19-Feb-2004 (Thu)
Wherein event #500 is noted, and New York is ridiculed.

According to my calculations, tonight's event, Meat, will be our 500th event since we re-opened on July 13, 2001. So how about that.

While I'm at it, allow me to direct your attention to event number 503, the Nina Hagen show this sunday. This will be her third visit here (and fourth show, since she played two nights last year) and she always puts on quite a show. The opening act this time is Storm and The Balls. Storm's previous band, "Storm Inc.", played here in October 2001 -- one of our first live shows, in fact. Great show; I listen to their CDs a lot.


Last week, the SF Board of Supervisors voted in favor of the later last-call that I mentioned earlier, so now State Assemblyman Leno is going to propose legislation some time in the next few weeks. Based on public response, they've scaled back their proposal from "let large cities in California decide whether to have a later last-call" to "let San Francisco decide." (Apparently folks in other cities would rather not have that choice at all...)

So in the face of this good news, let's take a peek at what's happening on the opposite coast, shall we? Apparently there's a move afoot in New York City to pull back last call from 4AM to 1AM for many bars and restaurants! Not globally, but they'd make people jump through more permit hoops to be allowed to be open later than 1AM. Nice, huh? The New York Nightlife Association site has news about this. Of course, the NYNA is also trying to repeal the smoking ban in NYC, so it's not like they're sane or anything. That's just reason number two to never set foot outside of San Francisco.

Apparently they claim that the smoking ban has caused lots and lots of bars and clubs to go out of business in New York, causing "widespread industry layoffs", because apparently New Yorkers are such party animals that they'll say to themselves, "you know what, I'd like to go clubbing, but I can't smoke there, so I'll just stay home instead."

The California smoking ban improved my nightlife experience immeasurably. It only takes one trip out of the state to remind me of the horrors of coming home and having to leave my clothing outside because I can't stand to be in the room with their post-club stench. Hell, I can't wait until they ban smoking on sidewalks. And after cigarettes, I hope they go after patchoulli. I don't want to smell any of you fuckers! Get away from me!

39 Responses:

  1. waider says:

    Our nationwide smoking ban (modulo some exceptions) kicks in on March 29th. One of the major drivers behind the ban is the Vintners' Association, a sort of "Teamsters for Pubs" organisation who cited some huge number of their members dying from diseases caused by second-hand smoke. The opposition, who mounted mostly-failed legal challenges to the ban, cite similar arguments to the New York association you mentioned, i.e. that thousands of people will lose their jobs as the entire nation decides not to go to the pub since they can't smoke there. The thing is, I've yet to talk to an actual person who isn't in support of the ban: non-smokers are delighted because, as you say, it's great to come home and not have to torch your clothing because it smells like an ashtray; and all the smokers I've talked to - barstaff included - have said they're looking at it as an opportunity to give up smoking. The Government has helped in its own way by slapping more and more tax on cigarettes here; that alone has persuaded vast numbers to ditch the smokes in favour of having more cash to drink with. I think it's currently about €6 (about $7.60) for a pack of 20 cigarettes, which in my local at least is close enough to the price of two pints. Ultimately, I hope, there's also the side benefit of the Government (i.e. us, via taxes) paying less for smoking-related healthcare. Improved health and extra cash for all!

    Now to get back to this business of pickling my liver...

  2. cvisors says:

    As a smoker (why oh why did I pick up this habit) I can't wait till they do something like that here (Australia) I don't realy like the stench of smoke in clubs.

    Benjamin

  3. naturalborn says:

    The new york nightlife association is basically a front for the biggest nightclub owner in the city. The reason it's proposing extra hoops, instead of an outright scaling back, is that he's the only one who can afford said hoops, and he figures legally requiring the competition to shut down will help his business.

  4. kingfox says:

    As someone who lives just on the other side of the Hudson (Midtown Manhattan is a mile and a half East of where I'm sitting), the smoking ban has been wonderful. Friends of mine who are smokers are meeting new friends outside, being more social, and have mostly stopped bitching. My clothing no longer reeks, my contacts are no longer gunked up, and I'm not coughing after a night on the town. But there is a marked decrease in crowds, but I don't think it's New Yorkers just staying home instead.

    Consider that a large percentage of the people who would go out drinking in NYC don't live in NYC itself. They live in the suburbs, who have their own bars. So instead of paying six bucks for a tunnel toll or a buck fifty for the PATH (BART of the East), they're staying in Jersey and discovering their local bars. While the bars on the other side of the river are less crowded, the bars over here are packed. I've even met some New Yorkers who have started taking the PATH to Hoboken so they could bar crawl with cancer sticks in their hands. I'm sure we pass each other in the PATH stations all the time; the smokers fleeing to my town to drink and smoke, me fleeing the influx of smokers.

  5. zapevaj says:

    You know, before I moved to Chicago, I thought I'd never get used to people smoking in bars or inside. But I totally have. I'm probably going to come home and be one of those irritating patrons that tries to smoke in a club despite it having been illegal for what, seven years now? Not because I think I'll get away with it; I'll just bloody well -forget-.

  6. sschmitt says:

    I am so with you on the smoking (and patchouli) ban. Praise to California!!!

  7. jette says:

    The California smoking ban improved my nightlife experience immeasurably. It only takes one trip out of the state to remind me of the horrors of coming home and having to leave my clothing outside because I can't stand to be in the room with their post-club stench. Hell, I can't wait until they ban smoking on sidewalks. And after cigarettes, I hope they go after patchoulli. I don't want to smell any of you fuckers! Get away from me!

    That reminds me of how I used to have to wash my hair the minute I got home no matter what - at 4:30 in the morning, whenever.

    But even better then not smelling is the no nicotine hangover - I couldn't believe how much better I started feeling in the morning.

    Then I got a job in administering a substance abuse treatment program (with a designated indoor smoking area steps from my office) and I again had to wash my hair the minute I got home - and when the smoking ban went in, I was the only person in town whoever smelled like a bar coming home from work anymore.

  8. how do you feel about the argument that the smoking ban has been used by law enforcement as an excuse to harass clubs/clubgoers?

    i recall a few years back, i was at shrine of lilith and the cops came in because they "suspected somebody was smoking," and, frustrated after searching the club and finding nothing, forced the club to keep house lights on for the rest of the night because the darkness was supposedly a safety hazard.

    • jwz says:

      What do you mean how do I feel? "Harrassment's bad, mmmmkay?"

      And yet, every night I get down on my knees and say, "Thank you Jesus, thank you for the Smoking Ban."

      Also, here's me dying of non-shock that the management of Maritime Hall had pissed off the cops so much that they came around looking to harass. It's hard to pick sides in a battle like that. Harassment's bad, but payback's a bitch too.

      • my understanding has always been that the maritime management had nothing to do with the COPs harassing them, and that it was all about sound factory's problems/sound factory's lawyers and clout and blame deflection for crime in the neighborhood. what little i know of the maritime's management isn't very positive, but still.

        if you give somebody power, they'll tend to use it. if the smoking bans give the police the power to harass nightclubs, and history has shown that they'll use it, is it still worth it?

        i don't smoke, and i'd prefer that other people didn't smoke in my vicinity, but i'd rather have to deal with smoking in clubs and have venues left alone. with more venues, there'd be more competition, and maybe eventually some would even choose anti-smoking policies to attract a non-smoking clientele.

        all that said, it's too bad more places can't afford to be set up like the glas kat with the smoking room. it's a great compromise, i think.

        • jwz says:

          Well, you can theorize all you like that the reason Maritime was being picked on had nothing to do with the fact that they were one of the most incompetent, willfully negligently run clubs this town has ever seen, but you know, I'm not buying that.

          Sound Factory has always had a stellar relationship with the police. They know how to play the game, and that's why they're still open, after a decade of doing top-40-hip-hop parties every week.

          I know you loved you some high-school-cafeteria-styled goth club, Eric, but saying "this incompetently-run club was only getting harassed because there was a competently-run club halfway down the block" just doesn't make any sense.

          Also, the "we ought to have less laws" argument occupies approximately the same fantasyland as the "we shouldn't have tipping, people should just get paid more instead" fantasyland. That might work, maybe, but it's not the planet on which we live and you can't get there from here, so the point is rather moot.

          Incidentally, allow me to point out that the anti-smoking law is not about customers at all, but about employees: it's analagous not with last-call vice laws, but with child-labor and workplace-safety laws. It says "you can't require someone to breathe toxins all day as a part of their job."

          A result of this is that smoking lounges like Glas Kat and Ruby Skye have are on shaky legal ground, because that's a room that customers are in, but that no employee can be required to go in -- so that means you have a room where there can never, ever be security staff.

          • you bring up a good point about the smoking lounge, i hadn't thought of that.

            anyhow, regarding the maritime, some of my opinions are based on admittedly biased hearsay, it's true, but my understanding was that major issues at play were things like increased crime and crowd noise late at night OUTSIDE the clubs in the area; things that, although related to the clubs, are contingent more on the club's clientele than the competence of the club's management. it seems clear to me that responsibility for those issues was largely owned by sound factory.

            • kj48506 says:

              and of course directly related to second hand smoke

            • zapevaj says:

              You're forgetting about the rest of Maritime's clientele. Shrine was a relatively small-potatoes thing for them- the big thing, if I recall, were the rock, reggae, hip-hop, etc shows upstairs. And those had essentially the same problems that 1015 or any other big, lowest-common-denominator club has- violence, public intoxication, drug use, public urination, general rowdiness on the streets, etc. Jamie's actually right- the Maritime management were really hostile to negotiations with the city, and refused to work with the police and local resident groups on things that would have resolved these issues (such as outdoor security, public toilets outside the club, etc). Admittedly, that was like, the height of police harassment, club shutdown, and resident-group fit-throwing. But the Maritime's "we're not your neighbor, just a building that happens to be next to you" attitude really hurt city-club relations for a while to come.

              Why the hell I remember so much about circa-'98 city politics, I really don't know.

              • i am in fact guilty of forgetting that the lower maritime is actually connected to the upper.

                what then, about the argument that the club was there long before residences in the neighborhood?

                • jwz says:

                  Yeah, what about it?

                  What's your point, Eric? It totally escapes me.

                  • zapevaj says:

                    I think Eric's point is that although the smoking ban in clubs has made the clubbing experience better, it has been used in a manner that its proponents probably never intended (i.e. to harass and shut down clubs). This is similar to a lot of arguments against laws that restrict civil rights- maybe the point of the law ain't so bad, but law-enforcement will probably use it to harass law-abiding and grey-area-of-law activities. (Like the police using the smoking law as an excuse to effectively shut down the Maritime.)

                • zapevaj says:

                  You're asking me, or Jamie?

                  If you're asking me, well- gentrification happens. It was happening very quickly in Soma in the late 90's. And I'm guessing that the yuppie-hive condos generated more income for the city than clubs do, by way of property tax. So the residents were more important to the city than the clubs. Not the way it should be, but the way it was. The "culture" argument (nightclubs contribute to SF's culture in a way that tract homes do not) and the "precedence" argument mattered very little to the Brown administration, who were all about turning SF into a modern version of the Pullman factory towns. So, I mean, I agree with you, but the city could not possibly be expected to be on the club's side.

                  I also think that the club management in general at that time could have been a lot more forthcoming in negotiating with the city and resident's groups. Sure, the demands placed on them were unreasonable, but I definitely remember that Maritime (and at least one other club that is now gone; Paradise?) had a really combative attitude that lost them a lot of sympathy.

                  I think that what was happening then is a combination of the political zeitgeist (I never thought I'd use that word in conversation) and the arrogance of some cliub owners (who are now ex-club owners, natch). Look at clubs today; maybe I don't know all the dirt, but I could swear that I haven't heard of a police entrance or shutdown for at least three years.

                  • jamie, i wasn't really trying to make a point, i was asking a question, which rae's first paragraph here basically answers.

                    most of what i know about the whole situation is based on obviously biased reporting from the bay guardian and little snippets of conversation i heard mostly from people who either worked at or were sympathetic to the maritime. i figured you'd disagree, i was just curious as to why.

                  • jwz says:

                    Yeah, Rae got it right. Stomping your feet and screaming "but I was here first" is not a strategy for success. Exhibit A: the middle-east.

                    I will add, however, that the mind-blowing patheticness of Maritime Hall (their business practices, employees, and the stultifying level of care they put into the venue's environment) was my primary motivation for buying DNA Lounge.

                    They did everything - absolutely everything - wrong. Long may they rot.

          • eo_nomine says:

            Incidentally, allow me to point out that the anti-smoking law is not about customers at all, but about employees: it's analagous not with last-call vice laws, but with child-labor and workplace-safety laws.

            I hate smoking. Really hate it. I routinely ask to be moved from the non-smoking section I was put in at a restaurant to a real non-smoking area.

            But, if you really care about health issues with respect to smoking, then we have a lot more banning that we need to do. Think about the poor kids who have to sit in a car with the windows up while their parents create a disgusting bluish gray moving cancer factory out of the car interior. I was one of those kids. I hated it. Also, you need to ban parents from smoking in their own house if they have children. After all, children who are constantly exposed to cancer causing agents are more likely to develop health problems, right?

            And think about it... Kids have no choice in the matter. At least employees have some choice in where they work. So, if smoking bans are okay in bars for health reasons, then by that logic, smoking bans should be done in cars and homes with children.

            And, once we've banned smoking in cars and peoples' homes, we're certainly not too far from the government banning us from doing other things in our own homes.

            • flipzagging says:

              Slippery-slope arguments.

            • jwz says:

              That sounds like something Hitler would say.

              However, I've also long thought it was crazy that you need a license to drive a car, but they'll let any old fuckwit breed.

              • eo_nomine says:

                That sounds like something Hitler would say.

                But seriously... Is it really that hard of a stretch to think that the government will also eventually tell people what they are allowed to do in their own cars or homes? I mean, heck, most states still have anti-sodomy laws on the books.

                I find it particularly easy for laws to be passed when someone says "let's do it for the children". Not allowing smoking in a home with kids sure sounds like it'd be good for the kids, huh?

                • kj48506 says:

                  zig heil
                  we fought that for years and are still a presence in germany.
                  we should learn from our mistakes and quit F'n with a persons right to do with their time what they will.

            • kj48506 says:

              there are already laws against those things!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
              get caught and go to jail, damn it. my daughter hated me smoking for 16 yrs and now she herself smokes, so WTF?

      • rzr_grl says:

        Correct me if I'm wrong, jwz, but have we ever, EVER, been harassed by the cops for anything, much less smoking?

  9. harryh says:

    They're thinking about implementing a smoking ban up here in Seattle, and even thinking about it makes me livid. Forget all of the economic arguments (which may or may not be baloney), isn't a smoking ban just kind of unamerican? Limited government? Private property rights? That sort of thing.

    I understand that there are lots of people who don't like the smell, but I can't quite figure out why their nasal passages should have legal protection.

    • jwz says:

      The America you describe hasn't existed since approximately 1794.

      • harryh says:

        That may be true.

        But it doesn't mean we should cheer at its continuing demise.

        • jwz says:

          Realism is good.

          And the CA law is about employee health, not customer comfort.

          • harryh says:

            And the CA law is about employee health, not customer comfort.

            Bullshit.

            That may be the de jure way the law passes legal muster, but it has nothing to do with the de facto reason the law was passed.

            • jwz says:

              Well, I know a lot of people who work in bars who disagree with you. It's way, way, way worse for the employees than for the customers. The customers don't have to be in that room 8-12 hours a day all week.

              • harryh says:

                The employees disagree with me about why the law was passed? Do you (or your staff, or whoever) really think the law got passed because the legislature was concerned about the health of bar employees? Or could it possibly have anything to do with the thousands of people who bitched about smelling bad after going out at night? But really I don't think it was that either. It's just a general trend of legislating against things (alcohol, cigs, staying out too late) that conservative elements don't like so much. Laws like this scare me.

                But to comment on the health issue, people who work in bars can blather all they want, but that doesn't make them authorities on the health risks of smoking. I won't claim to be an expert either, but I've read a lot of text that leads me to believe that the health risks of second hand smoke (even for bar employees) have been greatly exaggerated.

                But we're getting a bit off the point. Look, I would have no problem whatsoever with a bar owner deciding that his establishment will be smoke free. That might bring him more customers, it might bring him fewer. Maybe he'll just be happier hanging out in his club, and as long as he owns it that's all the reason he needs.

                But I still don't get why it's OK for the state to step in and tell a bar owner who wants to let his patrons smoke that it's not OK. It's government intervention run amok.

                It's really not any different that all the crazy zoning issues that you ranted against.

                • jwz says:

                  I don't particularly care how laws or sausages are made, but the result is a good one. I win you lose ha ha.

                  I'm in favor of banning smoking in every public space, because your right to poison yourself ends where my lungs begin.

                • kj48506 says:

                  i take it you have been outvoted by jwz, who I must say is the supreme ruler of society(hister); and if you think that is a misspelling sorry for you, I smoke and am in MI genesee cty is on 2/24 enacting a law against smoking in the work place. I worked in bars for 12 yrs and almost all bar employees in michigan smoke. If they don't they quite or deal with it. OHHHHH I'm a nurse in an emergency room and I believe I should not be subjected to bloody patients!!!!!!!!!
                  What should I do, I F'n quite my job because working as a nurse in an emergency room I must deal with blood. get a fuckin clue dip shits.

            • zapevaj says:

              I appreciate that someone from another state is so interested in California law, but seeing as how you probably never read the voter booklet for that particular regulation, you really have no basis to say what the law was and wasn't. If I recall correctly, the meausure was vehemently supported by the restaraunt/hotel/bar workers union. Remember, Californians like to whine about those nasty toxic cigarettes, and that includes Californian bar/restaraunt/club staff.

              Also, lawmakers have every right to regulate what conditions people can work under. May I present to you the state labor law and OSHA.