick up Patrick Smith’s "A Land Remembered" or Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings’ classic "Cross Creek". Comedian Wayne Brady and actor Wesley Snipes are both from Orlando, although the area’s more noted for producing golfers, football stars and baseball players (four of the starting nine Boston Red Sox team that won the 2004 World Series were from Central Florida). The old Orlando city hall was famously imploded for the climactic scene of Lethal Weapon 3, and My Girl was filmed in and around Orlando. Musically, the town’s all over the map. In the 1950s and 60s Orlando was a frequent stop for Southern jazz artists including Ray Charles; his former bandleader, Lee Roy Cooper later played at Disney World and in local blues bands until his death in 2009. Lou Perlman, the Orlando promoter behind ’N Synch and Backstreet Boys found most of his talent here in town. Stephen Stills and Tom Petty grew up a bit north, in Gainesville and The Allman Brothers honed their craft in Daytona Beach. King Snake Recrods in Sanford has recorded some of the areas best blues players (Sonny Rhodes, Roy Roberts, Smokehouse).
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